Posts tagged with "University of Chicago":

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Looking toward the next Chicago Architecture Biennial with Yesomi Umolu

Chicago-based curator and writer Yesomi Umolu will curate the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Her unique combination of experience in architectural design and curatorial practice will give her a refreshing take on the program, which has served as a barometer for what is happening in the U.S. and abroad.  The Architect’s Newspaper: What is your background, and what brought you to the Chicago Biennial? Yesomi Umolu: So my background is in architectural design. I studied it and I worked in practice for a couple of years in the U.K. at Grimshaw, which is a big high-tech practice, and then at a smaller practice called Haworth Tompkins, doing a lot of collaborations with artists, including Dan Graham with his Waterloo Sunset Pavilion at the Hayward Gallery in London. I was working on projects that represented my passion for the arts. Eventually, I went on to curating contemporary art, but kept my foot in the architecture world through my network. I think the types of narratives and discourses that I was interested in were more related to spatial practices and how both architects and artists were dealing with those issues. What brought you to Chicago? I got a job as exhibitions curator at the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. So I’ve been in the U.S. for about seven years. I was at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis before that, and then at the Broad Art Museum at Michigan State in East Lansing. I’ve worked in really nice buildings: Herzog & De Meuron [at the Walker] and then Zaha Hadid [at the Broad], and now Todd Williams and Billie Tsien [at the Logan Center]. So I have been lucky to be surrounded by good architecture.   In transitioning from practice to curation, where would you find yourself in relation to the last two Biennials? I would come at it by thinking about space as an inherently political medium and exploring the way in which we make spaces. Spaces are not necessarily neutral things; there are power dynamics at play. Then there are the different sorts of audiences and visitors to those spaces. The critic Jane Rendell coined the term “critical spatial practice,” which was about how one makes spaces and thinks about the politics behind them. She particularly wrote about the relationship between art and architecture, and how architects had a role to play—not just in the building of cultural buildings, but in the formation of cultural spaces, and that their skills could be lent to those spaces as well. Today there are people like Shumon Basar, Eyal Weizman, and other artists who have taken up the helm. I worked with Brad Butler and Karen Mirza, who are in the Weizman architecture school of thought in London, as well as a whole host of others. So that’s where I would kind of situate myself. Broadly speaking, my work has always been interested in questions of globalization, which of course have a spatial articulation to them as well, whether it’s thinking about the flows of people, resources, or money, and how that affects the spaces in which we live and work.   So it sounds like there will be some continuity with the last two Biennials. Yeah, exactly. So I think that’s what I can bring to the table: my particular interest in the Global South and also maybe greater access to it as well. So what can we expect in 2019 at the third CAB? Instead of having an idea and just having people funnel into that, I want to create the best team that’s going to help establish a very rigorous conversation through a project of R&D for the next three to six months or so, and a curatorial idea will follow. The role that arts and culture play is obviously something I’m going to be very, very interested in. Secondly, with the Biennial, obviously the last two editions have had folks that have been super embedded in the discipline, whereas it’s nice to have an individual such as myself who has roots in the discipline but can come at it from a slight tangent. I think how we define public space is really important right now—how to redefine participation in public space, and how arts or architecture can be leveraged to encourage more public participation. I’m also really interested in that, thinking about how architecture is communicated from the space of school to the space of practice. I can’t say for sure that it’s going to be like X, but these are my interest areas. What are some of the shows you have curated that might give insight into your thoughts and process?       I did a show recently with two Brazilian artists: an artist called Cinthia Marcelle and a filmmaker called Tiago Mata Machado. They’ve been working together for the last five to seven years doing a series of beautiful minimalist videos that look at the social space in Brazil and raise questions of revolution and chaos. These films usually focus on a specific piece of urban fabric or furniture, and then they orchestrate a series of pseudo-performances around that. So we did a show with them this last September that brought together these four video pieces. I think that resonates in terms of thinking about public space, and again, agency, collectivities, and how space can be activated through either political protest or revolution. Also, I did a show recently with Kapwani Kiwanga, who is a Paris-based Canadian artist with a background in comparative religions and ethnography. So she usually mines in a particular history and particular archives and then creates from that. And she was looking at the histories of disciplinary spaces across the world and their sort of legacies and how they affect human behavior and perception. This interview will appear in the upcoming issue 10 of AN Interior. 
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BREAKING: SAIC and UChicago may be organizing the U.S. Pavilion at Venice Biennale

