Behold: the mother lode of Chicago colored glass block apartments!
This glorious collection of apartment houses stands along State Street, just south of 81st, and overlooking the combined 90/94 Interstate highways’s ten roaring lanes of traffic. They’re in plain view for tens of thousands of motorists every day; that’s where I first saw them last week, and I nearly had a heart attack when I did.
The builder really went nuts on this block, slathering each building with unique designs — perhaps they anticipated the high visibility of the buildings.
Like the Froebel Gifts, the designer took a few simple elements and patterns — the colored blocks, a few kinds of brick, limestone borders — and created a unique series of artworks from them.
The blocks themselves are actually glass block, with a solid color of some kind applied to them at the factory, possibly a baked-on paint. They’re found on multi-unit apartment buildings like these, and on small 1960s ranch/bungalow houses, where they typically are placed in stacked or offset trios. Occasionally, clear versions can be seen; colored translucent versions are more common.
The joy and delight they impart to this otherwise ordinary 1960s row is infectious.
More can be seen at my Flickr space.