Comparing Chicago to Bay City

art institue

-Photograph by Jacob Kowalczyk

Comparing the Art Institute of Chicago to Bay City Hall.

During my trip to Chicago, I had the opportunity to visit some of the coolest buildings in a major city. That building was the Art Institute of Chicago. This building shows a neoclassical design that uses arches and pillars, to create the appearance of a large center mass building. This was a technique used in Ancient Roman architecture that gave off a bold appearance. “Burnham, the landscape architect wanted to represent French neoclassical architecture where its principles were based on symmetry, balance, and splendor.”

Along the side of the entablature, are the names of the famous artist that had created masterpieces during the High Renaissance. There are also examples of reliefs on the frieze of the building depicting either Greek or Roman men. The building gives off that neoclassical look that the Roman’s perfected. Even with modern advances inside and adding on a modern wing to extend the contemporary art display, it still shows its potential that involves ancient design in architecture. I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the building in such a modern area, right in the heart of the city.

The building its self holds historical reference that took place during the Chicago’s World Fair opening in 1893. The building was founded in 1879 as a school and museum, which now sites on top of the destroyed site. This is where the original building stood as it was consumed by the fire of 1871. As you approach the entrance of the west side of building, their sites two bronze lions that were crafted by Edward Kemeys in 1894, who was known for sculpting animals. This really brought attraction to the building and increased the number of visitors. The classical architecture of the buildings were made of a white stucco, which they nicknamed, “The White City.”

bay city hall

Comparing this to the Bay City Hall, when construction started just a year after the Art Institute of Chicago was completed in 1897. This building shows a Romanesque style, that revives the ancient Roman ideals in architecture. Leverett A. Pratt and Walter Koeppe were the architects to design city hall and it was through Henry Weber and Christopher Kircher who constructed the building itself. As a historical side note, William Phillips was grand master of the free mason in Michigan to help with the project, but also to lay the first corner stone. Even though both buildings are different, they both possess accurate qualities that contribute to earlier times. It’s awesome to see these buildings still in good shape today and the history that they hold is just incredible.

“Mission and History,” Art Institute Chicago

“About: Building History,” SAIC School of the Art Institute of Chicago

“Art Institute of Chicago,” A View on Cities

“The White City,” Chicago World’s Fair- The World’s Columbian Expostion

“City Hall of Bay City,” Bay-Journal

“Bay City Hall,” Quinn Evans Architects





9 thoughts on “Comparing Chicago to Bay City

  1. I too thought it was really neat to see such historical buildings in such a modern, fast-paced city as Chicago. I also agree with you in that it is incredible to see these buildings still looking as good as they do so many years later.

  2. I think that Chicago rebuilding after the fire was probably the best thing aesthetically for the city. Being able to see these grand buildings in the center of town is really a beautiful sight.

  3. I really liked how you compared City Hall. Bay City has history just like Chicago. I think this was a neat comparison between the two cities, using two very important buildings in both towns.

  4. Great point bringing up how great these buildings look after so many years of wear and tear to them. Its another great architectural aspect to the people who designed these that you and I can still admire their beauty today. Great job!

  5. Great history behind your buildings and the comparison was great.It is nice to see such historical still standing today so that we can look back on past history and architecture.

  6. You had really good research throughout this blog, and I believe you chose the right facts about each building to make it informational, but also interesting. It is great to learn about the history of buildings we may think are base because we see them in our everyday life.

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