Posts tagged with "Chicago":

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Emerging practices subvert Chicago Athletic Association in Unsolicited Sideshow programming

If you missed the month-long exhibition of the Unsolicited Sideshow in Chicago, it is not too late to be a part of the most subversive portion of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. While the initial exhibition may be over, the programming for the Sideshow continues with the monthly Tank Takeovers at the Chicago Athletic Association. The next event will take place this Friday, November 10 with a “site-specific, immersive light, and sound installation.” The Unsolicited Sideshow first opened with a pop-up exhibition of 11 young architecture practices, literally running alongside the main attraction of the Chicago Architecture Biennial just a few blocks away at the Chicago Cultural Center. For the Tank Takeovers, the Sideshow’s organizers brought together designers, performance artists, and poets over the past months to explore the contemporary conditions of "otherness,” normalcy, and taboo, as they pertain to art, culture, and architecture. In its third installment, this month’s Tank Takeover will take the form of an installation entitled Reverberations. The Tank, the former pool at the Athletic Association, will be filled with projected LED light, “plush puddles of color that spill out onto the floor," and spatial collages activating custom screens. A rotating ensemble of musicians will engage the space, responding and interacting with the installation with experimental music. Presented in collaboration with Detroit and Cincinnati-based firm SUBSTUDIO, the event will include animations by Marc Governanti, and music curated by Zohair Hussein, with fabrication handled by Thomas Dewhirst + Lynn A Jones. The November Tank Takeover will take place at the Chicago Athletic Association on November 10 from 6pm to 10pm. The final Tank Takeover will be on December 8, and will be presented by Portland, Oregon-based Office Andorus in the form of an architectural fiber installation and a dance party.
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A look inside Chicago’s new Norman Foster-designed Apple flagship

Located at the intersection of North Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River, Pioneer Square was the home of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, Chicago first permanent settler. Since then, it has been surrounded by some of the city’s most iconic architecture – the Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building, the Mies’s AMA Plaza, Marina City, and the Trump Tower. The newest addition to the design spectacle is the Norman Foster-designed Apple flagship store. Billed as “the most ambitious” Apple store yet, Foster’s design utilizes an incredibly thin 111-by-98-foot Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) roof. Held up by only four columns, the roof is only three feet and four inches at its thickest. This allows for the 32-foot-tall glass facade to stand completely clear of structure. “When Apple opened on North Michigan Avenue in 2003, it was our first flagship store, and now we are back in Chicago opening the first in a new generation of Apple’s most significant worldwide retail locations,” said Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail in a press release. Since the 2003 opening, the earlier Michigan Avenue store has seen 23 million visitors. The new store hopes to better that with a closer connection to the city and the recently enlivened riverfront. The project’s glassy facade and a large stair brings guests from the level of Michigan Avenue, down past lower Michigan Avenue, to a new section of the Riverwalk. “Apple Michigan Avenue is about removing boundaries between inside and outside, reviving important urban connections within the city,” said Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer in a press release. “It unites a historic city plaza that had been cut off from the water, giving Chicago a dynamic new arena that flows effortlessly down to the river.” To celebrate the opening of the new store, Apple has launched a program called “The Chicago Series,” a set of events and demonstrations. These events will set the stage for year-round “Today at Apple” public programming that will take place at the store.
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New doc spotlights Helmut Jahn’s threatened Thompson Center

