Designed in the iconic International Style by Jacques Brownson, the Daley Center architect, of C.F. Murphy Associates, along with collaboration from Loebl, Schlossman & Bennett, and Skidmore, Owings & Merill LLP (SOM), this architectural marvel stands as a testament to modern design.

Jacques Brownson, born in 1923 in Aurora, Illinois, honed his craft under the tutelage of Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Graduating with a B.S. in 1948 and an M.S. in 1954, Brownson gained national recognition for his innovative work, notably for his glass house in Geneva, Illinois, built for his master’s thesis.

After gaining experience with various Chicago architects, Brownson co-founded his own firm in 1955 before joining Naess & Murphy, later known as C.F. Murphy Associates. During his tenure, spanning six years, Brownson spearheaded the design of the award-winning Richard J. Daley Center, leaving an indelible mark on the architectural landscape.

The Chicago Civic Center was the first of several important new public buildings constructed in Chicago from the late 1950s to the 1980s as part of Mayor Richard J. Daley’s consolidation of spaces for municipal government. Because the building was intended to hold over 100 courtrooms in addition to office space, an unprecedented structural system was designed for the building that allowed for exceptionally wide spans between perimeter columns and 18-foot, floor-to-floor heights.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this new building, however, was its plaza, described by Brownson as a modern agora. In this early presentation drawing, the plaza is shown as an open space framed by flagpoles and a rather unassuming sculpture by Henry Moore.

The dramatic figure of Pablo Picasso’s monumental sculpture joined the project slightly later, after William Hartmann of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill spent many months courting the Spanish artist. Since its unveiling in 1967, the Richard J. Daley Center Sculpture, often referred to simply as the Chicago Picasso, has become a symbol of the city and one of the most popular works of public art in the world.*

For more information and a unique watercolor painting of The Daley Center, please click here.
* Courtesy of the The Art Institute of Chicago®