Posts tagged with "Chicago":

Placeholder Alt Text

Obama Presidential Center won’t move controversial parking garage

Despite comments from Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects that the forthcoming Obama Presidential Center (OPC) would consider moving a freestanding parking garage out of the Frederick Law Olmsted–designed Jackson Park in Chicago, officials have decided to keep the building on the greenway. The 450-car structure will potentially eat up five acres of parkland in addition to the 20 acres the center itself is taking. The decision to build an aboveground garage on the eastern edge of Midway Plaisance, a narrow strip of historic parkland that connects Jackson and Washington parks, has been contentious from the beginning. Although the two-story structure had always been envisioned with a green roof on top to help it blend into the surrounding park, critics charge that this fails to negate the destruction of a historically significant landscape. Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed all three of the aforementioned parks in 1871, while Jackson Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. As opposition from the local South Side community continued to mount, Tod Williams said earlier that, “We are wondering whether this parking should exist here, or whether it should be pressed further into the ground ... or whether it comes back to the site here.” But following a private meeting between the Obama Center design team, the Obama Foundation, and local community activists last night, the Foundation has announced that the garage will be staying put. Part of the Obama Center master plan calls for linking the site with the nearby Museum of Science and Industry, and the location of the garage proved too integral in that design for designers to consider moving. The walkability that an aboveground garage brings was also given as the reason why the team couldn't bury the structure. Instead, project landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh detailed a list of changes that the design team hoped would assuage outcry from concerned preservation groups. Van Valkenburgh told the Chicago Sun Times that landscaped slopes would be installed on all sides to better camouflage the building, that the plan would call for no longer staging busses on the Midway, and that the entrance to the garage would be moved to cut down on the time it took to walk to the Center. Additionally, the green roof has been made more pastoral, and plans for a basketball court and barbecue area have been tabled. “I think that the way it honors the intent of the original Olmsted plan is with a strong landscape connection between Jackson Park and the beginning of the rest of the Midway,” said Van Valkenburgh. Despite the changes, the Chicago City Council will still need to give the Obama Foundation permission to build in the Midway, while a review of the entire OPC is also underway at the federal level.
Placeholder Alt Text

2017 Best of Design Awards for Young Architects

2017 Best of Design Award for Young Architects: mcdowellespinosa architects Location: Charlottesville, Virginia and Brooklyn, New York
mcdowellespinosa architects focuses on transforming waste, excess, and ordinary materials into new spatial and material realities. The firm functions more like an artist atelier than a professional office, interfacing with everything it designs. From self-built shacks made from reclaimed agrarian structures to objects made with chewing gum or human hair—the methodology is very tactile, very hands-on, and very DIY. At the core of the firm’s philosophy is a celebration of authenticity through object transformation. "mcdowellespinosa show an inventiveness about space and tectonics that roots their practice firmly in the real, event when it seems implausible." —Matt Shaw, Senior Editor, The Architect's Newspaper (juror) Honorable Mention  Architect: Spiegel Aihara Workshop Location: San Francisco
The central premise of Spiegel Aihara Workshop (SAW) is the productive tension between architecture and landscape architecture, and the ways in which their respective materials respond different to time. SAW pursues this work collaboratively, through built projects, theoretical design speculations, trans-disciplinary research, and teaching. Honorable Mention  Architect: Hana Ishikawa Firm name: site design group Location: Chicago Trained as an architect, Hana Ishikawa serves as the design principal at an emerging landscape architecture and urban design practice in Chicago, leading the firm’s process with equal parts innovation and logic. Ishikawa’s design philosophy is rooted in contributing to the well-being of society. Notable projects range from affordable housing to rehabilitative open spaces.
Placeholder Alt Text

Will Chicago’s South Loop get its own Hudson Yards-scale development?

