Posts tagged with "Chicago":

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Northwestern University builds a new curving, glassy home for its business school

Dubbed the Global Hub, Northwestern University’s latest addition to its Evanston campus is a grand new home to the Kellogg School of Management. The recently opened five-story building sits immediately along the shore of Lake Michigan on land reclaimed by the university decades ago. Defined by four large wings, which produce a plan that resembles the letter K, the curving form of the building makes no small reference to the waves on the water it overlooks.

“The first inspiration was the action of the water and the waves, and how they round off materials and forms to make them smooth,” explained Bruce Kuwabara, partner at Toronto-based firm KPMB, which designed the new building. “It was beautiful, the power of Lake Michigan and nature.”

The project is composed of a series of vastly different-sized spaces, accumulating to a whopping 415,000 square feet. The building is the new home to full-time business students, faculty, and administration offices. Collaboration areas throughout can accommodate from two to twenty individuals, and larger gathering spaces can handle from 200 to 2,000.

The largest space in the complex is the massive multistory center atrium, where all four wings connect. The structure’s exterior curves continue into this space in the form of flowing balconies and staircases. Two of the large wooden staircases at the heart of the building double as seating for formal and informal events. Another atrium on the upper levels acts a second major space. Both allow for copious amounts of natural light.

The building’s high-tech envelope not only allows in all of that light, but also contributes to the project’s goal of achieving LEED Gold certification. Throughout, double and triple glazing provide daylight and energy efficiency, while automated shading controls glare and solar gain. A series of undulating fritted glass fins adds an additional layer of shading. On the interior, borrowed light is distributed through glassed office partitions. Perhaps even more than daylighting and energy efficiency, the glass facade provides something the building takes ample advantage of: unmatched views of the lake and the downtown, 15 miles to the south.

Called the “Global Hub,” it is part of the University’s larger building program that includes the 2015 Goettsch Partners–designed Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts. Both new additions to the campus run counter to its existing catalogue of Brutalist and gothic-revival structures.

The stark contrast between old and new on Northwestern’s campus is the school’s physical manifestation of its vision for the future of education. And Northwestern is not alone—dark wood–lined halls and oak tree–filled quads are being replaced by brighter, more transparent and generous collaboration spaces at many traditional campuses. It is only a matter of time before the image of the elite campus is less about spires and more about sunlight.

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Valerio Dewalt Train Associates overcomes NIMBY lawsuit to build expressive tower on Chicago’s South Side

It was a long road from design to construction for Vue53 in the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park. The 13-story tower sits along the bustling 53rd Street and has completely changed the character of the area. While change to the busy conduit was inevitable, not everybody was thrilled about it.

Designed by Chicago-based Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, Vue53 was originally scheduled to begin construction in early 2014. A NIMBY lawsuit delayed that start date by nearly one and a half years. The Save 53rd Street advocacy group felt the project was out of scale for the neighborhood and that the zoning change passed by the city, which allowed the tower to go up, was illegal, among other complaints. Opponents donned “Sky, Not Skyscraper” buttons at community meetings. The First District Illinois Appellate Court did not agree. In February 2015 the case was dismissed, permitting the project to continue.

Fast forward two years or so, and Hyde Park has a new 135-foot-tall 267-unit tower. A formally expressive building in glass and concrete, Vue53 comprises a large base and two shifted linear towers. The base rises to the height of the surrounding buildings and contains retail and amenities. These include a compact urban Target store as well as a rooftop terrace, complete with grass and views of the lush park across the street. The building also includes an exercise facility, a business center, and a number of study rooms distributed throughout (for the students the Vue53 is aiming to attract).

The studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units may be a bit smaller than the average being built downtown, but they may also be just right for the intended tenants. The project was in fact initiated by the University of Chicago, just blocks to the south. Yet it is not the amenities, or the battle against upset neighbors, that have set this project apart.

While developers are busy constructing sleek, glassy monolith apartment buildings downtown, Vue53 takes a decidedly more formally daring approach to attracting young renters. Particularly in the upper towers, the project plays a Tetris-like game of solid and void. Together with the shifted relationship of the two towers, the project is more than a glass box on a plinth. The interplay of glass and exposed concrete only exaggerates these moves.

