Posts tagged with "Chicago":

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Mayoral hopefuls talk architecture and policy before Chicago votes

On February 26, Chicagoans will go to the polls and choose one of fourteen candidates for mayor, the most seen on a general election ballot since 1901. Once Rahm Emanuel announced he would not be running for a third term and the cohort of dozens of candidates began whittling itself down, The Architect’s Newspaper began looking into the crowded field of candidates to see how they might address critical issues relating to the built environment, architecture, and historic preservation. The 2019 election is a cacophonous mix of candidates, and even with a number of familiar names from across the county and state, determining a probable winner is difficult. While former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle have shown to be frontrunners in recent polls, Illinois Comptroller Susanna Mendoza, former Chicago Public Schools President Gery Chico, and entrepreneur Willie Wilson aren’t far behind, and no candidate has been able to crack a majority. Other candidates rounding out the ballot include former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, former Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, former Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, former Alderman Bob Fioretti, State Representative La Shawn Ford, lawyers Jerry Joyce and John Kozlar, and Community Organizer Amara Enyia, who received a surge via a nod and a campaign contribution from Chance the Rapper. All bets are off if no candidate receives a majority of the votes and a runoff election is held April 2. In November, FBI agents raided the office of 14th Ward alderman Edward Burke, the longest serving alderman in Chicago, over allegations that he extorted the owners of a Burger King after they sought permits to remodel. While both mayoral candidates Preckwinkle and Mendoza have connections with Burke, it’s difficult to gauge how that association will play out at the polls. In January it was revealed that 25th Ward alderman Danny Solis was also under federal investigation for misusing his official office, and that Solis had served as a confidential informant against Burke and had worn a wire in order to deal with his own federal investigation. Chicago has a long history of political corruption and apparently intends to live up to that reputation. The next mayor of Chicago faces a number of issues connected to the built environment. The city’s tax increment financing (TIF) program, established to jump-start development in blighted areas, has been used on wealthy downtown development projects that arguably need little assistance getting off the ground. With the program running a surplus, City Council members have been calling for reform, a demand that has become increasingly louder as megadevelopments like Lincoln Yards, expected to become a new TIF district, breeze through the Chicago Planning Commission. Every candidate has spoken out on making the TIF program more transparent and accountable. Candidates have also spoken out about the need for more affordable housing across the city, with some advocating for the return of small accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as a way to increase the number of affordable homes, and others calling for an elimination of the opt-out clause of the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO). Mayoral candidates also have Rahm Emanuel’s legacy to deal with, whether that means dismantling it or using the initiatives he created and executed during his two terms as a springboard for the future. Aligning with Emanuel and his policies could mean alienating voters who are looking for change, yet Chicago’s political web is threaded so tightly that denouncing Rahm could mean denouncing some of his powerful friends. AN contacted each of the candidates looking for answers to questions relating to public policy about the built environment. Below are the edited questions and answers provided by every candidate who responded. The Architect’s Newspaper: The Obama Presidential Center (OPC) promises to bring economic and cultural benefits to the south side of Chicago, yet the Obama Foundation will not sign a community benefits agreement (CBA), and the OPC will subtract public parkland from Jackson Park for private use. How might you as mayor work to ensure that the development will have tangible positive effects on the communities that will be impacted by its construction? Lori Lightfoot: I am pleased that the OPC will be in Chicago. It represents a significant investment in a community that needs it. Credit should be given to Jackson Park residents who have and continue to raise issues with the OPC’s impact on surrounding neighborhoods. I would work to bridge the current divides to come to an equitable and respectful solution to the remaining outstanding issues. Paul Vallas: The OPC is an exciting new development. I do believe that the Center would have provided Chicago with even greater benefits had it been sited on the west side of Washington Park where it would have been more directly accessible to CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) rapid transit and could have provided even greater catalyst activity to a neglected corner of the South Side. It is regrettable that the City has agreed to relocate Cornell Drive to accommodate the current plan. At $200 million, the relocation of Cornell is a costly undertaking for a City that is facing severe financial challenges. I would prefer to see the site altered to have the center be less intrusive on public lands, though I realize that this deal may be final—barring any actions on the pending federal lawsuit.  Bob Fioretti: We need a CBA. Period. A community benefits agreement, as well as conditions, including a new trauma center on the South Side, were aspects I asked for from the start from the project. City council agreed to a CBA on the Olympic bid. There are other properties in the area that are better suited for the OPC. Jackson Park is not the place to put it. AN: Mayor Rahm Emanuel has stated that he will block the sale of the Thompson Center by the State of Illinois over concerns that the building’s liquidation and potential demolition will disrupt Chicago’s busiest public transit hub. There have also been calls that the structure is a representation of political waste and should be demolished, and a counter argument by preservationists that the building is a masterpiece of architecture.  