Chicago may be set to build an entirely new waterfront neighborhood master-planned by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and a state-of-the-art research center on the south side. Illinois governor Bruce Rauner, together with University of Illinois System president Timothy Killeen, announced the creation of a $1.2 billion public-private research partnership that will establish the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), a scientific research center that will focus on three key areas: computing, health and wellness, and food and agriculture. The DPI is supported by The University of Illinois, The University of Chicago, and Northwestern University, and has been designed as a research incubator meant to keep Illinois students in the state and to help link the disparate university campuses around Chicago, while also serving to attract students to Related Midwest’s newly unveiled “The 78” development. Once completed, the innovation center would hold up to 1,800 students, and feature residential, commercial, recreational and cultural space.   At 62 acres, The 78 will be built on a waterfront parcel that is an extension of the Chicago Loop and one of the city’s last undeveloped pieces of land. The name references the city’s 77-officially recognized neighborhoods, and Related hopes the project will be seen as a full, integrated neighborhood once it’s finished, similar to Hudson Yards in New York. Prospective residents and commuters won’t be lacking for transportation options either, as the CTA has Red, Orange, and Green Line stations located nearby, as well as a water taxi stop. Related has promised an as-of-yet unspecified amount of land to the DPI inside of The 78. The 78’s SOM-designed master plan envisions the new neighborhood as a continuation of Chicago’s central business district, and will bring residential, commercial, cultural and institutional projects, though 40 percent of the total land area will be green or public open space. A new half-mile long riverwalk will follow the entire length of The 78’s coastline and connect to already existing esplanades in adjacent neighborhoods. Other than SOM, a full suite of architecture studios have already signed on to contribute work to the massive ground-up project, including 3XN, Hollwich Kushner, and AS+GG. While The 78 and DPI have broad support from state and city-level politicians, as well as University of Illinois leaders, no public or private money has been raised for the project yet. Another make-or-break factor may be the result of Amazon’s HQ2 search, as Related is hoping The 78 will lure the tech company to set up shop in Chicago. With funding for the development currently uncertain, no timetables for either project have been released yet.
Placeholder Alt Text

Archive of historic architectural photos displayed on Chicago’s largest screen

The Chicago History Museum has opened up its extensive architectural photography archive for a new exhibition. Chicago 00: Spaces brings together thousands of images produced by Hedrich Blessing, the famed Chicago architectural photography firm, from 1929 through 1979. Displayed on the 89 LED blades that make up the 150-foot-long and 22-foot-high display at the 150 Media Stream in the 150 North Riverside Plaza, the exhibit is part of the larger Chicago 00 initiative. Chicago 00 is a collaboration between the museum and filmmaker Geoffrey Alan Rhodes, with the intent “to create new media experiences with the Museum’s extensive archive of historical imagery.” The exhibit merges the thousands of images together into thematic groupings, morphing them into an ever-changing composition using algorithmic image processing. Hedrich Blessing, a photography firm responsible for some of Modernism's most iconic images, entrusted its first 50 years of negatives to the History Museum for safekeeping and to support the museum’s research goals. The works of Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, and SOM are often remembered through the work of Hedrick Blessing, with images such as those of Falling Water and the Farnsworth house becoming iconic in their own right. Hedrich Blessing closed its doors earlier this year after nearly 90 years of continuous practice. Chicago 00: Spaces will be open to the public through January 31, on Friday evenings from 6 to 8pm, and from 1 to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Other portions of the Chicago 00 initiative include free virtual tours of the SS Eastland Disaster along the Chicago River, the St. Valentine’s Day massacre, and the 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair.
Placeholder Alt Text

