A Farewell to Farwell and Potentially All of Old Chicago


A scary bit of architectural information that plopped in our collective laps this morning. It’s from Lynn Becker about a vote the Commission on Chicago Landmarks will be taking tomorrow to decide if it’s okay to tear down the designated landmark, The Farwell Building, in order to build in that location. By doing so, Becker claims this will open the flood gates by making it that much easier to disregard buildings with landmark status and start bulldozing them into oblivion to make room for more ugly new cookie cutter buildings (our words on that last part, not hers). The piece is written in an alarming kind of way, but if all the facts are right, it is alarming. And potentially very tragic.

We may only be starting to get a handle on 2007, but already the Commission on Chicago Landmarks is scheduled to take a Thursday vote that stands to reverse the results of decades of struggle, and leave all but a handful of Chicago’s finest buildings open to demolition. Do I exaggerate? I wish that I were. Please read on.

The proposal is so simply stated as to be almost innocuous: “Proposed dismantlement, demolition and facade reconstruction of the Farwell Building as part of a new 40-story, 86-unit residential condominium tower.”

Yet that sentence carries the seed of the mass destruction of much of Chicago’s most historic architecture.