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ten must-see buildings in chicago

10 Must-See Buildings in Chicago

robie house

Completed: 1910
Frank Lloyd Wright
5757 S Woodlawn Ave

In a galaxy of Chicago architecture stars, there’s one that always shines a little brighter than the rest. Frank Lloyd Wright was a “starchitect” before the word existed. There’s no denying that his innovative Prairie School designs made a lasting impact on the field of architecture. But you can’t help wonder: like celebrities of today, did his colorful and dramatic personal life contribute to his fame?

Wright pushed boundaries with his ground-breaking residential designs. Fortunately, Chicago has several of Wright’s works still available to enjoy. Robie House is one of those treasures.

The Robie House’s clean horizontal lines hug the ground, mimicking the Midwestern plains. Its design influenced the ranch-style homes that popped up across the country throughout the twentieth century.

carbide and carbon building

Completed 1929
Burnham Brothers
230 N. Michigan Ave

One of Daniel Burnham’s diary entries suggests that after a banner year, the Union Carbide executives wanted their new headquarters building to be celebratory. So, the Burnham Brothers went all out. They designed a dark green tower shaped like a champagne bottle.

Genuine 24-karat gold tops the tower’s spire and makes it one of the most recognized and beloved members of the Chicago skyline.

inland steel building

Completed 1958
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
30 W Monroe St

You know a building is significant when its surrounding neighbors bow down to it in respect. The architects of 1 South Dearborn and the First National Bank (now known as Chase Tower) were positioned on their respective lots in apparent reverance to Inland Steel; it’s quite the compliment.

The Inland Steel Building is an architecture heavy-weight masquerading as a simple yet sophisticated office building. Commissioned as the new headquarters for the Inland Steel company in 1954, it was the first major building completed inside Chicago’s Loop in over 20 years.

The sleek façade is composed of stainless steel cladding (a nod to the building’s owner) and two-inch thick tinted glass. The glass is solar reducing and an early attempt at climate control. It is a precursor to the sustainable architecture happening today.

This skyscraper meets the ground with a stunning glass-enclosed lobby. Housed inside is Radiant One, a beautiful piece of abstract sculpture created by Richard Lippold. It’s composed of metal rods and wires and spans a shallow reflecting pool. The lobby’s open nature allows an interior piece of art to be experienced and appreciated by the public.

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I may as well admit it, when it comes to travel, I’m kind of basic. In Venice I rented a gondola, in Norway, I climbed Pulpit Rock, and every time I visit New York, I make sure to visit Times Square. I may be all about bucket list travel experiences, but that doesn’t mean I’m not just as excited to discover secrets only a local could share. Whether I’m exploring Chicago or visiting a foreign land, I’m always up for a new adventure.

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