Chicago invented the skyscraper, and some of the most important expressions of that form are found here. I put together a list of the buildings every Chicagoan should know something about – these are the ones that changed the world, challenged design theory, and made history.
Oh, Willis Tower and John Hancock, those are assumed. No points there! So let’s look at the list:
Designed by the red-hot firm Studio Gang, the Aqua building seems to undulate like the waves of Lake Michigan. Curved balconies flow into blue glass interludes, making the building seem to be part of the water it is named for.
At 876 feet tall, Aqua is the tallest tower in the world designed by a woman-led firm, and is LEED certified green building as well.
This is the only tower east of Lake Shore Drive, and was designed with an almost Mies van der Rohe level of simplicity. Lake Point Tower was one of the first all-electric high-rise residential buildings in the world and pioneered the concept of the “Park in the City,” being the first residential complex in a major city to have its own two-and-one-half acre park—including a playground, pool, duck pond, and waterfalls—three stories above ground.
The unique lobed design captures the eye, and is one reason that the Lake Point Tower ranks as one of America’s favorite buildings.
This neo-Gothic structure was commissioned in 1922 to house the Chicago Tribune’s offices. Reflecting the early skyscraper style known as American Perpendicular Style, and crowned with buttresses, gargoyles, and other sculpture more reminiscent of the cathedral at Chartres than a modern tower.
Despite the fascinating design, the most interesting aspect of the Tribune Tower exists at ground level. Embedded in the walls are stones from other famous buildings – from such landmarks as the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon, Hagia Sophia, Palace of Westminster, the Great Pyramid, The Alamo, Notre Dame de Paris, Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb, the Great Wall of China, Angkor Wat, the Berlin Wall, and Wawel Castle.