A Beach Island for Downtown Detroit Aims to Activate the Campus Martius

Midwest
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
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(Screen view from video / Free Press)

(Screen view from video / Free Press)

For Detroit citizens escaping to the beach just became as easy as taking a trip downtown. The city’s urban beach opened at the end of June in Campus Martius, transforming one Detroit’s downtown traffic islands on Woodward Avenue into actual island oasis complete with 150 tons of sand.

Downtown Detroit Partnership was motivated to bring a temporary beach to the  neighborhood by France’s Paris Plages plan that creates temporary sandy strips along the Seine river. For Detroit the sandy retreat is integrated into the city’s greater revitalization efforts to create economic development and bring active and accessible public spaces into everyday life. And while there are no rolling waves crashing in on Detroit’s sand island it still offers a place to lunch, socialize, or just kick back. So if you’re in Detroit this summer throw on your flip-flops and head for the shores of Woodward Avenue.

Watch a video after the jump.

Reading nest roosts in front of Cleveland Public Library

Midwest, Newsletter
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
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(Mark A. Reigelman II)

(Mark A. Reigelman II)

If you drop by the Cleveland Public Library to get lost in a book, you may find reprieve from modern life outside the library’s walls, thanks to a giant reading nest custom designed by New York artist Mark Reigelman and LAND Studio. The installation is the fourth in a series, called “See Also,” which brings public art to the library’s Eastman Reading Garden. It will be in place through October 18. Read More

Doomed to Demolition, Northwestern Names Three Firms to Design Prentice Successor

Midwest
Friday, June 28, 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)

Perkins + Will, Goettsch Partners, and Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill will compete to design a successor to Bertrand Goldberg’s celebrated Prentice Women’s Hospital, which Northwestern University will soon demolish.

Booth Hansen will serve as the local architect of record. Northwestern, whose politically expedited approval from the Landmarks commission angered preservationists, selected the three firms from a larger pool based on their responses to a Request for Qualifications.

The winning firm will be chosen by December, according to their written timeline, but no construction work is planned until March 2017, according to Curbed.

Goettsch also designed Northwestern’s lake front Bienen School of Music, which is currently under construction.

Divvy Up: Chicago Launches Bike-Share Program

Midwest
Friday, June 28, 2013
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Get on your bikes and ride — Chicago’s long-delayed Divvy bike share program launched Friday, kicking on 65 solar-powered docking stations and unleashing 700 “Chicago” (read: powder) blue bikes.

But some West and South Side residents may have to wait for the program’s full benefits, if they get them at all. Optimized for short trips in high-density areas, the Divvy system requires a credit or debit card and few of the initial stations serve the far West and South sides. The Department of Transportation plans to rollout a total of 400 stations and about 4,000 three-speed bicycles in all.

Chicago’s Department of Transportation unveiled its bike share plans in April, tapping Portland, OR–based Alta Bicycle Share, which also runs DC’s bike-share program. The rollout follows a similar program, Citibike, which launched in New York in late May.

If you’re riding Divvy today, watch out for stragglers from the Blackhawks Stanley Cup parade.

Related Eyes Chicago Spire Debt as Speculation On New Life Swirls

Midwest
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
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The Chicago Spire site, currently the city’s most-watched hole in the ground, has had false starts before. This week The Wall Street Journal reported that Related Cos. of New York signed on to buy the stalled project’s debt, raising suspicions that development might proceed on the riverfront site.

Santiago Calatrava’s twisting tower design was to stand 2,000 feet high and house condos, but the $64 million land bordering Lake Shore Drive in Streeterville sat idle after the recession hit in 2008. The troubled project has been tangled up in litigation ever since.

Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency put the project’s $93 million in debt on the market earlier this year. While Irish developer Garett Kelleher’s firm still holds title to the parcel, and Related’s reported deal remains up in the air, speculation swirls around the site which not long ago was prepared to house the nation’s tallest building.

Roman & Williams to Design Hotel in Landmark Chicago Athletic Association Building

Midwest
Friday, June 21, 2013
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The Chicago Athleltic Association Building. (C. William Brubaker / Courtesy UIC Digital Archives; Rolf Achilles / Courtesy Landmarks Illinois)

The Chicago Athleltic Association Building. (C. William Brubaker / Courtesy UIC Digital Archives; Rolf Achilles / Courtesy Landmarks Illinois)

The landmarked Chicago Athletic Association will soon be home to a boutique hotel designed by Roman and Williams, whose Ace Hotel in New York opened to acclaim in 2009.

Developed by AJ Capital Partners and Commune Hotels & Resorts, the 240-room hotel will include a large ballroom converted from the existing gym and running track, as well as a large greenhouse on the roof. The historic second-floor drawing room will serve as a “living room for a new generation,” Roman and Williams said in a statement, while a new sports room/pool hall/bar will call back to the Athletic Association’s past.

More after the jump.

