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Early Life and Education

A composite black line drawing of one large section and two small floor plans. The section is of a large obelisk-shaped monument with a large theatre at the base and smaller rooms going all the way up. Labels to the left identify portions of the building, from bottom to top, as “Auditoriums of Various Sizes,” “66 Stories of Small Offices,” and “Weather Bureau.” A scale bar to the right shows that the tower is 1500 feet tall. On the left of the drawing are two small floor plans showing the symmetrical auditorium and a typical office level with many small rooms.

Constant-Désiré Despradelle, 1862–1912
Beacon of Progress, “Section Showing the Disposition of the Various Stories,” c. 1900
Ink and graphite on linen
30½" × 18"
MIT Museum

Hood studied design under Constant-Désiré Despradelle, who had been recruited from France in 1893 to teach at MIT. Despradelle’s most famous project, the “Beacon of Progress,” was a proposal for a 1500-foot-tall skyscraper obelisk to commemorate the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

When Hood was at MIT, Despradelle used the Beacon as a teaching tool, modeling for his students the expected design process from sketch to finished project. Despradelle’s design for an electrically illuminated steel-frame building has strong parallels with Hood’s later work.