Beauties and the Beasts

Today's Chicago Tribune lists the "beauties and beasts" as part of their week long coverage on the Loop and its history. Patrick T. Reardon and Blair Kamin weigh in with the following top fives:

1. Monadnock Building, 53 W. Jackson Blvd. -- An unadorned wonder, with thick brick walls that curve inward and upward to suggest an Egyptian pylon.

2. Carson Pirie Scott & Co., 1 S. State St. -- One of the great Louis Sullivan's greatest buildings, its lush, nature-inspired ornament designed to beautify the street and draw in customers.

3. Chicago Board of Trade Building, 141 W. Jackson Blvd. -- The summit of Art Deco elegance, complete with a pyramidal roof crowned by an aluminum statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture.

4. Richard J. Daley Center, block bounded by Washington, Randolph, Dearborn and Clark Streets -- Perhaps the finest Mies van der Rohe-style building not designed by Mies himself. The chief architect? Jacques Brownson.

5. Inland Steel Building, 30 W. Monroe St. -- This elegant, innovative 19-story office tower was Chicago's first completely air-conditioned building and pioneer in the use of stainless steel as an exterior material. Built in 1958, it remains much-admired today.

1. The Mr. Submarine building, 18 W. Jackson Blvd. -- Ouch! The sign-plastered exterior is further maligned by the neo-asphalt panels and the blank wall along the alley.

2. The Roberto's building, 214 S. State St. -- How many times do we need to be told the store's name? In this case, three times, each in a different style. It's hard to croon "State Street -- That Great Street" about this one.

3. The parking deck at 332 S. Wabash Ave. -- The Loop has plenty of eyesore parking lots, but this one, with its exposed concrete frame and garish yellow railings, is one of the sorest.

4. Harold Washington College, 30 E. Lake St. -- Third-rate, trickle-down modernism.

5. The Walgreens building, 151 N. State St. -- It's hard to believe that this two-story clunker occupies the same site as the grand old Masonic Temple, a gable-topped cloud-buster that once reigned as Chicago's tallest building. (The demolished Masonic Temple, by the way, was the model for architect Philip Johnson's 190 S. LaSalle St. office building of 1987.)

I'm a sucker for lists, even though this one seems like a list for list's sake. Arguing with the Lovely buildings seems pointless (though I would argue the Federal Center buildings over Daley Center and include the Reliance Building), but I think instead of drawing attention to those anonymous, ugly buildings like the Mr. Submarine and the Walgreens, how 'bout taking a shot at buildings with higher intentions that fall flat? Here's my revised "bottom 5" (in no particular order):
Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State. -- Technically on the border just outside the Loop, the infamous Harold Washington Library is an eyesore, from the massive reddish-brown stone to the enormous owls and other copper sculptures on the roof. The fact the library is neither user-friendly nor inspiring inside doesn't help.

School of the Art Institute dormitory, 162 N. State. -- Across Block 37 from the Reliance Building, this new dormitory building tries to be a mirror image of that historical gem but fails in the plasticity of the facade and clumsy cornice, among other architectural shortcomings.

190 S. LaSalle. -- The only building in Chicago by Philip Johnson is a product of his post-modern phase, complete with oversized lanterns, a sparse, gold-leaf lobby and a derivative form, as mentioned in the Trib article.

Harold Washington College, 30 E. Lake St. -- I'll give them this one. U-G-L-Y.

180 N. LaSalle. -- A bland box from the early 1970's that tried to safe face with a one-story base renovation by Ricardo Bofill, but the postmodern facade just calls attention to how bad the rest of the building actually is.