AIA Chicago has announced this its 2017 Small Projects Awards. The awards celebrate projects with limited budgets and even tighter space constraints. This year’s top honors include a brewery taproom and a medical marijuana display. Citations of Merit went to eight other projects in the Chicago area. This year’s jurors included, Joan Craig, AIA, Lichten Craig Architecture and Interiors; Michael Graham, AIA, Liederbach and Graham Architects; Elissa Morgante, AIA, Morgante Wilson Architects Ltd.; Josh Shelton, AIA, El Dorado Inc.; and Andrea Mills, Editor in Chief Modern Luxury Interiors Chicago. Taking the award for Commercial / Institutional Architecture went to RANGE Design & Architecture an Honor Award for its design of the Hopewell Brewing Company. Located in the Logan Square neighborhood on the northwest side of Chicago, the spaces if filled with floor-to-ceiling light oak and custom furniture. The bright contemporary interior is designed to reference the brewery’s products. The top award in the Objects category went to Perimeter Architects for their design Dispensary 33—Chicago’s first medical marijuana dispensary. Perimeter designed a custom vacuum sealed cannabis display canister. Pot Holders feature hand-blown glass and millwork. The eight other Citations of Merit awards went to UrbanLab, Tigerman McCurry Architects, Wrap Architecture, Vladimir Radutny Architects, Stewert Cohen & Julie Hacker Architects, and Kuklinski + Rappe Architects.
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As part of a community meeting in Michelle Obama’s home neighborhood of South Shore, the former president and first lady unveiled the first images and a conceptual model for the future Obama Presidential Center. Described at the meeting as “more than a building or museum,” the center will be a “working center for citizenship.” Classrooms, labs and outdoor spaces will be used for programming focused on giving visitors “real tools to create change in their own communities.” A video of the design can be seen below. Located in Jackson Park, on Chicago’s South Side, the center is being designed by New York-based Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners and Chicago studio Interactive Design Architects. As part of the Olmsted-designed park, the complex will include 200,000 square feet of space divided into three structures—a museum, forum, and library. The three structures will great a central public plaza, while landscaping will connect the green roofs of two of the buildings to the existing park. The tallest of the buildings will be the museum portion of the center, will hold exhibitions and public space, while the forum and library will be public resources to further the civic goals of the center. “The design approach for the center is guided by the goal of creating a true community asset that seeks to inspire and empower the public to take on the greatest challenges of our time," the architects said at the meeting. "The Obamas were clear that they wanted the Center to seamlessly integrate into the Park and the community, and include diverse public spaces. Our hope is that this design for the Center interspersed with Jackson Park honors the legacy of Olmsted and Vaux and unlocks potential and opportunity for Jackson Park, the South Side, and the City of Chicago." Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel also commented: "I am thrilled to join President Obama and Mrs. Obama as we outline the vision for both the Obama Presidential Center and Jackson Park as a whole," he said. "This vision will enhance the historic landscape of Jackson Park as originally envisioned by Frederick Olmsted, and we all look forward to engaging with residents as we begin the community process to turn this vision into reality in a way that maximizes economic development and opportunity in Woodlawn, South Shore and Washington Park.”
This is really happening. Late last year Chicago-based New World Design proposed Flying Pigs on Parade: A Chicago River Folly, an installation of four golden flying pigs directly in front of the Trump sign on the Trump International Hotel and Tower. After receiving permission from Roger Waters, co-founder, bassist, and lead songwriter of Pink Floyd, New World Design will reproduce the same pig used for the iconic Pink Floyd photo shoot over Battersea Park Power Station, London, for the Animals album cover. This time the pigs will be gold. The helium-filled balloons will then be floated, single file, from a construction barge in the Chicago River at just such a height to obscure the 20-foot-by-141-foot Trump sign. The single day installation is expected to be launched in late August or early September. The pigs hold multiple meanings and make a number of pop culture references, most clearly to the 1977 Pink Floyd album cover and George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Other references include Trump’s alleged “Miss Piggy” comment directed at a former Miss Universe and the gold so often used in Trump’s interior design. "The design follows meticulous rationale in imparting layers of meaning but ultimately allows for interpretation by individual viewers," said Jeffrey Roberts, partner at New World Design. The Trump Tower has become a lightning rod for protest since the election. The base of the tower has been the site of multiple peaceful demonstrations, and the Honorary Trump Plaza sign, which marked Wabash Avenue in front of the tower, was removed some months ago. On any given day, tourists can be seen across the river taking selfies of themselves giving the building the middle finger. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, another consequence of Trump’s lack of popularity in Chicago has been slowed condo sales. Currently, over 50 condos in the Tower are on the market. That is nearly three times that of any similar tower in the city. “We are a small group of designers creating visual commentary on the inflammatory nature of our current political environment. We are not radicals. We see design as our path to building and reinforcing a community of more rational, optimistic and inclusive minds,” said Roberts. The pigs and the protests are all happening in a public way, peacefully. So it would seem that the targeting of the tower by scornful Chicagoans is not going to stop anytime soon. Not even when pigs fly.
The Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) has announced over 100 Program Partner organizations that will produce additional events and exhibitions across the city during this year’s event. Program Partners include a range of institutions, NGOs, museums, galleries, universities, and foundations. While most are based in Chicago, a number of national and international partners are also on the list. “The Program Partners of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial will further explore and examine the meaning of architecture today, and reflect and expand on the Biennial’s theme of ‘Make New History,’” said the 2017 Biennial Artistic Directors, Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee in a press release. The 2017 CAB Program Partners include: 6018North Adaptive Operations AIA Chicago AIA National AIA Practice Management Knowledge Community AIGA Chicago Archeworks Architecture & Design Society Arquitectos, Inc Art Institute of Chicago Arts + Public Life Arts Club of Chicago Aspect/Ratio Gallery Association of Architecture Organizations Benjamin Marshall Society Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation for Women Block Museum California College of the Arts Canadian Centre for Architecture Chicago Architectural Club Chicago Architecture Foundation Chicago Cultural Alliance Chicago Design Museum Chicago History Museum Chicago Ideas Week Chicago Loop Alliance Chicago Park District—Culture, Arts & Nature Chicago Public Library Chicago Women in Architecture Chinatown Public Library, Chicago City of Chicago, DCASE, Year of Public Art City of Chicago, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events City of Chicago, Department of Planning and Development Columbia Books on Architecture and the City Columbia GSAPP (Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation) Defibrillator Gallery DePaul Art Museum DePaul University Department of History of Art and Architecture Design Evanston DOCOMOMO_Chicago DuSable Museum of African American History Edgar Miller Legacy Experimental Sound Studio EXPO Chicago Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Frank Lloyd Wright Trust Friends of Historic Second Church Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago Garfield Park Conservatory Glessner House Museum Goethe-Institut Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in Fine Arts Harvard Graduate School of Design Hong Kong Design Center Hyde Park Art Center Illinois Humanities Council Illinois Institute of Technology Institute for Public Architecture Lampo Landmarks Illinois Logan Center Exhibitions Mana Contemporary MAS Context Metropolitan Planning Council Mies Society Monique Meloche Gallery Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago National Museum of Mexican Art National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture National Public Housing Museum Navy Pier, Inc. Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society Northwestern University Department of Art History Palais de Tokyo Pleasant Home Foundation Preservation Chicago Rebuild Foundation Renaissance Society Rhona Hoffman Gallery Rootwork Gallery Royal Institute of British Architects US Region Ruth Page Center for the Arts SC Johnson School of Architecture at Taliesin School of the Art Institute of Chicago Sixty Inches from Center Smart Museum of Art Society of Architectural Historians The Cliff Dwellers The Farnsworth House The National Trust for Historic Preservation Annual Conference, PastForward The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation The Ruth Page Center for the Arts Unity Temple Restoration Foundation University of Chicago University of Illinois Chicago School of Architecture UW-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning (SARUP) Van Alen Institute Volume Gallery Workshop 4200 "It's exciting that visitors to the Biennial and Chicago residents will be able to enjoy the architecture related programming throughout the entire city," said Mark Kelly, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. "Chicago's architectural history is embedded within every neighborhood and touches so many of our world-class cultural organizations and venues." The Chicago Architecture Biennial will run from September 16, 2017, through January 7, 2018. Once again, the center of CAB will be the historic Chicago Cultural Center on Michigan Avenue, in Downtown Chicago. The opening will align with the EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, which will run September 13 to 17 at Navy Pier.