Posts tagged with "Chicago":

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Obama Presidential Center design changes after public pushback

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.”
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SOM-designed library and public housing complex to break ground in Chicago

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.
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Norman Foster’s Chicago Apple Store can’t handle this brutal winter

Norman Foster’s recently completed flagship Apple Store in Chicago, whose ultra-light roof meant designers could include plenty of unobstructed views, now seems unable to cope with the stress of a Chicago winter. Residents are reporting that the downward-sloping roof has turned the sidewalks around the store into a hazard zone, as ice and snow has been sliding off and potentially endangering pedestrians. According to 9to5mac and local blogger Matt Maldre, Apple has decided to address this problem by roping off all of the walkways around the store except for the entrance. Because the store is sited on the bank of the Chicago River and meant to act as a "Town Square," Apple’s closure also means that the riverfront will be blocked off as well. The curved, 32-foot-tall glass facade that seamlessly wraps the store hasn’t gotten out of the cold weather unscathed, either. As one Skyscraperpage forum user noticed, the outer layer of the laminated glass paneling seems to have cracked because of the weather. Since each panel is produced in layers, the entire piece will need to be replaced, and definitely not for cheap. While record-setting cold temperatures are chilling most of the country right now, Chicago winters are known to be particularly harsh. Despite the acclaimed "MacBook-shape" of the roof, it’s unknown how designers and engineers involved with the project didn’t see how it would be a problem.
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Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History converts a horse stable into a powerful space

Situated just one block west of the archi­tecturally rich University of Chicago, the DuSable Museum of African American History is undertaking a major preserva­tion effort. Located directly across from the Daniel Burnham–designed DuSable, the Roundhouse, a former horse stable also designed by Burnham, has laid vacant for over 40 years. Yet over the past de­cade, the DuSable Museum has worked to convert the heavy timber and stone struc­ture into additional exhibition space. The DuSable Museum began work­ing on converting the building in the mid- 2000s only to have the project stall thanks to the economic recession in 2008. By 2009, a renovation of the building’s exte­rior was complete, but the interior was left far from the museum-quality space the DuSable was hoping to achieve. To bring the 61,000-square-foot space up to mu­seum standards, it would cost upward of $35 million. Unable to raise those funds, the project has taken a new direction, which will see scaled-back goals complet­ed in the coming years. Starting with a $582,000 outdoor space, the Roundhouse is now able to host events and exhibitions for the first time. Designed by Chicago-based Site Design Group, the outdoor area is the first step in connecting the Roundhouse to the mu­seum’s main building with a pedestrian-friendly landscape. At the same time, the interior of the building has been cleaned, and has already hosted its first major art event. Though the original plan to convert the interior into white-wall galleries has been put on hold, crowds happily flocked to catch a glimpse of one of Burnham’s most utilitarian projects. Much to the joy of architects and pres­ervationists alike, the soaring heavy timber dome has survived in excellent condition. The web of large pine timbers is support­ed by the limestone walls and cast-iron columns, which all look as though they were recently constructed. At 150 feet across, the space is a welcome addition to Chicago’s catalogue of impressive civ­ic interiors. The Roundhouse was the site of this year’s edition of EXPO CHICAGO, which hosted large-scale installations curated by Paris’s Palais de Tokyo. Coinciding with the opening of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the exhibition, Singing Stones, commissioned Chicago- and Paris-based artists to create massive works. The height of the space allowed for tall hanging piec­es, while the round walls intensified an­other work, which utilized ambient sound. Yet another installation addressed the few windows, a clerestory near the dome’s pin­nacle, with colored films, filling the room with rainbow light during the day. While the Roundhouse may never reach the level of museum refinement and environmental control previously planned, it will continue to be updated and made ready for more exhibitions and events. It is currently scheduled to be complete by the time the Barack Obama Presidential Cen­ter opens on the other end of the University of Chicago’s campus in 2021. The DuSable has already begun conversations with the center to ensure exhibitions in both insti­tutions are complementary. Until that time, architects can only hope the museum will occasionally open as it has for EXPO, let­ting the world in to see just how architec­tural a horse stable can be.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.