The nonprofit MAS Context is hosting the international digital premier of Starship Chicago: A Building on the Brink, a documentary by Nathan Eddy, chronicling the oft-misunderstood Helmut Jahn–designed James R. Thompson Center. The film was premiered at the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam, with a U.S. premiere at the fall MAS Context: Analog event in Chicago. Later it was shown at the New Urbanism Film Festival in Los Angeles, and the Architecture and Design Film Festival in New York. The one-week showing on the MAS Context website runs through November 12, and it's the first time the 16-minute film can be streamed online. “I love these buildings, and I don’t think these buildings are appreciated. Helmut Jahn told me while making the documentary, 'At some point every artist just makes a lot of noise.’ I know how to make a lot of noise,” filmmaker Nathan Eddy told The Architect's Newspaper (AN). “That is the only way that people will pay attention in this day and age. I’m a controversy builder. I do these things because I cannot help myself.” Completed in 1985, the Thompson Center is the hub of Illinois state government in the City of Chicago. From the moment it was constructed, it has turned heads and sparked debate. Today, the current governor, Bruce Rauner, has been adamant about his intentions to see the building either demolished or converted into a private property. Starship Chicago interviews many of Chicago’s most influential architectural thinkers to discuss the construction, legacy, and future of the iconic structure. The documentary includes conversations with James R. Thompson, the former governor who commissioned the building, the building’s architect, Helmut Jahn, architecture critics Blair Kamin and Lynn Becker, and architects Chris-Annmarie Spencer and Stanley Tigerman, among others. Starship Chicago is the second short film by producer-director Nathan Eddy, whose first film, The Absent Column, covered the preservation battle for the eventually demolished Bertrand Goldberg–designed Prentice Women’s Hospital. Starship Chicago is the first vocal step in beginning the conversation about saving the Thompson Center, and Eddy is active in preservation battles elsewhere. Recently, he has led the charge to protect the Philip Johnson and John Burgee–designed AT&T Building in New York, whose granite facade could be replaced with glass in a Snøhettta-led redesign. “I have one method, which is 'WAKE UP!!!' All caps with three exclamation points,” Eddy said, discussing the differences between The Absent Column and the Thompson Center film. “After Prentice, we made a great film that tried to appeal to people on an emotional level that would be poignant. That didn’t work and that sucked. When we were doing the film about the Thompson Center, we needed to re-evaluate the way we were going to make people wake up. So, I wanted to make the first comedic architecture documentary.” Of the famed and derided atrium of the Thompson Center, former governor James R. Thomson remembers in the film discussions surrounding space. “I heard a lot of criticism at the time saying, ‘Boy, that is a lot of wasted space.' And I would usually say something like ‘Well, would you like me to fill up the building with bureaucrats?’ So, it is not a wasted space, it’s a celebration of space.” The film can be seen in its entirety exclusively on the MAS Context website.
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Chicago announces the city’s first public art plan

Of all the events and programs associated with this year’s “Year of Public Art” in Chicago, it may be the recent announcement of the city’s first Public Art Plan that will have the longest-lasting effect. Rounding out a year which included a new art festival, the 50th anniversary of some of the city’s most beloved public pieces, a new youth art corps, and numerous other city-initiated art commissions, the Public Art Plan outlines the city’s goals and focus regarding the future of art in the public domain. Building off the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012, a large portion of the plan is focused directly on reassessing the process of commissioning art and shifting the way the city talks about and supports artists. To do so, the Public Art Plan lays out a series of guidelines which the city plans to implement over the coming years. The seven points in the plan include:
  • Update Chicago’s Percent for Art Program
  • Establish clear and transparent governmental practices
  • Expand resources to support the creation of public art throughout the city
  • Advance programs that support artists, neighborhoods and the public good
  • Strengthen the City’s collection management systems
  • Support the work that artists and organizations do to create public art
  • Build awareness of and engagement with Chicago’s public art
For a city which is generally understood in a color palette of subdued browns, blacks, and grays, Chicago has a long history of diverse public art pieces, and that diversity is evolving quickly. From sculpture to murals, the new plan hopes to adjust the city’s scope of what is understood as public art. Chicago has often been on the forefront of public art, being the first city, in 1978, to create a city-funded public art program. Even before that though, Chicago was home to one of the first monumental abstract sculptures in the world with the Picasso in Daley Plaza. "As Chicago powers forward as an engine of creative life, we ought not to forget that public art isn’t just one discipline,” explained Mark Kelly, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) upon the announcement of the new plan. “It’s how we as a city bring artistic vision to our streets and to the public realm. By engaging in public art, we bring value, meaning and pride to Chicago” It should be noted that nowhere in the plan are there appropriations to paint, move, or otherwise cover Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate in pasta sauce. The plan can be found here in its entirety.
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Work begins on Chicago culinary incubator

