Chicago-based general contractors Skender are getting into the modular manufacturing game, with an announcement that they will be building a factory on Chicago’s southwest side that can crank out hotel rooms and entire apartments. Skender is going all in on the new factory and modular fabrication startup, which they claim will put 100 people to work (an impressive number, as Skender only has 300 employees), and is using the opportunity to shift towards a design-build model. The company has bought out local firm Ingenious Architecture and will use the 10-person studio to guide the design and manufacturing of the modular units. Tim Swanson, formerly the head of CannonDesign’s Chicago office, will be joining as Skender’s chief design officer, Kevin Bredeson has been named the chief technology officer, and the company is hunting for a CEO to lead its factory. The move represents a huge expansion in scope for Skender, which has also changed its name from Skender Construction as part of the new direction the company is pursuing. “We are asking new questions,” said Skender President and Partner Justin Brown in a statement. “Why can’t we apply sophisticated design principles to modular manufacturing? How can we eliminate weather delays by bringing large parts of the process indoors? How can we significantly boost productivity without sacrificing quality?” Skender is expecting to roll full apartments, hotel rooms, and pieces of both multi-family residences and healthcare buildings off its new assembly line. Everything can be fabricated at the factory by tradespeople, from cabinets to light fixtures to units that have been pre-wired and set up for plumbing, then shipped to the potential construction site and unloaded via crane. Besides being able to construct modular buildings from the ground up (similar to New York’s Carmel Place), Skender plans to use the factory to work on both the interior and exteriors of its projects simultaneously, and standardize production. To say that modular architecture has had its ups and downs in recent years would be an understatement. While the world’s largest modular hotel, the Stephen B. Jacobs Group-designed CitizenM, is nearly complete in New York, the industry is still smarting from the bruising battle it took to complete 461 Dean Street in Brooklyn. The Pacific Park tower eventually became the world's tallest modular building, but was mired in lawsuits between Skanska and developer Forest City Ratner until the latter cut their losses and sold their modular manufacturing factory to architect Roger Krulak and his company, FullStack Modular. It remains to be seen if Skender can make the model work for them, but their smaller scope should help. If all goes as planned, Skender expects to pick a site for the factory in the coming months and to begin production in the fourth quarter of this year.
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Hot off the closing of a sometimes controversial Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) that still drew nearly 550,000 visitors, CAB leaders and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel have announced that Yesomi Umolu has been chosen as the artistic director for the 2019 Biennial. The 2019 Biennial, now in its third iteration, will run from September 19, 2019 through January 5, 2020. A committee comprised of Chicago Architecture Biennial board members and past artistic directors considered candidates from around the world and from a variety of disciplines ultimately selected Umolu for this year's biennial. “Yesomi is a visionary curator with strong roots in Chicago, and she will work tirelessly to cultivate an incredible cultural, educational, and economic event for the city,” said Mayor Emanuel in a statement sent to AN. “With Yesomi at the helm, the third Chicago Architecture Biennial is sure to secure its reputation as the most innovative architectural, art, and design showcase of its kind.” Umolu is a Chicago-based writer and curator with a background in architectural design and curatorial studies and a focus on global contemporary art and spatial practices, whose work frequently explores the political nature of the built environment. Umolu will formalize and gather an international curatorial team of practitioners with strong knowledge of architecture, visual arts, and design practices globally in the coming months. The members of the curatorial team will be announced this spring. The move is a natural one for Umolu, who also serves as the Exhibitions Curator at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. “I am honored to be invited to serve as Artistic Director of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial,” said Umolu in a statement. “Having my roots in the field of architecture, spatial questions have always been an important consideration of my work with contemporary artists, architects, and urbanists from across the world. I am excited to embark on the journey of engaging the city of Chicago and it publics, as well as visitors to Chicago from across the country and around the world, in these conversations.” The jury cited Umolu’s deep ties to the city as well as her curatorial achievements–she was chosen for an Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Curatorial Fellowship in 2016. “Umolu’s curatorial practice, which boldly, yet elegantly, traverses the fields of art and architecture, makes her uniquely situated for success in this role,” said Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial Artistic Directors, in a joint statement. “The Biennial is a complex and multifaceted platform for exploring both the history and present-day challenges in the field, and we eagerly await the outcomes of Umolu’s curatorial inquiry and exploration.” The 2019 Biennial will also align with the opening of EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, following a successful partnership in 2017. Todd Palmer, Executive Director of the 2017 Biennial, will be returning to lead the 2019 edition.
