Alphabet Soup: Architecture Firm Acronyms Gone Wild

Eavesdroplet, Midwest
Monday, February 17, 2014
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(Beanbag Amerika / Flickr)

(Beanbag Amerika / Flickr)

What do architects, attorneys, and accountants have in common? Naming firms after themselves. Architecture firms are some of the worst offenders and Eavesdrop is constantly consulting Wiki to figure the names behind those initials. After decades of ego, leadership changes, and acquisitions, one would think that global design would be dominated by a firm called SOMHOKBKLMNOP.

So it should not come at any surprise that St. Louis–based HOK recently acquired the New York and Shanghai offices of hospitality firm BBG-BBGM. Eavesdrop refuses to do any research on the provenance of that cluster of initials, but, luckily, it appears the combined firm will just be HOK. BBG should add an impressive, high-end roster of clients—think St. Regis and Peninsula hotels—to HOK’s portfolio of marquee projects.

Civic group calls on Chicago to expand car-free zones

Harry and Guenter Kempf Plaza in Chicago's Lincoln Square. (Google Maps)

Harry and Guenter Kempf Plaza in Chicago’s Lincoln Square. (Google Maps)

The jostle of potholes notwithstanding, motorists might find nothing unbalanced about Chicago’s public streets. But the Active Transportation Alliance points out while nearly a quarter of the city is in the public right-of-way, cars dominate practically all of it.

Citing the city’s Make Way for People initiative, which turns over underused street space to pedestrians, the group released 20 proposals Wednesday, calling on City Hall to create car-free spaces from Wrigley Field to Hyde Park. Read More

Chicago Spire developer moves to settle bankruptcy, revive project

Development, Midwest, News
Friday, February 7, 2014
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spire

Chicago’s stalled supertall Spire could rise again, according to the Irish developer who went into foreclosure in 2010 after a protracted legal battle over the project.

Garrett Kelleher’s lawyers on Thursday filed papers in U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking court approval to move ahead with the Chicago Spire, which remains a hole in the ground at 400 North Lake Shore Drive. Kelleher said a $135 million investment from Atlas Apartment Holdings would allow him to settle bankruptcy claims in full but, as reported in the Chicago Tribune, the court filings don’t say how much more money would be needed to fund the construction of the 2,000-foot-tall condo skyscraper.

Read More

Michael Graves’ Paralysis Informs Design for Omaha Rehabilitation Hospital

Architecture, Midwest
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
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DLR Group, Page, and Michael Graves are working on a rehab facility in West Omaha that is informed by Graves' own experience. (DLR Group)

DLR Group, Page, and Michael Graves are working on a rehab facility in West Omaha that is informed by Graves’ own experience. (DLR Group)

The architect of Omaha’s new rehabilitation hospital says his own paralysis has given him “greater empathy,” which has informed his designs for the healthcare industry. Local firm DLR Group and Texas-based engineering firm Page are working with Michael Graves, who lost the use of his legs in 2003 as the result of an infection, on the $93 million Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in west Omaha.

Continue reading after the jump.

Ten Pounds of Sugar in a Five-Pound Sack: Studio Gang Growing Out of Their Own Space

Eavesdroplet, Midwest
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
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(Montage by AN)

(Montage by AN)

We are not talking about Jeanne Gang or Mark Schendel, that’s for sure, but their practice, Studio Gang. Word on the streets is that they’re shopping for a new home. If you visit their website, you can see why, as the list of people requires you to scroll through dozens of names. That can only mean one exciting thing: projects are under construction! Just one or two years ago, Eavesdrop was at an office party where the entire firm could’ve comfortably fit in the office’s quaint second story courtyard. What unfortunate timing for the office to grow out of its britches, as one of the new (Gensler-designed?) outposts of Intelligentsia is opening across the street next month.

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On View> “Takeshi Murata: Melter 2″ at the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis

Art, Midwest, On View
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
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(Courtesy Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis)

(Courtesy Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis)

Takeshi Murata: Melter 2
Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis
3750 Washington Road, Saint Louis, MO
Through April 27

New York–based artist Takeshi Murata will be transforming the facade of the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis through the installation of Melter 2. Created in 2003, the playful piece of video is being enlarged from its original form in order to fit the museum’s 62-by-18-foot metal facade. Melter 2 is reflective of the vibrant and psychedelic animations that have formed a major component of Murata’s practice. Its colorful floral forms that seem to melt and fuse over the course of the video will be visible once night falls through April 27. The work is the second in the museum’s ongoing series of expansive video-art installations, Street Views.

Can Lake Dredge Help Toledo’s Riverfront Shine?

