Monday, September 29, 2008

Rainy Day Post

Some photos for a rainy day...

All taken in Edgewater beach at the beginning of Autumn 2008.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Minneapolis Cooperative

Minneapolis Cooperative

This is an out of town example which has intrigued me for a while. It is a rather nicely done, medium sized apartment building, built for mutual ownership in the Twin Cities. It was designed by one Arthur Dahlstrom, who appears to have designed luxury villas, churches and the like for well heeled clients in the area. This also appears to have been designed for a moderately well-heeled clientele. The individual units are reasonably spacious and efficiently planned, with large living rooms with fireplaces and built-in bookshelves, with good relationships to the dining rooms and entries. However, the apartments have what I consider to be a defect, albeit a minor one, in that one must travel through the living and dining room from the main entrance to get to the kitchen or bedrooms. In fact, the only access to the bedroom wing is through the dining room. The kitchens, on the other hand, appear to be well planned, with a breakfast and casual dining nook under a window and there is generous closet space as well.

I am wondering, and hoping, if we have any Twin Cities readers, if any light can be shed on this building, which is hopefully still standing, as I have had no luck finding any references to it.

Reference: The Architectural Forum, September 1925, p. 146.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Corner Buildings - Part I

Corner buildings can take many forms and styles, depending on size, lot, neighborhood and class of apartments. And then there is also the question of whether or not one of the streets is a commercial thoroughfare. Then of, then of course, there is the era in which it was built.

Most often, a corner building will be a six-flat with a three or six-flat attached on the side street. Or a nine-flat with a three or six-flat on the side street. In this case, I am referring to the side street as the side which has a unit facing onto it lengthwise. Usually this is an east-west street as well, but not always, of course.

Our first example is a nine-flat with a six-flat to the rear, in deep red brick, with rather more vertical decoration than typical.

Our next example is one with commercial premises on the first floor facing a major street. This has rather art deco inspired trim in orange brick and limestone. Also note the level change; the cornices have been carried through, but the window heights change based on the lack or presence of the first floor commercial space.

In the first photo you can see the first floor commercial space, with four flats above it, with an attached six-flat to the "rear".

In the second photo you can see the change in levels between the two halves of the building. This was skillfully handled here, with continuous cornices and parapet height for both halves of the building. The detailing is simple, yet done in a workmanlike manner, which unfortunately is somewhat marred by the recent addition of through the wall air conditioning units (at least the
radiators were retained).

Our next example is a rather unique looking building, appearing to be rather neo-classically monumental, yet also, to me, somehow more Midwestern arts and crafts than Chicago. Being in the city, however it has many typical features of a corner building, six units on the main street and six on the side street. Yet it still looks to be that it should be in an area outside of the Chicago planning tradition, not quite conforming to the norms - being on a larger than average lot with massive set backs on the main street parkway may have something to do with this impression I think.

Our last photographic example for today (for there will be more) is of a rather misleading building. From the front or short end/side, it appears to be a rather imposing, even imposingly grand, three-flat, facing onto a deep lawn at the wide parkway, necessitated by the large set-back. Yet it is actually a nine-unit building, as evidenced by the side entry servicing a six-flat with the front entry serving what is effectively a three-flat. It has typical arts and crafts decor, unfortunately some of the sun-room windows have been lost, as have the original entry doors.

Lastly, I leave you with a plan of a corner building. This has two sets of unequally sized and non-mirrored, non-identical six flats. Three of the units are one-bedroom flats, while one is a large two-bedroom unit. Interestingly, the larger one-bedrooms face the side street, while the smaller one bedroom apartment faces the main street or avenue.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Courtyard Building, Part VI; Courtyard Variations

There are some variants to the standard courtyard building, which, while not rare, are not common, such as the half courtyard. On the other hand, there are some truly rare forms, such as the, as I call it, reverse courtyard - an almost phallic shaped building centered on the lot with an entry courtyard on either side - as if two half courtyard buildings were joined, fused back to back. This has several subforms, I believe one could argue, but I am only going to address one which follows typical courtyard fashion in decor and entrances, as well as the landscaped side entry courtyards. At the bottom plans will show these two variations. Actually, this post will only deal with the half courtyard variation, as I am finding it is too lengthy of a topic to combine postings such as these.

The half courtyard is found throughout the city, where ever lot sizes didn't allow for a full courtyard, or other reason. They are even sometimes built contigiously with another one to form a courtyard from separate buildings (especially in the two-story variant[s]. They can vary from a typical sized half building (50 foot lot, maybe even smaller sometimes) to fairly large, and even grand buildings, with grandly architectural pretensions. At the bottom of this first section is a plan of the typical half-courtyard building.

Our first example is a modest side street red brick example of a half-courtyard. It, rather unusually, has a front bay window, due to the residential nature of the street, with fairly large set-backs and deep parkway. It has the typical front living room and dining room unit of the average courtyard, and in this case, half-courtyard.

The second example is also a fairly typical side street building, albeit a 20's building of butter yellow brick with neo-classical commercial detailing, typical of the period, along with some moorish, medieval and other hollywood inspired fanciful decoration of limestone.

Our next building is also a side street building of butter yellow brick, but this time with full on art deco detailing, if in a rather classical manner. Which of course, is the origin of much 1920's design, despite it's modernity.

The last of these side-street buildings is more of a blond brick, but similarly toned, with a somewhat wider lot. This one sporting more chaste decor and many bays along the side of the court. I see that there is a chimney at the side. One suspects that there are lovely wood-burning fireplaces withing. I suspect that there are none, at most a decorative mantel at most.

This next example is a bit grander, and certainly much more architectonically oriented. It is entered through a charming entryway with gas light of wrought iron, sports neo-colonial balconies, small, precise windows precisely located with simple, chase cornices. There is a certain precision to the detail, which is all very rigid, almost mannered, which is rare in Chicago, to find something this manneristic, however, it's being in the Golden Rectangle of Hyde Park should explain that. Being in Hyde Park, of this era, there was often a higher architectural quality achieved than elsewhere in the city (often, in fact, the south side exceeds the north, particularly the lakefronts - the lakefront areas which are now au courant - architectually in this era).

Here is another view, showing the ivy covered walls enclosing the courtyard and one of the faux gas lights, the sign of 70's and 80's condominium conversions in many buildings across the city, later banned by Peoples Gas (many of them were done* without permission or permits)

*Installed, I mean to say.

Our last example hails from the North Lakefront, Rogers Park to be exact, which is a more typically Chicago building. It has a typical vocabulary for Chicago residential architecture; sunrooms, gables, buff brick and limestone trim. All somewhere in or at the intersection of Prarie Style, Jungendstil and Craftsman aesthetics.

Here we have the plan of a typical half courtyard building. The units are simple, modestly sized, if not small, with the largest unit, as is typical, at the front facing the street, similarly laid out and sized middle units and a "special" or differently planned apartment at the back, facing the rear of the courtyard and the alley.