Posts tagged with "Chicago":

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Turning Up Design

We have previously reported on Chicago’s burgeoning independent design scene, and now the Windy City is gaining a new venue to see the newest design thinking. The Volume Gallery will serve as a “platform for emerging American designers to engage with an international audience,” according to a statement form the organizers. Their first exhibition on designer Jonathan Nesci, called THE NEW, will be held at the Andrew Rafacz Gallery in the West Loop, and will feature limited editions, including tables, chairs, and pendant lamps. Nesci’s work has been widely published and has been show at Design Miami, ICFF, Design Art London, and the Salone del Mobile in Milan. Founded by Sam Vinz and Claire Warner, both previously of the prestigious Wright Auction house, Volume’s tenancy at Andrew Rafacz Gallery will be temporary. “We plan on having a few of these events throughout the city over the course of the year, until we decide on a permanent space. Each time, we will present newly commissioned (limited edition) works from American contemporary designers,” wrote Vinz in an email. The Volume Gallery’s premier exhibition, THE NEW, will be on view from March 19-23 at Andrew Rafacz Gallery, 835 West Washington Blvd.
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Burj Inaugurated and Renamed

Today marks the official inauguration of the world's tallest building, the Burj in Dubai. While the opening comes at a rocky time for the emirate and for the global real estate market, it was greeted with great fanfare, including, cannily, renaming the building the Burj Khalifa, after the president of neighboring Abu Dhabi, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The move signaled both Dubai's gratitude for Abu Dhabi's recent bailout and the unity of the emirates through the financial crisis. Designed by SOM Chicago along with former partner Adrian Smith, the Burj Khalifa was also officially declared 2,717 feet high, far surpassing its nearest rivals. The 160-story tower has 54 elevators that will carry an estimated 12,000 people to the building's offices, hotel rooms, apartments, nightclubs, and mosques. According to the New York Times, many of the building's apartments have sold, but the prospects for finding office tenants are poor, as the office market is particularly soft in Dubai. The Burj is just another example of how Chicago offices are continuing to lead in the field of tall building design. Given the climate, Burj Khalifa may be the world's tallest for some time to come.
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High Tech Holidays

The Chicago office of SOM has designed a modern take on the menorah, which recently took top prize in a charity competition sponsored by Steelcase. The solid wax menorah, which was created by Colin Gorsuch, burns so that the eight inch square frame is revealed with the passing of each night of Chanukkah. The melting wax "falls onto the wooden base and paints a pictorial timeline of the Hanukkah celebration," according to a statement from the firm. SOM's Adrian McDermott designed a wreath for the competition, formed out of 80 overlapping toruses that create a lattice ring.
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Northerly Night

The Chicago Parks District is holding a public meeting on the future of Northerly Island tonight at the Spertus Institute from 6-9pm. The 91-acre peninsula, which is connected to the lakefront by a causeway, has played an important and evolving role  in Chicago's civic imagination. It figures prominently in the Burnham Plan, was home to 1933-1934 World's Fair, and later the Meigs Field airport, and was part of the 2016 Olympic bid. The meeting will offer a preview of plans for the island and solicit public comment.
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Bright Holiday Ideas

The Object Design League, working with Pavilion Antiques, is opening a pop-up design store in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood. Opening the day after Thanksgiving, the shop, called Worth Your Salt, will feature pieces by 19 American designers, including lighting, accessories, jewelry, and household items. The designs explore themes of "industriousness and play" according to a statement from the league. Craighton Berman's Coil Lamp, for examples, is made from a single electrical cord wrapped around a nearly invisible frame in the form of an everyday table-top light. Click through for a preview of a few of the objects that will be offered. Lynn Lim's PenBall turns scattered writing utensils into desktop sculpture. Steven Haulenbeek's Dubbot Modular lighting can be configured for different applications. Pieces can be added or subtracted according to changing needs or tastes. Iacoli&McAllister's Facets rings are made from scraps of Corian that are laser-cut and polished to a glassy sheen. Worth Your Salt will be at Pavilion Antiques, 2055 North Damen, Chicago, November 27 through December 11.
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City Stunts

