Artist Brightens Boarded Windows On Flagging Blocks

Midwest
Friday, September 27, 2013
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Toepfer's boarded windows on the left. (Video still / Courtesy Medill Reports)

Toepfer’s boarded windows on the left. (Video still / Courtesy Medill Reports)

 

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.

Minneapolis Streetcar Plans Move Along, Renderings Released

Midwest
Friday, September 27, 2013
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Renderings of a streetcar planned for Minneapolis. (Courtesy City of Minneapolis)

Renderings of a streetcar planned for Minneapolis. (Courtesy City of Minneapolis)

This week a city council panel voted to advance Minneapolis’ plans for a 3.4-mile streetcar line along Nicollet and Central Avenues. The Transportation and Public Works committee’s thumbs up clears the way for a full City Council vote next week.

Read More

‘New Urbanist’ Open-Air Mall to Replace Chicago’s Purple Hotel

Midwest
Thursday, September 26, 2013
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Plans show a "new urbanist" plaza that will replace Lincolnwood's Purple Hotel. (antunovich associates)

Plans show a “new urbanist” plaza that will replace Lincolnwood’s Purple Hotel. (Courtesy antunovich associates)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

Flint Flat Lot’s Floating House draws criticism

Midwest
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
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Photos of the built work were questioned by some commenters. (Gavin Smith, courtesy Two Islands)

Photos of the built work were questioned by some commenters. (Gavin Smith, courtesy Two Islands)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

Is the River Revitalization Trend Skipping Youngstown?

City Terrain, Midwest
Monday, September 23, 2013
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A view from the banks of the Mahoning River from the grounds of the B&O Station in Youngstown. (Jack Pearce / Flickr)

A view from the banks of the Mahoning River from the grounds of the B&O Station in Youngstown. (Jack Pearce / Flickr)

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.

Read More

St. Louis Plan Calls for Form-Based Code to Push Transit-Oriented Development

Midwest
Monday, September 16, 2013
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stl-tod-01

For nextSTL, Richard Bose takes a close look at what’s next for St. Louis’ transit-oriented neighborhood. The Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood and the area near the Delmar and Forest Park MetroLink stations (both Red and Blue lines) have six bus routes. They’re near the forthcoming Loop Trolley line. A Department of Housing and Urban Development–funded sustainability plan, called OneSTL is examining opportunities for transit-oriented development near MetroLink stops.

Continue reading after the jump.

Unveiled> SOM Designs New Library Branch for Chicago’s Chinatown

Midwest
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
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Chinatown's new library on Wentworth Avenue. (SOM / Public Buildings Commission)

Chinatown’s new library on Wentworth Avenue. (SOM / Public Buildings Commission)

In the first-ever design/build process for a Chicago neighborhood library branch, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill joins Wight & Company construction to replace Chinatown’s aging and heavily trafficked library at 2100 South Wentworth Avenue.

Continue reading after the jump.

Lexington’s 21c Museum Hotel by Deborah Berke Partners Delayed

Midwest
Friday, September 6, 2013
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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.

Hotel owner hints at its design after the jump.

Unveiled> SOM Designs Mashreq Bank Tower in Dubai

International
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
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(Courtesy SOM)

(Courtesy SOM)

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.

Chicago Breaks Ground On Elevated Bloomingdale Trail and Park System

City Terrain, Midwest
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
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Overhead view of the Bloomingdale Trail. (Courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates)

Overhead view of the Bloomingdale Trail. (Courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

Pictorial> Ross Barney’s Colorful Ohio State Chiller Plant

Midwest
Friday, August 23, 2013
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Ross Barney Architects' OSU chiller. (Brad Feinknopf)

Ross Barney Architects’ OSU chiller. (Brad Feinknopf)

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.”

Continue reading after the jump.

“City Works” envisions Chicago’s “dreams and nightmares”

Midwest
Thursday, August 15, 2013
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Drawing Detail of “Phantom Chicago” by Eisenschmidt: The city of Chicago generated through unbuilt visionary projects across the 20th century (from Loos’ Tribune Tower to Griffin’s Plan for a Better Chicago and Greg Lynn’s Stranded Sears Tower).

Drawing Detail of “Phantom Chicago” by Eisenschmidt: The city of Chicago generated through unbuilt visionary projects across the 20th century (from Loos’ Tribune Tower to Griffin’s Plan for a Better Chicago and Greg Lynn’s Stranded Sears Tower).

From the abandoned foundations of the ill-fated Chicago Spire to the ghosts of would-be Tribune Towers galore, Chicago’s unbuilt legacy could rival the iconic skyline it actually achieved. An exhibition on display downtown, dubbed City Works: Provocations for Chicago’s Urban Future, confronts the city with its alternative skyline in the form of a panoramic wall design and a “Phantom Chicago” iPhone app. The overall effect evokes “a dream but also a nightmare,” in the words of curator Alexander Eisenschmidt. Read More

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