What I have done for my presentation is to draw a slice out of the City Beautiful movement (from early 20 th century) – of which Daniel Burnham was the most important exponent – and extend it forward to early 21 st century – with the current emphasis on place-making in our communities using new urbanism principles and form-based codes.
The slice from the City Beautiful movement is North Avenue project from Burnham’s 1909 Plan for Chicago, I have selected the North Michigan Avenue project as the focus of my presentation – because for me the aspirations for this project are the most representative of the 1909 Plan. (Also, because for my research for this presentation I came across a particularly suitable book, called: Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue: Planning and Development that focuses on the first three decades of development just as the Plan was adopted.) I will share with you what the Burnham/Bennet recommendations were for North Michigan Avenue, and what was actually built. Then I will describe the highlights of Form-Based codes and share with you my thoughts on what could have been achieved along Michigan Avenue, if during the period 1900-1930 the City of Chicago had Form-Based Codes to adopt. And finally, I will discuss what we can learn from the City Beautiful movement/Michigan Avenue – where the emphasis was on not just bold plans but also on civic “beauty”, and see how using new urbanism principles we can still create great urban places.
As we know Daniel Burnham was inspired by European Beaux-Arts principles of city planning and architecture. “A City As Architecture” – was the main driving force of the nineteenth century city planning where architecture served the aim of creating visually unified urban areas of a city. A prime example of the Beaux-Arts city planning was Paris, where the Champs Elysees had perhaps the most profound impact on Daniel Burnham This view from top of the Arch de Triumph must have been inspirational for Burnham (the B&W image shows probably what Burnham saw in his time)…
…for what he proposed for Michigan Avenue was a Champs Elysees for Chicago! …A landscaped, wide-boulevard with uniformly designed buildings of equal bulk and height – marching along the entire length of North Michigan Avenue – from the then Grant Park at Randolph Road north all the way to the lakeshore.
As we also know Burnham was impressed by what Barron Haussmann had achieved a generation before. This example of Rue de Rivoli – probably was another major influence on Burnham. Haussmann was emphatic about lending streets a distinct personality that could only be achieved by uniform repetition of a beautifully designed building. In this example the same building design is repeated for about a dozen city clocks – approximately a mile!
Determined to create a “Paris on the Prairie” – Burnham in his Plan proposed creating a wide boulevard along Michigan Avenue – flanked by buildings no more than eight stories tall. Around this time the plans to construct the Michigan Avenue Bridge were being pushed through. In anticipation of new growth north of the river, a North Central Business District Association – essentially following the principles of the Burnham Plan – proposed raising the maximum building height to 10 storeys but keeping the uniform building heights and architecture the same as in the Burnham Plan. As in the case of Rue de Rivoli, here there was emphasis on uniform cornice lines at the second and the ninth floors, and a tri-partite division of the façade – with a base, a shaft and a capital.
Compared to 100 years ago, obviously things today look vastly different -- where the urban form has changed radically from the Plan recommendations.
What is more significant is within a decade after the Plan was adopted, the pressure to build along North Michigan Avenue had forced the real estate values to skyrocket and the buildings – in the 1920s – were being built to sixteen and even 24 storey high. Interestingly, after Daniel Burnham’s death, his two sons who now owned the D. H. Burnham & Company, joined in the race to build taller buildings…and this was one of the first high-rise office buildings outside the loop done by the Burnham brothers.
Here are couple of other examples of what the NCBDA -- through its architect-member Andrew Rebori – created: a vision for the area just north of the Chicago river…
Here is the second example…. NOW…Needless to say, had there been a zoning tool like a form-based code in Burnham’s time, he would have made sure he got the code adopted by the City – allowing for taller buildings than his Plan permitted – recognizing the market forces – but still keeping the buildings heights and their architecture the same with key exceptions – such as for towers like these forming a grand entrance to North Michigan Avenue and demarcate it from south Michigan Avenue. I will come back to the FBCs later.
What was built north of the river instead of the Rebori vision is represented by these three buildings of the 1920s. Wrigley and Tribune were corporate headquarters and the Medinah building was a social club! What is important to note here is that because they belonged to the same period, there is some cohesiveness of design among the three buildings – even if the architectural styles of the three buildings are different. The emphasis on creating civic beauty during this time was prevalent among private businesses too: the Wrigley brothers provided the funds for the bridge towers which were designed by Edward Bennet.
Private businesses wanted to create unique corporate identities – and emphasized beauty of buildings. It is interesting to note that when the Tribune owners opened up the design competition for their tower (in 1922), they specifically said they were not interested in the design of the floor plans or structure. The competitors were asked to submit only a rendering of the tower with a view from the southwest corner! The prevailing thrust on creating Burnham’s “civic aesthetics” were complimented by private business owners to build beautiful buildings.
On the south side of the river too, office buildings starting coming up in the 1920’s that exceeded the 10-story height limit (whereas the building heights from the lake shore to the south of the Chicago river were all shown in the Burnham Plan to be of uniform 8 storey heights).