After nearly a year of restoration work, Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House is set to reopen to the public in June 2018. The building is owned by the Elmhurst Art Museum, located in Wilder Park in suburban Chicago. As reported by the Daily Herald, Berglund Construction is completing the $400,000 restoration with the guidance of Elmhurst-based Heritage Architecture Studio and the Elmhurst Art Museum’s Executive Director, John McKinnon. The initial objective of the multiphase restoration plan is the removal of a 1990s corridor addition. Originally located on Elmhurst's Prospect Avenue, the structure was purchased by the Elmhurst Arts Museum in 1992 and was moved to its current location in Wilder Park in 1994. Following the migration, the McCormick House was physically connected to the museum through the construction of an addition. The extension, a series of pavilions connected to the McCormick House via a corridor, was designed by Chicago-based firm DeStefano + Partners, who won the 1998 Design Excellence Award from AIA Chicago for the project. While this addition facilitated movement between the two buildings and was in keeping with Mies’ original design, it obstructed views of his spartan and elegant façade. The one-story McCormick House, composed of glass and steel set upon a concrete slab, was built in 1952 for prominent Chicago inventor and magnate Robert McCormick Jr. and his wife, Isabella Gardner. According to the museum, the McCormick House was meant to serve as a prestigious suburban dwelling for the McCormick family as well as a prototype for prefabricated middle-class homes assembled with the same mass-produced materials, a real-estate project envisioned by McCormick Jr. The large-scale modular development scheme never came to fruition due to a lack of popular suburban amenities, such as air conditioning and a basement. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, former Executive Director of the Elmhurst Art Museum, Jenny Gibbs, stated that the restoration is intended to establish the McCormick House as a freestanding destination and gallery space, elevating it to a status similar to the Mies-designed Farnsworth House 40 miles to the southwest.
Chicago’s historic Merchandise Mart (rebranded as theMART), a massive art deco design center on the bend of the Chicago River, will play host to a 2.6-acre art installation come fall of 2018. At a press conference this Sunday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, city cultural officials, and representatives of building owners Vornado Realty Trust’s Chicago branch announced a plan to convert the front wall of The Mart into a canvas for large-scale, projected art. “Art on theMART” will paint the river-facing wall of the Mart with high-resolution images and videos, including indie works, through an open-source software. Mart Chief Operating Officer Myron Maurer has promised that the project would never be used to display ads. A curatorial board would be set up as early as this spring to select which works would be screened, including holiday-specific pieces and work from student art shows. First proposed in March of 2017 as a joint effort between the Mayor’s office and theMART, the project was envisioned as a “large-scale architectural projection” that would contribute to the ongoing revitalization of the Chicago waterfront. Vornado had reached out to New York City-based A+I Architects and San Francisco-based Obscura Digital to conduct the feasibility study and will be paying the $8 million installation cost and $500,000 yearly maintenance costs out of pocket. Obscura has worked on enormous projections and screen-related art projects at Grand Central Terminal, the Empire State Building, and at the Sydney Opera House. With the project moving forward, Mayor Emanuel is advancing an ordinance to the City Council that would allow for the installation of the 34 necessary projectors under a 30-year license. If the City Council approves, theMART’s light shows could begin by October of this year, and works would be projected for two hours a night, five days a week, for up to ten months a year. “It brings two great strands of the city of Chicago together,” Mayor Emanuel told reporters on Sunday. “What we all know as the Merchandise Mart will now become the largest canvas in the world.” Art on theMART is the latest in a continuing transformation for the building, which has recently shifted from housing wholesale retailers and showrooms into a tech hub and office building. A video mockup of the installation is available here, courtesy of The Chicago Sun Times.
