VISIONARY CHICAGO [Architectural Visions of the City]

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT CHICAGO

[PROFESSOR ALEXANDER EISENSCHMIDT]

EDITOR JARED MACKEN

SPRING 2011

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[EXHIBITED, CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE FOUNDATION]

[HIGHLIGHTED, MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, CHICAGO]

[PUBLISHED BOOK, B&W]

[PUBLISHED BOOK, COLOR]

Graduate theory course taught by Alexander Eisenschmidt looked at unrealized projects as "Architectural Visions of the City" to research, analyze, draw and place in a contemporary understanding.

Chicago Convention Hall, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1954

During the mid 1900s, Chicago was in need of a new location capable of hosting all the various large gatherings taking place in the city. The South Side Planning Board of Chicago asked Mies van der Rohe for a versatile design. Along with three graduate students at IIT and a structural engineer, Mies van der Rohe developed a convention hall of enormous volume. "Mies produced his single most monumental clear span structure, by far the largest space he had ever designed, ampler indeed than that of any exposition hall in the world at the time." (Franz Schulze).

Found Image

Though never built, this Chicago Convention Hall has already experienced monumentality. The 1952 Dwight Eisenhower Republican Convention was collaged as if the event had been taken inside this building. This collage showing citizens shouting "We Like Ike!" is now an iconic image for this project. Mies van der Rohe insures the inhabitant a grand gesture allowing one to see the enormous spanning interior upon entering the building.

"I would like to do the Convention Hall in Chicago. This is an enormous building, 722 by 620 feet. I would like to see it myself. I know the drawings. I know the idea behind it. But, in fact, there is a certain size that is a reality. Take the pyramids in Egypt and make them only 15 feet high. It is nothing. There is just this enormous size that makes all the difference."

The Fifty by Fifty House (from a few years earlier) was sure to influence the design of the Chicago Convention Hall. This humble sized house utilizes clear spans and non obtrusive furniture creating a clean area for circulation. The convention hall would need to work similarly, though at a monumental scale. Mies van der Rohe placed the one level of open space on the earth allowing unlimited weight for the building. He then created a roof structure "made up of 30-foot-deep two directional steel trusses on 30-foot centers" (Franz Schulze). Known to be Mies van der Rohe's most adventurous project, this building also remains loyal to the inhabitants. The buildings skin is such that it appears the same from the interior and exterior.

Urban Plan

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© by Nayereh