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Category: architecture

Aon Center, Architect Edward Durell Stone unsung hero in Architecture

Edward Durell Stone (March 9, 1902 – August 6, 1978) was a twentieth century American architect. An early proponent of modern architecture in the United States, he designed buildings throughout the world. Stone’s notable works include Radio City Music Hall and the Museum of Modern Art, both in New York City, the United States Embassy in New Delhi, India, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The Standard Oil Building was constructed as the new headquarters of the Standard Oil Company of Indiana, which had previously been housed at South Michigan Avenue and East 9th Street. When it was completed in 1973, it was the tallest building in Chicago and the fourth-tallest in the world, earning it the nickname “Big Stan”.[10] (A year later, the Sears Tower took the title as Chicago’s and world’s tallest.) The building employs a tubular steel-framed structural system with V-shaped perimeter columns to resist earthquakes, reduce sway, minimize column bending, and maximize column-free space. This construction method was also used for the former World Trade Center towers in New York City.

Copy taken from Wikipedia

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Chicago’s “Loop” skyline above 520″

Chicago’s skyline in the loop is dominated by two buildings, Trump Tower and Willis Tower (formerly the Sear’s Tower). The design of the Sear’s Tower remains relevant, strong and continues to serve as a benchmark for highrise construction. Keeping all politics aside (please) will the Trump Tower remain relevant 35 years from now? Certainly, glass and steel is a common design in large American cities, but is Trump distinctive enough to pass the test of time or will it seem dated in a few decades. From my eyes, it’s a stunning beauty right now and helps anchor the Chicago skyline.

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Willis Tower – the building formerly known and loved as the Sears Tower

Muscle and masculinity personified

The Sears Tower construction crews broke ground in 1970 and the building topped off in 1973 becoming the tallest building in the United States, a title that stood for about 25 years. The Venerable architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merril took on project led by architect Bruce Graham and architectural engineer, Fazlur Khan. Khan invented a construction technique utilizing construction tubes. The Sears Tower is actually nine buildings connected to the main tower by Khan’s tubes. Kahn’s engineering brilliance lives on. There is not a skyscraper in the world that doesn’t tip a hat to the engineer.

Sears was once the retail king/queen of the world – the Amazon of shopping in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. . As its business model faded so did its need for office space and the company eventually ended up leaving the legacy landmark. United Airlines is now the largest tenant. Trivia. There are 40,000 fire detectors in the building.

The Sears Tower has a little brother named “Big John” also known as the John Hancock Building. Same architect, same architectural engineer and agency. The Hancock topped off in 1969. Construction on the Sears started in 1970.

Chicago is rich in great architecture, but the Sears Tower and the John Hancock continue to serve as the most identifiable buildings in the city and perhaps the country. Here’s to courage, ingenuity and risk taking in world class Chicago architecture.

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