Posts tagged with "Millennium Park":

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What will be Rahm Emanuel’s legacy on Chicago’s architecture?

On the eve of the beginning of the trial for Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer charged with (and since convicted of) killing Laquan McDonald, Rahm Emanuel, two-term Chicago mayor, announced that he would not be running for a third term. Citing the need to spend more time with his family, Mayor Emanuel tearfully lamented of his time as mayor: “This has been the job of a lifetime, but it is not a job for a lifetime.” Yet, for Chicagoans, Emanuel’s two terms feel like enough to fill multiple lifetimes, both with development projects and architectural optimism, as well as what he will likely be known for: the decision to close 50 neighborhood public schools in 2013, many of which sit vacant and unsold five years later. Under his watch, Chicago became an infrastructure and design-driven cultural hub, with the first iteration of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Chicago Riverwalk, the 606, and the maturation of Millennium Park into a legitimate tourist destination. Emanuel appeared on broadcast television to proclaim that Chicago was a “Trump-free zone,” yet the president’s name is saliently plastered to the side of a skyscraper in 20-foot-tall letters, a blunder approved by the zoning administrator and the alderman, catching the mayor’s attention only after an architectural outcry. A former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, Emanuel would work hard on the national stage to present himself as the antithesis of Donald Trump yet kept largely quiet about it at home. There was the risible focus on assisting Elon Musk with his rapid transit link to O’Hare Airport, and the sideshow-style hawking of sites for Amazon’s HQ2. Then there were the bombastic press releases, the development of Lincoln Yards, the 78-acre mega-development, and the promise that Chicago would deliver the Obama Presidential Center to Jackson Park. Yet among all of these high-profile projects, Emanuel seemed to love the glamour of developer-driven neighborhood projects most of all. The Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Ordinance of 2015 supercharged the construction of bigger, denser residential buildings along Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) lines, changing the architectural character of some neighborhoods and flushing each neighborhood with micro apartments of questionable affordability and access. The Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program provided surges of cash to neighborhoods but seemed woefully out of touch with its original intent—to subsidize development in underserved neighborhoods—when funds were used to renovate downtown’s Navy Pier. With regard to Chicago’s historic built environment, Emanuel has made a lot of lofty promises that will be tough for the next mayor to fulfill. In 2017 he announced that he would encourage landmark status for the Legacy Walk in Boystown, a half-mile-long outdoor LGBT history exhibit constructed in 1998, which could be a hard sell to the city council due to its newness and obvious political motivations, as the announcement was made during Chicago Pride. While this could be considered a radical move, older, more vulnerable landmarks of cultural heritage, like sites that assist in telling the narrative of the Black Panther Party in Chicago, have yet to be considered for landmarking. Last year, Emanuel also announced that he would block the sale of the postmodern James R. Thompson Center by the State of Illinois out of fear of having to replace the CTA station beneath it but will not take a stance otherwise on the future of the building or its architectural significance. Attempts to restore the perennially threatened Uptown Theatre have stalled and sputtered under Emanuel’s tenure, including the creation of a nonprofit in 2011 to back a public-private partnership to lead the renovation, which ultimately failed. This past summer, Emanuel announced yet again that the Uptown would be restored using a combination of TIF funds and private investment, handing the responsibility to whoever is elected in February of 2019. Emanuel thought big, but also blew it big, and the success of his ideas and the legacy of his failures lie on the shoulders of the next administration, which may take a different direction entirely—perhaps toward neighborhood-led initiatives and on a smaller scale, working to improve parts of the whole—or continue to champion grandiose civic projects. The announcement that Emanuel will not seek a third term scrambles an already crowded field of candidates and piques the interest of new contenders who now believe that they have a shot at defining how Chicago presents itself in the 21st century. We will see how a new mayor designs it, builds it, and tears it down.
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Anish Kapoor sues the NRA over shot of The Bean

British artist Anish Kapoor has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the National Rifle Association over an advertisement featuring his iconic public sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park, Cloud Gate (2006). The video, titled “Freedom’s Safest Place,” is part of the NRA’s “The Violence of Lies” campaign, which features multiple series of videos claiming to expose supposed irrationalities of liberal arguments and ostensible media untruths. The videos are narrated by right-wing commentator Dana Loesch and populated with images of civil unrest and violent clashes of protestors and police set to dramatic music. Kapoor claims in his complaint that the video's entreaty to meet liberal “lies” with the “clenched fist of truth” by the pro-gun organization amounts to “a clear call to armed violence against liberals and the media.” The video features a brief black-and-white timelapse cutaway of people walking in front of the sculpture, which is popularly and affectionately known as “The Bean.” Kapoor had already spoken out against the ad in an open letter this past March, demanding that the “nightmarish” NRA remove any visual references to his work. Three months later and with no action taken, Kapoor has filed suit demanding that the NRA cease using his work to support their “despicable platform for promoting violence” and is seeking $150,000 plus attorney fees for each infringement,  as well as a percentage of the money made through donations and membership sign-ups resulting from the offending ad.  
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56-story tower coming to Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, across from Grant Park

It is rare to be given the chance to build anything along the Michigan Avenue “wall.” The iconic stretch of Chicago’s most famous street looks out to Lake Michigan over Millennium and Grant Parks, and was designated a Chicago Landmark in 2002. Yet 2017 will see the start of more than one new tower along the historic one-mile district.

