Chicago buildings

Wabash and Trump

Trump Tower, viewed from Wabash Avenue; the Chicago El (elevated train) is on the left


Chicago is an architecture-lover’s dream. After the 1871 Chicago Fire, and later the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the city attracted many of thecountry’s greatest architects. Chicago was the birthplace of the skyscraper, and home to architects such as Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.

I spent part of my 3 weeks in the city exploring buildings I had never seen before. The mild weather made for perfect opportunities to walk and take photographs.




Driehaus Museum exterior-2

The Driehaus Museum (originally the Nickerson Mansion), features perhaps the finest 19th-century interiors created in Chicago, reflecting the sensibilities of the Aesthetic Movement. I took a guided tour of the mansion on my 2nd day in Chicago.



Driehaus 1-2

 Driehaus Museum: main hall and staircase



Driehaus 2-2

 Driehaus Museum: smoking room



Driehaus 8-2

 Driehaus Museum: dining room

View more photos of the interior in my Flickr Album here.



Wright studio 1

 Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Oak Park



Wright Studio 2

 Frank Lloyd Wright studio, exterior detail



Heurtley House Wright

 Frank Lloyd Wright, Heurtley House, Oak Park. The suburb of Oak Park, where Wright lived from about 1889 to 1909, has a large concentration of the architect’s early work.



Robie 3

 Frank Lloyd Wright, Robie House, Hyde Park, 1910. This is Wright’s Prairie Style masterpiece.



Robie 2

 Robie House, interior and leaded-glass windows

More Frank Lloyd Wight photos are in my Flickr Album here.




Carson canopy

One of my favorite Chicago buildings, Adler & Sullivan’s Carson Pirie Scott store; detail of side entrance canopy. A Target store now occupies the first 2 floors.

New Century Global Center, Chengdu

IMG_0385-1New Century Global Center 新世纪环球中心 in Chengdu


What is billed as the world’s largest building was recently completed in the south of Chengdu.  Out of sheer curiosity, a desire to explore anything described in superlatives, I paid it a visit. It was a steamy afternoon, and as I emerged from the metro station, I spotted the New Century Global Center in the distance. You don’t see the entire building at once; it reveals itself gradually as vast expanses of glass or sections of its prominent roof line.


IMG_0396-1View from the entrance, looking up into the atrium


The New Century Global Center in Chengdu, in Sichuan in western China, is so big that it’s got its own artificial sun. Indeed, at 500 meters (1,640 feet) long, 400 meters (1,310 feet) wide and 100 meters (325 feet) high, it’s massive enough to hold 20 Sydney Opera Houses or three Pentagons, according to local authorities.




 A water park with artificial beach is a centerpiece of the complex; it wasn’t open yet when I visited.


On entering the building one is confronted with a vast, multi-level arrangement of balconies and walkways under a huge atrium. Acres of highly-polished imported marble floors stretch in every direction, and escalators lead the eye upward toward the vast canopy of glass ceiling. It’s a huge space that offers many directions to go, but few clues to what actually lies in any single direction. After a while you realize that there’s a shopping mall to the right, a department store to the left, and straight ahead the entrance to the water park eventually is revealed. Upper levels offer an ice rink and a movie multiplex. The very top balcony level offers a vista of the water park (not completed at the time of my visit).



 IMG_0415-1Layer upon layer of design


Among the many wonders of the New Century Global Center are offices, conference rooms, a university complex, two five star hotels including rooms with “seaside views,” an IMAX cinema, a “Mediterranean village,” seafood restaurants,  a huge screen with artificial sunsets, and a pirate ship, among other attractions. The artificial beach of the water park will feature artificial waves and nautical breezes. The statistics continue: the building is 500 metres long and 400 metres wide, with 1.7 million square metres of floor space.

Still curious as to what exactly “world’s largest building” meant, I found that buildings can be ranked “…by footprint on the ground, usable space (volume) and floor space (area). The term “building” used by this list refers to single structures that are suitable for continuous human occupancy.” New Century Global Center is the largest building only in terms of total floor area.



IMG_0416-1Before leaving, I rested my weary feet at the local Lavazza coffee bar.



I first wandered down to a lower level, which promised coffee bars and places to sit. There were a handful of gelaterias, at one of which I enjoyed a quite good, rich chocolate ice cream. After perusing the multi-level shopping center, I eventually found myself at the second-level Lavazza coffee bar, the first I’ve seen in Chengdu. I’d had my fill of the center, and made my way home via the center’s own metro station, just across from the front entrance.

Of far more interest to me than the Global Center was a building that will be constructed just across the road from it, British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid’s Chengdu Contemporary Arts Centre, which is to include a theatre, an opera house and a museum. The Arts Centre’s stunning design (below) can also be seen in the video at the end of the post.





Zaha Hadid Architects have unveiled their design for the largest cultural building in China, the Chengdu Contemporary Arts Centre, to be located in Chengdu.



newcenturyClick the photo or the link below to see the promotional video for New Century Global Center. Also featured is the future Chengdu Contemporary Arts Centre.