Posts tagged with "illinois":

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University of Illinois breaks ground on collaborative design center by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

This past Wednesday, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) broke ground on its Bohlin Cywinski Jackson-designed (BCJ) Siebel Center for Design, a collaborative maker space for students in all majors. The 59,000-square-foot building is designed for flexibility, and UIUC students will have access to laser and water-jet cutters, a prototyping studio, 3-D printers, and CNC tools spread across five collaboration studios, with room for 400 students. Rooms have also been carved out for video and virtual reality spaces, as well as digital audio recording. Students at UIUC will be given the option to pursue their interests beyond the core curriculum via workshops and extracurricular activities that will be offered at the center once it’s open. "We wanted to create a building that focuses on human-centered design, one that encourages students to think more broadly,” said BCJ founding principal Peter Bohlin in a press release. "Everything will have multiple uses — we imagine people utilizing the spaces in ways neither you nor I can predict." It appears the BCJ has taken a characteristically glassy approach to the Siebel Center (named after tech executive Tom Siebel, who donated $25 million for the project). The low-slung building will be wrapped in windows broken up with vertical metal mullions, which should allow the collaboration spaces, common areas, and galleries to be naturally lit throughout. From the renderings, it seems the interiors will be spacious and flexible so that students can repurpose the more open areas for exhibitions. Outside, BCJ has included numerous cantilevering overhangs for students to gather under. Former executive director of the international design and consulting firm IDEO, Rachel Switzky, has been named as the center’s inaugural director. BCJ is no stranger to the University of Illinois, or Tom Siebel for that matter; the firm completed the $50 million Siebel Center for Computer Science in 2004. Construction in the Siebel Center for Design should be completed in early 2020.
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Landmarks Illinois releases list of most endangered places

Landmarks Illinois has announced its 2017 list of Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. The list includes ten structures ranging from buildings to infrastructure across the state. Launched in 1995, the Most Endangered list highlights historic sites in severe need of “responsible stewardship, creative reuse plans and/or advances in public policy” “This year’s most endangered list includes a variety of iconic places that define our Illinois communities and our state’s heritage,” said Bonnie McDonald, president & CEO of Landmarks Illinois. “From historic bridges, to a round barn, to mid-century modern buildings, the sites on our 2017 Most Endangered list are wide-ranging and demonstrate the need for financial incentives and private-public partnerships. Landmarks Illinois stands ready to help all of these historic properties find productive and creative reuse opportunities.” The 2017 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois list includes:
  • James R. Thompson Center, Chicago, Cook County. Designed by Helmut Jahn.
  • O’Hare Rotunda Building, Chicago, Cook County. Design by Gertrude Kerbis.
  • Singer Pavilion, Chicago, Cook County. Designed by Loebl, Scholssman, and Bennett.
  • Ryan’s Round Barn, Johnson-Sauk Trail State Recreation Area, Henry County.
  • McKee House, Lombard, DuPage County.
  • Norway Temperance Hall, Norway, LaSalle County.
  • Federal Historic Tax Credit, Statewide.
  • Historic Bridges, Statewide.
  • Route 66, Statewide.
  • World War I Monuments, Statewide.
Each of these sites is threatened by neglect or purposeful attack. The James R. Thomson Center, the post-modern civic building in Chicago’s downtown, has been targeted by Illinois’s Governor Bruce Rauner. If the governor has his way, the building, which contains the state’s government offices, would be demolished or sold to make way for a new skyscraper. Of note, the Federal Historic Tax Credit is not a specific site, but a program that affects historic places across the country. The tax credit is part of the National Parks Service which is facing major budget cuts under the current federal administration. Route 66, which begins at the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago and runs to the Santa Monica Pier, faces a similar challenge. The National Park Service’s Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program is due to expire in the next three years. If the program is not renewed, the historic highway, which is already in despite need of maintenance, faces an uncertain future. You can learn more about all the sites at the Landmarks Illinois website. You can find the complete list here.
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JGMA overhauls a former Kmart for a progressive Chicago high school program

Before JGMA was given the job to design a new school for the Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep (CRSM), it was working with students and faculty in design charrettes. The high school was looking for a design and an architect as progressive as its approach to education, which endeavors to have students function at college level by the time they graduate. On top of offering typical coursework, CRSM matches students with corporations; the students work for the corporations and in turn the corporations sponsor them. Now, the school is hoping to have a campus that lives up to its academic ambitions.

