A highlight of my Omaha childhood was a trip to the architecturally rich city of Chicago, which my parents promised every Crotty kid — there were six — once he or she reached the age of eight. Though the trip also included a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry — the Prenatal Development exhibit was a wonder to this Catholic boy — and a tailored suit at Brooks Brothers, the big draw for me was gaping up the legendary “Big John,” or John Hancock Center, then the world’s tallest building outside New York.
Forty-five years and an undergraduate degree from the Chicago’s own Northwestern University — later, I’m still obsessed with Chicago architecture, which is the most elegantly arrayed in the U.S. The thing about Chicago is that one can view the entire history of modern architecture — from Burnham to Richardson to Sullivan to van der Rohe — in one sweeping gaze from the shores of Lake Michigan itself.
This is why I was intrigued by a bold new glass-and-steel structure on the Chicago skyline SKY NaN% that purported to be one of the few college campuses in the world housed almost entirely in a skyscraper. Faceted with sky-blue windows, the rippling curvature of Roosevelt University’s 32-story Wabash Building acts as its own reflection against the nearby waves of Lake Michigan, an elegant yet unmistakably modern embellishment to Chicago’s historic downtown “Loop.”