Prairie Architecture of Lincoln Park Zoo

Prairie Architecture of Lincoln Park Zoo

Prairie Architecture of Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden

You may have heard about the (former) cemetery near the Chicago History Museum and that most of the lakeshore of Chicago is the result of post 1871 landfill. Both of these factors are key to Lincoln Park’s (the park, not the neighborhood) enduring landscape and beauty that encompasses six miles from North Avenue to Hollywood/Edgewater Beach.

The origins of the Chicago’s largest park can be credited with a doctor, who back in 1830s, campaigned-successfully-to set aside 60 acres of public cemetery parkland. Then formation of the nation’s FIRST park and boulevard system spurred the adoption of three separate park commissions, (Lincoln, West and South) all legislated funded. These three but separate entities acted unilaterally to create a ‘ribbon of green’ that encircled the city.  PS: Chicago Park District was formed in 1934.

Lincoln Park Refactory and Boat Station, now Cafe Brauer

Our Reserve of Leisure Activities

Every Chicagoan and visitor, especially in the summer, knows why we love our city so much… the LAKEFRONT! Historically, it was a means to escape from the industrial and heavily polluted city core; a major concern at the turn of the century. Accessible mostly to Middle class and upper class families due to expense of hiring a horse carriage. Michigan Avenue Bridge opened in 1918 and public transit north of the main branch of Chicago River didn’t exist.

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Leisure time in the park also contributed to the development of neighborhoods, particularly out of need following the Great Fire of 1871.

Park’s Architecture

Most of Lincoln Park Zoo and Garden architecture was constructed in the last 19th and early 20th centuries. Interesting differences between the park projects and the emerging ‘skyscrapers’ in the city’s central area.

During my ArchiSketch workshop, we’ll visit several Prairie style buildings that are worthy of several pages in your sketchbook.

Carlson Cottage (1888) is a quaint representation of the popularity of the Park at the turn of the twentieth century. Designed by Joseph Silsbee, who would design other buildings in the Park and Zoo, this fieldstone cottage is a reminder of the city’s past and ambition.

Cafe BrauerThis is an early reference to Arts & Crafts style, which originated in England in the late nineteenth century, with its organic appeal and direct link to “urbs in horto” (Chicago’s motto: City in Garden.) The cottage appears as though it emerged from the earth, nestled next between the two ponds. Yet, this small intimate women’s lounge seems unproportional when you step back; the fieldstones, the large corbels and low-hanging hip roof. An artistic conundrum.

Take a few steps and there it sits, hugging the curvature of North Pond… Cafe Brauer (1908).  Arts & Crafts movement wasn’t fully embraced in the U.S. It quickly became Prairie Style–the midwestern style popular during at this time and closely identified with Frank Lloyd Wright. Cafe Brauer, designed by Dwight H. Perkins, who also designed the Kovler Lion House. Cafe Brauer, fka South Pond Refactory, stays true to key Prairie-style characteristics:

  • Integration with landscape
  • Horizontal lines
  • Flat or hipped roof with over hanging eaves
  • Windows in groupings or horizontal bands
  • Emphasis on CRAFTSMANSHIP

Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden Workshop

The last is central to the ever-lasting charm of these buildings.

Join me for ArchiSketch Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden while we sketch crawl our way to discover these buildings and several more.

 

 

Postcard image source: John Chuckman’s Chicago Nostalgia Blog

Guastavino Vault of Lion House

Kovler Lion House
Kovler Lion House

Guastavino Vault of Lincoln Park Zoo Lion House

During the Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden workshop held on Saturday (the FIRST public workshop!), I had the pleasure of working with an interior designer who was very enthusiastic about Chicago architecture and working on her drawing skills.

One of the highlights for Molly O. was the Guastavino vaulted ceiling of the Kovler Lion House. Crazy how two women with different backgrounds could get so excited about a vaulted ceiling in a big cat house on a very hot & humid summer day.

“We must be the only people in this space who are looking up.” True. Standing just inside the entrance with sketchbooks and pencils in-hand, we discussed the engineering and masonry this landmark. We did stop to admire the two female lions who were spread out on top of the cool rocks…panting.

