Alternative Histories: Office Winhov on Burnham & Co.
Conversation piece in blue
Daniel Hudson Burnham’s buildings are based on a classical order of well-proportioned elements with a strict load-bearing tectonic expression – a familiar architectural language still spoken today. But, as with all languages, this tectonic language gradually transforms as the context in which it is spoken changes.
The construction logic in 1927 pointed towards a steel skeleton frame clad in situ with small terra cotta elements. The tectonic Esperanto of today, however, demands much larger prefabricated facade elements. This shifting grammar questions the shape and scale of the facade elements as well as their stacking and the resulting role of joints within the composition. Moreover, the expression of the load-bearing elements by the cladding in Burnham’s design is questioned by the contemporary construction of cladding itself – contemplated in the model by a textile expression of the same ordering principals as the original design.
Insofar as Burnham & Company’s drawing would arrive as blueprint at the building site, the blue model evokes a conversation about a shared yet evolving architectural language, which spans a century .
– Office Winhov (Uri Gilad, Anna Janssen, Susanna Scholten, Jan Peter Wingender), 2019