The Ceilings of Chicago

Tiffany Dome, glass ceilings, Fuller Auditorium (c) Renee M. Wilmeth
Meeting room at Intercontinental Hotel (top left); Glass dome in the Fuller Auditorium at the Art Institute of Chicago (top right), coffered ceiling at the Chicago Cultural Center (lower right), fountain in the Alhambra rooms at the InterContinenal Hotel (lower left); Tiffany glass dome at the Chicago Cultural Center (left).

In mid-October, I was in Chicago for a week helping with the national meeting for an organization of which I’m a member. While it was a whirlwind of food, wine, friends, and meetings, it was also a showcase of the best Chicago has to offer! Not only did we enjoy an incredible gala at the Art Institute of Chicago, we had receptions at the Chicago Cultural Center and the InterContinental Hotel.

The Cultural Center for those who’ve been there is the former Chicago Public Library and features the largest Tiffany Dome in the world along with reliefs carved with language from around the world. It’s stunning and worth a trip next time you’re there. The Art Institute of Chicago features the impressive Fuller Auditorium dome (not to mention the world class Impressionist galleries we walked through on our way to dinner in the modern wing), but also the recreated Chicago Board of Trade trading room.

At the InterContinental, we enjoyed the stunning Alhambra-style reception rooms (complete with indoor fountains), painted wooden-beam ceilings, the historic pool room, and another stunning ballroom with food to match. These stunning ceilings were reminders that architecture was designed to make us life our eyes up. When skyscrapers were new and wondrous, architects wanted to ensure people could find a connection to the ancients while embracing the modern. That in the flurry of an industrial life, we could still take a moment to appreciate beauty and understand the the heavens above us.

Chicago is a city of grand ball rooms (so many gorgeous ones at the Drake, the Palmer House and the showcase stunner at the Hilton.) It makes you think of the days when people put on white dinner jackets on Saturday nights and went to hotels for dinner and dancing before formal dinner dances weren’t solely held for charity purposes.

So, while I certainly took a fair number of photos of food, wine and friends, here are a few of the best ceilings in Chicago. May they serve as a reminder to us all to take a moment in the stress of life to look up.

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