Posts tagged with "Chicago":
It is rare to be given the chance to build anything along the Michigan Avenue “wall.” The iconic stretch of Chicago’s most famous street looks out to Lake Michigan over Millennium and Grant Parks, and was designated a Chicago Landmark in 2002. Yet 2017 will see the start of more than one new tower along the historic one-mile district.
The most recently announced of these new towers has been dubbed Essex on the Park. The name makes reference to the neighboring building, the Essex Inn, which will also be redeveloped in the process of erecting the new tower. The 56-story Essex on the Park is being designed by Chicago-based Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture. While the 479-unit tower is distinctly contemporary, it also references its historic context.
Designing along Michigan Avenue involves the careful navigation of a long list of regulations related to height, massing, and position relative to historic district as a whole.
At Essex on the Park, this plays out as a large base that addresses the heights of surrounding buildings. Stretching from lot line to lot line, the base continues the wall of mostly late 19th-century buildings. A large four-story winter garden mediates between the base and the more articulated tower.
Paul Alessandro, a partner at Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, discussed the challenges of building within the strict zoning along Michigan Avenue. “The building is shaped by all of these forces, you can see this in the base. Those parameters give you an outline, which you can design in, something of a Hugh Ferriss envelope. They take a lot of the decisions away from you, which gives you a chance to focus on the specifics and details of the design.”
The neighboring 14-story Essex Inn is one of the most recognizable structures along South Michigan Avenue. It is known, not so much for its architecture, but for an epic sign that adorns its roof. While these types of signs were once common in Chicago, they have been the center of more than one controversy in recent years: once when Motorola removed the large Santa Fe sign from the top of a building just blocks from the Essex, and again when the 20-foot Trump sign was added to the Trump Tower. A new ordinance passed after the Trump sign’s installation now makes it much more difficult to add such signage to new buildings. The Essex sign and the building itself, built in 1961, are now protected. And though the Essex Inn signage will stay, the building will be rebranded as the Hotel Essex once renovations are complete.
The two buildings will connect via a restaurant in the new tower and the lobby of the older building. Construction will begin on the tower later this year, while the renovation of the hotel will begin in 2018. Both will be completed in 2019.
As the first snow of the season fell, a large crowd gathered along a quiet bend in the South Branch of the Chicago River. Jovial groups of teens, community members, and public officials were all there for the opening of the Eleanor Boathouse at Park 571 in the South Side neighborhood of Bridgeport. The boathouse is the second designed by Studio Gang Architects and the final of four boathouses planned for the Chicago River.
The boathouses are part of a much larger movement within the city to connect the public with the underutilized river. Though the river is still heavily polluted—two half-sunken boats can be seen up river from the Eleanor Boathouse—the city is quickly improving its resources along the shore. The boathouses specifically provide space for rowing teams to train, kayaks to be rented, and people to directly access the water.
“The Eleanor Boathouse supports the larger movement of ecological and recreational revival of the Chicago River,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at the opening. “For too long, Chicago residents were cut off from an asset in our own backyard. So today, we are transforming our rivers from relics of our industrial past to anchors for our neighborhoods’ futures.”
Like Studio Gang’s earlier iteration, the Eleanor Boathouse takes its form from the rhythmic movements of rowers. Divided into two structures, undulating rooflines allow for clerestories, which bring soft light into the project. The lofty interior of the 13,171-square-foot boat storage structure can hold up to 75 boats for use by several rowing teams, clubs, and organizations. The other structure is a 5,832-square-foot field house that contains a multipurpose community room, main office, open seating area, restrooms, and showers, and can accommodate 57 “erg” machines, which simulate rowing movements for training purposes. A dark zinc facade wraps most of the project, while one face of the boat storage building is a custom green gradient window screen.
While Chicago’s winters can be brutal, the boathouse is already under heavy use. Rowing teams train in the river nearly year-round and there is also classroom and activity space for after-school and community programs. “This connects us to the origins of the city. The river is the first reason that the native peoples and eventually Fort Dearborn were settled here,” said Studio Gang’s Managing Principal Mark Schendel at the opening. “And it is that potential to come back to that amazing resource and put citizens back on the water. It is the type of project, as architects, we love to do.”