Chicago takes culinary experimentation seriously. In recent years, a number of restaurants throughout the city have developed novel cuisines and presentations that have made the city a magnet for foodies and chefs alike. With the groundbreaking of a new project on the city’s West Side, the food community is one step closer to having a space where young chefs can hone their skills and launch their businesses. The Hatchery is a 57,000-square-foot incubator that the city hopes will keep the creative juices flowing in the burgeoning local restaurant industry. Located in the East Garfield Park neighborhood, directly west of the Loop, The Hatchery will include 56 private rentable kitchens, one large shared kitchen, co-working space, multi-function spaces, bulk storage space, and an industrial loading dock. The complex will be situated in a building from the 1920s as well as a new larger structure. Acting as designer, architect of record, structural engineer, and construction manager is Chicago-based Wight & Company, with site design group handling landscape design. "Adaptability in design is critical for The Hatchery to accommodate flexible programming and future growth," said Matt Zolecki, project executive for Wight & Company, on the occasion of the groundbreaking. "We are creating a space not just for food production, but for mentoring, coaching, presentation, and collaboration." Mayor Rahm Emanuel was on hand for the event, and the city has shown its support for the project in part through the selling of the needed 3.5 acres of land to the development for $1. While it is not overly common for the city to sell land and buildings for such a small amount, it is also not unheard of. In many West and South Side neighborhoods, the city owns enormous amounts of land, which it is willing to let go to organizations that have a clear mission to improve the area. Developing the Hatchery are two non-profit community organizations, Accion Chicago and the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago (ICNC). Accion Chicago will also base a new headquarters in the development, where it will work to provide direct access to small business loans and support programs for The Hatchery’s tenants and members of the local community. Kellogg and ConAgra, multinational food companies with Michigan and Chicago headquarters, respectively, are also sponsoring the project. The complex is expected to be completed in 2018 at a cost of $34 million. Thanks to a scalable and flexible design, the initial layout of the project can then be adapted as tenants grow and cook up new ways of working in the space.
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Chicagoans troll Anish Kapoor’s Bean in Facebook meme wars

In what is turning into a long-running war of Facebook memes, a handful of Chicagoans are producing Facebook events targeted at the Anish Kapoor–designed Cloud Gate sculpture, also known as The Bean. The events, which have attracted thousands of online RSVPs, range from the silly to the slightly obscene. One string of events seems to have started with Windex the Bean, which is scheduled for November 15. Following its creation, counter events were scheduled entitled Paint the Bean black so they can't Windex it, and Prime The Bean so they can paint it black. Yet another followed that was entitled Pour Paint Thinner On The Bean After They Paint It Black So We Can Windex in hopes of rebutting the others. More ridiculous events, unrelated to cleaning or painting the sculpture, include Flip the bean over so it gets an even tan line and Turn the Bean 90° So it Feels New Again. Another invites guests to Release The Bean into Lake Michigan and shout "You're free!" Speaking of being free, one event plans to Break open the bean to free the tiny man who lives inside. Playing off the "bean" nickname, two other events include Pour Spaghetti Sauce All Over The Bean, and of course Bake The Bean. While there is no sign that any of these events will happen in any way, if you are looking to Succumb to our collective existential dread outside the bean, there is an event for that, too.
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Robert A.M. Stern discusses his first Chicago tower with AN

Robert A.M. Stern took a moment to speak with AN Midwest Editor Matthew Messner about One Bennett Park, Stern’s first tower in Chicago. In part thanks to a long, trusting relationship with the developer Related Midwest, Stern’s office, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, was tasked with designing both exterior and interiors for the project. Design partner Daniel Lobitz is leading a team to design a tower that Stern hopes will capture some of the glamour of old Chicago.

The Architect’s Newspaper: What do you see as some of the advantages of being able to control so much of the design?

Robert A.M. Stern: I think an architect who has a strong sense of design can create almost anything, and certainly should be able to, and should be encouraged to, carry the design ideas into the interior. Certainly the public areas—lobby, elevators, cabs, and public halls—on any floor in a residential building. We have done that in many buildings and for many of our buildings for Related in New York, including the Chatham, the Brompton, the Harrison, Tribeca Park, Tribeca Green, and most recently, 261 Hudson Street. Can you imagine a Mies van der Rohe building, whether his apartments on the Lake Shore or his office buildings, not being designed by Mies on the inside? I can’t. If you don’t trust an architect to design the inside of the building, why trust them to design the outside of the building?

