Move over, Willis Tower. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) issued its official ruling Tuesday: New York’s One World Trade Center unseats the Chicago skyscraper as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The new tower’s symbolic height of 1,776 feet was called into question when a design change suggested it might achieve that elevation only through the addition of a removable broadcast antenna. CTBUH counts only structural elements that are considered an integral part of the building’s aesthetic. It was designers Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s assertion that 1 World Trade Center’s communications equipment represented a permanent architectural feature that persuaded CTBUH to affirm its height. The bottom point of the building was also in dispute. Without antennae, 1 World Trade Center is 1,368 feet tall — the height of the original World Trade Center tower destroyed in the 2001 terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Chicago’s Willis Tower (also an SOM building), still commonly referred to as the Sears Tower, stands 1,451 feet tall — 1,729 feet tall with antennas. It was the tallest building in the world until 1996, when the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, won CTBUH’s recognition.
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We hope you’ve stretched your hamstrings—there have been a lot of developments in U.S. bike sharing programs lately, and we’re taking another whirl through them now. Although not without hang-ups, New York’s Citi Bike has at least not killed anyone yet. People love to joke about clueless tourists riding on the sidewalk, or on heavy-traffic avenues, or “salmoning” the wrong way down one-way streets — that’s true in Chicago as well as New York — but the fact that no bikeshare has so far produced little to no traffic carnage should come as no surprise, writes Charles Komanoff for Streetsblog. Crunching the numbers, Komanoff points out “for each day in 2012, all NYC cyclists racked up 16 times as many miles as have Citi Bikers on each day to date.” So while Citi Bike ridership has exceeded expectations, it’s still only a small bump in the city’s total bike ridership. The bikes themselves could be a contributing factor, too — they aren’t racing bikes, and crowds of bikers further leaden their slow pace. The naturally lower car speeds in popular Citi Bike areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn may also play a role. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, a proposed bikeshare system was stymied by existing restrictions on street furniture advertising. Smaller systems may move forward in some of L.A.’s municipal fiefdoms — Long Beach and Fullerton are apparently moving ahead, while West Hollywood and Santa Monica are conducting reviews. For now, though, what was once proposed as the nation's second biggest bike sharing program seems to have hit the brakes. Instead Chicago’s Divvy bike share is poised to become the largest such program in North America after announcing the addition of another 75 stations. Divvy already has 300 stations, with plans to add 100 more in 2014 (the additional 75 brings it to a total of 475). Federal funding enabled the $3 million expansion. CDOT also announced that it has applied for $3 million in state money to fund another 75 stations, which would bring the grand total to 550 stations. “As Divvy expands into more neighborhoods, and we build a 650-mile bikeway network throughout our communities, Chicago is quickly becoming the best biking city in North America,” said Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein in a press release. It will be one of Klein’s last as Chicago’s transportation commissioner — he announced his resignation effective at the end of the month. Klein oversaw Divvy’s development and implementation, and was known for riding his bike to work. Sustainable transportation advocates told Streetsblog Klein’s successor will have big shoes to fill.
An update to our story from yesterday: Northwestern University released many more images from the three candidates vying to build a successor to the site previously occupied by Bertrand Goldberg’s old Prentice Women’s Hospital. The new images include floor plans, interior renderings, and additional elevations of the three buildings. The three finalists whose designs now go to the Northwestern board of trustees for a decision are: Goettsch Partners and Ballinger; Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture and Payette; and Perkins+Will. Construction is expected to start in 2015, with the approximately 1.2 million square feet phased in over time. Prentice Women's Hospital, the building previously occupying 333 E. Superior St., was the subject of a heated and ultimately doomed preservation effort. Demolition on the distinctive cloverleaf structure began in October. Peruse the full galleries here: Goettsch/Ballinger; AS+GG/Payette; Perkins+Will.
