Root – John Wellborn Root – 00’s GT Cross bike Spoken For

It was a GT Cross bike and was powder coated a lime-tinted army green.  It was named for John Wellborn Root one of Chicago’s most significant architects who along with his partner Daniel Burnham, helped create a home-grown and home named architectural style, Chicago School. Root and Burnham’s National Landmark building the Rookery is amongst the greatest architectural works in the City of Architecture. Burnham and Root also worked together on the plan for the World’s Columbian Exposition, but Root died of pneumonia before it was built at the age of 41, leaving behind a wife and son.

We gave this away the second year we organized the bike tent at Pitchfork Music Festival.

John Wellborn Root was half of one of the most storied partnerships in all of American architecture, Burnham and Root.  His innovative design ideas and construction methods made today’s skyscrapers possible. 

Born in Lumpkin, Georgia on January 10, 1850, Root was raised in Atlanta where his family lived until Atlanta fell to the Union during the Civil War.  They migrated to Liverpool, England, where it is said that Root studied the work of Peter Ellis, an architect who designed and built the first two metal framed buildings with glass curtain walls.  After returning to the U.S., Root earned his undergraduate degree at New York University and took a post as an unpaid assistant at Renwick and Sands, and then a job with John Butler Snook, where he was construction supervisor on Grand Central Station.  In 1871, Root moved to Chicago and worked as a draftsman.  It was here that he met his future partner and friend, Daniel Burnham.  A mere two years later, they formed their famed firm of Burnham and Root. 

Here, Root developed the system that would enable a new generation of bigger, taller, heavier buildings.  The marshy conditions in Chicago limited the weight and size of many buildings.  Root’s system was an interlaced series of steel beams with poured concrete which is still the current standard.  Combined with his use of steel curtained glass walls ala Peter Ellis, and a rejection of repetitive styles, his designs are amongst the most defining of the Chicago Style.  His Rookery and Monadnock Buildings in the Loop are both National Landmarks.  Root died of Pneumonia in 1891 at the age of 41.  He was in the midst of planning for the Columbian Exposition and many suggest the entire White City would have looked more like the Chicago Style had he lived.  Instead, Burnham appeased the NYC architects to the point that the White City was born and the Classical Revival influence on American architecture forestalled the emergence of a true indigenous architectural style by two decades.

John Wellborn Root By Unknown –, Public Domain,

Root is a equivalent of 55 cm 2003 GT ZRX Cyclocross frame that came to us in fine condition structurally, though with a gross over-branded paintjob in poor shape.  No problem.  Taking the bike the UV at UV Metal Arts always proves a good investment of time and money.  With his usual attention to detail, he filled a couple of dings, and gave it a glossy army green finish which works perfectly with the under tone colors of silver, beige, and black.  Root is nicely outfitted with a combination of Shimano and other quality parts, and built to be a true cyclo-cross bike.  It features Dura Ace cranks, 9-speed cassette and bottom bracket and Shimano 105 derailleurs and Tiagra STI Shifters.  It has a SRAM chain and a multi-brand seat post and pedals.  The brakes are Tektro Onyx cantilevers, with Tektro cyclocross interrupter levers on Easton EA70 bars and the GT Road stem and Ritchey Logic headset.  The front wheel is a 24 hole American Standard hub laced to Velocity Aerohead  and with a Forte rear hub and rim with Schwalbe Lugano 23x700c tires on both .  

As usual, I went with Jagwire housing and my standard Cinelli cork tape in tan which matched well with the Selle San Marco suede racing saddle from the  late 80s. 

Root was the bike chosen by Carrie Slimski, who won the bike in the giveaway at the Reader’s Bike Village tent at Pitchfork, where we were a partnering sponsor and exhibitor.  Root was the bike Carrie saw at the festival that drew her into the tent to enter the drawing, and ended up fitting her quite well, so it seemed fitting that she picked it.