Gadzooks: Ross Barney Architects has unleashed a new pavilion with a visitor center at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. In plan, the structure resembles two 'Js' knit together by a steel canopy of cantilevered frames that hang together to provide structural support and shade the ground with a leafy pattern. Officially, the 9,500-square-foot building is known as the Searle Visitor Center and it opened to the public on November 15, 2018. Between the Js, zoo-goers may enjoy a bouldered courtyard designed by hometown landscape architects Jacobs/Ryan Associates. Offices encircle the space; elsewhere, the program includes a membership lounge and an information center. The info center's patterned walls retract to open the zoo up to the crowds in the visitor center. At the entrance, the gate's patterning was designed specifically to keep out rogue humans who might try to enter the zoo when
the animals throw parties at night it's closed.
Besides the architecture, the best part about the Searle Visitor Center (and the rest of the zoo) is that it's free to visit.
Zoos and cool buildings aren't necessarily a natural association, but they should be. In Detroit, Albert Kahn Associates in 2016 completed a penguin house that's shaped like a glacier, while at the Bronx Zoo, Morris Ketchum, Jr. & Associates' modernist World of Darkness (built 1969, but now shuttered) offered a windowless circular cast concrete enclosure to observe nocturnal creatures. In London, the ramped up Penguin Pool is a modern icon but a less than ideal environment for its inhabitants, and may be torn down sooner rather than later.
Posts tagged with "Chicago":
Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker has signed a law that authorizes the sale of Helmut Jahn’s controversial postmodern icon, the James R. Thompson Center. Postmodern buildings have only recently become eligible for landmark status, a fact that highlights the need to preserve significant buildings that have years to go before reaching a minimum of 50 years old. The center is located prominently in Chicago’s Loop at 100 West Randolph Street, where it takes up an entire city block, with a Chicago Transit Authority “L” train station nestled underneath. Stout and glassy, the massive building opened in 1985 as the home of state government offices. It was named after Illinois’s longest-serving governor, James R. Thompson, who chose Jahn’s then-futuristic design. Aiming to invoke ideas of “an open government,” Jahn designed a glass-encased 17-story atrium and a large exterior plaza in a bid to create contemporary large public spaces. Chicagoans either love it or hate it. The story of the Thompson Center is a political saga that could end in a daring feat of conservation or a sad finale of destruction. Preservationists have been rallying and petitioning for the building to achieve landmark status since the first mention of its possible demise in 2007, when Governor Rod Blagojevich said he was interested in selling it. However, since the building is known for its major maintenance issues, like heating and cooling problems and physical deterioration, it will likely be demolished rather than repurposed. The Architect’s Newspaper's Midwest contributor Jamie Evelyn Goldsborough reached out to major figures in the Chicago architecture and preservation community for their takes on the controversy. Alexander Eisenschmidt, designer and architectural theorist, associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture: Jahn’s Thompson Center is certainly a quintessential Chicago construct. Not so much for its often cited but rarely understood postmodernism, but because of its urban and infrastructural theater. In fact, reducing it to its material, color, and formal palette (its architecture) diminishes its public function (its urbanism). After all, the building is a subway stop, an elevated train station, a pedway intersection, an interior marketplace, a food court concourse, an exterior plaza, and the list goes on—a kind of city-extension that inhales and breathes public life. In an age of ever-expanding privatization, aggressive outsourcing, and shrinking government investment in public services and facilities, the sale of the Thompson Center is yet another instance of the lack of inventiveness and a blind belief in quick fixes (not unlike Chicago’s disastrous parking meter sell-off). But it’s also a mistake for architects to focus on preservation. There is the potential for crafting solutions for a productive (even lucrative) re-, dis-, mis-, trans-, and cross-use of this piece of the city. John Ronan, architect, professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture: The State of Illinois