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Gunners’ Mates School
Great Lakes Naval Base, North Chicago (Lake County)




This vast glass-and-steel structure, also known as Building #521, was designed in 1954 by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM). This was Bruce Graham’s first commission with SOM and the first glass curtain wall building designed by the firm’s Chicago office.  Described by the Chicago Tribune’s architecture critic as a “cathedral of the Cold War,” Building #521’s blue-green façade conceals a 95,000-square-foot interior that housed full-scale artillery and battle sets used for military maneuvers. When the Navy stated its intention to demolish the building in 2006, SOM offered several reuse options that would respect its ground-breaking design. However, the Navy continues to support demolition even though it has no definitive plans for the site.


Photo 1,2: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Photos 3-6: Debbie Dodge




To encourage the preservation of this ground-breaking work of early Modernist architecture, send a note stating your opposition to the Navy’s current demolition plans to:



Rep. Mark Kirk
707 Skokie Boulevard,
Suite 350
Northbrook, IL 60062

Sen. Dick Durbin
230 S Dearborn St.
Suite 3892
Chicago, IL 60604

Sen. Barack Obama
230 South Dearborn St.
Suite 3900
Chicago, Illinois 60604








Landmarks Illinois
Suite 1315
53 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604 
tel. 312-922-1742 
fax 312-922-8112



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tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1971 and is the state's leading voice for historic preservation.