A century later – not surprisingly – this is what the urban form along Michigan Avenue south of the river – looks like today. As compared to a wide boulevard flanked by comparatively shorter buildings on either side, we now have a “canyon” effect with much taller buildings located on the sides of a narrower street.
Here is yet another example of the vision of the planners from early 20 th century: for South Water Street – which was a busy market at the time. Even with the first building along the North Michigan Avenue – the Wrigley building – that rose to sixteen + eleven – 27 storey height, NCBDA planners in 1921 assumed that creating a vision that showed uniform heights and architecture for all buildings was an appropriate vision for the future. Clearly, the 1909 Plan was still a strong influence!
Now, we know that the history of Chicago zoning is such that the allowable height limits were being regularly adjusted to move upwards even during and after the 1920’s. From a political standpoint – for a major portion of the city like Chicago that began to rise after the opening of the North Avenue bridge in the 1920’s – and once again in late 1940’s after the Great Depression – the question is whether a form-based code with uniform height limits would have been possible during a building boom. An obvious difference between the Paris of late nineteenth century under an emperor – Napoleon III – and a City in a flourishing capitalist democracy – is that in one the market forces were and are kept artificially under control whereas in the other they influence as to what gets built. Now, before I discuss what would have been different if it been had politically feasible to adopt a form-based code based on the Burnham Plan, let me highlight the key advantages of a Form-Based Code over conventional zoning…
Now, had it been politically feasible for Burnham to have the City adopt a Form-Based Code to implement his Plan…
As we celebrate the centennial year of the Burnham Plan, let us remind ourselves that Burnham emphasized creating not just Bold Plans but Bold Plans that could stir people’s blood with great civic beauty.
Burnham Fb Cs Final 25sep09
Image from the Art Institute of Chicago Burnham Centennial Website Daniel Burnham: If He Only Had Form-Based Codes in His Time! ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Mahender Vasandani President, M Square | Urban Design APA Upper Midwest Conference September 25, 2009
From Late 19 th -Early 20 th Century Beautiful Movement to… In the Broadest Sense… 2 Late 20 th -21 st Century New Urbanist Movement
What I Will Talk About : <ul><li>Focus on North Michigan Avenue </li></ul><ul><li>(John W. Stamper, “Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue, Planning and Development, 1900-1930) </li></ul><ul><li>Burnham/Bennett Recommendations </li></ul><ul><li>Post-Burnham Plan Recommendations </li></ul><ul><li>What Was Actually Built </li></ul><ul><li>Highlights of Form-Based Codes </li></ul><ul><li>What Could Have Form-Based Codes Done? </li></ul><ul><li>Lessons We Can Learn from the City Beautiful </li></ul><ul><li>Movement/Burnham Plan for Michigan Avenue </li></ul>Specifically… 3
Burnham’s Inspiration Champs Elysees, Paris 4 A Prime Beaux-Arts Example of “City As Architecture”
North Michigan Avenue: Burnham Plan Recommendations A Champs Elysees For Chicago Images Courtesy of John Stamper, Author, Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue 5
Burnham’s Inspiration Rue de Rivoli: Haussmann’s “ Street Architecture” 6
Lessons from Haussmann’s Paris -- 1909 Michigan Avenue: Burnham + Post- Burnham Plan Recommendations Image Courtesy of John Stamper, Author, Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue NCBDA Plan 1918 7
North Michigan Avenue Today Built Urban Form Radically Different from the Burnham Plan Recommendations 8
North Michigan Avenue (North of River): 1920’s 9 Built Urban Form Started to Change in 1920’s; Little Regard For Plan Height Limits Burnham Brothers, Inc. Architects: Central Life Insurance Bldg. 1923-24
Michigan Avenue: Post-Burnham Plan Recommendations Urban Form Study, Andrew Rebori, 1918 Image Courtesy of John Stamper, Author, Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue 10
Michigan Avenue: Post-Burnham Plan Recommendations Image Courtesy of John Stamper, Author, Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue Urban Form Study, Andrew Rebori, 1918 11
North Michigan Avenue: Buildings from 1920s 1921, 24 1929 1925 Michigan Ave. Bridge Opened in 1920 12
“ Corporate” Statements: North Michigan Avenue: 1920s 13 Emphasis on Boldness And Beauty...But on Individual Buildings Tribune Tower Competition 1922 Wrigley Building 1919-22 Medinah Club 1925
North Michigan Avenue (South of River): 1920’s Bell Building 1924 14 Built Urban Form Started to Change in 1920’s; Little Regard For Plan Height Limits 1909 Burnham Plan (Jules Guerin)
North Michigan Avenue (South of River) Today Built Urban Form Radically Different from the Burnham Plan Recommendations Bell 1924 15
