Posts tagged with "Chicago":

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Chicago needs a new architectural survey to protect its vernacular and postmodern heritage

  The aging Chicago Historic Resources Survey, or CHRS, is Chicago’s benchmark document for determining what the city considers historic. However, without contemporary updates, it fails to protect modern (and postmodern) architectural heritage and leaves vernacular structures regularly at risk for demolition. Chicago embarked on its very first survey of historic buildings in 1983 with the objective to identify new landmarks. The CHRS was a complex undertaking, combining research in archives and libraries with detailed field assessments and photography. A half-million properties were surveyed, with the work completed in 1994. Dividing up the city into Chicago’s system of 77 community areas and 50 wards, the survey work began with teams driving through each ward and color coding each property according to three criteria adopted by the CHRS: age, degree of physical integrity, and level of possible significance. Buildings given a red rating were determined to be significant on a national scale, the “best of the best” of historic resources. Orange properties possessed similar features but were significant locally. Yellow properties were identified as relatively significant and within a greater concentration of similar buildings. Yellow-green buildings were identified as being within a concentration of significant buildings but reflected alterations. Green buildings were identified in previous state surveys, and purple buildings reflected significant alterations. Lastly, the survey team included a category for buildings constructed after 1940 that were considered too new to be properly evaluated, blue, except in cases where significance was already established. Data forms and photographs were produced for each property in the second phase of fieldwork, as well as follow-up research including zoning and building permits. In total, 22 people worked on the CHRS over the course of the 13-year, $1.2 million-dollar project. A summary of the survey was published in 1996 and widely distributed at Chicago public libraries, but it only represented a selection of significant buildings. After the orange-rated 1927 Chicago Mercantile Exchange Building was demolished without oversight, the City Council approved a proposal sponsored by Mayor Richard M. Daley that would grant a measure of protection to significant buildings. Adopted in 2003, the Demolition Delay Ordinance requires a 90-day hold on the issuance of a demolition permit for a building rated red or orange in the CHRS. The CHRS online database is widely used to determine if a building is an “eligible” historic resource. Unfortunately, neither the online database nor the published summary fully represents the estimated 500,000 buildings that were included in the field assessment. Each only includes a selection of buildings that fell under subjective eligibility criteria, with the city GIS website only representing data on red- and orange-rated buildings. Demolition delay has become the most significant function of the CHRS, yet it was never the intention of the survey to have the data determine whether a building is demolished without a review of significance. The survey organizers felt strongly that the survey would have to be periodically updated to ensure accuracy. The “modern” cutoff date of 1940 was selected to provide a 50-year waiting period for eligible buildings based on the anticipated 1990 completion of the fieldwork. This determination mirrored the National Register of Historic Places requirement for a building to be at least 50 years old before its eligibility may be determined. It was felt that this choice would allow surveyors to be more objective, but there has been no public attempt to survey or evaluate midcentury modern resources. As only red- and orange-rated resources are subject to the Demolition Delay ordinance, most modern and postmodern buildings could be at risk. Buildings that were new at the time of the survey are rapidly aging to eligibility and could be threatened with demolition without a municipal matrix to protect them. Postmodern architecture is only represented in the CHRS if it is included but not contributing to a local landmark district. This leaves most of Chicago's postmodern architectural heritage absent, including all of the work of Stanley Tigerman and Harry Weese, as well as the James R. Thompson Center. In the survey, there are inconsistencies across neighborhoods and styles of architecture as well as works by individual architects. For example, a similar grouping of structures may be identified with a “warm” color rating in one neighborhood and have no information and no color rating in another. Vernacular buildings—the structures that make up Chicago’s neighborhoods—are disproportionately represented throughout the survey. Choices that include what modern buildings to include and how surveyors color rated them lack a degree of impartiality, as not enough time had passed between their construction and evaluation to make a fair, non-aesthetic judgment. Furthermore, while the original survey team included historic resources that are individually listed on the National Register, are National Historic Landmarks, and contribute to historic districts, the surveyors did not evaluate buildings that were already designated as City of Chicago Landmarks. While Chicago Landmarks are well known, the omission of established landmarks within the CHRS data makes the overall results less comprehensive. This also renders it difficult for researchers to review Chicago Landmark and CHRS data concurrently. While work has been done to informally update the data of the CHRS, no update or reinterpretation of the CHRS data or attempt to resurvey the portions of Chicago that are missing from the data would have the same effect as a comprehensive effort by a city-managed municipal survey. The Chicago Landmarks Ordinance states that the Commission on Chicago Landmarks must “encourage the continuation of surveys and studies of Chicago’s historical and architectural resources and the maintenance and updating of a register of areas, districts, places, buildings, structures, works of art, and other objects which may be worthy of landmark designations.” History is not static, and old buildings are continually taking on the mantle of significance, some by aging into it, some due to changing mindsets, and others by losing enough of their stylistic comrades to become rare when once they were common. The data that we rely on to determine what buildings are saved and what buildings are demolished in Chicago is at best 24 years old, and at worst 35. An updated CHRS, one that evaluates modern and postmodern architectural heritage and takes a fresh look at vernacular architecture, is the only way that Chicago can continue to protect its architectural heritage. Many thanks to Susannah Ribstein, Tim Whittman, and Charlie Pipal for assisting with this article.
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Graham Foundation announces 2018 organizational grants

