Posts tagged with "Chicago":

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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.
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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.)
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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.
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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.