The path to a state-of-the-art school has not necessarily been clear. Currently located in a building in desperate need of repair and updating, CRSM has had no room to expand—even after the school bought a nearby abandoned Kmart store. It took working with the JGMA team to realize a design that would transform the banal nature of a big-box structure into a cohesive campus.

One of the first and most difficult challenges of the project was to remove the stigma of the big box and its not-so-appealing suburban surroundings: Seas of parking lots, strip malls, and fast-food joints surround the site. So JGMA worked to break up the monotony of the vast concrete lot and sterile facade of the building. “These students are used to getting hand-me-down everything,” noted JGMA designer Katie LaCourt. “Their current building is a hand-me-down. Overcoming this stigma associated with the big box was one of our first concerns.”

The artificially lighted interior also needed to be addressed. This came in the form of the biggest and most visible move in the project: plans for three large cuts to be taken out of the roof and facade of the building. These cuts will bring light into and throughout the building, interrupting the visual form of the 120,000-square-foot structure. Playing on the Kmart’s original decorated shed form, a second facade will be draped over the building, giving it a completely different appearance and character. Additionally, the former parking lot at the front of the building will be covered by a soccer field, distancing the building further from its big-box roots.

The large cuts will also provide common areas between the teaching spaces to create the feeling of a campus rather than a single building. Outside of the building, the planned landscaping mirrors these cuts. Long paths will extend from the front and the back of the building to provide outdoor learning areas and connect a marsh to the campus.

Though on track to begin construction by early spring 2017, the conversion process is a long one. Working to accommodate the school and its students, JGMA has divided the project into three phases. The first phase will involve converting 50,000 square feet of the floor area and making two of the designed cuts. This will allow the current 375 students to move into the new space. When the second phase is complete, the entire building will have been converted, and the school will be able to expand to its goal of 500 students. The third and final stage will be the landscaping, which will complete the transformation to an educational campus.

JGMA’s conversion of this empty Kmart is not the first of its kind, but it is indicative of changes happening in many of America’s suburbs. Many big boxes across the country, which for numerous reasons have closed or moved into new spaces, have begun to be redeveloped. In a few notable examples, large stores have been converted into city libraries. In Eden Prairie, Minnesota, BTR Architects converted a former grocery store into the county’s public library; just as for the Cristo Rey project, light and large expansive spaces were issues that had to be addressed. Others have been converted into fitness centers and go-kart tracks, and one even became a Spam museum. These conversions have achieved varied levels of success and innovation. When complete, Cristo Rey will arguably be one of the most ambitious.

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Top appliance manufacturers showcase their products at new, fully designed showroom in Glenview, Illinois

The Glenview, Illinois–based appliance and electronics dealer Abt Electronics recently opened a new showroom. The Abt Electronics Inspiration Studio showcases products from 12 appliance manufacturers in fully designed settings. The architecture, interior design, and lighting was done by Chicago-based Mick De Giulio. The 10,000-square-foot space is comprised of 12 interconnected spaces, each designated for an individual manufacturer—the Inspiration Studio represents firms like Bosch, Dacor, Gaggenau, Jenn Air, La Cornue, LG, Miele, Monogram, Thermador, Samsung, Sub-Zero and Wolf, and Viking. “The spaces don’t adhere to the specific themes of traditional, modern, or eclectic, which I felt created lines or boundaries within those styles,” De Giulio said. “Rather, my goal was for each space to have a style of its own.” Along with one-of-a-kind light fixtures, furniture, tables, counter stools, sinks, and cabinetry, custom art throughout the project was produced by Have Dreams, a local nonprofit that serves young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Have Dreams worked with Abt’s For Autistic Kids Foundation to produce giclée prints based on paintings by children with autism.

Abt Inspiration Studio 1200 N. Milwaukee Avenue Glenview, IL Tel: 888-228-5800 Architect: Mick De Giulio

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Chicago moves forward with plan to extend a train to its far South Side

It is better late than never for the South Side of Chicago. The Chicago Transit Authority is extending its Red Line to the city’s far south side, adding four new stops. Currently, the line runs to 95th Street; when completed it will run to 130th.

The extension will be the first addition to the L system since 1993, and is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Red Ahead” initiative, aiming to modernize the city’s busiest train line. So far $425 million has been spent on its southern branch, and $280 million on the total reconstruction of the 95th Street terminal. The design architects, Chicago-based Exp., recently released new renderings of the terminal showing a sweeping red station surrounded by improved bus stops. When completed in 2018, the 95th Street terminal will also include two new major public artworks by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates.

