On August 31, the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) gets a new home and a new name. The new Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) will make its debut once the space at 111 East Wacker, also known as One Illinois Center, opens to the public, a 25-year change from the organization's previous location in the 1904 Railway Exchange Building, designed by D.H. Burnham & Company. The new location gives CAF more symbolic and physical visibility from the commerce of North Michigan Avenue, as well as proximity to the dock for CAF’s popular river cruise highlighting the city's riverfront architecture. The 20,000-square-foot CAF space will be housed inside a 1970 structure designed by The Office of Mies van der Rohe. Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) is at the helm of the design for a series of custom spaces for tour orientation, public programs and education, as well as nearly 10,000 square feet of exhibit space. AS+GG is working in partnership with museum design firm Gallagher & Associates. The new exhibits will be located on two floors. On the first floor, the popular Chicago Model will be expanded from 1,300 to 3,000 buildings, with an interactive light show to assist visitors in understanding Chicago’s growth as a frontier outpost and its rebirth after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, as well as highlighting neighborhoods and significant architects across time. The second floor will be the home of the Skyscraper Gallery, featuring the Building Tall exhibit, to be filled with supersized models of skyscrapers around the world, including the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, the world’s tallest building slated for completion in 2020. Established in 1966, the CAF began as an advocacy organization to save the threatened 1887 John J. Glessner House, the only H.H. Richardson building in Chicago. Over time, the CAF pivoted from advocacy to education, offering lectures and architectural tours, as well as running Open House Chicago, an annual architecture festival that provides the public with free access to both iconic landmarks and unique neighborhood treasures.
Posts tagged with "Chicago":
Ahead of a formal announcement later today, the Chicago Tribune has confirmed that Elon Musk’s The Boring Company has been chosen to dig a high-speed train route from Chicago's Loop to O’Hare International Airport. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration has selected Musk to build out an underground rail system from Block 37 in the Loop to O’Hare, potentially cutting the transit time from an hour by car or 40 minutes on the Blue Line down to 12 minutes each way. The route is part of the recently announced $8.5 billion O’Hare rehabilitation. Under Musk’s proposal, The Boring Company would dig two tunnels along an as-of-yet undetermined route under the city, and transport passengers in autonomously-driven pods that would “skate” on electrified rails. Each pod would carry up to 16 passengers, and Musk has promised that pods would leave each station every 30 seconds. The promotional video for the proposal seems nearly identical to the one Musk previewed in March for traveling to the LAX, except with different station names. While no timeline has been proposed yet, the Tribune reports that unnamed sources have cited the potential cost as under $1 billion. The Boring Company will be paying for the project out of pocket using revenue from advertisements, the $20 to $25 ticket costs, and selling merchandise on the trip itself. Boring will also fund the construction of a new station at O’Hare and finish the scuttled Block 37 station, and ownership of the tunnels themselves is currently an open question. Boring has pitched the system as being buried 30 to 60 feet underground with 12-foot-wide tunnels, but there are still serious feasibility hurdles that will need to be cleared before the project gets the go-ahead. The route still needs to be approved by Chicago’s City Council, and Boring technically hasn’t completed any full-scale route yet. While the company is building out a similar network of tunnels in L.A. and has received an exploratory permit for their D.C. to NYC hyperloop, the autonomous pods being proposed haven’t been tested in real-world conditions. Another concern is capacity; a 16-person pod stopping every 30 seconds means that the system would run at a capacity of about 1,900 passengers per hour. For comparison, the Blue Line, which Boring’s link is meant to compliment, likely handles twice as much hourly traffic for $5 each way.
Chicago-based illustrator Edie Fake’s colorful architectural drawings explore the concept of queer spaces. In his work, identity, gender, and sexuality are metaphorically depicted through architectural elements, both real and imagined. This series is currently on display at the Museum of Arts and Design as part of the Surface/Depth: The Decorative After Miriam Schapiro exhibition, on view through September 9.
