As the European entries to the Chicago Tribune Tower competition were being unloaded, another architectural consignment also ended its transatlantic journey in Chicago. In the other, rather bulkier crates, a new exhibit of domestic wooden panels—delicately carved in a fine Rococo pattern in the mid 18th century—arrived as a new period room exhibit for the Art Institute of Chicago. Taken from the walls of a house in London’s East End, they would become known in their new location as The Georgian Room. Sometime after the Second World War, it was re-packed and stored away. By the 1980s it had returned to England where it stayed in an Essex barn until 2008, when 6a architects returned it to its original site as part of their extension to the two Georgian houses in Spitalfields, East London, for contemporary art centre Raven Row.
The rise and fall and rise again of the modern city passed through every room of the two east London buildings as the legacy of the Chicago Tribune Tower competition stimulated the century’s architecture. The tower presented here reconstitutes—as an extruded section of The Georgian Room—the architecture of a place that has existed in both London and Chicago over two and a half centuries and has seen the making of new histories in the coincidences and accidents of the city, which unfold alongside the polemical landmarks of architectural discourse.
6a architects was founded by Tom Emerson and Stephanie Macdonald in 2001 after meeting at the Royal College of Art. They won a RIBA award in 2011 and were nominated for the Stirling prize, both for their Raven Row contemporary art gallery in Spitalfields, East London. The Fashion Galleries at the V&A opened in May 2012 and were nominated for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award, 2013. The following year, the practice collaborated with fashion designer Paul Smith to design a cast iron façade in Mayfair, London which has been nominated for the Design Museum’s Design of the Year Award 2014 and received a Civic Trust Award, 2014.
The practice has won several major architectural competitions and international awards including the redevelopment of a large industrial complex in Oval for the London Development Agency and a housing development in Savigny-le-Temple, France. In 2012, the practice was awarded the Eric Schelling Medal for Architecture.