Search results for "Solomon Cordwell Buenz"

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The new Adison Park on Clark is a mixed-use development designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz just over the ivy walls of Wrigley Field.
Courtesy M&R

Wrigley Field may be getting a new neighbor. The planned Addison Park on Clark development, which includes residences, retail space, and hotel rooms located adjacent to the ballpark, has gained the backing of 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney. The proposal needs final approval from the Chicago Plan Commission and the City Council Zoning Committee before it can proceed, and the Alderman’s support is seen as critical to moving the project forward. The development would bring significant new density to the area, but opponents fear the retail-intensive project could alter the character of the neighborhood.

The project would be comparable in height to the historic ballpark and would be built on a combination of surface parking lots and on the site of existing, mostly single-story buildings along Clark Street. In response to concerns from some neighbors and business owners, the developers, M&R, have substantially reduced the scale of the project, which originally included two towers that would have loomed over the field.

The new development has ample green roofs, like many in Chicago. (Click to zoom)

“It’s been a two-and-a-half year process. The developers have greatly reduced the height and have worked closely with the community development committee to respond to neighborhood concerns,” said Bennett Lawson, deputy alderman for the ward.

Designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB), the current scheme will include 135 rental apartments, 137 hotel rooms, and over 145,000 square feet of retail space on two levels. “The project will reinforce the vibrant retail corridor,” said John Lahey, president of SCB. “It’s not a mall at all. It will be a very vibrant street front.” Retail spaces will all be accessed from the street, and second-story spaces will have ground-level frontage as well. The project’s design reflects elements in the neighborhood, including corresponding building heights, and brick and limestone elements in the facade. Lahey stressed that the project won’t mimic the historic ballpark. “It will be a contemporary building, not a nostalgic one,” he said.

The project is designed to mesh well with the surrounding neighborhood.

Several buildings housing businesses will be demolished to make way for the project, including the Improv Olympics, a comedy venue. Lawson said the alderman’s office and the developer will work to relocate the businesses, some within the new project. Several large billboards will also be removed as a result of the development. “There will be wider sidewalks on Clark Street, new street trees, new alleys, lots of bricks and mortar improvements for the neighborhood,” Lawson said.

The developers also noted the project’s sustainable features, including several green roofs and roof gardens, bike parking, and LEED Silver construction, along with its location near an El stop and several bus lines. “Shouldn’t we have denser development near transit nodes?” Lahey asked.

Lahey agrees that the project will change the character of the neighborhood, though he is convinced that change will be for the better. “The site currently isn’t very urban. It’s a lot of parking lots and single-story buildings,” he said. “A building can clarify and organize a place. It will be a foil to Wrigley Field that will strengthen the fabric of the neighborhood.”

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Protest: John Parman
Pelli's Transbay Tower.
Courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli/TJPA

I winced when I saw the Times’ headline, “Next to MoMA, Reaching for the Stars.” Jean Nouvel’s new 75-story tower alongside the Museum of Modern Art reached back to Lyonel Feininger for inspiration, finally realizing his vision of an expressionist tower. It’s hard to imagine a stronger contrast to Cesar Pelli’s safely office-like MoMA housing or Yoshio Taniguchi’s recent, buttoned-down expansion. “To its credit, the Modern pressed for a talented architect,” Times’ critic Nicolai Ouroussoff wrote, but he went on to praise Hines, the tower’s “remarkably astute” developer. “Hines asked Nouvel to come up with two possible designs… and made the bolder choice.” That’s Hines in New York.

This fall, Hines also won the right to develop the Transbay Tower in downtown San Francisco. Pelli’s proposal for the transit hub component of the project is well done, but the tower is a version of his International Financial Center mega-tower in Hong Kong. As usual for Hines—they really are “remarkably astute”—Pelli was a smart choice. The Airport Express station that serves Hong Kong’s financial district anchors the twin-tower IFC complex. From a credentials standpoint, that’s valuable experience. Plus a tower that’s up-and-running is easier to price, even with differences in construction, than one-offs like Richard Rogers and SOM’s competing finalists. Armed with that knowledge, Hines played its trump card, offering up to $350 million for the land—more than twice what the other two developers were prepared to pay. That’s Hines in San Francisco.

Hines is Hines—the same smart operators, east and west. Given what they’re proposing for New York, blame for San Francisco’s less-than-stellar tower falls somewhere else. 

Jokingly called Dean Macris’ last erection, the Transbay Tower benefited from the recently-departed planning czar’s determination to fulfill his long-time vision of a city skyline marked by three accentuated “hills”—two real and one manmade. This is the same vision that gave us One Rincon Hill, the first in a two-tower wonder by Chicago’s Solomon Cordwell Buenz. Compared to it, Pelli’s proposal is definite progress. 

A lot of people have questioned the logic of Macris’ idée fixe, but that’s another article. The question here is how a competition that was advertised as being all about design proved to be all about money. Not that this is surprising, but—in light of promises made—it feels like a bait and switch. And if I feel this way, imagine how SOM feels!

I wasn’t privy to the jury’s deliberations, but a few things stuck out along the way. In the initial interviews, Norman Foster failed to appear and his team was eliminated. While architect no-shows don't go over well (confirming Woody Allen’s maxim that “85 percent of life is showing up”), their reaction struck me as a surefire sign of provinciality. Another sign of that was the dearth of interesting architects in the mix.

Again, I didn’t make the rules, but at roughly the same time that the Transbay schemes were being unveiled, Thom Mayne won a competition for a new tower at La Défense in Paris that clearly breaks new ground. This was another reason to wince, since a second major work by Mayne might finally put San Francisco on the architectural map.

Of course, Calatrava made the cut, only to have a falling out with his developer. Perhaps he was chosen, like Icarus, to exemplify the dangers of the creative edge. That left SOM, whose tower—while drawing on a Chinese precedent—alone showed the originality that the competition promised. With its blend of structure and sustainability, it presented a credible future for tall buildings in the earthquake-prone west coast. Plus, it was new, and that seemed to be what was wanted. (Unlike SOM’s, Richard Rogers’ peculiar tower was a throwback to his high-tech, frame-and-infill days, but vastly toned down with no real gain in use value, especially as office space.) SOM’s tower fit the bill, if the object had been to build a tower in San Francisco that broke the mold. In retrospect, no such luck.

The Transbay Tower reminds me of the new east span of the Bay Bridge, a chance squandered to do something on a par with the Golden Gate. San Francisco rises to its own occasions with about the same frequency as its earthquakes—maybe less frequently. In that sense, there’s no real mystery about the latest outcome. Still, it makes me wince.