Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium. Chicago, IL. Courtesy of Ali Salman
Shedd Aquarium. Chicago, IL. Courtesy of Ali Salman

History: John Graves Shedd was a a stock boy who had worked his way toward being president of Marshall Field & Company. He had a dream to build Chicago the finest aquarium in the world in order to be competitive with rivaling booming cities across Europe and the United States. Shedd initially began this journey with a 2 million dollar donation founding the Shedd Aquarium Society on February 1st, 1924 (“Shedd History”). This donation doesn’t seem quite sizable but calculating for todays inflation that 2 million expands to an intimidating 27 million dollars. The establishment of the Shedd Aquarium Society continues to play a pivotal role in continuing to refine the Shedd Aquarium with new additions and construction projects maintaining the dream of Mr. Shedd. Sadly, Mr. Shedd was unable to witness his dream for the Aquarium come to fruition as he past away three years before his aquarium’s grand opening.

Architectural Style: The architects involved in the creation of the Shedd Aquarium were Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, alongside associate Director Walter Chute. Graham was a mentor of Architect Daniel Burnham and was very well versed in the Beaux-Arts style making the Shedd Aquarium Architecturally complementary to its neighboring structure the Field Museum. The Shedd Museum stands out with its very traditional outward appearance drawing from the Beaux-Arts tradition showcasing its massive doric pillars upon the entryway of the museum. The Beaux-Arts style heavily relied on Classical Greek influences creating an effortlessly eternal structure. The greek roots project the past finding its way into a future for the flourishing city of Chicago (“History & Architecture”).

Purpose: The architects hired to construct this landmark of American architecture were very privileged in their study of ancient architecture primarily the Classic Greek styles of design. The Beaux-Art style heavily channels these old influences in the effort to create a building with the remnants of the old greek values. An aquarium of this stature was designed to be a cultural institution meant to personify fundamental pursuits such as education and science. The Shedd Aquarium was a landmark achievement worldwide introducing the very first aquarium that permanently houses sea life in both fresh and saltwater. 

St. Andrews Church

St. Andrews Church. Saginaw, MI. Courtesy of Mike Sonnenberg.
St. Andrews Church. Saginaw, MI. Courtesy of Mike Sonnenberg.
St. Andrews Church. Saginaw, MI. Courtesy of Ali Salman.
St. Andrews Church. Saginaw, MI. Courtesy of Ali Salman.

History:  St. Andrew’s Church was founded in 1853. In 1841 Rev. Martin Kundig arrived in Saginaw to complete the plans began to create a church in the Saginaw Valley area. Saginaw at the time had five hundred inhabitants. Of these five hundred families fifteen or twenty formed the basis of the catholic group responsible for the attendance of this new church. In 1853 the core of Saginaw’s catholic families purchased land for the St Andrews Church to reside (“St. Andrews History”).

Architectural Style: I chose to compare the St Andrews Church with the Shedd Aquarium due to one main feature linking the two. The Doric pillars that were constructed leading to the entryway of both buildings. The St. Andrews Church does not fit into any one tradition building style rather it has a more eclectic architectural profile. The entryway showcases a traditional greek style adorning the entrance with said pillars. But beyond its greek roots the church does seem to have a neo-gothic appearance with its tall tower and pointed windows.

Purpose: I think that the architectural style utilized in the formation of this church was very well thought out. With the history of the church being rooted in very early Saginaw history. At the time of the building there was approximately 500 people and the church was structured around a nucleus of about 20 different families. I think that the inclusion of the people in the creation of the Church lead to the design straying from its more prominent gothic theme. The greeks were renown for their democratic ideals leading me to conclude that the inclusion of the doric pillars was in away designed to create a sense of democracy. Its creation created a place of unity where the early inhabitants of Saginaw could meet, worship and discuss. Much like the intentions of the Early Greeks. The rest of the building follows suit with a more Neo Gothic design adorning the mass of the building with large peaked windows allowing the inside to fill with natural light. Alongside the windows was the classical pointed tower aesthetic metaphorically pulling the church closer towards the heavens.

Comparison: I think that both buildings come from very different styles of architecture and were designed with different functionality. For example, the Shedd Aquarium was constructed to become a building of cultural enhancement imbuing Chicago with an heir of sophistication and innovation. While the St. Andrews Church was built as a cornerstone of the Saginaw Valley inviting newcomers and attracting individuals with its large gothic appeal and holy aesthetics. Both share a common feature of pillar usage signifying the buildings entryways. Which informs the public of its similar ideological standing whether it be scientific or democratic. Both buildings are inspired works of the Classic Greek Arts, illustrating their desire to create a monument to man and its everlasting nature.

Works Cited

“History & Architecture.” History & Architecture. Web. 14 June 2015.

“Pure Saginaw: St. Andrews.” Pure Saginaw: St. Andrews. Web. 15 June 2015.

“Shedd History.” Shedd History. Web. 13 June 2015.

“St. Andrews History.” Web. 15 June 2015.