Chicago’s Portage Theater Gets Landmarks Nod, Still Faces Uncertain Future

Midwest
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
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portage_theater_01

The Portage Theater, a 1920s-era theater on Chicago’s northwest side, escaped acquisition by an Albany Park church. (Eric Allix Rogers / Flickr)

Portage Park’s historic Portage Theater won a unanimous recommendation from the Chicago Commission on Landmarks last week, but the 1920s movie house isn’t out of the woods yet.

After a neighborhood church announced it would withdraw its bid to acquire the northwest side cinema, preservationists celebrated. But a September acquisition by Congress Theater owner Erineo “Eddie” Carranza left some of them with lingering doubts. WBEZ’s Jim DeRogatis reported theater owners Dennis Wolkowicz and Dave Dziedzic may have been served with a 60-day eviction notice, noting the Portage has no new bookings after mid-April.

Continue reading after the jump.

Washington University Plans New Field House, Cyclotron.  Washington University Plans New Field House, Cyclotron Washington University in St. Louis will soon begin work on two major projects totaling $130 million, according to NextSTL. St. Louis’ Hastings+Chivetta will design the $120 field house expansion, an extensive addition to Washington University’s historic field house, built out from the 1903 Francis gymnasium. Clayton, MO-based Ottolino Winters Huebner will design a $10 million cyclotron, a particle accelerator used for medical imaging and for the synthesis of radioisotopes for pharmaceutical production. The university’s Dr. Michel Ter-Pogossian is considered the father of positron emission tomography (PET scans), a nuclear medical imaging technique that produces 3-D images of internal body processes. (Rendering: Hastings+Chivetta)  

 

Residents Resist Double-Decker Highway Proposed in Milwaukee

Midwest
Thursday, March 7, 2013
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A double-decker highway proposed in Milwaukee has Story Hill residents concerned.

A double-decker highway proposed in Milwaukee has Story Hill residents concerned.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is reportedly considering building a 40-foot high, double-decker highway through Milwaukee’s Story Hill neighborhood. At six or eight lanes, preliminary plans for the split-level freeway show a massive project intended to help relieve the I-94 bottleneck. As Urban Milwaukee reported, residents of the Story Hill Neighborhood Association are not happy about the plans:

“The political decision will be to sacrifice this neighborhood for the commuters,” predicted Ald. Michael J. Murphy, who both represents and lives in Story Hill.

Story Hill’s view of downtown would be blocked by the tall freeway as designed, but Wisconsin transportation officials say the high-set design is less expensive than building the freeway lower.

Cincinnati Opens Downtown Casino, But Is it Urban?

Midwest
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
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The Horseshoe Cincinnati casino opened this week. (Courtesy Horseshoe Cincinnati)

The Horseshoe Cincinnati casino opened this week. (Courtesy Horseshoe Cincinnati)

Casinos have landed in Ohio’s three largest cities, now that Cincinnati’s $400 million Horseshoe casino is open for business. Eric Douglas, a member of the Congress for New Urbanism, has an interesting post as a guest blogger for UrbanCincy on the casino’s supposedly urban character. While Horseshoe casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati have been billed as “truly urban” establishments, he writes, “casinos are not known to be particularly friendly urban creatures.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Lessons for Chicago’s Riverwalk: Engage With The City

Midwest
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
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Wolf Point on the Chicago River. (Courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli)

Wolf Point on the Chicago River. The towers’ landscaping spurred a good year for riverside development downtown, which saw Mayor Rahm Emanuel call for an expansion of the Chicago Riverwalk.(Courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli)

As Chicago gears up for an overhaul of the city’s Riverwalk, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has touted his architectural cause célèbre as a way for the city to reengage with its “second shoreline.” The renderings by Sasaki Associates show six new blocks of riverfront parks, effectively connecting the shore of Lake Michigan with a small park at the foot of  the three massive towers planned for Wolf Point, at the confluence of the Chicago River’s three branches.

Continue reading after the jump.

UrbanWorks, Pappageorge Haymes, Koo, JGMA Take Home Development Awards

Midwest
Thursday, February 14, 2013
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La Casa Student Housing in Pilsen. (UrbanWorks)

La Casa Student Housing in Pilsen. (UrbanWorks)

Community development in design was the topic at hand Wednesday at the 19th Richard H. Driehaus Foundation’s Community Neighborhood Development Awards. The award was established in 1995 by Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago (LISC).

UrbanWorks received first place for La Casa Student Housing. A dormitory for 100 students in Pilsen, La Casa responds to the neighborhood’s growing vibrancy, as well as its working-class roots — created at the behest of The Resurrection Project, La Casa is affordable housing for neighborhood students attending college, many of them the first in their families to do so.

Continue reading after the jump.