The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts has once again provided funding to foster experimentation, creativity, and discourse in architecture. The 2018 organizational grantees join a worldwide network of individuals and institutions that the Chicago-based Graham Foundation has generously funded over the course of its 62-year history. Individual grantees were announced in March. $609,500 in new grants will be distributed across 53 grantees, funding new media works, site-specific installations, films, exhibits, and publications. Proposals are multifaceted and cover a broad range of approaches to the study and consideration of the built environment. While educational institutions and nonprofits make up some of the familiar names, other grantees build on existing inertia, and still more explore radical ideas. Several grantees are set to explore the complex relationship between architecture and cultural life, including Jamaican-born architect Sekou Cooke, who through the Center for Architecture will explore the relationship between hip-hop and architecture as a discipline. MK Gallery, through Milton Keynes, will focus on how land ownership and landscape design define leisure activities. Julia Fish’s Bound by Spectrum at the DePaul Art Museum will present a personal take on vernacular architecture seen through works inspired by the artist’s home in Chicago. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), Southern California Institute of Architecture, and Columbia University are among some of the more well-known educational institution grantees. Columbia intends to use the award money to produce a publication on the architecture of incarceration, while SAIC, along with the University of Chicago, will continue to expand their vision of what it means to be a citizen via the 16th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale.  UNAM will analyze Mexico’s Olympic architecture through print media. Architectural history has a strong presence as well, with exhibitions planned to dig further into the work of Portland architect Willard Martin, and Eileen Gray, a pioneer of modernist design.  London’s Whitechapel Gallery looks back on itself with a critical analysis of its landmark 1956 exhibition This is Tomorrow. Both the Graham Foundation itself and critic Mimi Zeiger are planning site-specific installations, with Zeiger curating an exhibition at Rudolph Schindler’s Kings Road House for the MAK Center for Art and Architecture. A series at the historic Madlener House, the home of the Graham Foundation, presents the work of Lampo, one of music’s leading experimentalists. More information on grantees can be found on the Graham Foundation website.
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SOM uses interdisciplinary collaboration to design innovative facade systems

