So now comes concrete elephant in the room: Is the old Ebony-Jet building worth saving?
Even if, like me, you’ve never read any of Johnson Publishing’s publications, the company’s contribution not only to Chicago history, but to the evolution of the nation, is formidable. But is the building as iconic as its exiting resident? Probably not. Johnson’s historic icon is the red Ebony-Jet masthead, not some generic Midwestern office building.The official architecturally-correct term for this building is “brutalist.” But we have to face facts here, the building is just plain ugly. But that’s OK because some people like ugly buildings. Just like certain breeds of dogs are ugly, but they’re still cherished and loved by their owners. Embrace the ugliness.I know a few people who admire 820 South Michigan for its linear forms, for its strong horizontal members supported by just to rows of vertical beams, and for its welcoming double-height lobby. I’m happy there are people in the world who can appreciate a building on that level. But remove the glass, and what do you have left? A parking garage.
It isn't the most attractive building, but still seems salvageable if you ask us. Should be interesting to see what Columbia does with it.
(Hat tip: WL!)
(Image from Chicago Architecture Blog)