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.

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