Skip to main content

The American Skyscraper: Transforming Chicago and the Nation

Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

Two one-week workshops for eighty school teachers on the development of the skyscraper in Chicago and the relationship of skyscrapers to urbanization.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) offers a workshop to explore how the rise of the skyscraper stimulated and reflected change in American life. Between 1885 and 1895, rising land prices and technological changes such as the invention of the elevator and the steel frame made a new building type, the skyscraper, both commercially necessary and physically possible. In the heart of Chicago's city center or "Loop," a boom of new tall buildings formed what became known as the "Chicago School" of architecture. Workshop participants examine the interplay of economic, cultural, and aesthetic influences that transformed Chicago's built landscape from the 1880s through the present. Teachers visit several landmark buildings throughout the "Loop," such as the Reliance Building (D. H. Burnham & Co., 1895), the Chicago Tribune Tower (Raymond Hood, 1925), and the Federal Center (Mies van der Rohe, 1964, 1974). Sessions with historian Henry Binford (Northwestern University) and architectural historians Katherine Solomonson (University of Minnesota) and Joanna Merwood-Salisbury (Parsons The New School for Design), as well as with practicing architects, advance exploration of the complexities of the tall building boom. Readings include selections from (among other works) William Cronon, Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West; Daniel Bluestone, Constructing Chicago; Louis Sullivan's 1896 essay, "The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered"; and Carl Sandburg's 1916 Chicago Poems. Participants receive CAF's award-winning curriculum guide, Schoolyards to Skylines: Teaching with Chicago's Amazing Architecture.

Dates: July 7-13 or July 21-27
Director(s): Jennifer Masengarb
Grantee Institutions: Chicago Architecture Foundation
Location: Chicago, IL

About NEH Landmarks of American History: Workshops for School Teachers

The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent grant-making agency of the federal government. As part of the NEH’s We the People program, we offer the following Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers. NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops provide the opportunity for K-12 educators to engage in intensive study and discussion of important topics in American history and culture. These one-week programs will give participants direct experiences in the interpretation of significant historical and cultural sites and the use of archival and other primary evidence. Landmarks Workshops present the best scholarship on a specific landmark or related cluster of landmarks, enabling participants to gain a sense of the importance of historical places, to make connections between what they learn in the Workshop and what they teach, and to develop enhanced teaching or research materials.

Amount of Award

Teachers selected to participate will receive a stipend of $1,200 at the end of the residential Workshop session. Stipends are intended to help cover living expenses, books, and travel expenses to and from the Workshop location.


These projects are designed principally for classroom teachers and librarians in public, charter, independent, and religiously-affiliated schools, as well as home schooling parents. Other K-12 school personnel, including administrators, substitute teachers, and classroom professionals, are eligible to participate, subject to available space.

Teachers at schools in the United States or its territorial possessions or Americans teaching in foreign schools where at least 50 percent of the students are American nationals are eligible for this program. Applicants must be United States citizens, residents of U.S. jurisdictions, or foreign nationals who have been residing in the United States or its territories for at least the three years immediately preceding the application deadline. Foreign nationals teaching abroad at non-U.S. chartered institutions are not eligible to apply.

Applicants must complete the NEH application and provide all of the information requested to be considered eligible.

New this year: An individual may apply to up to two NEH Summer Programs in any one year (Landmarks Workshops, Summer Seminars, or Summer Institutes), but may participate in only one. Please note that eligibility criteria differ significantly between the Landmarks Workshops and the Seminars and Institutes Programs.

How to Apply

Please e-mail, telephone or send by U.S. Post a request for application information and expanded Workshop descriptions to the Landmarks directors listed here; in many cases, these materials will also be available on project Web sites. You may request information about as many Workshops as you like, and, as noted above, you may apply to up to two programs but participate in only one.