Detroit’s Director of Planning and Development, Maurice Cox, will be the next top planning executive for the city of Chicago, according to Detroit News, and will step down from his current post in September. Cox boosted the city’s planning staff from six to 36 and is credited with attracting world-renowned urban planners, designers, and architects to the city. Cox was appointed as Detroit’s planning director in 2015 to strengthen its neighborhoods and land reuse policies. His past work experience in Detroit aligns with incumbent Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot’s urgencies for affordable housing, neighborhood equity, and economic development, and the news follows the city’s recent announcement to modernize city building codes for the first time in over seventy years. Cox revitalized Detroit's planning office after decades of decline and powered a design-minded recovery. His term was marked by improving infrastructure, streets, parks, and amenities as a strategy for building communities that residents would want to live in long term. His major initiative, “20-Minute Neighborhoods,” pushed for reforms that would allow residents to walk or bike to get everyday necessities instead of driving. A New York native, Cox has previously held public office as a council member and then mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, from 1996 through 2004. He is also a former design director at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C, and associate dean of Tulane University’s School of Architecture and director of Tulane City Center, a city-based design resource center.
Posts tagged with "Chicago":
Neubauer Collegium for Culture and SocietyHUTOPIA, a clever play on words, the University of Chicago’s Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society has recreated a pair of the most well-known retreats: the cabins of Martin Heidegger and Ludwig Wittgenstein. A scaled-down version of Heidegger’s cabin in Todtnauberg, Germany, forms the centerpiece of the show. A smaller model, rather than a full structure, of Wittgenstein’s hut in the Norwegian town of Skjolden, is also sited on the Collegium’s western terrace. Finally, Adorno’s Hut, a life-size re-creation of a sculpture by poet and artist Hamilton Finlay of an idealized Greek temple, has been built in the Neubauer Collegium gallery. All three huts are sculptures but will occasionally welcome visitors and solace seekers inside and will be used to host classes and lectures. The name of the exhibition comes from a long-form poem by Alec Finlay, son of Hamilton Finlay, printed in the catalog of Machines à Penser, an earlier show at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale that led to HUTOPIA.
This May, the Chicago Architecture Biennial announced this year’s participants for the upcoming ...and other such stories biennial. Architects, designers, and artists from all over the world will participate in projects that engage with land, memory, rights, and civic participation. “For this year’s Chicago Architecture Biennial, the curatorial focus brings to light architectural stories that are often overshadowed by more familiar narratives,” said executive director Todd Palmer. “The Chicago contributors' works for 2019 draw from their ongoing engagement with local communities working towards a more equitable architectural landscape in this city.” Here is what we know so far about Chicago-based participants featured in the upcoming biennial: Artist and University of Chicago professor Theaster Gates will center his project around the vacant buildings he has purchased in Chicago and the complexities of land ownership. When Gates originally purchased the buildings, there was a severe lack of interest in those areas due to violence and disinvestment from the city. He plans to create found poetry from the legal land documents between himself, the banks, and the city—what he claims are the pieces that no one sees but are intrinsically personal to him. Gates said, “I want to talk about my love of space, and how a commitment to contracts will ultimately create new opportunities for emerging artists and affordable housing.” Artist Maria Gaspar will exhibit an interactive installation reflecting her artistic practice both inside and outside the Cook County Jail, located in her childhood neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. “It will be interesting for me to see how my own spatial research engages with the broader field of architecture and how borders impact communities,” said Gaspar. Artist Santiago X is partnering with the American Indian Center of Chicago and Chicago Public Art Group to produce a large-scale installation that will express a vision to construct indigenous future-scapes. “Participating in this year's Chicago Architecture Biennial is an incredible opportunity for me to contribute to the revitalization of indigenous landscapes throughout Chicago,” said the artist. Design practice Borderless Studio will examine social infrastructure in the context of unprecedented public-school closures in 2013. The studio’s Creative Grounds initiative offers a framework for how art, design, and architecture can create a more inclusive process for repurposing closed schools. Artists Iker Gil and the Luftwerk duo of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero will splash the Farnsworth House in lasers. The Chicago Architecture Biennial ...and other such stories will run from September 19, 2019, to January 5, 2020. Altogether, there will be more than 40 participating organizations and sites citywide. For the full list of contributors, see here.
