Posts tagged with "Chicago":

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On View> Process and Artistry in the Soviet Vanguard

  Process and Artistry in the Soviet Vanguard Smart Museum of Art 5550 South Greenwood Avenue Chicago Through December 11 In Process and Artistry in the Soviet Vanguard the Smart Museum examines Soviet propaganda of the 1920s and 1930s, including a number of art pieces that set the creative precedent for mass-produced works. The show features artists Gustav Klutsis and Valentina Kulagina, from their informal drawings, collages, and visual studies to completed designs, posters, and printed material. Concerned with the “politicization of art making,” the works of Klutsis and Kulagina begin to tell a story about artistic expression, political institutions, and mass production. The show presents both experimental modes of representation and what became the iconic graphics associated with propaganda, such as Klutsis’ Glory to the Red Army of workers and peasants – loyal guard of Soviet borders!, 1935, pictured above.

Mayor Rahmbo Mowing Down Permitting Times

Today Mayor Emanuel's office announced plans to streamline the process for submitting and reviewing plans for building permits. The so-called "E-Plan" will eliminate paper drawings, and allow architects and engineers to submit projects to the Department of Buildings electronically. Architects and building owners will also be able to check the status of their permits instantly. "We are taking much-needed steps to increase efficiency and decrease the time it takes developers to obtain a building permit in the City of Chicago," said the mayor, in a statement. According to an interview with NBC Chicago, Emanuel believes the new permitting measures will shave an average of 10 days off the process.  
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Stretched for the Stars

When folks wait in line for the Adler Planetarium’s rehabbed space theater, they won’t be staring at a bland hallway. The new Clark Family Welcome Gallery, designed by Thomas Roszak Architecture, corrals the queue at the theater’s entrance. The goal for its design: “We wanted people to stop thinking about driving and parking, and start thinking about the mysteries of the universe,” says Adler president Paul Knappenberger. Roszak answered with a tensile structure of aluminum tubing covered by elastic polyester fabric—similar to his Burnham Pavilion with Zaha Hadid. The materials work as a projection surface—for educational and interactive digital games—and a backlit skin that signals the movie’s start by glowing in a rainbow of, appropriately, otherworldly colors.
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QUICK CLICKS> Bike Lite, Convenient Cities, London Smog, Choco-design

Safer at night. Two design students at Carnegie Mellon University created a functional and graceful lighting system for bikers that enhances side visibility at night.  The LED lights that line the wheel rims, are powered by pedaling and change colors depending on speed. Bloggers at Greater Greater Washington have posted a video of the lights in action. Convenient Cities. What makes a city "convenient"? According to a study published by The Street, factors include walkability, public transportation, and amenity proximity.  Their city ranking, using data from Walk Score, Zillow and APTA, put Boston, New York, Denver, Portland, and Chicago at the top. Olympic Pollution. A documentary by filmmaker Faisal Abdu'Allah, Double Pendulum, examines the harmful effects of pollution on East London residents and athletes, The Guardian says. Abdu'Allah cautions that poor air quality in East London may threaten athletes' performances in the London 2012 Olympic Games. Designer Chocolates. PSFK reports that researchers in a joint program between the University of Exeter, the University of Brunel, and Delam, a software developer, have created a printer that turns 3D CAD designs into ready-made chocolates. An upcoming retail site will allow the public to upload original designs.
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Quick Clicks> Bike, Walk, Play, but Watch for the River

Bikes First. To protect its cycling tradition and its bikers’ safety, Copenhagen continues to enhance its metropolitan bicycle system.  StreetsBlog reports that 37 percent of the city's urban population bikes to and from work and school on the city’s extensive network of bicycle-only lanes, park paths, and renovated railway tracks. The public transportation system also supports bicycle-travel, while the city has slowly reduced the number of car lanes on streets and auto-routes. Pedestrians, Too. Chicago moves forward this week on its highly anticipated Pedestrian Plan – an attempt to remedy high levels of hit-and-run fatalities and create a safer walking environment. After the tragic death of Martha Gonzalez at the South Halsted Street intersection, the municipal government realized that further safety measures must be taken.  According to the Tribune, the city will host eight public meetings throughout the summer to gather constituent input, the foundation of the Chicago Department of Transportation’s action plan. Construction Sand-Box. While excavating the foundation of his new home in Colorado, Ed Mumm was inspired to develop the Dig This project–a construction equipment playground for adolescents and adults. PSFK reveals that Munn’s second Dig This location recently launched in Las Vegas, where guests can operate a Caterpillar bulldozer or excavator after attending a 30-minute safety briefing. River Craft. BldgBlog brings news that the Dutch art group Observatorium finished Waiting for the River, a 125-foot-long habitable bridge, in 2010. The project is installed on the Emscher River wetlands, a sewer canal contained by dikes that will flood completely within 10 years. Observatorium invites people to wait for the river in the reclaimed-timber cabins; furnished with beds and plumbing.
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Shimoda Design's Steelcase Showroom: Formglas

Fabrikator Brought to you by: 

Molded gypsum shapes a Chicago Merchandise Mart space.

