Chicago Athletic

Chicago Athletic

You take a piece of Venice and smack it right in the middle of Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

That’s how it feels. Thank you Henry Ives Cobb.

He was just 34 years old in 1893 when he saw his design come to life right for the opening of the legendary Chicago World’s Fair. Henry Ives Cobb was already one of the most thought for architects in Chicago. At the age of only 22 he started his career with Union Club of Chicago and he continued on with dazzling and speedy success.

Chicago Athletic Association is the most beautiful building he designed in my opinion. Not many letters and details survived about his life. But obviously Henry Ives Cobb had traveled to Venice where he was inspired with Venetian Gothic architecture.

Doge’s Palace and the Ca’ d’Oro on the Grand Canal are prime examples. Small columns, quatrefoil openings, ogee arches, capped with a relief ornament.

I can see Henry Ives Cobb sitting on a step by the Grand Canal in Venice and drawing these elements in his notebook. And then taking a grid of rectangular windows, his initial design for Chicago Athletic and overlaying them with flowing elements of the Venetian Gothic.

He copied, transformed, and combined.

As Steve Jobs said almost hundred years later: “Creativity is just connecting things.”