Posts tagged with "John Ronan Architects":

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Oak Park's historic preservation commission rejects proposal for Frank Lloyd Wright visitor center

A major move shook up the world of all things Frank Lloyd Wright last week. The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust has long been planning to build a new Visitor and Education Center next to the modernist architect's hugely-popular Oak Park, Illinois, home and studio, but the proposal to move forward was unanimously rejected by the village’s Historic Preservation Commission.  To accommodate the potential 9,000-square-foot welcome space, the plan indicated that 925 Chicago Avenue, situated next door to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, would have to be relocated or demolished as a last resort. That, and later additions at 931 Chicago Avenue, where Wright’s mother lived—and where the Trust currently operates the site from—also needed to be removed, restoring the building to its original footprint. This didn’t sit well with the Commission or the nearly 30 people who spoke out against the plan at the public hearing and vote on August 27.  In a statement following the vote, the Trust said it is considering its next steps: 
“As a 21st Century organization, the Trust is resolved in its mission to honor the innovative vision and legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright and to further contribute to the vitality of Oak Park as a living museum of significant architecture...Our commitment to design education will ensure that future generations value achievement in art, architecture and design for which Oak Park is renowned. To retain the value the Trust has added to Oak Park over the years, we must keep pace with standards of best practice in cultural tourism and education and set a tone of forward-thinking that Wright himself advocated.”
Located within the Frank Lloyd Wright-Prairie School of Architecture Historic District, the proposal was slated to set the Trust up for a new space that would filter the 90,000 people who visited the famous site each year. Visitors currently enter and exit the historic locale through a cramped garage shop, noted the Chicago Tribune A design for the visitor’s center had already been in the works for the past few years since the Trust purchase 925 Chicago Avenue. The organization held a local competition for the project and announced in June that Chicago-based John Ronan had won. His vision included a reception hall, gift shop, a ticketing and information area, and an outdoor plaza with green space. According to the Trust’s chairman Bob Mill, the proposal was selected between it had a “quiet presence within the site” and used materials that reference the surrounding neighborhood. Despite what appeared to be a thoughtful proposal, there was overwhelming opposition to the project. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, Landmarks Illinois, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy all denounced the scheme. The Village of Oak Park said the Trust must submit a new application with a different proposal through the Historic Preservation Commission.  Last week, the Trust issued a noted saying it will not appeal the commission's decision, but instead reconsider its plan.
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John Ronan to design Frank Lloyd Wright Trust’s new visitor center

The Chicago-based John Ronan Architects has won a competition to design the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust’s new Visitor and Education Center in Oak Park, Illinois, just in time for the Trust’s 45th anniversary. The new visitor center will become the main entrance to Frank Lloyd Wright’s former home and studio, one of five sites the Trust maintains in Chicago, and will expand the Trust's footprint in Oak Park by 20,000 square feet, including an outdoor plaza. “This is the most important initiative since the Trust’s founding and restoration of the home and studio,” wrote the Trust’s board chairman Bob Miller. “It will ensure that Wright’s legacy remains vital to future generations. Ronan’s proposal was chosen for its design simplicity, quiet presence within the site, and use of materials referencing the site and surrounding neighborhood.” The center will contain a new reception hall with its own multimedia programming, a ticketing and information area, and a shop. Outside, the new landscaped plaza will connect the visitor center with the existing buildings and will be used to host lectures and other public gatherings. The education center component will include a design studio for student and family classes, a display area for student and professional work, and a conference room. More than just getting a new building, the Trust will also reorganize its existing facilities. The Trust’s offices, which currently reside in a building from the 1860s owned by Wright’s mother, will be converted into a library and center for curatorial research. Additionally, the home and studio garage will be converted into a gallery for the Trust’s permanent collection. John Ronan Architects beat out a shortlist of Chicagoan firms for the project, including Krueck + Sexton, Pappageorge Haymes, Perkins + Will, and Vinci Hamp Architects. The plan must first win approval from the Village of Oak Park, and no estimated completion date has been provided yet.
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University College Dublin reveals masterplan renderings from DS+R, Steven Holl, and more