At the tail end of Historic Preservation Month is what would have been Richard Stanley Nickel’s 90th birthday, on May 31. The storied historic preservationist’s legacy still looms large amongst architecture and historic preservation intelligentsia like no other practitioner living or dead. In Chicago, Richard Nickel’s hand seems to guide how the built environment is documented, gives a level of honesty to those that practice architectural salvage, and provides a saint-like martyr for traditional preservationists. No one interfacing with the Chicago School of Architecture–specifically the work of Louis Sullivan–is able to detach themselves from what Richard Nickel wrote or what he saw. Nickel has been studied and dissected in many ways before, but a new organization seeks to take a fresh, objective look at the raw body of his work. Bianca Bova is associate director of the Chicago Architecture Preservation Archive (CAPA), who, along with storied City of Chicago Cultural Historian Tim Samuelson, is at the helm of the organization devoted to "the documentation and stewardship of materials" of early urban preservationists, specifically Nickel. “Richard Nickel is a moving target,” says Bova, “and CAPA is an open resource to help maintain his ongoing relevance.” CAPA is in the process of creating a full inventory of the collection, which is complementary to the contents of the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries architectural archive. While the Richard Nickel Archive includes negatives, photographs, contact sheets, architectural drawings and other effects, including Nickel’s personal library, CAPA’s collection comes from Richard Nickel’s friends, like Tim Samuelson, and architect John Vinci. It contains salvage, personal items, the working files of The Complete Architecture of Adler and Sullivan, and perhaps most importantly Nickel’s datebook, which Bova has poured over and determined that many of the individuals within it are “still around and have a lot to say.” Richard Nickel has long been presented as a tireless martyr, a preservationist willing to lay down his life. On April 13, 1972, Nickel left home early to salvage architectural fragments inside the Chicago Stock Exchange, an 1894 structure by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan slated for demolition after a lengthy advocacy campaign. Demolition halted after Nickel didn’t return home that evening. Friends and family continued to search for him for a week, only finding his briefcase and hardhat amongst the rubble. Once demolition resumed, a worker spotted what looked like a human shoulder, two floors beneath the Trading Room, in the Stock Exchange’s sub-basement. Richard Nickel had been crushed to death, but his body had remained intact. Debris and rubble, along with cold water seeping into the building had kept decomposition at bay. An autopsy later revealed that Richard Nickel had suffered from pulmonary emphysema and chronic bronchitis, a result of breathing in 20 years of dust and airborne debris from salvage sites. Through the nature of his death, Richard Nickel’s legacy began to take on a cult-like status, a perspective that Bova feels Nickel would take issue with. “He was a good person, but not a saint.” The collections at CAPA, housed inside Mana Contemporary Chicago, strive to allow Nickel to speak for himself through primary source material. While CAPA may provide a 21st century answer to preservation, Bova is reserved when asked about how Richard Nickel might feel about the contemporary historic preservation movement, “I would never presume to speak for Richard.”
