Chicago Cultural Center by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge

Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center, wow! Where to even begin? Designed by Boston architectural firm Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, the building opened in downtown Chicago in 1892 as the city’s central library. Its interior includes marble, polished brass, rare hardwoods, and mosaics made of Favrile glass, mother-of-pearl and colored stone, as well as the largest stained glass Tiffany dome in the world.

Chicago Cultural Center by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge

Even a “modest” hallway has a dazzling tile floor:

Chicago Cultural Center

The Grand Army of the Republic Hall and Rotunda is grand, but somber:

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center

The Healy Millet Dome features a stained glass Renaissance pattern:

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center

Looking toward Preston Bradley Hall from the Grand Staircase:

Chicago Cultural Center

Looking up is very rewarding in this place:

Chicago Cultural Center

This Y-within-circle is a symbol of the city of Chicago, representing the confluence of its rivers:

Chicago Cultural Center

The first glimpse of the Tiffany Dome:

Chicago Cultural Center

At 38 feet in diameter, this is the largest Tiffany dome in the world:

Chicago Cultural Center

Here’s CPL [Chicago Public Library] with the river symbol:

Chicago Cultural Center

Heading back toward the stairwell:

Chicago Cultural Center

The Grand Staircase [understatement, much?] is covered in mosaics made of Favrile glass, mother-of-pearl and colored stone:

Chicago Cultural Center

Since this was originally a grand public library, literary references can be found throughout:

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center

Finely carved woodwork detailing in the Yates Gallery. Note another CPL detail:

Chicago Cultural Center

“The world is founded on thoughts and ideas, not cotton or iron.” This quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson perfectly captures Chicago’s cosmopolitan ambitions when the city set out to build this grand cultural institution:

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center

Oh, yeah! I almost forgot: in addition to serving as massive eye candy, the Chicago Cultural Center also offers a full schedule of art exhibits in several galleries, performing arts, concerts, and other public events.

5 thoughts on “Chicago Cultural Center by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge

  1. Spectacular! I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of work that went into making this building, which is in and of itself a work of art. Do you know how long it took to construct it?

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