Another One Bites The Dust: Walter Gropius Buildings Being Torn Down in Chicago

Photograph: © Grahm M. Balkany / Gropius in Chicago Coalition, used with permission

It is hard to get people excited about saving buildings from the 50s and 60s. But then it used to be hard to get people excited about saving Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, and now Chicago values them above all else. That is why it is so stupid to see the City of Chicago demolish the work of Walter Gropius, one of the most important architects of the 20th century. In twenty years, people are going to look back at this demolition with the anger they do now over the loss of Louis Sullivan buildings in the sixties. Twenty years from now, people are going to wonder how an entire species of architecture was demolished to extinction.
Photograph: © Grahm M. Balkany / Gropius in Chicago Coalition, used with permission

One can talk about the green, sustainable side, how "the greenest building is the one already standing" as Carl Elefante says, or how "the greenest brick is the one already in the wall" as Steve Mouzon puts it. One can talk about embodied energy, how much energy it took to fire those bricks and make those windows, that is completely lost as they go to the dump.


But for once, let's look at the idea of embodied genius. That one of the greats, who built the Bauhaus in Germany and helped bring Modernism to America, deserves to have his work preserved and lovingly restored.

And that Chicago might have its image as a city that understands and appreciates architecture restored as well if they stop this before any more is lost.

Lots more at the Gropius in Chicago Coalition.

Blair Kamin says "What Chicago's doing is crazy." but if you read the comments on his article, you realize how many people hate mid-century modern architecture.

Tags: Architecture | Ban Demolition | Chicago


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