Whether you’re a photography or architecture lover, Chicago is one the world’s metropoles that should be on your bucket list (if it isn’t already!). Famous for its variety of architectural styles, innovative structures and unique skyscrapers, Chicago’s downtown truly is an architecture lover’s dream. With so many top sights to see, it will take some careful planning to map out your architecture tour. So, we thought we’d let urban photographers Chris Martin Scholl and Stella Hack show you around their favorite photo spots. Read on to discover some of the top ways to capture the best of Chicago’s architecture.
LaSalle Street Bridge
The LaSalle Street Bridge is a single-deck double-leaf bridge spanning the Chicago River connecting the Near North Side with the Loop. The bridge is one of many in the area and allows for a beautiful and unique view of Chicago’s Skyline. It’s also a great starting point to walk around and explore the city. From here, catch one of the water taxis operating on the river and pass underneath the bridges for a completely different perspective of the city. Pro tip: This area works great for golden hour, as the buildings become bathed in warm light.
Without a doubt, Chicago’s Cloud Gate is one of the most famous attractions in the city. It’s a public sculpture located right in the center of Millennium Park, and just a few steps from the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago. It also goes by the nickname “The Bean” due to its shape. The sculpture’s surface reflects and distorts the city’s skyline, making it a favorite spot for photographers. Pro tip: Come as early as possible (ideally at sunrise) as this place always attracts a crowd of tourists.
Chicago features one of the world’s tallest and most unique skylines in the world. It includes four of America’s tallest buildings, with Willis Tower being the highest of them. If you aren’t afraid of heights, check out Sky Deck at Willis Tower or 360 Chicago observation deck. The Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier is a great option too. Pro Tip: London House, an outdoor rooftop bar, offers a panoramic view of the city. Grab yourself a cocktail and enjoy the view over Chicago’s downtown.
Marina Towers are part of Chicago’s Marina City, a residential and commercial building complex, located right on the Chicago River. The towers consist of two 587-ft, 65-story apartment towers and feature an impressive, openly built structure. Pro tip: Make sure to head up to one of the rooftop bars close by to capture the amazing architecture design of these towers from an elevated angle.
The Thompson Center is a post-modern dome-like structure designed by Helmut Jahn. From the outside the Center will capture your attention as it resembles a futuristic stadium or a spaceship, but stepping inside is a must for architecture design lovers. The 17-story high Atrium features an impressive skylit rotunda made of glass and aluminium and displays a striking combination of blues and reds. Pro tip: Take the elevator to the basement floor to photograph the internal structure of this building from below.
Apart from the Bean, Millennium Park offers so much more for architecture photography enthusiasts. It is so much more than just a park, with a collection of architectural structures, beautiful landscape design and art. The park also provides lots of free cultural programs such as concerts, exhibitions, tours, and family activities, so it’s worth checking out the park events taking place during your stay.
When staying at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago you’ll be a mere 5-minute walk to the park. During your stay, make sure to take the time to capture the view from your room.
Psst! The hotel’s Business Class lounge located on the upper floors (included when you book a business class room), offers a particularly stunning view!
Facade of the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago
Chicago’s Aqua tower, a beautiful 82-storey building right downtown, is one of the top photo spots for architecture lovers visiting the city and incidentally also the home of the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago. In fact, it’s such an iconic landmark that it’s included in the the city’s river cruise architecture tours! Insider’s tip: choose the Twilight River Cruise for beautiful lighting and an unbeatable photography experience.
The Aqua tower was awarded the Emporis Skyscraper Award as 2009 skyscraper of the year and was shortlisted in 2010 for the biennial International Highrise Award. Its iconic design was imagined as a vertical landscape made up of hills, valleys and pools. One of the highlights are the amazing wave-like balconies, seemingly floating all around the building. Make sure to book one of the many rooms with a balcony, not only for the city view, but also for the unique perspectives they allow onto the surrounding balconies and structures.
Discover Chicago’s architectural sights on a stay with the iconic Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago and share your best photos with #RadissonBlu!
Want to see more of Chris' stunning travel photography? Discover these fascinating photo spots in London!