60 East Lake St.
I don’t spend a lot of time looking at parking garages, because they’re usually not too interesting. But architect Stanley Tigerman’s Self Park at 60 East Lake St. is an exception to that rule.
What better way to design a parking garage than to make it look like the cars that fill it? The façade of the Self Park parking garage resembles the front of an old Rolls Royce complete with a shiny grill, headlights, fenders, bumper, and awnings printed to look like tire treads. There’s even a hood ornament at the top, and the words “Self Park” made for a perfect license plate (since removed).
It was completed in 1986, during the height of the postmodernist movement which describes this building nicely. Postmodernism was a reaction to modernism: a structurally honest and minimalist approach to architecture. In contrast, postmodernist architecture typically hid the structures of buildings behind highly ornamented and historically referenced façades in a witty way. The easiest way to understand the differences between the two philosophies is by comparing a couple of famous architectural slogans. Mies van der Rohe, a modernist architect and father of the International Style, famously characterized his design philosophy by saying “Less is More”. Years later, the postmodernists responded by saying, “Less isn’t More, It’s a Bore!” — and there’s certainly nothing boring about Tigerman’s parking garage.
Stanley Tigerman is now a partner in Tigerman McCurry Architects. To be directed to their website click here.
Want to learn more about one of Chicago’s greatest post-modernist architects? Read this old article about Stanley Tigerman written by Paul Gapp, courtesy of Blair Kamin.