The most conspicuous example of Chicago's recent spat of troubling signage is a 2,891-square-foot sign 200 feet above street level on the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago.
"It's a sign-plastered world out there, and nothing, not even Wrigley Field, is safe or sacred….Signs are so pervasive that we've become numb to them and their impact on our psyches and surroundings," writes Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin.
Kamin calls the sign an "on-steroids version of Trump's ubiquitous logo and its bold serif typeface," and most troubling is the impact the sign has on the street: "The big letters loom over the beaux arts Michigan Avenue Bridge and the great skyscrapers, from the wedding cake of the Wrigley Building to the corncobs of Marina City, that are visible from the span. To be sure, the nearby Tribune Tower has a prominently displayed sign, but it's on an attached structure, not the neo-Gothic skyscraper itself. The Trump sign, by comparison, is a poke in the eye."
Kamin's larger point is that Trump sign is only the most recent example of carte blanche granted to signage in the city, which lacks "sophisticated design guidelines as well as the teeth to enforce them."
Other writers have also produced strong critiques, including Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times, who cites the sign as a symbol of the "emptiness of vanity." Writes Steinberg: "Who does this sign benefit? Out-of-towners who pass by and wonder which building this is? The hotel and condo owners ballyhooing themselves? As bad as being Donald Trump undoubtedly is, being caught basking in his glow is even worse."
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