Get Out Your Scotch Guard—Eavesdrop Is Coming! If the hors d’ouevres make a party, Luminaire threw quite the fête last month. The huge design showroom in Chicago’s River North staged the top floor with more affordable items from their inventory, alongside of pop-ups from local artisans, including European bike-lifestyle guru J.C. Lind Bike Co. This was our first stop of several that evening, so the substantial hors d’oeuvres—a.k.a. Prosecco sponges—were fully appreciated. What didn’t appreciate them?
The Rockefeller Foundation has announced that four cities will receive a combined $1.2 million in grants to foster research, communications, and community outreach efforts in an endeavor to educate local stakeholders about the advantages of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems. The Foundation’s solution to “Transform Cities” and promote fiscal growth and quality of life proposes better mass transit investments. Boston, Chicago, Nashville, and Pittsburgh will participate in the project.
For seven years, Eavesdrop has lived in Chicago without a car and that means we’ve never made the trek out to Mies van der Rohe‘s Farnsworth House. But with all the flooding in the Midwest this year, we could have just used a boat. Now, a little bird has whispered in our ear that at least one docent is bent out of shape by recent changes. It would appear that the National Trust for Historic Preservation is replacing volunteer docents with paid part-time tour guides. Can you imaging, the desire to pay your help? Quelle horreur! We say: way to go Trust!
Chicago’s bike share program will kick off in June when the city debuts hundreds of light blue, three-speed bicycles that can be rented for an hourly fee or with a yearly $75 membership.
Managed by Portland, OR–based Alta Bicycle Share, which also runs New York and DC’s bike share, Chicago’s program goes by the name “Divvy.” Alta was supposed to launch the $22 million program last summer, and has since become the subject of controversy. Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein was formerly a consultant for the company, and competitors have alleged foul play, which Alta and the city have flatly denied.
The first of Divvy’s 75 solar-powered docking stations will be downtown and in River North. Within a year the city’s plan is to roll out 400 stations and about 4,000 bicycles across the city.
Agribusiness titan Monsanto has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades to its research facility outside St. Louis, and design details are starting to pop up. Cannon Design will plan, design and engineer a new 400,000 square foot center for life sciences research.
Northwest Indiana’s 2040 masterplan took home top honors for comprehensive planning last week, when the American Planning Association handed out its 2013 National Planning Excellence Awards. The association also saluted 12 projects with the first-ever National Planning Achievement Awards.
Tying into a major theme at this year’s conference, the APA award winners tended toward projects with an ambitious scope, such as Philadelphia’s sweeping planning and zoning rewrite and New York’s Zone Green initiative.
Above: Before & After: Ashland Avenue at Polk. (Courtesy Chicago Transit Authority)
Chicago officials released details Friday about a much-anticipated project to roll out bus rapid transit along Ashland Avenue, a major arterial street that runs north-south a bit more than a mile and half west of downtown. Previous plans from the city included a route on Western Avenue as well, but a statement from the Chicago Transit Authority and the Chicago Department of Transportation revealed only plans for Ashland.
The winners of St. Louis’ first-ever “Sustainable Land Lab” competition, put on by Washington University and city officials, attempted to make the most of a regrettably abundant resource: vacant lots.
Local architects took top honors in a competition that garnered some four dozen submissions. Each winner gets a two-year lease on a North St. Louis vacant lot and $5,000 in seed money to realize their ideas. Five winning projects will share four lots (two finalist teams combined their proposals into one new plan) across the city.
As one of a slew of successful placemaking initiatives of late, along with the recently reopened Washington Park, Cincinnati’s Phyllis W. Smale Riverfront Park is a key component of the city’s resurgent urban identity. It’s a multi-faceted design, aspiring to filter water for flood control, provide green space and connect two downtown stadiums with a multimodal trail along the Ohio River.
AI WEIWEI: ACCORDING TO WHAT?
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Allen Whitehill Clowes Special Exhibition Gallery
4000 Michigan Road
Through July 21
Ai Weiwei is internationally recognized as one of China’s most controversial and influential contemporary artists. In his exhibition Ai Weiwei: According to What?, the artist, through various media (sculpture, photography, architectural installations, and video), boldly addresses issues of human rights in China and comments on the nation’s history, traditions, and politics. The exhibit features more than 30 works spanning more than 20 years. One is an early work, Forever (2003), in which Ai arranged 42 Forever brand bicycles into a circle, to honor China’s most popular, and reliable (the bicycles were made of heavy-duty steel), mode of transportation during the mid-1900s. The exhibit is also devoted to Ai’s more provocative pieces, such as a 38-ton steel carpet entitled Straight (2008). The artist used rusted steel rebar taken from the remains of a poorly-built school that collapsed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that tragically killed more than 5,000 schoolchildren. The piece commemorates the thousands of lost lives while openly condemning the Chinese government’s stance on human rights.