I headed over to the Chicago Cultural Center today intent on photographing the Tiffany Glass dome that sits above the Preston Bradley Hall. This is the one that has star power because it is believed to be the world's largest Tiffany dome. At 11:00AM the light was perfect, with the sun not quite directly overhead. Unfortunately, the hall was closed for an event--high school students.
I knew there was another dome on the north side of the building, so I took the short walk. And there the beauty was, sitting above the Grand Army of the Republic Rotunda and Memorial Hall. This dome is 40-feet in diameter, making it slightly larger than the 38-foot in diameter Tiffany dome. Designed by Healy & Millet, a Chicago design firm, the dome is made of stained glass that is held together with a cast iron ribbing fabricated by Winslow Brothers of Chicago. It was originally illuminated by the sun, but it now relies on electric light.
The hall was originally leased (1898-1948) to the Grand Army Hall and Memorial Association as a meeting place for Civil War veterans. It is now open to the public, except when it is used for ceremonial and artistic events, including weddings.
Photographer's Note: Architects tend to take painstaking efforts to center domes in the space that sit above. The trick is to locate the center of the room. That was pretty easy in the case of the Grand Army of the Republic Hall. The marble floor is inset with a series of glass blocks that were used to illuminate the lower floors. I found the cluster of blocks in the center of the room, and then counted the individual blocks to find the center of the cluster. I removed the view finder from my camera so that it would sit flush to the floor, with the result that the sensor plane was parallel to the ceiling. I then fired up my iPad to the WIFI remote trigger, permitting me to see the image and trigger the shutter remotely. As I was working, a young lady came by with an iPhone, and just stared at me. She then said, "That's cool what you are doing."