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By Alan G. Artner
Tribune Art Critic
Published January, 2003

Burnham architecture

Of all the people who made Chicago an architecturally great city, Daniel Burnham most resists us when it comes to specifics. What did he alone give to the buildings created by D.H. Burnham and Co.? It's difficult to say, so difficult in fact, that some think him overrated as an architect and more an organizer who headed a successful prototype of a large corporation.

Still, Burnham is a legendary figure, and legends are engrossing to explore, particularly through seldom seen material like that assembled by the Architech Gallery. Here are rare pastel and chalk drawings in Burnham's own hand plus plans, blueprints and drawings used on-site for some of his most famous Chicago-area buildings including the Rookery.

One of the premises of the show is that the effect of Burnham on the city continued long after his death in 1912, so works are shown from his firm almost to the end of the '20s. Thus a case is built to suggest that Burnham's chief architectural contributions were in the areas of scale and a refined backward-looking European taste.

As is usually the case at Architech, the primary material is supported handsomely, with such curiosities as an 1892 panoramic engraving of the heart of Chicago and an early 20th Century bronze bust of Caesar from Burnham's collection.

At 730 N. Franklin St., through March 22.
Copyright 2003, Chicago Tribune

David Jameson
ArchiTech Gallery
730 North Franklin suite 200
Chicago, IL 60610

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