A New Kind of Chicago Skyscraper Tour

23 Aug

This past spring, I worked on pretty fun project for the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH), based in Chicago’s Charnley-Persky House (built 1892 by Louis Sullivan with help from Frank Lloyd Wright).

Anticipating a large crowd of architecture-saavy visitors to the Society’s 2010 Annual Meeting in Chicago, SAH Executive Director Pauline Saliga came up with a great project for me to work on – in addition to the guided tours the attendees would be given while at the conference, wouldn’t it be a great idea to create a self-guided tour of the Chicago Loop’s earliest skyscrapers?

Using free Microsoft Tag technology, I created twelve skyscraper information pages, complete with photographs by Pauline’s husband, photographer John Gronkowski, and with edited entries from Pauline’s 1990 book The Sky’s The Limit: A Century of Chicago Skyscrapers.   The tour includes all the biggies – Louis Sullivan’s Auditorium Building (1889) and Daniel Burnham’s Rookery (1888) and Monadnock Building (1893) are just a few.

The real innovation in this project though was the tags that were posted at each participating building.  These “tags” (really just glorified barcodes) can be photographed by any web-enabled camera phone, opening up any of our twelve information pages.  Pauline’s text on each of the buildings is pretty in-depth, creating for Chicago architecture buffs a real content-driven independent walking tour.

Feel free to take the tour yourself by printing out this image (you can find it below as well) – it has a map of all the sites and barcodes for each of the participating buildings.  Please note that both images and the tour itself are copyrighted by the Society of Architectural Historians.

You can learn more about the tours here.  And be sure to visit Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin’s blog posting on the tour.

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