Michigan Avenue (South Water St): Post-Burnham (1921) Recommendations Bold Parisian Ambitions: Sill Planning for Uniform Building Heights after… Image Courtesy of John Stamper, Author, Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue South Water Street Fruit Market, 1890s+ 16
Wacker Drive (South Water St) Today Building Bulk and Form Different Today than Conceived in 1921 17
<ul><li>Based on An Adopted Community Vision </li></ul><ul><li>Mix Uses </li></ul><ul><li>Prescribe What is Desirable </li></ul><ul><li>Predictable Building/Urban Form </li></ul><ul><li>(No F.A.R.s or Density Limits, But </li></ul><ul><li>Bulk Limits ) </li></ul><ul><li>Predetermined Vision Based on </li></ul><ul><li>Public Support; Can Help </li></ul><ul><li>Retain Existing Community Character </li></ul><ul><li>Architectural Standards (Also Landscape Standards/Roadway Design Standards) </li></ul><ul><li>Power of Place </li></ul><ul><li>Based on Abstract Zoning Requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Segregate Uses </li></ul><ul><li>Proscribe (What Not Allowed) </li></ul><ul><li>Unpredictable Building Bulk/Form </li></ul><ul><li>(Maximize F.A.R.s and Densities) </li></ul><ul><li>Unpredictable Character </li></ul><ul><li>No Architectural Considerations </li></ul><ul><li>No Sense of Place </li></ul><ul><li>FBCs </li></ul><ul><li>Conventional Zoning Codes </li></ul>Highlights of Form-Based Codes As Compared to Conventional Zoning 18
<ul><li>Adopted for a Specific Urban Area </li></ul><ul><li>More graphic; More Easily Understood and Enforced </li></ul><ul><li>Includes Integrated Standards for: </li></ul><ul><li>Thoroughfares, Frontages, Building Types, Public Space, </li></ul><ul><li>Landscaping – All Linked to a Regulating Plan </li></ul>Highlights of Form-Based Codes 19
If DHB Had Got a FBC Adopted in His Time to Implement the 1909 Plan: Uniform Heights and Bulk, and “Street” Architecture; No Eclectic Architecture or Corporate “Statements” ( If Politically Feasible) 20
Fundamentally…Is Eclectic Architecture Better, Or Is Uniform Architecture Better? It Depends… … on How Good Is the Architecture 21
Is Eclectic Better, Or Is Uniform Better? An Ensemble of Well-Designed Buildings in Different Styles Can Work Well 22
Is Eclectic Better, Or Is Uniform Better? Poorly Designed Buildings Can Neither Work as An Ensemble Nor as “Street Architecture” Bottom Line: Whether Eclectic or Uniform, Quality of Architecture Is Important in Establishing Character of a Place; Form-Based Codes Provide Control Over Character in Place-Making 23
Character of a Place Is Defined By: How Buildings Relate to the Public Realm at the Street Level 24
Character of a Place Is Defined By: The Types of Uses Allowed in an Area (Michigan Avenue was designed from Day One to be an Up-Market Street) 25
Character of a Place Is Defined By: The Placement of Buildings in Relation to the Street 26
Character of a Place Is Defined By: The Type of Landscaping and How It Relates to the Buildings and Streets 27
Character of a Place Is Defined By: And How the Landscaping Relates to Sidewalks 28
Character of a Place Is Defined By: The Way BULK and Height of Buildings Relate to Streets/Street Widths 29
Lessons Learned from Michigan Avenue Daniel Hudson Burnham Inspired Architects and Planners of His Time and Subsequent Generations To Think Big. And, to Emphasize Civic Beauty of a City . About Paris, He Said: “… more beautiful, unified and efficient arrangement of all its parts, all interconnected with handsomely landscaped streets and boulevards. Gracing this noble city would be noble (public) architecture…” 30
Lessons Learned from Michigan Avenue 31 While Uniform Heights were a casualty of successful businesses were creating unique identities, Beautiful Architecture –individual and civic – is a legacy of the Burnham Plan Landscaped Streets and Boulevards are another legacy of the Burnham Plan Over the years, in the spirit of Burnham, Chicago has made North Michigan Avenue into a world-class destination. Many of the City’s design achievements (without a Form-Base Code) can be more easily achieved today by other communities with the help of FBCs.
Lessons Learned from Michigan Avenue for a Good Form-Based Code <ul><li>Create Good Architecture – Private and Civic -- With Form-Based </li></ul><ul><li>Architectural Standards (This is A Must) </li></ul><ul><li>Create Building Bulk and Building Placement Standards </li></ul><ul><li>3. Create Street and Sidewalk Standards </li></ul><ul><li>4. Create Streetscape and Landscaping Standards </li></ul><ul><li>5. Create a List of Permitted Uses (Typically not included in FBCs) </li></ul><ul><li>Create an Urban Design Plan and a Regulating Plan with the above </li></ul><ul><li>Standards (This actually is the first step) </li></ul>32
Daniel Burnham: If He Only Had Form-Based Codes in His Time! ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Thank You! Mahender Vasandani President, M Square | Urban Design T: 630.845.1202 E: email@example.com