Sunday, March 25, 2012

Studying the Reliance Building

This semester at UIC, my friend Lauren and I have been doing a research project on the Reliance Building for our Tech class.  The building is very different from all other buildings being studied by our peers, which include the Mercedez Benz Museum by UN Studio, the IAC building by Frank Gehry, and Eberswalde Library by Herzog and deMeuron (sorry I couldn't find a good website for this one, but please look it up!).
Lauren, finding some old info
on the Reliance Building
The Reliance Building, unlike all of these, is over 100 years old, and in Chicago, which meant that Lauren and I got to be more hands-on than any of the other groups in learning about our building.  We went to the Art Institute Library to play history detectives of sorts, and looked through lots of old documents about the building, both from when it was first built and when it was restored in the 1990's.  We also got to interview Gunny Harboe, of Harboe and Assoc., who headed the restoration project.  He took his lunch hour one day to show us a whole slideshow and answer all of our questions about the facade system.  It was a really great opportunity.
The model we're planning to build
of the Reliance, in Rhino.
Also, since it is right here in downtown Chicago, Lauren and I went right in and asked if we could look around on the upper floors, which Gunny had suggested we do.  It was restored to be a hotel in the 1990's, and it is now called the Hotel Burnham, after Daniel Burnham.  The original style of the upper floors, which started out as offices, has been kept; the doors all have frosted glass windows.

For Valentine's Day, I was treated to a night at the Hotel Burnham.  It's the second time I've gotten to play tourist in Chicago by staying at a hotel downtown.  I had dinner at the Atwood Cafe (named for Charles Atwood, who took over the design of the Reliance Building after Root passed away) and stayed in a historical suite on the 11th floor.  Here are some of the pictures I took while I was there. 
View across the street, to the Marshall Field's
(begrudgingly, Macy's) building at night.

view south, on State Street, at night
view north, on State Street, at night
view north, on State Street, in the morning

upper hallways, still looking like office building floors

the downstairs lobby, originally planned to show off
Hale's (the building owner's) own elevator design.

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