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!

Make Way For People! Chicago Opens First “People Plaza” on State Street

Midwest
Monday, June 10, 2013
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State Street's new People Spot, dubbed The Gateway. (Chris Bentley)

State Street’s new People Spot, dubbed The Gateway. (Chris Bentley / AN)

The median of a downtown stretch of State Street is now home to the latest of Chicago’s People Spots, a series of parklets sprinkled throughout the city as part of its “Make Way for People” program.

Dubbed “The Gateway,” the portion of State Street between Lake Street and Wacker Drive features shaded tables and chairs in what the city is calling its first “People Plaza.” Flowerboxes, banners, and bright red and blue colors lighten up the otherwise utilitarian median. While the spot’s central location is probably its greatest asset in attracting visitors, satisfying views of downtown’s architectural gems impart some elegance to the straightforward design.

Continue reading after the jump.

Burnham Prize Winners Imagine Chicago BRT Designs

Midwest
Friday, June 7, 2013
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View of the winning entry, Form vs. Uniform.

View of the winning entry, Form vs. Uniform.

During the discussion that followed the announcement of 2013’s Burnham Prize winners, much was made of the difference between “gold-standard” bus rapid transit and watered-down “express bus” service. The key difference is that the real thing not only runs more smoothly, but that it feels like a special experience.

So it was for the honorees of the prize ceremony, which this year included three winners, three honorable mentions, and three citations. Their prompt, “Next Stop,” asked them to design stations for Chicago’s burgeoning network of bus rapid transit systems.

View all the winners after the jump.

On View> “Abelardo Morell: The Universe Next Door” at the Art Institute of Chicago

Midwest
Friday, June 7, 2013
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(Abelardo Morell)

Camera Obscura: View of the Brooklyn Bridge in Bedroom, 2009. (Abelardo Morell)

Abelardo Morell: The Universe Next Door
Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Through September 2, 2013

Abelardo Morell is a Cuban-born American photographer who over the past 25 years has used photography and his unique way of looking at the world to create compelling works of art. Morell finds inspiration for his pictures in the environment he is most comfortable in, his home. The subjects of Morell’s photographs are common household objects—still lives of books and money—but the photographer is most known for his Camera Obscura series. To create these unique, large-format photographs, Morell cuts out a small opening in a dark room that reveals a view of the outside world. An upside down image of the outside is then projected back into the interior of the room. Morell then photographs a projection of the outside world set against the common objects that fill a room’s interior, such as a bed, or a table of stacked books. This exhibition features more than 100 of the artist’s works in which he experimented with various techniques, including photograms, still-life tableaux, stop-motion studies, and the tent camera.

More images after the jump.

On View> Mobile Homestead: MOCA Detroit’s Community Center on Wheels

Midwest
Thursday, June 6, 2013
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(Courtesy MOCA Detroit)

(Courtesy MOCA Detroit)

Mobile Homestead
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
4454 Woodward Avenue
Permanent

Before his passing at the young age of 57, Los-Angeles based artist Mike Kelley created an exact duplicate of his childhood home in the Westland area of Detroit, on-wheels. The artist intended to use the mobile-home as a community center, it’s rooms dedicated to hosting local events and providing community services and education programs, save for the two-story basement, which he would close to the public and use as his private underground studio. Kelley was never able to use his studio. He tragically committed suicide before he could ever see his vision come to life, but his artistic legacy lives on. The mobile home, which provides a solid example of the architecture of working-class neighborhoods in the American Midwest, was wheeled to The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit where it has been transformed into a center for community programs, just as Kelley intended.

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