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Art History Of Architecture

City and County Hall

The City Hall County Building is one of the main attractions in Chicago. The construction of the building was started in 1905 and was finished only in 1910. The new Hall was supposed to replace the old City and County Hall built in 1885. The neo-classical building was designed by Holabird and Roche, a local architecture company, which had won the design competition. Interestingly, different parts of the City and County Hall were finished at different times. Therefore, it took three years to build the Cook County part of the Hall and it was ready in 1908. Next, the construction of the City Hall lasted from 1909 to 1910. It should be said that according to the original plan of Chicago, a park was supposed to be on the place of the government building.

The structure of the modern Hall includes two identical buildings, joined as one. The City Hall occupies the west section, while the County Hall occupies the eastern part of the construction. In fact, the County part of the Hall was completed first in 1908, while it took three more years to finish the City Hall. The modern building of the Hall has 11 floors, and the maximum height of the building is 66 meters or 218 feet. The exterior columns are 94 feet tall each. In January 1982 the building of the City and County Hall was recognized as a Chicago landmark. Since then, the building has overcome some minor renovations. Thus, in 2001 a lovely roof garden with prairie flowers was designed on the roof of the City Hall section. Even though the garden is not open to the public, it was done in order to promote similar roof gardens in the city.

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The exterior design of the City and County Hall features the common elements of classical and neo-classical architecture style. Firstly, the construction has granite facades with monumental Corinthian columns. Each of the columns is hollow and includes fifteen granite segments. Obviously, the columns have rather decorative than practical function. The building of City Hall also features a recessed terra cotta floor on the top. The columns along with the top terra cotta floor bring some resemblance of the Hall to the ancient architecture. Interestingly, initially the architects planned to build a central dome; however, it has never been realized due to the high costs required for the implementation of the idea. Four sculptures near the entrance are other attractive elements of the building that call for particular attention.  Apparently, the granite reliefs symbolize schools, playgrounds, water supply and parks, which have been regarded as the key matters of interest to the City government. Overall, the City and County Hall creates a feeling of majesty and nobility, which makes it even more exciting and remarkable.

The Daley Center

The Richard J.Daley Center in located right in the heart of the city of Chicago. Interestingly, it was originally known as the Civic Center of Chicago, but was later renamed after the mayor Richard J.Daley, who died in his office in the Center. The Center, located on the Randolph and Washington Streets, is one of the main architectural monuments of Chicago. The project of the Daley Center was approved and funded by the Chicago Public Building Commission. Overall, $87 million dollars were allocated to the construction of the Center. Designed by Jacques Brownson from C.F.Murphy Associates, the construction started in February 1963 and was completed in May 1965.  Regarding the architectural style of the Daley Center, it is defined as the international one. The buildings featuring such a revolutionary architectural style include the elements of stainless steel and glass skyscrapers. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is regarded as a founder of the international style in architecture. Interestingly, the Daley Center was the first governmental building to be built in a contemporary architectural style.

Nowadays, the Center houses approximately 120 courts and hearing rooms and office rooms for both the City and Cook County. Additionally, the Cook County Law Library is also located in the Center. However, except of serving business and public needs, the Richard J. Daley Center was recognized as a Chicago Landmark in November 2002. It should be said that in order to get such a status, a building should meet very particular criteria: the building’s role in Chicago’s heritage, reference to an important event or person, distinctive or remarkable architectural design or famous architectural or other unique features. Therefore, the Daley Center was highly honored with such an award. According to the Commission, the Center has met four criteria and was recognized as an exceptional example of architecture in Chicago. Besides, it was designed by a famous company, C. F. Murphy Associates, which had quite a big influence in Chicago in the 1960-1970s.

