Posts tagged with "Chicago":

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Old Chicago Main Post Office receives landmark designation

The Chicago City Council recently approved the landmark designation for the Old Chicago Main Post Office. Built in phases from 1921 to 1932, the 2.3-million-square-foot structure is located on the western bank of the south branch of the Chicago River in Chicago’s Near West Side. The building’s brawny nine-and twelve-story art deco design is the work of Chicago architectural firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, a successor to D.H. Burnham and Company. The Old Chicago Main Post Office was constructed with a 40-foot-wide rectangular hole running through the center of the building, intended to accommodate a provision of the 1909 Plan of Chicago for a Congress Street extension from the South Loop to Chicago’s West Side. While various plans were floated for the extension in the 1930s, the space wouldn’t come into full use until 1955, when the Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway was completed, connecting the Loop to the western suburbs. The building’s main lobby sports lavish details like white marble and gold glass mosaics, but its original function was utilitarian in nature, with the majority of the spaces dedicated to feed conveyors, hoppers, mechanical tables, and chutes that supported a variety of mail sorting operations. The Old Chicago Main Post Office remained in operation until a modernized facility was completed in 1996, leaving the building vacant. While the Old Chicago Main Post Office was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, providing it with the opportunity to capitalize on Federal Historic Tax Credits, it is the local designation that provides a measure of protection from demolition and insensitive alteration, as a National Register listing is primarily used for planning purposes and is honorary. Local designation of commercial, industrial, and income-producing non-for-profit buildings also provides building owners with the opportunity to capitalize on Chicago’s Class L Property Tax Incentive, which reduces property levels for a 12-year period provided that half of the value of the landmark building is invested in an approved rehabilitation project. According to the City of Chicago, the property’s owner, 601W Companies, is implementing a $292 million rehabilitation of the building as retail spaces and offices led by Gensler. The interior and exterior spaces will be comprehensively updated. The work will also repair existing rights-of-way for the Eisenhower Expressway as well as the Amtrak railroad facility located underneath the building.
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Looking toward the next Chicago Architecture Biennial with Yesomi Umolu

