An Afterlife for DeKalb’s Egyptian Theatre

Midwest
Thursday, March 21, 2013
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The Egyptian Theatre in DeKalb, Illinois. (Courtesy Egyptian Theatre)

The Egyptian Theatre in DeKalb, Illinois. (Courtesy Egyptian Theatre)

Northern Illinois may not have pyramids (you’ll have to go to elsewhere in the Midwest for that) but the Egyptian Theatre continues Pharaoh Ramses II’s reign over downtown DeKalb, IL. As this post in PreservationNation describes, the movie house has undergone a series of restoration efforts since it landed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Designed by architect Elmer F. Behrns in 1929, the theater’s pharaoh sculptures, scarab stained glass, and winged orb marquee fell into disrepair by the late seventies, when the theater closed. It reopened in 1983, but renovations continued until recently. In the last six years building rehabilitation and maintenance exceeded $1.5 million, but creative fundraising—the owners, Preservation of the Egyptian Theatre, Inc., sold the theater’s original seats when they were replaced in 2011 and even started running popular haunted tours—have helped fill the financial gap.

The building owners hope to continue renovations, including replacing the carpeting and installing air conditioning.

More photos after the jump.

Flint, Michigan Flat Lot Winners Announced, Floating House Arrives in June

Midwest
Thursday, March 21, 2013
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"Mark's House," by Two Islands, won the inaugural Flat Lot design-build competition in Flint, Mich. (Courtesy Flint Public Art Project and Two Islands)

“Mark’s House,” by Two Islands, won the inaugural Flat Lot design-build competition in Flint, Mich. (Courtesy Flint Public Art Project and Two Islands)

In June a full-block surface parking lot in downtown Flint, Mich. will house a ghostly, floating home — a monument to the ravages of the foreclosure crisis and a nod to the revitalization public art projects like this one hope to further in the one-time home of General Motors.

London-based Two Islands took first place in the inaugural Flat Lot Competition, which comes with a $25,000 prize, for their design, Mark’s House. The story of an imagined Flint resident named Mark Hamilton, whose family loses their home to foreclosure, Mark’s House takes the form of a Tudor-style house clad in reflective panels and set atop a mirrored pedestal. The structure can hold 1,500 gallons of water to be used for cooling mists for visitors to the structure’s canopy and event stage on hot summer days.

Continue reading after the jump.

State Department Announces Five Firms Will Lead Overseas Renovation Project

International, Midwest, National
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
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An aerial view of the U.S. Embassy in London by Kieren Timberlake. (Courtesy Kieren Timberlake)

An aerial view of the U.S. Embassy in London by Kieren Timberlake. (Courtesy Kieren Timberlake)

The State Department’s overseas embassies are getting a facelift. Under the “Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Worldwide Major Rehabilitation/Renovation Architecture/Engineering Design Services solicitation,” a team of designers will overhaul overseas facilities.

Five design teams to undertake the project.

Tietz-Baccon Dials Down The Volume in a Textural Chicago Office

Fabrikator, Midwest
Friday, March 15, 2013
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The "fin" feature wall measures 10 feet by 160 feet. (Christopher Barrett)

Raw material was juxtaposed against lacquered MDF at the bottom that alternates for textural variation as well as durability. (Christopher Barrett)

Tietz-Baccon fabricated a 7-foot by 23-foot freestanding wall, and a 10-foot by 160-foot decorative wall for Enova’s Chicago offices.

As more and more companies embrace open workspaces that support collaborative and impromptu group work, acoustics are of utmost importance to employee productivity. To craft sound-absorbing feature walls for the Chicago offices of financial firm Enova, Brininstool + Lynch turned to fabrication studio Tietz-Baccon. Their six-person facility in Long Island City, New York, makes bespoke solutions for a variety of design-minded clients who appreciate—and ultimately benefit from—the founders’ architectural background: Erik Tietz and Andrew Baccon met as students at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

“On the fabrication end, we take nonstandard projects and make them achievable by relying heavily on our digital capabilities,” Baccon said. “Brininstool + Lynch had a concept that was worked out very well and was looking for someone who could execute on a tight budget in a short period of time.” According to Baccon, the architects came to the fabricators with a family of shapes and a way of aggregating them, which was then applied to different materials, helping Tietz-Baccon deliver finished projects very close to the firm’s original requests. “There was good collaborative discussion, and a back-and-forth to tweak and bring the concept to realization. They didn’t have to compromise their idea that much.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Cleveland Leads U.S. Cities in Bus Rapid Transit

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
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Cleveland's Health Line BRT System. (Roger DuPuis / Flickr)

Cleveland’s Health Line BRT System. (Roger DuPuis / Flickr)

Cleveland was the only U.S. city to earn a “Silver Standard” ranking from the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) in its second annual bus rapid transit corridor rankings. Cleveland’s HealthLine, formerly The Euclid Corridor, is a 9.2 mile transit corridor connecting Downtown, University Circle, and East Cleveland with 40 stops along the way. Hybrid articulated buses ferry passengers 24-7, and have brought billions of dollars of investment to the city’s key economic centers.

Guangzhou, China topped the “Gold Standard” list, with Latin American cities (Bogotá, Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro, Lima, Guadalajara, and Medellin) monopolizing the rest of those rankings. Some North American cities made the “Bronze Standard” list: Los Angeles; Eugene, OR; Pittsburgh; Las Vegas; and Ottawa.