University College Dublin (UCD) revealed the latest design proposals from the six shortlisted teams for Future Campus—University College Dublin International Design Competition. Six teams were chosen from the 98 firms that submitted proposals earlier this year, and the latest renderings reveal competing visions for the university's future. Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York) John Ronan Architects (Chicago) O’Donnell + Tuomey (Dublin) Steven Holl Architects (New York) Studio Libeskind (New York) UNStudio (Amsterdam) The design competition consists of two design initiatives—one is a sixty-acre Entrance Precinct master plan and another is the Centre for Creative Design, a new building to house a maker space and a “living learning lab.” UCD, Ireland’s "Global University", is one of Ireland’s largest universities with more than 30,000 students. The university moved to its current 330-acre Belfield campus in 1963, which was masterplanned by Polish architect Andrzej Wejchert through another competition. The current campus consists of a collection of estates, including period houses and four- to five-story Brutalist structures within a landscaped setting. The master plan is envisioned to be “a highly-visible and welcoming entrance precinct” to introduce placemaking and establish an identity for the university. The new masterplan will house the 90,000 square foot Centre for Creative Design, which is meant to be an emblem of UCD’s creative identity. Another aspect of the masterplan is to increase the permeability of the campus boundary, potentially by introducing a new vehicular entrance and working with planned public transportation connections and other transport modes. “We are seeking an integrated design proposal that improves the experience of our campus for its users and that better connects us to our surroundings, orientating us outwards to the world and inviting our communities to engage with us,” said Professor Hugh Campell, professor of architecture at UCD and member of the competition jury. The university is now seeking comments on the design proposals from the UCD community, whose feedback will be fed to the jury. The winner will be announced in August 2018.  
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University College of Dublin announces masterplan finalists

University College of Dublin (UCD) has just announced the finalists of its Future Campus – University College Dublin International Design Competition. Of the ninety-eight firms that submitted proposals, six have been chosen for the project’s shortlist: Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York), John Ronan Architects (Chicago), O’Donnell + Toumey (Dublin), Steven Holl Architects (New York), Studio Libeskind (New York), and UN Studio (Amsterdam). The Future Campus Competition is for two connected projects on the university’s campus, a sixty-acre master plan and a new academic building. With over 30,000 students, University College of Dublin is Ireland’s largest university. Founded in 1854, the university migrated to its current 330-acre Belfield campus in 1963, which was designed by Polish architect Andrej Wejchert. Wejchert’s design is primarily composed of four- to five-story Brutalist structures within a landscaped setting. The campus is located on the edge of Dublin, just over two miles from the city center. UCD views the future master plan as a “highly-visible and welcoming entrance” establishing an “urban design vision that values high-quality placemaking, architecture, and public realm.” Within the master plan area, UCD envisions an approximately 90,000-square-foot academic lab dubbed The Centre for Creative Design. The estimated budget for the project is just under $60 million. Professor Andrew J. Deeks, President of University College Dublin, describes the competition process as a rare moment to build “a design that will become an icon for the University – representing our vision to create something extraordinary and brilliant.” All six firms will conduct a site visit at the campus by the end of the month, with a winner announced in August 2018.
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City of Chicago reveal plans to combine public libraries and housing, and the architects behind them

In October 2016 the City of Chicago announced a plan to combine public housing and public libraries in multiple locations across the city. Recently the Chicago Housing Authority and Chicago Public Library announced the first three of these co-located projects and the architects are designing them. The projects will be located in the West Ridge, Near West Side and Irving Park neighborhoods and will be designed by Perkins+Will, Skidmore, Owings & Merill (SOM), and John Ronan Architects, respectively. Each of the Chicago-based firms will bring their own experiences and style to the designs John Ronan architects are behind the award-winning Poetry Foundation while SOM has continued to gather accolades for its Chinatown Branch Library Perkins+Will has completed numerous libraries across the country. Construction is set to begin on three projects by the end of the year with, completion expected by the end of 2018.

Architect: John Ronan Architects Perkins+Will Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)

Client: City of Chicago Location: Chicago Completion Date: Winter 2018
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John Ronan Architects designs Blu Dot's Chicago outpost

Minneapolis-based furniture company Blu Dot has recently opened its first Chicago outpost. The company—founded by two architects and a sculptor—sells clean-lined contemporary domestic furniture online and in nine stores across the U.S., Mexico, and Australia. To match its design sensibilities, Blu Dot tapped Chicago-based John Ronan Architects to overhaul a decidedly mundane strip mall space in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. To differentiate the 7,500-square-foot structure from the row of franchise fast food joints it is connected to, Ronan wrapped the building in a facade of thin vertical aluminum tubes. The effect is a mass separated from its immediate surroundings.

The interior is also set apart from the strip mall aesthetic. A polished clear resin on the concrete floor shows the history of past tenants, while clean white walls and a black-painted exposed utility ceiling let the furniture be the focus of the space. “The challenge was to utterly transform what had been a nondescript diner into something unique and memorable,” John Ronan explained. “And to employ an economy of means doing it. Our strategy was to bleach out the existing structure, create new openings and enlarge existing ones, and layer on a new identity.”

