Chicago’s Modern Architecture is “More Than Mies”

6 Feb

Chicago architects, historians and preservationists alike, we all love chewing the cud on the big names from the city’s architectural past: Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.  But what about the names and places from years even closer to our own time that have made an impact on the city we see around us?  What about our more recent modern heritage?

Hyde Park Chicago's University Apartments, designed by I.M. Pei and Loewenberg & Loewenberg and completed in 1961. Photo by John Cramer

Enter the new blog Chicago Modern: More Than Mies.  This new project of the Save Prentice Coalition (mentioned in a past post) will focus on design and architecture from the 1960s and 70s and will take a closer look at the Chicago most history buffs like me think of as too new to celebrate.

In fact, it’s not only time to start celebrating mid-century architects like Bertrand Goldberg, Edward Dart and E. Todd Wheeler.  It’s time to start really worrying about the future of their surviving work.  Conventional wisdom observes “the fifty year rule,” i.e. buildings aren’t really “historic” – and don’t deserve landmarking consideration — until they are at least fifty years old.  I know lots of folks today will shudder at the thought but we have now entered the decade when buildings from the 1960s will be considered historic. It’s time now to start revisiting the masterworks of mid- to late-twentieth century American architecture and to start talking about the important legacies their architects have left us.

What’s fantastic about the new blog is the community of modernism-lovers it’s already creating.  The Save Prentice Coalition has begun assembling a stable of preservationists, architects, historians, photographers, and enthusiasts (me included) to post regularly on the region’s 60s and 70s design heritage, current issues that affect that heritage, and efforts to protect it.  Go take a look at More Than Mies and if you know of a building that deserves some attention or is in danger, drop a line in the comments section.


One Response to “Chicago’s Modern Architecture is “More Than Mies””

  1. Kim Bookless February 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    Hey John,
    Nice post! Look forward to reading more of your contributions to More Than Mies.

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