Everything Old Is New Again | The Reader's Guide Feature | Chicago Reader

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Everything Old Is New Again

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Architecture is Chicago's greatest art form, says Franz Schulze, professor emeritus at Lake Forest College and coauthor of the fifth edition of the reference guide Chicago's Famous Buildings. "But the city's attitude toward architecture has changed since the first edition," Schulze adds. "The early editions looked at the skyscraper as the most important innovation since the Gothic cathedral. The editors were very modern in their prejudice. We've been more interested in looking at older buildings, and we've added whole neighborhoods like Pilsen and Bronzeville." It's been ten years since Schulze and Kevin Harrington edited the fourth edition of the handbook, which was originally published in 1965, and new structures have been added--not all of them great. Take Navy Pier, for example: "Seen from the shoreline it is a muddle of disparate forms," reads the book, "while up close, its materials look cheap and its detailing careless. The west end is made up mostly of architectural kitsch." Schulze doesn't like the Aon Center--formerly the Standard Oil Building--either. Even without its original marble walls, which went to hell almost as soon as they went up, he thinks it looks like "a marble tombstone." But he has kinder words for the Arts Club of Chicago, which salvaged its Mies van der Rohe staircase when its former home was razed, and for recent additions to the University of Chicago and Northwestern University campuses. At 4 PM on Friday, December 5, Schulze will discuss the newest edition of the book in Calvin Durand Hall on the Lake Forest College middle campus, Sheridan and College in Lake Forest. It's free; call 847-735-6010.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Leslie Schwartz.

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