Quote: "Helplessly captive of the present"

My first girlfriend when I moved to Chicago was Tal Gilat, an architect from Israel. She was an admirer of Mies. Together we explored his campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology. She showed me his four adjacent apartment buildings on Lake Shore Drive and said they looked as new today as when they were built. It is now 40 years later, and they still look that new.

Then I was impressed. Now I think of it as the problem. They will never grow old. They will never speak of history. No naive eye will look at them and think they represent the past. They seem helplessly captive of the present. On the other hand, I have never shown this city to a visitor who did not respond emotionally to the sight of the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower, facing each other across Michigan Avenue. The Wrigley, which Frank Lloyd Wright said “illustrates the principle that an ugly building by day, if illuminated, will be ugly by night as well.” The Tribune, sometimes derided as Col. Robert McCormick’s Gothic monument to his prehistoric politics. No one who sees them is not delighted.

– Roger Ebert, who increasingly blogs about anything other than cinema, gives a thumbs-down to the Mies-designed 860-880 and 900-910 Lake Shore Drive towers, the very same buildings profiled in the latest chapter of Joe and Francesca’s “Walking Lake Shore Drive” series.

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