The Chicago Architectural Club announced the winners of its 2014 Chicago Prize Tuesday, awarding five honors to speculative proposals for Barack Obama’s Presidential Library. Peace signs, notions of community ownership, and even drones enlivened the conceptual debate swirling around a closely watched project already wrought with its own political complications. Organizers said during a public unveiling Tuesday evening at the Chicago Architecture Foundation that they had received 103 submissions. Entrants were asked to sketch up concepts for the library on a site at the confluence of the Chicago River—one which is already home to a 53-story tower by Goettsch Partners, currently under construction. When CAC announced the topic in November, several potential library sites for the actual library had already been identified. Their locations—in and around the University of Illinois Chicago and University of Chicago campuses—exacerbated frictions between public space advocates, community residents and local politicians who would later agree to commit acres of Washington Park to the library developers. “We felt that this debate did not take place in public,” said Martin Klaschen, CAC's co-president, obliquely addressing why the competition chose the subject it did. “It's a political step that we intended not to interfere with the discussions of the other sites, and basically brought one more site into the debate.” In 2012 the prize touched on another hot topic: the imminent demolition of Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Women's Hospital. Despite the neutral site, winning proposals provoked debate on some political issues. One submission, Obama Drone Aviary from Craig Reschke and Ann Lui, earned a “dishonorable mention,” CAC officials joked, for its wry proposal to make Obama's the first drone-driven library in presidential history. Though it presented the concept with a straight-faced optimism, Klaschen said, the subject matter belies a critique of Obama's legacy as the face of a growing surveillance apparatus and military-industrial complex. (Lui has contributed work to AN.) Two winners were named: The design team of Zhu Wenyi, Fu Junsheng, and Liang Yiang for their ring-shaped library (seen at the top of this page) and museum crossing the Chicago River; and Aras Burak Sen for a spherical enclosure containing a “Bridge of Hope.” Honorable mentions went to two projects in addition to the drone aviary: Drew Cowdrey and Trey Kirk; and Dániel Palotai. Cowdrey and Kirk proposed “a mobile library” of portable galleries and collections that could be loaned for tours and community exhibitions, housed in a Miesian “crate” on the downtown site. “As the production of architectural narrative intervenes and conditions the visitor’s experience, we have chosen to liberate the archival core from its vernacular wrapper—recasting it as a naked and autonomous urban figure,” reads their proposal brief. Palotai's black-and-white proposal outlined an elegant series of spaces “between sky and ground” intended to speak of flexibility, personal interactions and community authorship of what could start as a series of blank canvases. SOM donated the prize money, a total of $3,250. The jurors were: Elva Rubio, Stanley Tigerman, Brian Lee of SOM, Andy Metter of Epstein, Geoffery Goldberg, and Dan Wheeler of Wheeler Kearns. Chicago Architectural Club has details, full proposal PDFs, and a video of the awards ceremony on their website.
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Open House Chicago is this weekend, October 18 and 19, when 150 of the city's architectural gems—both new and old, well-known and obscure, public year-round and off-limits but for now—open their doors to enthusiasts of the built environment, free of charge. Last year's event built on 2012's, the second go-around for this increasingly popular festival of architecture that highlights places and spaces all over the city. Organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation and sponsored by Kemper, Art Works, ComEd, and CTA, the event generally runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. But hours vary by location, so check beforehand. As always, the sites on display span a wide variety of neighborhoods and building types, from architects' offices to historical relics. A few of the 18 neighborhoods represented are new this year—Ukrainian Village, Edgewater, Goose Island, Bronzeville, Lincoln Square and Ravenswood have all joined the party. If you go, Tweet and Instagram @archpaper with your photos, using the hashtag #OHC2014. Check out a full list of sites at openhousechicago.org.
Last year's Open House Chicago sent architecture enthusiasts skittering around the city to explore a fraction of the 150 sites open to the public during one October weekend. This year the Chicago Architecture Foundation presents the third annual Open House, and it will be no less impossible to see all that the free de facto festival has to offer. The buildings (view a full site list here) are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19-20. Lincoln Park Patch.com has a guide to that neighborhood’s spots, including The Midwest Buddhist Temple and the Brewster (Lincoln Park Palace) apartments, the building from which an aging water tower plummeted in July. Pick a neighborhood (13 are featured), or a category, to line up your own itinerary. Nineteen architecture offices are open to the public, as are three Frank Lloyd Wright houses (Robie, Charnley-Persky, Emil Bach). You can follow the Foundation’s “sustainability trail” to stops like The Plant, a meatpacking facility turned net-zero vertical farm, power plant-turned-high school Power House High, and Uptown's "Greenrise".
The end of the year is nigh, and the season of awards and lists is at hand. In addition to the AIA Chicago awards to be presented tonight, the Chicago Architecture Foundation this week announced their Patron of the Year Awards. “Good buildings only happen with good clients,” read a statement presented by Williams + Tsien at the ceremony. Great buildings, however, only happen when clients are “unreasonable” in their commitment to good design, the David & Reva Logan Center for the Arts architects said. The winning projects included the Logan Center, CTA’s Morgan Station (Ross Barney Architects), Inspiration Kitchens (Wheeler Kearns Architects), and Rush University Medical Center (Perkins + Will). CAF also awarded two honorable mentions: Morris Architect Planners’ Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, and JGMA’s Instituto del Progreso. Accepting her award for the West Loop’s new Morgan Station Green/Pink line stop, Carol Ross Barney said she wanted to debunk the axiom “good enough for government.” Transit projects are critical, she said: “This isn’t even a building. It’s the blood and guts of our city.”