The Tribune Tower

Chicago IL

Studs Terkel Radio Archive
Written By Studs Terkel Radio Archive

Over the course of his 45 years on WFMT radio, Studs Terkel discussed every aspect of 20th-century life with movers, shakers, artists, and working folks. From civil rights to labor to jazz, his work spanned an impressive array of topics and figures. Hear these enchanting, historically-significant interviews come to life in the comprehensive Studs Terkel Radio Archive.

A Gothic Skyscraper

In 1922, the Chicago Tribune announced an international competition to design its new downtown headquarters. The challenge was to design the most beautiful and distinctive office building in the world. Architects from all nations entered, and while the Tribune expected a European firm to take the grand prize, they failed to take into account American architect’s understanding of the relationship between business, architecture and society in the context of the modern city. Watch the following video (courtesy of the Chicago Architecture Foundation and Chicago Tribune) to learn why European firm’s lack of focus on business practicality afforded the win to New York architects Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells.

Upon the building’s unveiling on July 6, 1925, the Tribune Editorial Board observed that the Tower was intended to be more than a building to house printing presses and want-ad order takers. Instead, “it was conceived, designed, and completed in a sense of trusteeship for the higher needs of a civilized community."

However, not everyone agreed with the Tribune’s decision to go with the Howells and Hood design, which called for “unnecessary gothic illusions”. Listen on to hear why architect Louis Sullivan thought the cathedral architecture with flying buttresses would result in meaningless Gothic composition.

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