Northwestern University released images of the building that could replace old Prentice Women's Hospital Thursday. The three finalists vying to design a successor to Bertrand Goldberg's curvilinear icon are: Goettsch Partners and Ballinger; Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill and Payette; and Perkins & Will. After a long and high-profile struggle to save Prentice, preservationists were discouraged by what they saw as a raw deal. A short documentary released in October is the latest in a series of post-mortems on that contentious process. Northwestern plans to begin construction on the Feinberg School of Medicine Medical Research Center at 333 E. Superior St. in 2015. The University’s board of trustees will pick the final design. Review the submissions here:
Amid the clamor to take advantage of Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House this weekend, some may have missed the opening of Studio Gang’s boathouse along the Chicago River’s north branch. The WMS Boathouses at Clark Park opened Saturday to fanfare led by the Chicago Rowing Foundation, who were eager to celebrate the first of four new boathouses to be built along the Chicago River. The boathouse design translates the alternating “M” and inverted “V” shapes from a time-lapse motion image of rowing into the building’s basic organizing form. Targeting LEED Silver, it also features a landscaped garden where the site meets the river. The building’s upper clerestory collects southern daylight in the winter and ventilates in summer. Practice rooms for rowers are flooded with light and river views, instead of being shut away as in many athletic facilities. Similarly the building engages the river itself to a degree rarely seen in Chicago. Contrast the gently sloping approach of Studio Gang’s project to the bunker-like revetment across the river. As the city turns its attention to the downtown riverwalk, it's encouraging to see neighborhood projects embrace it, too. WMS, an electronic gaming company based on the river’s opposite bank, contribued $2 million to help build the boathouse on Chicago Park District land.
Japanese architect and 2013 Pritzker Laureate Toyo Ito visited the Art Institute of Chicago Tuesday, reflecting during two public lectures on how the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated his homeland changed his approach to design. At 72 years old, the accomplished architect might be expected to rest on his laurels. But Ito said his entire approach began to change during the 1990s. “I used to pursue architecture that is beautiful, aligned with modernism,” he said through an interpreter during a talk with Korean artists Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho; Yusaku Imamura, director of Tokyo Wonder Site; and artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle. Instead, he said, he began to ask what elements of a building make it livable. On March 11, 2011, the most powerful earthquake ever to hit Japan killed more than 15,000 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of buildings. Like many Japanese architects, Ito wanted to help. From a series of discussions with quake victims rendered homeless, Ito’s firm developed their “Home-for-All” project. Tuesday evening Ito delivered the Art Institute’s Butler-VanderLinden Lecture, titled “Architecture after 3.11”. He described how government recovery plans failed to inspire or comfort those they were supposed to assist. They were too compartmentalized, isolating, and ignorant of the “dreams and visions” of their users, Ito said. One home Ito’s group built for 3.11 victims salvaged giant kesen cedars, devastated by the tsunami, for construction material — “a sign we’re rebuilding,” he said.
"I was surprised that throwing away the title of 'architect' was so welcomed by people" #toyoito #homeforall — Chris Bentley (@Cementley) October 15, 2013Ito said he’s often asked how to bridge the gap between this post-disaster work and his typical practice. His reply: “Build architecture that is open to nature and harmonizes with people.” Ito’s visit also included a tour of “News from Nowhere,” the first U.S. presentation of the work by Korean artists Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho. Moon and Jeon meditate on a post-apocalyptic society composed of nation-corporations that control the technology necessary to sustain life after a 22nd century global catastrophe. That equipment is displayed throughout, along with a pair of lyrical videos that sketch the story of two survivors. The exhibition also features elements of Ito’s “Home-for-All” project alongside work from fashion designers Kuho Jung and Kosuke Tsumura; mime Yu Jin Gyu; and design firms MVRDV and takram design engineering. The exhibit is on display at the Sullivan Galleries — 33 S. State St., 7th floor — through December 21.
The City of Chicago broke ground Tuesday on the Bloomingdale Trail, or the 606 to use the combined name for the elevated trail and its five access parks, fulfilling a promise and long-term planning process that dates back years. Walsh Construction Company won the $53.7 million contract, which city officials told the Sun-Times was $5.2 million lower than the closest competition. The city plans to use $50 million in federal money to pay for construction. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office said the trail is being built in phases, and “will be open end-to-end in Fall 2014, with additional construction phases continuing to embellish landscaping and other amenities.” The 2.7-mile abandoned freight rail viaduct runs through several West Side neighborhoods, many of which have brought together community groups to help plan for the project. Meanwhile Chicago Magazine’s Dennis Rodkin answers a question in his column about investing in real estate along The 606. The neighborhoods—Noble Square, Bucktown, Humboldt Park, Wicker Park, and Logan Square—have always been good places to invest, and the 606’s route is “icing on the cake,” he says. “Also, you may be coming at this late. Real estate developers have had their eye on the potential of the Bloomingdale Trail for several years.”
