buildings can express complicated ideas. The innovative curved form of
333 W. Wacker is a lesson in postmodernism. Let's start with modernism,
whose ideals--including rationalism, efficiency, and the material domination
of nature--were expressed in the design of box-like buildings replete with
right angles that spread through cities during the 20th Century (such as
Chicago's Federal Center and IBM Plaza).
Now look at
333 W. Wacker, which oversees the bend of the Chicago River. The modernist
way to build something here would be to clear a lot and put up the biggest
box space would allow. But the architects opted for "contextual architecture,"
designing a building that is sensitive to and interactive with its natural
context. Not only does its curved profile emulate and enhance the natural
bend of the river, but its face of greenish glass mirrors the color of
the water. The result is a stunning design that gives its natural surroundings
an aesthetic resonance. The building also serves as an attractive "back door" to the city as you approach from the west--an alternative face
to the familiar "front door" view of Chicago that tourists enjoy from
Navy Pier and Michigan Avenue.-NB
different contexts addressed so handsomely by the twin faces of 333 W.
Wacker Drive, the 1983 office building by New York City architects Kohn
Pedersen Fox. A graceful arc of green glass makes a sculptural statement
that works in the wide-open context of the Wacker Drive river corridor;
meanwhile, the building's other facade, which is sliced and notched, suits
the grittier, more confined district of the Loop. Not only that, the color
of the glassy, 36-story tower blends beautifully with its classically influenced
From the building's
building creates a dialogue between figural and abstract expression. In
one sense, it can be viewed as a classical composition of three parts:
base, middle and top. Simultaneously, it can be seen as an abstract composition,
the architectural equivalent of a Brancusi sculpture.
from KPF.com including my
favorite picture of the building (see this