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Regarding the structural elements of the famous Daley Center, the building has 31 floors and a flat roof. In fact, the Center is the world’s tallest building in the range of constructions with no more than 40 floors. It can be explained by the fact that the building features high ceilings required for courtrooms. The internal design of the building includes twelve columns, which are narrowing to the top to support less weight. At the same time, no columns are present in the external design. It has 87-foot steel trusses running lengthwise and 48-foot spans running crosswise. The construction also features extremely wide structural bays, which resemble real bridges in some way. Another unique feature of the Daley Center is that it was the first ever to be clad with untreated Corrosive Tensile steel, giving the building its distinctive brown and red color. Such an innovative approach in engineering and materials makes the Daley Center a construction able to last a very long time.

Undoubtedly, the building of the Daley Center is a remarkable architectural highlight in Chicago and an important part of its history. It should be said that the design of the building itself corresponds to the service it performs. The modern building with distinct features of the steel-and-glass skyscrapers fits the overall neighborhood style. Because of the high ceiling, it also seems to have more floors than it actually has. The Plaza in front of the building is always filled with art and crafts or music stands and exhibitions. Additionally, what draws even more attention to the building is the fact that it is surrounded with numerous monuments and other sites of interest. Probably, the most significant monument is the statue of Picasso just in front of the Daley Center. Finally, the Daley Center, its Plaza and Picasso’s sculpture form the cohesive unit with its own atmosphere and traditions.

James R. Thompson Center

The James R. Thomson Center is a multifunctional administrative building, which has eventually become one of the major attractions in Chicago. The building is broadly divided into two designated areas. The first part of the Center includes state offices and agencies that serve business and governmental purposes. The other part is rather commercial and features numerous shopping and food and beverages facilities. Moreover, the James R. Thomson Center also houses large collections of modern artworks of Illinois, Illinois Artisan`s Shop and State of Illinois Gallery. The building of the Center was finished in 1985. Since then, the James R. Thomson Center is regarded as a controversial example of the modern architecture, and has been consistently admired as well as criticized. In 1986 the Center was honored with the Distinguished Building Award of the Chicago Chapter, American Institute of Architects.

The James R. Thompson Center is a popular attraction due to a number of reasons. Firstly, it should be said that the well-organized transport infrastructure makes the Center a very convenient location to reach. It is connected to the subway, bus stations, and cabs stops. Moreover, the Center provides connections throughout the city and direct trains to O’Hare International Airport. Additionally, its close location to the major Chicago hotels, the Apparel Center, the Merchandise Mart, the business district and expressways and public parking facilities also contribute to the Center’s popularity. It is not a surprise that many event planners opt for the James R. Thomson Center as a location for holding different conventions and meetings. Therefore, its facilities are actively used for many concerts, fundraising receptions and other special occasions.

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Regarding the design and visual value, the building of the James R. Thomson Center gives spectacular views from outside as well as from inside of the construction. Firstly, the building is massive in size and reaches 332 feet or 100 meters in height. Overall the Center occupies approximately1,193,163 square feet or 110.000 square meters of space. The Center has seventeen floors with two additional floors underground. The overall construction features the common elements of the contemporary architecture styles, which include usage of glass-and-steel structures resembling skyscrapers. The steel elements provide the building with red and turquoise colors. The construction also features curving and sloping design of the facades, which is another recognizable characteristic of the James R. Thompson Center.

The Center also has the spacious ground floor Atrium lobby that towers to a magnificent angled skylight. The Atrium is fairly regarded as the most spectacular feature of the whole Center. It also opens an amazing and breathtaking view on the marble rosette center on the lower Concourse level. The elevators with lighted glass cubicles add some dynamic movement to the whole building. Additionally, glass-paneled walls and ceiling along with marble-inlay floors provide a particular festive atmosphere, which makes the Center a perfect location for formal or semi-formal cocktail receptions and sit-down dinners. The composition of the Center’s building is finished with the famous sculpture called “Monument with Standing Beast”, which is located in front of the main entrance. The artwork was made by a French artist in 1984.

Overall, the James R. Thomson Center managed to effectively combine commerce, culture and state offices under the same roof.  The Center is sometimes called “the Pantheon of Chicago” as it is regarded as the building that managed to make the statement and get its own power and character.