Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

“Make no little plans.” Daniel Burnham may not actually have said these words, but for those of us who look to him for his architectural and urban planning legacy, we like to think he did.

I was pleased that my board meeting in Chicago was held in the Hotel Burnham, an adaptive reuse of the historic Reliance office building designed and constructed by Burnham in 1895 and considered the precedent for the modern skyscraper with its steel and glass design. As a bonus, my early-morning walks and after-dinner strolls were through Millenium Park, just one block away. Because our board worked diligently and collegially, we concluded our agenda ahead of schedule on Sunday, so five of us out-of-towners raced to the riverfront to catch the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise before heading to the airport.

Despite the intense heat and humidity, I really enjoyed this boat tour, narrated by a volunteer architect. You might remember this boat from the 1997 Julia Roberts chick-flick “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” Julia zooms around Chi-town, trying to sabotage the pending wedding of her pal, Dermot Mulroney. The “big scene” of the two of them alone together for the last time takes place on this cruise as they pass under the bridges. I didn’t care much for the film’s premise, but that scene made a celebrity of this tour boat. Fortunately, the architecture and story of the city are greater than movie trivia.

Before the meeting, I drove south to Nauvoo and Carthage, important in my church’s history, and then north to Iowa City, where I caught up with a good friend now with the University of Iowa. The rolling hills are green with corn now in July, but I heard a lot about the bitter winters.

When this meeting got scheduled last fall while I was in the toughest patch of chemo, I figured if I were able to make the trip, I should make a go of it in adding on as much as I could while in the Chicago area. I made no little plans, and am so glad I did.

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