Holabird & Roche
Presentation Drawing: Perspective Rendering of the University Club of Chicago (1908)
62.0 x 48.0 x 0.0
University Club of Chicago
No Information Available
Architects, William Holabird (1854 - 1923) and Martin Roche (1855 – 1927), established the architectural firm Holabird and Roche in 1880. Holabird was born and raised in New York and moved to Chicago in 1975. Roche was born in Cleveland, Ohio and moved to Chicago to attend the Art Institute of Chicago, before receiving his education at the Armour Institute of Technology. Together, they developed a refined style that aligned with the Chicago School architectural style of the late 19th century. Holabird and Roche are known for designing some of the world’s first skyscrapers, and some of their signature building details included the steel skeleton, fireproof terra cotta material, and classically inspired ornamentation integrated with modern design. The firm was famous for often pushing the boundaries of modern architecture, and in 1891, their designs were going to be compromised by a new city-wide skyscraper height restriction. Preempting the restriction, architects at Holabird and Roche submitted drawings to Chicago’s permit department for five high-rise buildings, prior to the enforcement of the new restriction. They are also well known for the distinctive “Chicago window,” which is comprised of a large windowpane bordered by narrow, moveable sash windows. Holabird and Roche experienced early professional success, and by 1910, the firm employed roughly 100 draftsmen and was one of the largest firms in the United States.
Completed in 1908, The University Club building on Monroe Street is considered the first Gothic skyscraper, as it is a successful combination of steel structure and historical reference, including gothic inspired limestone detailing, lattice works, and a gabled roof. The University Club’s iconography is evident in the gargoyles and stained glass windows that punctuate the Michigan Avenue and Monroe Street elevations. At the time, the building design proved that innovation and tradition could be linked with integrity. Working together for 45 years, Holabird and Roche would design more than 72 buildings in Chicago’s central commercial area. Illuminated by a radiant skyline filled with glowing orange, airy light blue, and calming purple tones, the sketch for The University Club of Chicago reflects the monumental beauty and grace of this landmark structure. The composition is oriented so that the building is the undeniable visual focal point of the work. The building is located at the center of the composition, flanked by trees, and a pathway leads the viewer from the lower edge of the composition towards the building. Many of the architectural and design details that the structure is historically known for are evident in the sketch. Across the top of the building is the signature gothic style detailing, which is guarded by the well-known owl that overlooks the building from its perch at the rooftop. The height and structural support of the building is felt in the framework of rows and columns peppered with windows that traverse across the building sketch. Overall, there is a stylistic sense in the drawing that gives the building a feeling of welcoming warmth and beauty. The viewer is led from the bottom edge of the composition up along the pathway towards the building, creating spatial orientation and hierarchy that highlights the architecture. Along the path, one sees a pair of finely dressed women in light colored clothing, along with smaller figures in the distance, who all walk towards the building. The building commands the attention of the figures in the scene, walking towards the towering majestic building, and draws the viewer into its beauty and detail. The building’s magnetic quality is mirrored in the use of compositional colors. The building is light, with a golden roof that seems to glisten in the setting sun, and the glowing grass compliments its warm tones and halo of color from the setting sun that foregrounds the scene. Overall, the architectural drawing reflects the grace and beauty of the building as a structure and the architectural intentions to be a beacon of gatherings, exchange, and arts in Chicago.
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