Building should be saved (and repurposed). It's one of the few good examples of postmodern architecture in Chicago from a period of architectural history that was not particularly kind to the city. Bob Somol, design critic and theorist, professor and director of the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago: The debate over the shaky future of a once-futurist ruin raises paradoxical questions about postmodern preservation and the ongoing privatization of the public realm. What happens when a rhetorical ruin becomes a literal ruin within 30 years of its completion, when a project that inaugurated a mixed public-private model of government itself falls victim to economic expediency? Helmut Jahn’s 1985 Thompson Center was an awkward building at an awkward time, appearing after faith in public monuments had waned, but before the rise of iconic spectacles. It was the James Stirling building that Chicago never got, typical of many atrocities of the ’80s that attempted the shotgun marriage of high tech and historicism. The Thompson Center remains Chicago’s only legitimate heir to this thankfully aborted legacy. And for all of these reasons and more, we should keep the starship boldly going. Stanley Tigerman, architect: I don’t want to comment about it, because I will say something bad. Ellen Grimes, associate professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago: It’s our own lesson in John Portman/Jon Jerde postmodernism, repurposed for retail politics. I love it! It makes the ’80s urban in a way that didn’t happen with similar buildings of the period. There’s nothing like floating up the escalator from the Red Line into a monumental atrium that smells like burgers and falafel. To save it, [Governor] Pritzker should use it as the emblematic policy initiative in reforming the state’s pathetic finances. He should landmark it, lease it to a casino/hotel operator, and send the profits straight into the state’s underfunded mass transit budget. (Imagine playing the slot machines as you get off the train.) That way, we get to keep the thing, and get some money out of it, and it’s climate friendly. And Thompson gets the monument he deserves. Iker Gil, architect, editor-in-chief of MAS Context: It is a significant building with a truly remarkable interior public space. Unlike most buildings, here we have one that welcomes people and celebrates public space. We need to think beyond its current state of neglect and envision its potential. It can become a vibrant 24-7 space with the addition of expected and odd uses that can be combined unconventionally. The building has unique characteristics and it should remain a unique place, but, as Tim Samuelson would say, the building is in a period of aesthetic limbo. It’s not old enough to be appreciated; there is no historic perspective. Given time, care, and a programmatic overhaul, it would find its place in the history of the city. Chicago can’t afford to continue to demolish unique buildings only to replace them with generic ones for a quick economic return. This practice won’t solve Chicago’s structural issues, and the city will lose its assets and identity. Nathan Eddy, filmmaker, Starship Chicago: The Thompson Center shouldn’t just be an official landmark for Chicago; it should also be listed on the National Register of Historic Places alongside Adler & Sullivan’s Auditorium Building or the Chicago Federal Center by Mies van der Rohe. I defy anyone to stand in the Thompson Center’s launchpad rotunda and not be moved by that magical, mirrored-glass cyclone of space. It courses with power and drama and excitement and an expansive, glittering optimism. It doesn’t look dated to thousands of young people who gasp when they walk into it—to them it looks like the future. Are we really prepared to give up this prime, publicly owned forum in the civic heart of Chicago for a bargain-basement price? To be replaced with what?—a mute glass box designed not by an architect but by some false acceptance rate algorithm? And perhaps—if we’re good—a handful of half-hearted privately owned public spaces? Sounds like small plans to me. Judith De Jong, architect and urban designer, associate professor and associate dean for academic programs at the School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Chicago: Built 20 years apart, and each very much of its respective time, the Brutalist Netsch campus at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and the postmodern Thompson Center are unlikely bedfellows. However, both are hard-to-love forms of architecture that are seemingly out of style, and both once modeled important new forms of public access to public institutions that are perhaps even more important