Design Observer Diversifies

National
Monday, August 3, 2009
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Design Observer started in 2003 as an online destination for commentary and discussion on design, primarily graphic design. Its founders, Michael Bierut, William Drenttel, Jessica Helfand, and Rick Poyner are all well-known voices in that field, and the site quickly grew to be one of the most widely read design forums, claiming 175,000 visitors a month, and attracting contributions from other notable writers and designers. Though it has touched on architecture, industrial design, photography, art, and pop culture, its primary focus has remained graphic design. That’s changing, however, as the site, now known as the Design Observer Group, has expanded to include four distinct pages, Observatory, Observermedia, Change Observer, and Places. Read More

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Inching Toward High-Speed

Midwest
Monday, July 27, 2009
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(photo: Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)

The governors of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin today pledged to work together to implement a high-speed rail network centered in Chicago. In recent months, Vice President Biden and Transportation Secretary LaHood have urged such coordinated action, as the region competes against other parts of the country, especially the East and West coasts, for federal funds. The first legs of the system would connect Chicago to St. Louis, Detroit/Pontiac, and Milwaukee/Madison. If all goes according to plan, those first segments could be open in three to five years.

Last Gasp for Gropius?

Midwest
Thursday, July 23, 2009
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(photo: Graham Balkany)

(photo: Graham Balkany)

The demolition of the Michael Reese hospital campus in Chicago, partially designed by Walter Gropius, has been put on hold until after October 2, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will announce the host city for the 2016 Games. Preservation groups are pushing for adaptive reuse of some of the buildings, but the city is determined to clear the site for either an Olympic Village or for private development. The delay, then, probably does not signal a victory for preservationists. It is more likely a calculated move on the part of the city and Chicago 2016 to quiet opposition until after the IOC makes its decision.

(Community Media Workshop via Blair Kamin.)

Between a Column and a Hard Place

Midwest
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
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The new East Wing at the Cleveland Museum of Art (photos: Brad Feinknopf).

Rafael Vinoly recently completed a new addition and renovation at the Cleveland Museum of Art, a major encyclopedic collection set in the city’s leafy University Circle area, which includes Case Western Reserve University and cultural institutions like the famed Cleveland Orchestra. The campus includes a 1916 Beaux Arts building and a Marcel Breuer-designed addition from 1971. Vinoly reportedly worked closely with the museum’s then director Timothy Rub, and critics have praised the addition’s galleries and the improved circulation throughout the complex.

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To Every Season

East
Friday, July 17, 2009
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The Pool Room at the Four Seasons (photos courtesy of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

The Pool Room at the Four Seasons (photos courtesy of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Wednesday night the Guggenheim held a benefit dinner to honor the fiftieth anniversaries of the Wright museum and of the Four Seasons restaurant. During dessert Guggenheim Director Richard Armstrong interviewed Phyllis Lambert and critic Martin Filler about the two architects, though Lambert held sway for most of the conversation. Read More

An Urban Place to Park the Kids

Midwest
Thursday, July 16, 2009
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(photos by Brian Newman)

(photos by Brian Newman)

Architect and writer Brian Newman recently took a walk through St. Louis’ newest urban park and sent this dispatch.

Before setting foot in St. Louis’ downtown City Garden, which officially opened to the public last week, before you come across the bright red Keith Herring totem or Tom Otterness’ bulbous bronze Gepetto, even before you see its verdant paths and shaded lawns, you see the packs of happily damp children, wrapped in beach towels. There are children everywhere in City Garden, swimming in fountains and splashing under limestone framed waterfalls, playing in front of a huge interactive LED video wall and climbing on any one of the almost two dozen sculptures installed throughout the park. Read More

The Past Imperfect

International
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
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For the 53rd Venice Art Biennial, Jorge Otero-Pailos, a professor of preservation at Columbia, made a cast of the pollution on a wall of the Doge’s Palace on the Palazzo San Marco. Trained as a conservationist, he painted liquid latex directly onto the wall and then carefully removed the cast in one sheet. The result, The Ethics of Dust, Doge’s Palace, Venice, 2009, seen in this video, is a luminous scrim that preserves the residue accrued overtime.

Such pollution is typically seen negatively, but Otero-Pailos sees it as a record of human activity and questions the impulse to erase these traces of the past.

Schrager in Chicago

Midwest
Monday, June 29, 2009
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The Pump Room in its heyday. (courtesy www.pumproom.com)

Ian Schrager is coming to Chicago. Crain’s reports that the hotelier, known for his high design boutique properties, is looking to buy and renovate the Ambassador East and it’s famous restaurant, the Pump Room. Read More

The Porch That Swings

East
Friday, June 26, 2009
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The Southwest Porch at Bryant Park, a summer-long lounge sponsored by Southwest Airlines, officially opens next week and will offer small dishes and cocktails provided by Tom Colicchio’s ‘wichcraft. Designed by Nancy Thiel, principal of Thiel Architecture + Design, the Porch includes adirondack chairs, porch swings, and enclosed sings that resemble birdhouses, under a pergola. Read More

Class of 09: Will Work for Green Design

Other
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
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Daniel Sommers folding garment bag (photos courtesy SAIC).

Daniel Sommer's folding garment bag (photos courtesy SAIC).

Friend of AN Ryan Lafollette sends this dispatch from the Windy City.

Recent graduates of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) architecture and design programs are facing a challenging job market. For those employers looking for new talent, as well as for enthusiasts of design who couldn’t make it to the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, SAIC’s department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects is currently showing its graduate design exhibition, Making Modern. Read More

NeoCon Notables

Other
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
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LIM lighting from Haworth (all images courtesy of respective manufacturers).

LIM lighting from Haworth (all images courtesy of respective manufacturers).

The mood was noticeably subdued at this year’s NeoCon World’s Trade Fair in Chicago, which ends today, but many attractive and innovative new products were introduced. For our special Midwest issue we offered a preview of things to look for at the show. Here are a few additional products that stood out at the Merchandise Mart. Read More

Times Square, Slightly Tamed

Other
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
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(Katy Silberger/flickr)

I’m a Times Square avoider. It’s too crowded, clogged with slow moving tourists, for me to get where I need to go without being so frustrated that I swear to never return. On rare occasions, I succumb to the charm of the lights, but those moments are usually glimpsed from a distance, down a street corridor or out the window of a cab. But yesterday, on my way to an event in midtown, I chose to go through Times Square to see how it had changed since Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan’s recent street closure plan had been implemented. Read More

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