Miami Vibes || Art Deco

Because we all need a break from the harsh New York winter in January. And because, where better to escape the cold than tropical Miami with an average high of 76°F/25°C and mostly dry days? We flew there, then drove all the way down to Key West – but first things first: South Beach and the Art Deco district. A feast for the eyes of an art deco lover (and those of a fancy car/loud Latino dance music/young crowd/strong drinks aficionado). South Beach is Miami’s glamorous party district, it seems. A bit overwhelming at first, but easy to get used to, if one stayed long enough.

January 28th, 2018

Chicago || In the Loop

The elevated Loop, part of the iconic Chicago ”L” circuit, looping around a rectangle in downtown Chicago. It runs right in front of many windows of shops, gyms, offices – thankfully, no private apartments. Sometimes so close, it might as well run through them.

From the moment we arrived here, we felt that Chicago is what Manhattan would have been, had it not been an island: orderly, clean, with enough space for development; where pedestrians need not fight for the last millimetre of  pavement space; and with its ”L” trains still running.  Still in the Loop, almost time to leave but not before catching glimpses into two more lobbies: this is the City of Chicago City Hall and, further down, the One North LaSalle Building, with its lavish art deco cathedral for a lobby.

Lobby hopping in the Loop, Chicago

November 5th, 2017

Chicago || The Carbide and Carbon Building

Aka The Hard Rock Hotel – although that was about to change. We didn’t know it at the time, but a month later, the hotel would close for renovation; it now operates under a new brand, as the St. Jane Chicago. But the exterior, covered in polished black granite, topped by a tower dressed in dark green terracotta with gold leaf ornaments, must surely remain as impressive as it has always been, since the day of its completion in 1929.

Then, there is the dazzling lobby, all bronze and dark Belgian marble and Art Deco features – minus, I guess, the guitars which will have probably found a new wall to grace.

The building was designed by the Burnham Brothers, a commission by the Carbide and Carbon Company to house their regional headquarters.

November 3rd, 2017

Chicago || The Art Deco City

There are so many buildings of architectural interest in the Financial District of Chicago, you’d probably need to join a guided tour to visit them all and learn about their history. But if you are a casual visitor – and a first-time one at that, just walk around, spot an interesting-looking building and then step inside its lobby. You’ll soon find out that these lobbies are not simply entrances to commercial or office spaces; they are, in reality, stunningly beautiful Art Deco treasure troves; and they provide excellent shelter from the rain, too.

Walk, for instance, inside the Field Building, built in 1934 by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White; another wonderful example of the Art Deco style:

Or enter the Marquette Building’s hexagonal lobby and be captivated by the exquisite mosaic panels depicting the journey of Father Marquette, a French missionary and explorer, first settler in the area we know today as Chicago,  in whose honour the building has been named.

The mosaics are designed by Louis Tiffany, son of Charles Tiffany, the famous jeweler; and Jacob Adolph Holzer, a Swiss artist who worked for Tiffany as their chief designer and art director.

November 2nd, 2017

Chicago || Board of Trade Building

Built in 1930 by John A. Holabird and John Wellborn Root Jr. (son of John Root Sr., one of the architects of the Rookery), to become home to the world’s oldest futures and options exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade, which had already been established in 1848 – year that the first railroads arrived in Chicago.

From John Storrs’ faceless statue of Ceres, Roman goddess of Agriculture, presiding over Chicago’s financial district from its prominent position at the rooftop, down to its lobby  with the sleek brass elements contrasting blindingly against the darker surfaces, and even further down to its subterranean vault, the Board of Trade Building is one of the finest – and best preserved – examples of the Art Deco style, popular in Chicago in the early 20th century.

November 2nd, 2017