A landmark of modern architecture, 330 North Wabash set a standard that is still being copied by architects around the world today. It is undeniably one of the great works of "serious" architecture.
Perched along a slight bend in the Chicago River, the building takes stately to a new level. Its design manages to be all business, but not stuffy. When seen on a bright day from across the river its darkness contrasts with the bright stone and glittering reflective glass of its neighbors. But that presence only works when the weather is good. When things aren't at their peak, the building robs the area of much needed light and manages to be little more than a massive void in the sky.
Still, 330 North Wabash is considered an architectural masterpiece. It keeps no secrets. Even a quick look reveals this building's bones. You can clearly see the structural steel, the mechanical floor, and the columns that make this skyscraper possible. Unlike its new-fangled neighbors who hide their flaws beneath a skin of silver glass, this building is raw architecture out in the open.
It is also something of an engineering feat. The building had to avoid a freight rail line that brought newspaper rolls to the Chicago Sun-Times building that was once on the other side of Wabash Avenue. The City of Chicago even helped out a little with the engineering, shifting the path of Wabash Avenue slightly to allow the architect to pursue the building shape he desired.
Mies van der Rohe died before construction began. A bust of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is in the lobby to honor him.
This past fall, the CUDC hosted an Exhibition in its gallery space on Lafayette Park, a thriving development in Detroit designed by the famous modern architect, Mies Van Der Rohe. Our professor, Steve Rugare, lectured several times on the subject matter and composed several tours of the space. What I admired the most was detail of the physical models. His attention to detail, which can seem obsessive, is probably crucial both to Lafayette Park's beauty and to its survival. It is regarded as a work of art to be treasured and tended by its residents.
Brandon E. Young