Dear Stanley, It took you a decent nine years to write to Mies after he died, but I could only wait three days. You know, just to make sure. You did resign your tenure from the University of Illinois, Chicago twice, after all, so anything is possible. Less circumspect or hopeful, most of the other members of the tribe have already rushed in to saturate social media feeds with postings and posings, leaving no chance for any Miesian moment of silence in your absence. These days, three days feels like a lifetime. As much as you talked all these years, there are still so many questions that remain: What was the connection between your lozenge paintings and Hejduk’s diamonds? What was the genealogy of your soft corner? What can I do to get fired? One of your greatest attributes: You turned getting canned into an art form, always able to use crisis—indeed, design, and accelerate it—as a means to reinvent yourself and your work. When you hastily took leave of a coveted position at Harry Weese’s within a year, you quickly opened your own office. The first time you resigned your University of Illinois tenure, in 1970, led to one of the most productive and influential decades of your career. When you then returned to run the post-professional program, and next the entire school itself as director from 1985 to ‘93, you were able to transform an unlikely state extension school into the envy of the Ivys. Not surprisingly, this put you at odds with the senior faculty, who scurried to a newly appointed dean to have you dismissed as director. Not one to let others determine your fate, you immediately resigned your tenure a second time, and, with Eva Maddox, cofounded Archeworks. During those UIC years, you were a Bulldog Buddha sitting on axis with the door, at a 60-inch round wooden Eames table in a ten-foot diameter mini-rotunda, less an office than an aedicula. We always assumed there was a revolver taped to the underside, near where the Herman Miller seal of authenticity would have been. Before one of your first meetings with a delinquent faculty member on whom you expected to go off, you asked your then-new assistant, Nancy Gislason, to nudge you under the table if you started to go too far. After her three discreet attempts of increasing urgency to follow your request, you turned and flatly reprimanded, “God damn it, Nancy, stop kicking me! I know I’m making an ass of myself!” You didn’t just know your limitations, you orchestrated their effective deployment. There are so many memories of you in that circular Tiger’s den, which one never entered voluntarily, but was summoned into, if naive enough to walk carelessly within your distant cone of vision: “Garofalo, get in here!! Is K on drugs, or what?!” you once inquired of the New York theorist newly arrived as the Greenwald Chair. Never mind that Doug himself had just met Professor K; in your world we would all be our brother’s keeper. You would hold all of us, with your pointed emphasis, “per-son-al-ly responsible,” invariably for things over which we felt no control whatsoever. But that was your secret superpower: seeing and expecting more of us than we could perceive in ourselves. Beyond your offices on Wells Street and in the A+A Building, you could hold court from any table in the city, from the Arts Club to Manny’s, Gene and Georgetti’s to Coco Pazzo—always, as you advised and practiced, with your back to the wall, and preferably in a corner. You could see them all coming: the anxious ones, approaching for a favor; the smiling ones, looking for the opportunity to stick it in the back; the accused, rushing to the door to avoid having to do their version of the perp walk before your studied glare. “He,”—dramatic pause—“is not generous,” you once declared in an exaggerated stage whisper of a former member of the Chicago Seven sitting two tables away. When said former ally came over to pay his respects, your first and last words, not surprisingly: “You,”—dramatic pause—“are not generous.” For you, there was never a difference between private speech and public act; what you said was what they got. In the architecture world that one could never escape once in your orbit, they were always there, populating the periphery of every restaurant, opening, and conference: the rice Krispies (“can’t hurt you, can’t help you”), the ones who were dead to you, the architects who drew like angels (and their opposite, those who “held their pencil like a civilian”), the writers “who owned the English language,” and those who you declared possessed “a discernible IQ,” (high praise) while tapping your temple with your index finger for emphasis. You ordained quickly but could excommunicate with even greater alacrity. That is one reason our generation scrupulously avoided your various offices unless and until “invited.” We feared your wrath more than we coveted your approval. I suspect we also grew up believing the approval of one’s elders was more than a little distasteful, so we kept our thoughts to ourselves, wagering on the long game. This is not so true of the younger generation, your enthusiastic grandchildren, over-eager to please, to show and tell ev-er-y-thing, and with them you always seemed to indulge a patience we never took the time to notice. Did you mellow with age, or was it just the new mellownium? When you wrote to Mies in 1978 (with ironic shock and genuine satisfaction), it was to inform him that his legacy was lost: modernism was moribund, IIT a sclerotic seminary, SOM an aging and unhealthy corporate carcass. Over the post-Miesian horizon, there was color, historical reference, pop, ornament, curvature, frivolity…talk. And