AIA Michigan Needs a New Executive Director.  Detroit, on the water. (Image courtesy Bernt Rostad via Flickr.) AIA Michigan is looking for a new executive director. The 126-year-old, Detroit-based organization needs someone to act as its “ambassador to the broader business and civic community.” Dennis M. King, the search committee chair, is accepting submissions at dmking@hedev.com until the close of business Friday, March 1. More information is available at aiami.com. (Image: Bernt Rostad / Flickr)

 

Wolf Point’s Phase One is a Go Along the Chicago River

Midwest
Friday, January 25, 2013
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Wolf Point on the Chicago River. (Courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli)

Wolf Point on the Chicago River. (Courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli)

After a few administrative hurdles and several packed community meetings that aired downtown residents’ concerns, Chicago’s Wolf Point is poised to turn perhaps the most prominently underdeveloped piece of land in Chicago into a billion-dollar suite of skyscrapers along the Chicago River.

Continue reading after the jump.

Downtown Chicago Eyed for Major Tech Hub

Midwest
Thursday, January 24, 2013
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Downtown Chicago could have its own tech hub, if plans from the University of Illinois and the state come to fruition. (Courtesy Langham Chicago)

Downtown Chicago could have its own tech hub, if plans from the University of Illinois and the state come to fruition. (Courtesy Langham Chicago)

The University of Illinois and the state are pushing a plan to build on Chicago’s growing tech sector, calling for support from major institutions in the area to help support a tech lab in downtown Chicago.

Details are hazy  now, but Crain’s is reporting the $100 million-per-year operation would draw support from Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, and other regional engines of high-tech knowledge, as well as the corporate community, for a facility or campus in the heart of the city.

Google and Motorola recently made high-profile decisions to expand operations in Chicago, and the Department of Energy named Argonne National Laboratory its national hub for battery research and technology development.

What this means for the local design community is unclear just yet, but as downtown and West Loop construction picks up it is clear that some developers are banking on growing demand.

Detroit’s Belle Isle Could Become a State Park, Save City Millions

Midwest
Monday, January 21, 2013
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Detroit's Belle Isle park. (Courtesy Liza Lagman Sperl via Flickr)

Detroit’s Belle Isle park. (Courtesy Liza Lagman Sperl via Flickr)

The Detroit Free-Press is reporting Belle Isle could become a state park. A public hearing is expected Thursday, and city council could vote on the plan as soon as January 29.

Belle Isle is a 985-acre island in the middle of the Detroit River originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. While details are still being negotiated, it appears the plan could save the City of Detroit $8 million per year in operating costs. Though Detroit would still own the land, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources would operate the island as a state park, charging motorists an $11 entry fee. Bicyclists and pedestrians would still get free access.

The potential deal comes on the heels of some good news for Motor City urbanists. In addition to filling out the gaps in the city’s riverwalk, Detroit is moving forward with its M-1 Rail plan, as well as an ongoing $300 million renovation of its Cobo convention center.

Minneapolis’ Embattled Peavey Plaza Lands on National Register

Midwest
Monday, January 21, 2013
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Peavey Plaza's fountains have fallen into disrepair.

Peavey Plaza’s fountains have fallen into disrepair. (Keri Pickett)

Peavey Plaza, downtown Minneapolis’ celebrated modernist square completed in 1975, fell into disrepair—two of its three iconic fountains are no longer operational, and its sunken “garden rooms” have helped harbor illegal activity. Landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg’s plaza became the focus of a high-profile preservation battle two years ago, with The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) leading the charge to rehabilitate Peavey and city officials pushing for demolition.

Now TCLF has announced the plaza has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The “park plaza” style Friedberg forged is evident in Peavey’s blend of hard concrete squares and American-style green spaces. It joins 88,000 sites of architectural heritage on the list, only 2,500 of which have significance in landscape architecture.

Preservationists sued the city last year to contest city council’s claim that there were “no reasonable alternatives” to demolition, hoping to win protection under Minnesota’s Environmental Rights Act.

How Successful is Philanthropy-Based Urban Redevelopment?

Midwest
Thursday, January 17, 2013
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Gary Comer College Prep, designed by John Ronan. (courtesy Zol87 via Flickr)

Gary Comer College Prep, designed by John Ronan. (courtesy Zol87 via Flickr)

Chicago Magazine’s Elly Fishman has an interesting story on Lands’ End founder Gary Comer’s efforts to save his old neighborhood. Pocket Town, a portion of Greater Grand Crossing on the Far South Side, suffered a 25 percent unemployment rate and longstanding poverty when septuagenarian Gary Comer popped into his alma mater Paul Revere Elementary School. Shortly after he began writing checks to the principal for improvements to the aging red brick building. That philanthropy snowballed into millions of dollars each year for Revere and the neighborhood. In 2010, Gary Comer College Prep moved into a John Ronan-designed school that has garnered praise from the design community.

