Still riding the wave of publicity following her recent MacArthur genius grant win, Jeanne Gang gets the full star treatment from Chicago’s public TV station WTTW. This documentary, “Jeanne Gang: The Sky’s the Limit,” is all praise. Blair Kamin and Stanley Tigerman figure as her head cheerleaders. It would have been nice to have someone puncture the bubble a bit, possibly interrogating Gang about architect’s limits, rather than merely presenting the discipline (and Gang as one of its leading lights) as a environmental and societal savior. The documentary does show some engaging glimpses of Studio Gang’s working methods and office style, so there’s plenty to enjoy, even for the (mild) skeptics.
Yesterday Queen City voters nixed a ballot measure that would have banned all rail funding, which would effectively have killed the Cincinnati’s planned streetcar. In defeating Issue 48, voters cleared the way for construction to begin on the downtown to the Over-the-Rhine light rail line early next year. The margin was tight, only a percent and a half, but it was large enough to avoid a recount. According to UrbanCity.com, the election also solidified support for the line on the city council, with three new pro-streetcar council members elected, for a seven to two majority.
Mayor Emanuel’s proposed $2 congestion tax on downtown parking is facing stiff opposition from, you guessed it, the parking lobby. According to the Tribune, the Parking Industry Labor Management Committee is posting placards in member facilities and handing out flyers opposing the tax. The committee argues the tax will not improve traffic flow and could encourage businesses to relocate to the suburbs. Emanuel believes the tax will foster greater transit ridership and raise an estimated $28 million annually for CTA improvements. The $2 tax on parking at garages and lots in the Loop and River North will be added to the existing $3 tax that goes to the city’s general fund.
Detroit’s most famous ruin, Michigan Central Depot, may soon see new life. Workers for the billionaire Maroun family have been clearing debris out of the 18-story building and a feasibility study for reusing the building is underway. Ann Arbor-based Quinn Evans Architects are among those working on the study. “Structurally, the building is very sound. What’s different now from (previous attempts) is the momentum—the group of people behind this effort as well as the outreach to a wide group,” principal Elisabeth Kibble, told the Detroit News. Local politicians, foundation leaders, and officials from the Detroit Institute of the Arts were recently given a tour of the space. New York-based developer Scott Griffin is working with the Marouns to find possible new uses for the building.
On October 28, over 800 architects, designers, contractors, and their clients gathered together at Navy Pier in Chicago to celebrate the architecture firms recognized with 2011 Design Excellence Awards. Firms were honored for achievements in the following four categories: Distinguished Building, Interior Architecture, Regional & Urban Design, and Unbuilt Design. Out of 357 entries, there were 42 awards total– 10 Honor Awards (the highest distinction), 24 Citation of Merits, and 8 Special Recognitions. Half of these awards were for designs in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, while the remaining awards were for designs in other cities, states, and countries. Read More
Studio Gang has long partnered with nonprofits and community groups to realize their unconventional designs. For her recent Harvard GSD studio, principal Jeanne Gang partnered with one of the nation’s largest environmental groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), to tackle an issue with repercussions across the northern Midwest: separating the South Branch of Chicago River to prevent invasive Asian carp from decimating the Great Lakes.
When Jeanne Gang was brought on board in April to help reimagine a stalled tower in downtown Lexington, Kentucky, the entire community’s spirits were uplifted by the bold collaboration proposed by the Chicago-based architect and MacArthur genius. Studio Gang’s design replaced an uninspired high-rise block that destroyed an entire city block before running out of steam, but developer Dudley Webb announced Thursday that Gang will no longer be involved with the mixed-use project.
Yesterday, Chicago’s Department of Transportation (CDOT) began a new pedestrian safety initiative, in hopes of taming the aggressive driving habits of city residents. Following in the footsteps of the grassroots Ghost Bikes campaigns–where cycling advocates place anonymous white painted bikes at the sites where cyclists have been killed–the program includes 32 white mannequins placed along Wacker Drive. The mannequins refer to the 32 pedestriand deaths in the city last year. Read More
The 52 two teams competing to redesign Chicago’s Navy pier have been narrowed down to 11. Lots of heavy hitters made the cut, including teams headed by BIG, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas/Studio Gang, James Corner Field Operations. Many of Chicago’s leading firms are represented on the teams. See the complete list after the jump
NANCY HOLT: Sightlines
The Graham Foundation
Four West Burton Place
Through December 17
Beginning her artistic career in the 1960s, Nancy Holt helped pioneer the Land Art movement alongside artists like Richard Serra and Robert Smithson, who was her husband and occasional collaborator. Nancy Holt: Sightlines at the Graham Foundation presents documentation of over 40 of her monumental and ecologically-focused projects through photography, film, and artist’s books, revealing Holt’s eloquent mode of navigating the intersection of art and nature.
In Sun Tunnels, an installation and 1978 film (above), sunlight interacts with four concrete tunnels in the Great Basin Desert in Utah, exemplifying Holt’s interest in space and time by highlighting how the passage of the sun impacts each tunnel differently and in a way specific to that location. In addition to presenting previously unseen materials from the artist’s archive, the exhibition, which concentrates on the Holt’s work between 1966 and 1980, features the documentary Pine Barrens (1975) about undeveloped land in New Jersey, and documentation of the projects Swamp (1971, in collaboration with Smithson), Boomerang (1973, in collaboration with Serra), and the multi-monitor installation Points of View (1974), a piece that underscores the different perspectives we bring to viewing the landscape.
Photographs by Andrew Moore
Queens Museum of Art
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
The Queens Museum of Art (QMA) presents the powerful photography of Andrew Moore from his three-month visit to Detroit from 2008 to 2009. Moore’s photographs are a tragic yet beautiful glimpse into the decline of a city that was once the twentieth century industrial heart of America. Michigan Central Station (above) stands empty, the organ screen at the United Artists Theater is crumbling, and bright green moss covers the floor of the former Ford Motor Company Headquarters. “Moore’s exquisitely realized visions of architecture overtaken by vegetation remind contemporary viewers that our own familiar culture is subject to the forces of entropy and the eternal strength of nature,” says a statement from QMA.