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The Chicago Tribune Tower Competition

The Chicago Tribune Tower Competition
Skyscraper Design and Cultural Change in the 1920s

Out of Print

Award Winner

Part of Modern Architecture and Cultural Identity

  • Date Published: June 2001
  • availability: Unavailable - out of print April 2004
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521590563

Out of Print

Unavailable - out of print April 2004
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About the Authors
  • The Chicago Tribune Tower competition was one of the largest, most important and most controversial design contests of the 1920s. The international competition generated 263 entries for the design of the new Tribune office building, and they represented a broad constellation of approaches to the skyscraper at a time of transition. In the decades following the competition, the design entries have often been evaluated in terms of the rise and demise of particular conceptions of modernism. This study examines the various contexts in which the Chicago Tribune Tower design competition took place and how they shaped the event. Analyzing how the competition contributed to changing concepts of the skyscraper, it also demonstrates how it engaged with the production of consumer culture, with conflicts of national identity and cultural unity, and with a newspaper's efforts to produce a civic and corporate icon during the turbulent years following World War I.

    • Discusses a competition which produced entries that demonstrate the range of experimentation in early-1920s skyscraper design
    • Analyzes skyscraper design at a time of considerable change - architectural, political, and social - in the wake of World War I
    • Considers the relationship between architecture, consumer culture, and constructions of American cultural identity
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    • Winner of the Alice Davis Hitchcock awarded by the Society for Architectural Historians

    Reviews & endorsements

    'In Solomonson's careful and many-sided account, Tribune Tower becomes a pole around which the whole pattern of a society turns. Building up from details, she draws together a fascinating social and material history … The book represents a landmark effort to connect architectural discourse to the larger culture of which it is a part … this fine social history offers an exemplary model for anyone seeking to understand what buildings mean to people.' Chicago Tribune

    'Solomonson … Understands the issues and writes engagingly not oly about the competition itself, but about the architectural and commercial cultures - both European and American - that formed its backdrop.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2001
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521590563
    • length: 384 pages
    • dimensions: 262 x 187 x 28 mm
    • weight: 1.187kg
    • contains: 183 b/w illus.
    • availability: Unavailable - out of print April 2004
  • Table of Contents

    1. Planning the competition
    2. 'Class appeal' for the masses: imagining community
    3. Conducting the competition: shaping an international agenda
    4. In the public eye: design for advertising
    5. 'Ancient beauty' versus 'ultra modern': the problem of style and the meanings of gothic
    6. City of towers: transforming the skyscraper
    7. Tribune tower: constructing the icon.

  • Author

    Katherine Solomonson, University of Minnesota


    • Winner of the Alice Davis Hitchcock awarded by the Society for Architectural Historians

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