today. The Netsch campus, which opened in early 1965, was a new model of an urban public university, making higher education accessible to a wide range of new audiences. Rather than mimic the pastoral forms of the traditionally rural public university (the model of which was the University of Virginia by Thomas Jefferson), Walter Netsch and his team from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill sought to materialize a new expression of public education through urban and architectural design. Conceptualized as a pebble dropped in a pond, representing “knowledge spreading out,” the dense inner rings of campus contained the shared lecture halls and classroom buildings, flanked by the library and the student union, while outer rings contained discipline-specific buildings. The campus was connected throughout by raised walkways—human highways designed for a projected enrollment of 32,000 students—that came together in a great public amphitheater called the Circle Forum at the literal and conceptual center. Photographs of the campus at the time show the Forum’s use as an important space of daily life. Buildings were also carefully arranged to shape urban parks and plazas for public student life across the site. The Thompson Center, which opened in 1985, was a new model of access to urban public government. Rather than mimic the classical grandeur of the Illinois State Capitol Building, Helmut Jahn and his team from Murphy/Jahn Architects materialized a new expression of state governance through an enormous interior atrium—a lopped off rotunda—limned by 16 floors of the mostly open offices of public employees. The atrium was intended as an active, new, year-round public “plaza” in the middle of downtown, enabled by “retail” government services like the Department of Motor Vehicles, as well as shops, a food court, and integrated access to the Chicago Transit Authority trains. At the Thompson Center, government was meant to be as accessible and transparent as the building itself. As experiments in new forms of public institutions, both UIC and the Thompson Center had their issues, all of which were or are solvable, should the political will exist. At UIC, complaints about the walkways, framed through concerns about maintenance, safety, and a lack of “green,” led to their eventual demolition in the 1990s, taking the Circle Forum amphitheater with them. Likewise, the environmental and maintenance issues at the Thompson Center are well-documented, and just as Netsch provided possible solutions to issues at UIC that were ignored, Jahn has provided possible options for the Thompson Center that are being ignored. But whereas at UIC the form of the campus was diminished by the loss of the Circle Forum, its overall organization and many of its original buildings remain basically intact. Moreover, UIC continues to be a state institution, and as such, the architecture and urban design remain a powerful symbol of public access to higher education. While I believe strongly that a robust public life can and does occur in privately owned spaces, which could perhaps be the case at the Thompson Center should it be sold to a sympathetic owner, much more is at stake here. In an era of relentless privatization, where public institutions are under sustained attack, the sale of the Thompson Center would be a significant blow to the idea of public access to state government, and raises a much more fundamental question: Is the public institution, rather than its architecture, going out of style?
On April 10, under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago City Council approved an overhaul to the Chicago Building Code, the first update since 1949. This announcement has invigorated the local design, construction, and real estate industries as it brings the building code in line with national standards and promises greater affordability, sustainability, and innovation to modernize the city. It’s a big win for architects building in Chicago. A couple of major takeaways from the update:
- A wider range of building materials will be allowed for construction,
- New sprinkler system and seismic requirements will enhance safety,
- Cost-effective construction of single-family homes will be incentivized,
- There will be greater opportunities to convert existing basements and attics into livable space,
- Additional flexibility for rehab work will be provided, encouraging the preservation of existing buildings,
- The permitting process will be streamlined,
- Newer methods and approaches to construct green buildings will be allowed, and,
- The city will adopt International Building Code standards, making it easier to follow Chicago-specific code requirements.