What do you see in the future for the Thompson Center? LL: As a lover of Chicago’s architectural history, in general, my first instinct will always be to protect historical treasures. The Thompson Center has had a checkered history and there are valid concerns about maintenance. The fight between outgoing Governor Rauner and Mayor Emanuel should be in the rearview mirror. I would welcome dialogue with the Pritzker administration to devise a plan for the building’s future. PV: The demolition of the Thompson Center would be a terrible waste. Though it has its design issues and needs work to address the years of deferred maintenance, it strains credulity to think that a sale of the center and moving state workers to other quarters would eventually produce a net savings to taxpayers. I also believe that the center is an important piece of architecture that is worthy of preservation. I think the best option may well be the redesign proposal of the center's architect, Helmut Jahn, which envisions constructing a tower on the southwest corner of the complex. Such a tower could provide a valuable income stream to the state if properly executed. BF: I’ve been to Berlin and seen other structures that Helmut Jahn has developed, and I like the Berlin design better. At $300 million it should have been sold a long time ago, and I want to listen to the purchaser and the community. If the whole community says “yes, let’s take it down,” then take it down. AN: Chicago is world-renowned as a center for architectural thought and practice, as evident by the presence of many American masterpieces and new favorites by Frank Gehry and Jeanne Gang. Yet neighborhoods are losing their historic building stock, many of it designed and built for and by average working Chicagoans. Demolition is changing the character of neighborhoods and making way for developments that could cause displacement, affecting the ability for a community to be affordable. What can we do as a city to better preserve the architectural history of working-class Chicago while also encouraging growth and development? LL: Much of the city’s history, beauty, and character is found in its neighborhoods. In my 32 years in Chicago, I have lived on the south, west, and north sides. And in that time, I have seen how our neighborhoods have changed. Sometimes for the better, as can be seen from the considerable efforts to preserve and revitalize the Pullman neighborhood, and sometimes not—as is evident in parts of the Southport Corridor and Lincoln Avenue in North Center, where historic two- and three-story buildings have given way to generic, monolithic three- and four-story condominiums. PV: More needs to be done to make certain that redevelopment in historic neighborhoods be done with as much sensitivity as possible, both to reuse as much of the historic housing stock as possible while also reducing potential blight resulting from insensitive, out-of-scale development projects. Some of this could be achieved by exploring landmarking of additional historic areas. Chicago also needs to develop more programs to spur development of the large inventory of abandoned properties throughout the city's more economically challenged areas. BF: It seems like every time we turn around another building is being demolished. I want to slow down this demolition and increase the importance of Chicago’s historic housing stock. As the former president of the Pullman Foundation, I look at what we did there in 1965 as a blueprint. The people rose up to fight the construction of an industrial complex between 111th and 115th Street and Cottage Grove. AN: In 2013, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) closed 49 elementary schools and one high school, promising students that closing underperforming schools would provide a boost in the quality of education and help liquidate CPS debt. Many of these schools remain vacant and unsold, and their closure has proven to have had a negative effect on CPS students and families. As schools sit empty, they affect neighborhood health, public safety, and economic development. How will you resolve the negative effects of school closures on students and neighborhoods? LL: We need to give communities the opportunity to improve underperforming schools before deciding on further closures. The mayor and CPS must examine the condition of each building to determine a possible future use. This must be done sooner rather than later so CPS can eliminate unnecessary carrying costs where possible, return land to the property tax rolls, or prevent buildings from deteriorating. If a building is going to be sold, then CPS should work with the surrounding community to identify future uses that can benefit the community. This could include selling a vacant school to a non-profit or for-profit affordable housing developer that will make units available for rent or sale. I envision converting some of these buildings into business incubators that are easily accessible for people on the west and south sides, and using others to provide wrap-around services, such as daycare, job training programs, ESL classes, and health care. PV: As the former CEO of CPS, I have an intimate knowledge of CPS's real estate portfolio. I lead the efforts to renovate many of those structures, most of which are solid buildings. My time at CPS was the only period in the last 40 years when CPS's enrollment actually grew, and as CEO, I never closed a single school. In that time, I also conducted the major renovations of over 350 buildings. I led the effort to purchase and restore the historic Bronzeville Armory, maintaining its exterior and interior design, while reopening it as the nation’s first public high school military academy. Sadly, Chicago is confronted with the reality of declining enrollment and something must be done with these valuable structures to again make them centers for the community. Months ago, I detailed a plan to re-purpose many of those structures, especially as centers for adult learners, many of whom are in need of career and vocational training. Significant untapped state, federal, and foundation funding could be tapped to help pay for these efforts. BF: The problem is that the black middle class is leaving, and the exodus continues. We had 150,000 empty seats at CPS. Now we have 362,000. Families aren’t going to come back until we make economic changes. I said from day one that CPS won’t be able to resell or repurpose these schools. Homelessness disrupts the atmosphere, so perhaps we transform them to help our homeless kids.
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Hulu adapting story of Daniel Burnham and Columbian Exposition for television

