The Doctors Building
Status: demolished in spring 2008
Nearly everything I said about the endangered San Luis Apartments applied to the old Doctors Building, too: I used to hate it; I thought it was an obscene clash with the pre-war architecture around it. I slowly came around, and when I heard it would be coming down, I scrambled to get photos. And now that it's gone, I regret it.
The Doctors Building was a sleek bit of prototypical MidCentury Modernism - spare, geometric, rigorous. It was a sharp contrast with the sumptuous styles that are so typical in the Central West End. With today's eyes, it's easy to disparage such a building -- but at the time, they were considered marvels. Buildings like the Doctors Building were new, sparkling, efficient, orderly, rational -- in a word, modern.
The building planned to replace the Doctors Building -- assuming it even goes forward, given the economy -- appears pleasant but largely forgettable. It makes scrambling attempts to placate the neighbors, to assure them that it is nothing new, innovative, or modern. In doing so, it pulls from a grabbag of generic historicism, piling on elements like a corner clocktower (never before seen in the Central West End), quoins (but only on the corner tower!), and stone arched windows. But it doesn't go whole-hog; modernly integral balconies, stepping-stone projecting bays, and a lack of any substantial cornice betray its modern origin. It's a modern building, dressed up for Halloween. "Look, everyone! I'm a Chicago manufacturing building!"
Compare that to the uncompromising spareness of the demolished Doctors Building, and it's clear that something has been lost.
- The Doctors Building: An Obituary at Ecology of Absence
- Aerial view from Maps.Live.com