The extra 35 blocks of train line will serve a “transit desert” that severely lacks a public transportation connection to downtown and other parts of the city. The new stops will be at 103rd Street, 111th Street, South Michigan Avenue, and 130th Street, running through the neighborhoods of Roseland and West Pullman, ending in Altgeld Gardens. The new stations will also include improved bus stop facilities.

The exact path of the line is still being decided through a series of environmental studies, as well as public forums. Two options are being investigated, both of which will run parallel to an existing active freight line. In either case, the line will be a mix of elevated and at-grade tracks. The 5.3-mile extension will likely involve the city negotiating with approximately 250 property owners to make a wide enough path for the new tracks.

Though the project promises a new level of accessibility for a large swath of the city, it will be some time before it is complete. Construction isn’t expected to begin until 2022, with a completion goal of 2026. New legislation has recently been approved to allow for a transit tax-increment financing district, which could possibly help fund the project. A new amendment has also been proposed to the State of Illinois Constitution ensuring all money made through transportation taxes and fees will be directed to transportation projects and improvements. The estimated cost of the project is $2.3 billion.

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Illinois transportation amendment promises steady, secure infrastructure funds

Voters in the state of Illinois resoundingly voted to on Tuesday to amend the state’s constitution to include an amendment that controls funding for transportation infrastructure. The amendment dictates that all revenue raised through transportation taxes and fees must directly fund transportation projects. Nicknamed by its proponents the “Safe Roads Amendment,” the initiative saw rare bipartisan support from Illinois’s Republican governor and its Democratic house speaker. Despite the amendment's overall popularity among the electorate—receiving a 79% “yes” vote at the time of publishing—it was not without skeptics. Both of Chicago’s major newspapers, the Chicago Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune, both spoke out against the amendment. Opponents of the amendment cited the fact that its wording was vague, which may lead difficulties for future yet-to-be-realized transportation methods. It was also pointed out that the major support for the amendment was coming from special interest groups such as trade unions and business groups that may see massive dividends from increased money going into transportation construction. Another concern is that the state will no longer be able to access transportation money in the case of disasters, which may require additional resources for recovery. Proponents of the amendment, including the voting public, have highlighted the “lockbox” aspect of the amendment. Many see it as protection from an un-trusted government reallocating money that comes directly from consumers. The fees and taxes covered by the amendment include gas taxes and license and registration fees on any “public highways, roads, streets, bridges, mass transit, intercity passenger rail, ports, or airports.” The amendment needed 60% of the vote to be accepted into the state's constitution. California, Maryland, and Wisconsin have all passed similar transportation “lockbox” measures in the past six years. Southeast Michigan is also debating transportation in this year’s general election. At the time of publication, the vote for Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan property tax millage was too close to call. The new tax would go to help fund a regional public transportation system which the area lacks.
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100-year-old high school gets a contemporary facelift from Wight & Company

Darien, Illinois-based Wight & Company has recently finished a 43,000-square-foot addition for Joliet Township High School campus. Joliet, a city about 40 miles southwest of Chicago, is the fourth largest city in Illinois, and the town’s high school campus was in need of updates and space. Wight’s design added an expansive student center, a dining facility, multi-purpose areas, and an elevator to improve ADA accessibility to the four story building. The campus as a whole is comprised of four main academic buildings, which serve approximately 2,600 student. The most distinguishing portion of the new design is a 50-foot-tall glass curtain wall atrium, which now encapsulates a 1901 gothic-revival facade. The space houses the schools new main entry and provides students with a place to work, congregate, and access student services. "The architecture team envisioned a space that would serve as the heart of the school, connecting the new with the old," explained Kevin Havens, director of design for Wight, in a press release "Our atrium design references elements of the Collegiate Gothic style of this landmark building, but does so in a modern way that is light and airy.” Wight acted as designers, Architect of Record, structural engineers, MEP engineers, interior designers, and landscape architects on the project.
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Chicago’s Cook County Hospital could turn into a mixed-use complex

