The Chicago Auditorium Building: Adler and Sullivan's Architecture and the City (Chicago Architecture and Urbanism Series)

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Overview

When the magnificent Auditorium Building opened on Chicago's Michigan Avenue in December 1889, American and European newspapers hailed the event as a defining moment for the city, the most important since the Great Fire of 1871. The Auditorium marked Chicago's emergence both as the leading city of the Midwest and as a metropolis of international stature.

In this lavishly illustrated book, Joseph M. Siry explores not just the architectural history of the Auditorium Building, but also the crucial role it played in Chicago's social history. Housing a luxurious 400-room hotel, 136 offices and stores, and a theater that could seat 4,200, the Auditorium Building was one of the earliest multipurpose civic centers in the United States, and its many technical and aesthetic innovations launched Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan's national reputation as creators of highly innovative architecture for large public buildings. (Frank Lloyd Wright was employed by Adler and Sullivan at the time, serving as Sullivan's draftsman.) But the Auditorium;s importance was not limited to architecture. Envisioned by its principal patron, Ferdinand W. Peck, as a means to counter the violent socialist agitation of the Haymarket era, the Auditorium Theater embodied Peck's capitalist ideal of a democratic variation on the European opera house that could provide affordable, high-class entertainment for the city's skilled workers.

Covering the Auditorium from the early design to its opening, its later renovations, its links to culture and politics in Chicago, and its influence on later Adler and Sullivan works (including the Schiller Building and the Chicago Stock Exchange Building), The Chicago Auditorium Building recounts the fascinating tale of a building that helped to define a city and an era.

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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
Siry writes history with a storyteller's gift. His book is often dense with detail, but he weaves even arcane references as part of a broad narrative that conveys the complex relationships that were the reality of the late 19th-century American city. The hefty tome sports the extensive visual documentation expected of a book focused on an architectural gem, and Siry makes the most of it, deftly weaving these illustrations into the course of his text.

— Edward Keegan

Atlantic Monthly
"This meticulous, abundantly illustrated, and wide-ranging 580-page chronicle of the building's funding, design, and construction is as much a social history as an architectural one. . . . Siry also details (in an approach that is somewhat refreshing for an art historian) the building's triumph in engineering as well as in aesthetic design."
CAA Reviews
Where the book really shines . . . is Siry's reconstruction of the social and historical context that gave rise to and helped guide the development of the Auditorium Building. This makes the text a true find for architectural historians and worthwhile reading for a much broader audience. . . . The result is a book with a scope and detail to match both the magnificence of the building and the depth of thought that went into its conception, design, and construction.

— Brendan Powers

Chicago Tribune - Edward Keegan
"Siry writes history with a storyteller's gift. His book is often dense with detail, but he weaves even arcane references as part of a broad narrative that conveys the complex relationships that were the reality of the late 19th-century American city. The hefty tome sports the extensive visual documentation expected of a book focused on an architectural gem, and Siry makes the most of it, deftly weaving these illustrations into the course of his text."
CAA Reviews - Brendan Powers
"Where the book really shines . . . is Siry's reconstruction of the social and historical context that gave rise to and helped guide the development of the Auditorium Building. This makes the text a true find for architectural historians and worthwhile reading for a much broader audience. . . . The result is a book with a scope and detail to match both the magnificence of the building and the depth of thought that went into its conception, design, and construction."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226761336
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2002
  • Series: Chicago Architecture and Urbanism Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 580
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph M. Siry is a professor of art history and American studies at Wesleyan University. He is the author of Carson Pirie Scott: Louis Sullivan and the Chicago Department Store, published by the University of Chicago Press, and Unity Temple: Frank Lloyd Wright and Architecture for Liberal Religion.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Ferdinand Peck, Chicago Politics, and Chicago Theaters to 1880
2. Theater Architecture and Social Conflict in Chicago, 1880-1886
3. Initiating and Designing the Auditorium Building
4. The Auditorium Theater
5. The Auditorium Hotel: Architecture and Urban Life
6. Adler and Sullivan's Later Architecture in Chicago, 1890-1894
Epilogue: The Chicago Auditorium Building since 1890
Appendix: Chicago Loop Properties of Philip F.W. Peck and His Sons, 1849-1896
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

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