Topic: Architecture / Chicago
Several weeks ago we made some comparisons between Mies van der Rohe and his contemporary, Le Corbusier. We also described a connection between his Promontory Apartments and unambitious imitations with different aims, specifically Cabrini Greens. I recently visited the Promontory Apartments, and discovered some impressive qualities not immediately discernable. We are so accustomed to Mies' imitators that it sometimes takes some effort or closer observation to understand his true innovation (I would say 'genius,' but I hate seeing its overuse in describing artists and architects. You would think 20-something years of contemporary art theory that questions ideas of 'mastery' and 'genius' would have made us more cautious about throwing around those terms. But go to the arts section of any book$$$$$tore...oh).
Back to our subject, The Promontory Apartments were completed in 1949, as work was underway at 860-880 N. Lake Shore Dr. Both were to have steel and glass curtain walls, but Mies' original plans for the Hyde Park high-rise were ultimately modified. So I walked around the corner and started taking a couple pictures of these apartments. As you can see, the vertical supports taper as they rise, which adds a touch of formal drama and structural efficiency (they need to support a decreasing load as they go up). From the back we can see through the open lobby to the lake, which the building overlooks, right by pretty little Promontory Point. Then I was politley asked to leave the private property by a building attendant. Bonus pics: The first beautiful day of the season spent at the Point--note the melting ice.