Posts tagged with "Illinois":

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Damien Hirst paints with butterflies at Soho House Chicago

In August the London creative club Soho House set up shop in Chicago, carving out a chic space for itself amid the city's hotel, dining and cocktail scenes by retrofitting an industrial building in the Fulton Market District. Designers touted the balance of “grit and glamor” in the new Soho House at the time, beckoning self-identifying creative types to the former belting factory at 113-125 North Green Street. With the launch of its first annual “art week” in January, Soho House announced itself as somewhat of a gallery, as well, unveiling a site-specific installation by Damien Hirst. Hirst, the wildly successful London artist and development dabbler, created for Soho House Chicago a “painting” made of butterflies, mounted behind frosted glass that outlines the word “CHICAGO”. It hangs 15 feet or so above the heads of guests sipping cocktails or checking into Soho House's hotel. Hirst's previous work with butterflies—famously letting them live their lives inside an art gallery—has garnered international attention, as well as a fair share of criticism from animal rights advocates. Museum of Contemporary Art Associate Curator Julie Rodriguez Widholm welcomed the piece, noting that Soho House and MCA shared an appetite for modern and contemporary art, having both previously shown work by artists like Rashid Johnson and Angel Otero.
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Explore Chicago's regional transportation network on this interactive website

How many people get on the train at your "El" or Metra stop each day? Which county's roads make for the roughest ride? How long do Chicago-area drivers while away waiting for train crossings? The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) just unveiled a new tool to stir discussion about transportation in the greater Chicago area that can answer all of those questions, as well as many more about the regional transportation system as a whole. CMAP planners said they hope the interactive website, which is full of clickable maps and tables compiled from mountains of public data, will resonate with policy makers as well as frustrated commuters. When it comes to transportation infrastructure, Chicago has an embarrassment of riches—and a wealth of problems. Some 25 percent of the nation's freight traffic travels through the region, but the seven-county region's 1,468 rail crossings snarl traffic for a total delay of 7,817 person-hours every day. In total traffic ate up more than $6 billion in wasted time and fuel in 2011 across the roughly 30,000 miles of roads in Cook, Lake, McHenry, Will, Kane, Kendall and DuPage Counties. As the authors of GO TO 2040, the 2010 comprehensive plan that sought to renew Daniel Burnham's regional vision, CMAP officials said they made the website to encourage more data-driven planning and regional policy. The website gives a mixed assessment of public transit in the region. While 71.5 percent of residents had at least moderate access to transit, progress on increasing that share of people has occurred at a slower rate so far than will be necessary to meet the 2040 goal of 78 percent, CMAP's analysis shows. Although Chicago lauds its growing open data culture, CMAP's Tom Garritano said arbitrary policies persist. For example Illinois' 55/45 rule, whereby 55 percent of highway funds typically go downstate, while only 45 percent stay in the Chicago region—despite the fact that more than two-thirds of the state's population and economic activity occurs in and around its largest city. “We believe strongly that the best decisions are driven by data,” said Garritano. “We want people to get excited about data.” While the website shows the region has made considerable progress on meeting GO TO 2040 goals in recent years, CMAP officials stressed that stats inflated with stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 may paint a rosier picture of transportation infrastructure's finances. CMAP pointed to the declining share of crumbling roads and bridges in the area—without continued funding for maintenance, they said, that progress would soon be overwhelmed by mounting infrastructure repair needs. More than half of non-highway roads in Cook County were judged less than “acceptable,” but that figure was less than 10 percent in McHenry and Kendall counties. More than 300 bridges in the Chicago area were deemed “structurally deficient” in 2013—a distinction CMAP pointed out does not mean they are necessarily dangerous, just below civil engineering standards. The total share of deficient bridges in the area was 9.7 percent, slightly below the national average of 11.1 percent. A section of the site named “Forward” links to a public-private fundraising campaign called FUND 2040. Last year CMAP called for a quarter-penny sales tax hike that would net $300 million per year for infrastructure work. “Metropolitan Chicago must compete globally against regions whose public investments have for decades far outpaced our own,” reads the site. “Current infrastructure funding mechanisms are simply not adequate to meet our region's infrastructure needs.” New spending, however needed, is politically risky in fiscally troubled Illinois, but CMAP's ideological influence recently got a boost in Springfield. The agency's executive director, Randy Blankenhorn, was recently appointed to head the Illinois Department of Transportation by incoming Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.
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University of Chicago releases details on Obama Library proposal

