The other day…

…I visited the Chicago Cultural Center, which began in 1897 as the Chicago Public Library.

Chicago Cultural Center  Copyright 2012  http://www.anotherthousandwords.wordpress.com

I copyrighted this because I P’shopped out the buildings behind, and placed a gradient sky for simplicity’s sake (and for use on another project).

The Grand Staircase (Washington Street entrance)

Source  Entering from Washington Street, the south side, the architecture is Roman-inspired. This entrance has Roman arches and exuberant ornamentation. There are three pairs of glass doors with decorative elements. A 34-foot-long elliptical arch of white marble, decorated with glass tesserae, sparkles with the names of great thinkers of the past, including Cicero, Plato, and Livy. The lobby (45 feet deep and 53 feet wide) is decorated in rare marbles. The white marble is Italian Carrara, from the same source as the marble used by Michelangelo for his sculpture. The dark green marble is Irish Connemara. Fine hardwoods, stained glass, and polished bronze are also used lavishly throughout.

The grand staircase of white Carrara contains mosaics designed by Robert C. Spencer, Jr. of Shepley Rutan and Coolidge. The mosaics were executed in the Tiffany Studios in New York by J. A. Holzer. Above the third floor the staircase is decorated with less elaborate Italian and American marbles and mosaics.

 

Source  The Cosmati work throughout the interior is a technique in which marble is inlaid with a variety of materials, including lustrous Favrile glass, colored stone, mother-of-pearl, gold leaf, and mosaic. This technique makes walls appear jewel-like. Due to Chicago’s sooty air, the choice of glass and marble was practical as well as aesthetic because these materials last indefinitely and can be easily cleaned.

View from the 2nd floor

Source  On the third floor the staircase opens into the elegant Preston Bradley Hall, which spans the width of the building. Originally, this was the general delivery room where people received the books they requested.

Portion of the Tiffany Dome, Preston Bradley Hall

The magnificent translucent dome, 38 feet in diameter and made of Tiffany Favrile glass, is cut in the shape of fish scales. At the top of the dome are the signs of the zodiac. Now lighted electrically, it was originally illuminated by sunlight. At the base of the dome is a quotation from the British author Joseph Addison. The dome glass, lighting fixtures, wall sconces and chandeliers were made by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company of New York. The supporting frame was constructed by the Chicago Ornamental Iron Company. On the east and west sides of the hall are quotations in Greek, Chinese, Arabic, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Hebrew, Italian, German, French, Latin, and Spanish. Black ornamented boxes in the corners of the room were once elevators used for book delivery.

–taken from The People’s Palace: The Story of the Chicago Cultural Center
Copyright 1999 Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs
Introduction by M.W. Newman [Not included here]
Text by Nancy Seeger
Research compiled and edited by Rolf Achilles

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6 responses to “The other day…

  1. This is such a beautiful building with amazing detail by the artisans who worked upon it–the dome, the staircase, the ceilings, the light fixtures, stone and mosaic work–how remarkable. Thank you for the mini-tour via photographs. ‘Twas much enjoyed! ~ Lily

  2. Very informative post!
    The building is magnificent, imposing and echoes the grandeur of Roman architecture.
    Seeing the series of photos makes me want to be there. The details are artworks, indeed.
    Thanks for this elegant post.
    😉

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