Design With Company revisits the canonical history of Chicago’s famed steel frame construction and uncovers the hidden biases embedded in its so-called universal or typical details and their assembly.
Instrumental in the development of tower construction, steel frame is often aligned to engineering. It has been described by the likes of historian Colin Rowe as the neutral and infinitely flexible background for the life of business to unfold. Design With Company’s installation demonstrates that, rather than simply a neutral and technical design, there is expression to be found in the specific details of the universal steel joint. Their installation consists of three parts: a representation of steel framing plans from six Chicago skyscrapers; three-dimensional specimens taken as fragments from the steel structures; and isometric drawings of these fragments that demonstrate the multiple variations producible from the simple matrix connection of the steel joint.
Six early Chicago skyscrapers are represented; they are, from south to north: Manhattan Building (1891), William Le Baron Jenney; Monadnock Building (1891), Burnham and Root; Rookery Building (1888), Burnham and Root; Marquette Building (1895), Holabird and Roche; Reliance Building (1895), Burnham and Root; Carson Pirie Scott Building (1899), Louis Sullivan and Daniel Burnham.
Design With Company (Dw/Co) is the Chicago-based architectural collaborative of Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer. Dw/Co seeks to transform the world through textual and visual narratives, speculative urban scenarios, installations, and small-scale interactive constructions. Hicks is currently an assistant professor in Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago and previously served as the Hyde Chair of Excellence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Newmeyer is a visiting assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and has recently taught at the University of Wisconsin‚ Milwaukee as well as the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. The practice was recently included in the 2015 Chicago Architectural Biennial. They completed construction on a pavilion as part of Design Miami 2015, another in Vancouver Canada, and a temporary outdoor theater at the Ragdale Artist Colony.