While speculation around the Barack Obama Presidential Library continues to swirl, plans for one of the project's four potential sites just became a bit clearer. The University of Chicago, where the President taught law, made public this week new renderings and details of their bid for the nation's 14th such library, trotting out sunny images that show the economic development potential of investment in the South Side areas surrounding Washington Park. The University of Chicago is among four finalists selected to vie for the library, whose governing nonprofit is expected to deliver a decision later this year. (Hawaii, New York City, and the University of Illinois Chicago also submitted proposals in December.) They proposed two sites, according to the Chicago Tribune: one in western Jackson Park, bounded by South Stony Island Avenue to the west, South Cornell Avenue to the east, East 60th Street to the north and East 63rd Street to the south; the other in western Washington Park and 11 acres outside of it, stretching as far west as South Prairie Avenue, and encompassing the Garfield Green Line stop. Both areas include land not owned by the University, which an anonymous source close to the deliberations previously told the Tribune could make the committee “hesitant to commit” to the plans. The sites each measure in excess of 20 acres, but only a fraction of that is slated for the library itself and accompanying structures. Nonetheless some open space advocates have accused the proposal of cannibalizing park land. Charles A. Birnbaum, president of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, penned an op-ed in the Huffington Post lamenting, “we still have to deal with retrograde thinking that views parks as dumping grounds and places to put 'stuff.'” Washington Park, which borders the University of Chicago's Hyde Park campus, was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and his partner, Calvert Vaux, the designers of New York City's Central Park. But Susan Sher, who is leading the the University of Chicago's library bid, told the Tribune's Melissa Harris it's common for such projects to include existing park space. “When you look at the possibilities and the criteria of having enough space for the legacy of a major historical figure, you can't just plop it in the middle of a shopping center,” she said. The University's hometown competitor, UIC, proposed a park that would bridge the Eisenhower Expressway, as well as economic development and community resources for underserved West Side areas. While UIC's proposal is more straightforward in its ownership, it also faces obstacles. Illinois' new governor, Republican Bruce Rauner, is expected to appoint a new chancellor of the public university system, which could sow uncertainty about the institution's library plans. Despite the new images and site boundaries, plans for the hotly anticipated library project remain unclear. In addition to selecting a host institution, the library foundation committee will also need to hire an architect, who will ultimately decide on the library's form and exact location. The plans newly made public by the University of Chicago are scant on details for that reason, although they do allude to an "education corridor" along 63rd Street, and a "cultural ribbon" that would connect Washington Park with a "renewed Jackson Park."
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Eavesdrop> Debbie Posthumously Does the Chicago Design Museum

  The Chicago Design Museum held its most recent opening for Deborah Sussman Loves Los Angeles! on November 12, 2014. The show, which runs through February 28, further cements this museum startup by Tanner Woodford into the Chicago cultural fold.   Yeah, it’s in a mostly dead mall (Block 37), but this exhibit is museum quality and perfect for exploring over one’s lunch break. I just wish more local design movers and shakers had been there for the preview party (ahem—Zoe Ryan or Sarah Herda, although maybe both were busy with their respective biennials: Istanbul and Chicago).
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New Buildings Institute catalogues the nation's net-zero buildings