Obama Presidential Center headed for federal review this week

After making its way through local approvals, the Obama Presidential Center (OPC), proposed for Jackson Park on Chicago’s South Side, will now face its first round of federal review. Set to take up over 20 acres of the Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux-designed park, the future of the OPC is now in doubt after becoming entwined with the merger of the nearby Jackson and South Shore golf courses. Because the two projects would monumentally alter usage patterns in the historic park, an environmental review process has been triggered for each proposal under both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). Beginning this Friday, December 1st, and continuing for an unspecified length of time, the review process will open a series of meetings for the federal government and the relevant agencies to evaluate the OPC’s environmental impacts. Designed by New York-based Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Chicago-based Interactive Design Architects, the current plan for the OPC divides 200,000 square feet across a museum, forum, and library all arranged around a central plaza. Controversially, a recently-announced above-ground parking structure will eat up another five acres of green space. Charles Birnbaum, president and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, told the Hyde Park Herald that the review would bring much-needed transparency to a process that should consider any changes to the park as parts of a whole. “All of these when taken together represent a radical change in the park that was listed on the National Register,” said Birnbaum. It remains unclear how quickly the OPC will make its way through the federal review process, or what changes the government may require. Previously, approvals were handled by the city of Chicago under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who many felt was fast-tracking the project along. But the inclusion of federal and state-level regulators in the process is a new wrinkle. Despite the increased scrutiny, the Obama Foundation is still aiming to hit its target of submitting plans for the project before the end of the year. More information on how NEPA and NHPA will affect the Presidential Center, and what environmental considerations are being taken into account, is available here.
Placeholder Alt Text

Emerging practices subvert Chicago Athletic Association in Unsolicited Sideshow programming

If you missed the month-long exhibition of the Unsolicited Sideshow in Chicago, it is not too late to be a part of the most subversive portion of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. While the initial exhibition may be over, the programming for the Sideshow continues with the monthly Tank Takeovers at the Chicago Athletic Association. The next event will take place this Friday, November 10 with a “site-specific, immersive light, and sound installation.” The Unsolicited Sideshow first opened with a pop-up exhibition of 11 young architecture practices, literally running alongside the main attraction of the Chicago Architecture Biennial just a few blocks away at the Chicago Cultural Center. For the Tank Takeovers, the Sideshow’s organizers brought together designers, performance artists, and poets over the past months to explore the contemporary conditions of "otherness,” normalcy, and taboo, as they pertain to art, culture, and architecture. In its third installment, this month’s Tank Takeover will take the form of an installation entitled Reverberations. The Tank, the former pool at the Athletic Association, will be filled with projected LED light, “plush puddles of color that spill out onto the floor," and spatial collages activating custom screens. A rotating ensemble of musicians will engage the space, responding and interacting with the installation with experimental music. Presented in collaboration with Detroit and Cincinnati-based firm SUBSTUDIO, the event will include animations by Marc Governanti, and music curated by Zohair Hussein, with fabrication handled by Thomas Dewhirst + Lynn A Jones. The November Tank Takeover will take place at the Chicago Athletic Association on November 10 from 6pm to 10pm. The final Tank Takeover will be on December 8, and will be presented by Portland, Oregon-based Office Andorus in the form of an architectural fiber installation and a dance party.
Placeholder Alt Text

A look inside Chicago’s new Norman Foster-designed Apple flagship

Located at the intersection of North Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River, Pioneer Square was the home of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, Chicago first permanent settler. Since then, it has been surrounded by some of the city’s most iconic architecture – the Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building, the Mies’s AMA Plaza, Marina City, and the Trump Tower. The newest addition to the design spectacle is the Norman Foster-designed Apple flagship store. Billed as “the most ambitious” Apple store yet, Foster’s design utilizes an incredibly thin 111-by-98-foot Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) roof. Held up by only four columns, the roof is only three feet and four inches at its thickest. This allows for the 32-foot-tall glass facade to stand completely clear of structure. “When Apple opened on North Michigan Avenue in 2003, it was our first flagship store, and now we are back in Chicago opening the first in a new generation of Apple’s most significant worldwide retail locations,” said Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail in a press release. Since the 2003 opening, the earlier Michigan Avenue store has seen 23 million visitors. The new store hopes to better that with a closer connection to the city and the recently enlivened riverfront. The project’s glassy facade and a large stair brings guests from the level of Michigan Avenue, down past lower Michigan Avenue, to a new section of the Riverwalk. “Apple Michigan Avenue is about removing boundaries between inside and outside, reviving important urban connections within the city,” said Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer in a press release. “It unites a historic city plaza that had been cut off from the water, giving Chicago a dynamic new arena that flows effortlessly down to the river.” To celebrate the opening of the new store, Apple has launched a program called “The Chicago Series,” a set of events and demonstrations. These events will set the stage for year-round “Today at Apple” public programming that will take place at the store.
Placeholder Alt Text

