Posts tagged with "Illinois":

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CannonDesign centers a new Rockford Public School around a colorful town square

An 86,000-square-foot elementary school must feel twice as large to children smaller than three feet tall. But the interior of such large-scale architecture can always be minimized if the right combination of intimate spaces is created. When several schools in the district of Rockford, Illinois, were decommissioned, Rockford Public Schools enlisted the help of CannonDesign in the build-out of a new, community-centric, K-5 prototype designed with students rather than just for them.  “Allowing students to choose between alternate body positions fosters creativity and collaboration,” said Robert Benson, a design principal at CannonDesign. “We designed the spaces in this same spirit of mobility. Students move from space to space, lesson to lesson throughout the day and there is no stagnation sitting for hours in a single space. The architecture creates a physical outlet for the innate needs of child physiology.” Breaking the building down into different forms not only helps make it appear smaller and more comprehensible for such young students, according to Benson, it also helps build up their confidence. “This is critical for kindergartners as they experience one of the most difficult transitions in a child’s life—learning to step outside the home and into the school environment while maintaining a sense of safety.”  Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Insurance giant State Farm to demolish its art deco headquarters in Illinois

Insurance company State Farm has revealed plans to demolish its 13-story art deco headquarters in Bloomington, Illinois, a city about an hour northeast of Springfield, the state capital. The decision to knock down the local landmark came after a prospective buyer backed out of a sale earlier this year. The 200,000-square-foot structure was designed by local architects Archie Schaeffer and Phillip Hooton and completed in 1929. It was the company's main building until 1974 and has sat vacant since 2018. "Despite the best efforts of all parties, the purchase and sale agreement, which was announced in March, did not materialize," State Farm said in a statement. "We gave much thought and consideration to next steps. With a sale not materializing, the continued costs of maintaining a building of that size and the impacts on downtown with it remaining vacant without interest, we are moving forward with plans to demolish the building." The building's masonry was originally ornamented with flourishes like custom-designed corn maidens, four pale yellow terra-cotta finials on the building's facade. They were removed for safety reasons, but now live in the company archives (and in a conference room). The bright red sign on the tower, pictured above, is another distinguishing feature. Demolition is expected to begin this fall, but the building will not go down with a bang: the company is taking a year to carefully break down the structure. "It's unfortunate that did not work," Mayor Tari Renner told the Pantagraph. "It's very sad. It's a great old historic building. To the extent we have a skyline, it's always been the skyline in our city." The building contributes to the character of Bloomington's central business district, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city said it won't pay for the expensive demolition process, but it is considering offering incentives to a developer who could take on a revamp. It is also weighing the idea of buying the land that the building sits on so it can have a stronger say over what gets built there. As of last week, however, a group of stakeholders is in talks with State Farm to explore alternatives to demolition.
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New York–based startup wins NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge

After four years, NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge culminated at Caterpillar's Edwards Demonstration & Learning Center in Peoria County, Illinois, on May 4, with the New York–based AI SpaceFactory taking home the $500,000 first place prize. The competition’s three phases to develop and refine habitats that could be printed from scavenged soil and form a future Martian outpost were subdivided into smaller progressive challenges. The structures would have to be airtight and printed autonomously via drones or another self-deploying mechanism. New York’s SEarch+ and Apis Cor won first place in the complete virtual construction challenge on March 27, where teams were asked to create full-scale digital renderings of their prospective habitats. AI SpaceFactory’s hive-like MARSHA habitat took home the top prize at the next challenge—the company 3D printed a one-third scale model of its prototypical dwelling. Over the course of 30 hours, the 15-foot-tall MARSHA was printed from a plant-based biopolymer mixed with basalt strands, a substrate similar to what would be found on Mars. All three of the windows and the ceiling cap were placed via a robotic arm without human interference. The structure also survived NASA’s crush, impact, and smoke tests better than its competitors. The smoke test is an especially important measure of the habitat’s airtightness, as the fine microparticulate in the Martian environment could damage sensitive equipment and would be difficult to get rid of. The team from Pennsylvania State University took second place and was awarded $200,000. While it may be a while before a MARSHA habitat is erected on another planet, AI SpaceFactory wants to translate the use of structures printed from sustainable biomaterials to the Earthbound construction industry. Enter TERA, an adapted version of MARSHA built using recycled materials from the original structure, that AI SpaceFactory wants to build in Upstate New York. "We developed these technologies for Space, but they have the potential to transform the way we build on Earth,” said David Malott, CEO and founder of AI SpaceFactory, in a press release. “By using natural, biodegradable materials grown from crops, we could eliminate the building industry’s massive waste of unrecyclable concrete and restore our planet.” The company will launch an Indiegogo campaign to realize TERA later this month, and backers will get an opportunity to stay overnight in the research-structure-slash-sustainable-retreat.
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David Costanza and Piergianna Mazzocca win 2019 Ragdale Ring competition with wobbling beds

