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How Chicago’s Tribune Tower Competition Changed Architecture Forever

16:00 - 3 October, 2017
How Chicago’s Tribune Tower Competition Changed Architecture Forever, © Steve Hall
© Steve Hall

This article was originally published on the blog of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the largest platform for contemporary architecture in North America. The 2017 Biennial, entitled Make New History, will be free and open to the public between September 16, 2017 and January 6, 2018.

The Tribune Tower has stood at the heart of Chicago’s cultural heritage for almost a hundred years. Like the spire of a secular cathedral, it still symbolizes the rise of the “city of big shoulders” and its defining role in the American Century. But the building is more than a Chicago icon. The story of its origin has proved to be one of the most enduringly influential narratives in 20th Century architecture, key to understanding the skylines of cities all over the world.

The “late entries” included fantastical designs by Helmut Jahn, Judith Di Maio, Arquitectonica, and Robert A.M. Stern. Image Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial Blog (Consortia) Some of the more radical proposals for the Tribune Tower by Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer; Max Taut; Adolf Loos; and Bruno Taut, Walter Gunther, and Kurz Schutz. Image Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial Blog (Consortia) For nearly a century, Chicago’s Tribune Tower has stood at the heart of the city’s cultural heritage. Image Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial Blog (Consortia) A reconstruction of Loos’ proposal (center) accompanies new towers by an international group of young architects. Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial. Image © Steve Hall + 8