Above: Before & After: Ashland Avenue at Polk. (Courtesy Chicago Transit Authority)
Chicago officials released details Friday about a much-anticipated project to roll out bus rapid transit along Ashland Avenue, a major arterial street that runs north-south a bit more than a mile and half west of downtown. Previous plans from the city included a route on Western Avenue as well, but a statement from the Chicago Transit Authority and the Chicago Department of Transportation revealed only plans for Ashland.
The winners of St. Louis’ first-ever “Sustainable Land Lab” competition, put on by Washington University and city officials, attempted to make the most of a regrettably abundant resource: vacant lots.
Local architects took top honors in a competition that garnered some four dozen submissions. Each winner gets a two-year lease on a North St. Louis vacant lot and $5,000 in seed money to realize their ideas. Five winning projects will share four lots (two finalist teams combined their proposals into one new plan) across the city.
As one of a slew of successful placemaking initiatives of late, along with the recently reopened Washington Park, Cincinnati’s Phyllis W. Smale Riverfront Park is a key component of the city’s resurgent urban identity. It’s a multi-faceted design, aspiring to filter water for flood control, provide green space and connect two downtown stadiums with a multimodal trail along the Ohio River.
AI WEIWEI: ACCORDING TO WHAT?
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Allen Whitehill Clowes Special Exhibition Gallery
4000 Michigan Road
Through July 21
Ai Weiwei is internationally recognized as one of China’s most controversial and influential contemporary artists. In his exhibition Ai Weiwei: According to What?, the artist, through various media (sculpture, photography, architectural installations, and video), boldly addresses issues of human rights in China and comments on the nation’s history, traditions, and politics. The exhibit features more than 30 works spanning more than 20 years. One is an early work, Forever (2003), in which Ai arranged 42 Forever brand bicycles into a circle, to honor China’s most popular, and reliable (the bicycles were made of heavy-duty steel), mode of transportation during the mid-1900s. The exhibit is also devoted to Ai’s more provocative pieces, such as a 38-ton steel carpet entitled Straight (2008). The artist used rusted steel rebar taken from the remains of a poorly-built school that collapsed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that tragically killed more than 5,000 schoolchildren. The piece commemorates the thousands of lost lives while openly condemning the Chinese government’s stance on human rights.
Loyola University hopes to permanently close part of Kenmore Avenue in preparation for new dorms on its lakefront campus in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood. SmithGroupJJR architects, who also helped revamp Loyola’s lakefront campus along with Solomon Cordwell Buenz, released some renderings of the new pedestrian space, which would replace Kenmore Avenue between West Sheridan Road and Rosemont Avenue.
International Property Developers (IPD) has renewed plans for massive developments around Chicago’s Old Main Post Office. IPD bought the structure in 2009 for $40 million and has been working with Chicago-based architects Antunovich Associates on a plan to surround the massive building, which has almost as much interior space as Willis Tower, with three new towers.
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 East Chicago Avenue
Through June 18
Jason Lazarus’ exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago centers around three pieces. The first, Untitled (2013), is a performance piece featuring a classical piano student playing Frederic Chopin’s Nocturne in F minor, mistakes and all. Phase 1/Live Archive (2011-present) is a collection of Occupy Wall Street signs, remade by both Lazarus and the public and based on images from print and online sources. The final piece is a project that explores the thin line between public and private sectors through media generated photography. In employing found photographs he also comments on ways archives are used and on their relationship to history. Lazarus, a Chicago-based artist, is best known as a photographer, though he is also deeply invested in the art of sign making, both physically and symbolically. He has recently expanded his artistic practice into art collector, archivist, and curator.
Cincinnati’s 1938 Frederick and Harriet Rauh House by architect John Becker is a success story of preserving modern architecture. The house was nearly demolished for a McMansion several years ago, but the Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA) initiated a restoration project in September 2011 and the revolutionary International Style abode is now complete after just over a year of renovation. The CPA will celebrate the renewal of the Rauh House by hosting a two-day symposium, “Preserving Modern Architecture,” taking place on April 24 and 25.
Work took place in March to replace a portion of Chicago’s Wells Street bridge—“the engineering equivalent of a heart transplant,” in the words of the Tribune’s Cynthia Dizikes. Work crews replaced a portion of the 91-year old double-decker bascule bridge during just two nine-day periods (a similar replacement in 1996 took almost a year). Inconvenience or not, seeing a 500,000-pound hunk of metal floating into downtown Chicago atop a barge makes one feel like a witness to latter-day Carl Sandburg paeans: “Here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities.”