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Chicago’s concrete architecture showcased in new map

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‘Concrete Chicago Map’ shows how the building material shaped the city

Courtesy of Blue Crow Media, Photos by Jason Woods

Concrete is the backbone of many iconic buildings in Chicago and thanks to a new map, design lovers can get to know some of the best examples.

Concrete isn’t just for sidewalks or foundations, it defined the Brutalist movement (the name comes from the French term béton brut meaning “raw concrete”) and continues to be used in innovate ways.

While not every building is strictly Brutalist in the map, it shows how the material shaped many of the city’s institutional, educational, and government buildings throughout the second half of the 20th century. Think Bertrand Goldberg’s Marina City and River City structures or Northwestern University’s main library.

The original architectural guide aims to highlight overlooked buildings as well, such as St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital by Perkins + Will and I. W. Colburn’s Henry Hinds Lab at the University of Chicago. The Chicago map is the twelfth in the series, other cities featured include New York, Boston, London, Berlin, and Tokyo.

Marina City
St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital

In highlighting significant concrete architecture, map editor and Chicago-based architect Iker Gil hopes to help preserve the city’s history. In recent years, Chicago has lost a few important buildings, for example, Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital which was demolished in 2014.

“Concrete Chicago Map provides an opportunity to celebrate and discover concrete structures in a city that features some of the most important buildings of the last century. In many cases, these concrete buildings captured the aspirations of the city at critical times,” Gil said in a statement. “As we shape the future of Chicago, it is worth trying to learn from these lessons and opportunities represented by these remarkable buildings.”

The map is available at bookstores or from Blue Crow Media’s website for $11.