Posted by: Hikenutty
N 41° 53.182 W 087° 37.859
16T E 447650 N 4637352
Quick Description: The Rookery, designed by Burnham and Root in 1885, is considered the first tall office building to solve the problem of the layout of large numbers of offices.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 8/1/2007 9:33:29 AM
Waymark Code: WM1Y62
The following excerpt can be found in "The Guide to Illinois":
The ROOKERY, S.E. corner of La Salle and Adams Sts., maintains the name and occupies the site of the ramshackle structure that served as a temporary city hall after the Fire. The name was inspired, it is said, by the hundreds of pigeons that roosted on the eaves of the old building. Designed by Burnham and Root and erected in 1885, the Rookery reflects the Romanesque vogue of the period, but its profuse ornamentation is of Hindoo inspiration. It has been commended as the first tall building to solve intelligently the problems of grouping and lighting a large number of offices.
The Rookery was actually finished in 1888 and is considered to be the oldest high-rise in Chicago that is still standing. In the center of the building is an open light court down to the lobby skylight. This allowed inside offices to have natural light. The Rookery represents a transition between masonry and metal construction methods. Its outer walls are supported mostly by masonry piers and the inner frame is built of steel and iron. The only metal framing found on the perimeter walls is on the first two stories along the alleys.
The lobby of the building was remodeled in 1905 by Frank Lloyd Wright. He simplified the interior iron work and added planters in his well known style. In the lobby you'll find the building's famous spiral staircase, frequently used in movies.
The following facts are from the building database site, emporis.com:
- The architects Burnham & Root moved their offices here for a while upon its completion, and Frank Lloyd Wright also set up an office here at one time.
- Architect John Root devised the "grillage foundation" - iron rails and structural beams in a crisscross pattern and encased in concrete - to support the building's immense weight without heavy foundation stones.
- Before the Rookery name had stuck to this project, its developers proposed a long list of possible names, mostly of American Indian derivation.
- Like the Fisher Building the Rookery incorporates in its facade animal forms derived from the building's name - in this case pairs of rooks by the entrance archway.
- Projected string courses around the facade divide the building into five distinct horizontal layers.
- Since the interior frame is built of steel and iron, the facade facing the light court has far more extensive window area than the more fortresslike street facades.
- The light court was very influential in the design of office buildings in Chicago, including its use of glazed white brick for added brightness.
- Since the perimeter walls are so much heavier than the interior frame, their foundations were built higher to account for greater settling.
- Above the LaSalle Street and Adams Street entrances there are wide balconies at the 8th floor.
- The exterior ornamentation draws from several styles, including Romanesque, Moorish, Islamic, and Venetian.
- In the Frank Norris novel The Pit, financial speculator Curtis Jadwin's has his office in the Rookery.
- The renovation architects were recognized with an Honor Award for Design from the American Institute of Architects in 1993.
Page Number(s) of Excerpt: 217
Year Originally Published: 1939
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