Mundelein College, 21 February 2011


Mundelein College was apparently the first of what were called skyscraper colleges – colleges that occupied a single vertical building. Mundelein was also originally a women’s college; it is now part of Loyola University in Chicago’s Roger’s Park neighborhood on the north side.





Photo Information:

Location: Chicago, Illinois; Roger’s Park Neighborhood (Loyola University)
Camera: Nikon D80
Lens: Nikon Nikkor 20mm f/2.8; 35mm f/1.8 DX; 85mm f/1.8 (respectively)
ISO Equivalency: 100
Color Setting: Vivid (Black & White conversion in post-processing)

The building itself is a nicely proportioned Art Deco design completed in 1930 and designed by Naime Fisher and Joseph McCarthy (not the same Senator Joseph McCarthy who was infamous for his anti-communist witch hunts). While most of the building is fairly restrained in its decoration even for an Art Deco design, the main entrance does not suffer from any such restraint. As you can see above, the main entrance doors are flanked by two colossal sculptures of angels. The AIA Guide to Chicago identifies the left-hand angel as Jophiel (Beauty of God), [1] and the right-hand angel as Uriel (Light of God). [2] I would’ve thought that Uriel should be the one holding the torch, but since I’m not an expert in angel symbolism, I’m going to assume that the angels are as they have been listed. Regardless, they’re quite impressive…assuming that the entrance doors are at least seven feet high, [3] the angels are at least 35 feel tall – or more. Though artistic convention in both painting and sculpture generally depicts angels as human-sized, I always thought they’d be more impressive if they were bigger…like these! [4]


[1]: For additional information, see here (Wikipedia article).

[2]: For additional information, see here (Wikipedia article).

[3]: Most exterior doors are typically 7′-0″ high, while interior doors are commonly 6′-8″ high (the latter save on cost…yes, those extra 4″ cost a bit more – not individually, but when you consider that large jobs can often have hundreds of interior doors…); monumental exterior doors are often 8′-0″ high, or even higher. As such, if they are 8′-0″ doors, the angels are more like 40 or even 50 feet tall. I’m leaning towards 35′-0″ to  the tops of their heads, and a little over 40′-0″ to the tops of their arms. [*]

[*]: In case you’re wondering about my logic, see if you can follow. If you look at the spacing of the windows on the floors above the entrance, you can get an idea of the typical floor-to-floor spacing; for simplicity, we’ll assume that this is 10′-0″, though it is often more, especially in public buildings that have 10′-0″ ceiling heights (if the ceiling is 10′-0″ high, adding the depth of the floor structure means that the distance from the top of one floor to the top of the next floor must be more than 10 feet). Looking at the space covered by the main entrance, it is clear that the first floor is a bit taller than 10′-0″, and may be closer to having a 15′-0″ or even 20′-0″ floor-to-floor height to the second floor. Quick relative measurement indicates that the height from the first floor to the top of the third floor is probably around 30′-0″; if the top of the windows on the third floor are approximately eight feet off the floor (the windows are likely at least 5′-0″ high, and sill heights are usually 2′-6″ to 3′-0″ from the top of the floor), then the heads of the angels are very nearly 35′-0″ from the top of the first floor, while their up-stretched arms look to be roughly 10′-0″ more, on top of that. And yes, before you ask…I do get paid to do this sort of relative measurement. Sometimes, it is the only way to determine heights and dimensions when you don’t have record drawings or field measurements handy (or can’t get them). Many is the time I’ve sat down with a photo of a building exterior counting brick courses to determine the building height…

[4]: The Square-Cube Law need not apply here…they’re supernatural beings, after all! What…you don’t know what the Square-Cube Law is? For shame. Learn.


2 Responses to “Mundelein College, 21 February 2011”

  1. […] [3] I’ve already written elsewhere about this building, so feel free to check out that post to see a little more about this building in detail. One thing I found amusing (and also quite apt) […]

  2. […] Rather than rehash previously stated information, if you’re interested in some of the history of the building, check out my previous posts (Krause Music Store & Mundelein College) […]

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