Obama Presidential Center breezes through planning and zoning hurdles, but continues to kindle community concern
The Obama Presidential Center (OPC) passed two substantial hurdles this month as the Chicago Planning Commission and Zoning Committees both voted in overwhelming support of the development. Amidst a seven-hour hearing of public comment coming from a variety of Chicago voices, broad strokes of the plan were given a “yay” vote from 15 of the 22 planning commission members on May 17. The Chicago City Council signed off on the $500 million project on May 22, passing various zoning approvals. The stage is now set for the construction of a 235-foot-tall building with cultural exhibit and office space, two additional cultural buildings, and an athletic and community center. The Planning Commission vote also includes a 450-car underground parking garage and clears the way for the Obama Foundation (OF) to close public right-of-ways. While these votes were expected to breeze through both the Planning Commission and Zoning Committees, departments within the City of Chicago had already created conditions that allow obstacles to be easily bypassed, from the rerouting and closing of streets to downplaying the effects the OPC will have on historical aspects of Jackson Park. While the agenda divided the vote into multiple components, all of the items were treated as one. Public comment during the May 17th Planning Commission meeting included statements from the Chicago History Museum, Preservation Chicago, Jackson Park Watch, The Woodlawn Organization, Chicago aldermen and tenured Chicago activists. The commission did not address the federal lawsuit filed on May 14 by Protect our Parks, Inc. that accused the Obama Foundation of an “institutional bait and switch,” claiming that the original purpose of the transfer of public park land to the OF, a non-government entity, was to house the official Obama Federal Library, to be administered by the U.S. National Records and Archives Administration. As the OPF will not house Barack Obama’s official documents, the suit claims, transfer of park land to a private entity violates the park district code. The Planning Commission also failed to address a community benefits agreement proposed by the Obama Library South Side Community Benefits Agreement Coalition (CBA), a group of organizations that includes the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Black Youth Project 100, and Friends of the Parks. Under the ordinance proposed by the CBA, the OPC, the University of Chicago, and the city would make targeted investments within a five-mile radius, including economic development, education, employment, housing, sustainability and transportation. At a community meeting held at McCormick Place last February, Barack Obama coolly responded to the call for a CBA: "The concern I have with community benefits agreements, in this situation, is it's not inclusive enough," Obama remarked. "I would then be siding with who? What particular organizations would end up speaking for everybody in that community?” Also present at the Planning Commission meeting were OPC architects Todd Williams and Billie Tsien, who are in the process of selecting materials for each of the structures that complement neighboring buildings like the Museum of Science and Industry and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, a building of their own design on the campus of the University of Chicago. While neither Tsien nor Williams spoke during the hearing, Williams implied during a public meeting in February that the integrity of Jackson Park has already been compromised over time. Designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Jackson Park was the site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and is one of Chicago’s most valuable and significant pieces of public land. An archaeological evaluation performed as a part of the project’s federal compliance uncovered artifacts and ephemera from the World’s Columbian Exposition, as well as architectural materials relating to the fair’s buildings, many of which set the course for how Chicago would look going into the 20th century. Despite the importance of these findings for Chicago, both the Illinois State Archaeological Survey and the chief archaeologist for the Illinois Department of Transportation have determined the presence of these artifacts to be insignificant. It is expected that a federal review of above-ground resources will reach a similar conclusion-that the OPC project will not have an adverse effect on the historic landscape of Jackson Park or the surrounding historic districts and buildings. At the center of the opposition is a $175 million-dollar plan to overhaul and close multiple roads within and around Jackson Park, a critical component to the Tiger Woods-designed PGA golf course slated to open in 2020, a year behind the OPC. The golf course would combine the existing Jackson Park and South Shore courses and fragment the South Shore Nature Sanctuary in favor of unobstructed views of the Chicago skyline for golfers. While the OF has not stated they are in support of the golf course proposal, many board members of the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance, an organization in support of the plan, have ties with the Obama Foundation or Barack Obama himself.