The Vancouver-based New Buildings Institute (NBI) tracks energy efficient built work, and their 2014 update, “Getting to Zero”, provides a snapshot of the emerging U.S. market for net-zero buildings—those are structures that use no more energy than they can gather on site. In the United States, California leads in the number of low and zero energy projects with 58, followed by Oregon (18), Colorado (17), Washington (16), Virginia (12), Massachusetts (11), Florida (10), Pennsylvania (10), Illinois (8), North Carolina (8), and New York (8). NBI also compiled a database of all their buildings. They say architects and developers interested in pursuing net-zero design could find inspiration there, searching according to their local climate and/or building characteristics. The database includes energy-efficient and high-performance buildings that are not net-zero, as well. Though the trend has succeeded in garnering attention and excitement among many designers, true net-zero buildings remain elusive in the built environment. So far NBI has only certified 37 buildings as net-zero. That ranking is based on performance—each building underwent a review of at least 12 months of measured energy use data. If piece-meal projects aren't yet adding up to a groundswell of net-zero design, NBI is also pushing systemic change—rigorous energy efficiency standards recently adopted in Illinois took cues from the group's Core Performance Guide.
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Eavesdrop> Rahminator Remiss

You don’t often hear Mayor Rahm Emanuel utter these words, so when Rahmbo admitted he “made a mistake” in proposing naming a Near North Side school after Obama, his former boss, we thought it worthwhile to get him on the record here. Earlier this year Emanuel threw $60 million in TIF funding to the planned selective enrollment school, offering up the name apparently without consulting local leaders, including the head of Chicago Public Schools. They didn’t like the idea, as it turns out, probably only a little more than Emanuel didn’t like every local reporter committing his rare self-effacement to print.
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Watch Chicago move a 762-ton mansion to make way for Pelli Clarke Pelli's arena

Preservation and new development are often at odds, but sometimes Chicago has its cake and eats it, too. Case-in-point: the Harriet F. Rees House, a landmark on both local and national lists that happens to share an address with an arena and hotel complex planned for the South Loop. The Rees House is currently the only building on the 2100 block of S. Prairie Ave., but on Tuesday it begins its two day journey 600 feet north to 2017 S. Prairie Ave. The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (McPier), a semi-public entity that oversees Navy Pier and the McCormick Place Convention Center, sued to gain control of the property earlier this year. Now McPier is paying $6 million to move the remarkably well-preserved 19th century townhouse to make room for a Pelli Clarke Pelli–designed arena for DePaul University that is expected by the end of 2016. They will also pay $1.9 million to acquire the land and $450,000 to compensate Rees house owner Sam Martorina for loss of use of the property during the moving process this summer, reported Crain's Chicago Business. This feat of engineering will clear land in the South Loop for a series of developments including a hotel, office space and an arena that the city has agreed to help finance with public tax benefits—not without controversy—because it is intended to boost economic activity associated with the massive convention center. Construction firm Bulley & Andrews is working with Wolfe House Building & Movers to roll the 762-ton house up the street, employing massive dollies and a steel exoskeleton to stabilize the historic structure during its journey. The wheeled dollies are semi-automated and will begin the move Tuesday morning. The Rees House is expected to arrive in its new location by Wednesday afternoon. A webcam will monitor the move here. Built in 1888, the three-story brick and limestone mansion won recognition from the national register of historic places in 2012. It was built for the widow of real estate pioneer and land surveyor James H. Rees, and remains a well-maintained example of Romanesque Revival architecture. Impressive though the move is, it's not the only time Chicago has heaved hefty buildings instead of opting for demolition. As Josh Mogerman wrote for Chicagoist earlier this year, Chicago's oldest house—the nearby Henry Clarke Mansion—was lifted and relocated twice. Much of Chicago itself was hoisted hydraulically as the booming city overwhelmed its swampy foundations. The Rees House will be registered once again as a national landmark at its new address—assuming it gets there in one piece.
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Saturday> Fire Festival to light up the Chicago River

