Chicago Union Station

Typically we share modern architecture as it’s far more conducive to creating abstracts than the more historic architecture. But, today, let’s take a look at Chicago’s Union Station which recently underwent restoration by Goettsch Partners. They did an amazing job!

Union Station was originally designed by Daniel Burnham as part of his 1909 Plan of Chicago. However, construction began a year after his death in 1913. The rail system is what allowed Chicago to grow to such a large size as it’s centrally located and was a hub with a network of lines radiating out in more directions than from any other city in North America at the time.

Over the years the building just began to feel worn. The renovations with new lighting and restoration of the barrel-vaulted skylight make the grand hall feel so much brighter. Here, the pillars from the balcony at the south end frame this beautifully restored ceiling.

chicago union station

The restoration continues in the hallway that leads from the grand hall to where the actual trains depart and arrive. A symmetrical lookup with a wide-angle lens is a great way to capture this space. Don’t be afraid to lay down on the ground to get the perfect shot 😉 The strange looks will be worth it!

chicago union station

The pillars throughout the hall are another aspect worth focusing your attention. From symmetrical shots to layering & framing and lookups.

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Don’t forget the various stairways. From slightly wider shots to those details.

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Or combine the two by using the stairway and railings as leading lines and the pillars to frame a passerby.

chicago union station

The curve of the balcony-like area overlooking the grand hall can also create great leading lines and framing for the intricate ceiling.

chicago union station

And don’t forget the details. From the ceiling to grates over the vents.

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Catch the sun just right at the entrance for some great shadows that act as leading lines and repetitive patterns.

chicago union station

The exterior pillars are also great for framing surrounding buildings, particularly the iconic Sears (Willis) Tower.

chicago union station

We’d love to see your takes on this grand and historic space. So, please share with us in our Facebook Group, Architecture Photography Unfolded.



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