Are there references or motifs that informed the design of One Bennett Park?

I think precedent is a very important factor in the design of this building, but it’s a very important factor in the design of any building we undertake. I would say precedent is not necessarily historic. Precedent also can, and should, incorporate local traditions, local vernaculars of local buildings. This tower is our first tower built in Chicago, and only the second time we have built anything in Chicago. (Except for the bus shelters, and I guess there are 2,200 of them, so that must count for something.) I’ve been visiting Chicago as an archi-tourist for virtually all my life, so I know the great buildings are especially relevant to our work. Some of those buildings include the Marshall Field and Company Building in the Loop, and the Palmolive Building on North Michigan Avenue. A fantastic body of buildings—not only in Chicago, but all across the Midwest and other places as well—that inspired us as we began to think about how to shape the tower. Too many tall buildings are just extensions from the bottom up to the top. They may be structurally encased, like the John Hancock, but it’s fundamentally an extrusion. I prefer—among the modernist buildings in Chicago in relationship to this discussion—what in my mind will always be the Sears Tower; I don’t know what it is called this week. It steps up in the most amazing way according to a structural idea of Fazlur Rahman Khan.

What are some of the interior features of One Bennett Park that you feel make it exceptional?

There is a glamour about some of Chicago’s interiors, residential and not. For example, the lobbies of the Marshall Field Building are wonderful. So, we wanted to capture some of that Chicago glamour in our lobbies. We have two separate lobbies, one for the rental portion of the building, and another for the condominiums. Each has its own design statement. The condominium lobby, which has wood paneling, is traditional, as wood paneling is traditional, but it’s really very stylishly modern as well. There is a visual interest that one associates with buildings of the ’20s and ’30s, and that is sometimes not associated with the buildings of the late 20th century on the whole. We were looking at a lot of Frances Adler Elkins’s work (she was David Adler’s sister).

Has there been any particular advantages, or challenges, about building a major project in Chicago?

Nothing out of the ordinary. I think we are perhaps entering into a new territory of elegance and detail, and all of that costs money. I hope Chicagoans are getting ready to dip into their deep pockets for our building. The truth of the matter is the cost of habitation in Chicago is substantially lower than in New York. To get this much quality, and to really break out of a rather “businesses as usual” mode, is a compliment to our clients, Related Midwest, to stick their necks out. I just hope we don’t get chopped off.

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Inside the studio of Chicago’s Wight & Company

Three generations of Wight & Company have operated in the Chicago area for over 75 years. With a main office in the western suburb of Darien and an outpost downtown, the company employs over 175 architects, engineers, and builders. Even with this long history, Wight continues to evolve, and in recent years it has seen major changes. Perhaps the most drastic of these changes happened in late 2015 when renowned Chicago architect Dirk Lohan joined the office and brought his entire firm of Lohan Anderson with him. With the addition of Lohan, the company is now venturing in new directions while bolstering their existing repertoire.

As Executive Vice President, Director of Design Kevin Havens put it: Wight is a “design-lead design/build practice.” While the company does not yet build everything it designs, the underlying goal is to recapture some of architecture’s legacy as a field of master-builders. In this, Wight and Lohan found a common value.

Having studied and worked under his grandfather Mies van der Rohe, Lohan maintains a sense of urgency when it comes to architects being in control of the building process.

“That aspect of Wight & Company was of great attraction to me,” Lohan told AN at Wight’s downtown office. “I have had practices with interior designers and planners, but never any engineers or construction managers. At Wight we have structural, mechanical, a sustainability group. I have always wanted to have an office like this.”

While such a large firm has many moving parts, the downtown office where Lohan’s studio is situated is a more intimate setting where a great deal of the design happens. Located in the landmarked Powerhouse Building, snugly flanked by numerous rail lines the building used to power, the office feels like those of many other, much smaller firms. The periodic deep rumbling of passing commuter trains and an occasional leaky roof make the space somehow endearing.