The Steelcase Worklife Center is one of the Chicago Merchandise Mart’s largest showrooms, spanning 45,000 square feet and encompassing four areas displaying the furniture manufacturers’ various brands. The company hired Los Angeles-based architect Joey Shimoda, who also designed the Steelcase center in Santa Monica, to create interiors that would unify the showroom with the common corridor bisecting it. After reading about a project by molded gypsum, concrete, and fiberglass fabricator Formglas in a magazine, he called the company and was on a plane to its Toronto headquarters the next day to discuss a series of geometric architectural elements he envisioned for the space.
  • Fabricator Formglas
  • Architect Shimoda Design
  • Location Chicago, Illinois
  • Status Complete
  • Material Glass fiber reinforced gypsum
  • Process 5-axis CNC mill, molding
“We knew that cast gypsum would be a good way to do this,” said Shimoda. Glass fiber reinforced gypsum (GRG) is a white, thin-cast alpha gypsum that is preferable to traditional plaster castings because of its light weight, high strength, and easy installation. The team began to work on three main architectural elements for the showroom. Because an undulating glass wall would separate the Center from the corridor, Shimoda wanted to draw visitors to the storefront with a row of totems—elliptical column covers in a pattern of stretched and compressed facets. The second element, called The Body, would be a veiled enclosure to shelter the showroom’s cafe, bar, and presentation room from the rest of the space. The third feature, born of necessity, was a screen over the return air louver for the Mart’s exhaust system, which necessitated a pattern with 70 percent perforation. Entitled The Body, a feature wall, encloses a cafe (Shimoda Design) The team collaborated with Steelcase's vice president of global design James Ludwig to create each element’s pattern. The goal was to create a large number of design possibilities by using one shape as a starting point and manipulating it to achieve multiple forms. Shimoda and the Formglas team produced computer files in Rhino and CATIA. Using a laser scan of the existing structural elements along with site measurements, they accounted for space constraints. The finished forms were divided into segments that would allow for them to be transported to the showroom and installed there. Using the computer models, Formglas used a 5-axis CNC mill to manufacture molds for each shape. Each of the twelve column designs is approximately ten feet high and is constructed from eight pieces with a range of elliptical geometries supported by wood reinforcing ribs. Saw-tooth overlap joints allow the column cap and base to fit together smoothly; joints were caulked, sanded, and painted on site. The Body feature wall went through several iterations. The first, a series of horizontal ribs with integrated LEDs, was not in Formglas’ scope of work, but they agreed to take on a modified design later in the project. The double-sided grille is created by a varied vertical diamond pattern, creating a semi-opaque enclosure around banquette seating. The grille design is made up of horizontally intersecting curved ribs that create diamond-shaped openings. Formglas experimented with fusing individual components in the mold, allowing for a faster construction process and easier assembly. While the mechanical portion is open, additional sections are backed with drywall. The wall is painted grey, creating a functional design element that connects all of the Steelcase space, visible through its glass walls, along the corridor. In total Formglas fabricated approximately 1,000 parts for the space over the course of three months.
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National Trust Turns Its Eyes on Prentice

Yesterday that National Trust for Historic Preservation announced Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Women's Hospital had made its annual 11 Most Endangered List, bringing national attention to the fight to save the quatrefoil-plan, concrete building. Also yesterday, the local group Save Prentice staged a rally outside the building featuring speakers including Zurich Esposito of the Chicago AIA and Jim Peters from Landmarks Illinois. Northwestern University wants to demolish to the building to make way for an as yet unfunded and unspecified medical facility. After a temporary hold was placed on the building, preventing the University from seeking a demolition permit, Prentice was placed on the docket for a hearing for local landmark protection and then quickly tabled. As I wrote in my recent editorial when the building was briefly on the landmarks docket:
While the building is far from saved, the Commission’s move brings to an end the curious silence surrounding the status of the building. Though the non-profit Landmarks Illinois has been pleading for a hearing since 2003, until now, all the major players who could save the building have remained mum. Alderman Reilly, who negotiated the building’s 60-day grace period, has not said if he believes the building should be landmarked. Newly minted Mayor Emanuel, who campaigned on a platform of greater public transparency, has been similarly quiet on the subject. Presumably Alderman Reilly or someone in the Emanuel administration nudged the Commission to take action. While we are grateful to this unknown string-puller, we are left wondering why so much still happens behind closed doors.
Thanks to the efforts of local architects, designers, preservationists and citizens, and now the National Trust, a lot of eyes are following the fate of the building. Northwestern may change course just to avoid the bad P.R. If they are negotiating a land swap with the city--as many have speculated--let's hope the city treats Prentice better than it treated the Gropius buildings at the old Michael Reese Hospital.    
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New Chicago DOT Commissioner Could Rival Sadik-Khan

