Friday, January 7, 2011

Row Homes for Andrew McNally

Though Joseph Silsbee was the architect for many speculative homes, relatively few of these were row homes.  Typically arranged as a block of multiple homes, the row home was a more economical way for a developer to maximize the structures on a property.  By attaching the homes in groups of repeated elements, it eliminated the need to build exterior side walls and allowed several homes to be quickly built at one time.  
Printer and co-founder of Rand McNally, Andrew McNally, hired Silsbee to design this group of nine row homes as part of a real estate development not far from his own home on Chicago's North Side.  Though the current condition, coloring of trim and mortar and change of materials sometimes makes it hard to determine, the McNally homes were designed as a cohesive block.  Entries are paired in recesses and gables above help to unify the coupled homes.  
The homes are brimming with detail including fine trim, carved beams, and carefully executed stone and masonry work.  A small tourret serves as a playful terminator for the building at the alley to the north.  At the south end, the building is more monumental.  A large tower at the corner rises almost four-stories and is topped with a complex ogee roof.  The homes at this end are clad completely in brick and stone and are more sculptural with a variety of bays, gables and recessed openings.  There is a nice old image of it from this angle here.
At the street level, the row homes are raised slightly from the street and are entered from a series of stone stoops.  It is relatively large three-story structure but the overall scale is kept modest with banding, varied massing and materials, and carefully detailed stone, brick and woodwork.

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