Hulu is adapting The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, the historical nonfiction book written by Erik Larson, into a television series, according to Variety. The series will be produced by Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, though it is unclear if the actor will also star in the series. Devil in the White City chronicles the lives of Daniel H. Burnham, the powerful and influential architect who directed the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and Dr. H. H. Holmes, a physician and serial killer who murdered his victims—mostly young women—in a building he owned on the fairgrounds, known as the “Murder Castle.” The enigmatic building was reportedly fitted with mazes of hallways, trap doors, and staircases leading to nowhere in order to confuse and frighten visitors before their deaths. Holmes confessed to nearly 30 murders and was rumored to have killed as many as 200 people. The book was intended to be converted into a film nearly a decade ago, where DiCaprio would star as the handsome yet murderous Holmes. By 2015, Scorsese was to direct with DiCaprio, and Paramount Television was to produce the series. Few details about the Hulu production have been revealed, and it is unclear as to where and when the filming will take place.
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The 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial announces curatorial focus

The third edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial is coming to the Midwest this fall with a curatorial vision by Artistic Director Yesomi Umolu and co-curators Sepake Angiama and Paulo Tavares. Under the theme ...and other such stories, the biennial will engage “multiple narratives from different geographies and histories” to spark conversation about a future for the field that is shared, diverse, sustainable, inclusive, and equitable. Centered around four areas of inquiry, the biennial will showcase a broad view of the industry while addressing the importance of space, architecture, and nature in connection to the practices of building, designing, planning, policymaking, teaching, and activism. The first focus, “No Land Beyond,” will feature projects inspired by an indigenous approach to nature, ecology, and landscape, while “Appearances and Erasures” will dive into designing monuments and memorials in response to shared and contested memories. “Rights and Reclamations” and “Common Ground” will explore civil rights and advocacy within the field with a particular concentration on affordable and equitable housing. The biennial will also draw from Chicago’s own urban development history, as well as the spatial and socio-economic conditions that have shaped it. By “moving beyond the grand narratives of the city’s architectural heritage,” the biennial will highlight the unique experiences of both architects and everyday people by sharing new voices and perspectives on the environmental and socio-political issues that make up Chicago’s landscape. This idea will be echoed in projects brought to the biennial from around the world. In preparation for the multi-month event, the curators have worked on research initiatives in Chicago, Sao Paulo, Johannesburg, and Vancouver to uncover the most important issues to architects and citizens living in cities today. “Through these engagements,” Umolu said in a statement, “we have drawn out a myriad of stories about how lived experiences across global communities, cities, territories, and ecologies resonate with architectural and space-making practices.” The 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial will run from September 19, 2019, through January 5, 2020. It is free and open to the public. The central exhibition will be held at the Chicago Cultural Center, and other sites throughout the city will host exhibitions, projects, and panels.
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Land Rover’s Shanghai Offices keeps the sun out with a diaphanous ceramic frit

