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Beacon of Progress

Major collection: Architecture & Design
Named collection: Désiré Despradelle Collection
Object type: drawing
Maker: Despradelle, Constant Désiré
Date made: 1893 - 1900
Materials: graphite; ink; trace paper; paper
Site location: Chicago, Illinois
Measurements: 12 in x 5 in; 13 in x 11 3/4 in; 12 in x 5 in
Plan type/view: elevation

Two sketch elevations of early versions of the monument.

Despradelle made many preparatory sketches for the Beacon between 1893 and the presentation of the project at the Paris Salon of 1900. Early sketches reveal a stepped spire more akin to the tower of a Gothic cathedral; later concepts adopt the more severe form of the obelisk. In every sketch the essential elements of verticality and monumentality are present. The Beacon drawings were a pedagogical model of an iterative design process that Despradelle made use of in teaching. In 1903, a journalist for the Washington Post, shown Despradelle's MIT office with the Beacon drawings on display, noted, "the growth of the idea in his mind [is evident] through a long line of designs."

Related People

thumbnail Despradelle, Constant Désiré

Related Sites

thumbnail Beacon of Progress