A new exhibition at the Graham Foundation’s Madlener House puts urban residents on notice: engage your community, become amateur planners, designers, and architects. Actions: What You Can Do with the City was organized and curated by the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal and seeks to challenge traditional planning’s organization of the built environment into work, residential, and leisure zones. The exhibition is composed of 99 actions, "common activities such as walking, playing, recycling, and gardening that are pushed beyond their usual definition by the international architects, artists, and collectives featured in the exhibition.” The actions range from cheeky solutions to lying down on hostile benches (Action #38) to sensible maps of how and where to forage for urban fruits and vegetables (Action #9). City dwellers often come up against barriers – often by design (e.g. anti-sitting devices, Action #43) – to full enjoyment of their surroundings. The resulting friction is pervasive throughout the show. The actions not only propose alternatives or means around the impediments, but sometimes heighten the dialogue by suggesting new ones. On the same table sit decorative metal skateboarding-deterrent starfish (Action #42) and shoes modified with plastic cutting boards (Action #30) that allow pedestrians to slide on hard edges and railings. One item is designed to curb pedestrian damage, while the other encourages movement on unintended surfaces. These seemingly contradictory ideas and other actions challenge our thinking on urban environments and inspire greater engagement and participation. Actions: What You Can Do with the City Graham Foundation 4 W. Burton Place, Chicago Through March 13, 2010
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Eavesdrop MW 01

PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN GLASS HOUSES Word on the street is that Chicago’s modern design auctioneer extraordinaire Richard Wright and Philip Johnson Glass House executive director Christy MacLear have been spending time together. That’s a lot of design obsession for one relationship, we’re just sayin’. Moreover, what about the poor flooded Farnsworth House? Wright, it seems, prefers to rendezvous at the imitation over the original, even as its water-stained furniture is being restored. Richard—your hometown needs you! (OK, so the Glass House is actually older than Farnsworth, but we all know Johnson borrowed his best ideas.) JEALOUS MUCH? Speaking of love affairs, some architecture publicists we’ve spoken to lately are grousing that Blair Kamin has been giving too much affection (in his writings at least) to a certain attractive female architect who shall not be named. Come on boys, quit complaining. She can’t be blamed for having great curves, built or nurtured. ON TO GREENER PASTURES Mayor Daley loves to crow about how Chicago is the greenest city in the U.S. Well, he forgot about the 51st state. We should say he forgot aboot it! Sadhu Johnston, Chicago Chief Environmental Officer, stepped down on September 30 for a job in Vancouver. Oh, and Vancouver is hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics! Double smarts! Hey, all you LEED APs, turn those frowns upside-down. It might be time for a career change—public sector jobs are so This Economy! Send gossip, salacious whispers, and wheat-grass shots to eavesdrop@archpaper.com
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AIC Adds Architecture Curator

Another sign of the growing importance of the Art Institute of Chicago's Architecture and Design Department, the museum announced the appointment Alison Fisher as assistant curator. Fisher, who will focus on the department's historical collection, joins department chair Joe Rosa, and curator Zoe Ryan, who has been building the department's contemporary design collection. The department, which now boasts the country's largest architecture and design galleries, is working on a major exhibition on Bertrand Goldberg, among other shows. Fisher previously served as a curatorial fellow at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University and she is completing a doctorate in art history at Northwestern.
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Broad Shoulders, Big Ideas

Big. Bold. Visionary: Chicago Considers the Next Century, another event commemorating the Burnham Plan Centennial, taps local architects, planners, and landscape architects to envision the ideal Windy City of the future. Some designers took a creative and sometimes whimsical approach, while others offered up more practical concepts. Filter out the public relations boosterism and the show offers plenty of inspiring ideas to further Burnham’s goal of creating a beautiful lakefront accessible at all points north and south. On the far south side of the city, Phillip Enquist of SOM envisions a high-density mixed-use development at the 573-acre site of a former steel manufacturer. The surrounding neighborhoods, many of which are economically depressed, could benefit from Linda Searl’s temporary three-year functional structures, designed as infill for empty lots. The infill structures would act as a catalyst for commerce, development, and to improve the overall quality of life of the neighborhood. Other proposals took the title of the show to heart: big and bold. Adrian Smith’s two mile-long eco bridge would arch out into the lake from Monroe Harbor, the center of which would stand a tall tower to harvest wind and solar energy. Others inspired strong reactions, like the Jeanne Gang’s shudder-inducing eco-casino or Ralph Johnson of Perkins + Will’s international airport developed in Lake Michigan at the terminus of Congress Parkway. The show, while not as flashy as the Centennial’s other events, is no less important. Building on the legacy of Burnham, it will help facilitate conversations about future planning and showcase the city's current design talent. Big. Bold. Visionary: Chicago Considers the Next Century is at the Chicago Tourism Center Gallery, 72 E. Randolph St. through October 4.
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An Olympic Conundrum for Chicago