today, four decades on, we are operating again on that same horizon you bequeathed to us, the one beyond The Titanic. When I returned to UIC in 2007 to reenact your role, you generously and without hesitation agreed to return as the inaugural lecturer, the first time you had set foot in Netsch’s labyrinth in the 14 years since your dismissal/resignation. Ever since then, UIC would paradoxically become much more a Stanley school than it ever was when you were in charge. After the diaspora and years in exile, “we” had won. The first Chicago Architecture Biennial borrowed its title from you (“The State of the Art of Architecture”), while the second elevated you as its de facto central protagonist (“Make New History”). You had the temerity to suggest that Chicago was not just a city of pragmatics and profit, but of ideas and values, along with the talent to prove it and the tenacity to make others believe it. Through it all, you fought for discourse and argument and humor in a world dominated by marketing, platitudes, and unction. You remained committed to the belief that architecture, even in a place like Chicago, was a cultural event, that ideas and forms were connected—sometimes in your own work awkwardly or naively, at other times with shocking aura and simplicity. Just as you would take your work through serial attachments, quit, and move on, you would also direct the school through multiple and incompatible ideologies: pop-pomo, neo-classicism, deconstructivism, and the earliest moments of the digital, back when it was still manual. Others would mistake this as eclecticism, as a sign of your boredom, but in fact you were tirelessly demonstrating, training us in how to assume a position. It must have been exhausting to have to tutor a profession and a place so ill-suited to receive your lessons all those years, and no doubt it took its toll on your patience and your practice. Never willing to limit yourself to half a dichotomy, you would always rather fight and switch. If future historians identify a third (or fourth) Chicago school, it will rightfully belong to you alone. Over the recent past decades, a multinational and multigenerational band of disparate architects have come to the city for Mies but left with Tigerman: from Ben Nicholson and Stan Allen to Pier Paolo Tamburelli, Jennifer Bonner, Kersten Geers, Momoyo Kaijima, and Job Floris. Of course, Sam Jacob and his partners at FAT were there very early, and his presence, along with other established visitors to the school, such as Paul Andersen, have helped establish UIC as a place to extend your initiatives. This is a significant and surprising genealogy of fellow architects and thinkers—colleagues, collaborators, combatants—and one not always identical with the locals you chose to coronate, whom to many of us seemed to embody the kind of self-promotion and branding you would increasingly condemn in other contexts. You often said that the practice of architecture was the perversion of the study of architecture, locating the core of the discipline with reflection and principle. But nonetheless, you seemed congenitally inclined—or was it just contextually compelled?—to elevate the striving practitioners who would surround you, in a replay of the fate of Mies’ disciples. Frustrating as they were, those blind spots, those inconsistencies, were also part of your charm, a weakness for certain types. Despite your sometimes prickly exterior, you were an unrepentant optimist and romantic, a sucker for your latest discovery, always willing to assume that behind the smoke of others there was fire. Margaret McCurry, more measured and critical, saw that behind all that smoke there were often just mirrors. She was ultimately the tough and clear-sighted one over your 40-year partnership, the one you could depend on to keep you true to your highest ideals and best instincts, tolerantly rolling her eyes at your latest infatuations, all the while entreating you to eat your blueberries for their antioxidants. When you were blunt, it was often for effect; when Margaret was blunt, it was always for real. At once calculated and candid, the Tigerman-McCurry duo packed a powerful punch. And then you left us, just 75 days shy of the fiftieth anniversary of Mies’s departure. Even for you, the symmetry of that possibility must have seemed too much. As we can already no longer think of him without you, the chronological correspondence would have been too trivial. What was it Rem once said, in an effort to rescue Mies from his acolytes, as you so often attempted? “I do not respect Mies, I love Mies. Because I do not revere Mies I am at odds with his admirers.” So let it be with Tigerman. Love, Somol
Gadzooks: Ross Barney Architects has unleashed a new pavilion with a visitor center at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. In plan, the structure resembles two 'Js' knit together by a steel canopy of cantilevered frames that hang together to provide structural support and shade the ground with a leafy pattern. Officially, the 9,500-square-foot building is known as the Searle Visitor Center and it opened to the public on November 15, 2018. Between the Js, zoo-goers may enjoy a bouldered courtyard designed by hometown landscape architects Jacobs/Ryan Associates. Offices encircle the space; elsewhere, the program includes a membership lounge and an information center. The info center's patterned walls retract to open the zoo up to the crowds in the visitor center. At the entrance, the gate's patterning was designed specifically to keep out rogue humans who might try to enter the zoo when
the animals throw parties at night it's closed.