The most recently announced of these new towers has been dubbed Essex on the Park. The name makes reference to the neighboring building, the Essex Inn, which will also be redeveloped in the process of erecting the new tower. The 56-story Essex on the Park is being designed by Chicago-based Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture. While the 479-unit tower is distinctly contemporary, it also references its historic context.

Designing along Michigan Avenue involves the careful navigation of a long list of regulations related to height, massing, and position relative to historic district as a whole.

At Essex on the Park, this plays out as a large base that addresses the heights of surrounding buildings. Stretching from lot line to lot line, the base continues the wall of mostly late 19th-century buildings. A large four-story winter garden mediates between the base and the more articulated tower.

Paul Alessandro, a partner at Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, discussed the challenges of building within the strict zoning along Michigan Avenue. “The building is shaped by all of these forces, you can see this in the base. Those parameters give you an outline, which you can design in, something of a Hugh Ferriss envelope. They take a lot of the decisions away from you, which gives you a chance to focus on the specifics and details of the design.”

The neighboring 14-story Essex Inn is one of the most recognizable structures along South Michigan Avenue. It is known, not so much for its architecture, but for an epic sign that adorns its roof. While these types of signs were once common in Chicago, they have been the center of more than one controversy in recent years: once when Motorola removed the large Santa Fe sign from the top of a building just blocks from the Essex, and again when the 20-foot Trump sign was added to the Trump Tower. A new ordinance passed after the Trump sign’s installation now makes it much more difficult to add such signage to new buildings. The Essex sign and the building itself, built in 1961, are now protected. And though the Essex Inn signage will stay, the building will be rebranded as the Hotel Essex once renovations are complete.

The two buildings will connect via a restaurant in the new tower and the lobby of the older building. Construction will begin on the tower later this year, while the renovation of the hotel will begin in 2018. Both will be completed in 2019.

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Inaugural Chicago architecture biennial has a name, and a show by Iwan Baan

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's announcement that Chicago would launch an international festival of art and architecture—its own take on the famous Venice biennale—drew jeers and cheers from the design community both near and far from The Second City. AN called for the show aspiring to be North America's largest architectural exhibition to go beyond tourism bromides. Now the upstart expo has a name, as well as its first show. The inaugural Chicago architecture biennial will begin in October 2015, and will be called “The State of the Art of Architecture,” in reference to the controversial conference organized in 1977 by architect Stanley Tigerman. Tigerman's show celebrated the postmodern rejection of Chicago's old masters like Mies van der Rohe, forging the position of architectural protest group The Chicago Seven. A press release from the organizing committee alludes to the upcoming exhibition's wide scope:
More than a profession or a repertoire of built artifacts, architecture is a dynamic cultural practice that manifests at different scales and through various media: buildings and cities, but also art, performance, film, landscape and new technologies. It permeates fundamental registers of everyday life—from housing to education, from environmental awareness to economic growth, from local communities to global networks.
The biennial's first commission was announced Wednesday by co-directors Joseph Grima—a former curator of the Storefront for Art and Architecture, and director of the Ideas City platform of the New Museum—and Sarah Herda, director of the Graham Foundation and AN editorial advisor. Renowned photographer Iwan Baan will contribute an original photo essay about Chicago featuring aerial shots taken at sunrise. The work will “capture the city during a moment of its daily routine,” according to the press release. “Like the Biennial itself, Baan’s expansive photographs interpret Chicago as a realm of architectural possibility, past and future.” The free festival's home base will be the Chicago Cultural Center, but organizers say it won't be restricted to downtown. “Using the city as a canvas, installations will be created in Millennium Park and other Chicago neighborhoods, including new projects and public programs developed by renowned artist Theaster Gates on Chicago’s south side,” reads a press release. “The Biennial will also feature collateral exhibitions and events with partner institutions throughout the city, and will offer educational programming for local and international students.” Tigerman, whose 1977 exhibition is the inspiration for the 2015 show's title, sits on the biennial's International Advisory Committee, which also includes architects David Adjaye, Elizabeth Diller, Jeanne Gang, and Frank Gehry, along with critic Sylvia Lavin, Lord Peter Palumbo and Hans Ulrich Obrist. Ty Tabing, former executive director of the Chicago Loop Alliance and founder of Singapore River One, will serve as the biennial's executive director. Oil giant BP has agreed to donate $2.5 million for the show, but Mayor Emanuel is reportedly seeking $1.5 million more.
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Jaume Plensa lands four new heads in Chicago’s Millennium Park