We've been following Chicago's Olympic bid rather closely of late, and not only because we're on the way to inaugurating a Midwest edition of the paper. First, there was SOM's intriguing proposal to create "sustainable," "low-impact" Olympics that would have few legacy costs by using temporary facilities, an approach the IOC apparently favored. Then there was the impact of that plan, which still called for the demolition of some buildings—as well as hundreds of trees in Washington Park—most notably at the Walter Gropius-designed Michael Reese hospital campus. Outcry from preservationists led the city to delay demolition, which made time for the preservationists to develop alternative plans. Olympic opponents may be catching another break now, as, ironically enough, the very things the IOC purportedly liked about Chicago's bid-lite may also be its undoing. The IOC released its evaluation report today, which outlines the strengths and weaknesses of of each city's bid a month in advance of the final selection. In addition to Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, and Madrid are vying for the games. Reports indicate the South American city could be the favorite, while Chicago's proposal was called "ambitious," which sounds like damning praise, with the Tribune doing a good job of highlighting the curious position the IOC has laid out:
A risk highlighted for Chicago's bid, the planned use of many temporary venues, reflects an IOC desire to have its cake and eat it, too. Based on the 2003 report of a Games study commission, the IOC espouses the idea of not wanting host cities to build expensive, permanent venues that will become underused, costly-to-maintain white elephants. Yet it also is thrilled when a city like Beijing goes overboard to do just that. In its detailed evaluation of the Chicago bid's response to the 17 themes assessed, the report praises the city's concept for being ``in line with the IOC Games Study Commission recommendation to `build a new venue only if there is a legacy need...''' In the same sentence, the report says that means a greater burden on the Olympic organizing committee (OCOG) to pay for and deliver that part of the project, as opposed to cities that build permanent structures and do not assign their cost and development to the Games operations (OCOG) budget. In its summary of the Chicago bid, the report says there is increased risk in Chicago due to an ``emphasis on major temporary or scaled-down venues.'' That includes the Olympic Stadium, which would be a temporary, 80,000-seat structure. Chicago bid officials have insisted their venue plan not only is financially responsible but could be a model for future Olympic host cities.
Clearly, cost is a concern, especially in these economically challenging times. Still, the ambivalence the IOC has for what exactly it wants is amusing, if not downright frustrating. That is, of course, unless you're a preservationist wanting nothing to do with the current Olympic bid. Oh, and guess what else is a concern? The weather, of course. Or, as only the FT could put it, "meteo­rological shortcomings." (h/t ArchNewsNow)
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On Plastic Plants

There is a lot to like about Chicago's Quincy Court, an alley turned public space outside the Mies van der Rohe-designed Dirksen Federal Building that opened this summer. The General Services Administration (GSA) initiated the project to help beef up security around the federal campus, and they can certainly be praised for hiring a design firm to reimagine the space, in this case Rios Clementi Hale of Los Angeles, instead of just bolting a bunch of bollards into the ground. And while the design has a certain whimsy, which may appeal to some, we're having a hard time getting over the giant plastic palms. According to the press release the "sculptural grove" mediates between the monumentality of federal campus and the smaller scale of State Street. The seating and tables are nicely detailed and the project's Pop sensibility is sure to change the way people think about this alley way. But in this age of ecological crisis, and in a city that has made sustainability one of its hallmarks and has worked hard to green the Loop, the plastic palms seem like the wrong message for the GSA to send. Real deciduous trees, after all, provide shade in the hot summer and loose their leaves in the fall when sun is welcome. Ken Smith's artificial rooftop garden at MoMA, which boasts fake rocks, plastic plants, and few environmental benefits, seems like a similar missed opportunity, a one liner that provides intriguing views for neighbors but does little to improve the hardscape environment of midtown Manhattan. Are we being too rigid in our thinking? Should we loosen up and go shopping for some silk flowers?
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Elevated Extensions

On Wednesday, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) approved a plan to extend the Red, Yellow, and Orange L lines. The vote clears the way for the CTA to pursue federal funding for the line extensions. Under the plan, the Red Line would gain 5.3 miles of track, four new stations, and stretch to 130th Street. The Orange Line would extend past Midway Airport with a new station at 7600 South Cicero Avenue. The Yellow Line would would gain 1.6 miles of track and one new station at Old Orchard Road. The CTA will begin Environmental Impact Statements, the next step in the federal funding process.