Chicago Architecture Biennial
Fiona Connor and Erin Besler
16 September 2017 - 7 January 2018
Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington Street
Chicago, IL 60602
Front Door, Part 1 & Part 2
Front Door takes its cue from the passageways and thresholds of two spaces: the Chicago Cultural Center and the Chicago Pedway.
This Beaux Arts building originally opened in 1897 to house the Chicago Public Library and the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall; it was designed by the Boston-based firm Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, who were working concurrently on the Art Institute of Chicago (1893–1916). Since a renovation by Holabird & Root from 1974 to 1977, the building has been used as an arts and culture center; in 1991, it was officially established as the Chicago Cultural Center, as it remains today.
The Chicago Pedway began in 1951 with the construction of two block-long pedestrian tunnels between State Street and Dearborn Street at the Washington and Jackson CTA stops. Since then, the subterranean system has expanded through public and private development to connect more than 50 buildings with public transit stations underground in the downtown area, so far covering roughly five miles altogether (this includes a few street-level and overhead walkways that are part of the mostly underground network). The wide variety of designs and materials that appear in the Pedway demarcates changes in ownership and also functions as a historical index of shifting standards and tastes. This section of the Pedway, situated underneath the Chicago Cultural Center, opened in 1989.
The Chicago Cultural Center's main entrance on Randolph Street, contains a cross section of the different types of fluorescent lights that illuminate the underground chambers of the Pedway. The second site of the project can be found one floor below, upon exiting the Chicago Cultural Center and entering the Pedway.