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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was downtown yesterday, taking advantage of a free Tuesday at the Art Institute. Great day.

Since I was close by, I walked over to the Architectural Foundation. The model of the skyline (which is so fantastic) is still under reconstruction and not on display.

What was on display, however, is a wonderfully scaled model of one of the top entries into the library competiton: the one by Helmut Jahn. If you remember it, it was the one that has some of the look of his UAL terminal at O'Hare. The building would have crossed Van Buren with the el running through its lower levels. Sculptures lined the State St entrance both north and south of Van Buren.

I remember loving this one when it was proposed and I only feel more so about it now. To me, it would have been a great improvement over the classical design of the current library, far more inovative, far more risk taking, and frankly far more Chicago. What a statement this structure would have made.

My suspicion: when the new library was being discussed and the competiton taking place, Chicago had lost its cutting edge in archtiecture, was less innovative, and far less risk taking. If that competiton had taken place today, there is no way the current library would win over this beauty.

The display area had another reminder (for me) that we're not alone. It had one of the WTC models for NYC on display, another reminder for me that what NY finally chose is well down the list of what could have been.

IMHO, if Chicago blew it on the library (and it did), that was nothing compared to the mediocracy of the Freedom Tower and the opportunity that Manhattan lost.
 

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born again cyclist
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i was never a fan of jahn's chicago library design. i'm glad they didn't choose that one. my favorite design was lohan's, that would have been one slick-ass library. beeby's certainly wasn't the best in the competition, but it has grown on the city quite nicely, and it's much better than what would have resulted had they gone with jahn's or erickson's proposals.
 

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I think I know which proposals you're speaking of, my architecture professor showed us them last semester. The winning design had a gross neo-classic influence. If I'm correct I believe there was a proposal that looked like books stacked on a bookshelf? That was my favorite design. Are we speaking of the same proposals?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
EastSider said:
I think I know which proposals you're speaking of, my architecture professor showed us them last semester. The winning design had a gross neo-classic influence. If I'm correct I believe there was a proposal that looked like books stacked on a bookshelf? That was my favorite design. Are we speaking of the same proposals?
The one I was talking about had a highly linear lay-out and some overlap with Jahn's UAL terminal. The walkway on State was in a portico with a series of geometric shapes as outdoor sculptures. Again, the Van Buren/State el stop was incorporated into the project as the library bridged Van Buren.

I loved this design.
 

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EastSider said:
I think I know which proposals you're speaking of, my architecture professor showed us them last semester. The winning design had a gross neo-classic influence. If I'm correct I believe there was a proposal that looked like books stacked on a bookshelf? That was my favorite design. Are we speaking of the same proposals?
Gasp! Did you have Marky Mark Keane The Soul Crusher??! Are you currently being philosophically molested by Don Hanlon??!!!1

You poor boy.


As for the library, I think that Beeby's is so garish and so cartoonish that it actually works. I just walked past it when I was in town last Thursday, and it didn't make me angry at all, even though, when the Keaninator showed my class the four proposals, I thought that Jahn's was by far the superior. Then again, I've been a Jahn fan for a long time, so I was probably biased. Anyway, I agree with Steely...this building somehow manages to work it out. It's almost classy. Almost. ;)
 

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Haha. The coincidences continue...

Anyways, i am not the biggest fan of the Harold Washington Library, particularly the interior actually, but i have only been inside 1 or 2 times that i recall. The exterior is definatly over the top, so i guess i can see why you might like it, CG5. ;) But at least it doesnt try to hide the fact that is over the top, so i can add a few points for that. Over all i can't bring myself to like it, but maybe i don't hate it. Maybe.

Since it has been over 3 years since i have had the pleasure of having Mr. Keane's presentation, i don't have a complete recollection of the different proposals, and a (not very in depth) Google seach didn't bring anything helpful. I do recall liking the other proposals better.

BTW, i only found Arch 100 and 101 to be soul crushing and/or philosphically molesting perhaps 50-60% of the time. Don Hanlon is actually a good guy. :)
 

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I can understand why many of you are dissappointed that the HWL was not an innovative design. But come on, guys, how can you deny that it's a simply BEAUTIFUL building?

It essentially looks like it was built in 1910. You guys obviously like other structures built then, so how can you not like this one?
 

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born again cyclist
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CG5 said:
As for the library, I think that Beeby's is so garish and so cartoonish that it actually works. I just walked past it when I was in town last Thursday, and it didn't make me angry at all, even though, when the Keaninator showed my class the four proposals, I thought that Jahn's was by far the superior. Then again, I've been a Jahn fan for a long time, so I was probably biased. Anyway, I agree with Steely...this building somehow manages to work it out. It's almost classy. Almost. ;)
yeah, you all should know by now that i am no fan of most pomo, but for some reason the washington library works, and i'm not sure why. when i look at it, i like what i see. it doesn't make want to hurl with disgust the way that rr donnelly and 311 south wacker do. the washington library is very good pomo, in my opinion, perhaps the best in the city.
 

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sharptent said:
yeah, you all should know by now that i am no fan of most pomo, but for some reason the washington library works, and i'm not sure why. when i look at it, i like what i see. it doesn't make want to hurl with disgust the way that rr donnelly and 311 south wacker do. the washington library is very good pomo, in my opinion, perhaps the best in the city.

And that in a city full of some of the worst PoMo in the nation. Parts of the loop look like freakin' Shanghai. Blech.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
oshkeoto said:
I'm with Urban Politician. The Harold Washington Library is one swell building, especially given its location. I love the gargoyles.
oshkeoto, those aren't just gargoyles; they're nightmere-inspiring gargoyles. I can see calmly and happily dreaming away at 1:00 p.m. when that huge, hulking, overbearing mass intruding into my serenity, forcing me to wake up screaming and sweating, and vowing never to visit a European cathedral!
 
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