Monadnock Building House Divided:" The Term Paper

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Although Root was already a well-established Chicago architect, the north side of the Monadnock "emerges as a definite departure from the mainstream of Root's practice and the rest of the contemporary Chicago school at the time, with only its "carefully conceived proportions" and sculptural form harkening back to earlier Root works ("Monadnock Building," Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks, 2008, p.5). Root created the illusion that the structure 'grew' organically from massive granite blocks of the ground floor, while the "inward curve of the wall at the second story" suggests a pylon without making explicit pastiche or parodic references to the Egyptian era ("Monadnock Building," Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks, 2008, p.2). Likewise, "the outward flare of the parapet, the gentle chamfering of the building's corners, and the rhythm of uniform oriel windows...seem to grow from the wall surface" as do the contours of brick beside them ("Monadnock Building," Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks, 2008, p.2).

When completed it was marveled that: "here, in a span of 400 feet, the unassuming expertise of Holabird and Roche sensitively combines with a distinctly atypical scheme from Burnham and Root. The work of both firms has much to do with Monadnock's integral role in early modern architecture" ("Monadnock Building," Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks, 2008, p.5). The building was highly praised and tenants flocked rent space between its walls, as they still do today in Chicago.

Lasting Influences

However, later design assessments of the Monadnock have tended to stress the differences between the two sides of the office building, rather than their similarities....
...The newer, more traditional design by Holabird and Roche had more immediate influence upon the Beaux-Arts style of later Chicago buildings such as the "Tacoma (1889), the Marquette (1895), the Cable (1899), the McClurg (1900), and the Republic (1905)" ("Monadnock Building," Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks, 2008, p.5). And Holabird and Roche did create one technical improvement by replacing the more traditional masonry construction of the older north side of the building with the southern side's steel frame. They also used more narrow piers and broader window openings than the brick masonry.

Lasting Influences

Today, however most architectural historians believe that it is the north half that "has no equal in the annals of the high office building" ("Monadnock Building," Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks, 2008, p.3). Root's friend, the equally regarded architect Louis Sullivan, said he regarded the Monadnock's north side with awe and a bit of envy because of its "subtlety of line and surface, a direct singleness of purpose" ("Monadnock Building," Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks, 2008, p.5). It was linear without seeming to be severe and fascinating to the eye even though all ornamentation had been pared away. Today, it stands "as a symbol, as a solitary monument, marking the high tide of masonry construction as applied to commercial structures" ("Monadnock Building," Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks, 2008, p.5).

Works Cited

History." Monadnock Building. 11 May 2008. http://www.monadnockbuilding.com/history.htm

Roth, Leland M. A Concise History of American Architecture. Excerpted at Great

Buildings Online. 11 May 2008. http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/Monadnock_Building.html

Monadnock Building." Based on "The Monadnock Block" by the Commission…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

History." Monadnock Building. 11 May 2008. http://www.monadnockbuilding.com/history.htm

Roth, Leland M. A Concise History of American Architecture. Excerpted at Great

Buildings Online. 11 May 2008. http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/Monadnock_Building.html

Monadnock Building." Based on "The Monadnock Block" by the Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks. 11 May 2008. http://www.aallnet.org/press/Monadnock_History.pdf

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