That relationship of glass and concrete carries right into the building’s multi-story lobby and even the units themselves. Cashing in on the trend of rougher unfinished materials, the units are a mix of the exposed concrete and more typical drywall. And though the units may be small, they are all dominated by floor-to-ceiling windows with views either to the north to downtown, or to the south over the picturesque Hyde Park neighborhood.

While Vue53 ran into some stiff opposition in its initial stages, it is by no means alone in the rising skyline of Hyde Park. With multiple new Studio Gang towers in the neighborhood as well, it may seem a bit out of the blue for the area to be receiving so much architectural investment. Yet it should be remembered that, historically, Hyde Park has been one of the most architecturally rich neighborhoods in the city. The University of Chicago alone is a zoo of formal exuberance, from Saarinen to Legorreta. Despite its detractors, Vue53 may be only the beginning of a reenergized architectural scene on the city’s South Side.

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Can’t miss products from this year’s NeoCon

Another year, another NeoCon—the annual design expo that showcases the innovation, creativity, and reimagination of how we will live and work. NeoCon 2017 boasted a higher attendance than last year—by over 7 percent—and according to Byron Morton, vice president of leasing for the Merchandise Mart Properties, this was a growth both in terms of registered attendance and the uniqueness of its attendees, as nearly 20 percent of the attendees were corporate end users. These numbers aren’t surprising; has any other space changed as much as the workplace in the past five years? This year’s colors waxed largely neutral in shades of ash, taupe, beige, and light sepia, and large block patterns took precedence over the detailed textiles of yesteryear. But nuance is everything: Wolf-Gordon’s Infinite Neutral, for instance, created a fabric that appeared gray but was spangled with nearly 30 shades of bold color in its warp and weft to create depth, and DesignTex’s Acoustic Drapery collection takes textiles even further by making it acoustic-friendly—promising to let light in and keep sound out. While displays of customizable desks for the workspace were predictably plenty, so were their insistence on concealing levers, widgets, and wires in order give furniture an organic appearance despite tech-savvy designs. Herman Miller’s height adjustable desk “Live OS” (created in partnership with designer Yves Behar) and Knoll’s “Universal Height-Adjustable Table” both were customizable, wooden desks smart enough to collect user data to remember preferences and sense movement. This extended beyond the desk as well: the Vitra Pacific chair by Barber & Ogersby, for example, automatically adjusts to the sitter’s weight and position with very minimal manual adjustment. Many brands at Neocon continued to straddle the lines between the personal and the professional, collaborative and private, indoor and outdoor. The most explicit trend this year was reversal: Returning toward privacy and controlling the collaborative, open workspace by offering solutions to create seclusion. This, among other things, created an industry-wide pivot back to the phone booth: sound-muffling booths by Jabbrrbox and Framery were two examples of spaces designed to carve privacy in the noisy, open workspace. A hyperawareness of the speed of innovation to come was also central—from apps that control movement and send haptic buzzes to the user like Herman Miller’s Live OS, to DIRTT’s mixed-reality goggles featuring a custom-designed 3-D program that helps designers and architects envision partially-virtual interior spaces. Here are just a few standout products and highlights from the show: Impressions, An Acoustical Solution Knoll Six classic KnollTextiles patterns are impressed onto an ultra-thin tile, with each tile wrapped in 100 percent polyester. The tiles slide onto a Z-clip rail system, which offers a consistent architectural base for creating a tiled wall. Tiles are available in 16 colors, including warm and cool gray, as well as more bold, bright colors. Different levels of impression add dimension and texture to the tiles turning walls into sculptural surfaces. The Universal Height-Adjustable Screen Ki The Universal Height-Adjustable Screen can be easily affixed to a work surface or table, allowing employees the freedom to position themselves in sitting or standing configurations. Users can change their work setting by pulling up for privacy or pushing down for collaboration. Screens come in acoustic, tackable PET felt and opaque acrylic in a variety of colors. Poema Koleksiyon Koleksiyon collaborated with HOK and Studio Kairos to develop its new, flexible collection. Although the HOK pieces will debut later this year, Studio Kairos’s Poema sofa design for alternative workplace settings was a standout. The seating’s low height and worktop elements replace standard-height chairs and tables, creating a more space for meetings and creative teamwork sessions and collaborations.  Alphabet Sheer and Stars Sheer by Alexander Girard Maharam Maharam will reintroduce two iconic Alexander Girard designs—originally wall coverings—that will now be available as window covering applications. This geometrically patterned drapery underwent an industrial silk screen process in order to be reimagined as a “burnout drapery”— a fabric with dissolved fibers that give the entire material a semi-transparent effect. Live OS sit/stand desk Herman Miller The Live OS sit/stand desk includes an app and dashboard to offer data-based insights in the workplace. With the launch of Live OS, Herman Miller extends its traditional product offering to include this subscription-based service. Live OS will connect Herman Miller furnishings, including sit-to-stand and fixed height desks. Either when first installed, or retrofitted later, Live desks are equipped with sensors that are continuously connected to the cloud using a secure cellular network. The sit-to-stand desk remembers preferred postures. If an individual chooses to receive reminders, the desk control will light up and vibrate, reminding them to switch positions. QuickStand Eco Humanscale QuickStand can sit on any desktop and the height-adjustable work surface arrives ready to use. QuickStand Eco features a self-locking mechanism and is designed to accommodate a variety of heights and can support single or dual monitors up to 35 pounds in weight. Xorel Artform Carnegie Carnegie is introducing three new textile panels that boast sound-absorbing capabilities. New 3-D panel options are also available in several shapes, including the classic Waveline and Hex as well as Diamond and Square shapes. These can be used alongside existing shapes to create dimensional wall or ceiling installations. Casper Cloaking Technology Designtex Casper™ Cloaking Technology by Designtex is an architectural film for glass walls that obscures digital screens to outside view. It acts as a smart shield to ensure data privacy. A passerby will see nothing but black screens as they go by a conference room full of them—whether in use or not. Metrik Chair Wilkhahn Wilkhahn’s cantilever chair has a monolithic look—the chair’s lines, volume, and defined surfaces form a shape that integrates the armrests with a tubular steel frame.
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Renders released of revamped public space in Chicago’s MCA

