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A sky-high basketball game atop a Weese vs Mies classic

by Joe Zekas on 2/2/12

With any luck you’ll never participate in a pickup game like the one pictured above at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago.

Harry Weese, the building’s architect, was in his own words, “a man ten years ahead of a time that never comes.” A Chicago Magazine article is a storehouse of great Weese anecdotes, including this one:

A certain lawlessness that had always been part of his personality was starting to take over. The architect Stanley Tigerman, who early in his career worked briefly for Weese, remembers walking with him in River North one day when a car alarm went off. Weese’s response was to pick up a rock, bash in the car’s window, and continue walking.

It’s more than a little ironic that a man with a lawless streak would be chosen to design a building that symbolizes the law’s might and power. The building is, according to one critic, the “clearest rebuttal” in the Weese vs Mies opposition.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

SheridanB February 3, 2012 at 3:17 PM

I’m always somewhat suspicious of quotes from Tigerman. I don’t think he’s dishonest, but he does embellish. The headline caught my eye because there is a book from the 70′s with a Weese vs Tigerman chapter.

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Joe Zekas February 3, 2012 at 5:44 PM

SheridanB,

Bashing in the window wouldn’t stop the car alarm, so what would be the point? I’ve read enough of the oral histories at the Art Institute to know that you’re far from alone in your skepticism about Tigerman.

I only met Harry once – walked through the River Cottages with him, which was a fascinating experience. I almost ducked the meeting, based on a prior phone conversation with Harry about the project. I’d called him to talk about what inspired it, and heard about a 45-minute answer.

If I recall correctly he said he’d been in Budapest and seen some ramshackle artists’ cottages along the Danube. He then proceeded to describe at length how the concept evolved as he rode a train back to Paris, including how it was affected by what he ate and saw along the way. It was kind of a scary recital.

I’ve heard many stories about how out of control and out of touch Weese was as a developer.

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SheridanB February 6, 2012 at 5:30 PM

As an architect I’d say we often make bad decisions as developers. One of my parents neighbors worked for Harry – he really liked and admired him – he sounded frenetic and a to be a genius about some things.

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