Bertrand Goldberg’s Chicago Prentice Hospital Denied Landmark Status, Again

Midwest
Thursday, February 7, 2013
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Ceci n'est pas une landmark? (ChicagoGeek/Flickr)

Ceci n’est pas une landmark? (ChicagoGeek/Flickr)

Amid the latest in a series of temporary reprieves, Bertrand Goldberg’s former Prentice Women’s Hospital was again denied landmark status by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

Despite once again turning out a crowd of supporters who contributed hours of impassioned testimony, many preservationists were unsurprised by an outcome that they chalked up to political determinism.

Continue reading after the jump.

Surprise Cuts Could Devastate Detroit Parks System

Midwest
Friday, February 1, 2013
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a vintage postcard depicting Detroit's belle isle (courtesy catherine of chicago via flickr)

a vintage postcard depicting Detroit’s belle isle (Courtesy catherine of chicago via flickr)

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced Friday that the city will close 51 parks. The Detroit Free Press’ Matt Helms has the full list of parks here, including an additional 37 parks that will receive limited maintenance.

The closures are the result of massive cuts to the city’s parks and recreation budget due to the City Council’s rejection this week of a plan to lease Belle Isle to the state. Details of the council’s decision were evidently worked out late Thursday night, so the devastating cuts came as a surprise to many residents. The move recalls closures announced, but avoided, in 2010.

St. Louis’ Last Gasometer is No More

Midwest
Friday, February 1, 2013
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The last gasometer in St. Louis bites the dust. (Courtesy Michael R. Allen / Preservation Research Office)

The last gasometer in St. Louis bites the dust. (Courtesy Michael R. Allen / Preservation Research Office)

A collection of strange industrial relics in St. Louis has gone the way of many before it, as the city’s last gasometer has fallen.

Gasometers are storage devices for natural and coal gas, built during the 20th century but abandoned after 2000 when underground storage became the preferred method. The Laclede Gas Company Pumping Station at 3615 Chevrolet, built around 1920, was the area’s last. Michael R. Allen wrote an epitaph for the bygone piece of infrastructure, providing a remembrance that asks, are industrial relics worth preserving?

Basically silos for gas, the structures leave behind industrial skeletons that are sometimes stunning, always intriguinga Flickr group devoted to their documentation has more than 1,000 entries. They are more common in Europe than in the U.S., but Laclede’s St. Louis structures were the most notable on this side of the Atlantic. In Vienna they are celebrated, with four architectural teams currently converting four gasometers for new uses.

Developer Eyes Chicago Post Office for Casino, Retail Center

Midwest
Friday, February 1, 2013
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chicago's old main post office (courtesy ian freimuth via flickr)

Chicago’s old Main Post Office. (Ian Freimuth / flickr)

Could that hulking behemoth, Chicago’s Main Post Office, see new life at last? According to the Sun-Times’ David Roeder, developer Bill Davies is betting on it, and he has brought Antunovich Associates to the table. If talk of a downtown casino has any merit, the Post Office could be the right place for it.

The massive 1921 building (expanded in 1932) comprises 2.5 million square feet downtown, looming over Congress Parkway. Davies’ fanciful plans for the facility have grabbed headlines since 2009, when the US Postal Service first put it on the auction block. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is still pushing the state legislature for a casino license, touting the potential revenue as a much-needed influx for school construction and repairs.

Reviving Chicago’s 1893 Glory with Seven Ferris-ish Wheels

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
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Wheels of Chicago. (Courtesy Hapsitus)

Wheels of Chicago. (Courtesy Hapsitus)

Chicago’s 1893 Ferris Wheel—the world’s first—inspired visitors at the World’s Columbian Exposition and helped establish the burgeoning city’s reputation for big dreams and hard work. Although it’s unlikely to have quite the same impact as its historical touchstone, a new proposal for seven wheels in Navy Pier’s Gateway Park could rekindle a semblance of that awe in modern day passersby.

Continue reading after the jump.

Libeskind, Hamilton, Plensa Finalists for Ohio’s Holocaust Memorial

Midwest
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
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Columbus, Ohio. (Howard Jefferson)

Columbus, Ohio. (Howard Jefferson / Flickr)

An artistic selection committee Thursday selected three semi-finalists for the Ohio Statehouse Holocaust Memorial in Columbus. Jaume Plensa of Chicago, Columbus’ Ann Hamilton, and Daniel Libeskind will visit the site, meet with the committee and then have six weeks to submit a proposal for review. The committee will pick the final project artist in May.

Libeskind designed Berlin’s Jewish Museum, one of the most prominent memorials of its kind. Ann Hamilton has home-turf advantage, so to speak, and is coming off a spectacularly reviewed show at the Armory, The Event of a Thread. Spanish-born Jaume Plensa’s evocative sculptures are pensive and humanistic, often involving glowing lights, and seem well suited to such a project.

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