Steve Hall / Photo ' Scott McDonald/Hedrich Blessing
The Richard H. Driehaus Museum / Photo ' Steve Hall/Hedrich Blessing
The main hall at the Driehaus Museum / Photo ' Alexander Vertikoff
Lou Mitchell's Restaurant / Courtesy Teemu008 via Wikipedia
The Old Town School of Folk Music / Courtesy Pete LaMotte via Flickr
Farnsworth House / Courtesy tinyfroglet via Flickr
Steve Hall is a photographer and partner at Hedrich Blessing Photographers, based in Chicago. His work is widely published in magazines such as Architectural Record, GreenSource, Interior Design, Architectural Digest, Azure, and others.
Best Historic Architecture
The Richard H. Driehaus Museum occupies one of Chicago's last remaining Gilded Age homes, the Nickerson Mansion, built in 1883. This meticulously restored house, along with an extensive collection of decorative art (including lots of Tiffany works), provide a great escape from the city.
The recently restored and renovated Federal Plaza, including Mies van der Rohe's famous Post Office and Alexander Calder's Flamingo, create a great open space in the Loop. The farmer's market is every Tuesday. The space is magical at twilight!
Best Off-the-Beaten Path Architecture
Drive north on Lake Shore Drive and Sheridan Road through any of the North Shore communities.
Lake Forest is extraordinary, planned in 1857 by architect and landscape designer Almerin Hotchkiss. The plan is a city within a park with the streets laid out around ravines and bluffs along Lake Michigan.
On the South Side, the University of Chicago campus is home to buildings designed by everyone from Frank Lloyd Wright to Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, all surrounded by the incredible residences of Hyde Park. Walk all day.
Best Museums and Galleries
John Ronan's AIA Honor Award-winning Poetry Foundation allows visitors a sense of discovery as they walk through a series of solids and voids created by the interlocking rectangles of zinc, glass, birch, and concrete. Highly recommended!
The West Loop and ever-shrinking meatpacking district is the future home of Google, lots of other new tech companies, and a million restaurants. This area will be unrecognizable in three years. Try breakfast at the famous Lou Mitchell's and then take you pick from dozens of others for lunch and dinner.
Best Shopping and Neighborhoods
I am fortunate to live near Lincoln Square on the Northwest side. The square could and should be a template for perfect urbanism with more than 1,000 businesses and restaurants surrounded by several desirable neighborhoods and parks, all within walking distance. Also home to the Old Town School Of Folk Music!
I always recommend a visit to the Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois. Mies van der Rohe created a perfect balance between interior and nature with his Modernist masterpiece. The experience is meditative. Architect Ron Krueck once described the interior of the house as a camera, with the windows as an aperture. I think you will agree.