On January 26, the Chicago Transit Authority announced its ideal path for the proposed expansion of the city’s Red Line south branch. The expansion, the system's first since 1993, is a major aspect of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Red Ahead” initiative to modernize and lengthen Chicago’s busiest train line. Over 240,000 Chicagoans ride the city’s Red Line on an average weekday, representing over 40 percent of "L" ridership. The “Red Ahead” initiative has already delivered tangible improvements to the second largest transport system in the country. Currently, a transit terminal designed by Chicago-based Exp. is rising on 95th Street, the current southern terminus of the Red Line. The $280 million project entails the renovation of the existing North Terminal and the construction of an entirely new South Terminal, with the intended goal of increasing passenger capacity for existing and future commuter demand. The renovated and expanded station will also include two new public artworks by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates, and is expected to open in 2018. The Chicago Tribune reports that the proposed route runs from 95th Street, along the preexisting Union Pacific freight tracks, to 130th Street. This route will expand the Red Line by 5.3 miles, add four new stations, and is estimated to cost $2.3 billion. State and local funding for the project is not yet fully realized, and considering the budget priorities laid out by the Trump administration’s recently-leaked infrastructure plan, crucial federal funding remains precarious at best. The earliest the project will break ground is 2020, with an approximate four-year construction timeline. The new stations, located on 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue, and 130th Street, will feature bus and parking facilities as a measure to decrease vehicular congestion within the greater Chicago area. As noted by NBC Chicago, the 5.3-mile extension primarily serves Chicago’s Far South Side, an area currently designated as a “transit desert” due to its lack of public transport. Expanding transportation opportunities in Chicago’s South Side could dramatically impact the area’s residents. According to CBS Chicago, the extension of the Red Line could shave 20 minutes off the commute from the Far South Side to Downtown Chicago, boosting the accessibility of affordable housing in the area. Although transportation projects tend to draw the ire of community groups, interviews conducted by the Chicago Tribune with residents and businesses across the proposed Red Line expansion reveal widespread support for the transit initiative. According to Progressive Railroading, a final environmental impact study for the project will be released following a February 13 open house with the surrounding community. Following the study, the CTA can apply for over $1 billion in federal funding. If funding is secured for the extension of the Red Line, the CTA will still have to contend with the approximately 150 private parcels along the proposed route. The financial and logistical hurdles are great, but the large-scale expansion of Chicago’s “L” could prove a boon to residents and city alike.
“I want you to give me the problem that you think does not have a reasonable solution,” quipped Carol Ross Barney in her bright, two-story lofted space in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. No list of influential Chicago architects is complete without Barney’s name. The head of the eponymous Ross Barney Architects, Barney has become the go-to for civic projects throughout Chicago and the Midwest. In the past forty-plus years she has gathered over 100 design awards, including national and local AIA honor awards, the AIA Illinois Gold Medal, and most recently AIA Chicago’s highest honor, the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. Her office is filled with models and one-to-one mock-ups of projects ranging from public transit stations to million-square-foot airport facilities. At around 25 employees, the studio is very hands-on. “I just love the idea of making ideas and sharing them, and that extends to the studio,” Barney said. “In the past, we would trade concepts, you would work on a concept for a few weeks, and then we would trade projects.” The office is, unsurprisingly, filled with young architects, considering Barney has taught at either IIT or the University of Illinois Chicago consistently since the late- 1970s. She has also taken part in the AIA Chicago Bridge Program, which provides young ambitious architects with AIA fellows as direct mentors. “I was born into this role. I’m the oldest of eight children. I had a built-in responsibility,” Barney joked. “It has always been something that is very rewarding, but also fascinating to see the choices people make and why they make them.” CTA Cermak-McCormick Place Station Built to serve the largest convention center in the country, the station is built without disrupting train traffic on a narrow right of way. The station includes a perforated stainless-steel and polycarbonate tube, which provides protection from wind and rain while leaving the platform completely free of supports. Glazed masonry units and granite finishes on the interior allow simple maintenance, and the station replaces one that has been closed since 1978. Oklahoma City Federal Building Located just two blocks from the Murrah Federal Building, which was destroyed in a domestic terrorist attack in 1995, the design of the Oklahoma City Federal Building needed to acknowledge the memory of those who were killed while looking to the future. The 185,000-square-foot project was designed to maintain a sense of openness while adhering to the most stringent security measures. The building was created in collaboration with the Benham Group and Sasaki, with a water featured designed by Brad Goldberg. Lincoln Park Zoo As a new entryway for the country’s largest free zoo, Ross Barney’s design incorporates an information center and gate. Special care had to be taken in designing the gate, as standards for keeping animals in (in the unlikely case of an escape) are more stringent than those to keep humans out. Ross Barney produced numerous one-to-one mockups in studio as proof of concept for the ornately patterned portal. With operable walls, the information center can transform from an interior space to an exterior in pleasant weather. Chicago Riverwalk One of the most awarded recent projects in Chicago, the Riverwalk is part of a long-term effort by the city to enhance the public’s relationship with the water. In collaboration with Sasaki, Ross Barney oversaw the three-phase project, over the past decade. Comprised of multiple “rooms,” each section of the Riverwalk provides a different experience from a grand stair, to restaurants, and a Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Thanks to the success of the project, plans are being discussed to continue the Riverwalk further through the city.
