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The Tiffany Dome

Posted by
Steven (Chicagoland, United States) on 16 September 2009 in Art & Design.

Approximately 38 feet in diameter, the Tiffany dome inside the Chicago Cultural Center spans more than 1,000 square feet. It contains approximately 30,000 pieces of glass in 243 sections within an ornate cast iron frame. The body of the dome has a “fish scale” pattern. The center, called the oculus, shows the signs of the zodiac. The interior stained glass dome originally was protected by an exterior translucent glass dome, which allowed much-needed natural light into what was then the Chicago library’s general delivery room.

During this project, the concrete and copper exterior dome that had been added during the 1930s was removed, once again allowing natural light to shine through the glass. This was added, I was told, to protect the dome from enemy attack as the country entered World War I. Now, natural light pours into the room, changing the subtle colors of the restored glass minute-by-minute, while all of the room’s decorative elements glow and harmonize. In addition to cleaning and repairing the art glass, the ornate cast iron framework of the dome was given a new application of its original finish. Delicate rosette lighting around the cornice of the dome also was refurbished.

The cost of restoring the Tiffany dome was approximately $2,200,000.00. What was interesting to note was the original cost of the building’s design and construction, including the Tiffany dome, was less than the cost of restoration. In early 1900’s dollars, it cost $2,000,000.00, with the Tiffany dome coming in at a cost of $120,000.00.

It was also amazing by how much the colors would change in the Tiffany dome as the earth continued to orbit the ever-setting sun. After touring the entire building, I am still amazed at the construction of the building, the marble decor and the mosaic friezes, all at a minimal cost of $2,000,000.00.

Along the bottom of the dome’s entire perimeter is a phrase by Joseph Addison (1672-1719) written in Roman lettering: “Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind which are delivered down from generation to generation as presents to the posterity of those who are yet unborn.” Remember that the building’s original function was a library when it was first built, not as a cultural center.

Here was last year's unflattering capture of the dome. It almost looks like I was in the same spot, but upon closer inspection of the oculus, it was taken from the opposite end.

Photo taken September 13, 2009.

SONY DSLR-A300 1/40 second F/5.0 ISO 100 18 mm

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Spotlight Images

Ana Lúcia from Leiria, Portugal

Amazing!

16 Sep 2009 7:33am

Ralph Jones from Detroit, United States

I was in Chicago two weeks ago, if I had known of this place I would have seen it for my self. It's a beautiful subject!

16 Sep 2009 12:01pm

dj.tigersprout from New York City, United States

i remember your shots of this a year back -- faaabulous color, detail and symmetry!

16 Sep 2009 12:41pm

TV Guy from Denver, United States

lovely stuff

16 Sep 2009 1:24pm

MARIANA from Waterloo, Canada

Brilliant framing ! Pattern, colors and symmetry is wonderful !

16 Sep 2009 1:30pm

Onlymehdi from Wayne, United States

Superb

16 Sep 2009 2:01pm

Michael Rawluk from Williams Lake, BC, Canada

It certainly is a magnificent piece of work.

16 Sep 2009 3:50pm

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States

Stunning.

16 Sep 2009 3:51pm

Earnest from Oklahoma, United States

Your processing here is first class!

16 Sep 2009 5:02pm

MadScientist from Düsseldorf, Germany

Marvellous, and it's exciting to see your growing processing skills! :-)

16 Sep 2009 6:22pm

Viewfinder from Bradenton, FL, United States

Awesome. I didn't think you could match the colors and geometry of yesterday's shot, but this one is every bit as colorful and dynamic. Great second shot, Steven.

16 Sep 2009 6:23pm

Victor Lamela from Coruña, Spain

Me encanta la foto, preciosa¡¡¡

16 Sep 2009 9:51pm

Elisa from Massachusetts, United States

beautiful!!

17 Sep 2009 12:03am

Peter from Amsterdam, Netherlands

It looks totally different from that earlier shot with the lamp. Hope to see this part of Chicago next time I'm there.

17 Sep 2009 11:14am

Barbara from Florida, United States

Spectacular! Including your previous post of this dome, although the processing on this one is a treasure. Very remarkable capture.

17 Sep 2009 2:37pm

k@ from Paris, France

Jewelry ! Great colors ~

17 Sep 2009 3:05pm

Linda from Riga/Sigulda, Latvia

wonderful. just amazing what you can do with a skilled procession

17 Sep 2009 4:23pm

Marie from France

superbe !

30 Oct 2009 9:25pm