Monday, January 31, 2011

Photo of the Week: The Heyworth

The Heyworth Building (JWB Photo)
My last post concerned the Flatiron Building in New York City, an eye-catching terra cotta gem out of Chicagoan Daniel Burnham's firm with Frederick Dinkelberg serving as the chief designer.  The Flatiron went up in 1902 with all of the ornament that the Beaux Arts tastes of New York could endure.  Two years later, give or take a year, two buildings were finished in Chicago, both from the office of Burnham, both designed under the guidance of Dinkelberg.  One of those was what is now the Santa Fe building at the corner of Jackson and Michigan.  The other was the Heyworth at 29 East Madison.  It's tough to get a good shot of this beauty; the el stands in the way on Wabash, and finding enough distance on Madison to capture the Heyworth in its full glory is a challenge.  But glorious it is.  Otto Young, a wholesale jeweler and real estate investor, commisisoned the building, and he named it after his son-in-law, Lawrence Heyworth.  I hope you appreciated this pretty hefty favor, Larry.  Your namesake is a heck of a building.

In the photo above you can see what's going on here.  There is the Chicago School's three-part organization.  The string cornice four floors above ground level, marking the base of the structure, the vertical rise of the office tower itself with each floor exactly like the one above and below it, the cornice, restored in 2001, that finishes the building's rise.  And look at how deeply those windows are set in the fabric of the Heyworth's exterior.  There is no mistaking the fact that this is a building built around a steel framework . . . the skeleton clearly shows, vertically and horizontally.  Notice, though, the subtlety of the ornamentation, even on the Wabash side, where the fire escapes were placed and the elevated trains clatter by just feet from the office spaces.  Subtlety is the key here.  This is a scheme of decoration farther away from the ornamentation of the Flatiron than just the distance between two great cities. Here Dinkelberg gives us the perfect complement to Louis Sullivan's lavish ornamentation, newly restored, on his Schlesinger and Mayer store, now the Sullivan Center, that sits adjacent to the Heyworth.  

Even in the dark canyon of Wabash Avenue, where the el screams and the electric sparks fly, the play of light and shadow on the surface of the Heyworth shows the building for what it is, an overlooked beauty in a city of beauties and a testament to the versatile genius of Frederick Dinkelberg.

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