Carol Ross Barney, the Chicago architect behind the city's acclaimed Riverwalk, is now tackling a totally different project: a flagship McDonald’s in River North. The glass, steel, and timber structure will replace the just-demolished Rock 'N' Roll McDonald's on the same site. At 19,000 square feet and one story, it's about 20 percent smaller and a floor shorter than its beloved predecessor, which was famous for its giant double arches and on-site memorabilia museum. While the Rock 'N' Roll McDonald's featured a two-lane drive-thru and ample parking, the new McD's welcomes pedestrians into burger heaven with a grassy outdoor plaza shaded by 70 trees and a sawtooth canopy reminiscent of a fancy truck stop. Inside, ferns and white birch trees will float in a ring of glass above customers as they place their orders, and diners can crush Big Macs beneath a living wall. The kitchen, which is the only part of the McDonald's left over from the old building, will be planted with apple trees. Although customers will still be using plastic utensils to eat out of disposable containers, the building will be energy-efficient. Its roof will sport solar panels, and Barney's firm is designing the HVAC system, as well as the all-important fryers, to use less non-renewable energy. “It’s so interesting to work on a project like this because you’re designing for an icon,” Barney told the Chicago Tribune, which first reported the story. The redesign is part of McDonald’s corporate rebranding that emphasizes sleekness over kitsch. The company, not the franchise owner, is paying for most of the new building, part of a $2.4 billion investment campaign that's mostly focused on changing the customer experience in its U.S. restaurants through 2020. This year, 4,000 outlets in the state will be renovated to include new-ish devices like self-order kiosks, plus new service options like delivery and curbside pickup.
While Chicago’s iconic Tribune Towers is undergoing a conversion from office building to condo tower, a 1,388-foot-tall steel and glass tower could sprout up next door. Tribune Tower’s owners, the Los Angeles-based CIM Group and Chicago-based Golub & Co, have revealed plans to build what could be Chicago’s second tallest skyscraper. After being sold in 2016 for $240 million to private developers, the top floors of the 36-story, Gothic Revival-styled Tribune Tower have been undergoing demolition since last October. While the building’s facade and main lobby were landmarked in 1989, no such protections exist for the interiors, and Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) is overseeing the conversion of what was once offices for Tribune Media into 165 condo units.
According to the Chicago Tribune, CIM Group and Golub have proposed developing a narrow surface parking lot to the northeast of Tribune Tower into a mixed-use skyscraper designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. As the Chicago Tribune notes, Adrian Smith is no stranger to building tall, having led the design team for the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and Trump Tower Chicago when he was with SOM. The new tower would eclipse Trump Tower Chicago as the second tallest in Chicago, as Trump Tower only tops out at 1,171 feet tall, and uses a spire to reach 1,388 feet. The current proposal would see the creation of 220 hotel rooms and 158 condo units, as well as 500 parking spaces spread across floors two through eight of the new tower. Alderman Brendan Reilly described the design as “thin and soaring” based on renderings he had seen. This thinness is likely a response to the protected Ogden Slip view corridor, which means that Tribune Tower must remain visible from Lake Shore Drive as part of its landmarked status. While preservationists have been questioning whether this new development, which would dwarf the 462-foot-tall Tribune Tower, is inappropriate for the site, the conversion of Tribune Tower itself has also drawn their ire. The building’s limestone base contains embedded chunks of famous buildings from around the world, and Alderman Reilly has stated that these panels will be relocated to different areas of the tower. Tribune Tower was built in 1925 following a widely-publicized design contest that awarded the $50,000 prize to New York-based Howells & Hood. The tower’s Indiana limestone façade, gothic details, and crown composed of flying buttresses has made it an integral part of the Chicago skyline in the century since its opening. The conversion to residential space and the opening of ground floor retail is expected to finish in 2020; any construction on the adjacent lot is on hold until the Tribune Tower project is complete. The plans presented above are still subject to change, as the developers still need to procure funding and a rezoning of the lot before they can proceed.
