Open House Chicago is this weekend, October 18 and 19, when 150 of the city's architectural gems—both new and old, well-known and obscure, public year-round and off-limits but for now—open their doors to enthusiasts of the built environment, free of charge. Last year's event built on 2012's, the second go-around for this increasingly popular festival of architecture that highlights places and spaces all over the city. Organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation and sponsored by Kemper, Art Works, ComEd, and CTA, the event generally runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. But hours vary by location, so check beforehand. As always, the sites on display span a wide variety of neighborhoods and building types, from architects' offices to historical relics. A few of the 18 neighborhoods represented are new this year—Ukrainian Village, Edgewater, Goose Island, Bronzeville, Lincoln Square and Ravenswood have all joined the party. If you go, Tweet and Instagram @archpaper with your photos, using the hashtag #OHC2014. Check out a full list of sites at openhousechicago.org.
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A new international airport for Mexico City won't just fix the problems of its predecessor—which typically delays planes because the two runways were built too close together—it will be unique in its efficient expansive single enclosure, according to its architects, Foster + Partners and FR-EE. Foster and FR-EE were announced as the winners of a design competition last Tuesday, in which all the finalists had worked with local design talent. Mexico City-based FR-EE's founder Fernando Romero is married to Soumaya Slim, a daughter of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim. The new airport, which aims to become the busiest in Latin America, has received a $9.17 billion pledge, partly in public land from President Enrique Peña Nieto. The government will finance its early construction, issuing bonds for later stages of development. Officials estimate Mexico will receive $19.6 billion in additional tourism revenue through 2040 as a result of the new airport. It will accommodate more than 100 million annual passengers. At more than 6 million square feet, the new airport will be one of the world's largest. It's also labeling itself the most sustainable. While still a complex committed to promoting air travel, a substantial contributor to global emissions of carbon dioxide, its layout is intended to be entirely walkable and won't need heating or air conditioning for most of the year. Foster + Partner's website said the project will be LEED Platinum:
The entire building is serviced from beneath, freeing the roof of ducts and pipes and revealing the environmental skin. This hardworking structure harnesses the power of the sun, collects rainwater, provides shading, directs daylight and enables views—all while achieving a high performance envelope that meets high thermal and acoustic standards.Organized around a single massive enclosure, the airport weaves cavernous, naturally ventilated spaces around an organic "X" shape that appears in plan like a cross section of DNA. The lightweight, pre-fab structure will open its first three runways by 2020. Another three runways, set to open by 2050, will quadruple the airport's current capacity. Mexico City's current airport, Benito Juárez International, will eventually be closed and rehabbed into a commercial development and public park. The design competition that preceded this week's unveiling drew high-profile names, including Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, and Pascall+Watson. Mexican-American architect and partner at JAHN, Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido, also submitted a design to the competition, but was ultimately unsuccessful. He teamed up with local designers Francisco Lopez-Guerra of LOGUER and Alonso de Garay of ADG for the airport, whose form evokes both flight and traditional Mexican art. A pyramidal arrangement of structural white "umbrellas" transmit light while shielding occupants from the hot Mexican sun.
Columnist Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times quotes “reliable sources” who tell her George Lucas has picked Chicago for his planned museum devoted to movie memorabilia, visual arts, and culture. Mayor Rahm Emanuel in April charged a task force with finding a site for the museum, once San Francisco’s Presidio was ruled off-limits for the California-based Luasfilm magnate's “museum dedicated to the power of the visual image.” San Francisco and Los Angeles are also vying for what Lucas has said will be an investment of at least $700 million—an infusion of economic activity that squares with Emanuel’s other efforts to develop Chicago’s cultural tourism industry. Lucas had wanted to house his extensive art collection near San Francisco’s Crissy Field, but The Presidio Trust rejected his proposal along with two others for development on the Golden Gate Bridge-adjacent site. Chicago’s proposal identified a parking lot in downtown’s Museum Campus—land that Emanuel critics like Alderman Bob Fioretti said the Mayor was trying to hand off to private interests without ample negotiation or public input. That debate may now get a lot more real for power brokers in Chicago, as City Hall officials have reportedly confirmed that Lucas will land his museum on Lake Michigan. The proposal still needs to go through the Chicago Plan Commission, but could open as soon as 2018.
Chicago, in a bid to boost its tourism industry and cultural cachet, will host an international design exhibition next year modeled after the Venice Biennale, which every two years draws contributions from architects and artists from around the world. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the Chicago Architecture Biennial Tuesday. Speaking to the Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin, Emanuel said he hopes to use the city’s reputation as a hub for modern architecture to encourage economic development:
"Obviously there's an economic benefit in tourism and travel. Chicago will continue to be seen worldwide as an epicenter of modern architecture… The real question is: Why wasn't Chicago doing this before?"The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and the Graham Foundation will present the show, which will be based in the Chicago Cultural Center. The Chicago Architecture Foundation, whose annual Open House Chicago will coincide with the start of the initial biennial, will help coordinate the first exhibition, which is planned for October 1, 2015 through January 3, 2016. Oil company BP donated $2.5 million for the first show. Kamin reported that Emanuel personally solicited BP’s grant funding, and that the city’s still looking to raise $1.5 million more. While the Chicago event makes no secret of taking after its prestigious namesake in Venice, there will be several differences from that event, which reportedly drew more than 175,000 visitors in 2012. Admission to Chicago’s event will be free, and the show will not have national pavilions. It will have a theme, which has yet to be determined, and will seek to compete in an increasingly crowded field of international design exhibitions. Venice has mounted its exhibition 14 times in 34 years, deviating occasionally from its biennial schedule. If Chicago’s initial event is deemed a success, officials say they’ll duplicate it every two years. Joseph Grima, who co-curated the Istanbul biennial in 2012, and Graham Foundation Director Sarah Herda will co-direct the inaugural Chicago event. Another Chicago-based design curator, Zöe Ryan of the Art Institute of Chicago, is coordinating Istanbul’s next biennial, which will run concurrently with Chicago’s.