A reimagined public space in the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) is being designed and built by Los Angeles–based Johnston Marklee and Mexico City–based Pedro&Juana. A new restaurant will also be designed by Turner Prize–winning British painter Chris Ofili. Pedro&Juana was introduced to Chicago through the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial, with its major installation in the Randolph Square space in the Chicago Cultural Center, entitled Dear Randolph. Like that installation, the social space the firm is designing for the MCA, which will be called The Commons, will be a colorful environment of large custom-made hanging elements. The space’s colorful planters and ornate chandeliers will be a stark departure from the normally austere spaces of the MCA. Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, also the artistic directors of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, are leading the redesign. The entire $16 million project is expected to be completed by June of this year.

Architect: Johnston Marklee, Pedro&Juana, Chris Ofili Client: Musem of Contemporary Art Chicago Location: Chicago Completion Date: June 2017

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Wheeler Kearns brings sensitivity and light to one of Chicago’s largest and oldest food pantries

For 47 years, the Lakeview Pantry on Chicago’s North Side has provided for the poor and hungry. Through food distribution and self-help initiatives and programs, the pantry has become a staple of its immediate neighbors as well as the greater Chicago community. When it came to establishing its first permanent space, the much-lauded organization turned to local firm Wheeler Kearns.

Originally known as the People’s Pantry of Lakeview, the organization was spread out among a variety of buildings throughout the neighborhood, often with administrations and operations in separate spaces. An adaptive reuse project, the new Lakeview Pantry brings the entire operation under one roof a few blocks from Lake Michigan, nestled up against the overhead L tracks.

Wheeler Kearns’s design for the 7,500-square-foot two-story space brings together the Pantry’s food distribution and social services programs, as well as the administrative staff, with connected spaces and natural light. The lower level includes the waiting area with a distribution counter, walk-in freezer-cooler, dry storage, and sorting room. The goal of the public face of project was to match the Pantry’s own mission by providing a dignified space for those in need. The bright front space serves over 8,000 people a year, with over 800 tons of food distributed in the form of 14-day supplies, so the front of house sees a lot of traffic and a lot of food.