New doc spotlights Helmut Jahn’s threatened Thompson Center

The nonprofit MAS Context is hosting the international digital premier of Starship Chicago: A Building on the Brink, a documentary by Nathan Eddy, chronicling the oft-misunderstood Helmut Jahn–designed James R. Thompson Center. The film was premiered at the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam, with a U.S. premiere at the fall MAS Context: Analog event in Chicago. Later it was shown at the New Urbanism Film Festival in Los Angeles, and the Architecture and Design Film Festival in New York. The one-week showing on the MAS Context website runs through November 12, and it's the first time the 16-minute film can be streamed online. “I love these buildings, and I don’t think these buildings are appreciated. Helmut Jahn told me while making the documentary, 'At some point every artist just makes a lot of noise.’ I know how to make a lot of noise,” filmmaker Nathan Eddy told The Architect's Newspaper (AN). “That is the only way that people will pay attention in this day and age. I’m a controversy builder. I do these things because I cannot help myself.” Completed in 1985, the Thompson Center is the hub of Illinois state government in the City of Chicago. From the moment it was constructed, it has turned heads and sparked debate. Today, the current governor, Bruce Rauner, has been adamant about his intentions to see the building either demolished or converted into a private property. Starship Chicago interviews many of Chicago’s most influential architectural thinkers to discuss the construction, legacy, and future of the iconic structure. The documentary includes conversations with James R. Thompson, the former governor who commissioned the building, the building’s architect, Helmut Jahn, architecture critics Blair Kamin and Lynn Becker, and architects Chris-Annmarie Spencer and Stanley Tigerman, among others. Starship Chicago is the second short film by producer-director Nathan Eddy, whose first film, The Absent Column, covered the preservation battle for the eventually demolished Bertrand Goldberg–designed Prentice Women’s Hospital. Starship Chicago is the first vocal step in beginning the conversation about saving the Thompson Center, and Eddy is active in preservation battles elsewhere. Recently, he has led the charge to protect the Philip Johnson and John Burgee–designed AT&T Building in New York, whose granite facade could be replaced with glass in a Snøhettta-led redesign. “I have one method, which is 'WAKE UP!!!' All caps with three exclamation points,” Eddy said, discussing the differences between The Absent Column and the Thompson Center film. “After Prentice, we made a great film that tried to appeal to people on an emotional level that would be poignant. That didn’t work and that sucked. When we were doing the film about the Thompson Center, we needed to re-evaluate the way we were going to make people wake up. So, I wanted to make the first comedic architecture documentary.” Of the famed and derided atrium of the Thompson Center, former governor James R. Thomson remembers in the film discussions surrounding space. “I heard a lot of criticism at the time saying, ‘Boy, that is a lot of wasted space.' And I would usually say something like ‘Well, would you like me to fill up the building with bureaucrats?’ So, it is not a wasted space, it’s a celebration of space.” The film can be seen in its entirety exclusively on the MAS Context website.
Placeholder Alt Text

