Classically Integrated on Michigan Ave


As a school, a museum, a café and an advising center, 600 S Michigan is the mecca of multitasking architecture. As the epicenter of Columbia College Chicago, the Alexandroff Building on the corner of Michigan and Harrison encompasses the schools concept of integrating the students of the college with the bustling, up and coming urban environment around them. The first floor windows of the building dawn the Columbia College name and motto of “Live what you love” as well as large professional photographs of laid back college students doing exactly that providing inspiration to the numerous students walking down the spacious and beautiful sidewalk on Michigan avenue.

            The building was built in 1906-1907 by Christian A. Eckstorm and features classical revival architecture. In its time it was considered a skyscraper but now juxtaposed to a futuristic, geometric glass building, 600 S Michigan Avenue is the quintessential example of Chicago’s famous architectural contrast. Also in pleasant contrast is the Bright red brick color with the lighter white color of the top and bottom most floor of the building. The building was bought by Columbia College in 1975, and housed the school library as well as an auditorium. Most of the Marble in the front lobby has lasted through the years, but so much has changed.


            Since its birth, the building was renamed after its president in 1947, Mike Alexandroff, who used his tenure to expand the school spatially and academically. The 15-story building is no longer home to the college library, which expanded further and relocated down the street, but it is home to the Museum of Contemporary Photography located on the first and second floor. The Museum of Contemporary Photography was founded in 1984 and is home to a permanent collection as well as fluctuating exhibition from up and coming artists. Another unique feature within this amazing building is the Ferguson Memorial Theater which seats 180 people, offices, classrooms and even a café.

            Acting as the campus center this building well represents the school with such a classic design with a modern artistic flare. Located in the heart of Chicago on Michigan Avenue, students get an amazing view of the city from the building, which helps to reinforce Columbia College’s mission to integrate each graduating class within it. It is not uncommon for this Film/Video building to play host to students working with equipment right outside its doors which invites onlookers to inquire as to how to get involved, once again working with the city around them to advance their careers.


            This building has a regal, professional, and integrated visage, which allows students to assume that the Alexandroff building is the quintessential Columbia College Chicago facility. The building is not only for students, as the Museum of Contemporary Photography is open and free to all and is currently featuring an exhibition entitled “Spectator Sports” until July 3rd. It can be quite remarkable when a building successfully combines campus pride, one of the best photography museums in the mid-west, and an entire film and video department in one space, but it is even more remarkable that space is functionally relevant with beautifully classic architecture. 


Posted on April 29, 2013, in Per Scuola. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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