Friday, September 24, 2010

Eckhart Park's Ida Crown Natatorium: Modern and Fun

The Ida Crown Natatorium, in Eckhart Park in Chicago's West Town, caught my eye when I returned to the city in 2006. Modernist? Yes, structure and glass is all we can see from the outside. But this is a special kind of Modernism, one that is, skillfully, both spare and fun.

Colored windows (shown in the photo to the right, and brighter from the inside, which I was prohibited from photographing), an arched structure that is both roof and the whole building (below), and the blue sign announcing it (above), give the pool an appropriately light and toungue-in-cheek look. It is a kind of Modernism rarely presented in the United States as an example of this style, even though we see it in the work of Eero Saarinen (for example, the David S. Ingalls hockey rink in New Haven), Oscar Niemeyer (Brazil), and Carlos Raúl Villanueva (Venezuela).

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