A new downtown festival launching tomorrow celebrates the “grit, greatness and renewal” of Chicago by paying tribute its greatest tragedy. In a move reminiscent of Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain, The Chicago Fire Festival will float some theatrical pyrotechnics down the Chicago River on Saturday evening. Chicago's most infamous disaster has long been less a symbol of destruction than rebirth. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 killed hundreds of people and leveled several square miles of the still young city. That cleared the way for the birth of modern Chicago, a bittersweet legacy celebrated to this day by a star on the city's flag, as well as in the names of its major league soccer team and its downtown tech business incubator. The city tasked local Redmoon Theater with organizing the inaugural Chicago Fire Festival, corralling corporate sponsors and non-profit foundations to produce the event. “The Great Chicago Fire basically birthed our great cultural export: architecture,” Redmoon's director Jim Lasko told Chicago Magazine. The festival will be a culmination of Redmoon's previous effort, a three-month series of free events throughout dozens of Chicago neighborhoods that asked residents about challenges they've overcome and successes they celebrate. Many of their answers will be projected on floating barges in the river between State Street and Columbus Drive on Saturday night. If the festival is a success, organizers hope it will become an annual fixture of public art in Chicago. If not, it will burn away with the models of Victorian homes and period-specific Chicago architecture that Redmoon is offering up in the name of The Great Chicago Fire Festival.
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On View> Chicagoisms at the Art Institute of Chicago

Chicagoisms Art Institute of Chicago 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Ilinois Through January 4, 2015 Chicagoisms is an ongoing exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago that focuses on key historical principles—“Chicagoisms”—that went into creating and shaping the city that we know today. The exhibition was put together by architectural theorist Alexander Eisenschmidt and art historian Jonathan Mekinda working with designer Matt Wizinsky. The show features interpretations of five Chicagoisms from nine different architects—Bureau Spectacular, DOGMA, MVDRV, Organization for Permanent Modernity, PORT, Sam Jacob, UrbanLab, Weathers, and WW. The architects paired architectural models with manifestos regarding their significance and present them in juxtaposition with historical black-and-white photographs. The result is a double vision showing both the contrast between the art and architecture of today’s Chicago and that of the past, as well as how historical factors continue to act as a catalyst for contemporary innovators.
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Mortgage fraud money to remake historic homes in Chicago's Pullman area

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced Tuesday $1.9 million—most of which comes from the state’s portion of a federal settlement with banks over mortgage fraud—will go to rehab historic homes in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood. Some $1.5 million of the money comes from a 2014 settlement with mortgage lenders including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, Bank of America and Ally over fraudulent behavior they are alleged to have encouraged during the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis. Most of the money will go toward renovating homes in the Far South Side neighborhood, which was created as a company town for Pullman’s once-ubiquitous traincars. The city will kick in an additional $400,000 to help finance the purchase of rehabbed homes as part of an “affordable historic home revitalization initiative,” according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office. That effort is part of a larger state program to battle blight in communities with lots of vacant and abandoned properties. Pullman has seen new development in recent years, including a contentious Walmart in 2010, and ongoing work from the Historic Pullman Foundation to preserve the neighborhood’s architectural heritage. Local preservationists are even hoping to win National Park status for the neighborhood—the National Park Service said late last year that the district “appears likely to meet the national significance and suitability criteria” for further study.
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IIT Students Explore the Potential of Carbon Fiber

Composite materials are on display in the undergraduate-built FIBERwave PAVILION.

