For the forth month straight, billings for firms in the Midwest are showing the strongest uptick of the four regions tracked by the AIA. And for the first time since the recession, in March billings in the Midwest have moved into positive territory, breaking the 50 mark, making it the first region to do so since the recession began. (Anything below means billings for work are falling, above rising.) In the graph above, the Midwest region is represented in red, the East in blue, the West in green, and the South in orange. According to the numbers, the recovery has arrived. Read More
Developer Bill Davies has engaged Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects to investigate possibilites for the Old Main Post Office Building on West Van Buren, according to a report in the Sun-Times. Davies aquired the massive structure from the city at auction, and speculation has been rife as to what could be done with the building, which is built over several north/south rail lines. Ritchie declined elaborate on the plans. In addition to the future of the Post Office, we were left wondering how long Johnson’s name will remain attached to the firm. He passed away in 2005.
Wellington “Duke” Reiter, the president of the School of the Art Institute, has announced he is stepping down and returning to Phoenix, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Reiter, an architect and former Dean of the College of Design at Arizona State University, arrived at SAIC in 2008. In his brief presidency, he oversaw the opening of the new Sullivan Center Galleries in the old Carson Pirie Scott building as well as curricular reorganization in a sluggish economy. In an email to students and faculty Reiter said he wanted to return to his practice: “I have decided to return to my ongoing work linking the fields of art, design and sustainable urbanism. These issues have always been my passion and I look forward to devoting my full attention to the creation of sustainable city models on a global basis.”
Copies of AN‘s newest edition should be arriving in offices across the Midwest this week. With the mix of news, opinion, gossip, commentary, products, and projects that makes The Architect’s Newspaper a must read, the Midwest edition seeks to enrich the conversation within and across disciplines and showcase the talent in the eight state region. It’s free for architects and architectural designers in Illionois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin, so subscribe today.
We look forward to getting to know our new readers, so spread the word. As always we welcome your tips, compliments, and, yes, your occasional gripes. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Designed by the great Chicago architect and planner Daniel Burnham, this handsome if forlorn rail station may get a new life. Located in Richmond, Indiana, which is about halfway between Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio, the old Pennsylvania Railroad Depot has been empty for over 30 years. According to the Richmond Palladium-Item, via archinect, owner Roger Richert recently bought the building for $75,000, but it is expected to take $1 million to stabilize. Richert is working with the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana to identify tax credits and other funding options in hopes of turning the building into a conference center, restaurant, a music venue, or retail space. Though the much of the interior is gone, Richert said the shell is strong, a testimony to Burnham’s robust design.
The competition to improve the grounds and urban connectivity at the St. Louis Arch site has attracted attention from some major talents in architecture, landscape, and engineering. The list of competitors has been trimmed to five: the Michael Van Valkenburgh-led team, the Weiss/Manfredi team, SOM Chicago/Hargreaves/BIG, the Behnisch-led team, and PWP/Foster + Partners/Civitas. The winner will be announced in late September.
The last five families were moved out of the Harold Ickes Homes at the end of March, one of the latest clusters of high rise public housing the city is clearing as a part of the Chicago Housing Authority’s “Plan for Transformation.” Dozens of highrise towers have been demolished across the across the city, opening vast tracts of land for mixed-income and in some cases mixed-used development. While few would dispute that the large-scale warehousing of the poor in these projects helped to create major urban problems, the nearly total erasure of these areas seems as blunt as the urban renewal tactics through which they were originally built. Read More
On the heels of their much praised Aqua tower, Studio Gang is talking on a very different kind of project, the renovation and conversion of the historic Shoreland Hotel in Hyde Park into rental apartments, and retail and event spaces, the Chicago Tribune reports. The building, which was most recently used as student housing by the University of Chicago, is in rough shape. Some of the once opulent interiors are in tact, but other spaces have been gutted or badly damaged, which could offer interesting opportunities to juxtapose contemporary insertions with historic elements. The project adds adaptive reuse and historic preservation to the firm’s already diverse portfolio. Read More
In an effort to contain costs and regain some control of the Motor City’s destiny, this month Detroit Mayor Dave Bing will announce the details of a plan to clear largely abandoned sections of the city and reinvigorate more stable neighborhoods. Signaling the importance of this controlled shrinkage plan, Time is reporting that Detroit has hired Newark’s urban planning director Toni Griffin to lead the effort. Griffin is one of the best known planners in the country, and she’s been working to reestablish planning principles and guide renewal in New Jersey’s largest city. A graduate of the Harvard GSD, prior to her time in Newark, she worked for SOM Chicago and for Washington D.C.’s planning department. In Detroit, Griffin’s salary, as well as those of some of her staff, will be underwritten by the Kresge Foundation. Her job will no doubt be a difficult one. Residents have previously fought neighbhorhood clearance and scuttled earlier shrinkage plans.
Photographers and videographers William Zbaren and Robert Sharoff interviewed architect Ron Krueck about his firm’s restoration of Mies van der Rohe’s towers at 860-880 Lake Shore Drive, better known as the Lake Shore Drive apartments. Krueck, a principal at Krueck + Sexton Architects, calls the towers “revolutionary” for their time for their delicacy and lightness. The video is accompanied by beautiful photographs of the exteriors and grounds.
Multidisciplinary teams are working to rethink the grounds surrounding the Eero Saarinen-designed Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, better known as the St. Louis Arch, to improve its connectivity with the city and the riverfront. An editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is calling on the teams to substantially rework I-70, which creates a barrier along the park’s western edge. Read More
Love Nicolai Ouroussoff or hate him, Alexandra Lange’s takedown, “Why Nicolai Ouroussoff Is Not Good Enough” on Design Observer, is a highly engaging read. The design community seems to tire of its most visible critic after a few years, and Lange begins her piece by revisiting Michael Sorkin’s takedown of then Times critic Paul Goldberger from the mid 1980s. Many of us recall a similar fatigue that set in during Herbert Muschamp’s time on the job. Lange, a frequent contributor to AN‘s “Crit” column, hits Oroussoff with a three pronged attack, with sections subtitled, “He Doesn’t Seem To Live in New York City” (a jab at his globetrotting), “He’s Slippery” (on vagueness of his writing), and “He Doesn’t Care” (an accusation that he’s passionless). She is anything but passionless: “When I see a terrible building, or even just one with large, windy, unmanageable public spaces, I get mad,” she writes. The popular press could always use more voices with such informed conviction.