Posts tagged with "Chicago River":

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Chicago wants your ideas for the future of the Chicago River

What's downstream for the Chicago River? Mayor Rahm Emanuel this week directed a panel of experts to draft a long-term plan for the network of Chicago-area waterways, announcing $350,000 in grants from the Joyce Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, and steel company ArcelorMittal to start a project dubbed “Great Rivers Chicago.” With the expansion of the Chicago Riverwalk well underway—the Sasaki Associates–led project is supposed to open its first portions over Memorial Day weekend—the river is enjoying a surge of attention once unimaginable for a body of water better known historically for its pollution than its public space. Over the next 15 months, however, the city-appointed group—the Metropolitan Planning Council and Friends of the Chicago River, as well as “topical experts and community stakeholders”—will seek ideas for all the rivers that comprise the subwatershed known as the Chicago Area Waterway System, including the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the Cal-Sag Channel, and the Calumet Rivers. The city launched a website, greatriverschicago.com, which so far just lists facts about the area's rivers and links to a survey meant to inform their future planning process. It asks Chicagoans to describe their current interaction with the river system, and how they'd like that to change. (The full riverwalk team includes lead architects Ross Barney Architects, as well as Jacobs Ryan Associates, Alfred Benesch & Company, and Schuler & Shook, in addition to Sasaki Associates.)
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Chicago Architectural Club calls for speculative proposals on Obama Library

As several Chicago sites—as well as institutions in New York City and Hawaii—vie to host Barack Obama's Presidential Library, the Chicago Architectural Club is “calling for speculative proposals” to consider the design impacts of the nation's 14th presidential library. Submissions are due January 10, one month after official contenders for the library have to submit their proposals to The Barack Obama Foundation. Winners will be announced February 3 at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, 224 South Michigan Avenue. First prize nets $1,500, while second takes $1,000 and third gets $750. The Architectural Club and CAF will exhibit the winning projects on their websites. Jurors for the award include Andy Metter (Epstein), Brian Lee (SOM), Dan Wheeler (Wheeler Kearns Architects), Elva Rubio (Gensler), Geoffrey Goldberg, (G. Goldberg + Associates) and John Ronan (John Ronan Architects). More information on submission protocol is available on the Chicago Architectural Club's website AN's editorial page has called for the library to catalyze the development of public space wherever it ends up, and the speculative designs offered by the Club's annual Chicago Prize are sure to spur good conversation on that topic. The competition literature identifies the site as the rail yard at the southwest corner of the Chicago River confluence—a site already devoted to Goettsch Partners' River Point development, currently under construction. In library news more likely to materialize as built work, the University of Chicago is mulling Jackson Park as a potential site. The Hyde Park university where Obama taught law is also reportedly considering an empty lot at Garfield Boulevard and Martin Luther King Drive, the South Shore Cultural Center, and an area of Jackson Park across from Hyde Park Academy High School at Cornell Avenue and Hayes Drive, according to DNAinfo Chicago.
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Long-vacant grain silos in Chicago up for auction, future uncertain

One of Chicago's most visible rust-belt remnants is up for sale, just in time for its cameo in the Transformers 4 movie. The derelict Santa Fe grain elevator has been a favorite hangout for squatters, graffiti artists and ruin-porn enthusiasts since 1977, when a fire and explosion ended 70 years of industrial history there. Crain's reports the state of Illinois is going to sell the riverside collection of concrete silos at 2900 South Damen Avenue in an online auction beginning November 2. Seven years after a previous attempt to sell the abandoned property for $17.3 million, Rick Levin & Associates (acting on behalf of the state Department of Central Management Services) has dropped the minimum ask to $3.8 million. The long-defunct monolith has become one of Chicago's unsung landmarks—a particularly visible beacon of industrial grit in an area of the southwest side with no shortage of such relics. Lynn Becker has a thoughtful analysis of the property's significance on Architecture Chicago Plus, and in 2010 David Witter wrote a modern history of Chicago's grain elevator for NewCity. As anyone who has read William Cronon's Nature's Metropolis knows, Chicago's explosive growth in the late 19th century is due as much to its grain elevators as to its famous railroads and stockyards. It's likely this particular link to Chicago's industrial heyday will be razed if it finds a new buyer, but given residential and retail development has picked up in the nearby neighborhoods of Bridgeport and Pilsen, it's possible other uses could be considered. Its position along the Sanitary and Ship Canal, which connects to the Chicago River, may prove a valuable selling point—and not just as a means to convey grain in and municipal waste out.
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Eavesdrop> The Great Chicago Fire Festival was a bust

