Comment 54505

By highwater (registered) | Posted January 04, 2011 at 18:12:35

I'd like to echo the thanks for this great article, Barry.

I agree that this building owes a great deal to the 'historicizing tradition', however I don't think JM's rejection of Modernism is as complete as suggested here. The Pigott building was certainly inspired by the existing Chicago Tribune building, but I would argue that it was equally inspired by the Eero Saarinen design that placed second in the Chicago Tribune design competition, and was widely perceived to be the superior design and a harbinger of Modernist skyscraper design. I believe the Pigott building owes its massing and more streamlined historicizing decorative elements to the Saarinen design, giving it a more Modernist sensibility than the Howells and Hood design. The Pigott building is almost a perfect hybrid of the two designs.

Construction firms are rarely the focus of architectural study. Architecture continues to be associated with artistic expression, and while I would not dispute it, there is merit to thinking about the role of technicians in the finished product.

This is particularly true of JM. He often had a personal hand in aesthetic decisions, particularly in his proudest achievements, the ROM and the Cathedral of Christ the King. He joined Wm. Souter, architect of the Cathedral, on research trips, and hand-picked stone and marble from quarries, among other things.

I ofter wonder what happened to such a robust company and if they're still at it.

Pigott Construction was a victim of the recession of the early '90's. It was the largest privately owned contracting firm in the country at the time, but couldn't withstand consolidation pressures. They were forced to find a buyer in order to continue getting the financing necessary for large, institutional projects. I believe they were bought out by a German consortium. The name Pigott Contracting is still around, but there is no longer any family involvement.

Comment edited by highwater on 2011-01-04 19:34:19

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