The Test Cell: Worth Saving?

Recently I read a blog about some small building on the Edge of the IIT campus. That led to another blog, where Mr. Lifson champions the keeping of said building. And since the guy was worked up about the coming destruction of the site and it was close enough for me to go up there and see for myself, I did a tour.

First, here’s the picture of the approach to the building from the CTA Red Line:


Yes, it was cloudy.


Just so you know, this was the start of one of the most awe-inspiring views in Chicago once. Not “Awe-inspiring” as in “WOW,” but as in “My sphincter’s trying to re-enter my body” Awe-inspiring. Now, as you can see, there’s nothing but development for Black Yuppies…and enough space for a new station here.


And now, looking north along the service drive where the Test Cell is at. The squat, intentionally nondescript building with the white sign on the corner is the test cell:


Yeah, I know…big whoop.

But…look closer:


Okay, nothing major here. Other forms of laying bricks are placed elsewhere on campus. There’s supposed to be a departure for Meis, but the Stretcher Bond is so common that nobody need worry about missing it. Maybe there’s some interesting stuff inside, but unless there’s tours of the building nobody’s going to see it.

But…what about the greater view? After all, this is supposed to be an entrance onto the campus, according to the blogger. Okay…we’ll see about that:


The blogger says that the Test Cell, the wall alongside and the power plant make a good visual sight. No complaints from me, I did think it was nice-looking even when taking the pictures.


The car in the distance is now close. See the whitish post above the car?


Getting ready to make the 90 Degree Turn onto the campus…


There’s the white car in the above picture, so where’s our showcase building? Maybe behind the white box?


Maybe this building is what I’m looking for, to the left? Want to see the front, though…


Hello Beautiful! (pause a moment to get one’s breath back).

Of course, Mr. Lifson was trying to make it out like the the service drive was the preparation for something grand. And I understand the idea of entryways; I remember the two times I entered the Oak Park Unitarian Church (a funeral and a wake for a friend; so while the do-it-yourself tour was free I’m sure those who paid got a better, more enlightening tour without the leaden weights of mourning) and going down the entryway only to rise up into the sanctuary. Definitely a site worth seeing (and paying for), no matter your opinions on Mr. Wright.

But this does not cut it…at least not in relationship to Crown Hall. Maybe with the rest of the campus (which is ugly as hell if you ask me, but then I will say the guy worked with what he had;  had Mr. Meis had access to more steel and glass the campus would probably look much better…), but it was supposed to be Crown Hall which was to be looked upon. And while it’s not hard to FIND Crown Hall, I thought the idea was to be surprised with it upon turning right from the service drive onto the campus itself.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Now for the whole…I can’t say the building is worth saving. Especially since we’re talking about adding a Metra Stop in the area. I seriously believe the benefit to the area would be worth the loss of the small, nondiscript building.


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