Besides the architecture, the best part about the Searle Visitor Center (and the rest of the zoo) is that it's free to visit.
Zoos and cool buildings aren't necessarily a natural association, but they should be. In Detroit, Albert Kahn Associates in 2016 completed a penguin house that's shaped like a glacier, while at the Bronx Zoo, Morris Ketchum, Jr. & Associates' modernist World of Darkness (built 1969, but now shuttered) offered a windowless circular cast concrete enclosure to observe nocturnal creatures. In London, the ramped up Penguin Pool is a modern icon but a less than ideal environment for its inhabitants, and may be torn down sooner rather than later.
Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker has signed a law that authorizes the sale of Helmut Jahn’s controversial postmodern icon, the James R. Thompson Center. Postmodern buildings have only recently become eligible for landmark status, a fact that highlights the need to preserve significant buildings that have years to go before reaching a minimum of 50 years old. The center is located prominently in Chicago’s Loop at 100 West Randolph Street, where it takes up an entire city block, with a Chicago Transit Authority “L” train station nestled underneath. Stout and glassy, the massive building opened in 1985 as the home of state government offices. It was named after Illinois’s longest-serving governor, James R. Thompson, who chose Jahn’s then-futuristic design. Aiming to invoke ideas of “an open government,” Jahn designed a glass-encased 17-story atrium and a large exterior plaza in a bid to create contemporary large public spaces. Chicagoans either love it or hate it. The story of the Thompson Center is a political saga that could end in a daring feat of conservation or a sad finale of destruction. Preservationists have been rallying and petitioning for the building to achieve landmark status since the first mention of its possible demise in 2007, when Governor Rod Blagojevich said he was interested in selling it. However, since the building is known for its major maintenance issues, like heating and cooling problems and physical deterioration, it will likely be demolished rather than repurposed. The Architect’s Newspaper's Midwest contributor Jamie Evelyn Goldsborough reached out to major figures in the Chicago architecture and preservation community for their takes on the controversy. Alexander Eisenschmidt, designer and architectural theorist, associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture: Jahn’s Thompson Center is certainly a quintessential Chicago construct. Not so much for its often cited but rarely understood postmodernism, but because of its urban and infrastructural theater. In fact, reducing it to its material, color, and formal palette (its architecture) diminishes its public function (its urbanism). After all, the building is a subway stop, an elevated train station, a pedway intersection, an interior marketplace, a food court concourse, an exterior plaza, and the list goes on—a kind of city-extension that inhales and breathes public life. In an age of ever-expanding privatization, aggressive outsourcing, and shrinking government investment in public services and facilities, the sale of the Thompson Center is yet another instance of the lack of inventiveness and a blind belief in quick fixes (not unlike Chicago’s disastrous parking meter sell-off). But it’s also a mistake for architects to focus on preservation. There is the potential for crafting solutions for a productive (even lucrative) re-, dis-, mis-, trans-, and cross-use of this piece of the city. John Ronan, architect, professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture: The State of Illinois Building should be saved (and repurposed). It's one of the few good examples of postmodern architecture in Chicago from a period of architectural history that was not particularly kind to the city. Bob Somol, design critic and theorist, professor and director of the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago: The debate over the shaky future of a once-futurist ruin raises paradoxical questions about postmodern preservation and the ongoing privatization of the public realm. What happens when a rhetorical ruin becomes a literal ruin within 30 years of its completion, when a project that inaugurated a mixed public-private model of government itself falls victim to economic expediency? Helmut Jahn’s 1985 Thompson Center was an awkward building at an awkward time, appearing after faith in public monuments had waned, but before the rise of iconic spectacles. It was the James Stirling building that Chicago never got, typical of many atrocities of the ’80s that attempted the shotgun marriage of high tech and historicism. The Thompson Center remains Chicago’s only legitimate heir to this thankfully aborted legacy. And for all of these reasons and more, we should keep the starship boldly going. Stanley Tigerman, architect: I don’t want to comment about it, because I will say something bad. Ellen Grimes, associate professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago: It’s our own lesson in John Portman/Jon Jerde postmodernism, repurposed for retail politics. I love it! It makes