On September 21, Facades+ is coming to Chicago for the first time in three years. The conference features moderators and speakers of leading firms from across the country. Skidmore, Owings & Merril—the architecture and engineering firm that has called Chicago home for over 80 years—will have a particularly strong presence at the upcoming conference. To learn more about what Chicago’s largest firm is up to and to investigate larger industry trends, AN sat down with SOM’s Dan O’Riley, associate director, and Lucas Tryggestad, technical director. The Architect’s Newspaper: For over a century, Chicago has been at the forefront of architecture and engineering. What do you find most interesting about facade and structural innovation in Chicago today? Dan O’Riley: What’s most interesting about innovation in Chicago is that, aside from all the advancements the industry has made in materials, design, and construction over the years, the city continues to innovate based on the same philosophy of discovery and collaboration that has always put Chicago at the forefront of architecture and engineering. Chicago is the city that “makes no little plans,” and while nothing is built without reference to the past, the city is constantly looking towards the future. For example, 400 Lake Shore Drive, currently under development, blends contemporary materials, such as glass, with traditional materials, such as terra-cotta, matching historical vernacular, but creating something totally new. We’re also seeing new designs and concepts that go beyond the standard limitations of glass, which are applied to facades at larger scales, such as the Apple Store in the shadow of the Tribune Tower. And projects such as the IIT Innovation Center are experimenting with new facade materials, such as ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) foil cushions. Together these types of innovations continue to keep Chicago at the forefront. Currently, what projects are you working on that demonstrate SOM’s longstanding synergy of architecture and engineering? Lucas Tryggestad: For 80 years, SOM has operated at the forefront of design, engineering, and urban planning. While each project is unique, collectively the firm’s projects represent the integration of these disciplines. Several of our current and recent projects represent this synergy through the facade expressions, the space layout, and how buildings interact with their contexts. In North Sydney, Australia, 100 Mount Street has an innovative, cross-braced exoskeleton structure and soaring glass curtain wall. It has an offset core and two rows of columns that allow for a 6-meter cantilever running the whole length of the facade. In Salt Lake City’s financial district, our 111 Main project is a Class A office tower anchoring a larger urban redevelopment in the area. To ensure that the project would not compromise the functionality of an existing theater at its base, the entire structure is suspended from a steel hat truss on top of the building, allowing the theater to slide under the tower’s south side. These synergies have always been integral to SOM’s buildings throughout the firm’s history, visible here in Chicago from the Inland Steel Building, the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and 875 North Michigan Avenue (formerly John Hancock Center), to projects currently underway, such as “The Porch” on 330 North Green Street. How can AEC firms confront the challenges and opportunities presented by sustainable design in facade systems, and how can fenestration and enclosure innovation to boost performance? DO: Innovations in sustainable design for facades and facade systems must begin from a holistic point of view. The initial stages of a project’s design should account for and integrate different building systems and programs within the building, drawing input and expertise from different design and engineering disciplines to create better and more informed high-performance solutions. The idea of high-performance design at SOM is an interdisciplinary collaboration integral to the total set of design activities that develop sustainable environments responsive to their environmental context and recognizing the impact of the built environment on the planet’s collective resources. By prioritizing collaboration, AEC firms have the opportunity to design and take advantage of integrated mechanical systems, active facades, and energy-efficient strategies for solar control, thermal comfort, glare, and other factors affection a project’s overall sustainable performance. For example, the Roche Diagnostics Learning and Development Center in Indianapolis, designed by SOM, has a building enclosure that utilizes high-performance, low-e coated, argon-filled insulated glazing units and a window-to-wall ratio of less than 60 percent. The east, west, and southern facades also incorporate computer-controlled exterior Venetian blinds to protect and regulate the building envelope. Interdisciplinary collaboration allowed the project team to respond to the needs of the client and the context of the project itself to achieve a very strict set of high-performance goals, with great success. SOM is increasingly taking on transportation-related projects; Moynihan Train Hall, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport Terminal 2, Denver Union Station, to name a few. What lessons from these projects are translatable to tower and super tall construction? LT: SOM is active across a wide range of practices and research areas, including transportation, aviation, healthcare, urban planning, and interior design. While each project is distinct, the lessons learned from what we’re doing for an airport terminal, for example, inform what we’re doing for a rail and transit hub. This is the value of working within an integrated practice, where ideas and strategies are continually evolving to create buildings that are distinctive and synthesize programmatic function, structural rationale, and environmental sustainability.
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The new Chicago Architecture Center offers informative, tangible experiences

Chicago’s long-salient architecture non-profit, the Chicago Architecture Center, formerly the Chicago Architecture Foundation, has swapped out its old digs at the Railway Exchange Building for a high-visibility space just steps from the south end of Michigan Avenue. With the fresh location in Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s 111 East Wacker Drive, the Center's new home sits just ashore of where the world-famous architecture boat tour has launched since 1983. Designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture with exhibit designer Gallagher & Associates, the Center's spaces are designed to expand and contract with current and future exhibits, but also across Chicago’s long and continued dialogue with architecture and design. The Chicago Gallery is located inside a cavernous interior space, with a newly expanded model of the city, which has grown from 1,300 to 4,500 3-D-printed resin buildings and now includes subtle topographic features and neighborhoods as far south as Cermak Road and as far west as Sangamon Street. Interactive touch screens are positioned around the model, where visitors can search for buildings by architect or style, view data about changing land use, or explore the “10 Buildings You Should Know” feature. A film playing at intervals behind the model provides a dramatic narrative of the city's built history and is heavy on neighborhood content. This emphasis on everyday architecture continues across the rest of the Chicago Gallery, where Chicago’s vernacular architecture gets some significant airtime along with familiar names like Wright, Sullivan, and Burnham. Exhibitions continue upstairs, where the Skyscraper Gallery riffs on the Chicago invention and studies its international forms. The Building Tall exhibit features 23 skyscraper models at the scale of 1:91, including a composition of five models of buildings all of which were, at one time, the tallest in the world. These models are offset by a 40-foot-tall wall of glass where one can get up close and personal with some of Chicago’s most iconic and notorious buildings, including the Wrigley Building, Trump Tower, and the new flagship Apple store across the river. New exhibits at the Chicago Architecture Center draw from contemporary issues and reflect the profession's desire to draw in a wider audience. All are heavy on technology, but here there is a marked absence of Instagrammability, even in the supersized models of the Skyscraper Gallery. Whether intentional or not, this emphasis on physical experience over social media photo ops feels freshly genuine in contrast to made-for-Instagram museums. Exhibits are readable and tangible, but are also adaptable and future-forward, with enough variety in content to appeal both to visitors who know everything about architecture and those who know nothing at all. There is an emphasis on current and future projects, with not only Adrian Smith + Gordan Gill, but with other architects influencing the shape of Chicago to come, including Studio Gang and Goettsch Partners, as well as Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, whose design for 400 North Lake Shore Drive on the former Chicago Spire site when completed in 2023 will do more to change the skyline of Chicago than any other structure in fifty years.
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Catch up on Elon Musk’s summer rollercoaster ride

