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Designer Jonathan Nesci brings an adult jungle gym to Chicago’s Ace Hotel

Art Design Midwest
Jonathan Nesci has designed a spirited (and ascendable) sculpture atop the Ace Hotel Chicago. (Courtesy Spencer Lowell)
Jonathan Nesci has designed a spirited (and ascendable) sculpture atop the Ace Hotel Chicago. (Courtesy Spencer Lowell)

“A lot of serious careers are reverting back to play.”

So says Columbus, Indiana-based designer and Exhibit Columbus curator Jonathan Nesci, who is living up to his statement with an energetic new work on the roof of Chicago’s West Loop Ace Hotel. After more than a decade of crafting objects inspired by modernist tropes, Nesci has created an architectural object you can climb into, sit in, and swing on while taking in the complex system of buildings curated within the long, linear view of the Chicago skyline.

Nesci has created a crisp blue structural steel dome latticed at the bottom with matching woven rope, reminiscent both of jungle gyms and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Dome at the Chicago Cultural Center (“it was definitely in the soup” says Nesci). Nesci was looking not to create “just a sculpture or a pavilion, but something you can activate.” Situated within a lush, carefully tended rooftop prairie by Site Design Group, the Nesci Dome is the final key in the collaboration between the Ace Hotel and Volume Gallery, which has filled the Ace with artwork from Chicago-based designers. Nesci is a longtime collaborator with Volume Gallery, showing his work for the first time during the gallery’s inaugural exhibition in 2010.

Nesci’s grandfather, the owner of a concrete brick company in suburban Chicago, was a fan of objects designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and other architects, and he would also show up each summer to dump a load of sand in the Nesci family driveway for the family’s sandbox, encouraging an element of exploration in the young designer.

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