Blu Dot 1953 N. Clybourn Avenue, Chicago Tel: 872-315-3339 Architect: John Ronan Architects

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John Ronan announced as Neocon keynote speaker

NeoCon, the international interiors conference held each year in Chicago, has announced architect John Ronan as one of its keynote speaker. Ariana Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, and Jessica Green, founding director of the Biology and the Built Environment (BioBE) Center, have also been named as keynote speakers. As the conference is heavily attended by architects and designers, it is not uncommon for noted architects to give keynote addresses. John Ronan is the head of the Chicago-based John Ronan Architects. His talk will address the prompt put forward by NeoCon, “How can a better tomorrow be achieved, one with renewable cities and more efficient and responsive building?” Ronan is particularly appropriate for this topic as the forthcoming Ed Kaplan Family Institute of Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, designed by Ronan, features a light and temperature responsive ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) foil cushion facade. The inflated cloud-like skin will regulate heat gain and loss through a movable pneumatic diaphragm system. When completed, it will be the first of its kind in the United States. Jessica Green’s Biology and the Built Environment Center works with architects and engineers to advance the public understanding of the microbial world and its potential to affect urban design. Green envisions a future in which urban design and architecture are designed as part of a complex ecosystem which includes microbes as an important factor in human well-being. Along with the three keynote addresses, NeoCon will include nearly 100 CEU certified seminars and talks, over its three days. NeoCon is held on four floors of the Merchandise Mart along the Chicago River from June 12th through June 14th. Each year the conference includes exhibits ranging from interior building products and materials to furniture and technology.
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Illinois Institute of Technology breaks ground on new innovation center

The Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) broke ground on the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship. Designed by Chicago-based John Ronan Architects, the new building will be added to the iconic Mies van der Rohe-designed IIT campus. The two-story Ronan design will sit near the heart of the South Side Chicago campus. While it takes cues in form and scale from the gridded campus, the design also incorporates some of the latest in sustainable design and technology. In particular, the second floor is wrapped in a cloud-like ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) foil cushion facade, a technology that has rarely been used in the United States. The dynamic skin system will control the building's solar gain by varying air pressure to move the position of the integrated diaphragm. The project has a goal of achieving LEED Silver once completed. “The Kaplan Institute is not merely a new classroom building, it is an idea factory. It is a place of creative collision between students and faculty across disciplines. Where new ideas will be explored on their way to becoming meaningful innovations,” explained John Ronan to a packed hall at the ground breaking at IIT. The building's lower level includes two open courtyards through which students will enter the building. These courtyards will also bring light and air into the center of the institute. Circulation through the building is indirect to promote collaboration and chance interactions. The large open floor plates allow visual connections between many spaces, enforcing the idea of connectivity between disciplines in the building. The project will be home to the university’s Idea Shop, its IPRO Program, and the Jules F. Knapp Entrepreneurship Center. The building will also host undergraduate courses for the Institute of Design, the descendant program of Moholy Nagy’s New Bauhaus. Ronan closed with a remark on the new project’s relationship to Mies’s original plan. “Mies originally understood the IIT campus as three types of buildings: classrooms, laboratories, and communal buildings. The Kaplan Institute will be a combination of all three. Intended for use by all, it is a classroom building for the 21st century, and a laboratory for ideas that look to the future.”
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Explore proposals from the CAF's 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards

In celebration of the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s 50th anniversary, the Foundation is hosting an exhibition titled 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards which features unique architectural and urban design proposals born for each of Chicago’s 50 wards. The exhibition is currently on display at the CAF Atrium Gallery. The wards should not to be mistaken for Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods; each ward is “a legislative district represented by a directly elected alderman and the aldermen comprise the city council,” as The Architect's Newspaper wrote back in May. (Read our interview with Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen of Chicago-based UrbanLab, who put together the exhibition.) In preparation for the exhibition, 50 different Chicago-based designers, artists, and architects analyzed all aspects of the city, including buildings, roadways, waterways, other infrastructure systems, and even vacant lots. From this, they each produced one unique proposal for each ward. The proposals are split into four categories: Gather, Reclaim, Dwell, and Activate. These categories address the themes of public space activation, economic activity stimulation, pop-up/temporary interventions, and quality of housing improvement, respectively. For example, Fiction Fort, in the Gather category and by Design With Company, is a small pavilion used to house a free public book exchange in the 19th Ward. The proposal notes that, “[t]he exterior ‘walls’ are fashioned from elements that resemble open books and small gabled houses,” facilitating a physical experience when exchanging books. The design echoes the Gothic style of Givins' Irish Castle (Beverly Unitarian Church), a prominent building within the ward. One Reclaim proposal is Food Infrastructure by JGMA. This proposal for the 22nd Ward addresses the problem of food waste in Chicago. The design calls for transformation of the Crawford Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant in the ward, into a biodigester that would harvest the methane gas of wasted food. Jurassic Studio’s proposal for the 30th Ward, Backyard Arcade, is a commercial and communal space in the Dwell category. The design transforms the backsides of residences into a “commercial arcade.” “The arcade is a covered passageway or street often lined with ground-floor shops and second-story offices or workrooms,” the proposal describes. In the Activate category is 606+, a design by RANGE Design & Architecture for the 26th Ward. While vague in its proposal, the design looks to adaptively reuse industrial buildings and spaces along The 606, a linear park that was created from an abandoned railroad. The proposal consists of “3 Acts”:  606+ ArtsFest, a public festival space; Bloomingdale Gallery, an art gallery; and Kimball Theater, a community performance area. A final proposal, uncategorized, is work of John Ronan Architects, a firm in the running for the Barack Obama Presidential Center library project (the winner is likely to be announced in June or July of this year). Their proposal for the 45th Ward aims to revamp the existing Jefferson Park into the Jefferson Park Exchange, adding “a new civic cultural center consisting of a community art center, library and market to leverage the area’s cultural diversity and create a lively place of exchange.” The exhibition was curated by Martin Felsen and Sarah Dunn, co-founders of the Chicago-based office UrbanLab, and Reed Kroloff, CAF’s Senior Advisor for Programs and Industry Collaboration, in addition to CAF. Read more about the exhibit here.
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Obama Foundation announces seven offices to submit proposals for presidential library

