While walking around Chicago I saw a lot of buildings and architectural details that impressed me. I have been trying to decide between writing about the lions I saw on just about everything in Chicago or a building. I decided to go with the building that currently houses Target on the first two floors and offices on the rest of the floors.

At first I worried that this building would not be interesting to anyone other than me, despite the façade, after all its main business is the Target. I did some research and found out that it is interesting, not just for the ornate cast iron work, but also for the person who designed it to begin with.

Louis Sullivan was the architect on this building. I was so excited to find that out!  It was nice to understand a little about him from the book and see some of his work up close.

The Sullivan Center in the early years. Photo credit www.chicagoonlinewordpress.com
The Sullivan Center in the early years. Photo credit http://www.chicagoonlinewordpress.com
More recent picture of the Sullivan Center. Photo Credit www.panoramio.com/photo/6650221
More recent picture of the Sullivan Center.
Photo Credit http://www.panoramio.com/photo/6650221

 

It’s design could be described as Art Nouveau. Art Nouveau was popular in the late 1890’s and a little beyond. It is, according to Google, recognized by “intricate linear designs and flowing curves based on natural forms”. I read a very interesting article about the building that explained a lot about why it was designed the way it was. ( http://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2013/02/07/a-not-so-brief-history-of-a-chicago-landmark-the-sullivan-center/)

I found it very sad that in 1948 they started removing some of the ornate beauty of the building. In the late 1970’s they started to restore it to almost its original grandeur.

The side of the building in it's original splendor. Photo credit www.skyscrapercity.com
The side of the building in its original splendor.
Photo credit http://www.skyscrapercity.com

You can see the that they didn’t bring back all of the grandeur of the building when they started to restore it. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not.

sullivan 4
Photo Credit greenandgardenia.blogspot.com

Sullivan also put his initials into the building which to me says he loved the building. Notice the initials LHS?

Louis Sullivan's initials. Photo Credit www.anotherthousandwords.blogspot.com
Louis Sullivan’s initials.
Photo Credit http://www.anotherthousandwords.blogspot.com

When I look at this building I think of how anchored it looks. It looks like it has been there a thousand years and will remain a thousand more. It invites you to come inside and explore, of course if you are running low on time it seems more like a taunt! I wish I would have had more time to go inside and explore the beauty inside.

The second building I picked was the building at 315 Center Ave in Bay city. In big letters near the top of the building it proclaims “Shearer Bros Block 1886”.

Shearer Brother's Block  Photo Credit www.bay-journal.com
Shearer Brother’s Block
Photo Credit http://www.bay-journal.com

This building doesn’t have the iron work that the Sullivan Center had, unfortunately, it is only made to look like it has iron on the bottom of the building. The reason I did pick this building is because of the similarities with the Sullivan Center. The first one would be that both buildings are gorgeous, of course. The second thing they have in common is that they are both huge. These buildings were meant to be useful as stores, offices and anything else imaginable. The third thing is the “block” idea. These buildings say a lot about the owner’s wealth and standing in the community. You can’t build something this big let alone something this pretty without some serious money. These buildings are similar because the people who designed them were important. Louis Sullivan was an important person because of architectural contributions and his hand in the World’s Fair. James Shearer was appointed to be one of three men to oversee the construction of the new capitol building in Lansing Mi. The last thing they have in common is that despite a few “bumps in the road” these historic places are finding new uses and are thriving!

 

Work Cited

http://www.chicagoarchitecture.org/2013/02/07/a-not-so-brief-history-of-a-chicago-landmark-the-sullivan-center/

http://bay-journal.com/bay/1he/people/fp-shearer-james.html