Architecture Around the World

Rookery Building
209 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL


1888 - Daniel H. Burnham & J. W. Root
1907 - Renovation of atrium: Frank Lloyd Wright
Ca. I930 - Renovation of elevator lobbies: William B. Drummond,




National Register, Chicago landmark
TEXT Beneath Illustrations

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J. W. Root

Burnham & Root in Rookery

Frank Lloyd Wright

Rookery location

Belt courses

Central pavilion

Rusticated stone around main entrance ... Voussoirs

Renovation of elevator lobbies by William B. Drummond, c. I930

F. L. Wright added mezzanine iron staircase

F. L. Wright exchanged some iron work and terra cotta



Light fixtures designed by F. L. Wright



The powerful exterior of this building, which is softened by lively ornament detailed by architect John Root, typifies the lingering picturesque attitudes toward commercial architecture still prevalent in the 1880s. A transitional structure in the evolution of modern architecture, the Rookery Building employs both masonry wall-bearing and skeletal frame construction techniques. It takes its name from a temporary City Hall and water tank that stood on the site following the Fire of 1871. A favorite roost for pigeons, these structures were referred to as "the rookery."

One of the oldest precursors of modern skyscrapers, this eleven-story structure was designed as an office building. The exterior walls are load-bearing walls. The interior contains a light court and atrium.

When Frank Lloyd Wright remodeled the Rookery's large skylit lobby in 1905, he introduced elements characteristic of his Prairie School designs.

Burnham & Wright

In 1893 Wright left Adler & Sullivan and opened his own architectural practice. The first work from the new office, a house for W.H. Winslow, was sensational and skillful enough to attract the attention of the most influential architect in Chicago, Daniel Burnham, who offered to subsidize Wright for several years if Wright would study in Europe to become the principal designer in Burnham's firm. It was a solid compliment, but Wright refused, and this difficult decision strengthened his determination to search for a new and appropriate Midwestern architecture.

In 1907 Wright was hired to improve the appearance of the atrium.

Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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