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The Tribune Tower is a neo-Gothic building located at 435 North Michigan Avenue in Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker. It is the home of the Chicago Tribune and Tribune Company. WGN Radiomarker (720 kHz) also broadcasts from the building, with ground-level studios overlooking nearby Pioneer Court and Michigan Avenue. CNN's Chicago bureau is located in the building. It is listed as a Chicago Landmark and is a contributing property to the Michigan–Wacker Historic Districtmarker.

The Competition

In 1922, the Chicago Tribune hosted an international design competition for its new headquarters, and offered a $50,000 prize for "the most beautiful and eye-catching building in the world". The competition worked brilliantly for months as a publicity stunt, and the resulting entries still reveal a unique turning point in American architectural history. More than 260 entries were received.

The winner was a neo-Gothic design by New York architects John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood, with buttresses near the top.

The entry that many perceived as the best—a radically simplified tower by the Finnishmarker architect Eliel Saarinen—took second place. Saarinen's tower, which anticipated the coming impact of stripped-down modernism on building form, was preferred by critics like Louis Sullivan, and was a strong influence on the next generation of skyscrapers — including Raymond Hood's own subsequent work on the McGraw-Hill Buildingmarker and Rockefeller Centermarker. The 1929 Gulf Buildingmarker in Houston, Texasmarker, designed by architects Alfred C. Finn, Kenneth Franzheim, and J. E. R. Carpenter, is a full realization of that Saarinen design. César Pelli's 181 West Madison Streetmarker Building in Chicago is also thought to be inspired by Saarinen's design.

Other Tribune tower entries by figures like Walter Gropius, Bertram Goodhue, Bruno Taut, and Adolf Loos remain intriguing suggestions of what might have been, but perhaps not as intriguing as the one surmounted by Rushmore-like head of an American Indian. These entries have been collected in The Chicago Tribune Tower Competition : Skyscraper Design and Cultural Change in the 1920s by Katherine Solomonson and Richard A. Etlin, 2001.

In 1980 a number of architects including Robert A. M. Stern, Stanley Tigerman, and Bruce Abbey jokingly submitted "late entries."

Archival materials regarding the competition and the building are held by the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute of Chicagomarker.

The Building

By 1922 the neo-Gothic skyscraper had become an established design tactic, with the first important so-called "American Perpendicular Style" at Cass Gilbert's Woolworth Buildingmarker of 1913. This was a late example, perhaps the last important example, and criticized for its perceived historicism. Construction on the actual Tribune Tower was completed in 1925 and reached a height of 462 feet (141 m) above ground. The ornate buttresses surrounding the peak of the tower are especially visible when the tower is lit at night.

As was the case with most of Hood's projects, the sculptures and decorations were executed by the American artist Rene Paul Chambellan. The tower features carved images of Robin Hood (Hood) and a howling dog (Howells) near the main entrance to commemorate the architects.

Prior to the building of the Tribune Tower, correspondents for the Chicago Tribune brought back rocks and bricks from a variety of historically important sites throughout the world at the request of Colonel McCormick. Many of these reliefs have been incorporated into the lowest levels of the building and are labeled with their location of origin. Stones included in the wall are from such sites as the Trondheim Cathedralmarker, Taj Mahalmarker, the Parthenonmarker, Hagia Sophiamarker, Corregidor Islandmarker, Palace of Westminstermarker, petrified wood from the Redwood National and State Parksmarker, the Great Pyramidmarker, The Alamomarker, Notre-Damemarker, Abraham Lincoln’s Tombmarker, the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wallmarker among others. Some of these had a political or social context such as the column fragment of Wawel Castlemarker located in its own niche over the upper-left corner of the main entrance, as a visual tribute to Chicago's large Polish populace, the largest such presence outside of the Republic of Polandmarker. In all, there are 136 fragments in the building. More recently a rock returned from the moon was displayed in a window in the Tribune giftstore (it could not be added to the wall as NASAmarker owns all moon rocks, and it is merely on loan to the Tribune), and a piece of steel recovered from the World Trade Center has been added to the wall.

On April 11, 2006 the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum opened, occupying two stories of the building, including the previous location of high-end gift store Hammacher-Schlemmer.

Rene Paul Chambellan contributed his sculpture talents to the buildings ornamentation, gargoyles and the famous Aesops' Screen over the main entrance doors. Rene Chambellan worked on other projects with Raymond Hood including the American Radiator Buildingmarker and Rockefeller Centermarker in New York City. Also, among the gargoyles on the Tribune Tower is one of a frog. That piece was created by Rene Chambellan to represent himself jokingly as he is of French ancestry.

Tribune Tower in popular culture

On the November 21 and November 28, 2007 episodes One Wedding & a Funeral and The Thing About Heroes, respectively of CSI: NY historical pieces stolen from the building led the character played by Gary Sinise to his hometown of Chicagomarker. Upon further investigation of the man stalking him, Sinise's character Mac Taylor found a dead body in an office of an unused floor in the building. All shots for these episodes were filmed on location in Chicago with Sinise joined by co-star Eddie Cahill.

For the 2008 film The Dark Knight, the Batcave scenes were filmed in the basement of the Tower.

Conan O'Brien is seen running past the tower while en route from New Yorkmarker to Los Angelesmarker on his first episode as host of The Tonight Show.

Other Buildings Influenced by the Tribune Tower design

Several buildings around the world made reference to the design of the Tribune tower. Most notably in Australia, the spires of the Grace Building marker and Manchester Unity Buildingmarker (Melbournemarker).

See also

External links

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