In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire ripped through the city's streets and spurred a massive urban renewal. On Saturday, in an attempt to honor that city-defining event, some kayakers paddled around the Chicago River and tried to light some fake houses on fire. It was all part of the $2 million Great Chicago Fire Festival put on by the Redmoon Theater Company. But on Saturday night, it quickly became clear that the festival would be neither great nor full of fire. You could say the festival fizzled out or that it failed to ignite. Both will do. Like moths to a flame, 30,000 spectators gathered along the Chicago River to see the city ignite three old-timey, floating model homes. Before that could happen, we waited—and waited—for some local pols to light cauldrons underneath city bridges. There were also some actors from the NBC show Chicago Fire there to help out, so that was probably kind of cool if you watch that show. Oh, and Martin Sheen was apparently there too. Why not. With the fires set, it seemed like it was time for the action (read: fire, lots of fire). But no, not quite yet. For close to half an hour we were stuck watching some fire-toting kayakers and mock paddle-wheelers tool around the river. After that second delay, the "Grand Spectacle" finally began. We were led to believe that the houses would be lit, they would ignite, and then disappear to reveal recreations of firefighters' ladders, a skyscraper, and the Chicago flag. That didn't happen because, well, nothing really happened. The houses barely caught fire; they just kind of floated there like uncooperative logs. Redmoon has said heavy rain in the days leading up to the event "tripped up" the electric systems in the houses. When it became clear that the houses were not going to ignite, the city moved on to the fireworks part of the event, but by that point many people (myself included) had left the banks of the river and filtered back into the city grid. Behind all of us was the glowing Trump sign on the eponymous tower. "You're fired," the Don could almost be heard screaming to the organizers below. "You're fired." Despite the rough reviews, representatives from Redmoon and the city said they hope to try this all again next year.
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Saturday> Fire Festival to light up the Chicago River

A new downtown festival launching tomorrow celebrates the “grit, greatness and renewal” of Chicago by paying tribute its greatest tragedy. In a move reminiscent of Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain, The Chicago Fire Festival will float some theatrical pyrotechnics down the Chicago River on Saturday evening. Chicago's most infamous disaster has long been less a symbol of destruction than rebirth. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 killed hundreds of people and leveled several square miles of the still young city. That cleared the way for the birth of modern Chicago, a bittersweet legacy celebrated to this day by a star on the city's flag, as well as in the names of its major league soccer team and its downtown tech business incubator. The city tasked local Redmoon Theater with organizing the inaugural Chicago Fire Festival, corralling corporate sponsors and non-profit foundations to produce the event. “The Great Chicago Fire basically birthed our great cultural export: architecture,” Redmoon's director Jim Lasko told Chicago Magazine. The festival will be a culmination of Redmoon's previous effort, a three-month series of free events throughout dozens of Chicago neighborhoods that asked residents about challenges they've overcome and successes they celebrate. Many of their answers will be projected on floating barges in the river between State Street and Columbus Drive on Saturday night. If the festival is a success, organizers hope it will become an annual fixture of public art in Chicago. If not, it will burn away with the models of Victorian homes and period-specific Chicago architecture that Redmoon is offering up in the name of The Great Chicago Fire Festival.
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Unveiled> Hartshorne Plunkard’s Goose Island office block along the Chicago River

A six-story office building could sail into the boat yard site of Chicago's Goose Island in the near future, if plans from Hartshorne Plunkard and developer South Street Capital can navigate logistical and regulatory difficulties surrounding the industrial district on the city's near north side. HPA calls the project at 934 N. Branch St. a "high-tech commercial development”. At 350,000 square feet, it's larger than a similar project down the street from SOM, which also invoked the site's industrial history with its structural expression. The $90 million HPA project, which tucks one floor of parking under four stories of office space and a penthouse, could be just the first phase of a larger development from HPA and South Street, according to HPA's website:

The building’s design references and relates to a second project located across the street that will be developed by the same team. With the adaptive reuse of an existing industrial building at 909 W. Bliss Street into 248,000 SF of office space, Goose Island will be transformed into a high-tech commercial campus.