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) has announced the appointment of eight new members to its Board of Trustees. The new members are made up of high-ranking executives of the architecture, development, design, and cultural communities. The CAF Board of Trustees is charged with guiding and advising the nonprofit organization as it continues to expand. The new trustees include: Ramón (Ray) Cepeda, senior vice president and senior managing director, Northern Trust Corporation Brian Lee, design partner, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP Anthony LoBello, principal, SmithGroup JJR and past president of the board of directors, AIA Chicago Robin Loewenberg Tebbe, chief marketing officer, Magellan Development Group Jenny Niemann, president/CEO and owner of Forward Space Lee Pollock, trustee and advisor to the board, The International Churchill Society Constance Rajala, CAF docent council president Theodore (Ted) Yi, partner, Quarles & Brady, LLP “CAF is pleased to welcome these eight individuals, each a leader in their own fields,” said CAF President and CEO Lynn Osmond in a press release. “Their expertise will provide CAF, the world’s largest public architecture organization, with the counsel we require as we undertake an expansion that will take CAF, and the city of Chicago, through our next fifty years.” CAF is in the process of expanding its public programming in its 51st year. Programs include tours programs, exhibitions, field trips, and online resources for the public to better appreciate architecture. Notably, the CAF runs Open House Chicago and the extremely popular Architecture River Cruise through the city’s downtown on the Chicago River.
Much to the delight of tired downtown Chicago architects in need of caffeination, Starbucks has announced plans to open a Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Chicago in 2019. Starbucks describes the mega-coffee house as “a fully sensorial coffee environment dedicated to roasting, brewing and packaging its rare, small-batch Starbucks Reserve coffees from around the world.” The roastery will be located in the heart of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, along Michigan Avenue, in what is currently a flagship Crate & Barrel store. At four stories and 43,000 feet, it will be the largest Starbucks in the world. The Chicago Tribune has reported that the Crate & Barrel store is expected to close in early 2018 to make way for the caffeinated coffee compound. The Roastery will also include a working bakery and rooftop terrace. The Chicago roastery will be part of a larger move by Starbucks to open 20 to 30 similar projects around the world. The roasteries will supply the company’s Reserve Stores, which are set to open up to 1,000 new locations in the coming years. Chicago currently has three of the upscale Reserve Stores, with another planned for the West Loop neighborhood.
Sears and Roebuck Company may no longer be the giant it once was, yet its physical presence is still all over the city of Chicago. As the company had no brick and mortar retail stores until nearly 30 years after its founding in 1886 as a mail-order catalog, many of its earliest buildings were for logistics and storage. One of those old structures is its large original headquarters and catalog printing facility. Abandoned for 40 years, the epic building has now been converted into 181 affordable housing units. Located in the North Lawndale neighborhood on the city’s West Side, the complete renovation was lead by Solomon Cordwell Buenz Architects, James McHugh Construction Co., and Denco, for client Mercy Housing Lakefront. The six-story brick complex will house upwards of 300 residents in 79 one-bedroom units, 52 two-bedroom units, 40 three-bedroom units, and 10 four-bedroom units. Other amenities include a community room, laundry facilities, a computer center, and an exercise facility. The redeveloped complex will now be known as the Lofts on Arthington. Limestone and terracotta details throughout, as well as many of the other original details, were restored in the process of converting the campus. Nearly the entire roof and over 100,000 square feet of flooring had to be completely replaced. Much of the structure had to be updated as well, along with filling in underground tunnels once used by Sears to move across the complex. In recent years, Sears has continued its decline, with an announcement from the company’s leadership expressing “substantial doubt” about its future. Famously, the company’s namesake supertall tower was renamed the Willis Tower in 2014, though most Chicagoans still refer to it as the Sears Tower. The Old Chicago Main Post Office, which was once the largest post office in the world thanks to Sears’s mail-order business, was vacated in 1997. Now with many of Sears’s old buildings being refurbished, and the Old Main Post Office being completely renovated, some of Chicago’s largest structures, from the golden age of mail-order merchandising, are getting a second chance at life.
