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CAC’s Jen Masengarb partnered with WBEZ’s Curious City to research this story in response to a question submitted by a curious citizen. Listen to the broadcast.

For Oak Park resident Rachel Glick, the Wrigley Building is a work of timeless, classic, even inspiring beauty. And she’s not alone in thinking so. Many Chicagoans agree that the historic skyscrapers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries are beautiful. Just consider the Cultural Center, the Board of Trade Building or the Tribune Tower.

 Still, as Rachel strolls the streets of downtown Chicago and looks up, she can’t help but wonder about the buildings that, for her, are a whole lot less beautiful—namely, those Mid-Century Modern towers, built in the style pioneered by Mies van der Rohe. It took Jen Masengarb and the Curious City team to tackle Rachel’s provocative question:

“If Chicago’s historic architecture is so celebrated and admired, why have we stopped building in those styles?”


Read the full article, in which Curious City explores the challenges of buildings inspired by historic architecture, as well as how new buildings should relate to the past. You’ll also discover which buildings local architects Mark Sexton, Ann Thompson, Brad Lynch, and Joe Antunovich selected as Chicago’s three most beautiful.