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The Rookery: A Chicago Trifecta

If you enjoyed my pictures of the Chicago Cultural Center, hang on to your hat. (But only if you’re wearing a hat.)

The Rookery, a beyond-gorgeous building (inside and out) that is located in the financial district, has had the hands of not one, not two, but THREE masters of American architecture all over it. It was designed by the famous team of Daniel Burnham (yes, that Daniel Burnham: the one who wrote the Plan of Chicago.*) and his partner John Root, who moved their offices into the Rookery in 1888. There they began designing the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition’s White City. (Seriously, this topic makes me all giddy. I can barely contain myself at the moment.)

As if being designed by that Dream Team wasn’t enough to give The Rookery a legendary story, here’s what puts it over the top: Frank Lloyd Wright was responsible for renovating the lobby in 1905. Wright, my personal favorite when it comes to architecture, is famous for his “Prairie (or Mission)” style of design, and the way he brought the outdoors in by using lots of natural light, among other methods.

If you want to read the complete history of The Rookery, click here. It’s pretty fascinating stuff.

Like so many other buildings in Chicago, The Rookery was, at one time, on the demolition list. My friend Lou wrote a great post the other day about how the building (along with many others) was saved. Please go check that out.

And now, here are the pictures:

As I stood in the lobby and breathed in the history of the beauty that surrounded me, I was reminded for the gazillionth time why I love my city.

*One of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read in my life was The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City by Carl Smith, which is all about the behind-the-scenes details of the Plan of Chicago and how it came to be. I read it as a part of the research for my book and was amazed that I could fit the pieces of the Chicago of today into the pieces of the plan. If you are from Chicago, you MUST read it.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Tara R. May 5, 2011, 8:18 pm

    This IS breath-taking! I’m so glad it wasn’t demolished, that would have been such a shame.

    I can see Wright’s influence in those skylights. (My brother is an architect in NC, and Wright is one of his favorites too.)

    • Melisa May 6, 2011, 6:57 am

      I have toured his home and studio in Oak Park (another Chicago burb) twice and could do it about a hundred times more.

  • Heather May 5, 2011, 8:27 pm

    Such BEAUTIFUL photos. Incredible. Makes me miss Chicago so very much.

    • Melisa May 6, 2011, 6:56 am

      Come back anytime!

  • As Cape Cod Turns May 5, 2011, 8:28 pm

    Guess what????? I went to a wedding reception in this lobby!!! Yeah, that’s right, I am so cool. It is really, really pretty!!!

    • Melisa May 6, 2011, 6:56 am


  • melissa May 5, 2011, 9:33 pm

    i wasn’t wearing a hat.
    but wow, what a gorgeous building!!

    • Melisa May 6, 2011, 6:56 am

      Next time you’re here, we’ll go!

  • Grandma W May 5, 2011, 10:04 pm

    Should I ask? Were these pictures taken with your famous camera? Which I think is pink. If so it is like that bunny that keeps on ticking. Great job.

    Grandma W

    • Melisa May 6, 2011, 6:56 am

      Yes! Well, the tape on the camera is pink. 🙂