While many cities struggle with their relationship with house-sharing micro-rental companies, Chicago is looking on the bright side of the relatively new phenomenon. The city has announced that it will use $1 million raised from fees paid by homeowners who use home-sharing platforms, such as Airbnb, to help house 100 homeless families. The Housing Homeless Families program is a joint initiative with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, one of the city’s primary resources for information on and advocacy for the homeless population. The program will focus on families in areas of the city with high violent crime rates, including Austin, Englewood, West Englewood, and Humboldt Park. Working with shelters that specialize in family services and the Chicago Public School system, the program will focus specifically on families with school-age children. “The goal of this initiative is to help our most vulnerable families to establish stability so that their children can succeed,” said Department of Family and Support Services Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler. "Thanks to collaboration with our partners at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, the city will deliver a coordinated response to ensure the needs of our most vulnerable families are met, and to prevent families on the cusp from experiencing homelessness.” The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless recently released a report on the number of homeless people in the city. The count includes data on those who “double-up,” referring to people that do not have their own home but stay with friends or relatives. The report, which looks at 2015, found the city to have 82,000 homeless individuals, which includes nearly 10,000 homeless families. It is estimated that 87 percent of those who identified as homeless were “doubled-up.” The money for the new program was raised through a $1 million investment by the Chicago Low Income Housing Trust Fund, with matching funds from a four percent surcharge leveled against homeowners using Airbnb and other home-sharing programs. That money will go towards providing housing vouchers to families and provide additional transition services. Those services will include helping families set up appointments, navigate the housing application process, and work with housing providers. The ultimate goal is to find permanent housing for the participating families. “Around the city, children should be able to focus on their studies, and not where they are going to sleep at night,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the announcement of the initiative. “Working with our partners at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless on this new initiative, we will work to ensure that more families experiencing or on the verge of homelessness can find and maintain the housing and stability they need to thrive and provide for their children.”
While transit-oriented developments (TOD) have become ever more popular on the near Northwest side of Chicago, the latest such project is on the complete other side of town, and it offers something the others don’t. The Woodlawn Station development will be located at the 63rd and South Cottage Grove station of the CTA L Green Line, and will include 70 units of mixed-income housing, in three buildings. The main building of the development will have 55 market-rate and affordable housing units. The four-story building was designed by Gensler with Chicago-based Nia Architects as the architect of record. The base will include 15,000-square-feet of retail and commercial space, and other amenities include a rooftop deck, a play garden, and community room. As a transit-oriented development, it will have limited car parking, and extra bike storage space. A digital transit info screen will let residents know when trains are approaching, as they will only have a few steps to take to get to the station. The importance of the Woodlawn Station project is in the role it will play in the quickly revitalizing neighborhood. Earlier this year it was reported that, for the first time in 50 years, Woodlawn had seen an increase in population while simultaneously a decrease in crime. A great deal of emphasis is being put on the neighborhood by the city, as it will also soon be home to the Tod Williams Billy Tsien-Designed Obama Presidential Center. In recent years, other projects, from the Woodlawn Resource Center to University of Chicago student housing, have all added to the improvement of the neighborhood. The developers of the project, Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc. (POAH), specifically focus on developing affordable housing. Along with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); City of Chicago; Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC); JP Morgan Chase; BMO Harris Bank; and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) the project is an example of how multi-layered public/private financing is often used to build affordable housing in Chicago. Yet local officials are quick to point out that federal funding may soon be a smaller part of the equation. "The developers of this project were able to leverage more than $400 million in additional investments from the private sector after receiving $30 million in federal funding from the Choice Neighborhood Grant Fund—a HUD program that would be eliminated in President Trump’s budget blueprint," said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) at the project's groundbreaking. "Programs designed to help revitalize struggling communities are smart investments that yield great benefits for the neighborhood and nation alike. They should receive more federal investment, not less.”
A new art installation has recently been illuminated in the epic lobby of the Goettsch-designed 150 North Riverside. At 150 feet long and 22 feet high, 150 Media Stream is an ever changing digital installation comprised of 89 LED blades. Commissioned by the building's developer, Riverside Investment & Development, the installation was closely integrated with 150 North Riverside's design. “150 Media Stream represents an interesting convergence of art, architecture, and technology, and we believe it celebrates the transformational experience of media art,” said Yuge Zhou, creative director at Riverside Investment & Development. The physical components of 150 Media Stream were designed and constructed by McCann Systems, who worked with Digital Kitchen. Chicago-based Leviathan produced the initial artwork and content delivery system. “We set out to build a flexible, intelligent system of endless digital content that would make 150 Media Stream look exceptional, every moment of every day,” explained Jason White, executive creative director of Leviathan. The artwork that will be displayed on the installation will be commissioned from artists and students. A series of collaborative projects have been specifically created for the piece in classes sponsored by Riverside. Partnering cultural and educational institutions also contributed. The first prominent artist to be featured on the installation will be Chicago-based new media artist Jason Salavon. Coupled with its site specificity, this will be one of the largest pieces Salavon has ever done. “The opportunity to explore these aspects of this project was intriguing. There is no other video wall in the world that looks like this one,” Salavon said.