Elon Musk has had a summer of ups and downs in 2018, even after putting aside all of the twists-and-turns of his personal life and turmoil at Tesla. In May, Musk announced that The Boring Company would be turning its excavated dirt and rock into bricks for low-cost housing. What started as an attempt to sell more Boring Company merchandise ala their flamethrower—in this case, “giant Lego bricks”—soon morphed into an unspecified commitment on Musk’s part to build future Boring Company offices from muck bricks. Future Hyperloop tunnels might be able to swap out concrete for the seismically-rated bricks, but they’re unlikely to lower affordable housing costs much; land and labor are the most expensive aspects of new construction. While The Boring Company hasn’t actually constructed much except for a short test tunnel in Hawthorne, Los Angeles, Musk scored a win when the City of Chicago chose the company to build a high-speed train route connecting the city's Loop to O’Hare International Airport. Or did they? After a lawsuit was filed against the city in mid-August by the Better Government Association (BGA), the city claimed that the plan was still “pre-decisional” and that no formal agreement had been struck yet. If the loop is ever built, The Boring Company would dig two tunnels under the city and connect Block 37 in the Loop to O’Hare. Electrically-driven pods, with capacity for up to 16 passengers, would arrive at a station every 30 seconds and complete a one-way trip in 12 minutes. There are still major concerns over the project’s feasibility and cost, as Musk had pledged that construction would take only one year if the company used currently non-existent (and unproven) tunneling technology. The project could cost up to $1 billion, which The Boring Company would pay for out of pocket and recoup by selling $20 to $25 tickets, advertising space, and merchandise. On Tesla’s end, problems with the company’s much-vaunted solar roof tiles have bubbled over. Production has slowed at Tesla’s Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York, as equipment problems and aesthetic issues have prevented the factory from rolling out tiles on a large scale. Tesla is pledging that they can ramp up production at the state-owned factory by the end of 2018, as the company tries to fulfill the $1,000 preorders placed after the tiles’ reveal nearly two years ago. Not to let the end of summer slip by without one last announcement, Musk took to Twitter to release a Boring Company proposal for an underground “Dugout Loop” in L.A. Several conceptual designs were included for different routes between the Red Line subway and Dodgers Stadium that would use technology similar to what Musk has proposed in Chicago to ferry passengers along the 3.6-mile-long trip in only four minutes. It’s unlikely that the Dugout Loop will come to pass, as L.A. is already looking to realize a $125 million gondola system that could carry up to 5,000 passengers an hour. What the fall will bring for Musk, we can only guess.
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Prismatic postmodern sculpture removed from Chicago’s Michigan Avenue

A street-level work of postmodern art has been quietly removed from the corner of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street in Chicago. Communication X9 is a 43-foot-tall sculpture by Yaacov Agam designed to be in harmony with the architecture of 150 North Michigan. Designed by A. Epstein and Sons International in 1984, the building currently known by its address has historically been known as the Smurfit-Stone Building, and it caught a substantial amount of notoriety in the late 1980s for its prominence in a climactic scene from the 1987 film Adventures in Babysitting. A. Epstein and Sons International was an early pioneer of design-build, and their services included site-specific outdoor art. According to Crain’s Chicago, the Agam statue was removed by the building’s current management, CBRE Midwest, and was placed in storage in advance of an update to the lobby and gathering spaces. CBRE Midwest has not stated whether it will sell or donate the sculpture, but it does not intend to return the work to the site. The prismatic obelisk was removed in 2005 and reinstalled three years later after undergoing restoration. Agam flew to Chicago to see the results and found the colors of the restored sculpture to be off from the original. The removal of Communication X9 comes on the tails of the City of Chicago’s 2017 Year of Public Art celebration. While the initiative gave Chicagoans new murals by Kerry James Marshall on the alley side of the Chicago Cultural Center, and a twelve-foot-tall fiberglass deer by Chicago-based artist Tony Tasset on the Chicago River along with a spiraling Calatrava sculpture, other significant works of embedded art have been removed, including Alexander Calder’s Universe, a longtime fixture of the Willis Tower lobby. Many neighborhood murals have also disappeared this year at the hands of Chicago’s Graffiti Blasters, including a historic mural in Humboldt Park near the 606 trail depicting the Puerto Rican diaspora in Chicago, and Flyboyan early work in Wicker Park by Chicago street artist Hebru Brantley.
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Nike’s Just Do It HQ sports a glorious renovation inside a Chicago church

