Saturday was the first Modern Architecture Minibus Photography Tour Chris Smith, from Out of Chicago Photography, and I have led. It was so fun and we had some great weather, though some insane wind at a couple locations. And lets not forget the super fun group that we got to hangout with all day!
The reason we did a bus tour this time instead of the usual walking tour in the loop was to get to a bunch of those out-of-the-way places in the city that are just impossible to fit in doing a walking tour and would be quite chaotic to fit in one day on your own.
I’ll take you through a tour of our day….
First stop the WMS Boathouses at Clark Park. This is one of Chicago’s newer buildings and is home to the Chicago Rowing Foundation. It was designed by Studio Gang Architects and one interesting fact about the design is the roof-line is meant to mimic the rowing motion with its “V” and “M” pattern. There are lots of ways to photograph this but I love focusing on the roof and the various abstracts patterns that can be created.
wms boathouse clark park, studio gang architects Angie McMonigal Photography-2035-Edit-Edit Angie McMonigal Photography-2036-Edit-Edit Angie McMonigal Photography-2039-Edit-Edit
Next up another newer Chicago building that’s a favorite of mine, Northeastern University’s satellite campus, El Centro. This is designed by another amazing Chicago firm, JGMA Architects. I first photographed this a few months ago in the freezing cold of winter so it was nice to be back there on a spring day. The fins on the exterior of the building are blue on one side and yellow on the other, an homage to the school’s colors, but first we’ll start with the black and whites!
Again, this one has a lot of abstract patterns you can create by isolating portions of  the building, but there are some great opportunities for good reflection shots and don’t forget to look for interesting clouds to pair up with those buildings.
neiu, el centro, jgma architects Angie McMonigal Photography-2055-Edit-Editneiu, el centro, jgma architectsneiu, el centro, jgma architects
Onto another Studio Gang masterpiece, the Lincoln Park Pavilion. What I love about their designs is how well they work with their environment and incorporate these elements into their structures. This pavilion takes inspiration in the tortoise shell, so perfect given it’s location along the south pond of Lincoln Park.
No shortage of abstracts to create but it’s one of the best places in the city to frame the skyline!
lincoln park pavilion, studio gang architects Angie McMonigal Photography-2095-Edit Angie McMonigal Photography-2100-Edit-Edit Angie McMonigal Photography-2106-Edit Angie McMonigal Photography-2115-Edit Angie McMonigal Photography-2129-Edit-Edit Angie McMonigal Photography-2130-Edit Angie McMonigal Photography-2132-Edit Angie McMonigal Photography-2136-Edit Angie McMonigal Photography-2138-Edit-Edit
From here we headed to the Sofitel Chicago Hotel. A very modern, angular, geometric building designed by French architect Jean-Paul Viguier. Some interesting clouds at this one!
sofitel chicago, jean-paul viguier
Next to the insanely windy Lake Point Tower, seriously it was so cold and the wind was fierce! This was a short stop. However, if you do photograph here make sure to look up from the circle drive, cool framing options there. Oh, and I learned a little something new at this stop. Apparently that halo that kept appearing around the building is called an penumbra…look it up, cool word for something pretty simple.
lake point tower Angie McMonigal Photography-2162-Edit-EditLake Point Tower, penumbra
One more Studio Gang stop, the Aqua skyscraper and the tallest building in the world designed by a woman. This is one building I think a long lens would be great to use in creating abstracts. I didn’t have one with me so on the suggestion of one of the participants I turned around to this great reflection in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Building.  In that link above I have many other shots of Aqua on different days, one spot to be on the lookout for around here is the spiral staircase in the back also designed by Studio Gang, great framing opportunities here.
aqua radisson blu, chicago, studio gang architects
A random abstract thrown in…because, why not and a little thievery on my part since Chris Smith from Out of Chicago pointed this out.
steel tubes
Two more to go… Here’s Rush Hospital. Security here is on you so attempt to be discreet, hard to do with a tour so this one might be best to photograph alone. This was designed by Perkins+Will and I can’t help but think there are aspects that resemble the clover leaf pattern Bertrand Goldberg employed with the Prentice Women’s Hospital which has recently been torn down. So disappointing. But, Rush is beautiful. I would love to photograph this with some bright blue skies against the white facade (which is not at all noticeable here).
Angie McMonigal Photography-2188-Edit
And the final stop, 1611 W Division designed by Wheeler Kearns Architects. An interesting note on this one is that there is no parking garage in this apartment building. The architects and planners wanted a building that was eco-friendly and given the large number of public transportation methods at its doorstep (the ‘L’, three bus lines, bike lanes, plenty to walk to) there’s no reason for a car. Photographically it’s a fun one to work with the black and white panels to create abstracts, look for reflections and just play with the lines…again, not so obvious here, was getting a little fatigued by this point, but the link above has some versions from another day.
1611 w division chicago
This really was such a fun day and we lucked out with some amazing weather (for the most part) and some really fun participants. Hopefully Chris and I will plan another tour like this in the future, but in the meantime he has a lot of other photo tours coming up that are definitely going to be a lot of fun! Subscribe to OOC to stay informed.
As a side note, in each section I linked all my photos of each location in case you want to see everything of a particular building. And if you’d like to see everything from Saturday, here’s that link.
Thanks for staying with me through this long post!

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