Chicago-based curator and writer Yesomi Umolu will curate the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Her unique combination of experience in architectural design and curatorial practice will give her a refreshing take on the program, which has served as a barometer for what is happening in the U.S. and abroad.  The Architect’s Newspaper: What is your background, and what brought you to the Chicago Biennial? Yesomi Umolu: So my background is in architectural design. I studied it and I worked in practice for a couple of years in the U.K. at Grimshaw, which is a big high-tech practice, and then at a smaller practice called Haworth Tompkins, doing a lot of collaborations with artists, including Dan Graham with his Waterloo Sunset Pavilion at the Hayward Gallery in London. I was working on projects that represented my passion for the arts. Eventually, I went on to curating contemporary art, but kept my foot in the architecture world through my network. I think the types of narratives and discourses that I was interested in were more related to spatial practices and how both architects and artists were dealing with those issues. What brought you to Chicago? I got a job as exhibitions curator at the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. So I’ve been in the U.S. for about seven years. I was at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis before that, and then at the Broad Art Museum at Michigan State in East Lansing. I’ve worked in really nice buildings: Herzog & De Meuron [at the Walker] and then Zaha Hadid [at the Broad], and now Todd Williams and Billie Tsien [at the Logan Center]. So I have been lucky to be surrounded by good architecture.   In transitioning from practice to curation, where would you find yourself in relation to the last two Biennials? I would come at it by thinking about space as an inherently political medium and exploring the way in which we make spaces. Spaces are not necessarily neutral things; there are power dynamics at play. Then there are the different sorts of audiences and visitors to those spaces. The critic Jane Rendell coined the term “critical spatial practice,” which was about how one makes spaces and thinks about the politics behind them. She particularly wrote about the relationship between art and architecture, and how architects had a role to play—not just in the building of cultural buildings, but in the formation of cultural spaces, and that their skills could be lent to those spaces as well. Today there are people like Shumon Basar, Eyal Weizman, and other artists who have taken up the helm. I worked with Brad Butler and Karen Mirza, who are in the Weizman architecture school of thought in London, as well as a whole host of others. So that’s where I would kind of situate myself. Broadly speaking, my work has always been interested in questions of globalization, which of course have a spatial articulation to them as well, whether it’s thinking about the flows of people, resources, or money, and how that affects the spaces in which we live and work.   So it sounds like there will be some continuity with the last two Biennials. Yeah, exactly. So I think that’s what I can bring to the table: my particular interest in the Global South and also maybe greater access to it as well. So what can we expect in 2019 at the third CAB? Instead of having an idea and just having people funnel into that, I want to create the best team that’s going to help establish a very rigorous conversation through a project of R&D for the next three to six months or so, and a curatorial idea will follow. The role that arts and culture play is obviously something I’m going to be very, very interested in. Secondly, with the Biennial, obviously the last two editions have had folks that have been super embedded in the discipline, whereas it’s nice to have an individual such as myself who has roots in the discipline but can come at it from a slight tangent. I think how we define public space is really important right now—how to redefine participation in public space, and how arts or architecture can be leveraged to encourage more public participation. I’m also really interested in that, thinking about how architecture is communicated from the space of school to the space of practice. I can’t say for sure that it’s going to be like X, but these are my interest areas. What are some of the shows you have curated that might give insight into your thoughts and process?       I did a show recently with two Brazilian artists: an artist called Cinthia Marcelle and a filmmaker called Tiago Mata Machado. They’ve been working together for the last five to seven years doing a series of beautiful minimalist videos that look at the social space in Brazil and raise questions of revolution and chaos. These films usually focus on a specific piece of urban fabric or furniture, and then they orchestrate a series of pseudo-performances around that. So we did a show with them this last September that brought together these four video pieces. I think that resonates in terms of thinking about public space, and again, agency, collectivities, and how space can be activated through either political protest or revolution. Also, I did a show recently with Kapwani Kiwanga, who is a Paris-based Canadian artist with a background in comparative religions and ethnography. So she usually mines in a particular history and particular archives and then creates from that. And she was looking at the histories of disciplinary spaces across the world and their sort of legacies and how they affect human behavior and perception. This interview will appear in the upcoming issue 10 of AN Interior. 
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Chicago mocks Houston’s new Anish Kapoor sculpture. You won’t believe what happens next.

On Tuesday, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) installed a sculpture by Anish Kapoor, the same artist behind Chicago's Cloud Gate (better known as the Bean). The two sculptures are remarkably similar: both are hewn in shiny stainless steel and occupy prominent public spaces in their respective cities. They even have similar names and public sitings: Cloud Gate frames Millennium Park horizontally, while Houston's Cloud Column is mounted vertically in front of the Glassell School of Art. In light of the install, writers in both cities took to the pages of their respective papers-of-record to defend their hometown sculptures and throw serious shade across the continent. In the Chicago Tribune, Kim Janssen derided Cloud Column as a johnny-come-lately Bean and took cheap shots at Houston's arts scene:
If being surrounded by a cultureless abyss insufficiently communicates to confused tourists that they are in Houston, the bean’s verticality will therefore act as an additional reminder of their poor life choices.
Kapoor told the paper Cloud Column, which he imagined in 2000 and brought to life in 2006, is a totally separate thing from Cloud Gate, despite the obvious resemblance. Today, Houston Chronicle senior digital editor Lisa Gray responded to Janssen in a letter:
Yeah, it's true that we have a giant new shiny bean that stands upright. But Kim, did it occur to you that maybe we wanted it just because it's a cool thing? It's a piece of art, and works by the same artist often look similar. Our Calder looks kinda like other places' Calders. It made me wonder: Is Chicago feeling defensive? How bad is it there, knowing that Houston is set to pass you in population, taking your spot as third-largest city in the U.S.? Are you feeling—well, to steal someone's joke from Twitter–like a "has-bean"?
Janssen, of course, volleyed back. The Chronicle lovingly reprinted their dogged this-is-the-city-booster-hill-I'll-die-on correspondence under "Dear Chicago: Houston's bean is better. And so is Houston"–a shots-fired headline if there ever was one. Here's a selection from the conversation:
Chicago: "It's a leftover bean, a second-rate bean that's been lying around in storage for the better part of 20 years, because nobody else wanted it. Nobody except Houston wants a leftover, second-rate bean." Houston: "Our art critic, Molly Glentzer, tells me that our bean is actually the better bean—the original bean, the one made by hand, the one that reaches for the sky. Appropriate for its spot in the Museum of Fine Arts Houston's fast-growing complex—which is, as far as I can tell, the fastest-growing big art museum in the country." Chicago: "If art were measured by the yard—and I can see the appeal, to a Texan—you might have a point." Houston: "Any final thoughts? It's been a pleasure fighting with you." Chicago: "As a certified hater, I thought I'd never find as chippy a city as Chicago. But the outpouring of bile from Houston has genuinely surprised me, and given me hope that you may one day amount to something worthy of our rivalry. In the meantime, enjoy your bean, which is not as good as our bean, and never will be."
Separate from this beef, in a statement on the install, MFAH Director Gary Tinterow copped to the Chicago influence: “When we had the opportunity several years ago to acquire this precursor to Chicago’s Cloud Gate, I could only imagine that it would be as extraordinary for this city as Anish’s work has been for Chicago," he said. "Its elegant form and the subtle humanity of its hand-worked surface will fully animate this new gathering place for Houston.”
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Digging under Obama library site unearths World’s Fair artifacts, but construction will proceed