The Art Institute of Chicago’s latest architecture exhibition examines the world of migrant workers and the global construction industry. Organized by the New York–based group Who Builds Your Architecture? (WBYA?), the eponymous show advocates for fair labor practices throughout the world by uncovering “the often-hidden networks that impact labor and sustainability in building architecture.” The show is divided into two parts: The first outlines the construction process through drawings of a fictional project. The second portion of the show explores the design and construction of facade components from buildings in four cities from around the world. Portions of the research are based on the documentation of construction worker deaths, unsafe job sites, and housing conditions by international human rights organizations. Founded in 2011, WBYA? is made up of academics, architects, curators, students, and writers: Kadambari Baxi, Jordan H. Carver, Laura Diamond Dixit, Tiffany Rattray, Lindsey Wikstrom, and Mabel O. Wilson.
Who Builds Your Architecture? Art Institute of Chicago Gallery 286 111 S Michigan Avenue, Chicago Through June 11, 2017
Chicago-based Cards Against Humanity is not a typical company. And, working with von Weise Associates, the company now has an office space that is anything but typical. For those not familiar, Cards Against Humanity is a party game in which players are forced to match often slightly obscene or risqué cards with other players. Founded by a group of high school friends who still make up most of the company, the simple set of cards became the most popular game on Amazon in 2011, just one year after crowdfunding its startup.
With its success, the original Cards team had big ideas of how not only it could move forward as a company, but also how it could support other young creative people along the way. The first step would be to move out of its small storefront office and into a larger space. Brought in early in the process, von Weise searched for a space with the team, eventually settling on two adjacent buildings just east of the Bucktown neighborhood on the Near North Side of Chicago. Much larger than what would be needed for just the eight employees, the new space is more than just an office.
Closer to a coworking or shared space, Cards Against Humanity lends or donates desks to young people and small business who are working on their own projects. At any given time, it can be filled with over 40 people, sharing ideas and motivating each other. To accommodate the wide range of thought, a diverse set of resources and programs fill the office. In the main work area, a large open bowstring-trussed space, three shipping containers divide the room. Each container offers an escape from the more familiar desk space in the form of a Japanese tearoom, a Moroccan hookah lounge, and private phone booths. “There is a Lego room; they wanted a Lego room,” said principal Chip von Weise. “They also gave us images of Japanese spaces they wanted, and we brought in the idea for the Moroccan room. We had a lot of fun with them.” The rest of the office continues this theme of atypical spaces. A darkroom, a gallery, and studio for recording podcasts can be found. Tying back to the game’s roots in improv comedy, an 80-seat black box theater was also built out. After working with the local alderman, the theater recently received a zoning variance, and can now be opened to the public. Anticipating the long zoning process, the space was originally listed as a “training area” in the initial permit set.
The office does, however, have some more recognizable spaces as well. A kitchen and large dining area were a must, as the office is in an industrial area of the city. A large conference room also plays a key role in the business. Once a month the entire team comes together to write new cards to expand the game around a large table. Locking themselves in the room for a few days, covering the dry-erase walls with writing, they ensure the game stays fresh for its loyal fans.
For a company that has run (anti-)Black Friday promotions—raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity—that have included raising the price of the product, selling boxes of sterilized bull feces, and digging a “Holiday Hole,” a typical office was just not going to cut it. Yet the unorthodox makers of an obscene game are not the only ones to see the value in their new office. AIA Chicago awarded von Weise a 2016 Interior Honor Award for the project. And who doesn’t want a Japanese tearoom to unwind in after an intense brainstorming session?
General Contractor Wigmore Construction 312-544-0742
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It took over a month, but the sign designating the stretch of Wabash Avenue in front of Trump Tower in Chicago as honorary Trump Plaza was removed in mid-December. The City Council had voted unanimously to remove the sign late October after Donald Trump had referred to Chicago as a “war zone” during the third presidential debate. After the election, when the street sign was still there, some feared the city would go back on its plan out of fear of reprisal from the President-elect. For the weeks after the election, the street became the focal point of protests against Trump.