Barcelona-based artist Jaume Plensa said the first thing he does after checking into his hotel during stays in Chicago is drop by Crown Fountain, the digital waterwork that features human faces spitting water, just to make sure his popular downtown installation really exists. “Sometimes I think it was just a beautiful dream I had 10 years ago,” Plensa said at a press conference Tuesday. Millennium Park, which turns ten years old in 2014, counts Plensa’s whimsical fountains among its more popular installations. A new piece of his, on loan from the artist through the end of 2015, attempts to build on that momentum. Entitled 1004 Portraits, the new installation features three cast-iron heads some 20–23 feet tall, their tranquil expressions facing west toward Crown Fountain and Michigan Avenue. Walk around the visages, though, and their volume drops away—the figures, all portraits of young girls with their eyes closed, are warped and stretched along their vertical axes. Their names are Laura, Paula, and Ines. A fourth head—this one 39 feet tall, bleach-white, and made of resin—watches over the entrance of Millennium Park at Madison Street and Michigan Avenue. That piece is entitled, Look Into My Dreams, Awilda. (The other 1,000 portraits referenced in Plensa's title refer to the LED projections that cycle through as the backdrop for Crown Fountain.) “I invite everyone in Chicago to dream with me and with my heads in Millennium Park,” said Plensa.
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Millennium Park Turns Ten! Here Are Ten Amazing Photos of Chicago’s Jewel Through the Years

Happy birthday, Millennium Park! Yes, the Chicago park named for the chronological milestone now 14 years in the rearview mirror is turning 10—it went famously over-schedule and over-budget but we love it nonetheless. Last year 4.75 million people visited Chicago’s front yard, taking in free concerts and events, and probably taking at least as many selfies with Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate and the flowing titanium locks of Frank Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion in the background. In honor of the anniversary, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is kicking off a series of shows and exhibitions that includes new work from Crown Fountain designer Jaume Plensa. Hey, Jaume! Email us if you need another face for your 40-foot LED projection! Here at AN, we're celebrating with ten of our favorite photographs of the park taken over the past decade and more. Take a look below.
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Aqua Tower team dives back in for new Chicago project by Studio Gang

With the real estate market drifting through a relative recovery, one prominent Chicago developer seems to be saying, "Come back in, the water's fine." The team behind Chicago’s Aqua Tower is gearing up for another high-rise nearby. Chicago-based Magellan Development Group hired Studio Gang Architects for another tower in the 28-acre master-planned neighborhood of Lakeshore East. Gang’s 82-story Aqua Tower, 225 North Columbus Drive, opened in 2009 to international acclaim. Its organically rippled balconies suggest the movement of wind across water. The undulating balconies are functional, too, providing sun shading and eliminating the need for a tuned mass damper. Design details for the new tower are forthcoming, but the developers said it could work on either of two sites in the Lakeshore East area. Five years after the mixed-use tower opened, Aqua saw its last unit sold February 21. Dennis Rodkin reported the 3,200-square-foot town home at the building's base sold for $1.7 million. Aqua’s 262 condominiums, 474 apartments, nine town homes and 334-room hotel are a landmark for the Lakeshore East neighborhood, which is now home to more than 5,000 residents. Development there has taken off since Millennium Park’s 2004 completion. Magellan’s master-planned community include a Dubai-based private school's first U.S. location, a six-acre park, and towers from the likes of SOM, DeStefano + Partners, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, and Steinberg Architects.
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Unveiled> Chicago’s Newest Loop ‘L’ Stop Could Be Best Yet

Move over Morgan—the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) released renderings Monday of a redesign for the ‘L’ station at Washington-Wabash whose modern look could unseat the sleek Morgan as CTA’s most handsome stop. The so-called “Gateway to Millennium Park” will serve the Brown, Green, Orange, Pink and Purple lines by consolidating two Loop stations: Randolph-Wabash and Madison-Wabash. Replacing two century old stops, it will be the first new ‘L’ stop in the Loop since the Library/State-Van Buren station was built in 1997. Chicago-based exp, formerly known as Teng + Associates, designed the bone white, undulating station. The color and curvature call to mind Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum, or perhaps a ribcage. With 13,375 daily entries, it’s expected to become the fifth busiest CTA station on weekdays, according to city estimates. Scheduled to open in 2016, the station will feature 100 percent LED lighting, bike racks, and  “a significant amount” of recycled material. The reveal follows news of the planned McCormick-Cermak CTA station, designed by Chicago’s Ross Barney Architects (Ross Barney also designed the system’s newest stop, Morgan Station). Construction on the $75 million station is scheduled to begin in 2014. That money will come entirely from the Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program.
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Spontaneous Interventions To Spruce Up Chicago’s Millennium Park This Summer