Old Tribune Tower doors. Because who wants original details in their historic building, anyway? pic.twitter.com/pAv7YHeDLS— Liam T.A. Ford (@ltaford) January 6, 2018
Chicago-based United States Artists (USA) has selected its 2018 fellowship class, and the 45 recipients across the United States will each receive an unrestricted $50,000 grant to spend as they please. This year, the class includes architects Amanda Williams and Norman Kelley, comprised of Carrie Norman and Thomas Kelley. Founded in 2006 as a response to National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA) budget cuts and discontinuing of personal grant awards, USA awards these funds without restrictions so that artists can pursue any project they’d like. The group is supported by a number of larger foundations, including the Ford, Rockefeller, Rasmuson, and Prudential Foundations, as well as private donors. Artist and designer Amanda Williams has consistently bridged the divide between art and architecture while commenting on the African-American experience. Williams is most well known for her Color(ed) Theory project, in which she painted abandoned houses on Chicago’s South Side in bright, monochrome colors. The work references Gordon Matta-Clark’s reclamation of condemned urban space, as Williams sheathed the condemned buildings in colors found in the urban environment, which re-activated the buildings and drew attention to their broken-down state. According to USA, “Her practice blurs the distinction between art and architecture through works that employ color as a way to draw attention to the political complexities of race, place, and value in cities. The landscapes in which she operates are the visual residue of the invisible policies and forces that have misshapen most inner cities.” Williams has recently been celebrated for both her ideas as well as her architecture, and has had work shown at Design Miami 2017 alongside Sir David Adjaye at the “Spatializing Blackness” exhibition. She will be an exhibitor at the U.S. pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. Norman Kelley, the New York and Chicago architectural practice founded by Carrie Norman and Thomas Kelley, was also recognized for both their built work and design. Similar to Williams, Norman Kelley was singled out for their ability to transition between design and architecture, and work in both two and three-dimensions. Their work hasn’t been confined to the theoretical, as the studio has realized several projects throughout the country, including their collaborations with Aesop in Chicago and New York. The three-person jury panel for this year’s Architecture & Design category included:
- Sarah Herda, Executive Director, Graham Foundation, Chicago, IL
- Natasha Jen, Partner at Pentagram, New York, NY
- Andrew Zago, Partner & Founder at Zago Architecture, Los Angeles, CA, 2008 USA Fellow
Faced with a declining congregation, Chicago’s First Church of Deliverance had fallen into a cycle of deferred maintenance. Luckily, on January 11, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development announced a $228,000 grant from the Adopt-a-Landmark fund to renovate the historic structure. In exchange for zoning bonuses, Chicago-based developers provide funding for the Adopt-a-Landmark program. Located in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, the First Church of Deliverance was designed by Walter T. Bailey in 1939, and has been a Chicago landmark since 1994. Bailey, Illinois’ first licensed African-American architect, redesigned the church in the Streamline Moderne style with sweeping curves, smooth finishes, strict horizontality, and the use of glass-block windows. It is one of the few, if not only, church structures in Chicago designed in this style. According to Southside Weekly, the core of the church came into being in 1929 with the conversion of a defunct hat-lining factory into a house of worship, with Bailey’s work formalizing the building’s use. The twin towers found on the primary elevation were added in 1946, and were colloquially referred to by the congregation as the “Old Testament” and “New Testament.” The renovation will restore Bailey’s terracotta façade, doors, and the church’s interior murals. Chicago-based artist Fred Jones designed the surviving murals located on the church interior. Jones studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and his work is described by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks as containing a “slightly abstract, neo-romantic vision,” one seeped in the subject matter of the “urban African-American community.” For the last 80 years, the First Church of Deliverance has broadcasted its gospel music, establishing itself as a regional nexus and laboratory for the genre. According to Curbed, the national exposure of the church’s radio program led to the involvement of prestigious African-American musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington and Sallie Martin. The church’s long-standing role in gospel music has certainly benefited from it being one of the first houses of worship in the country to install a Hammond electric organ. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, Frederick J. Nelson Jr., as organist and music director of the First Church of Deliverance, taught organ to hundreds students from the church and surrounding community. Although Southside Weekly reports that the First Church of Deliverance’s congregation is unlikely to grow, the future renovation will cement the building’s place in Chicago’s architectural and social history and insure the aesthetic integrity of the city landmark.