Visitors to Chicago's John Hancock Tower this weekend were, of course, treated to the skyscraper’s stunning views of Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago, but the thrill-seekers among them also had another option. On the 94th floor, up to eight people at a time can stand in a glass box that tilts out 20 degrees, dangling them 1,000 feet above the street. Named “Tilt!,” the attraction opened Saturday morning, hydraulically lifting its first eight members of the public out into the void beyond the building’s iconic steel beams. The Hancock Center, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill partner Bruce Graham, has been the second tallest building in Chicago since the 1973 opening of the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, also an SOM building. Willis’ “Ledge” attraction, a stationary glass box cantilevered out about four feet from the tower, has attracted more than a million visitors each year since it opened in 2009.
Chicago’s Riverwalk extension is underway, and the city is looking for contractors to help plan and operate concessions along what promises to be a major downtown attraction. Applicants have until April 7 to reply to the city’s request for qualifications. The project got a major infusion of federal cash last year, but now Chicago is looking for private entities to help arrange for concessions—think bike rentals, kiosks, cafes, retail—along the riverside promenade, which will expand the Riverwalk six blocks. Federal transportation loans to be paid back over 35 years won’t be enough to fully finance the project, so the city is still considering sponsorship and advertising. Last year the city’s then-transportation chief Gabe Klein promised "Any additional advertising would be very tasteful and very limited.” Conceptual plans establish identities for each of the Riverwalk extension’s six blocks from State Street west to Lake Street: The Marina (from State to Dearborn); The Cove (Dearborn to Clark); The River Theater (Clark to LaSalle); The Swimming Hole (LaSalle to Wells); The Jetty (Wells to Franklin); and The Boardwalk (Franklin to Lake). Chicago’s plan to reengage its “second shoreline” follows similar efforts that have had success in Indianapolis, San Antonio and London, among others.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been very vocal about his ambitions to increase tourism in the city, and he once again upped that goal to 55 million annual visitors by 2020—an almost 20 percent jump from current numbers. Riding high on news of record hotel occupancy last year, Emanuel said Wednesday that Chicago would launch an international design contest to light up the city at night. As with previous initiatives, like the Downtown Riverwalk extension, the lighting design competition would highlight the Chicago River. Lou Raizin, president of Broadway in Chicago, will lead the light-up Chicago initiative. The Illinois Coalition for Responsible Outdoor Lighting called it the idea "frivolous" and environmentally harmful. But the plan to make Chicago America's city of light is more about creating buzz than addressing light pollution. The City reports that it has already seen a 15 percent jump in visitors since 2011. But as Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times reported, even the president of tourism agency Choose Chicago acknowledged a lighting festival alone won’t bring nine million more people to the city by 2020:
“We’re going to need some of the big festivals that may be in other parts of the world. Or we’re going to create some new ones,” [Don] Welsh said, pointing to a planned, citywide celebration of the Chinese New Year.That citywide Chinese New Year celebration runs from Jan. 31 through Feb. 14.
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Above: "Gateway Fountain" in warm and cold seasons. (Courtesy Navy Pier) Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration Wednesday revealed details about two initiatives they said would amount to $1.1 billion in investment: a new 10,000-seat arena for DePaul University located across the street from McCormick Place, and an overhaul to Navy Pier — the city’s largest tourist attraction. Navy Pier’s remodeling, which includes a new water feature and an expansion of the Children’s Museum, will total $278 million. Future phases of the project will involve redesigned public and commercial spaces along the pier, additional dining space, and a new park featuring a bicycle flyover on the pier’s west end. Marilynn Gardner, president of Navy Pier, told Crain’s Chicago Business’ Gren Hinz that the pier “was becoming too carnival-like,” as proposals for the aging tourist mainstay picked up momentum. Last year High Line designer James Corner was chosen to head the renewal. “We're creating a more authentic experience,” she said, “celebrating the fact that it's a pier.” Gensler's Elva Rubio wondered aloud in a blog post, "What Will it Take to Make Navy Pier a Real Place?" The $140 million DePaul basketball arena plan calls for an additional $33 million in public TIF funding for land acquisition and streetscaping. A sky bridge would connect McCormick Place West to the arena, which would double as an event center for shows smaller than McCormick Place is accustomed to. It would be between Cermak, Prairie, 21st and Indiana streets. Two hotels — one 500-room boutique hotel and a 1,200 “headquarters hotel” announced last year — would round out the area’s new development. Also previously announced, Ross Barney Architects will design a new CTA Green Line station for McCormick Place, on the south side of Cermark and 23rd Street. New renderings reveal a bit more about the project, expected sometime in 2014. Emanuel’s team made the announcements on the first day of the Mayor’s third year in office, and the initiatives reflect his oft-repeated promotion of tourism and trade shows in the city. McCormick Place is the largest convention center in North America.