Posts tagged with "Chicago":

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The Ledge

In our pilot Midwest issue, I wrote about The Ledge, a new viewing platform at the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago. At the time, only renderings were available of the SOM-designed all-glass cubes that protrude off of the tower's west face, and the project was expected to open in mid June. Well, it appears that the dizzying new viewing experience is now accepting visitors, as a whole rash of pictures have popped up on flickr. Among them is the above image, which reminds us that sometimes the highest achievement that architecture can aspire to is to fuel the dreams of a child.
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Class of 09: Will Work for Green Design

Friend of AN Ryan Lafollette sends this dispatch from the Windy City. Recent graduates of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) architecture and design programs are facing a challenging job market. For those employers looking for new talent, as well as for enthusiasts of design who couldn’t make it to the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, SAIC’s department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects is currently showing its graduate design exhibition, Making Modern. While the scope of the projects vary greatly, each promotes sustainable design and living practices, and includes student work featured in Milan. Aiming to reduce costs associated with building air conditioning by up to 20%, Matthew Stewart designed and developed a system of precisely oriented brise-soleil using waste wood from lumber processing and building construction. Slightly more whimsical but with broad implications in the developing world, Taikkun Li created Tibetan prayer wheel generators, fashioned using old bike tires and fan motors, allowing tourists to lessen their impact on an already strained electrical grid. Daniel Sommer attempts to eliminate excuses about cycling to the office. He designed a compact folding hanger and garment bag system that easily slips into your existing messenger bag or carryall. In a competitive market, these innovative, cost-cutting, and energy-efficient designs may give these young practitioners that much needed leg up. Making Modern will be on display in SAIC‘s Sullivan Galleries, located in the Louis Sullivan designed Carson Pirie Scott & Co. Building, 33 South State Street, Seventh Floor, Chicago, through July 25.
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Best of (Trade) Show

Recognizing the top new contract product and furnishings introduced at this year’s NeoCon Trade Show, the Best of NeoCon 2009 Awards named 74 products winners of the prestigious award. A total of 280 products were entered in 40 different categories, ranging from carpets and flooring to lighting, furniture, and textile design. This year’s jury was comprised of 42 corporate, government, and institutional facilities management executives, interior designers, and architects, who are responsible for selecting and buying furniture and furnishings for their specific organizations or clients. A full list of this year’s winners and entrants can be found online at www.contract-network.com (registration required). This year’s Gold Awards Winners are: Architectural Products Botania, Skyline Design Carpet: Broadloom Wool, Shaw Contract Group Carpet: Modular (tiles) Wool, Shaw Contract Group Case Goods: Desks and Credenzas Denizen, Coalesse Education Solutions Dewey by Fixtures Furniture, izzy+ Flooring: Hard-Surface UltiMetal, Crossville Flooring: Resilient Space, Johnsonite Healthcare Furniture Health-First Infection Control Centers, Peter Pepper Products Healthcare Fabrics Now & Zen Woven Agion Collection, cf stinson Healthcare Seating Graduation Push Back Recliner, Cabot Wrenn Healthcare Textiles Midori Collection, Arc-Com Lighting: Decorative: Chandeliers, Pendants, Sconces Light Art, 3form Lighting: Specialty: Fiber Optic, LED, Remote-Source Twist, The Be Collection by Herman Miller, Inc. Lighting: Task/Desktop, Furniture-Integrated Element, Humanscale for Hospitality Office Accessories M2 Monitor Arm, Humanscale Seating: Conference Setu, Herman Miller, Inc. Seating: Ergonomic Desk/Task Generation by Knoll, Knoll Seating: Guest Solace Chair, HBF Seating: Sofas and Lounge Elle, Loewenstein Seating: Stacking Vili, Gunlocke Software Technologies GreenGenie, Armstrong Ceilings & Wall Systems Surfacing Materials Dreamwalls Color Glass, Dreamwalls Color Glass Tables: Conference AERO Conferencing Series, CCN International Tables: Occasional Campfire Paper Table, Turnstone Tables: Training Zii Drive, Surface Works Technology Support Powermat, Powermat Textiles: Drapery Air Rights, Knoll Textiles Textiles: Upholstery The Campion Platt Collection, HBF Textiles Wall Treatments Digital Projects, Maharam Worksurfaces: Height-Adjustable Planes Height-Adjustable Tables, Haworth Workplace Technologies DC FlexZone Ceiling Systems, Armstrong Ceiling & Wall Systems      
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Curves and Curriculum

