Michigan Square Building, Diana Court.
Image courtesy of The Ryerson and Burnham Archives.
ARCHITECTS AND SCULPTORS
Architects: Holabird & Root
Holabird & Root are most known for the Chicago Board of Trade (1930), which many consider to be their most successful commission.
Both John Holabird and John Root were trained in the Beaux-Arts architectural style in Paris. However, after Root joined Holabird they left behind their Paris education, believing that traditional architecture had no place in modern world.
Holabird and Root incorporated classicism within Chicago’s architectural tradition of skeletal framing to create their own style of art deco. This resulted in national acclaim for their achievements.
Some believed Holabird and Root would have engineered a new American architectural style had the Great Depression not occurred.
Root wrote in a personal letter in 1949 that Carl Milles’ Diana Fountain and the Michigan Square Building’s interior were inspired his and Holabird’s trip to Sweden in 1927. Historians have suggested that Holabird and Root were specifically influenced by the Matchstick Palace (Tändstickspalatset) in Stockholm.
Sculptor: Carl Milles, The Diana Fountain (1928)
The Diana Fountain was Milles’ introduction into the American architectural world.
He was considered primarily a monumental designer and crafted his works to be viewed outside in natural lighting.
His artistic aim was to make a powerful musically rhythmic statement, to engage the viewers with his love of life through the sound and visual of his work.
Milles was commissioned by Holabird & Root in 1928 to build a fountain similar to the one he sculpted for the Swedish Match Company, at the Matchstick Palace (Tändstickspalatset), in Stockholm in 1927.
Milles was greatly influenced by Classical and Norse mythology, and these influences can be seen in his works across the world.
Sculptor: Edgar Miller, Diana Court Clerestory Windows (1928-1929)
Edgar Miller studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago during World War I. He would come to work on hundreds of projects over the next fifty years in Chicago and around the United States.
Miller was noticed by Holabird & Root sometime in the 1920s, probably by his reputation and their formal connection at the Tavern Club.
He was hired for many of Holabird & Root’s artistic installations from the 1920s through the 1940s, including the Palmolive Building and the Northwestern Technological Institute.
Miller was commissioned by Holabird & Root in 1928 for the Michigan Square Building. He crafted nine sandblasted panels that represented visages and aspects of the Roman goddess Diana.
The nine panels were placed above the gallery level of the Diana Court and and were lighted from behind.
Today, two of the panels can be seen at the Art Institute of Chicago in Gallery 200, as part of the "Fragments of Chicago's Past" exhibit.