Toledo, Ohio (rsteup via flickr)

Toledo, Ohio (rsteup via flickr)

The Toledo Shipping Channel is the most heavily dredged port in the Great Lakes. Each year massive barges haul up to one million cubic yards of mud and debris, scooped from the bottom of Lake Erie at the mouth of the Maumee River, to elsewhere in the lake and to confined disposal facilities. “A minor portion” of dredged material is “beneficially used,” according to a sediment management plan supplied to the Toledo Harbor Dredge Task Force in 2012.

That’s a missed opportunity, say some environmental advocates and landscape architects like Sean Burkholder, a professor of landscape and urban design at SUNY/University of Buffalo. In February he’s calling for entrants to the North Coast Design Competition to help re-envision Toledo’s waterfront. This year’s competition is called “Designing Dredge.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Chicago Launches Lighting Competition in Bid to Boost Tourism, Skeptics Concerned Over Pollution

Design, Lighting, Midwest
Monday, January 27, 2014
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(Courtesy City of Chicago)

(Courtesy City of Chicago)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been very vocal about his ambitions to increase tourism in the city, and he once again upped that goal to 55 million annual visitors by 2020—an almost 20 percent jump from current numbers.

Riding high on news of record hotel occupancy last year, Emanuel said Wednesday that Chicago would launch an international design contest to light up the city at night. As with previous initiatives, like the Downtown Riverwalk extension, the lighting design competition would highlight the Chicago River.

Continue reading after the jump.

Senators, Congresswoman Back National Park Status for Chicago’s Pullman Neighborhood

THE 12000 BLOCK OF SOUTH CHAMPLAIN AVENUE AND THE 11200 BLOCK OF SOUTH FORESTVILLE AVENUE FEATURE SOME OF PULLMAN'S HISTORIC HOMES AND HOTELS. (HPF / ROBERT SHYMANSKI)

THE 12000 BLOCK OF SOUTH CHAMPLAIN AVENUE AND THE 11200 BLOCK OF SOUTH FORESTVILLE AVENUE FEATURE SOME OF PULLMAN’S HISTORIC HOMES AND HOTELS. (HPF / ROBERT SHYMANSKI)

Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, and Congresswoman Robin Kelly today announced their intention to introduce legislation that would make the Pullman Historic District Chicago’s first national park.

Since last year, a movement to designate the South Side Pullman neighborhood a national park has gained momentum. Its historic building stock—full of Romanesque and Victorian Queen Anne style buildings by architect Solon Spencer Beman and landscape architect Nathan F. Barrett — was lauded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Continue reading after the jump.

Chicago Issues Demolition Permit for Cuneo Memorial Hospital

Development, Midwest, News, Preservation
Thursday, January 23, 2014
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cuneo memorial hospital, a 1957 Edo Belli building, is slated for demolition. (devin hunter via flickr)

cuneo memorial hospital, a 1957 Edo Belli building, is slated for demolition. (devin hunter via flickr)

Chicago officials issued a demolition permit for Cuneo Memorial Hospital this week, dealing a blow to neighborhood activists and preservationists who have been fighting to save the curvy Uptown structure. Cuneo had made Preservation Chicago’s list of seven most endangered buildings in 2012.

Continue reading after the jump.

weiss/manfredi slims down design for kent state architecture school

Midwest, Newsletter
Monday, January 20, 2014
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(Weiss/manfredi)

(Weiss/manfredi)

As buzz builds for Kent State University’s “Design Loft,” a new home for one of Ohio’s four architecture schools, lead architects Weiss/Mandredi Thursday announced project updates.

The building will now now be composed of four tiered floors instead of five, trimming the overall area from 124,000 square feet to roughly 107,000 square feet. Read More

2014 will be a big year for streetcars in Kansas City and Cincinnati

City Terrain, Midwest, Transportation
Thursday, January 16, 2014
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Car 1056 of Kansas City's historic streetcar fleet. The city is currently in the process of reviving the system. (Nick Fisher via FLickr)

Car 1056 of Kansas City’s historic streetcar fleet. The city is currently in the process of reviving the system. (Nick Fisher via FLickr)

Although it hasn’t yet broken ground, Kansas City plans to revive a long-dormant streetcar network. Voters approved a ballot measure in 2012 to fund a 2-mile starter route from Union Station to the River Market, nearly 55 years after the city halted its original streetcar service in 1957.

Now Kansas City residents are likely to vote again to help pay for streetcar construction, this time to approve taxes that would help fund a new streetcar taxing district. The measure goes to City Council on Jan. 23. Read More

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