Inside Inland Steel

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(Photo: Inland Steel in the Fifties. Credit: Looper.)

Architectural porn for the modernists among you, Devyn recently completed posting a five-part photo series on Chicago’s venerable Inland Steel building. Last month, during the City of Chicago’s annual and aptly named Great Places and Spaces weekend, the new owners of the building at 30 W. Monroe threw it open to the public for a rare and surprisingly comprehensive tour. Devyn with his camera in hand and me in tow attended the tour and got some pretty cool shots.

Architecture buffs among you will recall that Frank Gehry, the Los Angeles starchitecht designer of Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavillion who never met a curve he didn’t like, uncharacteristically fell in love with this rectilinear building when first he laid on eyes in the 1950s. The first post-war skyscraper to be built in the Loop and now a city landmark, Gehry and a group of investors, including tour leader Harvey Camins, bought the tower from Mittal (nee Inland) Steel in August 2005 with the intention of returning it to its former modernist glory.

Success remains to be seen, but if all of the new owners share the same enthusiasm of Camins, who practically gushed with love for the building throughout the tour, I’d bet money on it. A click-through to Devyn’s site above will take you to the highlights of the tour, including a visit to Mittal Steel’s former headquarters floor, shots back at Inland Steel from inside (yes, inside) groovy new One South Dearborn across the alley, and a peek at the cleanest underground garage you ever saw in your life.

Camins made mention that there might be future tours. Perhaps. But the biggest inside tip of the day was that Camins and the other owners were trying to persuade Gehry to design new entrances for the Blue Line’s Monroe station, in front of the building. And I’d bet he’d give those Bilbao Fosteritos a run for their money, too.

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