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  The district of Pudong in Shanghai has exploded over the last two decades with approximately 10 percent annual population growth, while the city’s skyline has soared eastward to the East China Sea. FGP Atelier, a Chicago-based firm founded by Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido, has imprinted its distinctive style in the district with the Land Rover tower-and-retail complex featuring a ceramic fritted glass facade. The complex is spread over a 185,000-square-foot campus, with the two 21-story towers located on the northeastern and southwestern corners.
  • Facade Manufacturer Yuanda
  • Architects FGP Atelier
  • Facade Installer Yuanda
  • Facade Consultants Schmidlin
  • Location Shanghai, China
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Unitized glass curtain wall
  • Products Custom fritted glass
The ceramic frit pattern, which extends from the towers to the two-story retail spaces ringing the development, is both practical and symbolic. Covering up to 35 percent of the facades, the ceramic pattern is a sun filter that also conceals interior support columns and other infrastructural details. Symbolically, the diaphanous pattern evokes the dense foliage of China’s bamboo forests. “The organic feel that results balances the regularity of the plan and allows the building to change as light hits the various surfaces in different manners,” said Gonzalez-Pulido. “This transformation is particularly present as the sun sets and the building glows from within.” Produced by Chinese-manufacturer Yuanda, the custom glass unitized curtain wall consists of a triple layer laminated design, with the ceramic pattern in the third layer. Because making every 5-by-15-foot facade panel unique would be too expensive, FGP Atelier arranged 52 patterns with a parametric design tool that mirrored and rotated different panels into a rationalized layout. While the overall approach remained consistent throughout the design process, shifting government mandates forced the design team to regularly go back to the drawing board. Originally, FGP Atelier wanted facade panels to be over 50 percent covered by the ceramic frit. However, governmental concerns regarding the quality of Chinese ceramics dictated that at most only half of each panel could be covered. The design team addressed this challenge by hollowing larger ceramic components while maintaining the original pattern. As the project moved forward, another spanner was thrown into the works by the local regulatory body. Because of concerns regarding the reflectivity of the glass curtain wall, Shanghai's building department dictated that FGP Atelier incorporate stainless steel fins—a reflective material—to dampen the iridescence of the curtain wall. To reduce the obtrusiveness of this element from the otherwise smooth facade, the design team opted for black-coated stainless steel, which effectively mirrors the pattern of the ceramic frit.
 
   
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Snarkitecture’s plastic beach makes waves in Chicago

Although much of the country, Chicago included, is being blasted by arctic air, that doesn’t mean that the beach is out of reach. From now until February 3, Chicagoans can leap into Snarkitecture’s The Beach Chicago, back in the states after serving its last tour of duty in Sydney, Australia. Interested visitors can find the 1.1-million-ball-beach installed inside of the Aon Grand Ballroom at the Navy Pier. The ballroom, designed by Charles Sumner Frost and completed in 1916, is an imposing location for The Beach, as the installation sits under an 80-foot-tall stone-and-steel dome. Visitors can take in the impressive view by lounging on a deck chair, or “floating” in the ocean of translucent antimicrobial balls. The 18,000-square-foot space on the pier has been transformed into a full “beach," complete with umbrellas, lifeguard stations, inflatables, lounge chairs, and the appropriate signage. Restaurants on the pier will be offering up complimentary “beach-themed” menus, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater will continue its run of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Beach began as a commission for the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., as part of its annual Summer Block Party series. Snarkitecture responded to the prompt by flooding the museum’s Great Hall with colorless white balls, creating both a play space and meditation on the form of the balls themselves. The installation was so successful that it’s been touring the world as a series of pop-ups ever since, and returned (partially) to the National Building Museum as part of the Snarkitecture retrospective in 2018. The Beach Chicago was made possible with support from The Chicago Free For All Fund at The Chicago Community Trust, the Navy Pier Associate Board, and Hilton Worldwide.
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Chicago’s South Side Community Art Center looks at life during the Great Migration