It’s no secret that Nike has an eye for design. From advertising to athletic wear to sports equipment and more, the company’s signature style has mass appeal and is easy to spot, but it's easy to forget the company's knack for creating serious interior design. Nike’s new New York headquarters, completed last year by its Workplace Design + Connectivity team in collaboration with Studios Architecture, got global attention for its slick look, but the brand’s newly built-out basketball space in Chicago is just as impressive. The Just Do It HQ, a basketball facility set inside a church dating to 1885, is quite glorious. Nike transformed the Church of Epiphany in Chicago’s West Loop into a state-of-the-art cultural hub and a home for a youth summer training program. Throughout August, Nike will host camps for young athletes and offer interactive youth workshops, pro athlete appearances, and skills clinics. The space itself is a modern and bold design outfitted with a basketball court, sports gym, and locker room. Nike added a color scheme of blue, orange, and white that runs throughout the three programs and created stained glass windows with basketballs carved into the center. Arched, metal frames were also placed in front of windows in certain places, diffusing the light and further connecting the gritty theme found throughout the aged church. The stained glass basketball design is also painted at the center of the court. Other contextual elements kept throughout the facility include the open, vaulted ceilings as well as the arched doorways and shelves. Nike’s Just Do it HQ is open Monday through Saturday throughout the end of this month. Kids can sign up to participate in the camps by registering online.
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Elon Musk’s Chicago tunnel targeted by a new lawsuit

Elon Musk’s plans to build an underground express system for Chicago are super vague and people are mad about it. The Illinois-based Better Government Association (BGA) announced in a report yesterday that it’s filed a lawsuit against the city to release public records behind its $1 billion deal with the Tesla CEO. In June, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Musk unveiled their grand vision to create a tunnel that would allow commuters to traverse 15 miles from the Loop in downtown Chicago to O’Hare International Airport in just 12 minutes. Musk promised to use untested digging equipment to build it and to introduce the new electric rail system in as little as 18 months. But that’s pretty much all that's been publicly revealed about it. The BGA argued that the secrecy behind the proposal’s logistics goes against the statutes of public policy that require such developments to solve clear problems in a clear way before receiving approval or funding. The watchdog organization reached out to the Emanuel administration to obtain public records detailing the meetings between the mayor and Musk, but the city simply claimed the initial discussions on the project were “pre-decisional.” This means no firm deal has been struck between the two parties even though the plan went public this summer. The BGA also pointed out that Musk has already completed a short tunnel project beneath Los Angeles’s Hawthorne neighborhood, but used conventional sewer drilling technology to make it, not the as-promised, untested tech. Musk claims that he can begin construction on the Chicago tunnel by the end of this year and complete it quickly thanks to the new (non-existent) digging equipment. But the head of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, which green-lighted the project according to the BGA, said a more realistic construction time is four years. Even so, major infrastructure projects generally take a decade or more to finish (see: New York’s Second Avenue Subway) and Chicago has already spent over $250 million under former Mayor Richard M. Daley on a failed plan to complete an underground superstation on the way to the airport. Improving upon the 45-minute commute via rail from the Loop to O’Hare is a top priority for the city, but no real plans from Musk or the mayor have been outlined as of late for locals to review. If the BGA’s lawsuit moves forward, Chicagoans could get a peek at the plans sooner rather than later.
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Chicago slashes trees for Obama Presidential Center

Up to 40 trees, some of them decades old, were reportedly cut down in Chicago’s historic Jackson Park on August 6 as part of construction associated with the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) campus. Despite a pending lawsuit and ongoing federal review, construction crews were reportedly spotted demolishing baseball fields in Jackson Park to make way for an OPC-funded track-and-field facility in the same spot. The new field is being constructed at a cost of $3.5 million to compensate the city and Chicago Park District for the current track and field that will be swallowed up by the 19.3-acre campus. The $500 million campus, master planned by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, has already seen its fair share of pushback from the community since its unveiling in 2016. First, a controversial parking facility was moved underground after complaints that its presence would spoil the Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux-designed landscape and the accompanying Midway Plaisance. The buildings themselves were redesigned to sit within the park better the next day. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, OPC executives had pledged not to cut down any trees until the project had passed review and they had obtained the proper permits. However, this promise appears to have only counted work on the main campus, and not associated work. As The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) points out, the new field is inextricably linked to the main project and is tied to the OPC’s construction timetable. When the Sun-Times asked about the discrepancy, Obama Foundation officials reportedly declined to confirm that the new field was part of the OPC, telling the paper that “the construction schedule put forward by the Chicago Park District ensures the new track will be ready for students and fall sports leagues.” Additionally, the federal lawsuit filed in May by preservationist group Protect Our Parks was rebuked by lawyers from the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District in June, who argued that as the City Council hasn’t given the project approval yet, any lawsuit was premature. The Chicago City Council won’t vote on the project until the fall, and no construction is supposed to occur until the twice-delayed federal review concludes. According to the Chicago Tribune, the groundbreaking for the campus has been pushed to 2019. No update has been given on whether this will change the projected 2021 opening date. On August 8, TCLF delivered a letter with their concerns to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a federal advisory body on historic preservation. The felling of the trees in a park listed in the National Register of Historic Places and what the Foundation feels is a lack of due diligence by the City of Chicago to look into the site’s archeological significance were addressed. AN will follow this story up as more news about the Center breaks.
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Historic preservation battles in Chicagoland turn to Trumpian tactics

