Alschuler, Alfred S.

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ALSCHULER, ALFRED S. (1876–1940), U.S. architect. Alschuler was a native of Chicago and a prolific architect whose commercial, industrial, and synagogue buildings dotted the greater Chicago landscape between 1910 and 1930. He worked his way through the Armour Institute of Technology (now the Illinois Institute of Technology) and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His most famous building, the London Guarantee and Accident Company Building, now a designated landmark, stands proudly at the corner of Wacker Drive and North Michigan Avenue and is better known today simply as 360 North Michigan Avenue. Located on the site of Fort Dearborn, a log-built outpost established by Thomas Jefferson in 1803, the property became valuable real estate when the Michigan Avenue Bridge was built. Work began on this remarkable 21-story structure in 1921. The building was viewed at the time as a permanent "civic" contribution to Chicago's cityscape, akin to the monuments of ancient Greece and Rome. Alschuler turned the irregular property line to advantage. The slight curve of the façade softens the rigor of the tall building. The classical Greco-Roman details that accent the arched entrance speak "power" as they did in ancient Rome. Four massive Corinthian columns hold up a pediment that bears the name of the building. Over the three-story arch, two reclining figures, Ceres and Neptune, gracefully make the transition from the arch to the horizontal pediment. Heraldic shields soften the windows on the third story. Centered over the pediment a spread eagle hovers over the entrance adding to the power icons of the entrance. The rhythmic colonnade of Corinthian columns near the top of the building as well as the cupola serve to add to the buildings height and its unity of design. Throughout the building there are also icons of corporate power and history. Alschuler built The Chicago Merchandise Mart ("The Merc") in 1927. It was an impressive limestone structure located at 100 N. Franklin Street. Alschuler's design was classical, similar to the London Guarantee with arched windows and limestone sculptures depicting farmers' products. When it became known that the building was scheduled to be demolished by the Crown family real estate interests, Preservation Chicago launched a campaign to save it. The campaign failed and the Merc was demolished in 2003.


Catalogue, Architecture in Context, Art Institute of Chicago (1981); R.H. Alschuler (ed.), Oral History Interview with Rose Haas Alschuler (1985).

[Betty R. Rubenstein (2nd ed.)]