Test your knowledge with a quiz
- The 14-story Reliance Building is a prime example of the technical and stylistic advancements in urban architecture pursued by the First Chicago School during the late 19th century. The structure of this early skyscraper consists of only a steel interior frame with a thin exterior curtain wall of large windows and decorated terracotta tiles.
- Steel became more widely available and affordable at this time and was tapped by architects as the core material for designing taller and taller buildings. This shift away from the height restrictions imposed by construction with load-bearing walls of brick or stone allowed Chicago firms to meet increased demand for public and commercial space in the quickly growing city.
More to think about
The Reliance Building was considered to be the height of modernity in 1895. Think about the buildings in your community today, especially any public or commercial buildings you visit. Consider the materials they are made from, the experience of light in the space, the decoration, or other features. Which of these elements can you link to the First Chicago School and which ones feel distinct? How much can you see the impact of the First Chicago School in the built environment today?
Which structural and design features in architecture are most compelling to you and why? See how your ideas align (or not) with your classmates.
Smarthistory images for teaching and learning: