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Modernist Architecture At 6166 Sheridan Is Harsh, And That’s The Point

6166-1Whether you love it or hate it, the 29-story high-rise at 6166 N. Sheridan which is blandly known as Granville Tower, is considered a significant structure in many architecture circles. The protruding geometric shapes that jut out in zig-zag type patterns along the exterior walls give it a unique modernist edge along the active Sheridan corridor. After a lively engagement due to a Facebook post on the building recently, EVB decided to do a little more digging on 6166.

In fact, the building’s style of architecture know as Brutalism, was a popular theme during its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s. The most renowned structures built with the Brutalist principal in mind was by Swiss architect Le Corbusier with his 1952 Unité d’Habitation in Nantes, France and the 1953 Palace of Assembly in Chandigarh, India. Both buildings would help lift the movement into the popular culture which was said to be a direct reaction to the lightness and frivolity in architecture during the 1930s and 1940s.

6166 N. Sheridan was designed and built by Chicago’s Seymour S. Goldstein, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 86. The building which rises at 336.14 ft. was finished in 1965 after a year of construction. The dark brown facade, which consists of both brick and concrete, was considered a bit of a modernist leader when it was completed.  With every unit inside the building a duplex, living areas and balconies are downstairs and the bedrooms are upstairs. The usual square rooms typically found in most high-rises, give way to distinctive diagonal and uneven walls In 6166 Sheridan which help break up the space.

The building’s repeated geometric shapes, which form masses representing specific functional purpose, are grouped together as a unified whole. Though concrete is the main material used in Brutalist buildings, 6166 also uses brick and glass to showcase its ‘architectural honesty.’ Other buildings in the area that use or are inspired by the movement include buildings on the University of Illinois Chicago campus, River City, Marina City and Northwestern University Library.

Recently, a number of Brutalist building have fallen victim to the wrecking ball, most notably the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore. They tried to save the structure but the unusual layout and unappreciated style led to its demise by a developer in 2014. So, before judging the harsh look and overwhelming presence of 6166 N. Sheridan, maybe take a second look knowing that it is, in fact, its purpose.


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