As June comes to a close, we highlight buildings across the country that have it up in hues of purple to raise awareness in the fight to end Alzheimer’s during Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, shining brightly to signify the importance of this battle to millions of families across the country. Read on to learn the stories behind a few of our favorite purple skylines.
Icons of Chicago Go Purple
Few cities can boast a skyline as iconic as that of Chicago’s: powerful buildings that display how the city rose from the ashes of the 1871 Chicago Fire, the city later becoming known for inventing the skyscraper. Today, a skyscraper is defined as a building of at least 330 feet in height. Two buildings that shine brightly in the City of Broad Shoulders are the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower, 1,450 ft.) and the John Hancock Center (1,128 ft.), both completed in the 1970s thanks to an architect named Bruce Graham, who passed away from complications of Alzheimer's in 2010.
As partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, a prestigious Chicago architectural firm, Graham helped integrate design and engineering to transform Chicago’s city skyline, creating an architectural capital photographed from all heights and angles by tourists and residents alike.
Graham became the renowned architect of the iconic skyline duo of the Willis Tower and the John Hancock Center, combining great height with a touch of magic. The Willis Tower, located on Wacker Drive, along with Michigan Avenue’s John Hancock Center, have lit up the Chicago skyline, going purple during Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month in support of all those affected by the disease.
Bruce’s endless optimism in his architectural designs were always looking toward the future, helping transform Chicago in innumerable ways, including gifting the city with a skyline that looks proud and passionate in purple.
Meet Me in St. Louis - In Purple
In St. Louis, their impressive city skyline has popped with purple thanks to the hard work of Susie Fandos, who lost her father to Alzheimer’s disease in 2007. Her family’s journey began in 1993 when her dad Peter, then 62, a doctor, forgot his son’s 30th surprise birthday party.
After seeing her dad battle the disease throughout the 1990s and 2000s, in 2006, Susie took action by participating in her first Walk to End Alzheimer's. “Seeing families join together in this fight is so rewarding,” Susie said. “Even though Alzheimer’s is a difficult disease, when families gather for this cause, smiling, laughing and celebrating their loved ones, walking alongside caregivers, researchers and advocates, it’s a happy day. We are all so proud to wear purple.”
In 2021, St. Louis indeed became a sea of purple, from the City Museum to the McDonnell Planetarium, with more than 30 buildings lighting up to signify the fight to end Alzheimer’s, the loved ones affected, and the passionate people who speak out and tell their own Alzheimer’s stories. Susie made it her mission to ensure that as many buildings as possible would light up in honor of her dad, and all those lost to the disease.
As a marketing and outreach volunteer with the Alzheimer's Association, and St. Louis Walk to End Alzheimer’s chair, leading the charge to make her city purple was a must for Susie. “At this point in time, most people know someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia,” she said. “Putting Alzheimer’s firmly on the map, making buildings purple, creating any kind of awareness will make a difference. Let’s all go purple together in honor of those we love.”
Have you seen buildings in your city go purple in the fight to end Alzheimer’s? Which building would you like to see go purple? Let us know in the comments, or tell us other ways you go purple this June, and throughout the year.
*Willis Tower photo courtesy Sam Karow.
Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month