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.
Posts tagged with "Chicago River":
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.
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. 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.
Its unique plan and handsome brown brick buildings landed the site on the National Register of Historic Places, but Chicago's Julia Lathrop Homes face an uncertain future. As hundreds of units sit vacant, tensions and expectations are high for this historic riverside housing project. Preservationists called foul on a redevelopment masterplan released last year, which they said shortchanged the 1938 development. Though Lathrop sidestepped outright demolition, the Homes south of Diversey Avenue would make way for new buildings under a new plan proposed by a development group led by Related Midwest. The scaled-back plan, Crain’s reports, 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 could include new mixed-use buildings at the intersection of Diversey, Clybourn, and Damen avenues. The plan, which also calls for a small park and 780 parking slots, will be the topic of discussion at a July 30 community meeting. The possibility of taller buildings at the southern end of the property has angered some area residents, who worry about development out of scale with the neighborhood, which includes parts of Logan Square, Lincoln Park, and North Center.
Chicago’s plan to extend and revamp its downtown riverwalk got a major shot in the arm from the feds last week. U.S. Dept of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the federal government will loan the city $99 million under the Transportation Finance Innovation Act, a program geared at transportation projects of “national and regional significance.” Mayor Rahm Emanuel had previously set his sights on just such funding, as well as financial sponsors for ongoing maintenance. The project, which is scheduled to be finished by 2016, hopes to draw more attention to the riverfront. Designs by Sasaki Associates, Alfred Benesch & Co., Ross Barney Architects, and Jacobs/Ryan Associates call for six unique identities across six downtown blocks of the Chicago River, such as The Jetty, The Cove, and The River Theater. Read more about the design in AN's previous report.
After a few administrative hurdles and several packed community meetings that aired downtown residents’ concerns, Chicago's Wolf Point is poised to turn perhaps the most prominently underdeveloped piece of land in Chicago into a billion-dollar suite of skyscrapers along the Chicago River. Now that they have cleared the plan commission, developers Hines Interests and Magellan Development are ready to go as soon as they get the final permits in place. Construction will start with the bKL-designed, residential west tower (493 feet tall), which is expected to take 20 months. Towers two and three designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli (950 and 750 feet tall, respectively) will go up after that. The designs of those towers—which will contain office, retail, hotel, and parking space—are not set in stone and could change as the plan rolls out over the next few years. The points of contention raised by audience members at many meetings held since the project was unveiled included some typical complaints about blocking views, as well as opposing calls for more and less parking. Located near some CTA stops, the Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed complex dialed down its parking footprint somewhat—not enough for some transit enthusiasts, and too much for others who worried what the massive development’s impact could be on this dense corner of the Chicago River.
Studio Gang has long partnered with nonprofits and community groups to realize their unconventional designs. For her recent Harvard GSD studio, principal Jeanne Gang partnered with one of the nation’s largest environmental groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), to tackle an issue with repercussions across the northern Midwest: separating the South Branch of Chicago River to prevent invasive Asian carp from decimating the Great Lakes. “NRDC told us they were tired of just being against things,” Gang said, in a recent talk at Cooper Union in New York. “They want to be for things.” Gang and her GSD studio investigated the possibilities of returning the river to its natural course, the findings of which have been compiled into a book called Reverse Effect: Renewing Chicago’s Waterways (available from Amazon's and Studio Gang's website beginning November 7). With images as compelling as the one above, it’s easy to see why NRDC thinks partnering with designers is a smart advocacy strategy. For Gang and her students, a region-wide threat called for neighborhood-scale intervention. Such strategic thinking makes architects central players in addressing urgent societal and ecological problems. It never hurts to be essential. A reception for the book will take place tomorrow night at Architectural Artifacts, 4325 North Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago.
Whether you want to call him a lame duck or not, Chicago Mayor Richard M Daley wants to float out of office and into Lake Michigan. Days after announcing his decision not to seek reelection the long-serving mayor hinted at a possible last hurrah: the re-reversal of the Chicago River. More than a century ago the city of Chicago undertook the laborious task of reversing its river so that waste would not flow into Lake Michigan, the city’s water supply. In shades of the Erie Canal, redirected river also facilitated trade with the west. Now with his final term coming to a close Daley, who worked to clean up both the river and Lake Michigan, might just try to put things back how they were. Why? To fight sinking water levels in the lake. What’s more, the EPA wants to make the river swimmable. So are you ready to take a dip in the Chicago River?
The Environmental Protection Agency is urging the City of Chicago to clean up the Chicago River with the hope of meeting recreational standards, eventually even making it swimmable. The city's relationship to the River has been evolving, as the many recent developments along it attest. But the river still serves as the Chicago's sewage pipe, so clean-up will be an lengthy and expensive project, as this report from the Chicago Tribune details. AN recently looked at soft infrastructure strategies, including some in Chicago, that aim to mitigate storm water run-off, one of the major reasons for sewage overflow into the River. Promoting green roofs, building permeable alleys, planting trees--all of which the Daley administration has advanced--can all reduce run-off, but hard expensive infrastructure upgrades, such as the Deep Tunnel, will likely be needed to keep sewage out of the Chicago River.