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Buildings Only an Architect Could Love

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 25, 2006 8:55PM

These are days of rage for Tribune architecture critics and their readers. Today,
Blair Kamen and Patrick T. Reardon released their list of candidates for Ugliest Building in Chicagoland (Outside the Loop) and have asked readers to vote for the region’s all-out fugliest. They admit the list is unscientific and there’s much more bad design to go around. Thanks to masses of commuters, the rickety Roosevelt Road Metra station seemed destined to be the reader poll's big loser. Other compelling candidates include the cartoonish Allstate Arena, the Biograph Theater’s tar paper and wood neighbor, and new cinderblock condos in West Town and Edgewater.

We hear so much about our beautiful skyline and Frank Lloyd Wright’s charming signature, it’s easy to forget Chicago’s hideous buildings. We applaud the Trib for putting this together, but know there’s a few they’ve overlooked:

grandplazaapt.jpgGrand Plaza @ 540 North State St.
The Gold Coast has endured a recent renaissance of bland. We could nominate any of the quickie concrete and glass buildings erected north of the river in the past decade, but the Grand Plaza smacks us in the face anytime we’re near the Grand el station. Moments after its grand opening, this one felt obsolete.

fourplusone.jpgThe Four Plus Ones on the 9000-9200 blocks of Skokie Blvd, Skokie
Nothing against the village of Skokie, they have the North Shore Center, a decent mall, and a few Chicagoists maintain it’s not a bad place to grow up. Still, these squat, joyless structures remind us of a suburban prison.

2100 block of West Churchill in Bucktown
Step one: open trendy bars and boutiques near blue collar three flats. Step two: decide that the long-time residences don’t fit the new neighborhood character. Step three: bulldoze the block and build identically “trendy” brick and plastic homes. Step four: hope new businesses on nearby Damen & Milwaukee Avenues will distract visitors from your hideous new home.

triplazawest.jpgTriangle Plaza, 8750-8770 W Bryn Mawr Ave
Riding by these, and a few other identically soulless towers en route to O’Hare, helps us not miss Chicago too much while we’re away.

That’s just off the top of our head. We know you’ve probably winced at a few municipal buildings, corner stores, or condos, maybe even on the way to work. So what’s your list? Which buildings wouldn’t you miss if they met the wrecking ball tomorrow?

Images via Grand Plaza, paytonc, and Emporis