Entry into Virgil Abloh’s mid-career retrospective, "Figures of Speech,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago begins with a calculated provocation: tourist or purist? According to the catalog foreword written by the exhibition’s curator, Michael Darling, the dichotomy signifies the artist’s split personality— connoisseur and aspirant—and serves as a welcome mat for all audiences to participate in a cultural flashpoint where style destabilizes class (note: the exhibition is aptly dedicated to the youth of Chicago). From this outset, the exhibition tone aims for egalitarianism. To arrive at this seemingly accessible provocation, however, requires the observer to first pass through a retinal barrage. The exhibition’s lobby includes a floor-to-ceiling collage of images as far ranging as the epileptic singer Ian Curtis to the 9/11 WTC bombings—recalling OMA/AMO’s 2004 book-zine monograph, Content—and serves as fast entry into the artist’s ever-expanding cult of cultural clashes. It comes as no surprise that Samir Bantal, director of AMO, is credited as the exhibition’s designer. In addition to an equally satisfying collage pitting images of Le Corbusier over ARCHITECTURE and Abloh over “ARCHITECT,” one is subsumed into the allure of a retail pop-up store, titled “Church and State,” offering limited Off-WhiteTM clothing, gradient furniture, and exhibition catalogs immersed within a life-size wallpaper photo-essay by the German photographer Juergen Teller. And don’t worry if you can’t afford the catalog, there’s also a free copy machine on site. Yet, for the public to even arrive at this exquisite amalgamation of gallery-cum-shop-cum-academy-cum…, means also visiting an outbreak of satellite ventures c/o Abloh across the city that include the NikeLab Chicago Re-Creation Center, where old sneakers can be donated and ground into a reusable architectural finish, or a temporary Louis Vuitton residency in an orange painted building within which stands a David-sized mannequin of the rapper Juice Wrld. So, to reset: the exhibition does not actually start in the lobby of the Museum of Contemporary Art, but rather, on the streets of Chicago. Even the museum’s Mies van der Rohe Way facade has been rebranded with “CITY HALL” and a black flag that breathes “QUESTION EVERYTHING” in white Helvetica lettering. Fifteen years later, Abloh and Bantal appear to have manifested Content’s flat ambition into something truly three-dimensional. Read the full story on our interiors and design site, aninteriormag.com.
The Chicago-based John Ronan Architects has won a competition to design the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust’s new Visitor and Education Center in Oak Park, Illinois, just in time for the Trust’s 45th anniversary. The new visitor center will become the main entrance to Frank Lloyd Wright’s former home and studio, one of five sites the Trust maintains in Chicago, and will expand the Trust's footprint in Oak Park by 20,000 square feet, including an outdoor plaza. “This is the most important initiative since the Trust’s founding and restoration of the home and studio,” wrote the Trust’s board chairman Bob Miller. “It will ensure that Wright’s legacy remains vital to future generations. Ronan’s proposal was chosen for its design simplicity, quiet presence within the site, and use of materials referencing the site and surrounding neighborhood.” The center will contain a new reception hall with its own multimedia programming, a ticketing and information area, and a shop. Outside, the new landscaped plaza will connect the visitor center with the existing buildings and will be used to host lectures and other public gatherings. The education center component will include a design studio for student and family classes, a display area for student and professional work, and a conference room. More than just getting a new building, the Trust will also reorganize its existing facilities. The Trust’s offices, which currently reside in a building from the 1860s owned by Wright’s mother, will be converted into a library and center for curatorial research. Additionally, the home and studio garage will be converted into a gallery for the Trust’s permanent collection. John Ronan Architects beat out a shortlist of Chicagoan firms for the project, including Krueck + Sexton, Pappageorge Haymes, Perkins + Will, and Vinci Hamp Architects. The plan must first win approval from the Village of Oak Park, and no estimated completion date has been provided yet.
Fears that Chicago’s new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, would quash Elon Musk’s $1 billion underground shuttle between the Loop and O’Hare International Airport arose around the February 26 election to replace Rahm Emanuel, and now evidence is mounting that the project may be dead. It’s no secret that the O’Hare Express System was a pet project of Emanuel's, and that Musk largely chose Chicago to test the first practical application of the Boring Company’s underground high-speed rail because of the permissive attitude towards new construction. Originally, the loop was pitched as a sealed tunnel that would rocket riders between Block 37 in the Loop to O’Hare in only 12 minutes, inside sealed pods riding on electrically-powered “skates.” The system was expected to move approximately 1,900 people per hour, and it was estimated that roundtrip tickets would cost $20 to $25; compare that to the Blue Line, which is able to move twice as many people an hour for only $5 a trip. Then, in late May, Musk announced on Twitter that, actually, instead of using sleds, the Boring Company tunnels would let modified Tesla cars cruise through the narrow tunnels at speeds of up to a demonstrated 127 miles per hour. Besides further reducing the tunnel’s estimated carrying capacity and introducing the potential for bottlenecks, this also seems to go against the pledge Musk made in March of 2018 to use his traffic-bypassing tunnels for public transportation first and foremost.