Contest Aims To Enliven Chicago’s Union Station

Midwest
Friday, June 21, 2013
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Chicago Union Station (J. Stephen Conn via Flickr)

Chicago Union Station (J. Stephen Conn via Flickr)

Although it gets more daily traffic than Midway Airport, Chicago’s main rail hub remains little more than a waypoint for most people—a bustling transit station buried beneath an often empty Beaux Arts volume.

The Metropolitan Planning Council wants to change that. Their new placemaking contest, Activate Union Station, calls on architects, landscape architects, planners and designers of all stripes to submit ideas for a design-build program that will enliven the underused West Loop hub.

Continue reading after the jump.

Chicago Riverwalk gets $99 million loan from feds

Midwest
Thursday, June 20, 2013
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Chicago riverwalk (Courtesy Sasaki Associates)

Chicago riverwalk. (Courtesy Sasaki Associates)

Chicago’s plan to extend and revamp its downtown riverwalk got a major shot in the arm from the feds last week.

U.S. Dept of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the federal government will loan the city $99 million under the Transportation Finance Innovation Act, a program geared at transportation projects of “national and regional significance.” Mayor Rahm Emanuel had previously set his sights on just such funding, as well as financial sponsors for ongoing maintenance.

The project, which is scheduled to be finished by 2016, hopes to draw more attention to the riverfront. Designs by Sasaki Associates, Alfred Benesch & Co., Ross Barney Architects, and Jacobs/Ryan Associates call for six unique identities across six downtown blocks of the Chicago River, such as The Jetty, The Cove, and The River Theater. Read more about the design in AN‘s previous report.

Frank Gehry’s Ice Blocks Chilling Out Inside Chicago’s Inland Steel Building

Midwest, Newsletter
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
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Frank Gehry's new sculpture in the Inland Steel Building lobby. (Lynn Becker)

Frank Gehry’s new sculpture in the Inland Steel Building lobby. (Lynn Becker)

Follow the Architecture Chicago Plus blog as Lynn Becker raises an eyebrow at the new sculpture that quietly popped up in the lobby of downtown Chicago’s celebrated Inland Steel Building.

The 1957 SOM icon seems to have acquired a consortium of ice hunks, courtesy Frank Gehry. Ostensibly a formal counterpoint to the elegant energy of Richard Lippold’s Radiant I, the original lobby art, Gehry’s glass agglomeration (fabricated by the John Lewis Glass Studio of Oakland, California) frames Radiant I and responds to its angularity with carved blobs. It’s admittedly atypical in the setting of the modernist masterpiece, but doesn’t overpower the space or the original artwork.

Product > Finds from the Floor at NeoCon 2013

Midwest, Newsletter, Product
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
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Cliffy 6000 from SIXINCH.

Cliffy 6000 from SIXINCH.

Nearly 42,000 architects, interior designers, facilities planners, furniture dealers, and distributors converged on NeoCon, the A&D industry’s largest exhibition of office, residential, health care, hospitality, institutional, and government design products. Held from June 10–12, the show included education components and keynote presentations from Bjarke Ingels, founder of BIG; Michael Vanderbyl, principal of Vanderbyl Design; Holly Hunt, president & CEO of Holly Hunt; and Lauren Rottet, interior architect and founder of Rottet Studio. AN was present to cover a handful of educational seminars and sessions (see our live tweets from Ingels’s presentation on our Twitter feed), and we scoured the showrooms in search of 2013’s new product trends. Following are a few we saw at the show.

Check out AN’s top picks after the jump.

Modern House by Romaldo Giurgola Poised for Teardown in the Twin Cities

Midwest
Monday, June 17, 2013
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Wayzata, Minnesota home designed by Romaldo Giurgola (Courtesy NeighborCity.com)

Wayzata, Minnesota home designed by Romaldo Giurgola (Courtesy NeighborCity.com)

The fate of an 8,500-square-foot house designed in 1970 by architect Romaldo Giurgola in Wayzata, Minnesota hangs in the balance following  what the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported as 2012’s priciest single-family housing deal in the Twin Cities. Just months after paying $10 million for the lakefront property, the new owner, Cargill heir Donald C. MacMillan, has presented plans that could include the building’s demolition.

Continue reading after the jump.

After Half A Century, Cincinnati’s Roebling Bridge Welcomes Pedestrians

Midwest
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
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For the first time in half a century, residents of Cincinnati and Covington, Ky. can traverse the Ohio River on foot via Roebling Bridge, thanks to a pedestrian connector reopened June 4. The Roebling Bridge Pedestrian Connector ties Cincinnati’s central riverfront, the site of some major mixed-use development of late, to the city of Covington.

The $430,000 project is part of The Banks’ public infrastructure improvement program. Lane closures will accompany renovations on the north end of the bridge, where a new roundabout and traffic signal will take a few months to complete. Pedestrians, however, can walk on through.

Let’s just hope a certain New York City mayoral candidate doesn’t confuse the Roebling Bridge with its big brother in Brooklyn and snap a photo for his website!

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