The seventh annual Ragdale Ring design competition has been won by David Costanza of David Costanza Studio (DCS) and Piergianna Mazzocca for Shared Beds. Three wobbling, communal “beds”—reminiscent of Frida Escobedo’s Civic Stage at the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale—will be built in Lake Forest, Illinois's Ragdale Ring garden in May and will host performances beginning in June. The Ragdale Ring competition is run by the nonprofit Ragdale Foundation, an artists’ residency in Lake Forest. Every year, young architects are invited to reinterpret the open-air Ragdale Ring theater designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw in 1912 through interventions that blend architecture, sculpture, and landscape design. Shared Beds, the winning submission from Houston-based partners Costanza and Mazzocca, contrasts the ever-changing and multi-purpose wood discs with beds, typically thought of as static objects. Two smaller discs join a larger disc that can be used as a stage. The movements of the players and visitors ultimately determine how each “bed” moves, and what it can be used for. “The Ragdale Ring has a long and impactful lineage; we are very excited and humbled to contribute our project, Shared Beds,” said Costanza. “The project challenges the role of the individual vis-à-vis the collective by reconsidering the seemingly inanimate quality of everyday objects such as beds. The residency and community engagement provide the ideal setting to share these ideas. We look forward to building the installation in the upcoming months!” This year’s Ragdale Ring jury included the Columbus, Ohio-based past winners Galo Cañizares and Stephanie Sang Delgado, who installed the loopy, mutable Noodle Soup at the garden last year. Zurich Esposito, executive vice president of the AIA Chicago, Ryan Biziorek of Arup, Jeffrey Meeuwsen, Ragdale’s executive director, and Regin Igloria, the Ragdale in Schools manager, rounded out the rest of the jury. Shared Beds was chosen from a pool of six finalists. Costanza and Mazzocca will be given a design-build residency at Ragdale and a $15,000 budget to help them build out Shared Beds for the debut in mid-June.
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The Satanic Temple erects a holiday display in the Illinois statehouse

Just in time for the holidays, the Chicago chapter of the Satanic Temple has unveiled its own display for the Illinois Statehouse rotunda in Springfield. Joining this year’s nativity scene and Hanukkah menorah is a black monument to knowledge: Snaketivity, a four-and-a-half-foot-tall sculpture of a woman’s arm with a snake coiled around it, offering up an apple to passersby. A plaque below reads “Knowledge is the Greatest Gift.” The Satanic Temple isn’t a religious organization and doesn’t believe in the existence of Satan as a real being (and went so far as to sue Netflix over the use of Baphomet statue in the Sabrina reboot for implying it possessed magical powers). Instead, the Temple is trying to throw off what it calls “religious tyranny” by countering traditional religious iconography in public spaces and politics. Lex Manticore, leader of the Temple's Chicago chapter, told the State Journal Register that pursuing knowledge was "the greatest individual pursuit of bettering yourself, and we believe that you should basically act with the best scientific understanding of the world when you make decisions.” A sign hung in the rotunda explains that the state didn’t have much of a choice in allowing the statue. “The State of Illinois is required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to allow temporary, public displays in the state capitol so long as these displays are not paid for by taxpayer dollars. Because the first floor of the Capitol Rotunda is a public place, state officials cannot legally censor the content of speech or displays. The United States Supreme Court has held that public officials may legally impose reasonable time, place and manner restrictions regarding displays and speeches, but no regulation can be based on the content of the speech.” This isn’t the first time that the Satanic Temple has attempted to co-opt religious iconography to prove a point about the prevalence of religious symbols in public life. Last December, the group was rebuffed in its attempts to install a non-denominational, but still pretty Satanic looking, memorial to fallen veterans in Belle Plaine, Minnesota. The Satanic Temple later sued to cover the cost of the artwork, claiming its First Amendment rights were being violated.
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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.