Five Approaches to Reviving Chicago’s Navy Pier

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
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AECOM/BIG (all images courtesy respective firms)

Five proposals to rethink the public spaces at Navy Pier have gone on view at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The finalist teams–AECOM/BIG, Aedas/Davis Brody Bond/Martha Schwartz Partners, James Corner Field Operations, !melk/HOK/UrbanLab, and Xavier Vendrell Studio/Grimshaw Architects–use variety of approaches to revitalize the historic pier, which has long been a favored destination for tourists. Organizers hope revitalizing the pier’s public spaces will make it a world-class destination for residents as well as visitors, much like Millennium Park and the rest of the lakefront. AECOM/BIG’s proposal calls for a series of undulating ramp/bleachers that form a new landscape over much of the pier’s midsection, culminating in a new park at the tip.

View all the proposals after the jump.

Indianapolis is Ready for Some Football

Midwest
Friday, February 3, 2012
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With Super Bowl XLVI charging towards the end zone like a wide receiver under pursuit, it’s Indianapolis’ time in the national spotlight. The city has been reinventing itself around sports and specifically the biggest game in football, and it’s certainly showing, with a massive new hotel by HOK and an expanded convention center by Ratio. Emily Badger recently tackled the building boom over at Atlantic Cities and Aaron Renn argues at the Urbanophile that pursuing a sports strategy has been a touchdown for the city. Among the big plays the Circle City has revealed: in this year’s Super Bowl Village a 95-foot-tall, 800-foot-long zip line carries football fans careening through downtown.

If you’ve managed to snag one of those coveted tickets to the game, or if you’re just hanging around the city for the fun of it, be sure to check out local blog Urban Indy’s write-ups of how to get around the city without a car and the best in transit-accessible night life. And try out that zip line…if you dare.

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Whew! EPA Declares Chicago’s Air is Still Dirty.  Whew! EPA Declares Chicago's Air is Still Dirty Most people would think that politicians would want their cities to be declared in compliance with Clean Air Act standards, but not Chicago! Illinois Governor Quinn and others the EPA lobbied to make sure  Chicago is counted as having dirty air, in spite of initial findings from that Chicago’s pollution levels had improved significantly from 2008 to 2010. Why? Money of course! According to Crain’s, a cleaner air ruling would have jeopardized up to $80 million in funding for projects to promote cleaner air, including transit upgrades and bike paths. While the logic is mind-bending, at least it means better public transportation and biking options!

 

Generator Studio Wins Pavilion Competition in Kansas City

Midwest
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
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The Nelson Atkins Museum has just announced that Generator Studio has won the competition to design a temporary pavilion on its grounds. The pavilion will be part of an upcoming exhibition Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs 1851-1939, which opens on April 14. Kansas City-based Generator Studio’s submission, Sun Pavilion, was developed with L.A. artist Tm Gratkowski, Brightenergy, Prosser Wilbert Construction, and Thorton Tomasetti. Powered by solar panels, the opened sided pavilion will allow exhibition programming to spill outside the walls of the museum.  Read More

Three Pelli Towers to Rise on the Chicago River.  Three Pelli Towers to Rise on the Chicago River According to the Sun-Times, the Kennedy family and top tier developer Hines are working on plans for three towers at the Wolf Point site, just west of the Merchandise Mart, to be designed by Cesar Pelli. Currently used as a parking lot, the Kennedy-owned site has dramatic views of the covergence of the Chicago River as well as the Loop. Plans call for the tallest building to reach 60 stories. No word yet on the uses for the buildings. Full details of the proposal are expected to be released in March or April. Pelli’s only other building in Chicago is an office tower at 181 West Madison.

 

Illinois Bests California and New York in Green Building.  Illinois Bests California and New York in Green Building If you still think green building is a primarily coastal pursuit, you would be wrong. According to the USGBC, Illinois ranks third in square footage of certified green building per capita in 2011 (2.69 square feet a person) behind the District of Columbia (31.50!) and the state of Colorado (2.74). The leading states are scattered far and wide, with Texas (#8 with 1.99) outranking crunchy California (1.92). New York is even further behind (1.89), just edging out Minnesota’s 1.81 square feet per person.

 

Getting Boxy in Chicago’s South Loop.  Getting Boxy in Chicago's South Loop Chicago’s South Loop skyline may be getting a new bobble in the form of a boxy rental residential tower across from the Roosevelt University vertical campus. Designed by Lothan Van Hook DeStefano Architecture, the black boxes cantilever over the edge of the one below, creating a cubic counterpoint to Roosevelt’s zig zag. Many of these stacked box schemes—including a project in Jersey City by OMA and the dead Museum Plaza by REX in Louisville—have never made it off the drawing board, so it will be interesting to see if the locals can pull it off.

 

Unveiled> Geenland Tower in Suzhou by SOM Chicago

International, Midwest
Friday, January 20, 2012
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(Courtesy SOM)

SOM's Geenland Tower is proposed for a new city in China. (Courtesy SOM)

SOM Chicago has won a competition to design a mixed-use tower in the new Chinese city of Suzhou. Located along a lake front, the tower includes a distinctive void carved out the upper portion of the tower, splitting the floorplates in half to better serve hotel uses. Offices will fill the lower, larger floorplates. “We’ve been doing these kinds of mixed-use towers since Hancock,” said Ross Wimer, a partner at SOM Chicago. “Instead of tapering the tower, we’ve carved away a slot to bring fresh air and light into the building.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Scrappers in the Global Materials Food Chain.  Scrappers in the Global Materials Food Chain Architects are aware of the fluctuations in the cost of materials due to global demand. The Times takes a look at one link of that global chain that is having a big impact on Midwestern cities: scrappers. The short documentary video “Dismantling Detroit” captures that city’s former manufacturing glory, which now being pulled down and sold for scrap to feed China’s productivity. It’s a brief, sobering look at a complex problem with vast implications for the Midwest’s built environment.

 

It’s Stops A Go for Rahm.  It's Stops A Go for Rahm Yesterday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel officially reopened the Grand/State L station, and pledged to build a new Green Line stop at Cermak and a new Washington/Wabash stop in the Loop. Construction on the two new stops is expected to begin in about a year, and will create approximately 4000 jobs. Curbed Chicago has a good round-up of the news and event.

 

New Projects: Chicago’s Newest Architecture Gallery

Midwest, Newsletter
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
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Located three blocks south of Crown Hall at IIT, New Projects, a new architecture research and exhibition space, aims to provide a venue for urban and artistic dialogue about the future of cities. Located in the 1920′s Overton Building, the 3400 square foot storefront space is to play host to lectures, workshops, and exhibitions “focusing specifically on urbanism,” according to co-organizer Marshall Brown. Read More

St. Louis to I-70, Put A Lid On It

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
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St. Louis will soon build a "lid" over I-70 to better connect the Arch with downtown.

The grounds surrounding the St. Louis Arch have long been cut off from downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. One of the chief goals of the City+River+Arch competition was to improve connectivity. St. Louis recently received $20 million in federal TIGER III grants to build a lid over 1-70, one of the most important pieces of the Michael Van Valkenburgh-led redesign of the Arch grounds. The overall cost of the redesign is estimated at $578 million, so the grant is just a fraction of the overall funding needed. Still, it’s an important, early sign that this ambitious project is moving ahead.

 

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