Another Sullivan-designed building burns in Chicago

Story here.

I was near the scene this evening for a class, and I'd be shocked if the structure is anything other than a total loss. "L" service near the building has been temporarily suspended due to concerns that vibrations from passing trains could cause the entire structure to collapse.

This is the second Sullivan-designed building to burn down in Chicago within the past year. The heart breaks.

Oct 24, 06 10:55 pm
vado retro
Oct 24, 06 11:08 pm

looks like it was butchered by the steak knife previously.

Oct 24, 06 11:15 pm

630 S. Wabash Ave.,

Oct 24, 06 11:29 pm
Living in Gin

Right down the street from Prairie Avenue Bookstore, incidentally, but other than all the fire trucks parked in front, the bookstore seemed unaffected.

Oct 25, 06 12:39 am
vado retro

yes but is the starbucks okay? cuz thats the nearest place from prairie avenue to take a leak!

Oct 25, 06 8:02 am

there have been an alarming number of early modern buildings to burn or be granted demolition permits - im think monro and dearborn which they took down a burnham/root 25 story tower only because it would be replaced by a worlds tallest ( sound familier?) only to instead build a squat little ugly duckling that looks like a 2nd yr attempt at modernism.

Oct 25, 06 9:30 am

evilplatypus, thank god there someone else as cynical as I still in chicago--- on with progress --

Oct 25, 06 9:48 am
vado retro

danny whatya say we head up to lincoln park and hook up with some trixies!
splendid idea old boy!

Oct 25, 06 11:45 am
Oct 25, 06 12:05 pm

Evil + TED, how many non-cynical architects do you know in Chicago? 'Cause I can't think of one...

Oct 25, 06 12:30 pm

i try not to be but its so hard. I can spot an architect a mile away.

Oct 26, 06 2:36 pm
work for idle hands

now they're saying the owner, who had no insurance by the way, is devastated because she had planned on restoring it back to its glorious steakhouse or whatever, blah blah..

..and that a crew was taking apart scrap in the basement with torches just before the fire...

..and that she had refused offers to sell... she may have hired the crew, but i have a feeling that 'accidents' can easily be purchased.

that or we have a serial arsonist gang of anti-sullivan construction workers terrorizing the city.

i kinda wish it had still been full of steaks when it burned down..downtown would have smelled great for a week.

Oct 26, 06 3:05 pm

From the sound of it (and it sounds like a duck), the crew did the job it was hired to do...

Oct 26, 06 4:22 pm

Henegahn wrecking? The city's go to crew.

Oct 26, 06 6:00 pm

Oct 26, 06 6:03 pm

Sullivan might be lifting a mug in heaven....thinking since they ruined my architecture with all the extra tack-ons over the years best it be gone just like me.

Oct 26, 06 6:09 pm
Living in Gin


Fire destroys historic Chicago home designed by Sullivan

What the fuck is going on? Note that in all three fires over the past year, contractors were doing work on the building at the time the fire started.

This was the last of only three wood-framed houses designed by Sullivan. The other two were destroyed by Hirrican Katrina last year.

Also, note that the building's owner had already applied for a demolition permit so he could build condos on the site.

Nov 4, 06 12:24 pm

Ok I admit, it was me. My disdain for flowery ornament has driven me mad with pyromanic passion. Or it was all the beer last night. So it could have been me.

Nov 4, 06 12:45 pm

Oh - Add to the list the FLW homes in Gary that burned in the spring.

Nov 4, 06 12:45 pm

LiG, definitely more than just a coincidence on that Lakeview house last night. The fire started in the unoccupied wood-frame house on the 2nd floor at 1:30am. Fire was so hot so quickly that whole structure collapsed ahead of flames. Neighbors had, in the last couple months, *succeeded* in blocking demo applied for by developer owner of house. Owner wants house down... neighbors stop him... house burns down anyway, in the middle of the night, in such a way that none of it can possibly be saved and preserved. Fucker. I hope they get this guy BAD.

Nov 4, 06 2:10 pm

here is an article in chicago reader from last july about the plans to demo the house, "Will the city let yet another Adler and Sullivan building go down?". a recent picture of the house and the architects' elevation drawing is included.

Nov 4, 06 3:21 pm
vado retro

if u live in a sullivan buildin make sure your insurance is up to date!

Nov 4, 06 3:42 pm
James Mayers

Hmmm... interesting, those Sullivan buildings on high-value downtown sites are almost as highly flammable as the department of justice in Brazilia...

Nov 5, 06 5:54 pm
James Mayers

By the by (possibly this is tempting fate) what's happening to the carson pirie scott store? It was covered in scaffolding when I visited, which was gutting... the original owners are giving up on it, is it being subdivided into the usual orible burger bars and such?

Nov 5, 06 6:01 pm

Its being turned mixed use - the State st. facing original Sullivan building is being preserved yet subdivided into a butique gallery - European style shopping. A mall of individual stores. They will also include whats only now described as "family entertainment complex" on part of it. However the interesting part is since it is a huge full city block footprint, some of it will be alowed demolition to build out commercial office space. This is exactly the type of pro - progress attitude that should be taken when dealing with landmark buildings (dif from historic). Many architects throughout time have left their mark by adding to other works from other periods and we should do the same, or truly risk these structures becoming burdens.