Starting Memorial Day, Chicago's Millennium Park will host the U.S. debut of a bright array of public design projects, many of which appeared at the 2012 Venice Biennale. Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good will feature 84 works, including more than a dozen for Chicago and several that also appeared in Venice. One Venice Biennale carryover will be the slew of pull-down banners created by Brooklyn design studio Freecell and Berkeley-based communication design firm M-A-D. An “outdoor living room” for Millennium Park, designed by Wicker Park firm MAS Studio, is among the new installations. The space will serve as an outpost for the exhibition, according to MAS director Iker Gill, shading visitors with a canopy of more than 700 moving acrylic panels with a lively color palette. Local woodworker John Preus of Dilettante Studios will salvage lumber for the wood support structure and seating. The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events brought the design contest to Chicago for its first U.S. showing. Programs will take place at the Cultural Center, in the pop-up pavilion in Millennium Park, and at various offsite locations through September 1. Here’s a video of Freecell and M-A-D’s banner project from the biennale:
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Curves and Curriculum

There was a lot of trading congratulations and extending thanks at Chicago’s Art Institute last Friday during talks connected to the opening of the Burnham Pavilions, two temporary structures in Millennium Park designed by Ben van Berkel of UN Studio and Zaha Hadid. The pavilions were commissioned as part Chicago’s centennial celebration of Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Chicago Plan, and in truth, construction of only UN Studio’s design is complete. Apparently difficulties with the tensile exterior of Hadid’s project have pushed back the pavilion’s completion to mid-July. Neither that nor the fact that Hadid was unable to attend Friday’s panel as anticipated—reportedly because of a knee injury—dampened the atmosphere. A group of panelists including Robert Somol, director of the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), Donna Robertson, dean of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s (IIT) architecture program, UN Studios’ Ben van Berkel, and Thomas Vitevke, an associate of Zaha Hadid’s studio, spoke to an eager crowd about the designs as well as the collaboration between the architects and the local schools. Initiated by a committee that included Joseph Rosa, the Art Institute’s lead architecture and design curator, and four city officials, pavilions designed by contemporary architects were proposed as a way of generating interest in Burnham’s legacy, both past and future. As part of the gesture toward the future, the committee decided to involve the architecture schools at UIC and IIT. Each school was presented with a final list of designers, and asked to select the person who would both design the pavilion and be involved in some way with that school’s curriculum. “In all the events surrounding the pavilions,” Rosa said after the talks, “there hasn’t been much emphasis on the school’s involvement.” He organized the panel in part to bring that involvement to light. Somol and Roberston outlined both the reasons for their choices, and the ways the architects they selected influenced the school’s programming in the past year. Somol described UIC’s shared approach with van Berkel as operating both “optimistically and counterintuitively.” Van Berkel lectured at UIC, worked with students on their publication Fresh Meat, and architects from his office did desk crits throughout the year. Robertson cited her interest in the way Hadid’s designs harness the energy of the city and translate it architecturally, an approach very much in contrast to the rectilinear world they inhabit at IIT in Mies’s Crown Hall. Stemming from Hadid’s inclusion of a film in her pavilion design, two studio courses were developed at IIT around the notion of visual media as an architectural element. While the architect herself was less immediately involved than van Berkel was at UIC, the related studio curriculum was highlighted in Architect’s annual education edition for its progressive stance. For both UN Studio and Hadid, the diagonal streets Burnham introduced into Chicago’s grid were the historical point of reference in the designs. Vitevke explained that on studying the Burnham plan, they discovered their site was on the intersection of one the diagonals, which they translated into the aluminum diagonal ribs of the pavilion’s structure. When completed, the pavilion will be clad in a white tensile skin, which will serve as the projection screen for a film by Thomas Gray that layers historic and contemporary Chicago images as way to address the many stages of change on that particular site. For van Berkel, the diagonal streets determined the shape of the sculptural openings in his otherwise planar pavilion. Earlier in the panel, Somol described van Berkel’s design this way: “It’s as if Mies ate Goldberg, or Goldberg was having his revenge on Mies from the inside, but which one I’m not sure.” Van Berkel echoed the sentiment that his design responds in some way to Mies’s cantilever projects, along with Bertrand Goldberg and even Frank Lloyd Wright, but wanted the two walls that drop down into the interior of the pavilion to allow new diagonal vistas onto the city. “I hope to liberate architecture from its reference and work with the information given,” he described. Van Berkel resisted giving his pavilion a name. He believes that good things asked to be returned to, and he hopes his project will be given a nickname like it’s temporary neighbor, Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, better known as “the bean.”