Monday, January 29, 2018

6158 N. Richmond, 1959

Ok, getting back to my profoundly unpopular mid-century multi-family project for just a bit... 

I've written some posts about the Georgian Revival single family homes in the neighborhood which you can read here and here.    Below are some some throwback graphics from 2013, when I thought colored pencils were the greatest thing in the world.  Not sure what I was going for with the blue halo...

Georgian Revival Single Family Homes in West Ridge

As the West Ridge neighborhood developed the cost of land began to increase.  To make the investment worthwhile new construction became more dense, with more units per building. Parcels that had been less desirable, particularly on busy corners, could now be combined and developed profitably.

This 3-unit building below was constructed  on a double lot which might have accommodated two single family homes.  The developer also built a detached two-car garage, something typically eliminated from single family homes in order to keep costs down.  This is designed in the same  simplified Georgian style seen above, right down to the colonial-style windows and the gently pitched hipped roof.

6158 N. Richmond, 1959

The base of the building has the random coursed stone veneer common during the period. This is also used as the surround for a slightly projecting main entrance.  A large glass block window provides light to the interior stair.

The irregular the facade along Granville is really odd, with different windows sizes, configurations and placements.  And how about that uncomfortable-looking blank area?  It's almost as if the stylistic choice is working against the internal needs of the building. This might also explain why larger buildings began to rely on more modern facade designs, where there was more flexibility in the exterior expression. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

East Park Apartments, 1521 W. Sherwin, detail

In case you're wondering, those are holiday ornaments in the windows!
Art Deco terra cotta ornament is unusual in Rogers Park. Actually, Art Deco is unusual throughout Chicago, although there are still some great examples to be found.

According to the Chicago Historic Resources Survey this building was permitted in 1931 and designed by architect Benjamin A. Comm.  Most private building ceased after the crash of 1929, so I expect this project was funded well in advance.

What became the Art Deco style made its official appearance at the 1925 Paris Exposition.  It reflected contemporary movements in fine art, such as Cubism and Futurism, emphasizing pure geometric form and rejecting historic ornamentation.  So it's a bit ironic that same ornament has now become historic in its own right...

In 1927 the officers of the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company brought over six French sculptors to supply new designs for the company.  These became popular with architects and builders and soon the new style of ornament could be found at other terra cotta companies as well.  The use of color helped to emphasize the forms and lines of the design, which typically had a lower relief than  traditional ornament.

Some buildings designed by Benjamin A. Comm showing various styles.
Benjamin A. Comm designed a number of buildings recognized in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey.  His most interesting design (as far as I know) was the Union Park Hotel at 1519 W. Warren Boulevard.  This was designated as a Chicago Landmark in 2010, and the designation report has an nice discussion about Art Deco in Chicago, which I've cribbed from shamelessly.  But you should read it yourself!  Seriously, read it.

B.A. Comm didn't really make the cut as a "significant" architect in the report, but his work is notable from a neighborhood character standpoint.  Here are some examples using photos I swiped from the Cook County Assessor's website.  At least the Assessor is still good for something...