Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
June 11 through October 9, 2011
Soon after the turn of the last century, artists and designers from Central and Eastern Europe began producing radically innovative images and objects that remain remarkably fresh today. For the first time, the Art Institute has gathered over 300 objects from across departments to present a comprehensive view of works from the period. Bold graphics, such as John Heartfield’s cover and illustrations for Kurt Tucholsky, Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles from 1929 (above), and pared back design objects show some of the ways in which these artists sought to transform daily living, an experiment that historical events would quickly bring to an end.
Among the triumvirate of Save Detroit schemes (urban farming, attracting artists, and right-sizing the city), cultural projects in some ways seem most challenging given the city’s dire circumstances. Located in a formerly abandoned bank building, the new Kunsthalle Detroit will showcase multimedia and light-based artworks, a smart strategy given the comparatively low cost and ease of presenting such work. The museum opens tomorrow with an exhibition titled, “Time and Place,” featuring works by Bill Viola, Tim White-Sobieski and ten other artists. “This museum brings the best in contemporary multimedia art as catered to the local population,” said founder Tate Osten, in a statement. “It is ultimately a revolutionary action, bringing international art forces to Detroit. In the near future we envision multimedia and light projects splashing from within the museum onto the streets of Detroit, making life and art inseparable.” Kunsthalle Detroit is located at 5001 Grand River Avenue, and will be open Tuesday through Saturday, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Two dirty coal powered electric plants in central Chicago are coming under increasing scrutiny from neighbors, environmental activists, and architects and designers. Earlier this week Greenpeace activists scaled the stacks of the Pilsen plant operated by Midwest Generation, and painted a large sign calling for their closure. The plants were also the subject of a recent design competition, the results of which will be on display on June 10 at the Pilsen/Chicago Arts District and on June 13-15 at the Merchandise Mart during NeoCon.
You’re not supposed to judge a project before it’s completed, but last week the scaffolding came down around the highly anticipated new Poetry Foundation building in Chicago designed by John Ronan Architects, offering a glimpse of how the building is coming together. While the elegant glass box looks refined enough for a finished building, it will soon be concealed behind a perforated metal screen, creating an interstitial space between the building envelope and the street. The combination of glazing and screen should make for shifting effects of light and texture that change throughout the day and over the seasons.
The first annual Chicago Architecture & Design Film Festival is almost here. With 39 films ranging from shorts to feature length as well as panel discussions, Q&A’s, and related events, there will be so much for architects and the general public to see and enjoy.
The Architect’s Newspaper is proud to be a media sponsor, and I’ll be introducing the program called “Renegade Redux,” featuring a film on architecture collective Ant Farm, and shorts on a giant brink warehouse in Liverpool and overlooked corners of London.
The festival runs from May 5 through May 9, and we have a couple of pairs of tickets to give away. Just leave a comment below by noon CST and we’ll randomly select two lucky winners who will each get a pair of free tickets!
Most screenings will be held at the Gene Siskel Film Center, located at 146 North State Street. Some additional screenings will be held at SCREEN@theWit, located at the Wit Hotel, 201 North State Street. We’ll contact the winners via e.mail (Don’t worry, we won’t share your e.mail address). So leave a comment for complimentary tickets now.
Louisville’s Speed Art Museum has unveiled plans for a new addition designed by Culver City, CA-based wHY Architecture with Reed Hilderbrand landscape architects. Located on the campus of the University of Louisville, the museum hopes to increase connections with the city and the university along with increasing gallery and educational space. The scope of wHY’s work includes 200,000 square feet of new and renovated space in three phases valued at $79 million. The first phase including the new north structure will begin construction this year.
A fly-through (after the jump) offers a peak at the design, which calls for a simple monumental form next to the 1920s-era Beaux-Arts main building that cantilevers over a stand of trees forming an outdoor room and cafe on the campus facing side. A large garage-like door opens out to the garden. The street facing side features an outdoor amphitheatre-like seating set in the ground and a large reflecting pool. A cantilever staircase will be visible through the street facing facade.
Studio Gang has been hired to reimagine a stalled mixed-use high-rise in downtown Lexington, Kentucky. Having languishing through the recession and without financing, the development called CentrePointe may now gain momentum thanks to the fresh eye of the Chicago-based firm responsible for the much-praised Aqua Tower. Jeanne Gang, principal, told AN her office will be preparing several concept plans over the next six weeks demonstrating new design strategies that could guide the future project and attract new tenants and financing.
From March 28-April 1, the Design Build Institute of America (DBIA) held a two-in-one conference for Transportation and Water/Wastewater in Kansas City, Missouri. Unfortunately, like many conferences, this one was attended more for it’s offering of mandatory Continuing Education Credits (CEU) than for anything else. Sure, it provided updates on Design-Build contracts, best practices, awards, and time for networking, but there was little innovation or excitement in the actual practice of design-build, especially with a focus on building highways, bridges, and wastewater treatment plants.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright is the single subject of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s new exhibit. Organic Architecture for the 21st Century, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of Taliesen, Wright’s Spring Green home and studio, also marks the debut of 33 never before seen drawings by the Wisconsin native. The show implores visitors to take a fresh look at Wright and his works, both built and unrealized, and how he envisioned architecture as something that had an essential relationship to context, time, and the people who lived or worked there. Sustainability, which we often think of as a 21st century innovation, is in keeping with many of Wright’s designs, especially those for a newly suburban America, including the outdoor arcade for the proposed Arizona State Capitol, Phoenix (above).
Organic Architecture for the 21st Century explores the idea that the famously outspoken architect was a visionary who foresaw trends including the use of mass produced materials, utilization of natural light, and attention to the surrounding environment. In addition to covering his major works, like Fallingwater, the Johnson Wax factory, and the Unity Temple, the exhibit also showcases plans for Living City, a culmination of Wright’s work and his utopian vision for suburbia.
Chicago may boast one of the country’s largest urban solar installations, but it’s also home to two polluting coal-fired power plants, the Fisk Generating Station in Pilsen and the Crawford Generating Station in Little Village both operated by Midwest Generation. The two plants emit toxins and advocates say they contribute to elevated asthma rates in those neighborhoods. A new competition ask designers propose solutions to the problem, which could be anything from educational campaigns to remediation strategies. Read More
Two new competitions of note explore possible futures for Chicago‘s public realm. The 2011 Burnham Prize ideas competition sponsored by AIA Chicago and the Chicago Architectural Club calls for new visions for the McCormick Place East building, the 1971 modernist covention center on the lakefront designed by Gene Summers of C.F. Murphy Associates.
The massive, Miesian building has a powerful presence on the lakefront, and a vast column-free interior, but parks advocates have long contended it should be removed. Meanwhile, the building’s owner, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, says it needs $150 million in repairs and is functionally obsolete.
The competition aims to inspire new dialogue around the future of the building and site. The Street Furniture 2011 competition sponsored by Architecture for Humanity‘s Chicago chapter aims for something more universal, new street furniture that could be deployed to activate almost any vacant site.