Posts tagged with "Oak Park":

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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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Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards honor affordable housing, preservation

Preservation projects took home top honors during the architectural portion of this year's Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA), exemplifying humanistic design in the too-often overlooked arenas of affordable housing and community development. Established by the Local Initiatives Support Corp. of Chicago (LISC), the CNDA honor achievements in real estate development and design at the community scale—an issue that's taken on some local political significance as challengers to Mayor Rahm Emanuel slam him for neglecting neighborhood development ahead of municipal elections on February 24. The CNDA ceremony was apolitical, however, with Emanuel himself offering a statement ahead of the awards: “When we think about the City of Chicago, we think of more than just downtown–we think of the historic neighborhoods, the diverse families and the vibrant culture that have come to define us.” Emanuel's deputy mayor attended the ceremony in his stead. CNDA presented three Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Architectural Excellence in Community Design. First place went to the transformation of the Diplomat Hotel into Fred and Pamela Buffett Place, an affordable housing rehab that salvaged an aging SRO in the Lakeview neighborhood. Landon Bone Baker Architects—the team behind similar work at Harvest Commons and on the former site of Cabrini Green's high-rise public housing—recycled old-growth fir for custom benches in the lobby, sprucing up the art deco mid-rise with a green roof and art installations. Weese Langley Weese took second for their conversion of an Albert Kahn auto showroom into Grove Apartments, a winningly modest affordable housing development that enhances walkability in what was once Oak Park's “motor row.” Bronzeville Artist Lofts won third place at the awards for its efforts to revitalize a once humming commercial corridor on the city's near South Side. The 47th Street lofts boast handsome timber beams and dramatic live-work spaces that lend themselves well to a modern, affordable housing rehab. Wrap Architecture revived the 1906 structure, previously Borden's dairy, precluding its demolition. Browse the full list of winners—which includes nods to the Shops and Lofts at 47 and successful efforts to name the historic Pullman neighborhood a national monument—on LISC's website.
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Frank Lloyd Wright to open balcony for home studio tours

Frank Lloyd Wright fans have had plenty to celebrate lately. In December the Prairie School architect's first independent commission, the William Winslow House, went up for sale. Now there’s more good news, reports Blair Kamin for the Chicago Tribune: the balcony over Wright’s studio in Oak Park, Ill. will be open to the public during tours for the first time in 40 years. The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust will give two guided home and studio tours each day starting March 21, at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. An installation on the balcony at 951 Chicago Ave. in Oak Park will celebrate Wright’s work and that of his colleagues Marion Mahony Griffin, Walter Burley Griffin, and William Drummond. Wright, 22 at the time, designed the home studio for his family in 1889.
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Designer's visualizations make economic inequality clear

Aerial of New York City Economic inequality is not hard to see — in Chicago, drive south on Halsted Street from Lakeview to Englewood, or bounce between Oak Park and Austin, or Evanston and Rogers Park — but sometimes it takes a visualization to put it into perspective. Designer Nickolay Lamm exposed the vast inequities of major U.S. cities by massing their local net worth with 3D green bars of varying heights. If one area had a net worth of $500,000, it was represented by a shape 5 centimeters tall. If one was $250,000, it would be 2.5 cm tall. In Chicago you can see the North Shore and West suburbs dwarfing west and near south side city neighborhoods. Lay that over this map of racial demographics and it’s not entirely surprising to learn economic segregation often lines up with racial divides. Chicago Chicago-Aerial-After-1024x449 Pittsburgh-based Lamm did this for several cities, but said New York carries a special symbolism:

I chose to do Manhattan instead of Pittsburgh because I know that, for many people, moving to New York City is the start of their journey to achieve the American Dream. The American Dream suggests that if you work hard enough, you can achieve it. However, it’s clear that the landscape in order to achieve that dream is not as even and equal as it appears on the surface.

 Central Park Central Park [H/T Bill Moyers]
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Unity Temple Congregation May Yield Ownership in Costly Restoration Campaign

Unity Temple, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first public building, may come under new ownership as part of a $10 million deal to help restore the 105-year-old national landmark. Local nonprofit Alphawood Foundation Chicago and longtime owners the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation announced Tuesday a joint fundraising campaign aimed at fixing water damage that, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “urgently requires a multi-million-dollar rescue effort.” If the Oak Park church’s current restoration campaign raises 80 percent of the funds needed for repairs and provides an endowment for future restoration, the ownership transfer could go through. Alphawood's money counts toward that but, as Lee Bey reports, the total amount "is likely to be substantially more than the combined total of the proposed Alphawood gift and any contribution the Congregation makes." Alphawood could then oversee the restoration or create a new preservation organization to preside over the project. Unity Temple is currently presenting a series of events called Break::the::Box, which recently brought 99% Invisible podcast host Roman Mars to Oak Park.