We have been reporting on the official silence from the U.S. Department of State regarding the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. But now there seems to be a glimmer of information on who will organize and curate the pavilion. A job posting on the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) website is seeking a “Venice Biennale US Exhibition and Program [Coordinator].” The exhibition, according to this posting, is being co-curated with the University of Chicago:
Under the leadership of the SAIC and UChicago program directors and curatorial team, the Exhibition and Program Coordinator supports the development of the U.S. pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2018 in Venice, Italy (hereafter, “Biennale”) through research, fundraising, planning, scheduling, commissioning, staffing, and more. This work involves coordinating and collaborating with architects, artists, scholars, public and private organizations in both the U.S. and Italy.
There is no word on the theme of the exhibition and the posting makes us wonder if this group was selected without a coordinated curatorial approach or idea, perhaps based on a fundraising budget and strategy? The job listing claims the Program Coordinator will be under the program director and curatorial team of the sponsoring institutions. The architecture program of the Art Institute of Chicago is directed by Jonathan Solomon who co-curated the 2010 U.S. Pavilion with Michael Rooks. (The High Museum in Atlanta was the organizer for the 2010 pavilion as well.) Solomon clearly knows his way around the Venetian Giardini. Stay tuned.
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Valerio Dewalt Train Associates overcomes NIMBY lawsuit to build expressive tower on Chicago’s South Side

It was a long road from design to construction for Vue53 in the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park. The 13-story tower sits along the bustling 53rd Street and has completely changed the character of the area. While change to the busy conduit was inevitable, not everybody was thrilled about it.

Designed by Chicago-based Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, Vue53 was originally scheduled to begin construction in early 2014. A NIMBY lawsuit delayed that start date by nearly one and a half years. The Save 53rd Street advocacy group felt the project was out of scale for the neighborhood and that the zoning change passed by the city, which allowed the tower to go up, was illegal, among other complaints. Opponents donned “Sky, Not Skyscraper” buttons at community meetings. The First District Illinois Appellate Court did not agree. In February 2015 the case was dismissed, permitting the project to continue.

Fast forward two years or so, and Hyde Park has a new 135-foot-tall 267-unit tower. A formally expressive building in glass and concrete, Vue53 comprises a large base and two shifted linear towers. The base rises to the height of the surrounding buildings and contains retail and amenities. These include a compact urban Target store as well as a rooftop terrace, complete with grass and views of the lush park across the street. The building also includes an exercise facility, a business center, and a number of study rooms distributed throughout (for the students the Vue53 is aiming to attract).

The studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units may be a bit smaller than the average being built downtown, but they may also be just right for the intended tenants. The project was in fact initiated by the University of Chicago, just blocks to the south. Yet it is not the amenities, or the battle against upset neighbors, that have set this project apart.

While developers are busy constructing sleek, glassy monolith apartment buildings downtown, Vue53 takes a decidedly more formally daring approach to attracting young renters. Particularly in the upper towers, the project plays a Tetris-like game of solid and void. Together with the shifted relationship of the two towers, the project is more than a glass box on a plinth. The interplay of glass and exposed concrete only exaggerates these moves.

That relationship of glass and concrete carries right into the building’s multi-story lobby and even the units themselves. Cashing in on the trend of rougher unfinished materials, the units are a mix of the exposed concrete and more typical drywall. And though the units may be small, they are all dominated by floor-to-ceiling windows with views either to the north to downtown, or to the south over the picturesque Hyde Park neighborhood.

