Vacant buildings can drag down whole blocks, depressing property values, encouraging crime and accelerating a spiral of poverty that afflicts many Chicago neighborhoods. Even the boards that cover the windows on abandoned homes can convey a sense that nobody’s in charge, or that an area can’t be salvaged to save it from demolition.
That’s the point of intervention for artist Chris Toepfer, who since 1995 has visited thousands of vacant buildings in 17 U.S. cities. Toepfer paints the boards that clad abanonded homes and businesses, working with Chicago nonprofit Neighborhood Housing Service to slow the cycle of decline in neighborhoods hit hard by the housing crisis. Dave Hoekstra profiled their work for the Sun-Times. Also, here’s a 2010 video with Toepfer from Medill Reports.
New plans for Chicago’s Purple Hotel site don’t have their predecessor’s color, in any sense of the word, but many may view the mixed-use “town center” plaza as the antidote to the site’s lurid history. The quirky midcentury hotel in suburban Chicago seemed to escape its fate last year when architect Jackie Koo drew up plans to save the vacant hotel and its divisive color scheme.
But demolition on the Purple Hotel in Lincolnwood, IL began late last month. Organizers of the village’s end-of-summer festival apparently raised $5,000 for the local library through sales of purple brick.
When London-based Two Islands took first place in Flint, Michigan’s first Flat Lot Competition for public art, images of their floating, mirror-clad meditation on the foreclosure crisis turned heads. Six months later the project has been built, but it faced challenges and has drawn criticism making the leap from rendering to reality.
Across the country cities are revamping formerly industrial riverfronts. Plans are underway for Philadelphia’s Schuylkill, the Mississippi in Minneapolis, Town Branch in Lexington, and in downtown Chicago to reclaim urban rivers for mutual goals of ecology and urbanism. That hasn’t yet caught on in Youngstown, Ohio.
Those planning Lexington’s 21c Museum Hotel say the $40.5 million project will take longer than expected, but should come sometime in 2015.
The growing Louisville-based hotel company bought the historic First National Bank building and an adjacent structure in Lexington’s downtown last year, winning city approval for design plans shortly after. Once planned for office tenants, the boutique hotel in Lexington’s downtown apparently sustained more water damage than previously thought. New York–based Deborah Berke Partners has been tapped to design the boutique hotel. The firm also designed 21c Museum Hotels currently operating in Louisville, Cincinnati, and Bentonville, AR.
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) announced last week it would design a new headquarters for Dubai-based Mashreq Bank. The 32-story tower is “a quiet sculptural form within Dubai’s skyline,” SOM Design Director Ross Wimer said in a statement. Its L-shaped floor plate is cantilevered around an empty volume between the building’s eight-story podium and its top levels.
The building’s massing shields that courtyard from solar gain, while opening up views to Sheikh Zayed Road and the Burj Khalifa to the east. Executive offices occupy the top two floors, where the square floorplate resumes, with Mashreq’s Board Room suspended from an interior opening at the middle.
The City of Chicago broke ground Tuesday on the Bloomingdale Trail, or the 606 to use the combined name for the elevated trail and its five access parks, fulfilling a promise and long-term planning process that dates back years.
Walsh Construction Company won the $53.7 million contract, which city officials told the Sun-Times was $5.2 million lower than the closest competition. The city plans to use $50 million in federal money to pay for construction.
A campus chiller’s prime directive is to pump torrents of cool water, not to look good. But thanks to an inventive skin of dichroic glass fins and high-sheen concrete panels from Ross Barney Architects, the Ohio State University’s south campus central chiller does both.
When the project was first announced in 2010, Carol Ross Barney told AN, “Rather than just showing the pipes, we wanted to represent energy itself.”