Chicagoland Architecture Substack Blog: Demolitions of 2021

“Tons of beautiful limestone were thrown into a landfill for a future Amazon Fresh grocery store. Despite Chicago’s well-built environment and rich architectural history, the city continues to destroy itself. Back in the pre-pandemic days I would try to document as many buildings as I could before they met the wrecking ball. Today is different. I’m not at all surprised that I have just a handful of demolition-related photos taken in 2021. Maybe it’s partly staying home too much but I really think I’ve become pessimistic about the whole thing. There is just an unreasonable (and unnecessary) amount of demolitions with tons of historic materials ending up in landfills, whether it’s in some wealthy suburb like Hinsdale (which has literally been destroying its historic built environment for decades) or the city of Chicago.

“I don’t want to go on a rant about the city and its preservation issues. Chicago loves to sell its architectural history to tourists but they keep trashing it at a more frequent rate than ever before, destroying buildings left and right for new development. Although there are demo delays after demo delays, it ultimately doesn’t save anything. The whole act just reminds you there are a lot of orange-rated buildings coming down. We needed to update the Chicago Historic Resources Survey like yesterday.

“With the exception of a couple wins like the “La Luce” Building, the city’s significant structures just end up getting demolished anyway by the people who pray at the shrine of money. Preservation reform now! There is more to the city than a building by a famous architect or with an interesting story to tell. Our vernacular architecture is just as important. It’s sad to see a workers cottage or bungalow or three-flat torn down, no questions asked, usually for some mega-sized single-family home that looks like it belongs in some random suburb. I hardly recognize parts of the city anymore. But this isn’t just a Chicagoland problem – cities around the world are dealing with the same concerns. 2021 proved that climate change is here to stay and not something in the distant future. Even Britain’s top engineers are urging the government to stop demolitions – cement alone causes 8% of CO2 global emissions – and instead re-use buildings and recycling materials.”

Read the full story with many photos at Chicagoland Architecture Substack Blog

Demolitions of 2021, Rachel Freundt, Architecture and History of Chicagoland Blog, 11/16/21


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