Chicago announces the city’s first public art plan

Of all the events and programs associated with this year’s “Year of Public Art” in Chicago, it may be the recent announcement of the city’s first Public Art Plan that will have the longest-lasting effect. Rounding out a year which included a new art festival, the 50th anniversary of some of the city’s most beloved public pieces, a new youth art corps, and numerous other city-initiated art commissions, the Public Art Plan outlines the city’s goals and focus regarding the future of art in the public domain. Building off the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012, a large portion of the plan is focused directly on reassessing the process of commissioning art and shifting the way the city talks about and supports artists. To do so, the Public Art Plan lays out a series of guidelines which the city plans to implement over the coming years. The seven points in the plan include:
  • Update Chicago’s Percent for Art Program
  • Establish clear and transparent governmental practices
  • Expand resources to support the creation of public art throughout the city
  • Advance programs that support artists, neighborhoods and the public good
  • Strengthen the City’s collection management systems
  • Support the work that artists and organizations do to create public art
  • Build awareness of and engagement with Chicago’s public art
For a city which is generally understood in a color palette of subdued browns, blacks, and grays, Chicago has a long history of diverse public art pieces, and that diversity is evolving quickly. From sculpture to murals, the new plan hopes to adjust the city’s scope of what is understood as public art. Chicago has often been on the forefront of public art, being the first city, in 1978, to create a city-funded public art program. Even before that though, Chicago was home to one of the first monumental abstract sculptures in the world with the Picasso in Daley Plaza. "As Chicago powers forward as an engine of creative life, we ought not to forget that public art isn’t just one discipline,” explained Mark Kelly, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) upon the announcement of the new plan. “It’s how we as a city bring artistic vision to our streets and to the public realm. By engaging in public art, we bring value, meaning and pride to Chicago” It should be noted that nowhere in the plan are there appropriations to paint, move, or otherwise cover Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate in pasta sauce. The plan can be found here in its entirety.
Placeholder Alt Text

Work begins on Chicago culinary incubator

Chicago takes culinary experimentation seriously. In recent years, a number of restaurants throughout the city have developed novel cuisines and presentations that have made the city a magnet for foodies and chefs alike. With the groundbreaking of a new project on the city’s West Side, the food community is one step closer to having a space where young chefs can hone their skills and launch their businesses. The Hatchery is a 57,000-square-foot incubator that the city hopes will keep the creative juices flowing in the burgeoning local restaurant industry. Located in the East Garfield Park neighborhood, directly west of the Loop, The Hatchery will include 56 private rentable kitchens, one large shared kitchen, co-working space, multi-function spaces, bulk storage space, and an industrial loading dock. The complex will be situated in a building from the 1920s as well as a new larger structure. Acting as designer, architect of record, structural engineer, and construction manager is Chicago-based Wight & Company, with site design group handling landscape design. "Adaptability in design is critical for The Hatchery to accommodate flexible programming and future growth," said Matt Zolecki, project executive for Wight & Company, on the occasion of the groundbreaking. "We are creating a space not just for food production, but for mentoring, coaching, presentation, and collaboration." Mayor Rahm Emanuel was on hand for the event, and the city has shown its support for the project in part through the selling of the needed 3.5 acres of land to the development for $1. While it is not overly common for the city to sell land and buildings for such a small amount, it is also not unheard of. In many West and South Side neighborhoods, the city owns enormous amounts of land, which it is willing to let go to organizations that have a clear mission to improve the area. Developing the Hatchery are two non-profit community organizations, Accion Chicago and the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago (ICNC). Accion Chicago will also base a new headquarters in the development, where it will work to provide direct access to small business loans and support programs for The Hatchery’s tenants and members of the local community. Kellogg and ConAgra, multinational food companies with Michigan and Chicago headquarters, respectively, are also sponsoring the project. The complex is expected to be completed in 2018 at a cost of $34 million. Thanks to a scalable and flexible design, the initial layout of the project can then be adapted as tenants grow and cook up new ways of working in the space.
Placeholder Alt Text

Chicagoans troll Anish Kapoor’s Bean in Facebook meme wars

In what is turning into a long-running war of Facebook memes, a handful of Chicagoans are producing Facebook events targeted at the Anish Kapoor–designed Cloud Gate sculpture, also known as The Bean. The events, which have attracted thousands of online RSVPs, range from the silly to the slightly obscene. One string of events seems to have started with Windex the Bean, which is scheduled for November 15. Following its creation, counter events were scheduled entitled Paint the Bean black so they can't Windex it, and Prime The Bean so they can paint it black. Yet another followed that was entitled Pour Paint Thinner On The Bean After They Paint It Black So We Can Windex in hopes of rebutting the others. More ridiculous events, unrelated to cleaning or painting the sculpture, include Flip the bean over so it gets an even tan line and Turn the Bean 90° So it Feels New Again. Another invites guests to Release The Bean into Lake Michigan and shout "You're free!" Speaking of being free, one event plans to Break open the bean to free the tiny man who lives inside. Playing off the "bean" nickname, two other events include Pour Spaghetti Sauce All Over The Bean, and of course Bake The Bean. While there is no sign that any of these events will happen in any way, if you are looking to Succumb to our collective existential dread outside the bean, there is an event for that, too.
Placeholder Alt Text

