Posts tagged with "Chicago":

Placeholder Alt Text

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
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

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)
Placeholder Alt Text

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?
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

Last Gasp for Gropius?

The demolition of the Michael Reese hospital campus in Chicago, partially designed by Walter Gropius, has been put on hold until after October 2, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will announce the host city for the 2016 Games. Preservation groups are pushing for adaptive reuse of some of the buildings, but the city is determined to clear the site for either an Olympic Village or for private development. The delay, then, probably does not signal a victory for preservationists. It is more likely a calculated move on the part of the city and Chicago 2016 to quiet opposition until after the IOC makes its decision. (Community Media Workshop via Blair Kamin.)
Placeholder Alt Text

Landscape Architects to Invade Chicago

In spite of the down economy, on Wednesday, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) released an official statement that cited an increased number of registrants for this year’s Landscape Architecture Meeting and Expo in Chicago. This year’s meetings, set to take place on September 18-21 in one of the nation’s most sustainable cities and the world leader in green roof design, will focus on the theme “Beyond Sustainability: Regenerating Places and People.” The event is expected to become the largest gathering of landscape architecture professionals in the Society’s 110-year history, reaching approximately 7,000 attendees. With this year’s AIA 2009 National Convention and Expo in San Francisco falling behind in attendance, we are left to wonder what is it about Chicago that attracts so many landscape architects? To find out, register, and view the complete schedule, visit the ASLA’s website.
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

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      
Placeholder Alt Text

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.”