The Chicago Cultural Center started life as the first permanent library building in the city. The library moved out long ago but the building is still a hub of activity. The building is centrally located on Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Washington (across from Millennium Park). It’s open to the public and free to enter.
Its Preston Bradley Hall contains the world’s largest Tiffany stained glass dome: a diameter of 38 feet and 20 000 pieces of glass. It was created in 1897 and restored about 10 years ago. Not only does the second floor contain the Tiffany glass dome, it also has beautiful Tiffany chandeliers and impressive Tiffany mosaics. In my opinion, the mosaics are the most stunning part of the building.
In 1894, Tiffany patented a “favrile” technique whereby coloured glass was mixed together while still molten. This allowed colours to blend together in intriguing and iridescent ways. The mosaics in the Cultural Center are made up of small pieces of fravrile glass and mother of pearl.
Not only are the pieces themselves shimmery, they were applied at slight angles so that they reflect and bounce light to the maximum degree. No photos can do justice to the play of light that occurs in the rooms and stairways of the Cultural Center.
Mr. Tiffany may have overseen all aspects of his business, but it was actually Ms. Clara Driscoll and her team who were responsible for the mosaics. Driscoll was the head of the Tiffany Women’s Glass Cutting Department. She was also the designer of most of the famous lamps that were attributed to Tiffany.
The mosaic tiles were all fabricated in Tiffany’s New York factory by Driscoll and her team. When you stand in the Cultural Center and see the wealth of tile work around you, you begin to understand the enormity of the task.
The Chicago Cultural Center is a must see for any glass, art nouveau, art or architecture buffs.
Today’s Quote of the Day is from Addison and is inscribed around the base of the Tiffany Dome:
Books are the legacies that a genius leaves to mankind which are delivered down from generation to generation, as presents to the posterity of those who are yet unborn.