While Vue53 ran into some stiff opposition in its initial stages, it is by no means alone in the rising skyline of Hyde Park. With multiple new Studio Gang towers in the neighborhood as well, it may seem a bit out of the blue for the area to be receiving so much architectural investment. Yet it should be remembered that, historically, Hyde Park has been one of the most architecturally rich neighborhoods in the city. The University of Chicago alone is a zoo of formal exuberance, from Saarinen to Legorreta. Despite its detractors, Vue53 may be only the beginning of a reenergized architectural scene on the city’s South Side.

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Facade tuning with Studio Gang

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The Campus North Residential Commons at the University of Chicago offers a model of student housing that provides living arrangements for all undergraduate years, organized around large social spaces called “housing hubs.” The 400,000 square-foot commons project is positioned at the edge of campus and provides a new portal bridging the academic community with the surrounding neighborhood of Hyde Park. The project aligns with the university's ongoing 20-year plan to create more on-campus housing for undergraduate students and was awarded to Studio Gang and Mortenson Construction, who worked collaboratively as a design-build partnership, after an intensive four-stage competition process. The facade of the building is expressive of its internal programming, which features a range of residential units radiating outward from three-story, 100-person, central common spaces that aim to foster interactions and exchanges between undergraduate students of all ages. Younger students are positioned closest to the hub, while older students enjoy apartment-like amenities on the ends of the building. The stacking of these spaces produces a dynamic compositional grid that is picked up within precast panel cladding geometry through a series of angular and curvilinear spline profiles. Todd Zima, Design Principal at Studio Gang, said an in-slab hydronic radiant heating and cooling system was chosen early in the project to maximize user comfort: "Our distinct mission was enhancing and improving the community of the student body that was going to live in the building, therefore enhancing their academic success. Comfort was a huge element of that, which led to this radiant system." The system relied on an air tight construction assembly, which the team achieved through a continuous 3-inch thick spray foam moisture barrier cladding applied outboard of the structural slab.
  • Facade Manufacturer International Concrete Products (precast panels); Contract Glaziers Inc (curtain wall)
  • Architects Studio Gang
  • Facade Installer International Concrete Products (precast panels); Contract Glaziers Inc (curtain wall)
  • Facade Consultants Quast Consulting and Testing, Inc.
  • Location Chicago, IL
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System Concrete and Steel Frame
  • Products Custom Shade Grilles designed by Studio Gang and manufactured by CGI; Precast Concrete by International Concrete Products; K&K Iron Works (Steel Fabricator); Metal Panels: RLS 9000 wall panel system by All American Ext. Solution; Shuco UCC65 by Contractor Glazier Inc; Moisture Barrier: icynene md-c-200tm spray on insulation
The facade materiality grew out of an analysis of the University of Chicago's Neo-Gothic architectural context which incorporates thick limestone carved ornate facades. Precast concrete was chosen for its aesthetic qualities, and ability to be replicated through the use of molds. Over 1,000 precast panel shapes were installed on the facade, and were optimized for manufacturing to be highly repetitive. The architects say over 80% of the building features panel shapes that were replicated from the same formwork. The other 20% included unique shapes custom fit to unique conditions near ground level and around corners. Emily Licht, a Design Team Member at Studio Gang, led the facade development team. She developed a “facade tuning tool,” using Excel to evaluate complex formulas comparing the relationship of openings to room sizes. Beginning with a Passive House standard of 60-percent solid to 40-percent open, openings in the facade were adjusted to balance user comfort, light, and ventilation code requirements while managing solar gain based on orientation to ensure the radiant system would perform optimally. Licht said data, size, and exposure would go into the tool, and information about shading would come out: "The tool was very effective in showing how solar heat gain could be reacted to by the specifics of the facade." Zima described this optimization process as a "make or break" design problem where the failure of the performance of the facade would lead to a failure in the performance of the heating and cooling system. Natural ventilation was achieved through in-swinging windows to allow the full area of the opening to provide ventilation into the room. These operable windows are demarcated on the facade by a custom patterned metal panel which doubly functions as a solar shading device and guard for fall protection. The architects worked with an environmental engineer to calculate the different needs for each room and used custom patterning of the grills and frit glazing to diminish the solar heat gain. To integrate the use of these operable windows with a broader agenda of reducing energy reduction, the architects integrated hundreds of sensors at pre-planned points in coordination with a software and communications group on campus who are working to produce a visual interface that displays real-time data on energy usage. This system will provide instant feedback for students using the building to understand how their activities impact energy use. Weather monitoring systems on campus provide notifications to house leaders appropriate days for a natural ventilation mode, who then are able to make adjustments to the building's radiant heating and cooling system. An early facade panel mockup looked at coloration and finish of the precast material, while a full-scale mock-up looked at systems integrations with the building envelope. Licht said in addition to providing a look at the full facade system detailing, the mock-up allowed all of the trades to practice assembly of the building components: “It was an amazing experiment in everyone getting in on the process together and seeing how they would work during construction." The mockup compiled the most unique conditions of the project into one mashup of the building, involving a diagonal portion of the facade, a straight portion of the facade, a horizontal lintel, curtainwall, vented operable window, and more. Zima said the mockup was "intended to be a training device, but served all purposes of the project from client review to sub-contractor coordination for an 'assembly line' style design-build construction process." A circular groove located in the middle of a plaza created by the residential buildings received bench-sized sculptural pieces of concrete that originally acted as cradles for the shipment of precast units to the site. Zima refers to this as a nice "residue" of the construction activity. Zima concludes, "We're very proud that the facade—in many ways—tells the story of this project and what it is accomplishing.” He said this project represents the university's desire to change their relationship with the neighborhood, evolving from a cloistered typology that traditionally separated the “purity” of academics from the “grittiness” of the city. "What our project does most successfully is that it makes a main entry point a place to gather before passing through into a new version of the University of Chicago.”
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New arts and cultural center coming to Chicago’s South Side

