The City as Catalyst for Architectural Speculation

More than simply an architectural biography of a city: this book shows Chicago to have an important role as a catalyst for international development and pinpoints its remarkable influence around the world.



Title Information

Edited by Alexander Eisenschmidt with Jonathan Mekinda

1st edition

, 2013


184 pages, 33 color and 69 b/w illustrations

21 x 27 cm

ISBN 978-3-906027-15-9


Chicago has long captured the global imagination as a place of tall, shining buildings rising from the fog, the playground for many of architecture’s greats—from Mies van der Rohe to Frank Lloyd Wright—and a surprising epicenter for modern construction and building techniques. In this beautifully illustrated volume, Alexander Eisenschmidt and Jonathan Mekinda have brought together a diverse pool of curators, artists, architects, historians, critics, and theorists to produce a multifarious portrait of the “Second City.”

Looking as far back as the Auditorium Building of 1889 and the 1909 Plan of Chicago, Chicagoisms is remarkable for the breadth of its topics and the depth of its essays. From more abstract ventures like tracking the boom-and-bust cycle of Chicago’s commitment to architecture and the influence of the Chicago grid system on Mies van der Rohe, to more straightforward studies of the “Americanization” of Berlin, the editors have chosen essays that convey the complex and varied history and culture of Chicago’s architecture. More than simply an architectural biography of the city, the book shows Chicago to have an important role as a catalyst for international developments and debates.

Authors & Editors

William F. Baker

Barry Bergdoll

 is Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology at New York’s Columbia University, and has served as the MoMA’s Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design 2007–13.

Aaron Betsky

Robert Bruegmann

Penelope Dean

Alexander Eisenschmidt

 is a designer, theorist, and Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture. He also works as a curator of exhibitions and is founding partner of Studio Offshore.

Pedro Gadanho

David H. Haney

John Harwood

Sam Jacob

Sylvia Lavin

Mark Lee

Andres Lepik

 is professor of history of architecture and curatorial practice at Technical University Munich and director of the A.M. Architekturmuseum der TUM since 2012. Prior to this he has been a curator at Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie and at the MoMA’s department of architecture and design in New York.

David J. Lewis

Mark Linder

Bart Lootsma

Winy Maas

Igor Marjanović

John McMorrough

Jonathan Mekinda

 is a historian of modern architecture and design and an Assistant Professor in Art History and Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Brett Steele

Stanley Tigerman

Kazys Varnelis

Sarah Whiting


“One of the freshest recent books on architecture in Chicago. [...] People’s impressions of Chicago are colored by personalities whose contributions were great but which overshadow the complexities and realities of the city. Many histories repeat these myths and simplifications, but this great book thankfully goes the opposite route, dismantling some of those myths and putting Chicago in an international context that shines a light on its influences.” John Hill, Archidose