In a generous and surprising nod to the Chicago School of Architecture, David Childs with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill has designed two sister towers in terracotta and glass for the former site of the Chicago Spire. Announced Tuesday night at a community meeting by developer Related Midwest, renderings for the development show two towers rippling upwards, set upon a masonry base resembling a rectangular photo carousel. Taking inspiration from some of the cities’ most significant buildings, Childs has covered the towers in a familiar architectural form–the Chicago Window–with setbacks allowing for pivot after pivot of the form in various multiples as the building reaches higher. Glazed terracotta became a way for turn-of-the-20th-century Chicago architects like Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham and William Le Baron Jenney to craft ornament that could be designed to exact specifications and made hollow, allowing them to decorate the tops of buildings. Topping off at 1,100 feet, the south tower will be constructed adjacent to the riverwalk and will offer 300 condominiums and a 175-key hotel. The north tower will offer 550 apartments and will be aligned with the Ogden slip, at 850 feet tall. A shared podium will provide pedestrian and vehicular accesses for both towers. Parking will be delivered via four underground levels. In addition to luxury offerings, Related Midwest has committed to realize the completion of a long-awaited public park on a rectangular piece of vacant land, separated by Lake Shore Drive. The creation of DuSable Park will honor the legacy of Chicago’s founder, Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable, and realize the vision of Mayor Harold Washington for public space atop what was once a site contaminated with thorium from the manufacture of incandescent gaslight mantles. Plans for the development, currently known as 400 North Lake Shore Drive, do not specify how the construction will address what remains of the Chicago Spire, a 78-foot-deep, 104-foot-wide underground cofferdam that sits below what will be the south tower. Construction of the towers is anticipated to take four and a half years.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund is on track to provide over six million dollars from private developers to help grow businesses on the city’s South and West Sides during the program’s third round of funding. Unveiled in February 2016 as part of a new density bonus program, developers who seek approval for zoning bonuses are encouraged to pay into a fund that supports investment in designated underserved neighborhoods’ commercial corridor projects. In order to increase the size of downtown construction projects via a higher floor area ratio (FAR), which reflects the total square footage of a building divided by the area of the lot, developers must pay into the Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus. These projects also automatically receive Planned Development status, ensuring public review and cohesive planning. A recent permit application submitted by the Howard Hughes Corporation to begin foundation work at 110 North Wacker Drive will contribute $19.6 million to the fund, with the work under the permit valued at $40 million. Eighty percent of the Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus money is banked and made available to grantees to finance projects that support new or expanding business ventures in “qualified investment areas.” With U.S. Census data as a baseline, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development has designated commercial corridors in neighborhoods as far north as Belmont Cragin and as far south as the East Side. The one-time grants, which the business owner does not need to pay back, kick-start and support a variety of activities, including new retail, grocery stores, and cultural establishments, and help maintain existing ones. The other 20 percent is parceled out via the Local Impact Fund and the Adopt-A-Landmark Fund. The Local Impact Fund supports improvements within one mile of the development site, including public transit facilities, streetscapes, and open spaces. The Adopt-A-Landmark Fund supports the rehabilitation of designated Chicago Landmarks, or buildings contributing to a Landmark District. For business owners and entrepreneurs, the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund may be used by the grantee to acquire, rehabilitate, or demolish older and vintage buildings, or build new, with the cost of planning and design also eligible for funding. Other more administrative expenses are covered under the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, including environmental remediation, financing fees, and the costs of business incubation, mentoring, and training. The program has funded diverse projects from barber shops to organizations that provide legal immigration services.
According to New York-based real estate developer RKF, 401 North Wabash Avenue in River North offers unparalleled retail and restaurant opportunities. Located just steps from Michigan Avenue, 401 North Wabash Avenue is “the perfect entertaining and dining destination,” provides “spectacular views of the Chicago River” and proximity to Nordstrom, Dylan’s Candy Bar and the Apple flagship store. A glossy marketing flyer on the RKF website fleshes out the appeal of the 66,000 square feet for lease in the 98-story building. For a potential retail tenant, there is little not to love, except for the five 20-foot tall letters spelling out the owner’s name: T-R-U-M-P. With only 1,000 square feet of the Trump International Hotel and Tower being leased out, RKF is trying a new tactic to sell the nearly three floors of empty space in the building. With the sole tenants being the Anthony Cristiano Salon and a gift shop selling Trump shot glasses and playing cards, RKF is selling Trump Tower’s positive points without using the Trump name, and even omitting the Trump sign in photographs of the building. Marketing materials for the space only note the Trump name once, on a map of neighboring businesses, in small text. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and completed in 2008, the terrace and riverwalk spaces inside Trump Tower were never fully occupied. RKF was hired in 2014 to lease the retail space, coming on board just in time for the controversial sign to be erected, sparking a Twitter war between Donald Trump and Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin. First floor retail space was converted to meeting and event rooms in 2015 in an attempt to make the space more marketable. Residential tenants have attempted to distance themselves from the Trump brand, and SOM refers to the building as “401 North Wabash Avenue" on its website.
