Chicago Cultural Center

Nyah Tsai, Staff Writer

Have you ever been to the Chicago Cultural Center? As a future architect, I am always intrigued by historical buildings. This center is a well-known landmark in Chicago, and has been around for nearly 120 years. The architects who designed the center, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, were part of a British architectural firm. It took a whole year to complete 1200 drawings of the building. It began construction in 1893 as a Chicago Public Library, and was completed in 1897.  England actually provided this library for the city after the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. In 1974, the Harold Washington Library Center was proposed and the use for 2 libraries was unnecessary, so the Chicago Public Library was converted to The Cultural Center-an arts and culture center at the instigation of Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Lois Weisberg. They began transitioning between the two libraries and finally the new facility was completed and ready for its 1991 opening.

It was designated as a Chicago Landmark in 1976. As a landmark, the building features the city’s official reception venue where the Mayor of Chicago has welcomed Presidents and royalty, diplomats and community leaders. The Chicago Cultural Center is one of the city’s most popular attractions. Annually, the Chicago Cultural Center hosts more than 1,000 programs and exhibits. It is also the Chicago Children’s Choir headquarters.

What is intriguing to me about this building is the architecture and the Tiffany Dome. The beautiful, 38 ft. diameter Tiffany dome is largest in the world, and was designed by Tiffany’s legendary “chief mosaicist” J. A. Holzer. The colors and daily hours of work put into this glass structure really impresses me. The fact that the city of Chicago has the largest Tiffany Dome in the world is truly amazing.