Founded in 1940 by a group of artists devoted to capturing images of black life in flux during the Great Migration, Chicago’s historic South Side Community Art Center became a designated Chicago Landmark in 1994 and was given National Treasure status by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2017. As the only Works Progress Administration (WPA) Art Center still operating in its original building, for nearly 80 years the South Side Community Art Center has been a sanctuary for emerging African American artists, many of whom have gone on to become icons. Change the Canvas, Change the World: A Landscape of Cultural Discovery, sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art, explores the work and careers of artists who made the center and the South Side their creative home, including Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Burroughs, Langston Hughes, Gordon Parks, Katherine Dunham, Elizabeth Catlett, Archibald Motley, and other contributors to the center’s legacy.

Change the Canvas, Change the World: A Landscape of Cultural Discovery South Side Community Art Center 3831 South Michigan Avenue Chicago Through March 2
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SOM designs first public library for Chicago’s West Loop

In an old Harpo Productions building in Chicago's West Loop, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has designed a new branch for the Chicago Public Library, the first outpost of the system in the neighborhood. The two-story, 16,500-square-foot building unites two older structures into a single cultural center for the area. The interior design takes its cues from the neighborhood's historic warehouses and stripped back existing partitions and finishes to reveal the brick and timber structure. Shelves were kept low so that spaces could feel and sight lines could be maintained. Brian Lee, design partner at SOM said in a statement: "The unique architecture and scale of the West Loop reflects a vital part of Chicago’s industrial history, while the growing residential and mixed-use character of the neighborhood points to an exciting vision of the city’s future." A sweeping graphic runs along the library's walls representing "story lines" from classic children's books and novels that visitors are invited to follow. Coloring throughout is golden and warm, playing off the reddish tones in the exposed brick and wood. Wall text highlights the words of global poets and authors that the designers selected.
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Bertrand Goldberg’s brutalist River City building gets controversial paint job

Preservationists are up in arms over a paint job made by the new owners of Bertrand Goldberg’s brutalist River City condominium in Chicago. Crews are currently brightening the exposed concrete walls that line the building’s soaring atrium to a stark shade of white. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, some consider it an act of vandalism. Built in 1986, the iconic mixed-use building features a serpentine design and a lightly undulating facade full of arcing windows. Its 10-story atrium is lit by thinly ribbed glass openings on the roof. The structure is situated in the city’s South Loop neighborhood and hovers over the Chicago River on a series of plinths, making it accessible by boat. Though it's not a landmarked building, it's a staple of Goldberg’s Chicago architecture and impressive to many. Its textured grey tones are enhanced by daylight, but its new owners want to create an even more modern feel to attract residents, hence the new white color. Last month, the property was co-purchased by its new ownership, a group of real estate investors, for $90.5 million. The sale marked the largest condominium deconversion in Chicago history, According to The Real Deal, it took two years of negotiations to sort out the deal so that the owners could transform the 449-unit complex into a fully renovated rental apartment building. Painting the atrium is step one towards that goal.   Well-known local critic Lee Bey told Crain’s the decision is “a shame,” and that the building’s expression is best understood within its curved walls. “It really is a significant change to a space that Goldberg thought out very carefully,” he said. “He brings this curvilinear ‘street’ inside the building, with the sun coming in from above. He thought of it as a street in Paris.” Under its new ownership, River City is set to receive an updated lobby, a new fitness center, co-working spaces, and communal areas. The existing 250,000 square feet of office and retail space will also be upgraded.
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Five finalists release their visions for O’Hare expansion