Now, Mayor Lightfoot has admitted that the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) may be forced to pay back the federal funding used to build a Block 37 transit station, as it isn’t being used for mass transit. The O’Hare Express System super-station would have sat below the Block 37 mixed-use project, but the site currently remains a large, unfinished basement. The CTA issued $175 million in bonds, which were later paid for by the federal government, to develop the station. Still, Lightfoot told the Chicago Sun-Times, “That doesn’t change my view of the Elon Musk project. The notion that he could do this without any city money is a total fantasy. And in thinking about what our transportation needs are, I’m not sure that an express train to O’Hare in the current proposal rises to the top of our list.” However, the federal government hasn’t given the CTA a deadline for repaying the grants, and the site may still be used for another transportation-related purpose. The Boring Company and Musk have been mum on the project since the election, but it’s hard to see how the O’Hare Express System can bounce back (and only a year after the deal was first announced). As former U.S. Transportation Secretary and Emanuel confidant Ray LaHood told the Chicago Sun-Times in March, “I’m not surprised at all. It’s very expensive. It’s complicated. The environmental impact statement that would have to be done on that will take years. And it would take a real commitment from a mayor to make it happen. I don’t see it happening.”
This is simple and just works— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 24, 2019
Four months after a district judge ruled that a lawsuit against the potential Obama Presidential Center (OPC) in Chicago would be allowed to proceed—stalling construction until its conclusion—a federal judge has tossed out the case on June 11. The lawsuit was filed by the environmental group Protect Our Parks and three other community groups against both the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District, arguing that the Obama Foundation’s plan to place the OPC in the Olmsted and Vaux–designed Jackson Park was illegal. Protect Our Parks argued that, because the Center wouldn’t actually be a government-run presidential library but a privately-run museum tower, complete with parking, a training center, and 5,000-square-foot Chicago Public Library location, the land transfer from the city to the Obama Foundation was invalid. However, in a 52-page written decision (viewable here), U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey ruled that the public benefits offered by the museum would still constitute a public good, and, in his view, merit the land transfer. The OPC, according to a written statement from Blakely, “surely provides a multitude of benefits to the public. It will offer a range of cultural, artistic, and recreational opportunities…as well as provide increased access to other areas of Jackson Park and the Museum of Science and Industry.” Blakely added that there will be no halt in construction to the Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Interactive Design Architects–planned $500 million, 20-acre campus as a result. After the ruling, Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a statement in favor of building the OPC in Jackson Park. “Chicago is where President Obama discovered his love for community service,” wrote Lightfoot, “and the Obama Presidential Center will honor his presidency and inspire the next generation of leaders. The court today made unequivocally clear that this project may be located in Jackson Park, marking a significant step forward in this historic project and for our entire city. I am committed to ensuring that this community hub creates unprecedented cultural opportunities and economic growth on the South Side.” While this wasn’t the ruling that Protect Our Parks was hoping for, the coalition of plaintiffs has vowed to appeal. The group was hoping to force the Obama Foundation to move the Center to a privately-owned lot to the southwest. Aside from the forthcoming appeal, this isn’t the last hurdle the OPC faces. Dropping a 20-acre project into a park listed on the National Register of Historic Places requires a federal review, which is still ongoing. “Today’s ruling, while disappointing, is by no means the final word,” said Charles A. Birnbaum, president and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, in a statement. The Foundation is an “official consulting party” in the federal review process and has made its opposition to siting the OPC in Jackson Park clear. “Though the carefully orchestrated local approvals process has been enabled by pliant municipal officials, there are still federal-level reviews underway for this nationally significant work of landscape architecture that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.”