Archeologists involved with the federal review of the proposed Obama Presidential Center have unearthed artifacts from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. The proposed presidential library is located atop the former fair grounds in Chicago's Jackson Park. The Chicago Tribune reports that the artifacts range from pieces of fair buildings such as Louis Sullivan’s Transportation Building (pictured above), to waste associated with services from the fair, including animal bones. Prestigious firms D. H. Burnham & Company and Olmsted, Vaux & Co led the design of the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition. Designed and built according to City Beautiful principles, much of the 1893 campus was comprised of temporary structures built of form worked plaster painted white to resemble limestone. While the discovery of archeological artifacts can impact the timetable of a development, especially one of this scope, the Chicago Tribune notes that officials from the Illinois Department of Transportation who oversaw the archeological dig do not believe that the cluster of artifacts are significant enough to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The archeological findings will be presented March 29 during a public hearing at the University of Chicago, which will also discuss neighboring historic properties that the Obama Presidential Library will impact. Unless state preservation officials disagree with the Illinois DOT’s findings, the Obama Foundation intends to gain planning approval in May and open the facility to the public in 2021.
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A modular apartment factory is set to touch down in Chicago

Chicago-based general contractors Skender are getting into the modular manufacturing game, with an announcement that they will be building a factory on Chicago’s southwest side that can crank out hotel rooms and entire apartments. Skender is going all in on the new factory and modular fabrication startup, which they claim will put 100 people to work (an impressive number, as Skender only has 300 employees), and is using the opportunity to shift towards a design-build model. The company has bought out local firm Ingenious Architecture and will use the 10-person studio to guide the design and manufacturing of the modular units. Tim Swanson, formerly the head of CannonDesign’s Chicago office, will be joining as Skender’s chief design officer, Kevin Bredeson has been named the chief technology officer, and the company is hunting for a CEO to lead its factory. The move represents a huge expansion in scope for Skender, which has also changed its name from Skender Construction as part of the new direction the company is pursuing. “We are asking new questions,” said Skender President and Partner Justin Brown in a statement. “Why can’t we apply sophisticated design principles to modular manufacturing? How can we eliminate weather delays by bringing large parts of the process indoors? How can we significantly boost productivity without sacrificing quality?” Skender is expecting to roll full apartments, hotel rooms, and pieces of both multi-family residences and healthcare buildings off its new assembly line. Everything can be fabricated at the factory by tradespeople, from cabinets to light fixtures to units that have been pre-wired and set up for plumbing, then shipped to the potential construction site and unloaded via crane. Besides being able to construct modular buildings from the ground up (similar to New York’s Carmel Place), Skender plans to use the factory to work on both the interior and exteriors of its projects simultaneously, and standardize production. To say that modular architecture has had its ups and downs in recent years would be an understatement. While the world’s largest modular hotel, the Stephen B. Jacobs Group-designed CitizenM, is nearly complete in New York, the industry is still smarting from the bruising battle it took to complete 461 Dean Street in Brooklyn. The Pacific Park tower eventually became the world's tallest modular building, but was mired in lawsuits between Skanska and developer Forest City Ratner until the latter cut their losses and sold their modular manufacturing factory to architect Roger Krulak and his company, FullStack Modular. It remains to be seen if Skender can make the model work for them, but their smaller scope should help. If all goes as planned, Skender expects to pick a site for the factory in the coming months and to begin production in the fourth quarter of this year.
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2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial appoints Yesomi Umolu as artistic director