In November 2018, news first broke of the five-firm shortlist competing to design the $8.7 billion Terminal 2 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The star-studded list held both international and local firms, and today, Chicago city officials have made public designs for each team’s proposal. Chicagoans and frequent fliers have until January 23 to vote for their favorite designs and offer feedback, here. The O’Hare 21 expansion, which will expand O’Hare from 5.5 million square feet to 8.9 million square feet, is a pet project of outgoing mayor Rahm Emanuel. O’Hare currently serves nearly 80 million travelers a year, and with demand projected to grow, the extant Terminal 2 (built in 1963) needs to be expanded. The team of Colorado’s Fentress Architects, engineering and architecture firm EXP, Brook Architecture, and Garza Architects have proposed an undulating terminal with a ribbon-like canopy, held up by slender, full-length columns. A split in the terminal’s massing would allow natural light into the center of the building, a necessity given that the team has stacked more floors into its terminal than the other four. Foster + Partners has been working with local firms Epstein and JGMA, and have produced a dramatically curved, cave-like terminal fronted by an enormous wall of glass. Foster’s terminal resembles a draped piece of fabric swaying in the wind that splits into three separate arched halls at the rear but opens to what they’ve dubbed a “theater of aviation” at the tarmac. The use of a crisscrossing truss system topped with glass creates a coffered ceiling effect while also allowing in natural light. From the renderings, it appears that the terminal’s interior will be clad in a warm wood finish. Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners, the team formed by Chicago’s Studio Gang, Corgan AssociatesSolomon Cordwell Buenz, and STL Architects, was heavily influenced by themes of convergence and confluence. Three curves join in the middle to carve out space for a massive central skylight. The roof of each curve, formed from ribs that extend into the terminal’s interior, tent in the center; it appears the underside of each will be clad in timber. The team has described their proposal as one that’s layered but easy to navigate. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), who have partnered with  Ross Barney Architects and Arup, are proposing ORD, from a shortening of Orchard Field, the original name of O’Hare (unrelated to Studio ORD above). Although their plan is squarer than the others, the SOM team has also designed an undulating roof supported by coffered timber trusses. The roof would cantilever out over the terminal’s tall glass walls, and according to the video, ample landscaping that references Illinois’s nickname as “the Prairie State.” Intriguingly, the terminal would also include enclosed outdoor plazas, complete with tree-strung hammocks, for passengers to relax in. Last but certainly not least, Santiago Calatrava and local firm HKS have presented the most ambitious of the five proposals (though it fits quite snugly within Calatrava’s oeuvre). Resembling a ship’s prow, the glass facade bulges in the center before terminating at a sharp point. Inside, large, unbroken spans are supported by Calatrava’s signature structural “ribs” to create a soaring interior space. The team has also proposed turning the existing parking area to the terminal’s rear into a landscaped “hotel, retail, and business complex,” though there’s no telling how much that would add to the budget. The city and Chicago Department of Aviation are being pushed to make a decision before Mayor Emanuel departs in May of this year, and the project is expected to finish in 2026. Models of each team’s submission can be viewed at the Chicago Architecture Center until January 31, and Terminal 2 will be displaying the new designs digitally until the 31st as well.
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Lincoln Yards cuts plans for soccer stadium and large entertainment venue

