Ludwig Mies van der Rohe came to the United States in 1937 following the closure of the Bauhaus in 1933. The Nazis didn’t like the school. In their collective minds, the Bauhaus produced degenerate designs and ideas.
In 1938, Mies found himself in Chicago, serving as the director of the School of Architecture at the Armour Institute. When Amour morphed into the Illinois Institute of Technology, Mies was given the task of designing the campus, which was situated on State Street between 31st and 35th streets in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. The campus’ architecture still retains much of what Mies created. Often overlooked is the Heating Plant on 35th Street, with the Metra tracks and the Dan Ryan Expressway abutting the plant’s blonde colored brick wall to the west. From Metro platform, you can see the Dan Ryan expressway, Wentworth Avenue (once the dividing line between Chicago’s black community and its Irish neighbors), and White Sox park (Guaranteed Rate Field.
Built between 1945 and 1950, not much has been written about the plant. It appears that Mies had some assistance. IIT’s website indicates that the architectural firm Alschuler & Sincere contributed to the plant’s design and Sargent & Lundy provided mechanical engineering services.
I took advantage of the Metra station’s long platform to make some images. The featured one is my favorite. Despite the industrial nature of the image’s subject matter, the robin’s egg blue sky is very soothing, as are symmetrical stacks. I would have liked to step further back, but I was up against a cyclone fence separating separates the platform from the embankment that leads to the Dan Ryan. Tripods are generally not allowed in or around passenger stations, so it took a number of attempts to get the perspective right. I am glad I did.