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

Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch in St. Louis Broke Ground 50 Years Ago Today

Midwest
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
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St. Louis' Gateway Arch under construction. (Courtesy Missouri State Archives)

St. Louis’ Gateway Arch under construction. (Courtesy Missouri State Archives)

Fifty years ago, the St. Louis waterfront was one gigantic parking lot after 40 blocks of the city’s gritty industrial quarter were cleared in the late 1930s to create a site for a new Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. It took another two decades to get anything built, but on February 12, 1963, the missing slice of St. Louis began to change as ground was broken for Eero Saarinen’s famous Gateway Arch that still defines St. Louis in one dramatic gesture.

Read More

Did wHY Architecture’s Speed Art Museum Expansion Fell a 309 Year Old Tree in Louisville?

Midwest
Friday, February 8, 2013
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Rendering of wHY Architecture's addition to the Speed Art Museum. (Courtesy wHY Architecture)

Rendering of wHY Architecture’s addition to the Speed Art Museum. (Courtesy wHY Architecture)

[Editor's Note: Following the publishing of this story, the Speed Art Museum and tree researchers studied the tree, determining that it was, in fact, not three centuries old, nor a Valley Oak. The tree in question is now believed to be a 60-year-old English Oak. Read the update here.]

The Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, is currently closed to visitors until 2015 while a dramatic stacked-box addition is built to the north of the institution’s original 1927 neo-Classical building on the University of Louisville’s Olmsted-designed Belknap Campus. The $50 million expansion, designed by Culver City, CA-based wHY Architecture with Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architects, who were later dropped from the project, will triple the museum’s gallery space and add to the already robust arts scene in Louisville.

This week, one alert writer at the student newspaper, The Louisville Cardinal, noticed something missing at the construction site: the University’s oldest tree. The approximately 309-year-old Valley Oak had been cut down when the site was cleared late last year. Only a stump now remains behind the construction fence. The author, Wesley Kerrick, noted the tree pre-dates not just the University, but the city, state, and country in which it resides, as it sprouted sometime in the late 17th or early 18th century. Kerrick expressed frustration over the fact that the tree couldn’t have been saved.

Continue reading after the jump.

Bertrand Goldberg’s Chicago Prentice Hospital Denied Landmark Status, Again

Midwest
Thursday, February 7, 2013
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Ceci n'est pas une landmark? (ChicagoGeek/Flickr)

Ceci n’est pas une landmark? (ChicagoGeek/Flickr)

Amid the latest in a series of temporary reprieves, Bertrand Goldberg’s former Prentice Women’s Hospital was again denied landmark status by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

Despite once again turning out a crowd of supporters who contributed hours of impassioned testimony, many preservationists were unsurprised by an outcome that they chalked up to political determinism.

Continue reading after the jump.

Colloquium to Revisit the Building of Tadao Ando’s Pulitzer Foundation in St. Louis

Midwest
Thursday, February 7, 2013
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The Pulitzer Foundation by Tadao Ando. (Courtesy Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts)

The Pulitzer Foundation by Tadao Ando. (Courtesy Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts)

Tadao Ando’s architecture strives for perfection, with glass-smooth concrete walls nearly as reflective as mirrors, ideal proportion and geometry creating a sacred sense of space, and design details that reveal no part of a building is too small for consideration. In fact, as one story goes, Ando requested that a foot-thick concrete wall at his Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis be rebuilt multiple times since it didn’t meet his strict standards.

The Pulitzer, one of only a handful of buildings the Japanese architect has completed in the United States and the first in the US intended for public use, opened in 2001, demurely set behind a concrete wall in the city’s Grand Center neighborhood. This Friday and Saturday (February 8 and 9), the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and Washington University in St. Louis are hosting the free Building Pulitzer colloquium looking back at the four-year construction period of Ando’s Pulitzer Foundation.

Continue reading after the jump.

Detroit Light Rail Back On Track With $25 Million Grant

Midwest
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
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What light rail could look like in Detroit. (Courtesy M1 Rail)

What light rail could look like in Detroit. (Courtesy M1 Rail)

Outgoing U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced recently that Detroit’s M-1 Rail project, aka the Woodward Light Rail Line, will receive $25 million in federal TIGER funding. The plans for this 3-mile long light rail system along Woodward Avenue will include 11 stops running from the city’s downtown to New Center. According to the Detroit Free Press, $100 million has already been raised of the light rail line’s $140 million price tag. Officials said the first trains could be running by the end of 2015.

View the light rail route map after the jump.

Post Modern Roulette: Chicago’s Thompson Center Eyed For Casino

Eavesdroplet, Midwest
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
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Inside the rotunda of Chicago's Thompson Center. (John Picken / Flickr)

Inside the rotunda of Chicago’s Thompson Center. (John Picken / Flickr)

The Thompson Center is an easy target. Most Chicagoans only know it as that Po-Mo Behemoth where we transfer between L lines and occasionally visit the DMV in the basement food court, perhaps the only location in America where you can get a slice of Sbarro and a new driver’s license. It’s a beast of a building—so bad, it’s almost good­—and has been plagued with problem after problem, most recently the removal of the granite panels along the plaza. Tackling its so obviously deferred maintenance and adapting it for future use would be no small task. That’s why, according to the Sun-Times, the president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and a major labor chief have proposed building a casino in the lower level and first floor of the building.

When we think of downtown casinos, we think of Detroit. Look, Eavesdrop loves Detroit and is rooting for its revival on a daily basis, but Chicago doesn’t want to be using Detroit as its urban development role model. If this nutty scheme comes to fruition, there would be a casino in a building located across from City Hall, which also houses hundreds of state government employees. They better get ready to beef up their Employee Assistance Program, as the state might have a few more gambling addicts on their payroll.

Surprise Cuts Could Devastate Detroit Parks System

Midwest
Friday, February 1, 2013
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a vintage postcard depicting Detroit's belle isle (courtesy catherine of chicago via flickr)

a vintage postcard depicting Detroit’s belle isle (Courtesy catherine of chicago via flickr)

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced Friday that the city will close 51 parks. The Detroit Free Press’ Matt Helms has the full list of parks here, including an additional 37 parks that will receive limited maintenance.

The closures are the result of massive cuts to the city’s parks and recreation budget due to the City Council’s rejection this week of a plan to lease Belle Isle to the state. Details of the council’s decision were evidently worked out late Thursday night, so the devastating cuts came as a surprise to many residents. The move recalls closures announced, but avoided, in 2010.

St. Louis’ Last Gasometer is No More

Midwest
Friday, February 1, 2013
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The last gasometer in St. Louis bites the dust. (Courtesy Michael R. Allen / Preservation Research Office)

The last gasometer in St. Louis bites the dust. (Courtesy Michael R. Allen / Preservation Research Office)

A collection of strange industrial relics in St. Louis has gone the way of many before it, as the city’s last gasometer has fallen.

Gasometers are storage devices for natural and coal gas, built during the 20th century but abandoned after 2000 when underground storage became the preferred method. The Laclede Gas Company Pumping Station at 3615 Chevrolet, built around 1920, was the area’s last. Michael R. Allen wrote an epitaph for the bygone piece of infrastructure, providing a remembrance that asks, are industrial relics worth preserving?

Basically silos for gas, the structures leave behind industrial skeletons that are sometimes stunning, always intriguinga Flickr group devoted to their documentation has more than 1,000 entries. They are more common in Europe than in the U.S., but Laclede’s St. Louis structures were the most notable on this side of the Atlantic. In Vienna they are celebrated, with four architectural teams currently converting four gasometers for new uses.

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