Two controversial community battles in Chicagoland could redefine how historic preservation crusades are fought and won in our overheating national political climate. Both issues highlight how earnest and ethical historic preservation advocacy efforts are being overshadowed by those that are no more than thinly disguised manifestations of NIMBYism supercharged by a culture of divisiveness. In Pullman, originally a planned community outside of Chicago built for Pullman Palace Car Company employees, some residents have banded together to oppose proposed affordable housing for artists over concerns that the construction would destroy an archaeological site: the foundation of ‘Tenement B,’  one of the historic workers' homes. Members of this group, the Pullman National Monument Preservation Society (PNMPS), have gone after public-sector historic preservation entities and the Section 106 regulatory process, arguing the proposed artists' housing will have an ‘adverse effect’ on the site. Pullman became Chicago’s first National Monument in 2015, and it is one of the oldest. At Pullman’s peak, 20,000 factory workers lived and worked under an autocratic system, controlled wholly by the Pullman Palace Car Company, which owned the town's housing, factories, stores, and churches, all planned and designed in the 1880s by architect Solon S. Beman. After workers rioted over wage decreases and the company’s refusal to reduce rents, the Illinois Supreme Court ordered that all non-factory buildings be sold in 1897. Faced with demolition in 1960, the Pullman Civic Organization (PCO) was formed, establishing a foundation for future preservation efforts. By 1973 Pullman had been added to federal, state, and local landmarks lists and the Historic Pullman Foundation was formed, which went on to restore the Hotel Florence and organized the ever-popular house and garden tour. In the summer of 2015, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI) along with VOA Associates (now part of Stantec) introduced a plan to construct the first new rental housing in Pullman in over 50 years. Artspace Lofts would bring affordable artist housing and studio space to an empty lot on Langley Avenue just south of 111th Street. The new development would join two existing historic tenement houses, with the overall project scope including the restoration of both tenements to federal historic preservation standards. The project's site was once the home of a tenement building, demolished in 1938. A fragment of the original limestone foundation is present, as the site was never redeveloped. Pullman residents generally supported the Artspace Lofts plan. Pullman’s status as a National Historic Landmark meant that the project required a detailed federal and local review, but a small group of residents called foul, claiming that not enough was being done by historic preservation organizations to prevent the new development from being constructed and that the sanctity of the landmark was now at risk. The PNMPS was formed. Among the PNMPS’s original claims is that the Artspace Lofts will destroy the limestone foundation and “the associated artifacts” of the tenement building, the remnants of which PNMPS believes to be an archaeological resource, yet PNMPS has also stated that they would accept a reconstruction of Tenement B using the existing limestone foundation. Unlike the recent discovery of remnants of Mecca Flats underneath the IIT campus, which revealed never-before-seen colors and textures of the long-demolished building, further investigation or preservation of the remnants of Tenement B would not enhance existing knowledge of Pullman. PNMPS has gone after the regulatory processes of the National Park Service, the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office, and the City of Chicago, calling out staff members by name for what they claim to be a botched Section 106 review for the Artspace Lofts. This includes PNMPS's unsubstantiated claim that the Section 106 review did not include African-American groups as any of the forty local consulting parties, with PNMPS playing a game of virtue signaling within the neighborhood that grew the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

WALK OF SHAME The developer, representatives from Stantec (project architect), engineers, and a "consultant" on the Pullman Artspace Lofts project site today. The representative from Stantec wasn't aware of the 153' x 33' ruins of Tenement "B" located on the project site. I spoke with them about the history of Pullman's tenement block houses and the importance of this cultural landscape to the Pullman National Monument. Do these companies really want to be associated with the destruction of a 137 year old ruin of the Town of Pullman located within the boundaries of a National Monument and a National Historic Landmark? Time will tell. Learn more about how this project went so wrong... http://www.gofundme.com/savepullman #SavePullman #PNMPS #PullmanNationalMonument #CulturalHeritagePreservation