What is a Guastavino vaulted ceiling? These soaring tiled vaults can be seen in several iconic buildings around the country. Most notable are Grand Central Terminal, Boston Public Library, U.S. Supreme Court, and many more. The Guastavinos also created spaces for some of America’s wealthiest families, including the Rockefeller Chapel at University of Chicago.

The Guastavino Co. was most prolific during the late 19th to mid 20th century; designing and creating some of the most spectacular and endearing public spaces. It all started with Rafael Guastavino Sr., a master builder in his native Spain, he came to New York with his son, Rafael Jr. in 1881. Bringing with him is tiling system, based on centuries old building method. The construction of self-supporting arches that were lightweight yet strong, fireproof and elegant. Then, a system of interlocking and layered thin clay tiles were placed with quick-setting mortar–creating the decorative pattern. Guastavino’s system, which was patented in 1892, were cost-efficient and flexible.

Visit these spaces in-person. Even the best professional images can’t truly capture the caliber of craftsmanship and hours investing in the details.

P1020394There are ten (identified) Guastavino projects in Chicago:

  1. Lincoln Park Zoo, Kovler Lion House
  2. Elks National Memorial Headquarters
  3. Temple Isaiah
  4. St. Hyacinth’s Catholic Church
  5. First Unitarian Church, Hull Chapel
  6. Chicago Theological Seminary
  7. University of Chicago, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel
  8. University of Chicago, Harper Memorial Library
  9. M&H Theatre
  10. First Methodist Episcopal Church (Evanston)

 

 

Resources:

National Building Museum. Places for People; Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces

NPR. How One Family Built America’s Public Palaces

MIT/Guastavino.net (most complete collection)

 

ArchiSketch Chicago Launches with Two Workshops

ArchiSketch Chicago Launches with Two Workshops

Sketch crawl Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden and Grant Park: Michigan Ave & Congress

Chicago, IL (August 9, 2016) ArchiSketch Chicago where Architectural illustration meets historical narration of Chicago’s built environment. Sketch while discovering what makes Chicago the “City Beautiful.”

ArchiSketch Chicago launches with two new workshops.
Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden on Saturday, August 13, 2016 10a-1p
Grant Park: Michigan Ave & Congress on Saturday, August 27, 2016, 10a-1p

$50.00 per person, bring own drawing materials.
Advance registration required, maximum 15 participants per workshop

These workshops combine the history and of the architecture and its location in the overall urban setting. Plus, drawing instruction to highlight key characteristics of the building and its location.

lp-zoo-verlocal-080216ArchiSketch Chicago workshops adds a new dimension to urban sketching and sketch crawls with the presentation of the architecture, styles, details and story that each participant can add to their own sketches; creating their own stories to share with friends and on social media.
The series of workshops, developed by Joann Sondy, is a culmination of her passions: architecture + drawing. “ArchiSketch Chicago is an opportunity to bring your sketchbook and pencils to learn more about iconic structures, learn or push your drawing skills to new levels and share what you’ve done with the growing global community of urban sketchers.”

grant-park-verlocal-01Drawing upon her experience leading architecture tours, Joann conducts in-depth research about each building or structure, the neighborhood and history to create a theme for each workshop. Workshop themes might emphasize the built environment, key building/style characteristics, select time period or location.

Additionally, Joann Sondy is a storyteller, employing her skills and training to entertain and educate. As a designer who specialized in presentations and publications, she never let go of the art school training and skills to fill pages of her own sketchbooks.

ArchiSketch Chicago are in-depth workshops which introduce drawing skills and techniques, along with historical narrations of Chicago’s architectural legacy, styles and their connection to its rich cultural heritage. During the ArchiSketch Chicago workshops, participants will visit multiple locations, allowing ample time for sketching based on instruction customized for each stop.

For more information:
Joann Sondy
ArchiSketch Chicago
archisketch@creativeaces.com
tel: 231-633-0945
www.archisketchchicago.com
@archisketchchicago

ArchiSketch Chicago is a service/division of Creative Aces Corporation (www.creativeaces.com)