Following the decision yesterday to bury the Obama Presidential Center’s controversial parking garage under the center itself, the Obama Foundation has announced major changes to the rest of the campus. The complex, which will eat up approximately 20 acres of the Olmstead and Vaux-designed Jackson Park on Chicago’s South Side, has faced scrutiny from preservationists and residents throughout the design process. When it was first unveiled, the Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners and Interactive Design Architects plan called for a squat, stone-clad museum at the heart of the center’s campus. The museum is joined by a forum and library with the three buildings ringing a central plaza, while each is connected to the other via perforated underground tunnels that let in natural light. Coming a day after the announcement that the parking garage was moving from the Midway Plaisance and into the park itself, the latest design for the center was revealed in a video from the Obama Foundation. In it, the former president and first lady present a new conceptual model of the site and discuss the changes therein. Most noticeably, the museum will now be slimmer but top out at 225 feet, as opposed to the originally planned 160 to 180 foot height. In response to criticism that the building was imposing or inappropriately dense for the site, the architects have replaced sections of the on the south and west sides and replaced them with screens containing quotes from the Obama presidency. The lettering will be made of the same lightly colored stone as the façade, although architect Tod Williams has told the Chicago Tribune that they aren’t sure whether the lettering will spell out real words, or remain abstract. A 100-foot tall section on the building’s north side has also been replaced with glass and will expose the escalator bank to natural light. Other details revealed include the creation of a 300-seat auditorium on the forum building’s north side, as well as the ongoing negotiations between the Chicago Public Library over including a branch inside of the library building. The underground parking garage will hold 450 cars across one or two levels, and be punctured with light wells to keep it airy and open. All of these changes come as the Obama Foundation is expected to file for their first construction permit today, and as the project undergoes a federal review to make sure that the Presidential Center won’t fundamentally alter the character of Jackson Park. With the move of the parking garage into Jackson Park itself, the structure will also fall under this review. While the battle over the parking garage has simmered down, preservationists are still concerned over the complex’s impact on a historically significant landscape. Martin Nesbitt, Obama Foundation chairman, said, “While the center’s buildings will occupy 3.6 acres, there will be a net gain in open space because closing Cornell Drive would create 5.16 acres of parkland,” in addition to the planted green roofs. Charles A. Birnbaum, President & CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, countered with the following statement: “That’s not true. Closing Cornell Drive does not add 5.6 acres of parkland – that’s double counting. Cornell Drive, which unfortunately has been widened to six lanes, is part of the Olmsted design and is itself mapped parkland. “The people of Chicago were told they would get a presidential library administered by the National Archives, a federal facility, in exchange for the confiscation of historic parkland, listed in the National Register of Historic Places – instead, they’re getting a privately-operated entertainment campus with a 235-foot-tall tower, a recording studio, auditorium, sports facility, and other amenities.”
The SOM-designed Roosevelt Square library branch in Chicago has received its first construction permit, despite community opposition to the six stories of housing that will also be built on the site. A public-private collaboration between the Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Public Libraries and developer Related Midwest, the Roosevelt Square project is the third and final of these combined library-housing developments to be permitted. Following the West Ridge and Irving Park branches, Roosevelt Square will feature a 17,000-square-foot, single-story library topped by six stories of residential units. The tower section will contain 37 public housing units, 29 affordable units, and seven market rate apartments. Development at the site, at 1342 West Taylor Street in Little Italy, has faced pushback from community organizations that have taken issue with the project’s size and impact on neighborhood tax revenue. Most recently, the Little Italy Chicago Neighborhood Association had sought to file a restraining order to head off the library’s construction, but those efforts seem to have fallen through. SOM and Related claim that they’ve taken community feedback into consideration and have reconfigured the building accordingly. The street-level library portion facing Taylor Street was redesigned to include cascading setbacks that would make the building appear shorter, while the residential section has been shunted to the back of the lot. A community garden has been planned for the lot behind the library, as well as a parking lot with 26 spots. While the library entrance will open with a triple-height atrium and feature an accessible green roof, the residential building has been separated programmatically to reduce noise. But the building has a homogenous visual language across both sections, clad mostly in glass and vertical wood paneling that descends from the concrete overhangs covering the length of the building. Perkins+Will's Ralph Johnson will be designing the West Ridge library, which will showcase exposed V-shaped columns and a corrugated metal cladding, while the Irving Park library will be designed by John Ronan and emphasize its extruded windows. The Roosevelt Square development will cost an estimated $36.1 million, and is expected to open the winter of 2018.