The holidays have long past and likely you are shopped-out, but alas shopping continues. Next time you visit these stores, enhance your shopping experience with a dose of architectural history, and you may even find a new reason to shop.

"State Street, That Great Street"

Let's start on State Street, historically the shopping center of the city before the "Magnificent Mile" came along in the 1950s. On State Street, aka that "Great Street," you will find several historic department store buildings, such as Louis Sullivan's Carson Pririe Scott building, now a City Target. Curvy latticed iron work swirls around the main entrance of this historic department store building. Inside you can still see the intricately tangled design of spirals of the capitals on the columns.

Macy State Street

Then of course there is Marshall Field's, now a flagship store for Macy's. If you were to walk around the perimeter of the building, you would easily see that it's actually primarily three separate structures, though from the inside everything is connected. You also may notice that the building at 25 E. Madison Street, just south of Macy's, looks eerily similar. That's because it was originally the Men's Annex for Marshall Field's department store empire.

The Magnificent Mile


For a more contemporary look at shopping architecture, head to the Magnificent Mile north of the Chicago River. One of the newest additions to this shopping mecca is the Burberry Store, which takes "building as brand" to a whole other level. The façade of the building is the Burberry pattern in three dimensions. Lights illuminate the criss-crossing stripes from beneath. It's quite a statement to build something so distinct to one brand - it's a message that they aren't go anywhere for quite some time. Indeed they have been around since 1870.

Architecture at Apple

Another contemporary example of store architecture can be found in the two Chicago Apple stores, on Michigan Avenue and also in Lincoln Park. Here the building also expresses the brand. The sleek lines, simplicity, lots of white and glass, and a spared-down aesthetic reflect the character of their products.

While the products you may want to purchase when you shop tend to attract your attention, but next time you end up on State Street or the Magnificent Mile perhaps consider the architecture as an attraction, too.