Such an established firm has a history filled with stories and experiences that inform and guide the practice as a whole. In this, Lohan brings another set of connections to the past, which includes more than just his kinship to Mies. With his own extensive portfolio of notable projects, including the much-lauded McDonald’s corporate campus in Oak Brook, Illinois, Lohan has distinguished himself as an architect in his own right. Yet, one can’t help but feel they are somehow closer to Mies himself when speaking to Lohan. In his slight German accent, Lohan recounts a proud moment that took place early in his career when speaking about Wight’s work on courthouses. Lohan recalled the first courtroom he designed at the famed Chicago Federal Plaza. “I came with a green card to the United States in 1962. At the time, it took five years to become a citizen. So, in 1967, after five years at Mies’s office, I detailed this courtroom. I was sworn in in that same courtroom with 150 other new citizens. Somebody told them that I, as a young designer, had designed this interior and I should be the spokesperson. So they made me come up to judge and say some words in front of everybody, in my own space. Those kinds of projects don’t come around too often.”

Will County Justice Center Joliet, Illinois

Soon to the be the tallest building in downtown Joliet, a large suburb of Chicago, the Will County Justice Center is designed to be more than just a courthouse. With a focus on literal transparency, the center is defined by a large civic square wrapped on two sides by the building’s wings. Programs are arranged in such a way as to give the public maximum access to the justice system while maintaining the high level of security needed in a court of law. The Will County Justice Center represents a long history of Wight & Co.’s experience with civic institutional work. 353 N. Clark Street Chicago 353 N. Clark Street was added to Wight & Co. portfolio with the merging of Lohan Anderson, Lohan’s former office, into the company. The 45-story tower is situated in the River North Neighborhood of Chicago, just north of the loop. The tower represents the direction in which Wight & Co. is hoping to move under Lohan’s leadership: While Wight has extensive experience in institutional and public projects, Lohan has specialized in high-end private projects for much of his career. Mies van der Rohe Business Park Krefeld, Germany With the addition of Lohan to the Wight & Co. leadership, new avenues opened up to the office. As part of an invited competition, Lohan worked on a design for the adaptive reuse of a former power plant, which once served an industrial park designed by his own grandfather, Mies van der Rohe, in the 1930s. Now renamed Mies van der Rohe Business Park, the new building will be used for performances, large gatherings, meetings, and exhibitions. Though not in the same language as the Bauhaus-style white buildings surrounding it, the building is a protected landmark. The design intervention works to be sensitive to the building’s historical context, while updating it for contemporary uses. Hotel Arista Chicago Designed by Lohan Anderson as part of a larger master plan in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, the Hotel Arista will soon be joined by several other buildings designed by Lohan as part of the Wight and Lohan team. The Hotel is the first piece in a larger “urban” center, known as CityGate, in the western suburb. The 144-room hotel was designed to use and waste less, achieving the hotel industry’s Green Seal certification, as well as being the first LEED-certified hotel in Illinois.
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Experimental glass block tower by MOS debuts at Chicago Architecture Biennial