the ’80s urban in a way that didn’t happen with similar buildings of the period. There’s nothing like floating up the escalator from the Red Line into a monumental atrium that smells like burgers and falafel. To save it, [Governor] Pritzker should use it as the emblematic policy initiative in reforming the state’s pathetic finances. He should landmark it, lease it to a casino/hotel operator, and send the profits straight into the state’s underfunded mass transit budget. (Imagine playing the slot machines as you get off the train.) That way, we get to keep the thing, and get some money out of it, and it’s climate friendly. And Thompson gets the monument he deserves. Iker Gil, architect, editor-in-chief of MAS Context: It is a significant building with a truly remarkable interior public space. Unlike most buildings, here we have one that welcomes people and celebrates public space. We need to think beyond its current state of neglect and envision its potential. It can become a vibrant 24-7 space with the addition of expected and odd uses that can be combined unconventionally. The building has unique characteristics and it should remain a unique place, but, as Tim Samuelson would say, the building is in a period of aesthetic limbo. It’s not old enough to be appreciated; there is no historic perspective. Given time, care, and a programmatic overhaul, it would find its place in the history of the city. Chicago can’t afford to continue to demolish unique buildings only to replace them with generic ones for a quick economic return. This practice won’t solve Chicago’s structural issues, and the city will lose its assets and identity. Nathan Eddy, filmmaker, Starship Chicago: The Thompson Center shouldn’t just be an official landmark for Chicago; it should also be listed on the National Register of Historic Places alongside Adler & Sullivan’s Auditorium Building or the Chicago Federal Center by Mies van der Rohe. I defy anyone to stand in the Thompson Center’s launchpad rotunda and not be moved by that magical, mirrored-glass cyclone of space. It courses with power and drama and excitement and an expansive, glittering optimism. It doesn’t look dated to thousands of young people who gasp when they walk into it—to them it looks like the future. Are we really prepared to give up this prime, publicly owned forum in the civic heart of Chicago for a bargain-basement price? To be replaced with what?—a mute glass box designed not by an architect but by some false acceptance rate algorithm? And perhaps—if we’re good—a handful of half-hearted privately owned public spaces? Sounds like small plans to me. Judith De Jong, architect and urban designer, associate professor and associate dean for academic programs at the School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Chicago: Built 20 years apart, and each very much of its respective time, the Brutalist Netsch campus at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and the postmodern Thompson Center are unlikely bedfellows. However, both are hard-to-love forms of architecture that are seemingly out of style, and both once modeled important new forms of public access to public institutions that are perhaps even more important today. The Netsch campus, which opened in early 1965, was a new model of an urban public university, making higher education accessible to a wide range of new audiences. Rather than mimic the pastoral forms of the traditionally rural public university (the model of which was the University of Virginia by Thomas Jefferson), Walter Netsch and his team from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill sought to materialize a new expression of public education through urban and architectural design. Conceptualized as a pebble dropped in a pond, representing “knowledge spreading out,” the dense inner rings of campus contained the shared lecture halls and classroom buildings, flanked by the library and the student union, while outer rings contained discipline-specific buildings. The campus was connected throughout by raised walkways—human highways designed for a projected enrollment of 32,000 students—that came together in a great public amphitheater called the Circle Forum at the literal and conceptual center. Photographs of the campus at the time show the Forum’s use as an important space of daily life. Buildings were also carefully arranged to shape urban parks and plazas for public student life across the site. The Thompson Center, which opened in 1985, was a new model of access to urban public government. Rather than mimic the classical grandeur of the Illinois State Capitol Building, Helmut Jahn and his team from Murphy/Jahn Architects materialized a new expression of state governance through an enormous interior atrium—a lopped off rotunda—limned by 16 floors of the mostly open offices of public employees. The atrium was intended as an active, new, year-round public “plaza” in the middle of downtown, enabled by “retail” government services like the Department of Motor Vehicles, as well as shops, a food court, and integrated access to the Chicago Transit Authority trains. At the Thompson Center, government was meant to be as accessible and transparent as the building itself. As