Carbon fiber’s unique properties would seem to make it an ideal building product. Untreated, carbon fiber cloth is flexible and easy to cut. After an epoxy cure, it is as hard as steel. But while the automobile and aerospace industries have made widespread use of the material, it has gone virtually untouched by the architectural profession. Alphonso Peluso and his undergraduate students at the IIT College of Architecture set out to change that with their FIBERwave PAVILION, a parametric, sea life-inspired installation built entirely of carbon fiber. "We want to make the studio an expert resource for people trying to get into carbon fiber in terms of architecture," said Peluso, whose students designed, funded, and built the pavilion this spring. "There’s a studio in Germany that’s in their second year of working with carbon fiber, but I don’t think anyone in the United States is working with it." Peluso’s studio began with an internal competition. Because the spring semester course followed a class dedicated to the exploration of various composite materials, many of the students were already familiar with the pros and cons of carbon fiber. "Toward the end of the first semester we started working with carbon fiber, and it wasn’t the greatest result," said Peluso. "But we knew we had to keep working with it. That played a big part in the selection of the design for the second semester." The students judged the submissions on constructability as well as aesthetics, he explained. "It was interesting to see the students as the pavilions were being presented, see their minds turning on: ‘Okay, this one is feasible—this is one we can actually build.’ Sometimes the design was a little better, but the overall project seemed less possible within the time frame." The winning design is based on a bivalve shell structure. The student who came up with the idea used parametric design software to explore tessellations of the single shell form. "What I was pushing them to do in the first semester was large surfaces that weren’t repetitive," said Peluso. "In the second semester, it was like they intuitively knew there had to be repetition of the unit." As a group, the class further developed the design in Rhino and Grasshopper. But while the students used parametric software to generate the shell pattern, in general FIBERwave PAVILION was "less about designing in the computer," said Peluso. "Most of it was fabrication based." The studio was hands-on from the beginning, when students were asked to submit a small-scale carbon fiber with their competition entries. They went back to Rhino to make the molds. "We had to make six molds," explained Peluso. "Even though it was one identical shell unit we had to produce 86 of these shells. When you make a composite unit, if you have one mold you can only make one shell per day." In the end, the students fabricated a total of 90 shells (including several extra to make up for any defects) over the course of about four weeks.
  • Fabricator IIT School of Architecture CARBON_Lab
  • Designers IIT School of Architecture CARBON_Lab
  • Location Chicago
  • Date of Completion Spring 2014
  • Material carbon fiber, epoxy from West System Epoxy
  • Process Rhino, Grasshopper, 3D printing, cutting, molding, curing, painting, bolting
"The actual assembly was pretty quick, the pavilion itself went together in less than a day," said Peluso. Laterally, bolts through CNC-drilled holes connect the shells at two points on either side. The overlapping rows of shells are secured vertically through bolted pin connections. The installation remained on the IIT campus for one month, after which the students disassembled it in just 25 minutes. The Chicago Composite Initiative, which provided crucial technical guidance during the project, has since erected FIBERwave PAVILION in one of its classrooms. The fundraising component of the project was as important as its design and fabrication elements. Peluso initially hoped that the carbon fiber industry would donate materials, but "we didn’t have as much luck as we anticipated because we hadn’t done anything before that would warrant their interest," he said. "That’s one of the goals of the pavilion itself, to create an awareness in architecture that this could be a great material to use." Peluso’s course did have help from West System Epoxy, which provided the curing resin at a discount. To fill the funding gap, the students ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising $6,937 from a $6,500 goal. They made incentives for the donors, including 3D-printed necklaces and earrings. "I don’t think we realized how much work was going to go into that," said Peluso. To raise additional funds, the class held bake sales on campus. For Peluso, the process of designing and building FIBERwave PAVILION proved as valuable as the finished product. "The way the students collaborated made the project a success," he said. "Sometimes in group projects you get a few drifters, and some really strong ones. But all twelve students really stepped up. This wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t all come together as a group."
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Permanent Vacation, Anyone? Illinois & Connecticut Residents Would Prefer a Move

gallup-moving-poll Gallup pollsters recently asked Americans if they had the opportunity to move, “would you like to move to another state, or would you rather remain in your current state?” Well, Illinois and Connecticut earned the dubious distinction of having the nation’s most restless residents. About half of the surveyed residents in Illinois wanted to bounce, but don’t expect an influx of moving boxes. We’ll probably just ride it out and complain. Case in point: another Gallup poll found 25 percent of Illinoisans surveyed said their state is “the worst possible place to live in”—second only in self-loathing to Rhode Island.