HPA's design also includes “an elevated serpentine pedestrian and bike bridge” across the Chicago River linking the site with Milwaukee and Ogden Avenues. After years of losing jobs to outsourcing and industrial decay, the redevelopment of Goose Island is significant as Chicago mulls options for restoring jobs in manufacturing that once helped define the region. Legacy industries like freight shipping and transportation might never employ the same share of Chicagoans as they once did, but many planners and businesspeople suspect the region may be on the verge of a rebirth in advanced manufacturing. Goose Island remains one of the city's planned manufacturing districts. It's unclear at the project's outset if HPA's office tower could require an exception to the district's stipulations, or if it could herald the beginning of new uses beyond the planned manufacturing district framework.
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Construction of Chicago Riverwalk Underway; City Looks at Funding Options

Chicago’s Riverwalk extension is underway, and the city is looking for contractors to help plan and operate concessions along what promises to be a major downtown attraction. Applicants have until April 7 to reply to the city’s request for qualifications. Chicago Riverwalk 1 The project got a major infusion of federal cash last year, but now Chicago is looking for private entities to help arrange for concessions—think bike rentals, kiosks, cafes, retail—along the riverside promenade, which will expand the Riverwalk six blocks. Federal transportation loans to be paid back over 35 years won’t be enough to fully finance the project, so the city is still considering sponsorship and advertising. Last year the city’s then-transportation chief Gabe Klein promised "Any additional advertising would be very tasteful and very limited.” Conceptual plans establish identities for each of the Riverwalk extension’s six blocks from State Street west to Lake Street: The Marina (from State to Dearborn); The Cove (Dearborn to Clark); The River Theater (Clark to LaSalle); The Swimming Hole (LaSalle to Wells); The Jetty (Wells to Franklin); and The Boardwalk (Franklin to Lake). Chicago’s plan to reengage its “second shoreline” follows similar efforts that have had success in Indianapolis, San Antonio and London, among others.
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Chicago breaks ground on Navy Pier flyover for Lakefront Trail

Bicyclists and pedestrians cruising down Chicago’s 18-mile Lakefront Trail generally enjoy an exceptionally open, continuous and scenic path along Lake Michigan. But near Navy Pier they’re shunted inland, underneath a highway, onto sidewalks and through road crossings that interrupt their journey in the middle of one of the popular pathway's most congested corridors. The Navy Pier Flyover, announced in 2011, was designed to remedy that situation, and today Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the project has officially broken ground. Though it won’t be fully open until 2018, work began on schedule for the portion of the pathway between Jane Adams Park and the Ogden Slip. The first phase of construction has a budget of $22.5 million. The total cost will be $60 million, split over three phases. The Lakefront Trail and Lake Shore Drive will remain open throughout construction. To track progress and occasional detours during the work, the city has set up navypierflyover.com. Sporting bike lanes and space for pedestrians, the trail will be 16 feet wide and approximately as elevated as Lake Shore Drive.  LED lighting will supplement the “ambient light of Lake Shore Drive,” according to the city's website. The city called in architect Muller+Muller after studying the problem for years. That design, from 2011, remains intact. When complete the trail will allow for uninterrupted travel over the Chicago River, through DuSable Park, the Ogden Slip, across Illinois Street, Grand Avenue, Jane Addams Park and into the Ohio Street Tunnel. (The news comes among other improvements to the lakefront trail announced recently.) More design details are available here, in a presentation by the city made available online.
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Chicago Launches Lighting Competition in Bid to Boost Tourism, Skeptics Concerned Over Pollution

