Chicago Tribune Tower Competition+-

project name : Chicago Tribune Tower-Late Entries Competition

location : Chicago, Illinois

year of design: 1979

client: Museum of Modern Art, Chicago Il.

architect: George Ranalli

associates: Robert Silman Structural Engineer

design team: Paula Beall

In 1922, the Chicago Tribune newspaper hosted a competition to design its headquarters. From over 260 international entrants, the winner was the Gothic revival skyscraper by John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood that still stands on Michigan Avenue. The competition marked a turning point in American architecture, revealing the divergence between the stripped-down modernism soon to be ascendant and the winning design, which clearly sought to make a bridge to the history of architecture.

Nearly sixty years later, Chicago architects Stanley Tigerman and Stuart Cohen, with art dealer Rhona Hoffman, invited architects to submit contemporary “late entries” to the original contest. The designs were exhibited in a namesake exhibition and later published in a book. The Late Entries competition, like its original, occurred at a pivotal moment of American architecture and revealed similarly unresolved differences between many of the entrants.

The Ranalli Tribune Tower entry is a concept design that aims to fulfill the sponsor’s mandate to enhance civic beauty. The multi use high-rise tower includes superior commercial office space with spectacular skyline views, a central theater complex, and a lower-level village-like retail and production centre. The composition of elements brings a diverse mix of occupants to the building. As the building moves skyward its materiality moves upward in stepwise progression, from a broad masonry base that refers to the surrounding monumental architecture of the district, to a prow-like bay window elevation, to glass vaults. Midway, a deft 90-degree rotation reorients the building.

The submission attempts to give the employees the most celebrated spaces of the vertical building. Offices are distributed throughout the structure, bathed in light and natural ventilation. Glass volumes projecting through the masonry encourage occupants to experience living and working high above street level. The cube and sphere projecting through the front and back at the middle of the building are used for theatrical performances at lunchtime and early evening. The lower sections of the building have production rooms and are connected to the loft newspaper printing spaces behind. The top of the building, usually reserved for towers or corporate rooms, is instead inhabited by workers in offices beneath cascading glass under open sky.

The drawing is a mixed media, photomontage, and sepia print. The rendering is graphite, colored pencils, and chalks in a subtle range of three blues, with an airbrush wash of gray over the tower base and various smaller areas.