“A Newfound Appreciation” – Heidi Ruehle Reviews The Monroe Building: A Chicago Masterpiece Rediscovered

Check out this new review of one of our first titles, The Monroe Building: A Chicago Masterpiece Rediscovered. Just like the building the book is about, this large coffee table volume continues to captivate and inspire long after its creation.

The author of this review is Heidi Ruehle, who is currently the Executive Director at Unity Temple Restoration Foundation.

Unity Temple, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is a National Historic Landmark and part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. If you’re interested in learning more about Frank Lloyd Wright’s works, you can peruse Unity Temple Restoration Foundation’s website or our other architecture title, Frank Lloyd Wright’s $10,000 Home.

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The Monroe Building: A Chicago Masterpiece Rediscovered, is not just a book about the glorious rehabilitation of a prominent, early Chicago skyscraper, it also delves into the history of the numerous players who brought the building to life.

The most notable figure in the Monroe Building’s rebirth, owner Jennifer N. Pritzker, demonstrates her passion for architectural preservation while upholding her commitment to the long-term economic value of the building. It appears no detail was overlooked in the painstaking process of restoring and reproducing original design elements that were damaged, destroyed, or merely forgotten. Pritzker has gifted Chicago with an extraordinary example of the city’s architectural prominence and resiliency.

Authors Richard Cahan and Michael Williams devote the first half of the book to weaving together the personalities and relationships of the developers Peter and Shepherd Brooks, architects Holabird & Roche, building manager Owen Aldis, notable tenants, and other relevant contributors. The authors engage readers with historical photos and interesting accounts of the building’s contractors, craftsmen, and even architectural critics of their time.

Part II is dedicated to the comprehensive restoration and rehabilitation of the Monroe Building, filling the pages with the contemporary photos of Alexander Vertikoff. His eye for detail and composition helps readers fully realize the beauty and elegance of the building in relation to its imposing neighbors. Vertikoff’s thoughtful photography reveals the Monroe Building’s remarkable craftsmanship and complex materials, inviting readers to experience the building from points of view not readily available to bystanders at street level.

The Monroe Building was an absolute pleasure to read, fostering a newfound appreciation for a building designed to embrace the past, predict the future, and stand the test of time.

Review by Heidi Ruehle, Executive Director, Unity Temple Restoration Foundation

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