experiments in new forms of public institutions, both UIC and the Thompson Center had their issues, all of which were or are solvable, should the political will exist. At UIC, complaints about the walkways, framed through concerns about maintenance, safety, and a lack of “green,” led to their eventual demolition in the 1990s, taking the Circle Forum amphitheater with them. Likewise, the environmental and maintenance issues at the Thompson Center are well-documented, and just as Netsch provided possible solutions to issues at UIC that were ignored, Jahn has provided possible options for the Thompson Center that are being ignored. But whereas at UIC the form of the campus was diminished by the loss of the Circle Forum, its overall organization and many of its original buildings remain basically intact. Moreover, UIC continues to be a state institution, and as such, the architecture and urban design remain a powerful symbol of public access to higher education. While I believe strongly that a robust public life can and does occur in privately owned spaces, which could perhaps be the case at the Thompson Center should it be sold to a sympathetic owner, much more is at stake here. In an era of relentless privatization, where public institutions are under sustained attack, the sale of the Thompson Center would be a significant blow to the idea of public access to state government, and raises a much more fundamental question: Is the public institution, rather than its architecture, going out of style?
On April 10, under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago City Council approved an overhaul to the Chicago Building Code, the first update since 1949. This announcement has invigorated the local design, construction, and real estate industries as it brings the building code in line with national standards and promises greater affordability, sustainability, and innovation to modernize the city. It’s a big win for architects building in Chicago. A couple of major takeaways from the update:
- A wider range of building materials will be allowed for construction,
- New sprinkler system and seismic requirements will enhance safety,
- Cost-effective construction of single-family homes will be incentivized,
- There will be greater opportunities to convert existing basements and attics into livable space,
- Additional flexibility for rehab work will be provided, encouraging the preservation of existing buildings,
- The permitting process will be streamlined,
- Newer methods and approaches to construct green buildings will be allowed, and,
- The city will adopt International Building Code standards, making it easier to follow Chicago-specific code requirements.
Entry into Virgil Abloh’s mid-career retrospective, "Figures of Speech,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago begins with a calculated provocation: tourist or purist? According to the catalog foreword written by the exhibition’s curator, Michael Darling, the dichotomy signifies the artist’s split personality— connoisseur and aspirant—and serves as a welcome mat for all audiences to participate in a cultural flashpoint where style destabilizes class (note: the exhibition is aptly dedicated to the youth of Chicago). From this outset, the exhibition tone aims for egalitarianism. To arrive at this seemingly accessible provocation, however, requires the observer to first pass through a retinal barrage. The exhibition’s lobby includes a floor-to-ceiling collage of images as far ranging as the epileptic singer Ian Curtis to the 9/11 WTC bombings—recalling OMA/AMO’s 2004 book-zine monograph, Content—and serves as fast entry into the artist’s ever-expanding cult of cultural clashes. It comes as no surprise that Samir Bantal, director of AMO, is credited as the exhibition’s designer. In addition to an equally satisfying collage pitting images of Le Corbusier over ARCHITECTURE and Abloh over “ARCHITECT,” one is subsumed into the allure of a retail pop-up store, titled “Church and State,” offering limited Off-WhiteTM clothing, gradient furniture, and exhibition catalogs immersed within a life-size wallpaper photo-essay by the German photographer Juergen Teller. And don’t worry if you can’t afford the catalog, there’s also a free copy machine on site. Yet, for the public to even arrive at this exquisite amalgamation of gallery-cum-shop-cum-academy-cum…, means also visiting an outbreak of satellite ventures c/o Abloh across the city that include the NikeLab Chicago Re-Creation Center, where old sneakers can be donated and ground into a reusable architectural finish, or a temporary Louis Vuitton residency in an orange painted building within which stands a David-sized mannequin of the rapper Juice Wrld. So, to reset: the exhibition does not actually start in the lobby of the Museum of Contemporary Art, but rather, on the streets of Chicago. Even the museum’s Mies van der Rohe Way facade has been rebranded with “CITY HALL” and a black flag that breathes “QUESTION EVERYTHING” in white Helvetica lettering. Fifteen years later, Abloh and Bantal appear to have manifested Content’s flat ambition into something truly three-dimensional. Read the full story on our interiors and design site, aninteriormag.com.
