Thursday, October 21, 2010


I'm in Chicago, where I gave a book talk yesterday at the Chicago Architecture Foundation--"The Flatiron, Chicago's gift to New York."
Are you listening, New York? If it weren't for Chicago we wouldn't have the Flatiron. The steel-frame skyscraper was invented in Chicago during the 1880s, where the men who built the Flatiron--the financier Harry Black, the architect Daniel Burnham, and the engineer George Fuller--learned everything they knew. (New Yorkers, for the record, called Chicago "a purposeless Hell.")

The Flatiron design has some specific Chicago elements, for example the curved corners. Today I walked around the Loop and noticed so many curvy-cornered buildings, like this one here. Doesn't it remind you of...the Flatiron? It's the Conway Building (now called the Burnham Center), built in 1915, and designed by Frederick Dinkelberg, the same architect from Burnham's firm who'd done the Flatiron fifteen years earlier. Guess he liked how his New York creation turned out.

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