Progressive transportation commissioners have become heroes in planning circles. There's a lot of excitement surrounding Chicago Mayor Emanuel's appointment of Gabe Klein as DOT commissioner. Poached from Washington D.C., where Emanuel saw his work first-hand, Klein has extensive experience instituting new transportation ideas, including the nation's largest bike sharing program and a new streetcar system.  The Chicago Tribune has a good roundup of Klein's thoughts so far, which include focusing on improving the CTA rather than building a new High Speed Rail Line to O'Hare, increasing traffic calming measures and pedestrian upgrades, expanding bike lanes and bus rapid transit. Overall he wants to dramatically increase biking, walking, and transit use and diminish the presence of cars, especially in the central city. Before transitioning into government, Klein worked in the transportation field as an executive at a bicycle company and at Zipcar. More broadly, the appointment signals an openness on the part of the Emanuel Administration to bringing in new people and new ideas into Chicago's government agencies, a welcome shift from the patronage system of the Daley regime. Janette Sadik-Khan in New York and Jan Gehl of Denmark may have a new rival for the title of progressive transportation star.
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Highlight> Avant-Garde Art in Everyday Life

Art Institute of Chicago 111 South Michigan Avenue June 11 through October 9, 2011 Soon after the turn of the last century, artists and designers from Central and Eastern Europe began producing radically innovative images and objects that remain remarkably fresh today. For the first time, the Art Institute has gathered over 300 objects from across departments to present a comprehensive view of works from the period. Bold graphics, such as John Heartfield’s cover and illustrations for Kurt Tucholsky, Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles from 1929 (above), and pared back design objects show some of the ways in which these artists sought to transform daily living, an experiment that historical events would quickly bring to an end.
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QUICK CLICKS> Sound Sculpture, Randhurst Main Street, Highline 2.0, & Design Business

Prepared Motors. Included in recent news from BLDGBLOG, Swiss artist Zimoun installs a series of sound sculptures. Each cardboard piece, comprised of micro-mechanisms, projects subtle sound upon interaction. Watch the following video for the installation plus movement. Renovation Take-over. The New York Times reveals that the Randhurst Mall, just outside Chicago in Mt. Prospect, plans to undergo serious renovation. The indoor mid-century shopping center will take on a new look with a $190 million renovation. Expect commercial transformation as the mall goes outdoors, for which it will destroy most original elements in favor of an open air shopping experience. Highline 2.0. If you haven't heard, the second phase of everyone's favorite park, the Highline, opened this week, stretching from 20th to 30th streets through New York's Chelsea neighborhood. The NYC Economic Development Corporation snuck onto the elevated railway before the official opening and has put together a fascinating before-and-after display. The Design Sector. Archinect features a report from the Center for an Urban Future that specifies the capacity of New York City's architecture and design sector and encourages its continued growth. The report reviews the "untapped potential" despite a remarkable 40,470 designers currently based in the Metropolitan area.
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Video>Scaling A Smoke Stack

Two dirty coal powered electric plants in central Chicago are coming under increasing scrutiny from neighbors, environmental activists, and architects and designers. Earlier this week Greenpeace activists scaled the stacks of the Pilsen plant operated by Midwest Generation, and painted a large sign calling for their closure. The plants were also the subject of a recent design competition, the results of which will be on display on June 10 at the Pilsen/Chicago Arts District and on June 13-15 at the Merchandise Mart during NeoCon.
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First Look at the Poetry Foundation by John Ronan

You're not supposed to judge a project before it's completed, but last week the scaffolding came down around the highly anticipated new Poetry Foundation building in Chicago designed by John Ronan Architects, offering a glimpse of how the building is coming together. While the elegant glass box looks refined enough for a finished building, it will soon be concealed behind a perforated metal screen, creating an interstitial space between the building envelope and the street. The combination of glazing and screen should make for shifting effects of light and texture that change throughout the day and over the seasons.