Robert A.M. Stern discusses his first Chicago tower with AN

Robert A.M. Stern took a moment to speak with AN Midwest Editor Matthew Messner about One Bennett Park, Stern’s first tower in Chicago. In part thanks to a long, trusting relationship with the developer Related Midwest, Stern’s office, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, was tasked with designing both exterior and interiors for the project. Design partner Daniel Lobitz is leading a team to design a tower that Stern hopes will capture some of the glamour of old Chicago.

The Architect’s Newspaper: What do you see as some of the advantages of being able to control so much of the design?

Robert A.M. Stern: I think an architect who has a strong sense of design can create almost anything, and certainly should be able to, and should be encouraged to, carry the design ideas into the interior. Certainly the public areas—lobby, elevators, cabs, and public halls—on any floor in a residential building. We have done that in many buildings and for many of our buildings for Related in New York, including the Chatham, the Brompton, the Harrison, Tribeca Park, Tribeca Green, and most recently, 261 Hudson Street. Can you imagine a Mies van der Rohe building, whether his apartments on the Lake Shore or his office buildings, not being designed by Mies on the inside? I can’t. If you don’t trust an architect to design the inside of the building, why trust them to design the outside of the building?

Are there references or motifs that informed the design of One Bennett Park?

I think precedent is a very important factor in the design of this building, but it’s a very important factor in the design of any building we undertake. I would say precedent is not necessarily historic. Precedent also can, and should, incorporate local traditions, local vernaculars of local buildings. This tower is our first tower built in Chicago, and only the second time we have built anything in Chicago. (Except for the bus shelters, and I guess there are 2,200 of them, so that must count for something.) I’ve been visiting Chicago as an archi-tourist for virtually all my life, so I know the great buildings are especially relevant to our work. Some of those buildings include the Marshall Field and Company Building in the Loop, and the Palmolive Building on North Michigan Avenue. A fantastic body of buildings—not only in Chicago, but all across the Midwest and other places as well—that inspired us as we began to think about how to shape the tower. Too many tall buildings are just extensions from the bottom up to the top. They may be structurally encased, like the John Hancock, but it’s fundamentally an extrusion. I prefer—among the modernist buildings in Chicago in relationship to this discussion—what in my mind will always be the Sears Tower; I don’t know what it is called this week. It steps up in the most amazing way according to a structural idea of Fazlur Rahman Khan.

What are some of the interior features of One Bennett Park that you feel make it exceptional?

There is a glamour about some of Chicago’s interiors, residential and not. For example, the lobbies of the Marshall Field Building are wonderful. So, we wanted to capture some of that Chicago glamour in our lobbies. We have two separate lobbies, one for the rental portion of the building, and another for the condominiums. Each has its own design statement. The condominium lobby, which has wood paneling, is traditional, as wood paneling is traditional, but it’s really very stylishly modern as well. There is a visual interest that one associates with buildings of the ’20s and ’30s, and that is sometimes not associated with the buildings of the late 20th century on the whole. We were looking at a lot of Frances Adler Elkins’s work (she was David Adler’s sister).

Has there been any particular advantages, or challenges, about building a major project in Chicago?

Nothing out of the ordinary. I think we are perhaps entering into a new territory of elegance and detail, and all of that costs money. I hope Chicagoans are getting ready to dip into their deep pockets for our building. The truth of the matter is the cost of habitation in Chicago is substantially lower than in New York. To get this much quality, and to really break out of a rather “businesses as usual” mode, is a compliment to our clients, Related Midwest, to stick their necks out. I just hope we don’t get chopped off.