Chicago Cultural Center – Architecture and History
The Chicago Cultural Center, opened in 1897. It is a Chicago Landmark building that houses the city’s official reception venue where the and has welcomed Presidents and royalty, diplomats and community leaders. There are plenty of interesting free events that you can attend.
In 1991, the building was established as the Chicago Cultural Center by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the nation’s first and most comprehensive free municipal cultural venue. Every year, the Chicago Cultural Center presents hundreds of free international, national, regional and local artists, musicians and performers, providing a showcase where the public can enjoy and learn about the arts.
The stunning landmark building is home to two magnificent stained-glass domes, as well as free music, dance and theater events, films, lectures, art exhibitions and family events.
Checkout the calendar: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/ccc_calendar.html
It is located in on Michigan Avenue across Millennium Park. Originally the central library building, it was converted in 1977 to an arts and culture center. The city’s central library is now housed across the Loop in the spacious, post-modernist Harold Washington Library Center opened in 1991.
- The building was designed by Boston architectural firm Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge for the city’s central library, and Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) meeting hall and memorial in 1892. The land was donated by the GAR and the building was completed in 1897 at a cost of nearly $2 million (equivalent to $57.58 million in 2016). It is organized as a 4-story north wing (77 East Randolph entrance) and a 5-story south wing (78 East Washington entrance), 104 feet tall, with 3-foot-thick (0.91 m) masonry walls faced with Bedford Blue Limestone on a granite base, and designed in a generally neoclassical style with Italian Renaissance elements. It is capped with two stained-glass domes, set symmetrically atop the two wings.
- Key points of architectural interest are as follows:Randolph Street entrance and stairway – Entrance with doric columns, mahogany doors, and entry hall with coffered ceiling and walls of green-veined Vermont marble. The curving stairway is faced with Knoxville pink marble, and features mosaics and ornate bronze balusters.
- Washington Street entrance, lobby, and grand staircase – Arched portal, bronze-framed doors, and a 3-story, vaulted lobby with walls of white Carrara marble and mosaics. The staircase is also of white Carrara marble, set with medallions of green marble from Connemara, Ireland, and intricate mosaics of Favrile glass, stone, and mother of pearl. The stairway to the 5th floor was inspired by Venice‘s Bridge of Sighs.
- Grand Army of the Republic Memorial – A large hall and rotunda in the north wing. The hall is faced with deep green Vermont marble, broken by a series of arches for windows and mahogany doors. The rotunda features 30-foot walls of Knoxville pink marble, mosaic floor, and a fine, stained-glass dome in Renaissance pattern by the firm of Healy and Millet.
- Sidney R. Yates Gallery – replica of an assembly hall in the Doge’s Palace, Venice, with heavily ornamented pilasters and coffered ceiling.
- Preston Bradley Hall – A large, ornately patterned room of curving white Carrara marble, capped with an austere 38-foot Tiffany glass dome designed by artist J. A. Holtzer. The Cultural Center states this to be the largest Tiffany dome in the world. I love the magnificent Tiffany Dome in Preston Bradley Hall named after the civic leader and clergyman, Dr. Reverend Preston Bradley (1888-1983). The Tiffany and Decorating Company, under the leadership of Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) produced this magnificent dome and the glass mother of pearl mosaics that embellish the marble upper walls. It is the world’s largest Tiffany stained-glass dome with 2,848 faceted glass jewels. At the center of the dome, there is a gorgeous glass rosette encircled by the signs of the zodiac in four sets of three.
The magnificent translucent dome, 38 feet in diameter and made of Tiffany Favrile glass, is cut in the shape of fish scales. Now lighted electrically, it was originally illuminated by sunlight. At the base of the dome is a quotation from the British author Joseph Addison. The dome glass, lighting fixtures, wall sconces and chandeliers were made by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company of New York. The supporting frame was constructed by the Chicago Ornamental Iron Company.
Restoration of the Tiffany Dome
The restoration of the Chicago Cultural Center’s Louis Comfort Tiffany art glass dome — the largest Tiffany glass dome in the world — was completed in 2008 with awe-inspiring results.
This project restored the dome to Tiffany’s original vision. Now the dome can be seen as it was in 1897, when the building opened as the first Chicago Public Library, and the room now named Preston Bradley Hall was where people picked up the books they had requested. The concrete and copper exterior dome that had been added over the art glass dome during the 1930s was removed. Natural light shines through the glass, changing the subtle colors of the restored glass minute-by-minute.
Approximately 38 feet in diameter, the Tiffany dome spans more than 1,000 square feet. It contains some 30,000 pieces of glass in 243 sections held within an ornate cast iron frame. In order to restore the glass, the panels were removed from the framework and taken to a world-renowned glass studio. The panels were disassembled so that each piece of glass could be cleaned by hand and repaired as necessary, then reassembled with new leading.
The concrete and copper exterior dome was removed, and replaced by one that is translucent and energy-efficient. The reintroduction of natural light into Preston Bradley Hall reduces the need for artificial lighting, which reduces electrical costs.
The cast iron framework was given a new application of its original finish, aluminum leaf. Delicate rosette lighting around the cornice of the dome, which had not been used in decades, also was refurbished, creating an elegant transition between the upper and lower portions of the room.
The final step was to reinstall the restored glass panels. Preston Bradley Hall reopened on July 1, and throughout the summer record-breaking crowds came to the Chicago Cultural Center to see the building’s crown jewel.
On the north side of the building, there is another dome. It is a 40-foot-diameter dome with some 50,000 pieces of glass in an intricate Renaissance pattern, designed by Healy & Millet.
Around Preston Bradley Hall
In the supporting arches, the symbols of 16th century master painters are displayed. The names of great authors and inscriptions in ten ancient and modern languages extol the love of learning.
Dr. Eveann Lovero writes Travel Guides at www.vinoconvista.com