Built in 1914 and designed by architect Paul Gerhardt, the Cook County Hospital in Chicago is o the National Register of Historic Places. It's also laid dormant for over a decade, succumbing graffiti tagging and vandalism. Now Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has plans to redevelop the building with a hotel, apartments, and retail. As Hal Dardick writes in the Chicago Tribune, Cook County Hospital "was known, above all, as a place where society took care of those who could not otherwise afford medical care." It was brimming with civic pride, however, even lion and cherub decorations have not been able to fend off the pitfalls that comes with 13-years of neglect. Preckwinkle's plans to restore the building to its former glory, though not as a hospital, a function for which it's evidently obsolete. By transforming the building into a place for a hotel, apartments and retail, former hospital can at least be used and its Beaux Arts facade fully restored and appreciated (once again). The building would house 150 apartments, of which a fifth will be affordable housing. The plan relies on private funding, with Cook County Hospital being first on the list as part of a wider scheme that would see further developments across 16 acres of county-owned land. Other developments would include a technology and research center, medical office building, additional apartments, as well as another hotel which would be installed in the next 15 or so years. As for the hospital, developers are pressing to start next year, with the project complete by 2018. An estimated minimum of $550 million will be needed to see the scheme through. Despite the large amount of funds needed, the plan has been met with optimism. Bonnie McDonald, president of Landmarks Illinois and a historic preservationist who has seen past rehabilitation plans fall by the wayside, spoke of the project's promise. "I am confident that this is the best approach that has ever been forwarded and we will see a completed building at the end of the process," she said. Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele, who was born at Cook County Hospital, also spoke highly of the scheme. "I'm totally excited about it," he said. "I think it's the right thing for us to be doing. ... This one is going to work." Preckwinkle also appears to have the hospital's history at heart too. The developers Civic Health Development Group were selected due to their pedigree with historic renovations and plan to restore the facade. "They had the strongest proposal," Preckwinkle said, adding that they were "head and shoulders above the competition."
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José Esparza Chong Cuy named associate curator at MCA Chicago

José Esparza Chong Cuy has been appointed the new curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago. Most recently, Esparza was working in Mexico City as the associate curator at Museo Jumex. There, he co-curated exhibitions that focused on the work of Latin American artists. Previously, Esparza was a curatorial collaborator at New York's Storefront for Art and Architecture and a research fellow at the New Museum. In addition to curating, he has covered "Latin American art practices" for Domus. Esparza has a Master in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture from Columbia University in 2012. In a statement, MCA chief curator Michael Darling praised Esparza and his qualifications: "'When I met José over a year ago on a tour at the Museo Jumex, I was immediately impressed by his poise and intellect. With our longstanding interest in art from Latin America, we now have in José an articulate advocate for presenting the best work being made in that region. Mexico City is one of the most exciting cities in the world for contemporary art, and José's deep knowledge of that scene will immediately enrich our dialogues here at the MCA. José is also active in architecture and design circles and that knowledge, alongside his expertise in contemporary art, will find a natural fit here at the MCA where we regularly venture out into parallel fields of activity. I think he will immediately become a great asset to our community.'" Esparza will assume his post on April 18.
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Five gathering spaces announced for Chicago’s lakefront

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Park District ,and the Field Museum of Natural History have revealed five designs that will be implemented along a stretch of South Side lakefront as part of the Field Museum’s “Roots and Routes” initiative. The five “gathering spaces” were the result of an RFP issued by the Park District and the Field Museum to artist and community organizations. Located in the 100-acre ribbon of The Burnham Wildlife Corridor (BWC), the spaces will be integrated into a series of paths which will connect neighboring communities to Lake Michigan through the largest stretch of natural landscape along Chicago’s lakefront. “These gathering spaces along the south lakefront are part of our effort to give children and residents in every neighborhood the opportunity to learn about nature and to enjoy and experience nature right in their own backyard,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “These unique gathering spaces will add to the vibrancy of Chicago’s south lakefront while helping to inspire the next generation to preserve and protect Chicago’s natural wonders.” The BWC extends from the McCormick Bird Sanctuary, just south of the McCormick Place convention center to the Burnham Sanctuary near 49th Street. “The objective of the Burnham Wildlife Corridor is to create healthy, vibrant and native habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife; and to meaningfully connect visitors, especially those from neighboring communities, to a revitalized public green space in ways that inspire exploration, enjoyment, and stewardship of the area,” said Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO Mike Kelly. “We are pleased to partner with these organizations to create spaces where community members can gather and take advantage of nature in this bustling city.” The teams involved with the projects include local artists and community organizations, with ties to the Bronzeville, Chinatown, and Pilsen neighborhoods. The organizations include the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago, Bronzeville Community Development Partnership, the South Side Community Art Center, and Pilsen-based Contratiempo and Casa Michoacán. The gathering spaces are also one part of the Mayor’s "Building on Burnham" initiative, a comprehensive plan to invest in the Lakefront, the Chicago River, and recreational areas in neighborhoods throughout city.
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AIA Chicago announces Tiny Homes Competition winners