Nov 5, 06 8:59 pm
Living in Gin

Knowing Chicago, Daley will probably give his blessing to have the Carson's store torn down and replaced with a Best Buy. All in the name of progress, mind you.

Nov 5, 06 10:23 pm
vado retro

well why not gin, theres a tj maxx across the street. and what are you doing out of your eames chair???

Nov 5, 06 11:14 pm

I see it outside my window...

Nov 5, 06 11:36 pm
Living in Gin

But just to placate the preservationists, the Best Buy will be certain to have faux Sullivan-esque floral patterns stamped into its Dry-Vit walls.

Nov 5, 06 11:40 pm
vado retro

well real sullivanesque metal work would drive the price of your ipod up dude \m/ and you dont want that...

Nov 5, 06 11:43 pm

word \m/

Nov 5, 06 11:52 pm

naysayers all of you. Cant we just be positive?

Nov 6, 06 9:26 am


Nov 6, 06 9:33 am

come on, just for today?

Nov 6, 06 9:46 am

I am positive they are going to blow it.

Nov 6, 06 11:00 am

F'ckn Architects. This is why nobody likes us.

Nov 6, 06 11:07 am

elaborate, evil?

Nov 6, 06 11:11 am
vado retro

as i recall not too much of the interior of carsons was original. keep the facade and any interior details of import. gut the rest for todays savvy shopper!

Nov 6, 06 11:52 am

Deal Breakers, not deal makers.

Nov 6, 06 11:58 am

i find that we depend on the deal.

a reason they don't like us may be that we like to know that the deal is worth doing relative to our ethical responsibility to the public? (fully expect you to call it b.s., but some of us believe in it.)

Nov 6, 06 12:10 pm

Who are you to tell me the deal is worth doing? God I hate being the dissenting opinion on this forum but seriously a lot of you guys are like borderline socialists. Sullivan would not only approve, he'd encourage the renovation and redaptation of his State St. store to be marketable for whatever epoch. Thats the philosophy of the chicago modern school of economics and architecture - form ever follows function folks, not style committee. And if your worried about the state st. facade - no developer in the world would tear it down because its marketable thus salvagable, and most importantly still relevant to today's boutique retailers. Come on get with it or the world will pass you by.

Nov 6, 06 12:40 pm

they did a beautiful job on the restoration of the facade, it looks great. perhaps not what sullivan originally intended (drawings were lost, i think? or something?) but very pretty nonetheless.

Nov 6, 06 12:54 pm
vado retro

i am a socialist. and the chicago school was all about commerce.

Nov 6, 06 2:06 pm

I am just cynical. I just think that more often than not government screws it up marginally less than private industry. If I made $1M every time one of these buildings changed had, I might have a different impression though.

But, as the slower Great Chicago Fire is showing us - a vacant historical building's days are numbered. If they're willing to respect the proportion and density of the site (and can resist replacing the lower 6 floors with open-air parking...) than I am all for it.

The existing owners did do a pretty good job at the renovation. Its just unfortunate that the business model no longer supports people investing in the communities they are a part of. Thanks race-to-the-bottom-line!

Nov 6, 06 3:23 pm
Its just unfortunate that the business model no longer supports people investing in the communities they are a part of.

exactly the key, and something which architects have some influence over.

not that we have any real authority, as evil suggests we might try to claim. (i wasn't saying above that someone should have the authority to tell you a deal isn't worth doing. i was suggesting that it's up to architects to judge the economic, architectural, environmental, and social value of the deal for themselves, keeping their ethical responsibility to watch out for the public good in mind.)

we do have the ability to make our opinions known, like everyone else. we need to remember, too, that we have multiple stakeholders: ourselves, our clients, our users, and the general public. the general public doesn't always have a voice in the projects we do. we can serve that stakeholder by choosing not to be involved in projects which will adversely affect the public good - a professional responsibility that is ignored by many architects today.

this digression started by talking about a preservation issue and your indication that protection of structures comes from architects-as-hurdles. preservation is not an architects' issue, it's an effort supported by a broad section of the public to protect things that they value. architects end up embroiled in preservation controversies so often because, renovation or replacement, we'd have to be involved.

if socialism would help slow down the flood of disgusting market-driven development, evil, i'd be down with it. architects have been complicit in making our communities uglier by the year.

Nov 6, 06 3:47 pm
vado retro

carsons probably moved out of that store because their product lines are not that exclusive. that building does demand a higher end more boutique merchandise. bring rem and stimpy in to redo the interior. then maybe todays architecture students will go see some real arcitecture, even if it just the facade. \m/

Nov 6, 06 3:57 pm

When Carsons was built not only was capital financing hard to come by, it came in in 30-40 year loan periods similar to a modern home mortgage. However todays commercial lending coupled with private lending demands profitabilitiy instantaneously - leading to loan periods of 10-20 years max - thus the structure need not bedazzle it's customers for 50 years, if at all, to compete over the life of the lend. These issues hardly have anything to do with us. Its sad but true. The first step to having any sort of clout in the process in the future is recognizing how little we have now, and learning to play with the boys.

Nov 6, 06 4:56 pm
vado retro

its all about discounted cashflow baby!

Nov 6, 06 5:02 pm

vado- I'm shocked that you have yet to post this link.


Nov 6, 06 6:02 pm

she's hot!

Nov 6, 06 6:03 pm

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