Chicago Architecture Foundation – Skyline Stories

Over 8 months in production – Chicago Architecture Foundation’s new online section Skyline Stories is up and ready for viewing. Chuck Przybyl and Edyta Stepien worked with Zero One Projects and producer Nat Soti to create 40 stunning videos for CAF.  This remarkable project began as the an objective – to create 4 videos showcasing each of the 1o most iconic buildings in Chicago. The buildings selected were Chicago Board of Trade, Marina City, Willis Tower, The Rookery, Monadnock Building, Marquette Building, Thompson Center, Inland Steel Building, Harold Washington Library Center, and Tribune Tower. Each building has been meticulously filmed by Director of Photography Chuck Przybyl as Directed by Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Anjuli Maniam.

Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Skyline Stories

The individual videos are also available for viewing on Chicago Architecture Foundation’s YouTube portal.

I’ve posted the videos I’ve worked on and a general description below.


The Chicago Board of Trade for Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Skyline Stories – this was our first day of filming Chicago’s 10 most iconic buildings. I gained an awestruck appreciation for the amazing interior decor. The lines and symmetry within the building were a dream to shoot – especially for someone like me who likes details and order in composition.

I thought I knew a lot about Chicago. But when we began to find out more about our subjects for Skyline Stories I had no idea that the Chicago Board of Trade building was the tallest building in Chicago for 35 years. And that the observation deck which has been shuttered for 50 years was once the top attraction in the city. It was a great treat to find myself in one of the most unusual urban exploration spaces I could imagine.

Yes – we drove the 19 story spiral up Marina City’s famous parking garage – the first 8 floors at relatively high speed. It was amazing to gain access to this section of the building. The story of Marina City is excellent and after doing the drive up and down I can see why it must be an all valet system 🙂

One thing that stuck me on this shoot was that units next to each other can be bought and joined together, they knock down the walls and combine them. Residents jump at the opportunity to buy their neighbors place and add it to their own. Call these towers corn cobs or sunflowers – Marina City – Bertrand Goldberg’s utopian urban community is still active today.

From the bottom to the top – an overview of the tower formerly known as Sears

Three times up to the roof of the Sears Tower for this Skyline Story.
You can read more about that experience in the Roof of the Sears Tower blog post.

Tribune Tower – Chicago’s skyscraper cathedral. The secrets of this building are so vast we were only allowed access to the outside 🙂 I will not complain – mostly because we were able to gain access to the view from next door which was a wonderful way to experience the tower – although from a distance.

Tribune Tower – the story of the tower. I worked on 2 stories for each building one about it’s form and structure and one about the stories behind the building. This one discusses the architectural influences of the tower.

Marquette Building – with this building the concept of the branded skyscraper was born (in 1895). One of Chicago’s oldest standing skyscrapers. I was familiar with it from previous meetings at the MacArthur Foundation whose headquarters are located within. The lobby rotunda is a unique marvel – and trust me I wouldn’t make a statement like that often.

How the Marquette Building got it’s hat back. The story of how it was brought back to its original look with the installation of a new high tech cornice.

Monadnock Building – an architectural curiosity that is as monolithic as it’s name. This is what Wikipedia has to say “Monadnock was the largest office building in the world, with 1,200 rooms and an occupancy of over 6,000. The Chicago Daily Tribune commented that the population of most Illinois towns in 1896 would fit comfortably in the building. It was a postal district unto itself, with four full-time carriers delivering mail six times a day, six days a week. It was the first building in Chicago wired for electricity, and one of the first to be fire-proofed.”

Chicago’s Optimo Hats in the Monadnock Building brings classic quality back into our era.

The Inland Steel Building. Modernest, clean, and of course steel – a revolutionary modular open floor plan inside housed by an elegant cage.

Skyline Stories with Richard F. Tomlinson II of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill discussing working in the Inland Steel Building

I think that the Thompson Center is one of the more under appreciated buildings in downtown Chicago – it has amazing statistics – but the one that gets me is the number of glass panes viewable in one of the worlds largest enclosed spaces. It must have been something to look upon when it was built – you can view a plan on paper and try to imagine the outcome but to actually be in that place and witness the reflections in the glass and the lightplay is something else.

Cooling the massive Thompson Center with ice.

Harold Washington Library – Chicago’s colossal post-modern monument to itself. Loved by tourists, a sometimes confounding structure to locals: HWLC is big, bold, and beyond compare.

Further interest and steep, deep city trivia on this one – Chicago’s Public Library system began with a gift from from Queen Victoria after the Great Fire.

The Rookery – this is the last building of the series. Of all the ones we shot this is my favorite interior – we made good use of the jib for the atrium lobby. An amazing place to shoot.

The last video in the CAF Skyline Stories I’ve been posting. This one showcases the Frank Lloyd Wright redesign of the Rookery atrium. This series was produced by Nat Soti with Zero One Projects. Special camera assistance from Jeremy Handrup.


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