Demolition of historic coal plant reveals tension between Chicago's preservationists and environmentalists
Demolition prep work has begun on a long-controversial coal generating plant in Chicago’s Little Village. The Crawford Generating Station (CGS) began operation in 1924, one of five such stations in the city providing power via the burning of fossil fuel at a large, continuous scale. After decades of pollution, including the settling of coal dust on nearby houses and school grounds, as well as high rates of respiratory illnesses in Little Village and neighboring South Lawndale, the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization began pushing for a clean power ordinance in Chicago. Faced with community opposition as well as the threat of expensive federal requirements to update pollution controls, Midwest Generation, the owner of the Crawford Generating Station and the neighboring Fisk electrical plant, both closed in 2012. Hilco Partners purchased the station in 2016 and filed a demolition permit for the buildings on March 26 of this year. Hilco Partners plans to remediate the site, a process expected to take a year or more, with the end goal the delivery of a “new economy” site, such as a logistics center or technology hub. But with the demolition of the shuttered coal generating plant comes multiple community and procedural concerns for both Hilco Partners and the City of Chicago. The CGS, designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, is “orange-rated” on the Chicago Historic Resources Survey, a designation of architectural significance that makes the property subject to a hold of up to 90 days from the issuance of a permit so the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development can explore alternate options to demolition. In the case of the Crawford Generating Station, according to the Demolition Delay Hold List, the permit was released the day after it was filed. “What has just happened with the Crawford Generating Station is baffling,” said Eric Rogers, a South Side historic preservation advocate. “Following the letter of the law halfway, the city added it to the Demolition Delay list. But then, inexplicably, the mandatory delay was waived, and the demolition permit was released. Sometimes this is done when unsafe conditions necessitate an emergency demolition, but there is no indication of that being the case with Crawford.” While Little Village cheered the closing of the Crawford Generating Station as a polluter, the long-term perspective of success is jeopardized by the battle over a new use for the site. The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization is pushing for a conversion of the coal plant site into an economic development asset that will directly impact the neighborhood, as well as develop guidelines for the sites that could include public green space, needed in the dense communities of South Lawndale and Little Village. Rogers, who also manages Open House Chicago for the Chicago Architecture Foundation, continued, “Crawford is an enormous and durable structure, and could be adapted to provide space for local industries—perhaps urban agriculture, food production, or green technology—to operate and grow and create jobs.”
On May 7, the Obama Foundation announced a series of revisions to Tod Williams Billie Tsien’s $500 million design of The Barack Obama Presidential Center. The revisions are predominantly focused on the 20-acre complex’s masterplan and landscapes connecting facilities. The new design replaces a sunken courtyard located within the Presidential Center’s core plaza with a street level, concrete-paneled surface surrounded by soft landscaping. A children’s play area has been moved closer to Stony Island Avenue, which is seen as a more convenient location that provides sweeping views of Lake Michigan and Jackson Park’s Lagoon. Architecturally, the largest revision is to the grass-terraced and curved roof of the athletic center. According to a statement, the shape and roof of the building have been altered to be in line with the more traditional designs found throughout the campus. While renderings of the athletic center’s new design have not yet been revealed, the masterplan provides a glimpse of the facility's new rectangular layout. Additionally, the height of the athletic center has increased from 18 to 20 feet. Since announced in 2016, the Obama Presidential Center has been subject to near continual revisions, a result of direct community feedback, including some controversy surrounding its proposed parking garage, and the challenges of embedding an expansive cultural campus within a large urban center and landmarked park. The proposed changes will be submitted to the City of Chicago’s Plan Commission on May 17.
