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Old Posted Oct 10, 2017, 3:27 PM
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How Chicago’s Tribune Tower Competition Changed Architecture Forever

How Chicago’s Tribune Tower Competition Changed Architecture Forever

3 October, 2017

By Leo Shaw

Read More: http://www.archdaily.com/880899/how-...ecture-forever

The Tribune Tower has stood at the heart of Chicago’s cultural heritage for almost a hundred years. Like the spire of a secular cathedral, it still symbolizes the rise of the “city of big shoulders” and its defining role in the American Century. But the building is more than a Chicago icon. The story of its origin has proved to be one of the most enduringly influential narratives in 20th Century architecture, key to understanding the skylines of cities all over the world.

- A groundbreaking skyscraper was the highest ambition of Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the powerful publisher of the Chicago Tribune and a man who dominated local politics before the First World War. Hoping to project an aura of international prestige for his burgeoning media empire, the competition brief he compiled asked architects to create “the most beautiful office building in the world.” --- More than 260 architects from 23 countries responded with designs in a dizzying range of styles. Some entries stretched the office tower’s vertical structure into extended Gothic arches with delicate tracery, while others segmented the facade into Neoclassical orders with stepped porticoes and colonnaded temples for crowns.

- Forward-thinking architects submitted sleeker designs modeled on factory architecture, Chicago’s existing masterpieces, or the angular ornamental motifs that would later be known as Art Deco. Some reduced the building to a single symbol; an arch, an obelisk, a giant Native American figure, or even an enormous billboard spelling out the headlines of the day. --- The winners, Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells, proposed the Gothic tower that now graces the corner of Michigan Avenue north of the Chicago River. Their design balanced the vertical spirit of US commerce with Gothic flourishes from French tradition – including a dramatically buttressed crown borrowed from the 13th Century Cathedral in Rouen.

- While major international competitions may be a familiar sight in the architectural sphere today, the Tribune Tower competition was unique for its global influence on the future of the field. Audiences could compare and evaluate starkly contrasting ideas from the world’s foremost architects at a glance; the results—published widely—produced a ripple effect which influenced different schools of thought competing to define the look of the “Modern Age”. Not only did echoes of the design of the winning skyscraper appear throughout the pre-war period, but several other entries resonated with later generations.

- Architects have remained so obsessed with the ideas of the unbuilt Tribune Towers that reimagining the competition has become something of a tradition in its own right. In 1980, the Chicago architect and Postmodern provocateur Stanley Tigerman organized a winking do-over of the original contest. In a volume called Late Entries to the Chicago Tribune Tower Competition, he published the original designs alongside new drawings by the likes of Frank Gehry, Alison and Peter Smithson, Bernard Tschumi, and Tadao Ando.

- Argentinian-American architect César Pelli, who would become one of the world’s most prolific skyscraper designers, incorporated Postmodern rooflines and decorative elements into buildings like Cleveland’s Key Tower and the Carnegie Hall Tower in New York, but he also built several skyscrapers with the classic step-backs and rectangular proportions of Saarinen’s snubbed design – like the Wells Fargo Center in Minneapolis (1988) and the Bank of America Corporate Center in Charlotte (1992), as well as Chicago’s 180 W. Madison Street (1990).


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Old Posted Oct 12, 2017, 7:31 AM
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I have a poster in storage that was one of the runner up choices from that competition. It was a more classic looking tower without the crown.
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