The University of Chicago has announced plans for a new arts and cultural center called the Arts Block. Leading the design is Los Angeles–based Johnston Marklee in collaboration with community partners. The new center will be located in Washington Park along East Garfield Boulevard on the South Side of Chicago. The new Arts Block expands the university’s efforts to fill vacant buildings near campus with a mix of studios alongside performance and exhibition spaces. The Arts Block will join the Currency Exchange Café, BING Art Books, the Arts Incubator, and the Place Lab at the Green Line Arts Center. The proposed design maintains the 1920s terra-cotta facade on the building that is currently on the site. Along with the redevelopment of the Arts Block, a vacant lot in the area will be transformed into an open-air pavilion.

Chicago artist Theaster Gates, professor at the college’s Department of Visual Arts and director of Arts + Public Life, has been spearheading the efforts to transform the 100,000-square-foot development along Garfield Boulevard. 

Architect: Johnston Marklee Client: University of Chicago Location: Chicago, IL Completion Date: 2017

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Diller Scofidio + Renfro unveils their new University of Chicago project

The University of Chicago has announced the approval of the preliminary designs for a new 90,000-square-foot complex designed by New York–based Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The David M. Rubenstein Forum is described by the university as “a place of intellectual, institutional, and educational exchange.” The building will contain meeting and presentation spaces, as well as a Lake View Room at the top of a 165-foot tower. With the largest space able to accommodate up to 600 people, the Forum will be able to host large conferences.

A 285-seat auditorium will facilitate more formal lectures and presentations, along with film screenings and performances, and more intimate academic symposia will be held in its many smaller meeting spaces. David M. Rubenstein Forum will add to the university’s already impressive list of buildings by notable architects, including Walter Netsch, Ricardo Legorreta, Eero Saarinen, and, more recently, Helmut Jahn and Jeanne Gang.

Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro  Client: University of Chicago Location: University of Chicago Campus, Chicago Completion Date: 2018

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Perkins Eastman adds to the University of Chicago Astrophysics Lab

The University of Chicago has begun work on a two-story addition to its Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research (LASR). Designed by the Chicago office of Perkins Eastman, the addition will update and expand the original 1964 SOM-designed modernist single story building.

The main goal of the new addition will be to bring the building up to current standards of physics research, and to house both the Theoretical and Experimental research groups in one building. The LASR will also house the University of Chicago’s acclaimed Department of Physics, including the Enrico Fermi Institute and the Kadanoff Center for Theoretical Physics. When finished, the 63,500-square-foot building will include day-lit offices and collaboration spaces, and two large gathering spaces. One of these spaces will cantilever over the existing building's footprint in order to accommodate larger groups. Expansive picture windows in the gathering spaces allow for views across the architecturally rich campus. A bright double-height commons and roof terrace will also provide spaces for less formal gatherings. Laboratories that are light-sensitive will be located below grade, and to the interior of the building. With a goal of LEED Silver, the building’s facade is calibrated to reduce the need for artificial light, while avoiding excessive solar heat gain. Heating and cooling will be handled by overhead chilled beams instead of forced air. Perkins Eastman joins a handful of architects currently working for the university including Studio Gang, Johnston Marklee, and HOK. The University of Chicago campus is a veritable theme park of architecture with projects by Frank Lloyd Wright, Henry Ives Cobb, Eero Saarinen, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Netsch, Ricardo Legorreta, Rafael Viñoly, César Pelli, Helmut Jahn, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects, and Holabird, Root and Burgee.
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HOK designs home for interdisciplinary physical science research

Three of the University of Chicago’s Physical Sciences schools have a new home. The Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, the Institute for Molecular Engineering, and the Dean’s Office of Physical Sciences all moved into the new Eckhardt Research Center earlier this year. Designed by HOK, the new center is specifically planned to encourage interdisciplinary relationships between the different, yet related, fields in the building. Large conference facilities, breakout spaces, and purpose designed collaboration spaces provide formal and informal meeting areas. Each floor was envisioned as a neighborhood with fluid movement through light-filled hallways. The new building is anticipated to receive LEED Silver certification. The project is designed to reduce water use by 40 percent of water use and 30 percent of energy use of a similar size building. Five of the buildings seven floors rise above grade with transparent glass facades. Under consultation from James Carpenter Design Associates each face for the building is calibrated to the surrounding conditions. The upper floors of the building are set up for a variety of lab types from optics to chemistry. The two levels below grade are filled with highly technical spaces needed for advanced research (the video above gives an in-depth look at these facilities). Some of the underground laboratories are isolated from vibration and electromagnetic interference. The 277,000-square-foot building is the first new building for astronomy in well over 100 years. It is also the first time that the Institute for Molecular Engineering (IME) has been housed in one building. The IME will be taking advantage of the buildings 11,000 square feet of clean room space. Everyone in the building will be able to utilize the rooftop terrace with views of Chicago's skyline.
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Chicago’s Place Lab to hold event on ethical redevelopment