Reed Kroloff has been named the new dean of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) College of Architecture in Chicago. The news comes after an extensive search and two years after the school’s last permanent dean, Wiel Arets, exited his five-year term due to rumored frustrations from faculty. Kroloff is principal of jones|kroloff, an advisory practice that has helped lead architect selection processes for major design competitions, educational institutions, businesses, and nonprofits around the world. He previously served as the director of Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum, as dean of Tulane University's School of Architecture, and as editor-in-chief of Architecture Magazine, the predecessor to ARCHITECT. Kroloff holds a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University and a Master of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. He joins an esteemed list of leaders as IIT’s newest dean—a position first held 80 years ago by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. “As an unapologetic modernist, I’m excited to be part of an institution that has been—and remains—so central to the history and practice of architecture,” said Kroloff in a statement. “There is no more significant laboratory for modern architecture than this school and its campus, nor a more auspicious moment to join Chicago’s only design- and tech-focused university than during the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus.” Kroloff will begin his deanship this fall with the 2019-2020 academic year.
Designed by Norman Kelley, the remodel of Notre’s flagship storefront in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood is a spatial and conceptual expansion of Notre’s offerings. With its larger and more flexible interior, the store will house a refined selection of contemporary designer fashion and streetwear, as well as ongoing cultural programming. Upon entering the store through the 13-foot-tall door with attached transom window, you are tasked with entering a second time; the store proper is pushed away from the street, and a multipurpose stair ramp provides an accessible entry made of 4,645 Chicago common brick pavers in four gentle slopes mediated by low-rise steps. Notre accommodates the building’s layered history as a warehouse-turned-gallery by sandwiching 1-foot-wide timber columns between white, thickened walls and drop-ceiling masks, creating a series of rooms to accommodate both products (clothing, footwear, publications, apothecary) and events (readings, lectures). Like the stepped vestibule that functions as a micro-auditorium, or the curated selection of books and magazines, Notre reveals a way to combine social pragmatism with aesthetic appeal and creates a new sense of retail intimacy. 118 N Peoria Street #1N, Chicago www.notre-shop.com (312) 888-2248 Architect: Norman Kelley
The Chicago architect, educator, and establishment antagonist Stanley Tigerman died yesterday at the age of 88. Tigerman was a member of what came to be known as the Chicago Seven, a group of architects who rebelled against the high modernism of Mies van der Rohe. (Tigerman greatly admired the master architect's work, though, and he lived full-time in a Mies building.) He gained a reputation as an iconoclast with works like the Daisy House, a 1972 Indiana family residence that resembles complementary male and female anatomy in plan. Works like Daisy House, the Lakeside Residence, and the Formica Showroom launched him into the director's role at the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Over the course of his almost six-decade career, Tigerman wrote seven books and designed around 450 buildings in Chicago, Japan, and beyond. He and architect Margaret McCurry, his second wife, co-founded Tigerman McCurry in 1986. They only designed as a team when clients asked for joint services, however. "'It's just that it's easier to not have anyone question what he draws except for the client,' McCurry told the Chicago Reader in 2003. '[and] this is like having two clients.'" In a 2015 exhibition at the Chicago Architecture Club, Tigerman unveiled a follow-up to The Titanic, seen in the top image here. The Epiphany drops a hydrogen bomb on Mies's Crown Hall as well as Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Bilbao to protest what Tigerman characterized as a fixation on architectural icons. At the opening, the elder statesman praised today's up-and-coming young architects: “I am very pleased with the current generation. I feel good. I can go now.”
