Urban Legendaries

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From Chicago’s South Side to the North, from Armour Institute to IIT College of Architecture, from high schools to skyscrapers, and from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to Alfred Caldwell to John Ronan, IIT has left an indelible mark on the city’s architecture.

The infographic on the following two pages captures just a handful of the many notable Chicago buildings—John Hancock Center, Willis Tower, Marina City—that are affiliated with current or former IIT students, alumni, faculty, or firms. IIT Magazine thanks the College of Architecture at IIT for its assistance with this infographic, which includes the year each project was completed.

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Photo of Chicago skyline as seen from the John Hancock Center.

A Template in “Skin-and-Bones”

In 1921, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe sketched a glass tower for a competition to design Berlin’s first skyscraper on a triangular plot in a busy shopping district. While his idea did not come into fruition, 30 years later and nearly 4,500 miles away, Mies came close to his idea by instead designing Chicago’s iconic 860–880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments, setting a standard by which other glass-and-steel skyscrapers of the period were measured.

The twin buildings—characterized by their sleek International Modernist style, lack of ornamentation, and the first use of glass-and-steel curtain walls—would further inspire Mies to design the Seagram Building (1958). The glass-and-steel foundation laid by 860–880 Lake Shore Drive can be seen in structures ranging from New York City’s Lever House (1952) to Chicago’s Inland Steel Building (1958), Lake Point Tower (1968), John Hancock Center (1970), and Willis Tower (1973), and continues to influence the Windy City’s skyline.