Chicago’s Loyola University has wasted no time, it seems, in taking advantage of low interest loans in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The school has spent more than $500 million on building projects since 2008, reported Crain’s Chicago Business. At No. 106 in U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 ranking of national universities, Loyola could stand to improve its public profile. Though it gained 13 places since last year’s ranking, the school lags nearby Northwestern (12th) and the University of Chicago (4th) considerably. The expansion includes new buildings at both the medical campus in suburban Maywood, IL. (here's AN's coverage of a sleek new home for the university's nursing school) and in Chicago’s Rogers Park, where a $58.8 million Institute of Environmental Sustainability opens this month. Read the full Crain's report here.
An aging water tank plummeted nine stories from a Chicago building Wednesday, releasing “a tidal wave” of water and debris, one witness said, that injured three people and poured water into a nearby day care center. Of the three victims taken to the hospital one was critically injured, the Sun-Times reported, when the wooden tower, 8 feet across and 12 feet high, fell from the top of 2800 N. Pine Grove Ave. The building failed a Department of Buildings inspection in 2010, for reasons including issues with the water tank’s steel bands. It passed an annual inspection later that year, according to the Department of Buildings’ online records. Built in 1893 as the Lincoln Park Palace, the building is now known as the Brewster and is listed as a Chicago landmark. Water tanks proliferated towards the turn of the 2oth century, in the wake of the Great Chicago Fire. They became less popular as modern plumbing techniques took off, but remain among the city’s most intriguing architectural relics. A 2006 Chicago Tribune article said only 144 water tanks remain, quoting a Chicago company that maintains them. A USA Today report said about 130 were still in use in 2006.
Chicago’s bike-for-rent made its test premiere during the annual “Bike the Drive” event on the Windy City’s Lake Shore thoroughfare Sunday, and Wednesday opened the new service for membership sign-ups. Chicago’s Department of Transportation unveiled its bike share plans in April, tapping Portland, OR–based Alta Bicycle Share, which also runs New York and DC’s bike-share programs, to roll out 400 stations and about 4,000 three-speed “Chicago Blue” bicycles across the city. “Divvy,” as the Chicago program is called, recently released a map of planned stations, 75 of which the city said will be online by the end of June. But Chicago's four-wheeled share service also saw big news this week, when car rental giant Enterprise bought local nonprofit I-GO, a car-share program launched 10 years ago by the Center for Neighborhood Technology. Meanwhile Memorial Day marked the official debut of New York City’s bike-share, with more than 6,000 trips logged in a matter of hours.
Are you a @citibikenyc Annual Member? Check out the video on how it works: vimeo.com/67075897 #bikenyc — NYC DOT (@NYC_DOT) May 28, 2013This video from StreetFilms captured the media frenzy, as well as testimonials from the likes of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (who mounted but did not ride a bike) and musician David Byrne:
Chicago’s bike share program will kick off in June when the city debuts hundreds of light blue, three-speed bicycles that can be rented for an hourly fee or with a yearly $75 membership. Managed by Portland, OR–based Alta Bicycle Share, which also runs New York and DC’s bike share, Chicago’s program goes by the name “Divvy.” Alta was supposed to launch the $22 million program last summer, and has since become the subject of controversy. Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein was formerly a consultant for the company, and competitors have alleged foul play, which Alta and the city have flatly denied. The first of Divvy’s 75 solar-powered docking stations will be downtown and in River North. Within a year the city’s plan is to roll out 400 stations and about 4,000 bicycles across the city.
Work took place in March to replace a portion of Chicago's Wells Street bridge—“the engineering equivalent of a heart transplant,” in the words of the Tribune’s Cynthia Dizikes. Work crews replaced a portion of the 91-year old double-decker bascule bridge during just two nine-day periods (a similar replacement in 1996 took almost a year). Inconvenience or not, seeing a 500,000-pound hunk of metal floating into downtown Chicago atop a barge makes one feel like a witness to latter-day Carl Sandburg paeans: “Here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities.”