Pritzker Prize laureate Tadao Ando has transformed a vintage Lincoln Park apartment in Chicago into a space for exhibitions devoted to architecture and socially engaged art. Wrightwood 659 is a private, non-commercial initiative founded by Alphawood Foundation president and Chicago philanthropist Fred Eychaner and architectural historian Dan Whittaker. The building is the second work by Ando commissioned by Eychaner, whose private residence was designed by the self-taught Japanese architect in 1998 and is located next door to the exhibition space. The Eychaner home was the first free-standing building constructed by Ando in the United States.
For Wrightwood 659, Ando worked within the existing envelope of a four-story 1930s apartment building, which has been completely hulled, leaving the brick shell along with minimal classical revival details on the outside. A new rooftop structure hovers above the existing building on a tilted axis from the original building, leaving room for a rooftop terrace that provides skyline views and an additional gallery. Inside, the reconfigured space contains a new steel and reinforced concrete structure, allowing for the creation of a multi-story atrium clad in Chicago common brick reclaimed from the existing building, and a grand staircase of smooth poured concrete, an Ando signature.
Wrightwood 659 celebrated a soft pre-opening earlier this year with Trace by Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei, exhibited in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. The exhibition space opens to the public on October 12 with Ando and Le Corbusier: Masters of Architecture, with works on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago and the Fondation Le Corbusier in Paris, as well as scale models of works of Le Corbusier by students of Tadao Ando. The second floor of the space will be filled with the works of Le Corbusier, while the third and fourth floors will focus on Tadao Ando. The exhibition kicks off with a lecture by the architect at the Art Institute of Chicago on October 11 and continues with a symposium of Le Corbusier scholars on November 8 and 9.