The Chicago-based John Ronan Architects has won a competition to design the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust’s new Visitor and Education Center in Oak Park, Illinois, just in time for the Trust’s 45th anniversary. The new visitor center will become the main entrance to Frank Lloyd Wright’s former home and studio, one of five sites the Trust maintains in Chicago, and will expand the Trust's footprint in Oak Park by 20,000 square feet, including an outdoor plaza. “This is the most important initiative since the Trust’s founding and restoration of the home and studio,” wrote the Trust’s board chairman Bob Miller. “It will ensure that Wright’s legacy remains vital to future generations. Ronan’s proposal was chosen for its design simplicity, quiet presence within the site, and use of materials referencing the site and surrounding neighborhood.” The center will contain a new reception hall with its own multimedia programming, a ticketing and information area, and a shop. Outside, the new landscaped plaza will connect the visitor center with the existing buildings and will be used to host lectures and other public gatherings. The education center component will include a design studio for student and family classes, a display area for student and professional work, and a conference room. More than just getting a new building, the Trust will also reorganize its existing facilities. The Trust’s offices, which currently reside in a building from the 1860s owned by Wright’s mother, will be converted into a library and center for curatorial research. Additionally, the home and studio garage will be converted into a gallery for the Trust’s permanent collection. John Ronan Architects beat out a shortlist of Chicagoan firms for the project, including Krueck + Sexton, Pappageorge Haymes, Perkins + Will, and Vinci Hamp Architects. The plan must first win approval from the Village of Oak Park, and no estimated completion date has been provided yet.
Fears that Chicago’s new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, would quash Elon Musk’s $1 billion underground shuttle between the Loop and O’Hare International Airport arose around the February 26 election to replace Rahm Emanuel, and now evidence is mounting that the project may be dead. It’s no secret that the O’Hare Express System was a pet project of Emanuel's, and that Musk largely chose Chicago to test the first practical application of the Boring Company’s underground high-speed rail because of the permissive attitude towards new construction. Originally, the loop was pitched as a sealed tunnel that would rocket riders between Block 37 in the Loop to O’Hare in only 12 minutes, inside sealed pods riding on electrically-powered “skates.” The system was expected to move approximately 1,900 people per hour, and it was estimated that roundtrip tickets would cost $20 to $25; compare that to the Blue Line, which is able to move twice as many people an hour for only $5 a trip. Then, in late May, Musk announced on Twitter that, actually, instead of using sleds, the Boring Company tunnels would let modified Tesla cars cruise through the narrow tunnels at speeds of up to a demonstrated 127 miles per hour. Besides further reducing the tunnel’s estimated carrying capacity and introducing the potential for bottlenecks, this also seems to go against the pledge Musk made in March of 2018 to use his traffic-bypassing tunnels for public transportation first and foremost.