There was a lot of trading congratulations and extending thanks at Chicago’s Art Institute last Friday during talks connected to the opening of the Burnham Pavilions, two temporary structures in Millennium Park designed by Ben van Berkel of UN Studio and Zaha Hadid. The pavilions were commissioned as part Chicago’s centennial celebration of Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Chicago Plan, and in truth, construction of only UN Studio’s design is complete. Apparently difficulties with the tensile exterior of Hadid’s project have pushed back the pavilion’s completion to mid-July. Neither that nor the fact that Hadid was unable to attend Friday’s panel as anticipated—reportedly because of a knee injury—dampened the atmosphere. A group of panelists including Robert Somol, director of the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), Donna Robertson, dean of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s (IIT) architecture program, UN Studios’ Ben van Berkel, and Thomas Vitevke, an associate of Zaha Hadid’s studio, spoke to an eager crowd about the designs as well as the collaboration between the architects and the local schools. Initiated by a committee that included Joseph Rosa, the Art Institute’s lead architecture and design curator, and four city officials, pavilions designed by contemporary architects were proposed as a way of generating interest in Burnham’s legacy, both past and future. As part of the gesture toward the future, the committee decided to involve the architecture schools at UIC and IIT. Each school was presented with a final list of designers, and asked to select the person who would both design the pavilion and be involved in some way with that school’s curriculum. “In all the events surrounding the pavilions,” Rosa said after the talks, “there hasn’t been much emphasis on the school’s involvement.” He organized the panel in part to bring that involvement to light. Somol and Roberston outlined both the reasons for their choices, and the ways the architects they selected influenced the school’s programming in the past year. Somol described UIC’s shared approach with van Berkel as operating both “optimistically and counterintuitively.” Van Berkel lectured at UIC, worked with students on their publication Fresh Meat, and architects from his office did desk crits throughout the year. Robertson cited her interest in the way Hadid’s designs harness the energy of the city and translate it architecturally, an approach very much in contrast to the rectilinear world they inhabit at IIT in Mies’s Crown Hall. Stemming from Hadid’s inclusion of a film in her pavilion design, two studio courses were developed at IIT around the notion of visual media as an architectural element. While the architect herself was less immediately involved than van Berkel was at UIC, the related studio curriculum was highlighted in Architect’s annual education edition for its progressive stance. For both UN Studio and Hadid, the diagonal streets Burnham introduced into Chicago’s grid were the historical point of reference in the designs. Vitevke explained that on studying the Burnham plan, they discovered their site was on the intersection of one the diagonals, which they translated into the aluminum diagonal ribs of the pavilion’s structure. When completed, the pavilion will be clad in a white tensile skin, which will serve as the projection screen for a film by Thomas Gray that layers historic and contemporary Chicago images as way to address the many stages of change on that particular site. For van Berkel, the diagonal streets determined the shape of the sculptural openings in his otherwise planar pavilion. Earlier in the panel, Somol described van Berkel’s design this way: “It’s as if Mies ate Goldberg, or Goldberg was having his revenge on Mies from the inside, but which one I’m not sure.” Van Berkel echoed the sentiment that his design responds in some way to Mies’s cantilever projects, along with Bertrand Goldberg and even Frank Lloyd Wright, but wanted the two walls that drop down into the interior of the pavilion to allow new diagonal vistas onto the city. “I hope to liberate architecture from its reference and work with the information given,” he described. Van Berkel resisted giving his pavilion a name. He believes that good things asked to be returned to, and he hopes his project will be given a nickname like it’s temporary neighbor, Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, better known as “the bean.”
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NeoCon Notables

