Chateau Hotel is Latest in Long Line of Chicago SROs At Risk

Midwest
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
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The Chateau Hotel in Chicago. (Chicago Crime Scenes / Flickr)

The Chateau Hotel in Chicago. (Chicago Crime Scenes / Flickr)

Single Room Occupancy hotels are a dying breed in Chicago. Notoriously undermanaged and generally unpopular among immediate neighbors, the majority of these base-service dwellings have been condemned or rehabbed into other residential uses over the past decade.

The fate of the Chateau Hotel, one of the last SRO hotels on Chicago’s North Side, looks to be leaning toward the latter.

Continue reading after the jump.

Reviving Chicago’s 1893 Glory with Seven Ferris-ish Wheels

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
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Wheels of Chicago. (Courtesy Hapsitus)

Wheels of Chicago. (Courtesy Hapsitus)

Chicago’s 1893 Ferris Wheel—the world’s first—inspired visitors at the World’s Columbian Exposition and helped establish the burgeoning city’s reputation for big dreams and hard work. Although it’s unlikely to have quite the same impact as its historical touchstone, a new proposal for seven wheels in Navy Pier’s Gateway Park could rekindle a semblance of that awe in modern day passersby.

Continue reading after the jump.

Libeskind, Hamilton, Plensa Finalists for Ohio’s Holocaust Memorial

Midwest
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
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Columbus, Ohio. (Howard Jefferson)

Columbus, Ohio. (Howard Jefferson / Flickr)

An artistic selection committee Thursday selected three semi-finalists for the Ohio Statehouse Holocaust Memorial in Columbus. Jaume Plensa of Chicago, Columbus’ Ann Hamilton, and Daniel Libeskind will visit the site, meet with the committee and then have six weeks to submit a proposal for review. The committee will pick the final project artist in May.

Libeskind designed Berlin’s Jewish Museum, one of the most prominent memorials of its kind. Ann Hamilton has home-turf advantage, so to speak, and is coming off a spectacularly reviewed show at the Armory, The Event of a Thread. Spanish-born Jaume Plensa’s evocative sculptures are pensive and humanistic, often involving glowing lights, and seem well suited to such a project.

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.

Defrosting A Construction Site: Beautiful Ice Crystals Inside a Chicago Adaptive Reuse Project

Midwest, Newsletter
Friday, January 11, 2013
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(Gary R. Jensen/Courtesy Sterling Bay Companies)

(Gary R. Jensen/Courtesy Sterling Bay Companies)

Perkins+Will is designing one cool corporate headquarters for bike components manufacturer, SRAM, in Chicago’s Fulton Market District. Located inside the 1K Fulton development by the Sterling Bay Companies, an adaptive reuse of a ten-story cold storage warehouse, two floors of offices will include bleacher seating for group meetings, a product development shop, and even an interior cycling test track. But before construction could begin, there was one small problem most architects rarely encounter: the construction site needed to be defrosted after essentially serving as a building-size refrigerator since 1923.

Continue reading after the jump.

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