Hot off the closing of a sometimes controversial Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) that still drew nearly 550,000 visitors, CAB leaders and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel have announced that Yesomi Umolu has been chosen as the artistic director for the 2019 Biennial. The 2019 Biennial, now in its third iteration, will run from September 19, 2019 through January 5, 2020. A committee comprised of Chicago Architecture Biennial board members and past artistic directors considered candidates from around the world and from a variety of disciplines ultimately selected Umolu for this year's biennial. “Yesomi is a visionary curator with strong roots in Chicago, and she will work tirelessly to cultivate an incredible cultural, educational, and economic event for the city,” said Mayor Emanuel in a statement sent to AN. “With Yesomi at the helm, the third Chicago Architecture Biennial is sure to secure its reputation as the most innovative architectural, art, and design showcase of its kind.” Umolu is a Chicago-based writer and curator with a background in architectural design and curatorial studies and a focus on global contemporary art and spatial practices, whose work frequently explores the political nature of the built environment. Umolu will formalize and gather an international curatorial team of practitioners with strong knowledge of architecture, visual arts, and design practices globally in the coming months. The members of the curatorial team will be announced this spring. The move is a natural one for Umolu, who also serves as the Exhibitions Curator at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. “I am honored to be invited to serve as Artistic Director of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial,” said Umolu in a statement. “Having my roots in the field of architecture, spatial questions have always been an important consideration of my work with contemporary artists, architects, and urbanists from across the world. I am excited to embark on the journey of engaging the city of Chicago and it publics, as well as visitors to Chicago from across the country and around the world, in these conversations.” The jury cited Umolu’s deep ties to the city as well as her curatorial achievements­–she was chosen for an Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Curatorial Fellowship in 2016. “Umolu’s curatorial practice, which boldly, yet elegantly, traverses the fields of art and architecture, makes her uniquely situated for success in this role,” said Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial Artistic Directors, in a joint statement. “The Biennial is a complex and multifaceted platform for exploring both the history and present-day challenges in the field, and we eagerly await the outcomes of Umolu’s curatorial inquiry and exploration.” The 2019 Biennial will also align with the opening of EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, following a successful partnership in 2017. Todd Palmer, Executive Director of the 2017 Biennial, will be returning to lead the 2019 edition.  
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Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House set for summer reopening

After nearly a year of restoration work, Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House is set to reopen to the public in June 2018. The building is owned by the Elmhurst Art Museum, located in Wilder Park in suburban Chicago. As reported by the Daily Herald, Berglund Construction is completing the $400,000 restoration with the guidance of Elmhurst-based Heritage Architecture Studio and the Elmhurst Art Museum’s Executive Director, John McKinnon. The initial objective of the multiphase restoration plan is the removal of a 1990s corridor addition. Originally located on Elmhurst's Prospect Avenue, the structure was purchased by the Elmhurst Arts Museum in 1992 and was moved to its current location in Wilder Park in 1994. Following the migration, the McCormick House was physically connected to the museum through the construction of an addition. The extension, a series of pavilions connected to the McCormick House via a corridor, was designed by Chicago-based firm DeStefano + Partners, who won the 1998 Design Excellence Award from AIA Chicago for the project. While this addition facilitated movement between the two buildings and was in keeping with Mies’ original design, it obstructed views of his spartan and elegant façade. The one-story McCormick House, composed of glass and steel set upon a concrete slab, was built in 1952 for prominent Chicago inventor and magnate Robert McCormick Jr. and his wife, Isabella Gardner. According to the museum, the McCormick House was meant to serve as a prestigious suburban dwelling for the McCormick family as well as a prototype for prefabricated middle-class homes assembled with the same mass-produced materials, a real-estate project envisioned by McCormick Jr. The large-scale modular development scheme never came to fruition due to a lack of popular suburban amenities, such as air conditioning and a basement. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, former Executive Director of the Elmhurst Art Museum, Jenny Gibbs, stated that the restoration is intended to establish the McCormick House as a freestanding destination and gallery space, elevating it to a status similar to the Mies-designed Farnsworth House 40 miles to the southwest.
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Chicago’s Merchandise Mart to become “world’s largest” canvas for projected art