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AN caught up with co-founders of MOS Architects, Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample, and Seattle-based artist and designer John Hogan. The group collaborated with structural engineer Nat Oppenheimer of Silman Engineering to develop a prototype of an interlocking structural glass block. The work is part of Vertical City, a central installation at the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, where sixteen "towers" respond to one of architectural history's most significant competitions: the 1922 Chicago Tribune Tower. Curated by Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, the towers will remain on exhibit in the Sidney R. Yates Hall of the Chicago Cultural Center through January 7, 2018.
  • Facade Manufacturer John Hogan Designs
  • Architects MOS Architects (Project Team: Michael Meredith, Hilary Sample, John Yurchyk, Nile Greenberg, Mark Acciari, Michael Abel, Paul Ruppert, Fancheng Fei.)
  • Additional Project Support Columbia University GSAPP, Princeton University School of Architecture, and College for Creative Studies Detroit
  • Facade Consultants Nat Oppenheimer, Silman Engineering (structural engineering)
  • Location Chicago, IL
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System load bearing glass block w/ aluminum support
  • Products soda-lime-silica glass hot-cast in custom manufactured graphite formwork
Called “& Another (Chicago Tribune Tower),” the project is an orderly stack of three types of modular block units rising to approximately sixteen feet tall. A custom-milled aluminum plate system interfaces with the glass block wall every two courses, providing lateral bracing. The assembly creates a translucent effect, blurring the legibility of the tower’s structural core. "We would like this to be a real building," said Michael Meredith. "This is a full-scale mockup of a 16-foot-tall glass wall. We didn't know what we were going to get at first. It was all a big experiment." The office tapped into technical Ph.D. papers and engineering research utilized in MVRDV's recent glass block project and looked into precedents from offices like Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Michael Meredith said the aesthetic qualities of the glass are what pique most visitors’ interest, but expects the work will spark a deeper conversation about architectural history. The installation pairs the repetitive, rational, and modular thinking of Ludwig Hilberseimer, best known for his ties to the Bauhaus and to Mies van der Rohe, with “one-liner” tectonic jokes—tower as a fluted column, a skyscraper with crenellation, etc.—in the manner of Adolf Loos who submitted a “joke” entry to the original 1922 competition. The tower sits just shy of sixteen feet, remaining "unfinished," with a final course of blocks scattered on the ground below. The glass blocks were handmade, so ensuring the assembly stayed vertically true was a primary concern to the project team. A "peg registration" system—precisely located bumps and divets—was incorporated into the formwork to assist in stacking the modular units. Despite this planning, Hogan said the group was not sure how much tolerance the individual units would have. The solution was to incorporate CNC-milled aluminum plates to provide a rigid template for the glass walls. "Engineering a system that basically gives you a reset every two courses was the best way for us to be confident the tower would stand straight." The glass block manufacturing process lasted only six days and resulting in 750 blocks from three distinct forms. The team used soda-lime glass, one of the most prevalent types of glass available, accounting for about 90% of manufactured glass today. For Hogan, the project is a continuation of techniques picked up at Alfred University in Western New York, a top-notch casting facility with what he calls “an incredible collection of scrap graphite” (an ideal material for hot-casting glass). Hot-casting is a process that involves pouring molten glass into a form. Graphite is an ideal form material as it can be removed almost immediately after the pour, whereas other materials require the glass to cool completely prior to removal—a lengthier process that is inherently more labor intensive.
Hogan said despite the fast timeframe and limited budget, the creative process was fluid and not predetermined from the start. "The lack of pressure MOS put on themselves to have a predetermined idea of where this thing is going and what it might become is something that aligns well with how I work." So what’s next now that the "mock-up" is complete? Hogan continues to “scale up” his efforts and will be completing a rooftop exterior screen installation later this year in Seattle. He credits this repetitive modular design approach as a way to continue working at a larger architectural scale. MOS Architects and Hogan plan to collaborate on future projects as well. "For me, this is just the beginning of a conversation," said Hogan. "The potential for building larger structures or any number of facade systems with this approach is something we are very excited about. Everything is automated and precise today, so the handmade qualities of building materials have become increasingly relevant.”
 
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Fifty firms imagine 50 futures for Chicago’s underused spaces

Running in conjunction with the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) has opened Between States, a show which brings together over 50 designers to imagine the future of the city’s 50 aldermanic wards. Between States is the second iteration of the CAF’s multi-year 50 Designers/50 Wards project. Last year’s show 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards asked 50 young design firms to design for the city’s wards, while Between States asked a number of more established firms to take on a similar challenge. Each of the firms was asked to address underutilized spaces in each one of their respective wards, as well as reference another project outside of the city in their design. The title of the show, Between States, is a play on this two-part brief, referring to the changing condition of the sites as well as the importing of references from other places. Firms were also asked to work with the community to assess needs and opportunities in the neighborhood they were designing in. The show will run until January 7, 2018 in the CAF’s Atrium Gallery. The exhibition is curated by Martin Felsen, partner at Chicago-based UrbanLab. Invited firms include: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture AECOM ARUP Bailey Edward bKL Architecture Booth Hansen CannonDesign Cordogan, Clark & Associates Dirk Denison Architects eastlake studio Eckenhoff Saunders Architects Epstein Exp Farr Associates Forum Studio Future Firm Gensler Ghafari Associates Goettsch Partners Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture HBRA Architects HDR Holabird & Root JAHN Legat Architects Lothan Van Hook Destefano Architecture Metter|Studio / Morris Architects, Planners Sheehan Nagle Hartray Architects Pappageorge Haymes Partners Perkins + Will Global RADA Architects Searl Lamaster Howe Architects Site Design Group SmithGroup JJR SMNG A Solomon Cordwell Buenz SOM Space Architects + Planners Stantec STL Architects Terry Guen Design Associates Thornton Tomasetti Tom Brock Architect Valerio Dewalt Train Associates Vinci Hamp Architects Vladimir Radutny Architects von Weise Associates Weese Langley Weese Wight & Company, Lohan Studio Woodhouse Tinucci Architects Worn Jerabek Wiltse Architects
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Chicago Union Station renovation will brighten its Great Hall