After the release of a star-studded shortlist last November and the subsequent proposals in January, the city of Chicago has chosen Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners to design the $2.2 billion O’Hare Global Terminal and Global Concourse at O’Hare International Airport. The winning team consists of Chicago’s own Studio Gang, the international Corgan Associates, as well as local firms Solomon Cordwell Buenz and STL Architects. Studio ORD’s proposal is themed around convergence and features multiple elements that join together in geometrically intricate ways. The terminal’s massing consists of three U-shaped ribbed structures that join in the middle, creating a rooftop “island” and central skylight. Each segment peaks at the center, reminiscent of a mountain. Timber will be used heavily throughout the 2.2-million-square-foot building, as Studio ORD has proposed cladding the underside of each rib, and many elements of the interior, such as the escalators, in wood. Additionally, from the video released as part of their proposal, it seems that the terminal’s interior will be well planted. The team has described their terminal as densely programmed, but easy to navigate, and it appears that the central void below the skylight will anchor the scheme. The O’Hare Global Terminal will replace the existing Terminal 2, which was built in 1963. The new building is part of the $8.5 billion O’Hare 21 expansion, which will modernize the airport and expand its footprint from 5.5 million square feet to 8.9 million square feet. Even though Studio ORD has taken home the design competition’s top prize, the remaining four teams are still in the running to design two new satellite concourses adjacent to Terminal 1. The city will decide on the winner in the coming months. The O’Hare Global Terminal is expected to break ground in 2023.
“The pedway is an exquisite corpse,” said Space p11 director Jonathan Solomon of the assembly of underground spaces that make up Chicago’s Pedway, the subterranean home of the new design and architecture-focused gallery. “We are looking to encourage the many institutions above to take ownership and make the pedway a space for culture.” That notion of ownership, or perceived lack thereof, along with substandard signage, uneven maintenance and concentration of urban odors causes many Chicagoans to shame the pedway. Space p11 (‘p’ for Pedway, ‘space 11’ on the leasing plan) offers an emollient in the form of a formerly anonymous space filled with work dedicated to shared agency. This commitment to shared agency brought a series of actions to the Pedway coinciding with the debut of Space p11, which Solomon directs alongside David L. Hays. The Chicago Loop Alliance partnered with artists to work in and with the Pedway through a series of pop-up experiences, dubbed Short-Cuts, activating elements like walls and abandoned phone booths with performance, drawing, and audio installations. Space p11 opened on December 3 with Phytovision by Lindsey French, an experiment in the hierarchy of perception between humans and plants. Within Space p11, French created a space full of vegetative (not creature) comforts, including a digital video slowed to plant time and shown to a plant audience. The plants watch underneath lights in their preferred colors, red and blue, which combine to flush the gallery in magenta. “People actually think it’s a weed shop,” joked Solomon. The Chicago Pedway is a five-mile network of formal and informal underground pedestrian routes connecting forty city blocks and almost fifty buildings in the Loop. Included are both public and private along with the occasional building lobby and basement. In addition to Space p11, the Pedway houses a mix of services and amenities, including salons, dry cleaners, and a number of idiosyncratic underground bars and restaurants. The Pedway began in 1951 as a tunnel connecting the State Street Subway to the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway, joining together what are now the Red and Blue lines of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) system. Subsequent phases occurred in 1966, connecting the Civic Center to the Brunswick Building at 69 West Washington, through the late 1980s, and in 2005, when Millennium Station was completed. An additional extension was created in 2010 to connect the portion north of Lake Street to Aqua Tower, located at 225 North Columbus Drive. While the City of Chicago manages and cleans general areas of the Pedway, it is not responsible for privately owned sections, or those managed by the CTA. The system is not tended evenly, and signage does not remain consistent, confusing infrequent users and discouraging its use altogether for some. Those looking for consistency in the architecture of the Pedway are hard pressed to do so. While the Pedway portion of an individual building often captures what’s going on above, it doesn’t often give it sublime qualities. While there is terrazzo and marble, there are also portions of the system with as much personality as a jet bridge. Like the city above, the Pedway is not perfect. Space p11 is a project of Acute Angles, Inc., the publishers of the design journal Forty-Five. The gallery is designed by Future Firm, which has subtly improved the space by adding materiality to existing elements, along with lifting the language of retail through window framing and customary signage. “p11” is scripted in neon tube above a felted black letterboard announcing the bill of fare. A custom steel sandwich board in white and chrome auto paint is displayed outside the gallery during open hours. Through March 5, Space p11 presents Coalescence, a video installation by Rosemary Hall and Alberto Ortega that seeks to stretch our engagement with the biological and social world. Space p11 55 E. Randolph Street Pedway Level Chicago Chicago, Illinois