Chicago’s historic Merchandise Mart (rebranded as theMART), a massive art deco design center on the bend of the Chicago River, will play host to a 2.6-acre art installation come fall of 2018. At a press conference this Sunday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, city cultural officials, and representatives of building owners Vornado Realty Trust’s Chicago branch announced a plan to convert the front wall of The Mart into a canvas for large-scale, projected art. “Art on theMART” will paint the river-facing wall of the Mart with high-resolution images and videos, including indie works, through an open-source software. Mart Chief Operating Officer Myron Maurer has promised that the project would never be used to display ads. A curatorial board would be set up as early as this spring to select which works would be screened, including holiday-specific pieces and work from student art shows. First proposed in March of 2017 as a joint effort between the Mayor’s office and theMART, the project was envisioned as a “large-scale architectural projection” that would contribute to the ongoing revitalization of the Chicago waterfront. Vornado had reached out to New York City-based A+I Architects and San Francisco-based Obscura Digital to conduct the feasibility study and will be paying the $8 million installation cost and $500,000 yearly maintenance costs out of pocket. Obscura has worked on enormous projections and screen-related art projects at Grand Central Terminal, the Empire State Building, and at the Sydney Opera House. With the project moving forward, Mayor Emanuel is advancing an ordinance to the City Council that would allow for the installation of the 34 necessary projectors under a 30-year license. If the City Council approves, theMART’s light shows could begin by October of this year, and works would be projected for two hours a night, five days a week, for up to ten months a year. “It brings two great strands of the city of Chicago together,” Mayor Emanuel told reporters on Sunday. “What we all know as the Merchandise Mart will now become the largest canvas in the world.” Art on theMART is the latest in a continuing transformation for the building, which has recently shifted from housing wholesale retailers and showrooms into a tech hub and office building. A video mockup of the installation is available here, courtesy of The Chicago Sun Times.
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CTA announces route of proposed Red Line expansion

On January 26, the Chicago Transit Authority announced its ideal path for the proposed expansion of the city’s Red Line south branch. The expansion, the system's first since 1993, is a major aspect of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Red Ahead” initiative to modernize and lengthen Chicago’s busiest train line. Over 240,000 Chicagoans ride the city’s Red Line on an average weekday, representing over 40 percent of "L" ridership. The “Red Ahead” initiative has already delivered tangible improvements to the second largest transport system in the country. Currently, a transit terminal designed by Chicago-based Exp. is rising on 95th Street, the current southern terminus of the Red Line. The $280 million project entails the renovation of the existing North Terminal and the construction of an entirely new South Terminal, with the intended goal of increasing passenger capacity for existing and future commuter demand. The renovated and expanded station will also include two new public artworks by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates, and is expected to open in 2018. The Chicago Tribune reports that the proposed route runs from 95th Street, along the preexisting Union Pacific freight tracks, to 130th Street. This route will expand the Red Line by 5.3 miles, add four new stations, and is estimated to cost $2.3 billion. State and local funding for the project is not yet fully realized, and considering the budget priorities laid out by the Trump administration’s recently-leaked infrastructure plan, crucial federal funding remains precarious at best. The earliest the project will break ground is 2020, with an approximate four-year construction timeline. The new stations, located on 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue, and 130th Street, will feature bus and parking facilities as a measure to decrease vehicular congestion within the greater Chicago area. As noted by NBC Chicago, the 5.3-mile extension primarily serves Chicago’s Far South Side, an area currently designated as a “transit desert” due to its lack of public transport. Expanding transportation opportunities in Chicago’s South Side could dramatically impact the area’s residents. According to CBS Chicago, the extension of the Red Line could shave 20 minutes off the commute from the Far South Side to Downtown Chicago, boosting the accessibility of affordable housing in the area. Although transportation projects tend to draw the ire of community groups, interviews conducted by the Chicago Tribune with residents and businesses across the proposed Red Line expansion reveal widespread support for the transit initiative. According to Progressive Railroading, a final environmental impact study for the project will be released following a February 13 open house with the surrounding community. Following the study, the CTA can apply for over $1 billion in federal funding. If funding is secured for the extension of the Red Line, the CTA will still have to contend with the approximately 150 private parcels along the proposed route. The financial and logistical hurdles are great, but the large-scale expansion of Chicago’s “L” could prove a boon to residents and city alike.
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A look at Ross Barney Architects’ civic and urban design

