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William Le Baron Jenney

     
     
A native of Massachusetts, William Le Baron Jenney (1832-1907) served as an engineer in the Civil War, where he designed fortifications at Corinth, Shiloh, and Vicksburg. He came to Chicago in 1867, forming the firm of Jenney, Schermerhorn and Bogart. Together with landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Jenney's firm helped develop Riverside, Illinois, the nation's first planned "railroad suburb." Jenney also was involved in the planning of Chicago's extensive boulevard system, most notably Douglas, Garfield, and Humboldt parks.
William Le Baron Jenney
However, Jenney's greatest impact came in his role in the development of the steel-framed skyscraper, in such designs as the Leiter I Building (1879; demolished), the Home Insurance Building (1884; demolished), and the Leiter II, Ludington, and Manhattan buildings. Jenney's architectural office was a well-known training ground for young architects, including Daniel H. Burnham, William Holabird, Irving K. Pond, Martin Roche, and Louis H. Sullivan.
The Home Insurance Building was built in 1885 in Chicago, Illinois and demolished in 1931 to make way for the Field Building (now the LaSalle Bank Building). It was the first building to use structural steel in its frame, but the majority of its structure was composed of cast and wrought iron. Due to the building's unique architecture and unique weight bearing frame, it is considered by some to be the first skyscraper in the world, but this claim has been widely disputed due to its hybrid construction. It had 10 stories and rose to a height of 138 feet (42 m) high. A forensic analysis done during its demolition purported to show that the building was the first to carry both floors and external walls entirely on its metal frame, but details and later scholarship have largely disproved this, and it has been shown that the structure must have relied upon both metal and masonry elements to support its weight, and to hold it up against wind. The architect was William LeBaron Jenney, an engineer. In fact the building weighed only one-third as much as a stone building would have; city officials were so concerned that they halted construction while they investigated its safety. The Home Insurance Building is an example of the Chicago School in architecture.

In 1890, two additional floors were built on top of the original 10-story building.