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been very vocal about his ambitions to increase tourism in the city, and he once again upped that goal to 55 million annual visitors by 2020—an almost 20 percent jump from current numbers. Riding high on news of record hotel occupancy last year, Emanuel said Wednesday that Chicago would launch an international design contest to light up the city at night. As with previous initiatives, like the Downtown Riverwalk extension, the lighting design competition would highlight the Chicago River. Lou Raizin, president of Broadway in Chicago, will lead the light-up Chicago initiative. The Illinois Coalition for Responsible Outdoor Lighting called it the idea "frivolous" and environmentally harmful. But the plan to make Chicago America's city of light is more about creating buzz than addressing light pollution. The City reports that it has already seen a 15 percent jump in visitors since 2011. But as Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times reported, even the president of tourism agency Choose Chicago acknowledged a lighting festival alone won’t bring nine million more people to the city by 2020:
“We’re going to need some of the big festivals that may be in other parts of the world. Or we’re going to create some new ones,” [Don] Welsh said, pointing to a planned, citywide celebration of the Chinese New Year.
That citywide Chinese New Year celebration runs from Jan. 31 through Feb. 14.
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Studio Gang’s Boathouse Opens, Celebrates Chicago River

Amid the clamor to take advantage of Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House this weekend, some may have missed the opening of Studio Gang’s boathouse along the Chicago River’s north branch. The WMS Boathouses at Clark Park opened Saturday to fanfare led by the Chicago Rowing Foundation, who were eager to celebrate the first of four new boathouses to be built along the Chicago River. The boathouse design translates the alternating “M” and inverted “V” shapes from a time-lapse motion image of rowing into the building’s basic organizing form. Targeting LEED Silver, it also features a landscaped garden where the site meets the river. The building’s upper clerestory collects southern daylight in the winter and ventilates in summer. Practice rooms for rowers are flooded with light and river views, instead of being shut away as in many athletic facilities. Similarly the building engages the river itself to a degree rarely seen in Chicago. Contrast the gently sloping approach of Studio Gang’s project to the bunker-like revetment across the river. As the city turns its attention to the downtown riverwalk, it's encouraging to see neighborhood projects embrace it, too. WMS, an electronic gaming company based on the river’s opposite bank, contribued $2 million to help build the boathouse on Chicago Park District land.
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Chicago Riverwalk Work To Begin Soon, Alderman’s Office Says

Construction will begin soon on the highly-anticipated expansion to Chicago's Riverwalk, Ald. Brendan Reilly’s office announced last week. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will start work this fall. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced late last year plans to lengthen the downtown riverwalk, retaining Sasaki Associates, Ross Barney Architects, Alfred Benesch & Co., and Jacobs/Ryan Associates to redesign and enliven the city's "second shoreline". Each of the six blocks will have distinctive identities: The Marina (from State to Dearborn); The Cove (Dearborn to Clark); The River Theater (Clark to LaSalle); The Swimming Hole (LaSalle to Wells); The Jetty (Wells to Franklin) and The Boardwalk (Franklin to Lake). In the works since a public development process settled the riverwalk’s general design in 1999, the project secured $100 million in June from the USDOT's Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (TIFIA) program. That money will cover the vast majority of the project, but the City will also pursue sponsorship opportunities for ongoing maintenance and operations. Development along the Chicago River is not limited to the riverwalk. High-profile projects include Wolf Point, River Point and Goettsch Partners and Ted Wolff Landscape Archtiects' 150 N. Riverside.
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Community Members in Chicago Protest Lathrop Homes Plans

As plans to makeover Chicago’s Lathrop Homes become more clear, debate becomes more heated over whether the development team has the storied development’s best interests in mind. Twelve years after the Chicago Housing Administration announced its intention to overhaul the 1930s housing projects, the fate of the site remains unclear. Lathrop Community Partners—a team counting among its partners Related Midwest, Studio Gang Architects, Wolff Landscape Associates, Farr Associates, bKL, and Bauer Latoza Studio— revealed a draft master plan [PDF] this month that aimed for compromise between restoration and scaling up. lathrop_proposed_master_plan At a community meeting Tuesday night residents pressed the design team to offer more affordable housing, but it appears the ratio of market rate to public housing remains firm. The plan calls for 1,208 residential units on the 32-acre property—504 market-rate units, 400 public-housing residences, 212 affordable homes, and 92 for senior citizen public housing residents. It also includes 752 parking spaces with 259 more on the street. With parks, greenspace, and a landscaped riverwalk, the plan apparently consolidates Lathrop’s celebrated design elements. Taller buildings south of Diversey Avenue would raise property values nearby, but the stepped-up development doesn’t sit well with those who would like to see the renewal of this historic housing project do more for low-income residents.