Monday, October 19, 2015

A Tour of The Rookery Building (Chicago, IL)

There are a few architectural gems in the city of Chicago, and one of the most important ones is The Rookery Building. The building is in Chicago's downtown financial district, easily visited when you are in Chicago.

The Rookery

The Rookery actually has quite a history and is influenced by multiple architects and designers throughout the decades. The building was originally designed by Daniel Burnham and John Root. Before The Rookery was built, this location housed a water tank, and then the City Hall and Chicago's first public library. There are a number of theories about where the name The Rookery came from. Some say the name is because of the corrupt politicians at the city hall that occupied the space, some say it's because of the birds that used to hang around when it was a water tank.
The Rookery

The building was redesigned in 1905 by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Rookery's main focus and also Frank Lloyd Wright's major contribution is The Light Court on the first floor. The original design filled the building with iron and terracotta. Wright encased the iron columns in gilded marble.

The bronze chandeliers and prismatic glass with his signature geometric style also still remain today.
The Rookery

In 1931, William Drummon did another renovation to the building. He divided up the lobby into two floors as well as adding art deco aesthetics to the building. The marble staircase in the soft natural light is stunning.
The Rookery
Of course, another not-to-miss feature of The Rookery is the oriel staircase.
The Rookery

The oriel staircase winds around from the 2nd to the 12th floor of the building. This is technically on the exterior of the building and thus serves as a fire escape.
The Rookery
I've always heard about The Rookery in connection to the famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, but really The Rookery is a compilation of many great architects in Chicago over the years. 

You can learn more about the history of The Rookery and about wonderful details throughout the building by taking a tour with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation (you can purchase tickets here). In fact, without going on the tour you won't be able to go past the first floor up the marble staircase. The tour is the only way to really see the oriel staircase.


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