Prominent Chicago architect Jenney designed the Metropolitan Block with understated elegance. Jenney is best known for his innovative structural systems for tall buildings and has been called the “father of the American skyscraper.” However, the Metropolitan Block predates that work and employs the then-common masonry load-bearing wall. He designed the building in a sophisticated variation on the Italianate theme, using cream brick. By wrapping the building in stringcourses, Jenney divided it horizontally into four distinctive segments. Above the altered storefront level, windows are set into segmental-arched openings and linked together by brick stringcourses composed of dogtooth soldiers. A wide, elaborate cornice at the third floor incorporates multiple layers of ornamental brickwork. The extremely tall windows on the third story flood the meeting hall inside with light. Their height reflects Jenney’s interest in maximizing natural lighting, which eventually led to his development of skeletal framing methods.
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Landmark Center (Metropolitan Block)
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