Adrian Lozano, the architect behind Chicago’s Little Village arch, goes into hiding
As published in the Chicago Daily News, sister publication of the Chicago Daily News:
In early 2022, the Chicago City Council designated the Little Village Arch, 3100 W. 26th St., a city landmark. Designed by architect Adrian Lozano in 1990, the arch welcomes everyone to the city’s second most prosperous shopping district (behind only the Magnificent Mile) and remains the only landmark designed by a Mexican-born architect in the city.
Lozano, who died this week on March 29, 2004, also contributed to the National Museum of Mexican Art and the Benito Juarez Community Academy. No other article shows his creativity or ability to think outside the box better than an interview he gave to Chicago Daily News reporter Robert Billings in 1970.
What if he and fellow architect Fred Bernheim of Bernheim, Kahn and Associates came up with it, everyone lived underground?
Lozano saw beauty in a controlled environment, or an “air-conditioned paradise,” Billings said, that would be free of cars, smokestacks, dumps or dumps. Day and night would cease to exist. Whenever a person didn’t want a light, they just turned it off.
“[The architects] believe that the only way for man to escape his overcrowded, polluted, traffic-choked, poor, crime-ridden and tax-ridden cities is to build a new world beneath the surface of the earth,” wrote Billings. The two called their vision Inurbia.
In this new world, moving walks and escalators would help move people from one level to another, and everyone would “learn to walk again”, the architects said. The streets could be carpeted and the paths paved.
“Houses, shops, churches, schools, libraries and theaters would be virtually without walls and roofs,” the journalist described. “Sliding panels would open onto landscaped streets. Air curtains would provide a noise barrier. There would be no need for seasonal wardrobes because by living underground you make your own time.
Meanwhile, back on the surface, the land could regain its natural beauty, Billings explained. With everyone living underground, the earth could become “one vast natural park for the cave dwellers of the future to let off steam.”
“There are so many advantages to living underground,” Lozano told Billings. ” It’s inevitable. Why live elsewhere?
The very idea of living underground came when the company was consulted on developing air rights after the railroad tracks east of Michigan Avenue, Bernheim explained. Instead of sealing off the decaying parts of the city, the two thought of descending instead.
The idea probably left a lot of people shaking their heads, but people have already moved between air-conditioned and controlled environments from their offices to trains to their homes, the two architects said. Plans to build underground malls were under discussion (and still exist today).
“Everyone thinks we’re crazy,” Lozano said. “That’s how we know we’re right.”