Now, Mayor Lightfoot has admitted that the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) may be forced to pay back the federal funding used to build a Block 37 transit station, as it isn’t being used for mass transit. The O’Hare Express System super-station would have sat below the Block 37 mixed-use project, but the site currently remains a large, unfinished basement. The CTA issued $175 million in bonds, which were later paid for by the federal government, to develop the station. Still, Lightfoot told the Chicago Sun-Times, “That doesn’t change my view of the Elon Musk project. The notion that he could do this without any city money is a total fantasy. And in thinking about what our transportation needs are, I’m not sure that an express train to O’Hare in the current proposal rises to the top of our list.” However, the federal government hasn’t given the CTA a deadline for repaying the grants, and the site may still be used for another transportation-related purpose. The Boring Company and Musk have been mum on the project since the election, but it’s hard to see how the O’Hare Express System can bounce back (and only a year after the deal was first announced). As former U.S. Transportation Secretary and Emanuel confidant Ray LaHood told the Chicago Sun-Times in March, “I’m not surprised at all. It’s very expensive. It’s complicated. The environmental impact statement that would have to be done on that will take years. And it would take a real commitment from a mayor to make it happen. I don’t see it happening.”
This is simple and just works— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 24, 2019
Four months after a district judge ruled that a lawsuit against the potential Obama Presidential Center (OPC) in Chicago would be allowed to proceed—stalling construction until its conclusion—a federal judge has tossed out the case on June 11. The lawsuit was filed by the environmental group Protect Our Parks and three other community groups against both the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District, arguing that the Obama Foundation’s plan to place the OPC in the Olmsted and Vaux–designed Jackson Park was illegal. Protect Our Parks argued that, because the Center wouldn’t actually be a government-run presidential library but a privately-run museum tower, complete with parking, a training center, and 5,000-square-foot Chicago Public Library location, the land transfer from the city to the Obama Foundation was invalid. However, in a 52-page written decision (viewable here), U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey ruled that the public benefits offered by the museum would still constitute a public good, and, in his view, merit the land transfer. The OPC, according to a written statement from Blakely, “surely provides a multitude of benefits to the public. It will offer a range of cultural, artistic, and recreational opportunities…as well as provide increased access to other areas of Jackson Park and the Museum of Science and Industry.” Blakely added that there will be no halt in construction to the Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Interactive Design Architects–planned $500 million, 20-acre campus as a result. After the ruling, Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a statement in favor of building the OPC in Jackson Park. “Chicago is where President Obama discovered his love for community service,” wrote Lightfoot, “and the Obama Presidential Center will honor his presidency and inspire the next generation of leaders. The court today made unequivocally clear that this project may be located in Jackson Park, marking a significant step forward in this historic project and for our entire city. I am committed to ensuring that this community hub creates unprecedented cultural opportunities and economic growth on the South Side.” While this wasn’t the ruling that Protect Our Parks was hoping for, the coalition of plaintiffs has vowed to appeal. The group was hoping to force the Obama Foundation to move the Center to a privately-owned lot to the southwest. Aside from the forthcoming appeal, this isn’t the last hurdle the OPC faces. Dropping a 20-acre project into a park listed on the National Register of Historic Places requires a federal review, which is still ongoing. “Today’s ruling, while disappointing, is by no means the final word,” said Charles A. Birnbaum, president and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, in a statement. The Foundation is an “official consulting party” in the federal review process and has made its opposition to siting the OPC in Jackson Park clear. “Though the carefully orchestrated local approvals process has been enabled by pliant municipal officials, there are still federal-level reviews underway for this nationally significant work of landscape architecture that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.”
Reed Kroloff has been named the new dean of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) College of Architecture in Chicago. The news comes after an extensive search and two years after the school’s last permanent dean, Wiel Arets, exited his five-year term due to rumored frustrations from faculty. Kroloff is principal of jones|kroloff, an advisory practice that has helped lead architect selection processes for major design competitions, educational institutions, businesses, and nonprofits around the world. He previously served as the director of Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum, as dean of Tulane University's School of Architecture, and as editor-in-chief of Architecture Magazine, the predecessor to ARCHITECT. Kroloff holds a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University and a Master of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. He joins an esteemed list of leaders as IIT’s newest dean—a position first held 80 years ago by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. “As an unapologetic modernist, I’m excited to be part of an institution that has been—and remains—so central to the history and practice of architecture,” said Kroloff in a statement. “There is no more significant laboratory for modern architecture than this school and its campus, nor a more auspicious moment to join Chicago’s only design- and tech-focused university than during the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus.” Kroloff will begin his deanship this fall with the 2019-2020 academic year.