Rookery Building

Rookery Building
Rookery Building

The great Chicago fire was one of the greatest disasters that occurred throughout the 19th century, for three consecutive nights and three consecutive days about six square kilometers of what was establishing itself as one of the most prolific cities in the world burned America however, this catastrophe in which hundreds of people lost their lives was in turn a turning point in the history of architecture. The reconstruction of the city gave rise to new architectural forms in which the architects of the time associated with each other to give rise to the tallest buildings known until then, combining both new construction materials and a functional aesthetic that encompassed a wide range of possibilities.


In this way, we find the Roockery Building located at 209 South La Salle Street in the Chicago Loop, a building that exceeds fifty meters in height and has twelve floors; today the famous construction carried out by architects John Wellborn Root and Daniel Burnham in their association as Burnham & Root, is considered the oldest skyscraper in the city and one of the architectural gems of the Chicago School.

Its name is due to the fact that after the fire in Chicago the plot that the skyscraper occupies today was used as a functioning town hall, inside and due to the damage, crows and pigeons lived, so the previousbuilding earned the nickname of rookery that would come to mean "colony of rooks"; the idea also alluded to the inefficiencies and political corruption that took place there.

The Rookery Building stood as a perfect example of tradition and modernity, the artistic character of Root gave the construction decorative elements more typical of craftsmanship than architecture, the decorations of an Islamic or Venetian character that can be seen on the building's façade.

But at the same time, Burnham introduced modern architectural techniques, among which the thick concrete plate stands out, which allows the building to be anchored to the marshy ground of the city, creating foundations capable of supporting the weight of the construction. The pair of architects made a perfect tandem in this way, however not many works by this firm have come down to us.

Inside, the architects planned a large glazed patio that was two stories high and provided natural light to the offices inside the Rookery. In addition the entrance hall to the skyscraper was remodeled at the beginning of the 20th century, specifically in 1905, by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright following the dictates of the so-called prairie style, that is, based on forms that they sought harmony with the natural environment through horizontal structures and wide overhangs.

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