A post shared by PNMPS, Pullman Preservation (@pnmps) on

On social media PNMPS has dragged the National Trust for Historic Preservation for supporting the project and has posted photos to Instagram of developers and architects working at the site, presumably to expose their identities. Despite the complex explanation of the National Historic Preservation Act and the Section 106 process posted to its website (as well as this bizarre video, including footage from a South Park episode about gentrification and Donald Trump’s inauguration) and other thinly veiled claims attempting to draw attention away from NIMBYism, quotes by Mark Cassello, the president of PNMPS, to the Chicago Tribune in 2016 distill the organization’s real objective: “Pullman doesn’t need to attract artists, they are already here. Pullman doesn’t need affordable housing.” With CNI and Stantec having received all of the necessary approvals, ground is expected to be broken on the Artspace Lofts this fall. Across town, the Evanston City Council recently moved forward with a plan to allow the Evanston Lighthouse Dunes (ELD), to pay for the demolition of the Harley Clarke Mansion, a local historic landmark on Sheridan Road. While the 1927 Tudor revival mansion, designed by architect Richard Powers, boasts impressive architectural features, Evanstonians remember it as the place where they learned to dance, paint, and draw, and when the building was a lakefront art center. Harley Clarke housed the Evanston Art Center for fifty years, providing people of all incomes with their own opulent lakefront mansion. As the city prepared to close the art center over deferred maintenance costs in 2015, several offers were made to take it off the city's hands, including one that proposed a hotel on the property, and another by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. A committee was formed to study uses for the mansion, and a request for proposals was introduced. Late in 2015, a non-profit volunteer group, Evanston Lakehouse & Gardens (ELHG) formed to restore and repurpose Harley Clarke as a public space, initially working closely with city staff to develop a plan that would work similarly to the lease held by the Evanston Art Center, but would include a stipulation that allowed ELHG to build a capital campaign, as the organization lacked the funds upfront for repairs. The City of Evanston initially approved a lease agreement with ELHG in early spring of 2018, but the plan was redacted at the council level, with the city council claiming that ELHG did not present a sound financial proposal. ELHG counterclaims that the city never allowed them to use pledges as fundraising benchmarks, placing the organization in a difficult position, but one that they worked with the city directly to negotiate. Despite this setback, ELHG continues to advocate for the Harley Clarke Mansion, a contributing property to a National Register of Historic Places landmark district, and a City of Evanston local landmark. In May of 2018, Evanston aldermen introduced a proposal by ELD to pledge $400,000 towards the demolition of the mansion. ELD has justified the demolition as a way to absolve Evanston of the financial burden of deferred maintenance and upkeep, as well as a way to open up the lakefront to the public, restore the natural setting of the beach and dunes, and improve the viewshed of the neighboring Grosse Point Lighthouse. According to ELD, demolition of the mansion would also honor the City of Evanston’s Lakefront Master Plan.  Conveniently, the demolition of Harley Clarke would also ensure that no public or private entity could gain ownership or operation of the mansion, be it a boutique hotel or a public art center. While ELD has not disclosed a list of funders, those that have publicly aligned themselves with the organization live nearby, leading to speculation that the demolition of Harley Clarke might provide ELD members with precious views of the lakefront. Views of Lake Michigan would be a boon to real estate values in a neighborhood where home values hover just below $2 million. This has led to the speculation that the 41 individuals, couples, and one family organization that have provided money to ELD may include city leaders, explaining the ability for a previously unknown organization to get out in front of city government so quickly and so easily. The ELD has recently offered to pay for the full price of demolition and restoration of the dunes and Jens Jensen garden, but has stated that the money will only be available to the City of Evanston for two years. Recently softening their preservation ordinance yet still welding substantial power to prevent new construction in historic districts, the City of Evanston needs only to remove the mansion from their list of local landmarks in order to capitalize on private funds for demolition. This differs from the complex matrix in play to review the proposed Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park, which includes consultation with local and federal agencies. Perhaps the cases in both Pullman and in Evanston echo a larger national political trend of Trumpian normalcy now seeping into historic preservation. Attacking long-standing organizations and entities when they come down with a less than ideal determination is becoming acceptable behavior, and the public sector can be increasingly enticed with private money to do things that affect a greater population that lack the funds to influence political decisions. These changes, combined with historic preservation’s tendency to turn a blind eye to any accusation of NIMBYism, whether accurate or not, weaken the field's ability to protect historic resources for the good of our collective culture. As the larger field of architecture works towards a long-overdue reset of abusive practices within it and associated with it, historic preservation, too must take a timely look at how its tactics are implemented, and who will benefit from them.
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The Rock ’N’ Roll McDonald’s replacement opens in Chicago