Bathed in sunlight, a wood staircase leads to the upper level. Efficiently laid out offices fill the majority of the upstairs. Much-needed private meeting spaces, a conference room, a shared lunchroom, and open staff office space are lit from above and from the two ends of the thin building.

While the project was only recently finished, it has already been recognized with the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design, an annual award given to outstanding built community-design projects in Chicago.

“When you work with an organization whose mission is so powerful and important, and they approach that mission with such vigor and earnestness, it is pretty easy to get behind it,” said project architect Danny Wick when he received the Driehaus award at the end of February. “Asking for help can be a pretty undignified thing to have to do. To try and bring a dignified experience to that, and recognize that good design is not only reserved for the wealthy, but that everybody can gain from design, was always the goal.”

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Chicago “L” celebrates 125 years of operation

Few things in Chicago are as iconic as its extensive elevated rail system, locally known as the “L.” June 6th marks the 125th anniversary of the system, making it the second-oldest rapid transit system in the Americas. To mark the occasion the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is rolling out some vintage cars and giving away commemorative posters. The original elevated rail was built by the Chicago & South Side Rapid Transit Railroad Company, which began regular service on June, 6th 1892. That first leg of the rail rain from Congress Avenue, just south of the downtown, to 39th street. A small coal-burning steam locomotive pulled wooden passenger cars, and the entire trip took about 14 minutes. One year later the tracks were extended to 63rd Street, where there was a station at the Louis Sullivan–designed Transportation Building. To this day, some of those very same tracks are still in regular use by the southern portion of the Green Line. It would only be a few short years before elevated lines spread across the city in all directions radiating from the downtown. It would be five years, though, before the many separate lines would be connected to the downtown-encircling Loop, making the train one of the most convenient ways to get to the city’s commercial and financial center. More branches and extensions were continuously added for the next 30 years, and eventually, some of the lines were continued underground, making them true subways. This year also marks 70th anniversary of the transfer of the “L” from private ownership to public control. In 1947 the Chicago Transit Authority took over the system and began modernizing. This week’s celebration will include train cars from both pre-, and post-CTA eras. For a limited time on June 6th, starting at noon, 4000-series cars from the 1920s will make trips around the Loop. At 1:45 pm, 2400-series cars from the late 1970’s, complete in their red-white-and-blue bicentennial livery, will make trips around the loop. Passengers will also be able to get commutative posters on the inner-Loop platform of the Clark/Lake stop. Many Chicagoans have a love-hate relationship with the L. While it is sometimes late, the elevated platforms are frigidly cold in the winter, and the small cars are packed every morning and afternoon rush, there are some things about it that Chicagoans would trade for any other city’s transit system. Unlike New York’s sticky and sweaty subway stations, the “L” subway stations are a relief from the summer heat. There is also nothing quite like riding through the downtown at eye level with beautiful architectural details and workers at their desks just feet away from the tracks, or rumbling through the neighborhoods, so close to residential balcony’s you can smell the barbecue. And as for that rumbling echoing through the city, as Elwood Blues said, it goes by “so often you won’t even notice it.”
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Bauer Latoza Studio and Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill tapped for Pullman National Monument Visitor Center

