Off the beaten trail of the popular Chicago communal spaces, like Willis Tower, Millennium Park, and Navy Pier, there are other spaces that bring people together all over the State of Illinois. Whether it’s a plaza or library, these beautiful works of community architecture have something for everyone.
Chinatown Public Library
Located in Chicago, this branch of the Chicago Public Library system provides a space for Chinatown residents and visitors to gather in inclusive community activities. The 16,000-square-foot, two-story building opened up in 2015, featuring Feng shui interior design. The rounded triangular shape of the building also aligns with the Feng shui. The Chinatown Public Library was awarded the 2016 AIA/ALA Library Building Award and the 2018 Institute Honor Award for Interior Architecture.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple
Located in Oak Park, Illinois, The Unity Temple, built between 1905 and 1908, is considered to be one of Frank Llyod Wright’s most important structures. It’s considered to be the first modern building in the world because of its consolidation of aesthetic intent and structure using a single material. This temple for the Unitarian Universalist church has been a United States Historic Landmark since 1971.
The Sullivan Center
The Sullivan Center, located in Chicago’s Loop, was designed by Louis Sullivan and has been used for retail purposes since 1899. As a State Street landmark, the Sullivan Center is best recognized by its ornamented cast iron entrance. Sullivan believed that form should follow function. Its big store windows were perfect for displaying merchandise and drawing pedestrians’ attention to the sidewalk showcase. He also believed that incorporating nature’s beauty into his built environments could humanize an urban landscape.
Richard J. Daley Center & Plaza
The Daley Center and Plaza is considered one of Chicago’s architectural highlights. The main building was once the tallest building in Chicago in 1965 and features Cor-Ten, which is a self-weathering steel. This steel is designed to rust and actually strengthen the structure, which gives the building its distinctive red and brown color. The Plaza adjacent to the building also features a Cor-Ten sculpture designed by Pablo Picasso, completed in 1967 as a gift to the city. This abstract structure quickly became a Chicago landmark. The Plaza itself serves as a location for weekly farmers’ markets, ethnic festivals, and much more over the years.
Galena Main Street
Galena’s Main Street in Galena, Illinois features beautifully preserved historic red brick buildings and unique, local mom and pop shops that you can’t find anywhere else. The buildings along this street date back to the 1800s, with 75 percent of the town being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Within the historic district, many architectural styles are represented, including Greek Revival, Italianate, Gothic Revival, and Victorian. Due to its unique blend of architecture, Galena has earned nicknames like the “outdoor museum of the Victorian Midwest” and “the town that time forgot.”
Cedarhurst Center for the Arts
A day at Cedarhurst Center for the Arts is sure to provide family fun and activities. Located on a 90-acre campus, it offers classes in art education, drawing and painting, ceramics and stained glass, knitting and quilting, and hosts concerts and community events. Among its facilities are the Mitchell Museum, the Kuenz Sculpture Park, the Shrode Art Center (art education), the Schweinfurth House, and the Performance Hall inside the Mitchell Museum.
Architecture has brought people from all over the world together and will continue to create welcoming and awe-inspiring experiences. Learn more about how architects are shaping and helping communities here.
Phot Credit: Eric Hausman. Newly restored Illinois Governor’s Mansion – Springfield, IL