“I want you to give me the problem that you think does not have a reasonable solution,” quipped Carol Ross Barney in her bright, two-story lofted space in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. No list of influential Chicago architects is complete without Barney’s name. The head of the eponymous Ross Barney Architects, Barney has become the go-to for civic projects throughout Chicago and the Midwest. In the past forty-plus years she has gathered over 100 design awards, including national and local AIA honor awards, the AIA Illinois Gold Medal, and most recently AIA Chicago’s highest honor, the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. Her office is filled with models and one-to-one mock-ups of projects ranging from public transit stations to million-square-foot airport facilities. At around 25 employees, the studio is very hands-on. “I just love the idea of making ideas and sharing them, and that extends to the studio,” Barney said. “In the past, we would trade concepts, you would work on a concept for a few weeks, and then we would trade projects.” The office is, unsurprisingly, filled with young architects, considering Barney has taught at either IIT or the University of Illinois Chicago consistently since the late- 1970s. She has also taken part in the AIA Chicago Bridge Program, which provides young ambitious architects with AIA fellows as direct mentors. “I was born into this role. I’m the oldest of eight children. I had a built-in responsibility,” Barney joked. “It has always been something that is very rewarding, but also fascinating to see the choices people make and why they make them.” CTA Cermak-McCormick Place Station Built to serve the largest convention center in the country, the station is built without disrupting train traffic on a narrow right of way. The station includes a perforated stainless-steel and polycarbonate tube, which provides protection from wind and rain while leaving the platform completely free of supports. Glazed masonry units and granite finishes on the interior allow simple maintenance, and the station replaces one that has been closed since 1978. Oklahoma City Federal Building Located just two blocks from the Murrah Federal Building, which was destroyed in a domestic terrorist attack in 1995, the design of the Oklahoma City Federal Building needed to acknowledge the memory of those who were killed while looking to the future. The 185,000-square-foot project was designed to maintain a sense of openness while adhering to the most stringent security measures. The building was created in collaboration with the Benham Group and Sasaki, with a water featured designed by Brad Goldberg. Lincoln Park Zoo As a new entryway for the country’s largest free zoo, Ross Barney’s design incorporates an information center and gate. Special care had to be taken in designing the gate, as standards for keeping animals in (in the unlikely case of an escape) are more stringent than those to keep humans out. Ross Barney produced numerous one-to-one mockups in studio as proof of concept for the ornately patterned portal. With operable walls, the information center can transform from an interior space to an exterior in pleasant weather. Chicago Riverwalk One of the most awarded recent projects in Chicago, the Riverwalk is part of a long-term effort by the city to enhance the public’s relationship with the water. In collaboration with Sasaki, Ross Barney oversaw the three-phase project, over the past decade. Comprised of multiple “rooms,” each section of the Riverwalk provides a different experience from a grand stair, to restaurants, and a Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Thanks to the success of the project, plans are being discussed to continue the Riverwalk further through the city.
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Carol Ross Barney to design Rock ‘N’ Roll McDonald’s replacement