In the first in a series of public events and symposia, the University of Chicago’s Place Lab will be holding a community talk about ethical redevelopment on Chicago’s South Side. Place Lab is an organization made up of professionals from law, urban planning, architecture, design, social work, arts administration, and gender and cultural studies. It is a partnership between the UChicago Art initiative Arts + Public Life and the Harris School of Public Policy. The June 22 event will include talks by artist/activist Theaster Gates, director of Place Lab, and Steve Edwards, executive director of the U. of C. Institute of Politics. Both speakers will discuss mindful development and collaboration in their work. Place Lab’s events aim to redefine city-making and question traditional modes of development. The events will also look at Gates’s success in redeveloping spaces for the local community and artists across the South Side. Gates' projects include the Stony Island Arts Bank, a “hybrid gallery, media archive, library and community center.” The project redeveloped a 1923 beaux arts bank that had been abandoned in the 1980s. Another project, the Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative (DA+HC) is a redeveloped public housing campus. Thirty two town houses provide mixed-income housing for artist and community members to encourage dialog between the two groups. Place Lab was founded in 2014. It focuses on nine main principles of ethical redevelopment including: repurpose and re-purpose, engaged participation, pedagogical moments, the indeterminate, design, place over time, stack leverage and access, constellations, and platforms. Along with working on the South Side, Place Lab shares its findings with other cities including Gary, Akron, and Detroit. The first ethical redevelopment event will take place on Wednesday, June 22, Place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. The event is open and free to the public. Guests can RSVP at http://placelab.uchicago.edu/public-convenings/.
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Johnston Marklee to add to University of Chicago’s Green Line Arts Center

The University of Chicago has announced plans for a new arts and cultural center called the Arts Block. The new center will be located in Washington Park along East Garfield Boulevard on the South Side of Chicago. The new Arts Block will expands the university's efforts to fill vacant buildings near campus with a mix of studios performance and exhibition spaces. The Arts Block will add to the Currency Exchange Café, BING Art Books, the Arts Incubator, and the Place Lab as art of the Green Line Arts Center. Los Angeles-based Johnston Marklee will lead the design of the Arts Block in collaboration with community partners. Chicago artist Theaster Gates, professor in the Department of Visual Arts and director of Arts + Public Life, has been spearheading the efforts to transform the 100,000-square-foot development along Garfield Boulevard. “To transform a neighborhood, we have to help people believe that beautiful things can happen there. Arts and culture are some of the ways we can do that,” Gates remarked in a press release. “Investing in people’s abilities and developing space for creativity to thrive are ways we can demonstrate that belief.” Johnston Marklee was selected from a field of seven offices to redesign the new center. The eight-member jury was impressed with Johnston Marklee’s “ability to design distinctly contextual buildings housing beautiful and functional spaces using common materials in unexpected ways.” The proposed design maintains the 1920’s terra-cotta facade the building that is currently on the site. Along with the redevelopment of the Arts Block, a vacant lot in the area will be transformed into an open air pavilion. https://youtu.be/2GFSntNvW9o
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Gallery> University of Chicago and Kliment Halsband Architects breathe new life into an old seminary building

Like many large research universities, the University of Chicago appears to always be building. One mainstay of campus construction is rehabs of existing institutional buildings. At the University of Chicago, that means figuring out what to do with a large stock of neo-Gothic buildings that once served as places of worship. Last year the university revived the 1928 Chicago Theological Seminary on the University’s Hyde Park campus as Saieh Hall, the new home of the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics and the Department of Economics. Now, New York–based Kliment Halsband Architects has accomplished a similar transformation with the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society at 5701 S. Woodlawn Avenue. Originally the Meadville Theological Center, the 1933 building retains its neogothic facade and a general air of introspection. But the interiors of Neubauer—named for trustee Joseph Neubauer and his wife Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer in honor of their $26.5 million gift to the University—are thoroughly modern, with shared workspaces and studios designed to promote collaboration. Via the architects, take a visual tour of the building courtesy of photographer Tom Rossiter:
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It’s official: Barack Obama’s Presidential Library is coming to Chicago’s South Side

Although the decision had already been widely reported by May 1, Barack Obama‘s nonprofit foundation today announced that the 44th President's library will be built on the South Side of Chicago. "With a library and a foundation on the South Side of Chicago, not only will we be able to encourage and effect change locally, but what we can also do is attract the world to Chicago," said the President on the occasion. The official decision ends perhaps years of speculation about the location of the former University of Chicago law professor's legacy project. But it officially begins speculation on who will be the library's architect, and what the ultimate design will bring to the president's longtime home.