The Barack Obama Foundation has announced the seven offices from which it is requesting proposals for the design of the Obama Presidential Library in Chicago. The seven firms include four New York–based offices, one London-based office, one based in Genova, Italy, and one local Chicago office. The offices named are: Picked from over 150 firms who submitted to the Foundation’s request for qualifications issued in August, the seven firms will now be asked to present designs to the President in the first quarter of 2016. If Adjaye or Piano are chosen, they will be the first foreign-based offices to design a presidential library. The selection of the perspective architects comes after a long selection process for the site of the library itself. Not without some controversy, the South Side locations were chosen out of possible sites in New York, Hawaii, and another in Chicago. Public space advocates, Friends of the Parks, argued that the library, technically a private institution, should not be allowed to be built in the city’s public parks, an issue the current Lucas Museum is also dealing with. This was overcome with the help of a deal made by Mayor Rahm Emanuel which would transfer control of the land away from the park system. Each office will submit conceptual designs for both of the possible 20-acre South Side Chicago sites: one in Washington Park and one in Jackson Park. The $500 million project will include the presidential archive, a museum, and office space for the Obama Foundation. After reviewing the proposals, the Obama family and the foundation are expected to make a decision by summer 2016, the expected completion of the project being in 2020 or 2021.
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Architect John Ronan talks opportunities, challenges in dynamic facade design

In recent years, building envelope assemblies have become increasingly sophisticated, separating the skin from its traditional, structural function and thus making way for formal experimentation. But this freedom "presents a bewildering challenge," says John Ronan, founding principal of Chicago-based John Ronan Architects. "What do you do when you can do anything? When the surface of the building asks for no more than a cladding? I think architects are struggling with this question, and that is why one sees so many arbitrary formal tropes in facade design now; anything is possible, but nothing has meaning." Ronan, who also teaches at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) College of Architecture, will share some of his own experience designing dynamic facades during the afternoon keynote address at November's Facades+ Chicago conference. For Ronan, a successful facade design begins with project-specific issues that go beyond environmental performance and client, to include program, identity, social factors, and historical context. As an example, he contrasted his firm's treatment of the Poetry Foundation and Gary Comer Youth Center buildings. "At the Comer center, security and safety were primary issues due to violence in the neighborhood, and that influenced the facade design, while at the Poetry Foundation the issue was more one of public interface and creating a sense of intrigue or mystery, to entice someone to come in and explore," explained Ronan. The IIT Innovation Center presents a third point of reference. "[That facade] is driven by context, that is, the Mies [van der Rohe] campus, but also by technology—the idea that an institute of technology should have something very forward looking and innovative." Regarding the particularities of designing and fabricating facades for his hometown, observed Ronan, "Chicago is still a place where things are made, so we have a deep pool of material and fabrication knowhow to draw upon, and to a certain extent, the world still comes to Chicago for high rise design, a market which is typically on the leading edge of facade technology." On the flip side, architects and builders must contend with the Windy City's alternately hot, wet, and freezing weather. "Sadly, we have to leave buildings out in the rain, and this often dictates which materials and assemblies can and cannot be used Chicago," said Ronan, tongue in cheek. More seriously, he continued, "The development of rain screen facades has been liberating for us here, because it allows us to enclose the building and then come back in the spring to install the facade." Catch up with Ronan and other AEC industry leaders November 5–6 at Facades+ Chicago. Register today or learn more at the Facades+ Chicago website.