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) is preparing to break ground on its renovation of the Warner Grand Theater and the construction of an adjacent lobby and reception building. The $80 million project is led by Milwaukee-based architecture firm Kahler Slater. The Art Deco Warner Grand Theater, located in Downtown Milwaukee, was designed by Chicago-based firm Rapp & Rapp in 1930. The 2,400 seat theater is topped by a 12-story office tower with marble and bronze detailing. Similar to cities across the Rust Belt, Milwaukee is pushing forward with the preservation of historic structures, such as the The Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center, as tools for urban revival. Restoring the theater entails the refinement of original detailing and the installation of modern features. The historic lobby and original ticket booth will be restored to their pre-1950 condition. According to Kahler Slater’s CEO, George Meyer, existing Neo-Baroque finishes within the concert hall are in remarkably good condition, requiring minimal restorative work. However, the project calls for an intense engineering procedure to move the theater’s rear terracotta wall approximately 30 feet east to increase the stage’s size. The Journal Sentinel notes that saving the eastern elevation is necessary to secure $8 million in historic tax credits from the state and federal governments. Additionally, Kahler Slater will add new acoustical features behind historic details to transform the site into a first-class concert hall. To make way for the new lobby and reception area, the MSO will demolish an adjacent two-story restaurant space dating from 1936, as reported by On Milwaukee. While the restaurant building was originally a Moderne structure, past tenants such as Burger King and Taco Bell have wiped away that original detailing. The addition will add contemporary amenities adjacent to the historic structure. The first floor will largely facilitate circulation, while the second floor will be used as a secondary event space by the MSO. A circular skylight, placed above a centrally placed spiral staircase, will illuminate the space. Over the last decade, Kahler Slater has conducted a broad range of conservation projects in the Milwaukee area, including the restoration of the Richardsonian Romanesque Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance headquarters, designed by architect Solon Spencer Beman in 1886. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is hoping to open its new performance space in fall 2020, allowing it to move out of its current home, the Marcus Center of the Performing Arts.
A vestige of Chicago’s industrial history is slated for redevelopment as an ecologically focused public space. According to the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, a mile-long stretch of the North Branch Canal will be redeveloped to serve both Chicagoans and wildlife, focusing on the east side of the canal between Division Street and North Avenue, with the plan to be completed by the end of 2018. Financed by Chicago’s Open Space Impact Fees, the Wild Mile of the North Branch Canal would set the groundwork for habitat improvements for fish, turtles, and invertebrates, and create vegetative islands, viewing platforms, and canoe launches, as well as other environmental enhancements. The Wild Mile is a component of the proposed improvement of 760 acres along the Chicago River between Kinzie Street and Fullerton Avenue as a part of the North Branch Framework Plan. The North Branch Framework Plan is integral to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Industrial Corridor Modernization Initiative, a multi-year effort to review and refine land use policies in the cities Industrial Corridor System. The plan for the North Branch Canal would include best practices for implementation and details on cooperation with private property owners and developers. Dug to form a shortcut to avoid the bend in the North Branch of the Chicago River, the North Branch Canal was originally completed in 1857 by Chicago’s first mayor, William B. Ogden. The completion of the North Branch Canal created the area known as Goose Island, where industrial development flourished at the turn of the 20th century and is now gaining popularity as a new tech hub in Chicago. “This initiative will improve the North Branch Canal as a truly unique waterfront for the entire city, where visitors will be able to engage and appreciate the city’s ecosystem through unprecedented public access,” said Mayor Emanuel in a statement. The proposal for the Wild Mile comes as Chicago aldermen push for increased public access to the entirety of the North Branch of the Chicago River. Private plans to redevelop the riverfront have recently emerged, such as Sterling Bay’s Lincoln Yards project, which includes the former A. Finkl & Sons steel plant and will deliver residential and office buildings, in addition to a connection to the 606, a 2.7-mile-long linear greenway on the site of a former rail line.