Floodwaters Surround Mies Van Der Rohe’s Farnsworth House

Midwest
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
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Floodwaters surround Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House. (Courtesy Farnsworth House)

Floodwaters surround Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. (Courtesy Farnsworth House)

Just over four years ago, the Fox River spilled its banks, sending floodwaters into Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and causing significant damage. Built in 1951 and located outside Chicago, the river is again rising, now fully surrounding the stilted abode turned museum, and the house, operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has shared watery photos on its Farnsworth blog, stating: “The house is fully surrounded by river water, but neither the lower deck nor the upper deck has yet to be breached.” Water is not expected to enter the house, but all precautions are being taken, including elevating interior furnishings on milk crates.When the site is not flooded, tours of the house are available to the public.

Chicago’s Portage Theater Gets Landmarks Nod, Still Faces Uncertain Future

Midwest
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
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portage_theater_01

The Portage Theater, a 1920s-era theater on Chicago’s northwest side, escaped acquisition by an Albany Park church. (Eric Allix Rogers / Flickr)

Portage Park’s historic Portage Theater won a unanimous recommendation from the Chicago Commission on Landmarks last week, but the 1920s movie house isn’t out of the woods yet.

After a neighborhood church announced it would withdraw its bid to acquire the northwest side cinema, preservationists celebrated. But a September acquisition by Congress Theater owner Erineo “Eddie” Carranza left some of them with lingering doubts. WBEZ’s Jim DeRogatis reported theater owners Dennis Wolkowicz and Dave Dziedzic may have been served with a 60-day eviction notice, noting the Portage has no new bookings after mid-April.

Continue reading after the jump.

Is “Marketing” A Dirty Word?

Eavesdroplet, Midwest
Monday, March 11, 2013
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Studio Gang's Nature Boardwalk at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. (Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing)

Studio Gang’s Nature Boardwalk at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. (Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing)

We were glad to be included on the Studio Gang’s Archi-Salon panel on “outside research” at the Art Institute of Chicago on February 2. UIC’s Clare Lyster moderated a lively discussion that, true to its roots in academic theory, kicked off by questioning the premise in the first place. Are practice and research separated by anything more than semantics? Based on the turnout it seems the discussion series achieved its goal of public engagement—what can we say? We’re thrilled and a bit surprised that you all find architectural theory as stimulating as we do.

During the discussion, Paul Preissner detected a whiff of marketing in architects’ clambering to engage “outside” disciplines. You might have thought he accused them of artistic treason, based on the defensive tone that the discussion took whenever the topic popped back up.

Washington University Plans New Field House, Cyclotron.  Washington University Plans New Field House, Cyclotron Washington University in St. Louis will soon begin work on two major projects totaling $130 million, according to NextSTL. St. Louis’ Hastings+Chivetta will design the $120 field house expansion, an extensive addition to Washington University’s historic field house, built out from the 1903 Francis gymnasium. Clayton, MO-based Ottolino Winters Huebner will design a $10 million cyclotron, a particle accelerator used for medical imaging and for the synthesis of radioisotopes for pharmaceutical production. The university’s Dr. Michel Ter-Pogossian is considered the father of positron emission tomography (PET scans), a nuclear medical imaging technique that produces 3-D images of internal body processes. (Rendering: Hastings+Chivetta)  

 

Residents Resist Double-Decker Highway Proposed in Milwaukee

Midwest
Thursday, March 7, 2013
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A double-decker highway proposed in Milwaukee has Story Hill residents concerned.

A double-decker highway proposed in Milwaukee has Story Hill residents concerned.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is reportedly considering building a 40-foot high, double-decker highway through Milwaukee’s Story Hill neighborhood. At six or eight lanes, preliminary plans for the split-level freeway show a massive project intended to help relieve the I-94 bottleneck. As Urban Milwaukee reported, residents of the Story Hill Neighborhood Association are not happy about the plans:

“The political decision will be to sacrifice this neighborhood for the commuters,” predicted Ald. Michael J. Murphy, who both represents and lives in Story Hill.

Story Hill’s view of downtown would be blocked by the tall freeway as designed, but Wisconsin transportation officials say the high-set design is less expensive than building the freeway lower.

Cincinnati Opens Downtown Casino, But Is it Urban?

Midwest
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
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The Horseshoe Cincinnati casino opened this week. (Courtesy Horseshoe Cincinnati)

The Horseshoe Cincinnati casino opened this week. (Courtesy Horseshoe Cincinnati)

Casinos have landed in Ohio’s three largest cities, now that Cincinnati’s $400 million Horseshoe casino is open for business. Eric Douglas, a member of the Congress for New Urbanism, has an interesting post as a guest blogger for UrbanCincy on the casino’s supposedly urban character. While Horseshoe casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati have been billed as “truly urban” establishments, he writes, “casinos are not known to be particularly friendly urban creatures.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Lessons for Chicago’s Riverwalk: Engage With The City

Midwest
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
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Wolf Point on the Chicago River. (Courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli)

Wolf Point on the Chicago River. The towers’ landscaping spurred a good year for riverside development downtown, which saw Mayor Rahm Emanuel call for an expansion of the Chicago Riverwalk.(Courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli)

As Chicago gears up for an overhaul of the city’s Riverwalk, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has touted his architectural cause célèbre as a way for the city to reengage with its “second shoreline.” The renderings by Sasaki Associates show six new blocks of riverfront parks, effectively connecting the shore of Lake Michigan with a small park at the foot of  the three massive towers planned for Wolf Point, at the confluence of the Chicago River’s three branches.

Continue reading after the jump.

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