AIA Chicago has announced the winners of the Tiny Homes Competition. Launched in November 2015, the competition solicited entries to address young adult homelessness in Chicago as part of the Tiny Homes Summit. The winning entry was designed by a Chicago-based team of Notre Dame graduates. Terry Howell, AIA, LEED GA, Lon Stousland, both associate architects at Antunovich Associates, and Marty Sandberg, AIA, partner at Via Chicago Architects, site their connection to the Bronzeville neighborhood, location of the proposed project, as a driver in their design. The team commented in a press release, “Terry’s parents are long-time Bronzeville residents, and have hosted us for countless barbecue nights just two blocks from the competition site. Designing for a location with such a personal connection provided extra incentive—a chance to create something not simply beautiful, but also practical, contextual, and potentially transformative.” The winning entry, “A House for Living In,” is comprised of 11 336-square-foot units and one interior community space gathered around a central courtyard. At an estimated $73 per square foot, the design is substantially less expensive than typical affordable housing, which is typically in the range of $200-400 per square foot, according to the AIA’s press release. The central courtyard is entered through a locked front gate, and is envisioned as a gathering spaces and communal garden. Juror Benet Haller commented, “The submission’s site and floor plans are very efficient. Locations for storage are well thought out and the sleeping area is nicely separated from the living area. The use of brick on the exterior is a nice touch. Everything about this submittal works well.” Chicago-based Wheeler Kearns Architects was awarded second place with their design “Tiny Town.” Third place was awarded to another Chicago–based team made up of Joe Villanti, AIA, senior project architect at Pappageorge Haymes, Tyler Hopwood, and Ryan Arnaudov, also of Pappageorge Haymes for their project “Box House.” Honorable Mentions were awarded to New York City–based David Bravo Salva and Blanca Rodriguez Peis, and Chicago–based team Georgi Todorov of Pappageorge Haymes and Petya Petrova of Pierre-Yves Rochon. A prototype of “A House for Living In” will be constructed for the Tiny Homes Summit at the University of Illinois at Chicago on April 18 to 19. Organized by AIA Chicago, the AIA Chicago Foundation, Landon Bone Baker Architects, Windy City Times, and Pride Action Tank, the competition drew 250 submissions from 12 countries. Funding for the competition was provided by the Alphawood Foundation.
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Construction begins on John Ronan’s 36-story CNA Center tower

John Ronan’s largest commission to date is climbing skyward in Chicago’s Loop. What will be the new CNA Center at 151 North Franklin Street is to rise 36 stories with 820,000 square feet of office space. The insurance giant is leaving 333 S. Wabash Avenue, the tower often referred to as “Big Red,” after 44 years. In an unconventional move, developer John Buck Company is building CNA Financial’s new home, and buying its old one. CNA will lease back its current space while waiting for its new building, and John Buck will redevelop it once CNA moves out. “The series of public plaza spaces addressing how the building hits the ground is very much the same,” says Ronan. The glass curtainwall has been simplified, however, with rounded edges reverting to right angles--par for the course when adhering to a strict pro-forma as the market around a project goes up and down. Aesthetically and programmatically little else has changed from conception to fruition—a coup for Ronan and a credit to the developer considering the more than two years it took to score an anchor tenant. Those interconnected plazas, Ronan’s favorite feature, exist to liberate the office worker from a rigid typology. Work can take on a different, more intuitive form in this more casual environment. And column-free corner offices, open floor spans, and 9.5-foot ceilings lend maximum flexibility for build-to-suit. Worker amenities are virtually unchanged and include two restaurants, a professional fitness center, three outdoor terraces, a conference facility, bike parking, and 34 executive parking stalls connected to the neighboring garage. The tower’s materiality is Ronan’s unblemished handiwork, from the elegant basalt-surfaced courtyard nestled into the building and segueing to entryway, the tower’s transparent skin, and screened sky garden that acts as a visor of greenery to onlookers in neighboring towers and at street level. One crucial characteristic that Ronan drove home is how the building’s compositional quality and engagement with the street exceeds the importance of vertical form. “This isn’t the tallest building on the block, so it’s not really about how it presents at the roofline,” he said. https://vimeo.com/118022698   https://vimeo.com/118022698