The mood was noticeably subdued at this year’s NeoCon World’s Trade Fair in Chicago, which ends today, but many attractive and innovative new products were introduced. For our special Midwest issue we offered a preview of things to look for at the show. Here are a few additional products that stood out at the Merchandise Mart. LIM lighting, Haworth Designed by Pablo Pardo of Pablo Design and the Haworth Design Studio, LIM is an ultra thin aluminum LED task light. LIM is available in desktop, slot or panel mount, and floor-based versions, and is 85 percent more efficient than comparable incandescent lamps. The minimal design keeps sightlines unobstructed and desktops uncluttered. Setu chair, Herman Miller The profile of the new Setu chair evokes the classic Eames Aluminum Group seating, but the plastic spine—polyester to be exact—bends and tilts with the body, unlike the more rigid Eames design. Designed by Berlin-based Studio 7.5, Setu’s spine also includes a high level of recycled content, and is one of the more affordable multipurpose chairs in its class and weighs less than 20 pounds. It is designed for office and home office settings, and includes versions with and without arms, as well as an ottoman and lounge version. It is available to the trade now and will be sold at retail stores beginning in September. Denizen case goods, Coalesse In keeping the Coalesse’s idea of blurring the boundaries between home and office furnishings, the Denizen case goods system brings a distinctly residential feel to private offices. The series, which includes a secretary, tables, benches, towers, overhead storage and display storage, is available in oak, teak, and ash gray. Designed by WilliamsSorel, Denizen’s strong lines and high quality materials make it appropriate for a office/guest rooms or living areas. Stride office system, Allsteel Many of the office systems at NeoCon had clean, horizon lines (unlike all those curvy systems aimed at tech start-ups in the early 2000s), but one of the best looking was Stride from Allsteel. The surfaces have a thin outer edge, but are actually thick and sturdy, thanks to a stepped back design. The system is a kit of parts that can be adapted to a variety of configurations, from traditional cubicles to shared more, open arrangements. Available in a variety of materials, the painted wood storage units in particular feel more like furniture than parts of an office system.

Eavesdrop: Bueller? Bueller!

Part of Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) renown as a classic truancy film and Chicago landmark travelogue is the über-modernist glass and steel house with the disaster-inviting garage from which Ferris launches the priceless 1961 Ferrari belonging to friend Cameron's father. The house (and garage), of course, is a metaphor for Cameron's sad and lonely home life. As Ferris, the budding architectural critic, explains to his vaguely suicidal foil, "The place is like a museum. It's very beautiful and very cold, and you're not allowed to touch anything."   Attention melancholy home buyers in search of beautiful and cold! This 1953 Miesian knockoff of cinematic fame, located in Chicago's tony Highland Park suburb, is now for sale for $2.3 million. Designed by "Less is More" disciples A. James Speyer (1913-1986) and David Haid (1928-1993), the 5,300-square-foot house is being sold "as is" (two of the most anxiety-producing words in real estate). Selling point: Because the house is sited over a maintenance-free ravine instead of a lawn, the new owner can route those savings right to the perpetually depleted HVAC fund.  
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Towers of Sin

Like all-dutiful journalists, I read Romenesko each day (it's like ArchNewsNow, but with media links), mostly for the navel-gazing and doomsaying that characterize print media reporting on print media. And so it was with great surprise that I actually found some architectural news on the site Friday, namely that Chicago's Marina City, in addition to being one of the city's most famous buildings, is also one of its most notorious, so much so that one of the tenants has launched an online newspaper about the lurid towers, Marina City News. Second only to Mies's 860-880 Lake Shore Drive, at least architecturally speaking, Marina City was designed in 1959 by Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg, and is perhaps best known to those unacquainted with the city's skyline from its place on the cover the of equally classic Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by local boys Wilco. I certainly had no idea Marina City was so scandal-ridden, which only adds to the mystique of the lovelorn album--Was Jeff Tweedy in the know? Perhaps a resident? John Denver was. Or so reports the Chicago Tribune in its piece about the Marina City News. But, more to the point:
Towering over the Chicago River, the corn-cob-shaped Marina City towers have stood for 44 years as icons of the architectural daring that make Chicago a world city. But inside the 61-story buildings is enough scandal and intrigue to fill a daily newspaper, or so the producers of marinacityonline.com believe. The Web site says it is the source for news inside the self-described "City within a City"—a 2,000-resident microcosm of Chicago. There's the dentist brought down in a federal prostitution bust, power plays rivaling City Hall, and such quirky denizens as the colorful-suit guy who dances for passing tour boats. "We've got it all: sex, crime, corruption," said Michael Michalak, a real estate broker inside Marina City who is the site's sole advertiser. "But it's also a great place to live."
While Romenesko and other media watchers are no doubt more interested amorphous First Amendment issues surrounding the site--its lone editor has been fined for operating it and barred from recording semi-public board meetings--we are more interested in the detailed intrigues of an architectural icon. After all, there are info sites and fan sites galore about the Empire State Building and Guggenheim Bilbao, but how many of them have their own dedicated gossip rags? We're adding this one to the bookmarks.