In the world of architectural photography, the biggest star is Iwan Baan. Routinely tapped to shoot buildings designed by such top architects as Toyo Ito and Chicago’s own Jeanne Gang, Baan has earned particular renown for his evocative aerial images, typically taken with a simple 35 mm camera as he leans out of a helicopter (door open!) thousands of feet up. “I’m interested in stepping away and showing the buildings in a larger context,” says Baan, 40, who hails from the Netherlands but is now more or less a nomad, constantly traveling for his work. “With the high-altitude shot, you start to see the city as a fabric.”

Last fall, the Chicago Architecture Biennial commissioned him to photograph this city’s skyline for an exhibit that will be on display October 3 to January 3 at the Chicago Cultural Center. The project was a homecoming of sorts for Baan, whose first architectural job was shooting the Rem Koolhaas–designed el train tube at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Bronzeville. (That structure also shows up in this series.) Enjoy an exclusive sneak peek of six of the new images, breathtaking in their bird’s-eye perspective of the city. —Tomi Obaro