Tag Archives: Architecture

Frank Lloyd Wright’s System Built Houses in Illinois

There was a time, from 1911 – 1916, when Frank Lloyd Wright came up with a system to make beautifully designed houses accessible for middle-class folks. The idea of a Frank Lloyd Wright home being considered “affordable housing” is kind of hilarious. These days his homes are for rich people; really rich people. Wright was […]

Be the kind of tourist that goes to Pullman

Chicago is huge and most tourists see very little of it (probably true to say this of most residents too). I work in the tourist industry and often get asked for directions to Navy Pier, Giordano’s Pizza, and—if they are feeling daring—to Wrigley Field. So it really shocked me when a few years ago a […]

The (mostly concrete) churches of Reykjavík

So when we were in Reykjavik we looked at a lot of churches, Whoa—plot twist! Didn’t see that one coming, did you? For a brief look back at Iceland’s church heritage, here’s a turf church from 1842 that we saw in the Árbær Open Air Museum. The wooden Mosfell Church in South Iceland was built […]

A scooter-riding diva at Reykjavik’s Harpa concert hall

During the 1990’s through the early 2000’s, splashy museums and concert halls were popping up everywhere. Not that I’m a hater of this trend—after all, I enjoy Frank Gehry’s Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park, built during the height of the building-as-spectacle orgy. Sometimes, though, these can seem kind of dated. And if something seems […]

The corrugated iron houses of Reykjavik (plus—wait for it now—cats)

These days I’m less excited about traveling for sights and more interested in experiencing uniquely specific culture. In Reykjavik, its corrugated iron houses are just this special sort of thing I love. These houses started out as wood and then they were covered with sheets of corrugated iron. I’m sure you’ve gone out on a […]

Our Ladies of the Kennedy Expressway: Chicago’s Polish cathedral style

I admit it is weird; I’m all crazy for church architecture and I travel great distances to see it, but until recently I didn’t know about the Chicago Polish cathedral style. Perhaps I overlooked it because these churches are located in my unofficial no man’s land—west of the Kennedy Expressway. There are many adorable neighborhoods […]

Chicago-style Americana: hot dog stands (and one majestic bowling alley)

I’ve got some posts planned about architecture, but like a lot of Americans right now, I’m in an anxiety-induced holding pattern, just getting through the final two days of the Cheetolini administration. Like maybe he’ll pardon a few more war criminals, but hopefully now that he’s cut off of twitter he can’t goad his Nazi-wannabe […]

Louis Sullivan saved Chicago

After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, architects rushed to rebuild the city, blanketing downtown in that hideous Beaux-Arts style, egged on by the derrière garde World’s Fair aesthetic also known as The White City. (Fun fact: Louis Sullivan had a building in the Chicago World’s Fair—it was fabulous, brightly colored and original…and it pissed […]

There are no lava lamps inside St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

The bus to the church took us to the farthest western border of Chicago, meandering through a maze of dead mall parking lots and past a concrete replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It felt like we were traveling, well, as close to traveling as feasible without a car, during a pandemic. I had […]

The mid-century modern intelligence quotient

We’re still in a quarantine in Chicago but restrictions have loosened up a bit—Quarantine Lite™ I guess you’d call it. I’ve ventured on a few train and bus rides and yesterday I was able to visit my family (from a safe distance) for the first time in four months. On top of that, I got […]