While the uncanny South Side Chicago neighborhood of Pullman may not look too different since it was named a National Monument in 2015, that is all about to change. The former “utopian” workers town will soon be home to the Pullman National Monument Visitor Center, and the designers for the project have just been announced. The National Park Service (NPS), the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA), and Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI), announced this week that Chicago-based firms Bauer Latoza Studio and Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) will act as the lead designers of the project. The new visitor center will be located within the long-vacant Clock Tower Building, which was once part of the Pullman train car factory on 111th street and Cottage Grove Avenue. Once the center of the 203-acre community and factory, the Clock Tower has been nearly destroyed multiple times by fire and neglect over the last few decades. Bauer Latoza Studio is recognized for historic restoration and will be leading the design of the Visitor Center. AS+GG will handle the site design for the project. Other consultants on the project include Site Design, SPACECO, Inc., DAI Environmental, and sustainability consultants CKL Engineers, LLC. “The NPS and the National Park Foundation, the project funder, are thrilled to be moving forward with plans for the adaptive reuse of the historic Clock Tower Building,” said Kathleen Schneider, the superintendent of Pullman National Monument, in a press release. “The Visitor Center, to be located in the first floor of the Clock Tower, will become the heartbeat of the community and primary entry point for many of our Pullman visitors. Once we have introduced the visitors to the nationally significant Pullman stories, we will encourage them to explore the community and visit the other important visitor destinations in the Monument, including the National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum and the Historic Pullman Foundation Visitor Center.” The Pullman neighborhood was founded in 1880 by George Pullman for the workers and families of his luxury sleeping train car company. The entire complex, which was once an independent town, was designed by architect Solon Spencer Beman and landscape architect Nathan F. Barrett, two twenty-something designers. The company shut down in the 1960s and the neighborhood saw major drops in population and rise in crime. In recent years, the area has seen something of a resurgence with new retail and living-wage jobs. Whole Foods is in the process of building a large distribution center in the neighborhood, and a community center and live/work art space are also on their way. Nearly from the beginning, Pullman was also the center of worker’s rights conversations, as pointed out in President Barack Obama’s proclamation naming the site a national monument. “By 1937, the Pullman Company had been the Nation’s largest employer of African Americans for over 20 years and Pullman porters comprised 44 percent of the Pullman Company workforce. The 1937 Contract was the first major labor agreement between a union led by African Americans and a corporation and is considered one of the most important markers of the Reconstruction toward African American independence from racist paternalism.”
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What the Chicago Architecture Biennial’s list of firms tells us about the upcoming biennial

With only one previous iteration, it seems impossible not to continuously compare the upcoming 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial to its predecessor. And that does not have to be a bad thing. During a panel discussion during the inaugural 2015 Biennial, British architect Sam Jacob was asked what the theme of next biennial should be. His response? In sum: Just do the exact same theme. That way, not only can we see the progress of the field over two years, but then we will also have two events that can be compared, apples to apples. His statement, though somewhat in jest, seems to have been, at least in part, prophetic.

With the recent announcement of the participants list, under the artistic direction of Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee of Johnston Marklee, we have our first look at how similar the exhibition may be. And though the list of around 100 offices does include many new names, there are 22 repeats from 2015. There are other similarities between the lists. Neither 2015 nor 2017 include any significant contribution from corporate firms. In 2015 this was a sore point for many of the hundreds of local architects that work in the numerous mega-firms in Chicago. Many local architects admitted to not even having seen the show, despite it being free and only blocks from many of the largest offices in the city.

But this is why Jacob’s idea of repetition could end up being so brilliant. First, the biennial is not for the big corporate firms—even if it is being held in the city that is bursting with giants. Biennials are where the most avant-garde architectural discourse is presented. While contemporary large firms often lead the way in engineering and technological daring, they are rarely at the fore of architectural discussion. The nature of their business means that they cannot afford to be. Small, young practices on the other hand, with fewer mouths to feed and less money on the table, can’t afford not to be on the edge. For ambitious young firms, being experimental is the only way to set themselves apart in a world of architecture blogs and Instagram. For good or for bad.

One thing the large firms do well is exporting Chicago Architecture to the rest of the world. The biennial is a rare chance for the city, and the U.S. at large, to import some architecture. This factor should never be undervalued. The well-known story of Frank Lloyd Wright being influenced by the Japanese pavilion at the 1893 Columbian Exposition should be enough of a lesson. Chicago is already benefitting from this in the form of the Museum of Contemporary Arts’ upcoming renovation by two 2015 CAB participants, Johnston Marklee and Pedro&Juana.

Something can also be said about the quality of the practices being invited. The list, repeats and new firms alike, is filled with excellent firms. The names might not always be familiar or pulled from glossy magazine pages, but the last iteration is proof that these practices are thoughtful yet daring in their architecture. The United States, and Chicago in particular, have a problem with not supporting small and/or young practices. Biennials are a place where that can happen.

Another notable similarity is the presence of Johnston and Lee. They were responsible for an exhibit in the main show as well as a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Johnston was also on the jury for the 2015 Biennial’s Lakefront Kiosk Competition (a program that will not be continuing this year).

