Concrete Solutions:
Residential High-Rises in Chicago

Tue, Nov 21, 2023
Image of skyscrapers in Chicago.
Photo of Lawless Gardens courtesy of Thomas Leslie.

The most famous residential structures of postwar Chicago are still Mies van der Rohe’s 860-880 Lake Shore Drive with the modernist expression of their steel skeleton. But Mies also designed in concrete, as did many Chicago architects and builders throughout the 20th century. Chicago developed home-grown expertise in flat slab, “rib-cage,” and tube construction that produced remarkably innovative residential towers across the city. While a few of the postwar icons—Marina City and Lake Point Tower, for instance—are well studied, others such as Lawless Gardens, 320 Oakdale, and Quadrangle House deserve greater attention for the impact they had on the city’s building culture.

In this webinar, Thomas Leslie will discuss his new book, Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934-1986: How Technology, Politics, Finance, and Race Reshaped the City, an expansive architectural history that tackles the history of a half century of Chicago's built environment.

Thomas Leslie, FAIA

Thomas Leslie is Professor of Architecture at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he researches the integration of building sciences and arts, both historically and in contemporary practice. He is the author of Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934 and its sequel Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934-1986 (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2013 and 2023). He is also the author of Beauty's Rigor: Patterns of Production in the Work of Pier Luigi Nervi (University of Illinois Press, 2017).


Thomas Leslie's presentation begins after introduction by Museum Director Carol Willis, who afterward engages in conversation with the author.