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The Chicago Traveler

Monadnock Building Is Thick-Skinned

by Matt B on October 6th, 2008

monadnock building

Completed in 1891 and standing 197 feet tall (60 m), the Monadnock Building is an impressive and important figure in architectural history.

Traditional 'skyscrapers' these days are supported by steel skeletons and/or reinforced concrete. But that's what makes the Monadnock all that much more impressive. The northern half of this 17-story building (near the MCC) was designed by legendary architect John Wellborn Root and is completely supported by its brick walls. There are no internal columns and no steel reinforcements. All of the structure's weight is sustained by the walls'which are six feet thick (1.8 m) at the building's base'and an underground foundation that extends 11 feet (3.4 m) beyond the Monadnock's visible boundaries.1 It was one of the last masonry, wall-bearing structures ever built.2

monadnock buildingmonadnock building

Unfortunately, John Root died of pneumonia while the building was still under construction, so the southern half of the building was commissioned to another firm to be designed. While most of the second half was built the same way as the first, the entire south quarter is supported by a steel frame, a method which most tall buildings employed from that time onward.3 As a result, the two halves of this building show the progression of architecture, signifying the end of one type of construction and the beginning of another.

monadnock buildingmonadnock building

Photo credit: (c/o Flickr) sjtiffen, mroczknj (1, 2, 3), Atelier Teee

Monadnock Building: 53 W Jackson Blvd
Public trans: Bus # 1, 2, 6, 7, 10, 22, 24, X28, 29, 36, 62, 126, 144, 146, 151
Red/Blue Line (Jackson)

1 Monadnock Building. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2008, from Chicago Architecture Info Web site: http://www.chicagoarchitecture.info/Building/1619/Monadnock_Building.php
2 Monadnock Block. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2008, from Chicago Landmarks Web site: http://www.cityofchicago.org/Landmarks/M/Monadnock.html
3 History. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2008, from Monadnock Building Web site: http://www.monadnockbuilding.com/history.htm

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POSTED IN: Architecture & Attractions

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