Chicago Architecture Data: A Historic Buildings Guide For the Windy City

Visiting a city as large as Chicago can be overwhelming. For the architect, this is doubly true. The city is a treasure trove of architectural history, perhaps most notable as the birthplace of the skyscraper and the Chicago School. Names like Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Daniel Burnham are commonplace in Chicago, their buildings nestled amidst more modern works by the likes of SOM, Jelmut Jahn, and Studio Gang Architects.

Still more works are hidden away in obscure corners of the city, less well known but equally representative of the time and style in which they were built. In the interest of cataloging these buildings, and bringing attention to those that may not be on the typical city tour, blogger John Morris has created Chicago Architecture Data. A near-comprehensive survey of projects built before 1940 organized by neighborhood and architectural style, Chicago Architecture Data is a veritable history book for the architecture of the Windy City.

Garfield Park Field House. Image © John Morris

Creator John Morris was originally a co-contributor for the blog Chicago Patterns, a site devoted to the history of the neighborhoods of Chicago through photography of their architecture. From this kind of graphic storytelling, Chicago Architecture Data was born. Maintained by Chicago Patterns staff, Morris is responsible for management of the photography, design, and analysis found in the survey. A relatively new site, Chicago Architecture Data is not yet complete, but the contributors mission statement is “to document the history and characteristics of all interesting buildings in the city.”

Egyptian Lacquer Building. Image © John Morris

The site makes extensive use of resources such as the Chicago Historic Resources Survey and the Cook County Assessor’s Office to catalog when buildings were built, who built them, and the property information of the site. To date, the survey includes over 10,000 entries, and can be searched based on neighborhood, style, or keyword. Chicago Architecture Data acts not only as a historical guide, but an advocate for those valuable buildings in need of preservation; like every city, Chicago is in constant flux, with buildings torn down and replaced on a constant basis, and increased visibility for buildings that represent a significant period in the city’s history reduces the chance that they will be one of those selected for demolition. Chicago Architecture Data provides them with that visibility: be sure to check it out here!

Schulze Baking Company. Image © John Morris

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Cite: Connor Walker. "Chicago Architecture Data: A Historic Buildings Guide For the Windy City" 12 Jan 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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