Ongoing

 
  Photo by Bill Zbaren

Photo by Bill Zbaren

McCormick Place Lakeside Center

The McCormick Place Lakeside Center was built in 1971 and designed by Gene Summers.  Summers served as project architect for Mies van der Rohe on iconic projects including the Seagram Building in New York City and the National Gallery in Berlin.  At the Lakeside Center, Summers used Miesian elements but created a dramatic roof which cantilevers 75 feet beyond its columns and contains a whopping 19 acres of surface area.  Although the building’s lakefront location is widely acknowledged to have been a mistake, the Lakeside Center remains what Chicago Tribune architectural critic Blair Kamin called “a bravura exercise in architectural modernism”.

The Lakeside Center’s size and location have posed problems as McCormick Place expanded west with larger exhibition halls and better accessibility.  As reported by Crain’s in April 2017, the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority’s current strategic plan calls for renovating or replacing Lakeside Center.  Another plan calls for demolishing the building and converting the site to parkland.  As of early 2018, no plans have been announced for the building, but rising maintenance costs could hasten a decision.  Docomomo Chicago remains committed to the preservation and adaptive reuse of the Lakeside Center.

  University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf2-05571, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf2-05571, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School

The former Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School, located along the Midway Plaisance in Woodlawn, was built in 1966 by I.W. Colburn, known for idiosyncratic Modernist-style buildings including the Cummings and Hinds laboratories at the University of Chicago.  The Shankman School was built as an addition between two 1920s Georgian Revival-style buildings.  Colburn’s design uses the proportions, composition, and architectural elements of the older buildings to create a building which is contextual yet undeniably Modernist.  The building is owned by the University of Chicago and has been unoccupied since 2014.

As reported in Crain’s and Curbed in May 2017, a new 15-story hotel is proposed for the site.  As proposed, the 180-room hotel would require demolition of the existing buildings on the site, including Colburn’s 1966 addition.  Docomomo Chicago has been in contact with the University of Chicago to voice its opposition to the possible demolition, and, in light of the university’s commendable stewardship of other Modernist buildings on its campus, to encourage other alternatives for adaptive reuse of the former Shankman School.


Top banner: McCormick Place Lakeside Center, Gene Summers and Helmut Jahn, C.F. Murphy Associates, 1968-1971