Chicago Wedding Photography

The Chicago Architecture You Want in Your Wedding Photos

America’s Finest Architecture

There are many places throughout the world boasting spectacular buildings and innovative architecture; in the United States of America, one city used a tragedy to re-imagine what is possible when marrying form and function. This city is Chicago, and its architecture stands the test of time.

How a Cow Started an Architectural Revolution

The origin of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 is unknown, but it is believed to have been started in a barn when a cow belonging to a woman named Mrs. O’Leary kicked a lantern. The fire burned down the city during a span of two days in October. Over 100,000 Chicagoans were homeless thanks to the fire. Worse yet, the Chicago fire department was woefully ill-equipped for such a massive blaze. The downtown area of the city was destroyed in a way reminiscent of World War II photos nearly 70 years later.

The fire ignited a call for stricter building codes within the city and in turn rebuilding the city of Chicago commenced immediately. The challenge of rebuilding a major American city inspired some of the greatest architects and city planners of its day.

The Origins of Chicago Architecture

Chicago architecture is unique because the style itself is a combination of existing styles made efficient thanks to greater access to stronger, sturdier materials. The key component of Chicago’s new buildings was steel. Because of steel’s strength, Chicago could be rebuilt higher and stronger than previous edifices.

Most of the city was destroyed. The Chicago School (an architectural style) used steel and plate glass to rebuild. They explored designs that were innovative at the time and today are a staple of urban architecture throughout the world.

A great example of this is the Home Insurance Building designed by William LeBaron Jenney. This was the first true “skyscraper” to use steel in place of cast iron. Steel is lighter and stronger. Unlike cast iron it doesn’t corrode nearly as easily, making it a better building material. The steel was surrounded by heavy brick and stone. This hybrid style was embraced and improved upon.

Modern Chicago Architectural Influence

Architects like Jenney continued to push vertical boundaries with steel and in many cases discarded the heavy brick and stone. This type of architecture continued to dominate Chicago’s cityscape until a second Chicago architectural revival in the mid-20th century.

In the 1960s, Chicago’s architects pioneered tube-frame construction. This style was used to build the John Hancock Tower (today called 875 North Michigan Avenue) and the Willis Tower. The influence of this new construction style is still found today. In Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers, the tube-frame gives strengths to the Malaysian capital’s most popular landmark. New York’s World Trade Center and Dubai’s Burj Khalifa were also designed using these designs found in Chicago’s landmarks.

An American Style

The Chicago School is robust in today’s world. As an example of urban planning, few cities can match Chicago’s rebuilding and efficiency. Using new materials and pushing the limits of design characterize Chicago’s skyline – and thanks to the Windy City, many other skylines as well.