Continue reading after the jump.

Kansas City: Silicon Prairie?

Midwest
Thursday, January 17, 2013
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Kansas City. (Courtesy Pam Broviak via Flickr)

Kansas City. (Courtesy Pam Broviak via Flickr)

Google’s grand experiment on the Great Plains, dubbed “Silicon Prairie” by some, is to revitalize Kansas City with superfast internet. That network hookup could make KC a hotspot for new businesses, too, according to some entrepreneurs eyeing the new “fiberhoods” where the infrastructure exists.

Kansas City may not have aspirations to be the next Silicon Valley, but Google’s investment has invigorated the city’s startup culture. On top of efforts to clean up the region’s vacant land and the highly-anticipated return of KC’s streetcar, startups are just one reason that Kansas City will be a city to watch.

Prentice, Back in Court, Wins Just Another 30 Days

Midwest
Friday, January 11, 2013
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Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago. (ChicagoGeek/Flickr)

Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago. (ChicagoGeek/Flickr)

Cook County Judge Neil Cohen swatted down Friday a lawsuit preservationists filed to save Prentice Women’s Hospital, but ordered an extension of the threatened Goldberg building’s stay of demolition for another month.

Preservationists sued to overturn a decision by the Chicago Commission on Landmarks that ultimately denied protection for Prentice in November, asserting the commission violated its own rules of conduct by considering economic concerns over architectural merits.

Continue reading after the jump.

National Blues Museum Targets 2014 Opening in St. Louis

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
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The National Blues Museum (Courtesdy NationalBluesMuseum.org)

The National Blues Museum. (Courtesy NationalBluesMuseum.org)

Cleveland has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Kansas City has the American Jazz Museum, Nashville has Music City, and now St. Louis looks likely to become home to the National Blues Museum in 2014. Cue up “St. Louis Blues.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Preservationists: Chicago Prentice Demolition More Costly Than Re-Use

Midwest
Thursday, January 3, 2013
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BauerLatoza's new tower would intersect with the northwest lobe of Prentice's cloverleaf form. (Courtesy BauerLatoza Studio)

BauerLatoza’s new tower would intersect with the northwest lobe of Prentice’s cloverleaf form. (Courtesy BauerLatoza Studio)

The top brass in the field of design have long supported preserving Chicago’s Old Prentice Women’s Hospital. Now proposals to save the embattled Bertrand Goldberg building may have economics on their side, too, according to a new report commissioned by advocates who hope to convince owner Northwestern University not to demolish the four-pronged curvilinear tower.

Continue reading after the jump.

Manhattan Street Map by FLATCUT_ Ties Together Experiments In Motion

Fabrikator
Friday, December 14, 2012
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Brought to you with support from:
Fabrikator
Fabrikator
The model of Manhattan's street grid floats above visitors, offering a new perspective on the city. (Collin Erickson)

The model of Manhattan’s street grid floats above visitors, offering a new perspective on the city. (Collin Erickson)

Audi and GSAPP teamed with FLATCUT_ to create a 1:1500 scale model of Manhattan’s street grid from 3/16-inch-thick aluminum sheets

This September at the preview of the Lowline Park in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, visitors had the opportunity to absorb nine visions by students from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) about the future of urban living and mobility. Conducted as the culmination of a yearlong research program in partnership with Audi of America, the exhibition, Experiments in Motion, was tied together and contextualized by a hanging, 50-foot-long, 1:1500 scale model of Manhattan’s street grid. Audi and GSAPP called on New York and New Jersey-based fabrication studio FLATCUT_ to create the model, which also calls out every subway station on the island. The job required the studio to pull off a high wire balancing act: the fabrication of an object both intricate and sturdy, modular yet monolithic. Read More

U of C addition updates old seminary for modern economics department

Other
Thursday, December 13, 2012
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University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute (courtesy ann beha architects)

University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute (courtesy ann beha architects)

The University of Chicago’s ongoing development is a balancing act of preserving its collegiate gothic badge of architectural honor and making bold contemporary bounds ahead. One project that maintains that equilibrium with grace is Ann Beha Architect’s conversion of the University’s old Theological Seminary into a new economics building.

The area surrounding the site at 58th and University is on the preservation watch list, so the new steel-and-glass research pavilion along Woodlawn Avenue is likely to ruffle a few feathers. But most of the work treads lightly on the site. Glass infill will create a new entryway between the seminary building’s two main wings.

While historic facades remain throughout much of the building, designers hope a new staircase will improve vertical circulation. And a 90-seat classroom anchors an expansion below grade that improves access to existing space, drawing in light from openings to a new loggia above. Placed atop a terra cotta base, the modern addition jives tastefully with the former seminary.

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