In a city of spectacular interior spaces, perhaps the most iconic is the Great Hall of the Chicago Union Station. Built in 1925, the light-filled waiting area is finally getting the renovation it deserves. Construction is now underway on the $22 million project that will completely refurbish the 219-foot-long skylight and repair plaster throughout. Union Station was originally designed by Daniel Burnham, but was completed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White after Burnham’s death. The Beaux-Arts structure now serves both Amtrak and the regional commuter Metra trains. Over the past 90 years, the great hall has slowly degraded due to leaks in the epic skylight, but recent years have seen the beginning of its revitalization. In 2016, the iconic marble stairs made famous in the climatic shootout scene in The Untouchables were completely renovated. Both the stair renovation and the current overhaul of the Great Hall are led by Chicago-based Goettsch Partners. When the staircase was being worked on, the area was closed off, much to the chagrin of tourists who came to see the site of the famous scene. To maintain movement through the Great Hall for this renovation, all the construction will be done without closing the space. Instead, decks will be suspended from the 115-foot-tall ceiling, negating the need for obtrusive scaffolding. To address the skylight’s water problems, each of the 2,052 pieces of glass will be replaced and a new third layer of glass will be added above the entire opening. The new high-efficiency, fully transparent glass panes will replace the current wire-embedded glass, and the end result is expected to allow about 50 percent more light into the space. Once the significant water damage on the walls is repaired, the entire Great Hall will be repainted in its original color. This phase of Union Station’s renovation is being funded by Amtrak, who owns the building, and is expected to be completed in late 2018. By that time, we may also have more information about Goettsch Partners' ambitious plans to redevelop the station and its surroundings, including the proposal to add two towers to the building’s roof.
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Parking for Obama library may wipe out five acres of historic green space

Barack Obama’s Obama Presidential Center, a three-building complex designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien on Chicago’s South Side, has made its intention to embrace its neighborhood very clear—specifically Jackson Park and the Midway Plaisance, the historic Frederick Law Olmsted–designed greenways that have hosted, among other things, the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, a.k.a. the “White City.” But what the Center hasn’t made as clear is that the complex’s footprint is growing, with its leaders recently proposing an aboveground parking garage that could take up about five acres of the Midway. The library’s concession for eating into this space is a green roof, which opponents claim should not be considered green space at all. Original plans for the center, released in May, did not include any building on the Midway. The land is owned by the city’s Department of Transportation, and the move would need to be approved by the Chicago City Council. “To say it’s ok to carve up a work of art and replace it with something else is ridiculous,” said Charles Birnbaum, president and CEO of the Cultural Landscape Foundation. “The issue is not whether a green roof is considered green space; what’s disconcerting is the Obama Center’s insistence that they need more parkland.” When completed, the Obama Center—whose footprint currently measures roughly 20 acres—will consist of a tall, stone-clad, geometric presidential museum, a green-roofed library, and a forum for events, all clustered around a broad plaza. The greenery is meant to blend with the existing park, but will not, say critics, make up for the amount of space it is taking from the famed parks. A spokesperson for the Obama Foundation told AN: “The parking facility on the Midway will revitalize underutilized section of the Midway Plaisance. The facility will be covered and surrounded by a new park that will be open to the public.” The Chicago Park District has called three meetings for citizens to weigh in on the planned changes, particularly to Jackson Park and the Midway. “We thought a comprehensive planning process was in order,” Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irizarry told CBS Chicago. “Now it’s happening so quickly that we don’t believe it possibly can be a real, transparent process.”