Posted by George Pudlo on December 17, 2010 at 12:20 AM
The Rookery Building Lobby Renovation 1905
209 S LaSalle, Chicago IL
The Rookery Building is one of Chicago’s most historic structures. Built in 1886, the Rookery was designed by Burnham & Root; one of Chicago’s most prominent architectural firms. The firm was also responsible for the master plan of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. By 1905, the lobby of the building was due for a remodel and Wright transformed it into modern elegance. The lobby of the Rookery is unlike any of Frank Lloyd Wright’s other interiors. It almost seems a little too pristine and opulent to be a work of Wright’s, but nonetheless maintains characteristic features of Wright’s work in the first decade of the 20th Century.
The lobby was originally floored with hand cut, mosaic tiles that Wright covered with Carrera marble, the same marble Michelangelo used for many of his sculptures. The Carrera marble floor has recently been removed to expose the original tiling, but the Carrera marble trim around the lobby remains intact, as well as the Carrera marble coverings on the columns. A marble slab has been removed to expose one of the original cast iron columns designed by John Root.
The light fixtures are very Wrightian: globes enclosed by squares to offer a horizontal pull. The planters at the foot of the stairwell are similar: half globes enclosed by squares. There is a strong sense of geometry replicated in the glass and iron atrium. The cast iron detailing of the stairwells and parapets is comparable to Art Nouveau.
One of Wright’s employees, William Drummond, would later alter the lobby again in 1931. Drummond removed the ground floor stairs across from the existing stairs. He also gave the elevators an Art Deco facelift. The Rookery is now an incredibly well thought blend of styles. Both Frank Lloyd Wright and Burnham & Root had offices in this building.