Chicago’s unbuilt Lincoln Yards mega-development will no longer include a soccer stadium and entertainment district. Under pressure from constituents, Alderman Brian Hopkins of Chicago’s 2nd Ward has rejected developer Sterling Bay’s proposal to include a 20,000 seat United Soccer League stadium, as well as a series of large Live Nation–run entertainment venues. Live Nation will divest itself from the development, as will the United Soccer League and Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, who is the majority owner of a Chicago franchise. Alderman Hopkins has called for Sterling Bay to retool the project to bring more open space to the development in place of the stadium and venues, and bring a variety of smaller, scattered venues through the site, as well as restaurants and theaters. The public has yet to hear this proposal, despite Lincoln Yards' presence on the January 24 Chicago Planning Commission meeting agenda and confirmation from Mayor Rahm Emanuel that the project will "move forward on a balanced path," Crain's Chicago Business reported. Expected to cost upwards of $6 million dollars, Lincoln Yards will transform nearly 55 acres of former industrial land along the Chicago River into a dense cluster of retail, office, and residential development, delivering a planned 5,000 residential units, 500 hotel rooms, a mile of new riverwalk, and an extension to the 606. Designed by SOM, the project is slated to include multiple skyscrapers reaching a height of up to 650 feet, making the overall height of the development as tall as some structures in the Loop. This isn’t the first time Sterling Bay has had to trim its plans for Lincoln Yards; community input dictated a decrease in the maximum height of the high-rise towers and an increase in publicly-accessible open space in response to a community meeting in November. The move to ax Live Nation from the plan had advocates of The Hideout feeling cautiously optimistic as the Live Nation–run spaces could have threatened the independent venue and provided competition, despite Sterling Bay's commitment to keeping The Hideout a component of the Lincoln Yards plan. While Sterling Bay has agreed to provide opportunities for independent music operators to participate, concerns remain. The City of Chicago introduced the Cortland/Chicago River Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district in November, which encompasses the entirety of the Lincoln Yards site. As Sterling Bay would be the primary property owner, it would be allowed to pay for the project and its future improvements through TIF funds, raising questions of the appropriateness of the new district, as TIF is intended to revive struggling neighborhoods. Members of the City Council Progressive Caucus have been advocating for a measure that would allow the city to provide TIF funds only to projects that cannot be completed without them. Sterling Bay has also yet to address how many of the residential units will be considered affordable, or the demand the project will place on new schools. While some concerns regarding infrastructure and transportation have been addressed, area residents remain concerned about traffic and congestion, as well as the availability and equitability of public transportation.
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Released documents detail elements of Chicago’s bid for Amazon HQ2

After perennially sitting as a top contender for Amazon’s HQ2 bid, Chicago received the news that it would not be the site of the company's second headquarters like everyone else did, via stories from The Washington PostThe New York Times, and Amazon itself on November 13. Amazon’s decision to build its second headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, New York, and Arlington, Virginia, laid out the national assumption that Chicago was crestfallen, particularly after being narrowed down to one of the top twenty contenders in January 2018. Despite the rejection of Chicago’s massive corporate recruitment efforts, the city continues to carry on as it did before Amazon began courting the 238 cities it originally targeted for HQ2 in September 2017, building new, preserving old and eagerly anticipating what a new mayor will mean for upcoming and ongoing projects like the restoration of the Uptown Theatre, the construction of The Paseo, and The 78. According to responses to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests obtained by Crain’s Chicago Business on December 14, the city laid out an impressive set of perks to entice Amazon to build its HQ2 headquarters. Some communications show Chicago offering Amazon naming rights to airports. With the bid still active, an Illinois judge ruled in August that the City of Chicago could keep the details of the offer under wraps. Chicago, Illinois, and Cook County collectively offered Amazon $2.253 billion in tax breaks, extensions, and incentives, as well as five possible sites in varying stages of planning and development. Ultimately Amazon only wanted to look at The 78.  The company liked the location of the still-developing 62-acre mixed-use site, near the Loop as well as the University of Illinois at Chicago, as an educational incubator for computer science and technology. Despite the rumor that Amazon visited three times to check out the city's offer, Amazon actually only made only two trips to Chicago, reviewing neighborhoods and amenities, and bringing together both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Bruce Rauner for a series of bipartisan lunches. In order to expedite Amazon’s architectural and spatial needs, Chicago also offered a specialized lien to allow Amazon to obtain building permits for the $5 billion construction of HQ2, as well as homes for the associated 50,000 workers and executives. In March, Chicago sank money into a slick bid video released on Rahm Emanuel’s Twitter account. The video took poetic aim at Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, comparing Amazon’s humble beginnings in a garage in 1994 to Chicago’s triumphant reconstruction after the Great Fire of 1871, with narration provided by Star Trek alumnus William Shatner. Bezos is a known Star Trek fan.
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Chicago aims to preserve the vernacular architecture in its largest Mexican-American community

