This week, Preservation Chicago released its annual list of endangered Chicago buildings – and this year, paving materials – to sound the alarm about historic structures that they believe are in danger of being erased.
For the second year in a row, Jackson Park tops the organization’s list due to the Barack Obama Presidential Center plans for the site as well as Project 120’s plans for changes to the park landscape, including a redesign of the golf course, removal of Cornell Drive, and the widening of South Lake Shore Drive and Stony Island Avenues to accommodate a private museum.
The Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Jackson Park is one of the city’s oldest and most storied parks and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The James R. Thompson Center/State of Illinois building, designed by Helmut Jahn, is facing sale and possible demolition by the Rauner administration. The glassy, curved, stepped building once derided as “Thompson’s Folly” was developed to include both governmental offices and retail, but deferred maintenance and diminished retail have taken their toll over the years.
The 1911 William Rainey Harper High School in the Englewood neighborhood is one of four Englewood schools that Chicago Public Schools is closing. The building, designed by storied CPS architect Dwight Perkins, is an outstanding example of patterned brickwork.
The Hermann von Holst Washington Park Substation was built in 1928 to house electrical power transformers nearest the largest load demand – in this case, the nearby ‘L’ station. Like other substations, the Washington Park Substation features electricity-themed ornament on its facade, including limestone light bulbs.
The 1923 Woodruff Arcade Building in Edgewater is one of the last arcade buildings in Chicago. Shopping arcades were early versions of shopping malls, with a central court area and often skylit interiors, which is the case with the Woodruff Arcade. The building has been sold to a developer and plans for a seven-story building on its site do not include retaining any part of the historic structure.
The massive 1927 Moorish Revival Guyon Hotel in West Garfield Park is the last reminder of the neighborhood’s history as a vibrant shopping and entertainment district in the first half of the 20th century. The building has endured through several failed rehabilitation efforts, including an attempt at affordable housing. Preservation Chicago contends that the success of the renovated Rosenwald Apartments is a strong model for a similar development at the Guyon.
Given the amount of attention that has been focused on the restoration of much of the 1925 Graham, Anderson, Probst, and White Chicago Union Station, their inclusion on this list might come as a surprise. But Preservation Chicago argues that the current $1 billion redevelopment proposal adding high-rise buildings over the headhouse building is not only non-conforming, but dangerous to the original structure. They point to a similar situation with Soldier Field, which had its status on the National Register stripped when the nonconforming addition of a glassy grandstand was made while preserving the historic columns, an extreme example of so-called “facadism.”
And the eighth item on the organization’s list is not a building, but a building material – the brick pavers that make up an increasingly small number of Chicago streets.
When Chicago streets were first paved, it was with wooden planks and later wooden blocks. Later, fired-clay brick pavers became the standard, with granite pavers in commercial districts to handle heavy loads. Most of the brick-paved streets have been asphalted over, but Preservation Chicago argues that brick pavers have a longer lifespan and lower maintenance than asphalt streets.
March 30, 2017: This week, a significant work by artist Alexander Calder was dismantled from the lobby of the Willis Tower and is being moved into storage. Ward Miller of Preservation Chicago says a second major Calder work may also be in danger of disappearing.
March 7, 2017: This year, the group’s annual list of endangered structures sounds the alarm on not just buildings, but also public art.
March 2, 2016: Preservation Chicago has released its annual list of the most endangered buildings in Chicago, a list they usually call “the Chicago Seven” – but for the first time in 14 years, the organization has included an eighth structure.