Eight months after Chicago’s iconic Rock ’N’ Roll McDonald’s was torn down (likely to the chagrin of the late Wesley Willis, who immortalized the building in song), the Ross Barney Architects-designed replacement has opened. The new building in River North bucks the campy, retro look of the original 1983 building, which was hemmed in by golden arches on either side. Instead, Chicago native Carol Ross Barney has designed the flagship McDonald’s with an eye towards sustainability and airiness as part of the company’s McDonald’s of the Future rebranding. The corporate offices have paid for the entire project instead of the local franchisee as part of a wide-ranging renovation scheme, including the installation of self-ordering kiosks, that will affect locations across the U.S. through 2020. Carol Ross Barney’s design wraps an industrial steel-and-solar-panel canvas around the central building, recalling Renzo Piano’s most recent institutional projects. The new McDonald’s is only 19,000 square feet and a single story, which is 20 percent more compact than its predecessor, but the ceiling soars to 27 feet high. Cross-laminated timber was used for the building’s roof and was left exposed on the underside. McDonald’s is heavily touting the project’s sustainability bonafides. Carol Ross Barney also designed the building’s HVAC system and kitchen to use less electricity, and a McDonald’s representative claims that the new store uses 50 percent less energy than its rock and rolling forbearer. The serrated solar pergola shades the plaza around the entrances and is expected to generate up to 60 percent of the building’s electricity needs. Plants have been integrated throughout the project site as well as inside of the building, and diners can eat under cascading green walls suspended from the ceiling. A sunken green roof in the middle of the restaurant provides guests with views of the apple trees, arugula, broccoli, kale, and native grasses being grown on the building’s exterior; McDonald’s has said that over 20,000 square feet of the site is landscaped. It’s more metal than rock and roll, but as of yesterday Chicagoans can once again get their burger fix in River North. As of August 8, the McDonalds will be open 24/7.
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Chicago proposes experiment with pop-up urbanism

Chicago is on the verge of implementing a novel way of enlivening streetscapes. To combat the spread of vacant storefronts across the city and particularly in economically-challenged neighborhoods, a proposed ordinance would let entrepreneurs test pop-up concepts in empty spaces for anywhere from only five days to a full year. New licenses, the first of their kind in the nation, would require no on-site inspection, would not be tied to a location, and would allow the holder to operate throughout the city for the length of the license. The current model requires business owners seeking to operate pop-up establishments to obtain a full two-year license. Introduced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in partnership with the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, the ordinance would allow landlords looking to rent out their space for retail pop-ups to do so without a license. Landlords interested in renting out space for restaurants would be able to obtain a low-burden pop-up host license. The ordinance is one of several introduced by Mayor Emanuel, one of many after declaring his candidacy for a third term in 2019, to assist in incubating small businesses in Chicago. “It would incentivize owners to rent or sell instead of sitting on their properties while letting them deteriorate,” noted Lynn Basa, artist and founder of Corner Chicago, an organization working to revitalize Milwaukee Avenue in Avondale, the traditional core of the neighborhood’s immigrant and working-class business and commercial district. “I think it would only work best on a commercial corridor like ours where there are people who want to buy our buildings or rent storefronts but are met with impossible demands by the owners.” With Chicago neighborhoods like Avondale experiencing a surge of development, many existing vintage storefronts along arterial streets remain vacant while owners await high-price rental tenants or the opportunity to sell. The pop-up ordinance could allow building owners to take on new tenants at a low level of risk, while animating commercial corridors with foot traffic. It's difficult to properly evaluate the long-term effects provisional development may have on communities. Operating at a significantly lower cost, pop-up concepts could give traditional brick and mortar operations direct competition. There is no guarantee that a successful lean retail or pop-up business will stay in a given neighborhood once it has run out its lease, and no guarantee that the storefront will experience another round of occupancy once the pop-up closes. As the ordinance passes, Chicagoans could expect to see a range of food and beverage pop-ups of the Netflix and nostalgia type, similar to the Stranger Things and Saved by The Bell themed establishments in Logan Square and Wicker Park, but the ordinance also has the potential to bring original creative concepts to neighborhoods. Since 2009, Pop-Up Art Loop has used vacant storefronts downtown for temporary gallery and exhibition spaces, and it has proved successful in driving traffic during non-business hours, a concept that could be replicated in neighborhoods with the pop-up ordinance. The success of the four-day long Chicago edition of Refinery29’s 29Rooms interactive art pop-up, held in a warehouse in West Town, could encourage similar short-term installations in spaces that are underutilized. An additional scope of the ordinance allows spaces to be used for alternative purposes during off hours.