Only five months out from the September 17 opening, we still don’t know a ton about what the show will be all about. Yet through a close reading of the participant list, and the memory of the last show, we can make some educated guesses about its nature. The overlap of offices, the exclusion of corporate firms, and the main venue of the Chicago Cultural Center tell us the show will likely feel familiar. Yet, knowing the wide range of small, diverse offices, it is just as likely to be full of surprises and architectural ideas that Chicago has not seen.

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Chicago alderman proposes new fees on housing demolition and conversions to slow gentrification

This post is part of our years-long running Eavesdrop series (think page 6 for the architectural field). It’s your best source for gossip, insider stories, and more. Have an eavesdrop of your own? Send it to: eavesdrop[at]archpaper.com.

To address the cheers and fears of those living along Chicago’s linear 606 bike trail, an area alderman is proposing new laws to slow gentrification around the popular public space. As the park, which goes through numerous Northwest side neighborhoods, has grown in popularity, the housing prices in the area have followed suit. To combat the rising housing prices, Alderman Proco Joe Moreno is proposing new fees on housing demolition and on conversions from multi-family to single-family housing. It has become popular to convert Chicago’s ubiquitous two-flat buildings into single-family homes, effectively lowering density, raising property values, and taking more affordable housing options off the market. The proposal also includes incentives for developers to improve existing buildings, instead of razing and rebuilding.

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“Spaces without drama or surface is an illusion, but so is depth” at Chicago’s Graham Foundation

There is a productive dissonance among the many pieces in the current exhibition at the Graham Foundation, Spaces without drama or surface is an illusion, but so is depth. A dissonance between scale and size, performance and perception, and artifact and object. Each contribution from the 24 participating designers, architects, and artists implies its own narrative, separate from the other pieces. Yet, as a whole, the entire show has a clarity that resonates across the disparate objects and installations.

Spaces without drama is curated by the Mexico City–based Ruth Estévez and Wonne Ickx of LIGA, Space for Architecture. The duo propositioned participants to explore two-dimensional surfaces as a means of producing architectural space. The prompt is a direct reaction to the recent proliferation of digital collage, and an attempt at drawing a lineage through the historic works of canonical postmodern designers and artists. The result is a diverse set of works that straddle the lines of stage set, model, and installation. The genesis of much of the work comes from the Aldo Rossi’s Small Scientific Theatre and David Hockney’s design for The Magic Flute, both of which are present in the show in drawing and collage form. From that starting point, the more contemporary work ranges from full-scale environments to carefully crafted maquettes.

At the largest scale, pieces throughout the show set the gallery spaces as stages to be explored, or backdrops to view the work against. Cité de Réfuge by OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen wraps two walls in a large curtain. This blocks off the Graham Foundation’sground-floor windows, while extending the visitor’s view to Ceuta: a refugee city in the no-man’s-land between Spain and Morocco. Batia Suter’s Vale/Cabenet plays a similar game with some of the Graham’s built-in cabinetry, which is tactically covered in digitally manipulated scenery. Silke Otto-Knapp’s Stage (after Kurt Schwitters) is the closest to what might be called a true stage set. Large hand-painted panels fill the end of one gallery space, forcing viewers to weave among them to circulate through to another space. The result is a purposefully exposed “back-stage” which questions the piece’s own illusion of space.

Other works seem to fit more comfortably in the category of illustration or model, but these still rarely play out as simple representations. While House no.8, Image no.1, with Layers and Masks by MOS Architects seems to be a simple, yet uncannily flat, model, its position in the middle of the gallery allows guests to peak through a peephole on its back side. This effectively filters the view of the rest of the gallery through the model. Sam Jacob’s Untitled touches on a similar effect with a model of a series of spaces divided by four translucent colored planes. The resulting confusion of space and scale looking at the model itself can be extended to the greater gallery space as one looks through it.

Johnston Marklee’s Teatro del Mare inversely makes the guest question the scale of the piece itself. The large model appears to be representing a scaled space, referencing the office’s Vault House. But the inclusion of a series of full-size objects designed by Rossi twists the perception of the piece from scale model to display case, and then back. The cheekiest of any of the pieces is Drop-Leaf Table in Oblique Elevation (with Drop-Leaf Table in Oblique Elevation) by Norman Kelley. A finely crafted piece of furniture in its own right, the Drop-Leaf Table is skewed, as if directly built from an axonometric drawing. Sitting against the gallery wall, like one might expect a similar piece of furniture, the table is also the display stand for a smaller flattened version of itself. It should also be noted that the leaves and a small drawer in the table, like those of the miniature version, don’t “work.” This makes the table, as well-made as it may be, about as useful as any other theater set piece.

