<– back to CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE main page, including more information about the Chicago Architecture Center, a non-profit organization that offers tours and insight information.
Chicago Cultural Center
Address: 78 E. Washington Street
The Chicago Cultural Center, completed in 1897 and designed by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, serves as Chicago’s free-admission public center for culture.
Designed in the Beaux-Arts style, the Cultural Center recalls several periods of classical architecture.
Lush detailing is present throughout the interior, particularly in the two intricately constructed domes, each made of richly colored glass, including the world’s largest Tiffany dome. Free tours of the Cultural Center are offered weekly, departing from the Randolph lobby on the first floor.
Brief History of the Cultural Center
Built in 1897 as Chicago’s first public library, the building’s interior includes antique brass, rare imported marbles, and mosaics of Favrile glass, colored stone and mother of pearl. The building’s most notable features are its two spectacular stained glass domes.
The world’s largest art glass dome by Tiffany, located in Preston Bradley Hall, is approximately 38 feet in diameter; its some 30,000 pieces of glass cover more than 1,000 square feet. The body of the dome has a “fish scale” pattern, while the center shows the signs of the zodiac.
In 2008 it was restored to Tiffany’s original vision when a concrete outer dome that had been added in the 1930s was removed, thereby allowing natural light through the stained glass and into the room for the first time in decades. On the other side of the building, at the entrance to the Grand Army of the Republic Hall, the Healy & Millet dome in the G.A.R. Rotunda was executed in a colorful and intricate Renaissance floral pattern.
More information: City of Chicago :: Chicago Cultural Center — Architecture and History