Later Chicago Work Image Map

Louis Skidmore, John Merrill, Gordon Bunshaft, and Walter Netsch of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), Mary Anne Crawford, Samuel Marx and Ernest Grunsfeld are but a few of the architects trained at MIT who continued the achievements of their predecessors in Chicago, both in residential and commercial work. While it would be too simplistic to assign this varied group of architects any singular design philosophy or characteristic, or to relate them too closely with their predecessors, it is safe to assert that the accomplishments of past generations helped pave the way for these later architects.

In the development of the technology required to build tall, with a strong interest in construction, the baton is passed to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. This parallel with earlier architects like Louis Sullivan and Désiré Despradelle is clearly recognizable in the evolution of SOM's skyscraper designs, from New York's Lever House in 1952 to Chicago's 1500 foot tall Sears Tower in 1974. The advances made to explode the traditional house plan and suppress historical references may be found in the work of any of these architects. Netsch developed his field theory in an effort to break up the strict rectangularity associated with the office and institutional building plans of the day. Marx and Grunsfeld worked toward a simplified massing and clean uncluttered surfaces. While Crawford is perhaps the least known of this group of MIT graduates who practiced in Chicago, much of her work embodies the concepts of a free plan, geometric massing, and clean surfaces. Through future generations of architects, many trained at MIT, the lessons in architectural philosophy and design that Chicago taught so well in the late 19th and early 20th centuries would continue to be applied for some time to come.

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