Monday, October 31, 2011

S & C Gatehouse, Pratt and Ravenswood

S&C Electric Gatehouse at Pratt and Ravenswood

Here's something you don't see every day in Rogers Park-- a high-style modernist structure in the Miesian tradition.  Sure, it's a tiny gatehouse for S&C Electric, but it hits almost every note, from 360 degree visibility, to the use of a module to define proportions, to the deeply cantilevered roof that appears to float above the building. It makes use of traditional materials (brick) mainly to emphasize planar qualities.

But there's one nod to reality that I really like.  See those two shapes on the front edge of the roof?  Those are water spouts.  A truly doctrinaire modernist would have come up with a way to move the water down from the flat roof without allowing it to interrupt the design.  Maybe by concealing a water a spout in a corner column?   But in this case the architect decided that this is a roof, and it needs to shed water.  Of course they could have shifted them to the rear of the structure, but let's assume there are spouts on that side as well.

S & C Electric located in this area in 1947.  By 1971 they owned 50 acres east of Ridge.  I wish I could say that this gatehouse dates from 1947, but it's more likely to be a later addition as the company expanded into the area.  Historic aerial photos make me want to date it between 1974 and 1988.  But note the interesting profile of the stainless steel edge of the roof.  This detail is used on many of the buildings (old and new) and provides a cohesive element for an industrial campus with a variety of structures.  

1 comment:

  1. S&C is at least 74 acres & is believed to be the largest piece of privately owned property on the North Side.
    When John Conrad ran it, he had a standing offer to buy any property east of Ridge adjacent to his & paid over appraised value for it.
    I remember two house on Ridge near Albion that he paid $250,000 each which was at least $50,000 over the appraised value. Add in that the owners didn't have to pay commissions to agents. the owners made out very well.
    The house were torn down within days of the purchase.