Tribune Tower

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This article is about the building in Chicago, Illinois. For the Tribune Tower in Oakland, California, see Tribune Tower (Oakland).
Tribune Tower
Chicago 29 Oct116.jpg
The Gothic Revival Tribune Tower in Chicago
General information
Type Office
Location 435 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, USA
Coordinates 41°53′26″N 87°37′25″W / 41.890426°N 87.62367°W / 41.890426; -87.62367Coordinates: 41°53′26″N 87°37′25″W / 41.890426°N 87.62367°W / 41.890426; -87.62367
Construction started 1923
Completed 1925
Height
Top floor 462 feet (141 m)
Technical details
Floor count 36
Design and construction
Architect Howells & HoodJohn Mead Howells and Raymond Hood
Designated: February 1, 1989

The Tribune Tower is a neo-Gothic building located at 435 North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It is the home of the Chicago Tribune and Tribune Company. WGN Radio (720 kHz) broadcasts from the building, with ground-level studios overlooking nearby Pioneer Court and Michigan Avenue. CNN's Chicago bureau is located in the building. It is listed as a Chicago Landmark and is a contributing property to the Michigan–Wacker Historic District.

Design competition[edit]

Tribune Tower

In 1922 the Chicago Tribune hosted an international design competition for its new headquarters, and offered $100,000 in prize money with a $50,000 1st prize for "the most beautiful and distinctive office building in the world". The competition worked brilliantly for months as a publicity stunt, and the resulting entries still reveal a unique turning point in American architectural history. More than 260 entries were received.

The winner was a neo-Gothic design by New York architects John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood, with buttresses near the top.

The entry that many perceived as the best—a radically simplified tower by the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen—took second place and received $20,000. Saarinen's tower, which anticipated the coming impact of stripped-down modernism on building form, was preferred by critics like Louis Sullivan, and was a strong influence on the next generation of skyscrapers including Raymond Hood's own subsequent work on the McGraw-Hill Building and Rockefeller Center. The 1929 Gulf Building in Houston, Texas, designed by architects Alfred C. Finn, Kenneth Franzheim, and J. E. R. Carpenter, is a close realization of that Saarinen design. César Pelli's 181 West Madison Street Building in Chicago is also thought to be inspired by Saarinen's design.

Other Tribune tower entries by figures like Walter Gropius, Bertram Goodhue, Bruno Taut, and Adolf Loos remain intriguing suggestions of what might have been, but perhaps not as intriguing as the one surmounted by Rushmore-like head of an American Indian. These entries were originally published by the Tribune Company in 1923 under the title Tribune Tower Competition and later in The Chicago Tribune Tower Competition: Skyscraper Design and Cultural Change in the 1920s by Katherine Solomonson and Richard A. Etlin, 2001.

In the 1980 book entitled The Tribune Tower Competition published by Rizzoli, authors Robert A. M. Stern, Stanley Tigerman as well as Bruce Abbey and other architects jokingly submitted "late entries" in Volume II of the work.

Archival materials regarding the competition and the building are held by the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The building[edit]

Design[edit]

The former Chicago Sun-Times Building (site of current Trump International Hotel and Tower), Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower at night
Tower from Trump International Hotel and Tower's Restaurant, Sixteen

By 1922 the neo-Gothic skyscraper had become an established design tactic, with the first important so-called "American Perpendicular Style" at Cass Gilbert's Woolworth Building of 1913. This was a late example, perhaps the last important example, and criticized for its perceived historicism. Construction on the Tribune Tower was completed in 1925 and reached a height of 462 feet (141 m) above ground. The ornate buttresses surrounding the peak of the tower are especially visible when the tower is lit at night.

As was the case with most of Hood's projects, the sculptures and decorations were executed by the American artist Rene Paul Chambellan. The tower features carved images of Robin Hood (Hood) and a howling dog (Howells) near the main entrance to commemorate the architects. The top of the tower is designed after the Tour de beurre (″butter tower″) of the Rouen Cathedral in France, which is characteristic of the late gothic style, that is to say, without a spire but with a crown-shaped top.

Rene Paul Chambellan contributed his sculpture talents to the buildings ornamentation, gargoyles and the famous Aesops' Screen over the main entrance doors. Rene Chambellan worked on other projects with Raymond Hood including the American Radiator Building and Rockefeller Center in New York City. Also, among the gargoyles on the Tribune Tower is one of a frog. That piece was created by Rene Chambellan to represent himself jokingly as he is of French ancestry.

Collection of famous building fragments[edit]

Prior to the building of the Tribune Tower, correspondents for the Chicago Tribune brought back rocks and bricks from a variety of historically important sites throughout the world at the request of Colonel McCormick. Many of these reliefs have been incorporated into the lowest levels of the building and are labeled with their location of origin. Stones included in the wall are from such sites as the Trondheim Cathedral, Taj Mahal, Clementine Hall, the Parthenon, Hagia Sophia, Corregidor Island, Palace of Westminster, petrified wood from the Redwood National and State Parks, the Great Pyramid, The Alamo, Notre Dame de Paris, Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb, the Great Wall of China, Independence Hall, Fort Santiago, Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, and Banteay Srei among others.

Some of these had a political or social context such as the stone from the Berlin Wall and the column fragment of Wawel Castle located in its own niche over the upper-left corner of the main entrance, as a visual tribute to Chicago's large Polish populace, the largest such presence outside of the Republic of Poland. There are 149 fragments in the building. More recently a rock returned from the moon was displayed in a window in the Tribune giftstore (it could not be added to the wall as NASA owns all moon rocks, and it is merely on loan to the Tribune), and a piece of steel recovered from the World Trade Center has been added to the wall.

Buildings influenced by the Tower[edit]

Several buildings around the world make reference to the design of the Tribune tower. Most notably in Australia, the spires of the Grace Building in Sydney and the Manchester Unity Building in Melbourne.

Freedom Museum[edit]

On April 11, 2006 the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum opened, occupying two stories of the building, including the previous location of high-end gift store Hammacher-Schlemmer. The museum closed this location and March 1, 2009 redirected its efforts to become an online museum.

In popular culture[edit]

  • On the November 21 and 28, 2007 in episodes entitled "One Wedding and a Funeral" and "The Thing About Heroes" of the television series CSI: NY, historical pieces stolen from the building led Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) to his hometown of Chicago. Upon further investigation of the man stalking him, Taylor found a dead body in an office of an unused floor in the building. The episodes were filmed entirely on location in Chicago.
  • Conan O'Brien was seen running past the tower while en route from New York to Los Angeles on his first episode as host of The Tonight Show.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]