The 150 Riverside tower will officially open Thursday, April 20, 2017, with the lobby being open to the public starting Friday, April 21, 2017, at 6pm.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, along with other top city officials, has announced the city’s intention to power every one of its public buildings with 100% renewable energy by 2025. This would make Chicago the largest city in the U.S. to power its properties with renewable energy. The announcement comes in direct opposition to recent policy proposals put forward by the Trump administration. “As the Trump administration pulls back on building a clean energy economy, Chicago is doubling down,” Mayor Emanuel said. “By committing the energy used to power our public buildings to wind and solar energy, we are sending a clear signal that we remain committed to building a 21st-century economy here in Chicago.” The announcement was made atop the roof of the Shedd Aquarium, which is not a public building, but recently installed 900 solar panels. The Shedd is participating in the mayors Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge, which also involves installing high-efficiency lighting and large on-site batteries. The combined energy use of the city’s buildings in 2016 was approximately 1.8 billion kilowatt-hours, which accounts for about 8% of the city’s total electricity use. This is also the equivalent of powering about 295,000 Chicago homes for the same amount of time. In recent years, the city has made significant moves towards its renewable energy goals by eliminating coal use from over one billion kilowatt hours in 2013 alone. The city also reduced its carbon emissions by 7% between 2010 and 2015. Chicago was also named the 2017 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award winner by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Today's action is a historic step forward in establishing Chicago as a clean energy leader,” said Jack Darin, Illinois Sierra Club President. “By moving boldly to repower its public buildings with renewable energy like wind and solar, Chicago is leading by example at a time when local leadership is more important than ever. While President Trump and his administration would reverse America's progress on climate change and clean energy, Mayor Emanuel is ensuring that Chicago will move forward, and that its residents will benefit from the good jobs and cleaner air that come from renewable energy projects. We look forward to working with the Mayor, community leaders, and the people of Chicago to achieve this bold goal on the path to eventually powering all of Chicago with 100% clean energy."
Chicago is getting closer to having a new piece of offshore architecture. Breakwater Chicago is the football-field-sized floating pleasure island designed by Chicago-based Space Architects + Planners for Lake Michigan. With the original capital coming from a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014, the project is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Coast Guard for approval to move forward. The project takes its name from, and will be located within, the Chicago Harbor breakwater, a 5,321-foot-long structure surrounding the downtown. Renderings show the Breakwater located specifically in the area of the harbor locally known as the Playpen. The area is filled with pleasure boats throughout the few months weather permits. The promise of the Breakwater is that it will make this area more accessible, as currently it is almost exclusively large yachts enjoying the calm water. Breakwater president and co-founder Beau D’Arcy said he wants the project to cater to families as well as those looking to party out on the water. The Breakwater will include pools, three restaurants, and docks for pulling up in a boat. Those that do not have their own boat will be able to take a water taxi service out to the floating attraction. “We wanted it to look like something rising out of the water. Something rather than a boat or a barge that is placed on the water. Almost like an island or an oasis in a desert,” said Jay Keller of SPACE Architects + Planners about the design. The proposal also includes a multi-part sustainability plan in an attempt to be “truly [in] harmony with its environment.” The hull of the craft will include an underwater garden to help absorb potentially dangerous nutrients from the water, a common problem in the Great Lakes caused by runoff. The Breakwater is also planning to use renewable energy sources including photovoltaics, solar water heating, aqua thermal cooling, and potentially even kinetic wave power. And despite not being a building, the project will also follow LEED. standards when at all possible. While no expected launch dates have been announced, a new video gives the most complete look at the proposal so far. You can learn more about Breakwater Chicago on its website.