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks has approved a preliminary designation for a dense array of hundreds of late 19th-century vernacular buildings in the heart of Pilsen, a working-class Hispanic community on Chicago’s near southwest side. The district, to be one of the city’s largest, is only a component of a plan seeking to broaden notions of preservation in Chicago, and it aims to protect culture and affordability in Pilsen and neighboring Little Village along with the historic built environment. The Pilsen and Little Village Preservation Strategy is meant to strengthen affordability requirements, provide new housing resources for existing residents, enact an industrial modernization agenda, and improve public and open space. These initiatives are an attempt to steer Pilsen and Little Village away from the type of development that displaces existing residents and threatens the nature of neighborhoods as seen along the 606, a 2.7-mile linear park completed in 2015 that has changed the character of Humboldt Park and neighboring Logan Square, as well as Wicker Park and Bucktown. The measures follow an ordinance in November that cleared the way for Chicago to purchase four miles of an abandoned rail right-of-way currently owned by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company for the Paseo, a linear pedestrian and bike trail first proposed in 2006. Unlike the 606, Chicago intends to follow a more careful path forward with the Paseo, taking steps to ensure that park planning will not take precedence over neighborhood-wide concerns of affordability and developer-driven teardowns. The Pilsen Historic District will intersect the Paseo at Sangamon Street, the far east end of the district. According to a report released by Cities, the International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning, monthly rent on tracts bordering the 606 increased by $201 from 2010 to 2016, double the average citywide increase of $102. During that same census period, the share of non-Hispanic whites in the population increased by 4.83 percent. The median household income of people living on property bordering the 606 jumped by $14,682, compared to a citywide $3,557. In addition to taking a proactive approach to new public space, the strategy also responds to pressure from developers looking to capitalize on the neighborhood Forbes named one of the “12 Coolest Neighborhoods around the World" because of its "streets lined with hip galleries and walls decorated with colorful murals dating from the 1970s." A strong sense of Mexican pride is articulated through the adornment of the built environment with vibrant murals, many using pre-Columbian motifs and portraits of both icons and contemporary activists to express the diasporic identity of the community. These colorful murals are at risk as buildings are bought, sold, and rehabbed, as was the case of the iconic Casa Aztlán mural that was painted over in 2017. A real estate panel targeting developers titled “Chicago’s Emerging Neighborhoods: The Rise of Pilsen, Uptown, Logan Square and Humboldt Park” is scheduled for December 12, and promises to show developers how to reposition assets in “boom” neighborhoods and capitalize on the halo effect of institutional investment. As reported by Block Club Chicago, the event faced criticism on social media, leading to a softening of the tone of the marketing materials and the addition of language addressing affordability. Included in the preservation plan is a five-year Affordable Requirement Ordinance (ARO) pilot program that will increase required affordability requirements for large residential projects that require a zoning change within a 7.2-mile area of Pilsen and Little Village. The bulk of the proposed historic district and the Paseo lies inside the ARO pilot program area. The program will up the affordable housing requirements for new developments with ten or more units from 10 percent to 20 percent, with provisions to increase the number of family size units via financial incentives. Like the citywide ordinance, developers will have to pay an in-lieu fee if they choose not to provide on-site units. Within the pilot program area, the fee jumps from $100,000 to $150,000 per unit. Working in tandem with the ARO pilot, the Chicago Community Land Trust will provide reduced property taxes in exchange for long-term affordability, with the Chicago Low-Income Housing Trust Fund, the recipient of the in-lieu fees, providing rental subsidies. Through a multi-year community-based process, the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development is looking to modernize the Little Village Industrial Corridor as an employment center while improving economic, environmental, and social conditions. The industrial corridor runs along the Stevenson Expressway roughly from Cicero to Western and provides manufacturing jobs to Little Village residents. Concurrently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the local historic district designation will protect the physical manifestation of over a century of immigration in Pilsen, a complex patchwork of worker’s cottages, commercial buildings, houses of worship, churches, and schools, most of which were constructed from 1870 to 1910 by Czech and Bohemian immigrants. Mexican-Americans became the predominant ethnic group in the mid-20th century, creating a network of ultra-local activism that forged coalitions between working class people across Chicago. Designation of the district unlocks multiple financial incentives for commercial and residential properties, including the 20% Federal Historic Tax Credit and the 25% State Historic Tax Credit, as well as Class L Property Tax Incentives and Preservation Easement Donations.