January 21, 2007

Pocket Guide to Chicago Architecture
Judith Paine McBrien
Illustrations by John F. DeSalvo

Make No Small Plans – Kathleen Carpenter’s walking tours for the Chicago Architecture Foundation are like any conversation with Kathleen: exuberant, spiced with intelligent detail, funny, and sprinkled with intriguing stories. Whether she’s describing the risk and hope that went into constructing the Field Building as the Great Depression dug in (the Field Building would be the last building to rise in the Loop until 20 years passed) or inviting you to step beneath the take-your-breath-away trellis stretching above the vast lawn of the Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Kathleen’s love for Chicago is clear. On Christmas Day, Kathleen and her husband, Jack Gould, hosted a small dinner party at their home, during which they presented copies of this wonderful Pocket Guide to their guests. Jack, like many Chicagoans, also speaks proudly about our city’s awesome architecture. Last year, he showed Eugene Burger, Robert Charles and me around the University of Chicago’s new Graduate School of Business on the Hyde Park campus. In designing the new GSB building, Rafael Viñoly Architects faced the challenge of developing a new school that not only functioned well but referenced its formidable neighbors: the historic Ida Noyes Hall and her two more famous siblings, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House and Rockefeller Chapel. (They succeeded.) But here’s where Kathleen and Jack’s presentations differ. Kathleen would’ve had us marching across the street for a different perspective while she buoyantly described the inside scoop on just what it takes to get a beautiful, world-class building created within the conservative confines of academe. As it was, Jack mostly focused his boyish enthusiasm on the state-of-the-art classroom gadgetry and the Chicago Fire Department’s rigorous smoke-flow tests in the school’s unique atrium. (Chicago, after all, is a bit, shall we say, touchy about fire codes.) Decades after the Great Fire of 1871, Daniel Burnham advised thinking big as a way to stir men’s blood; another way to reinvigorate your soul is to spend time with people like Kathleen and Jack, whose passions are generously shared and easily enjoyed.


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