18 July 2011


Zbigniew Bzdak, The Chicago Tribune

A few weeks ago I wrote about John Ronan of Chicago's Poetry Foundation Building.
Here is something from Blair Kamin, the architecture critic of the Chicago Tribune:

That plaza is perhaps the best place to unlock the mystery of this seemingly mute building because it extends a silent invitation to the passerby: Come in and explore. If you stand across Dearborn Street, you quickly grasp that the plaza, filled with trees and open to the sky, snakes all the way around the building’s north side to the door...

Putting visitors in the right state of mind to enjoy this place cannot be overestimated in its importance. The forecourt experience, a welcoming semi-public space, which immediately disarms the visitor, and quietly asks for them to leave their 'busy city people' persona behind at the portal, is also exactly the thing that is needed to prepare people for the experience inside.  It isn't even about poetry per-se, nor does it need to be.  But it does set up a quiet anticipation for the works inside.  Imagine if all the places of the city similarly prepared visitors for what awaits them, as appropriate to its function. What an incredible city that would be.

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