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.

On View> Victoria Sambunaris’ Photography Captures Human Interactions with Landscape

Midwest
Thursday, February 21, 2013
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Untitled (Distant steam vents, Yellowstone), 2008

Untitled (Distant steam vents, Yellowstone), 2008. (Victoria Sambunaris)

Victoria Sambunaris: Taxonomy of a Landscape
Museum of Contemporary Photography
600 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL
Through March 31

Victoria Sambunaris has photographed the American landscape from coast to coast, investigating human interaction with and relationship to the natural environment. Over a decade’s worth of color photographs taken with a 5 by 7 field camera capture the multiple layers of America’s expansive landscapes that are interrupted by human development. Born to Greek immigrant parents driven by the American dream, Sambunaris has become fascinated and identifies with the unease of the Mexico/United States border. Her photographs of over 2,000 miles of these borderlands suggest an innate similarity between the two lands in spite of national boundaries. Taxonomy of a Landscape also includes a complete archive of Sambunaris’ travels with maps, journals, road logs, collected souvenirs, and sketches.

Kentucky Architecture Back on the Map with a…Barn.  Kentucky Architecture Back on the Map with a…Barn All barn jokes aside, this is great news for the Louisville firm of De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop. They received one of the AIA’s Institute Honor Awards for Architecture, allegedly the first Kentucky project to do so since Michael Grave’s cash register, the Humana Building. The barn is an operations facility for Mason Lane Farm and it’s really kind of amazing. Let’s hope that this becomes a rags to riches design story and that we see bigger, more amazing projects coming from De Leon & Primmer. Now that Museum Plaza was knocked off the drawing board, there’s room for a new iconic tower in Louisville. (Photo: Courtesy De Leon & Primmer)

 

Tree Expert: Speed Art Museum Mystery Tree Likely A Youngster

Midwest
Friday, February 15, 2013
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The Oak tree in 1974, left, and a more recent view, right. (Speed Art Museum / Via WFPL)

The Oak tree in 1974, left, and a more recent view, right. (Speed Art Museum / Via WFPL)

Over the past week, news of one allegedly-very-old tree cut down on the University of Louisville’s campus where a wHY Architecture-designed addition to the Speed Art Museum is being built has tree experts in Louisville counting rings on a stump. Students creating a map of all 2,500 trees on the University’s campus as part of Dr. Tommy Parker’s Urban Wildlife Research Lab had estimated the tree was over 300 years old, generating an impassioned oped in the student newspaper. The Speed and local news sources looked further into the mysterious tree, using the stump and historical photos of the museum (above) to determined that the tree was really only 60 years old. Steven Bowling, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Speed Art Museum, also wrote in with this statement about the tree’s removal:

As part of the Speed Art Museum’s long planned expansion, the Speed and its architect, wHY Architecture, carefully analyzed the site and its space constraints. The goals were threefold: to protect the Museum’s 1927 historic building to accommodate the Speed’s growing audience, to link the expanded green spaces of the Museum with the University of Louisville Campus and to seamlessly integrate art and nature on the 6-acre site. During the planning phase, the Speed, together with the architects, reviewed several possibilities in consultation with landscape architects and an arborist to expand the Museum’s footprint with minimal interruption to the historic building, the surrounding area, and trees within the Museum’s footprint. In the final plan, the tree needed to be removed. Removal of the tree, which the arborist determined was 60 years old, allows the site to be re-graded and expands accessibility for all visitors to the Museum and its grounds. While both the Museum and the architects regret the removal of that tree, the new Speed Art Museum which will re-open in 2016 will provide students and visitors with expanded green space that includes an art park and public piazza, as well as the planting of more than 40 new trees.

UrbanWorks, Pappageorge Haymes, Koo, JGMA Take Home Development Awards

Midwest
Thursday, February 14, 2013
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La Casa Student Housing in Pilsen. (UrbanWorks)

La Casa Student Housing in Pilsen. (UrbanWorks)

Community development in design was the topic at hand Wednesday at the 19th Richard H. Driehaus Foundation’s Community Neighborhood Development Awards. The award was established in 1995 by Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago (LISC).

UrbanWorks received first place for La Casa Student Housing. A dormitory for 100 students in Pilsen, La Casa responds to the neighborhood’s growing vibrancy, as well as its working-class roots — created at the behest of The Resurrection Project, La Casa is affordable housing for neighborhood students attending college, many of them the first in their families to do so.

Continue reading after the jump.

Investing in Detroit’s Future: Kresge Puts Up $150 Million For Ambitious Plan

Midwest
Thursday, February 14, 2013
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detroit_works_01

The Detroit Works Project has received the economic boost it needed to put its Detroit Future City plan into action. Detroit Free Press reported that the Troy-based, Kresge Foundation will give $150 million over the next five years to help accomplish the objectives outlined in the 347-page plan, which focuses on creating economic growth and building infrastructure in Detroit. A technical team led by Toni Griffin, a New York-based urban planner, crafted an extensive list of recommendations such as blue and green infrastructures, job creation, and management of vacant land.

Obit>Udo Kultermann, 1927-2013

East, Midwest
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
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Udo Kultermann (courtesy Washington University, St. Louis)

Udo Kultermann, who was born in Germany, died in New York City on February 9, 2013 at the age of 85. An internationally-known art historian, scholar, author, and lecturer, Kultermann spent nearly 30 years as a professor of art and architecture at Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to his work at Washington University, Kultermann, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Muenster, served as the director of the City Art Museum in Leverkusen, Germany. Kultermann wrote more than 35 books on a wide range of subjects, many of which have been translated into various languages. Read More

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