Carol Ross Barney, the Chicago architect behind the city's acclaimed Riverwalk, is now tackling a totally different project: a flagship McDonald’s in River North. The glass, steel, and timber structure will replace the just-demolished Rock 'N' Roll McDonald's on the same site. At 19,000 square feet and one story, it's about 20 percent smaller and a floor shorter than its beloved predecessor, which was famous for its giant double arches and on-site memorabilia museum. While the Rock 'N' Roll McDonald's featured a two-lane drive-thru and ample parking, the new McD's welcomes pedestrians into burger heaven with a grassy outdoor plaza shaded by 70 trees and a sawtooth canopy reminiscent of a fancy truck stop. Inside, ferns and white birch trees will float in a ring of glass above customers as they place their orders, and diners can crush Big Macs beneath a living wall. The kitchen, which is the only part of the McDonald's left over from the old building, will be planted with apple trees. Although customers will still be using plastic utensils to eat out of disposable containers, the building will be energy-efficient. Its roof will sport solar panels, and Barney's firm is designing the HVAC system, as well as the all-important fryers, to use less non-renewable energy. “It’s so interesting to work on a project like this because you’re designing for an icon,” Barney told the Chicago Tribune, which first reported the story. The redesign is part of McDonald’s corporate rebranding that emphasizes sleekness over kitsch. The company, not the franchise owner, is paying for most of the new building, part of a $2.4 billion investment campaign that's mostly focused on changing the customer experience in its U.S. restaurants through 2020. This year, 4,000 outlets in the state will be renovated to include new-ish devices like self-order kiosks, plus new service options like delivery and curbside pickup.  
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Chicago’s Tribune Tower is gutted for condos as a supertall is proposed next door

While Chicago’s iconic Tribune Towers is undergoing a conversion from office building to condo tower, a 1,388-foot-tall steel and glass tower could sprout up next door. Tribune Tower’s owners, the Los Angeles-based CIM Group and Chicago-based Golub & Co, have revealed plans to build what could be Chicago’s second tallest skyscraper. After being sold in 2016 for $240 million to private developers, the top floors of the 36-story, Gothic Revival-styled Tribune Tower have been undergoing demolition since last October. While the building’s facade and main lobby were landmarked in 1989, no such protections exist for the interiors, and Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) is overseeing the conversion of what was once offices for Tribune Media into 165 condo units. According to the Chicago Tribune, CIM Group and Golub have proposed developing a narrow surface parking lot to the northeast of Tribune Tower into a mixed-use skyscraper designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. As the Chicago Tribune notes, Adrian Smith is no stranger to building tall, having led the design team for the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and Trump Tower Chicago when he was with SOM. The new tower would eclipse Trump Tower Chicago as the second tallest in Chicago, as Trump Tower only tops out at 1,171 feet tall, and uses a spire to reach 1,388 feet. The current proposal would see the creation of 220 hotel rooms and 158 condo units, as well as 500 parking spaces spread across floors two through eight of the new tower. Alderman Brendan Reilly described the design as “thin and soaring” based on renderings he had seen. This thinness is likely a response to the protected Ogden Slip view corridor, which means that Tribune Tower must remain visible from Lake Shore Drive as part of its landmarked status. While preservationists have been questioning whether this new development, which would dwarf the 462-foot-tall Tribune Tower, is inappropriate for the site, the conversion of Tribune Tower itself has also drawn their ire. The building’s limestone base contains embedded chunks of famous buildings from around the world, and Alderman Reilly has stated that these panels will be relocated to different areas of the tower. Tribune Tower was built in 1925 following a widely-publicized design contest that awarded the $50,000 prize to New York-based Howells & Hood. The tower’s Indiana limestone façade, gothic details, and crown composed of flying buttresses has made it an integral part of the Chicago skyline in the century since its opening. The conversion to residential space and the opening of ground floor retail is expected to finish in 2020; any construction on the adjacent lot is on hold until the Tribune Tower project is complete. The plans presented above are still subject to change, as the developers still need to procure funding and a rezoning of the lot before they can proceed.