Along with the other fascinating works from the likes of Charles Moore, baukuh, fala atelier, Emilio Ambasz, Monadnock, Pezo von Ellrichshausen, and more, the show is a delight for the academic, as well as those simply interested in beautiful images and objects. At the least one will get to see original pieces by Hockney and Rossi, and at the most one will gain a new respect for power of flatness to evoke space, and—dare I say—drama.

Spaces without drama or surface is an illusion, but so is depth is on show at The Graham Foundation through July 1, 2017.

Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts 4 W Burton Place, Chicago

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City of Chicago reveal plans to combine public libraries and housing, and the architects behind them

In October 2016 the City of Chicago announced a plan to combine public housing and public libraries in multiple locations across the city. Recently the Chicago Housing Authority and Chicago Public Library announced the first three of these co-located projects and the architects are designing them. The projects will be located in the West Ridge, Near West Side and Irving Park neighborhoods and will be designed by Perkins+Will, Skidmore, Owings & Merill (SOM), and John Ronan Architects, respectively. Each of the Chicago-based firms will bring their own experiences and style to the designs John Ronan architects are behind the award-winning Poetry Foundation while SOM has continued to gather accolades for its Chinatown Branch Library Perkins+Will has completed numerous libraries across the country. Construction is set to begin on three projects by the end of the year with, completion expected by the end of 2018.

Architect: John Ronan Architects Perkins+Will Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)

Client: City of Chicago Location: Chicago Completion Date: Winter 2018
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T+E+A+M tapped to design this year’s Ragdale Ring outdoor theater

For the past four years, Ragdale, an artist residency in Chicago’s North Shore, has asked young architects to reimagine a historic garden stage that was once a focal point of its property. In these short years, the Ragdale Ring competition, and the accompanying Adrian Smith Prize, have proven to be architecturally adventurous, and often playfully eccentric.

This year’s iteration will be built by the Ann Arbor, Michigan–based T+E+A+M, a collaboration among young designers Thom Moran, Ellie Abrons, Adam Fure, and Meredith Miller. Their proposal, entitled LIVING PICTURE, superimposes images of the original 1912 Ragdale Ring onto a set of lightweight objects spread throughout the grounds. The scene of the original ring will be an immersive, if not surreal, space for the audience to become part of the theatrical setting. The varied scale of the objects also allows for the audience to position itself in relation to the stage, either sitting on or standing among the installation. The shapes, which make up the stage itself, will blend historic imagery with the lush surroundings of the property.

While the imagery on the installation will mostly be seen as disparate yet related images, audience members approaching from the Ragdale House will see the entire original Ring snap into view. Watching from the other approaches, viewers will discover the scene as a series of separate vignettes of the original.

“At the beginning of this year we suspended our individual practices and committed fully to T+E+A+M, but the fact that the four of us have practiced individually is one of the unique strengths of our collaboration,” Fure explained. “Each of us has different audiences through our previous work’s engagement with conversations inside and outside the discipline.

The objects will range in form, making up seating areas and platforms for performances. Arranged in seven clusters, most of the objects will also be hollow to provide storage. Their arrangement centralizes the audience while providing masked areas where performers can enter from stage-side.

The project will be built in late May, to be ready for four performances starting in mid-July. T+E+A+M, along with a group of workers, will live at Ragdale for 18 days to build the installation. The Adrian Smith Prize, sponsored by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, provides $15,000 for the construction.

The members of T+E+A+M are not strangers to exhibition and installation building. Between the four members, their work has been shown in multiple Venice biennales and at the Beijing International Art Biennale, the Shenzhen and Hong Kong Biennale, the Storefront for Art and Architecture, and the Graham Foundation, to name just a few.

T+E+A+M will join the ranks of past Ragdale Ring designers SPORTS Collaborative, Bittertang, Design With Company, and Stephen Dietrich Lee. Last year’s iteration by SPORTS, entitled Rounds, won The Architect’s Newspaper’s 2016 Best of Design Award for Temporary Installation.