“Gather the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.”
— John 6:12
All great cities have hidden architectural gems, and many of them are are former libraries. This one, built in 1897, is now in use as the Chicago Cultural Center. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say it is the most beautiful public building in the city. It’s classical exterior gives way to an interior that showcases some of the most intricate mosaic work in the country, and it’s center highlights the largest glass dome in the world. I’m going to let you enjoy the view. Meet me after the photos!
The dome is by Louis Comfort Tiffany. It is 38 feet in diameter, measures in at around 1000 square feet, and contains more than 30,000 pieces of glass. The mosaics are made up of fragments of Favrile glass, colored stone and mother of pearl. I love that the names of prominent authors are forever captured in this work of art, and I think the rare marbles of the staircases are exquisite.
It must have taken forever to build. There is so much intricate work, and it was all done by hand. There were no 12 x 12 sheets of mosaics for this crew!
On the day I took my tour with the Chicago Architectural Foundation, the art classes were filled with painters and sculptors, and the rhythms of a Cuban percussion group filled the concert hall. (I can’t resist a pair of bongos. I wanted to join that band so badly. I’m sure they are glad I didn’t!)
After days of touring modern architecture, I found myself at totally at peace in this incredible building. This center vibrates with an amazing energy and a creative spirit. It was very hard to leave!
Have a favorite place you want to share?