Mini-golf Course: Great Holes of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois / United States of America

“Great Holes of Chicago” was a temporary mini-golf course designed for the 2014 AIA National Convention in Chicago. The three-hole course featured iconic architectural landmarks. Each “hole” represented a literal void or conceptual erasure in the history of Chicago.

The Chicago Spire – designed by Santiago Calatrava - was a supertall skyscraper project in Chicago that was abandoned in 2008 with only its foundation work completed. The deep, perfectly circular hole in the ground still has immense potential to become a prominent, even historic addition to Chicago’s architectural heritage.  The foundation was dug with resolute purpose; the emergence of a building will require the same determination. When golfers sunk their putts into the Spire hole, a fan temporarily inflated an abstract building form.

Stanley Tigerman’s conceptual collage depicts Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Crown Hall for the Illinois Institute of Technology—which houses the School of Architecture—sinking into a watery hole in Lake Michigan. Tigerman’s work is a critique on the state of architectural pedagogy in Chicago. The Titanic was meant to provoke architects to contend with the Mies legacy, challenging them to choose sides: move beyond Mies or remain cemented to the past. The photo collage pitches one of Mies’s most iconic and revered designs into the deep. When golfers sunk their putts into the Tigerman’s watery hole, Crown Hall temporarily arose from the deep.

Prentice Women’s Hospital is, or was one of Chicago’s most enigmatic buildings. Designed by Bertrand Goldberg in the 1970’s, it is beloved by so many Chicagoans because of how innovatively and organically its function is expressed through its flower-like structure. Much like Goldberg’s other buildings in Chicago — such as Marina Towers – Prentice’s form is purposefully and stubbornly honest in response to its programmatic requirements and the logic of its internal plan. But unfortunately, this is a main reason why the building was torn down: it wasn't flexible, at all. Many buildings can be retrofitted and adapted to new internal requirements, but not Prentice. So the owners demolished Prentice with a purpose: to construct a future unburdened by the past. When golfers sunk their putts into Prentice, lights turned off, the building went dark.

Architect of Record

Martin Felsen
3209 S Morgan St
Chicago, Illinois 60608
Phone: 3126389100

General Contractor

Neil Verplank
Hatch Design + Fabrication
Phone: 3125605565


Michelle Litvin

Direct image use from site prohibited. For inquiries on image use, or to obtain specific image credit in the event of multiple photographers, contact AIA Chicago.