10,000 sunflowers help rehab a vacant lot in St. Louis

As part of Washington University's Land Lab program, a vacant lot in St. Louis was made into a sunflower field. (Richard Reilly)

As part of Washington University’s Land Lab program, a vacant lot in St. Louis was made into a sunflower field. (Richard Reilly)

On a long-abandoned lot in St. Louis’ near north side, 10,000 sunflowers are sucking up the heavy metals that have helped stall development there for “longer than neighbors care to remember,” reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The project is called Sunflower+. It’s one of the winners of St. Louis’ inaugural “Sustainable Land Lab” competition, which was organized by Washington University in St. Louis and city officials. Over the next two years, the design team will cultivate and harvest four rotations of summer sunflowers and winter wheat on the vacant lot, hopefully preparing it for redevelopment in the future.

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Mortgage fraud money to remake historic homes in Chicago’s Pullman area

THE 12000 BLOCK OF SOUTH CHAMPLAIN AVENUE AND THE 11200 BLOCK OF SOUTH FORESTVILLE AVENUE FEATURE SOME OF PULLMAN'S HISTORIC HOMES AND HOTELS. (HPF / ROBERT SHYMANSKI)

(HPF / ROBERT SHYMANSKI)

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced Tuesday $1.9 million—most of which comes from the state’s portion of a federal settlement with banks over mortgage fraud—will go to rehab historic homes in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood. Read More

Bittertang Farms’ organic amphitheater sprouts from straw in Lake Forest, Illinois

Buru Buru amphitheatre at the Ragdale Ring in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Bittertang Farms)

Buru Buru amphitheatre at the Ragdale Ring in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Bittertang Farms)

Work wrapped up this summer on Bittertang Farms’ installation at Ragdale, the nonprofit artists’ community in Chicago’s North Shore suburbs, and true to its plans the straw amphitheater springs forth from a lush hillside in Lake Forest, Illinois.

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AIA Chicago lauds John Vinci with lifetime achievement award

The Illinois State Capitol's west wing, restored by John Vinci's firm. (Tom Rossiter, courtesy Vinci Hamp Architects)

The Illinois State Capitol’s west wing, restored by John Vinci’s firm. (Tom Rossiter, courtesy Vinci Hamp Architects)

Chicago architect John Vinci will receive this year’s lifetime achievement award from the AIA Chicago, the local chapter announced in June. Vinci’s work includes preservation activism—he helped reconstruct Louis Sullivan’s Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room inside the Art Institute of Chicago—and original designs like the Arts Club of Chicago and the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. He is a principal of the design firm Vinci Hamp Architects. Read More

Cranbrook picks Christopher Scoates to replace Reed Kroloff

Eliel Saarinen, Cranbook Academy of Arts, Bloomfield Hills, MI, 1978, photograph by Balthazar Korab. (Courtesy Estate of Balthazar Korab)

Eliel Saarinen, Cranbook Academy of Arts, Bloomfield Hills, MI, 1978, photograph by Balthazar Korab. (Courtesy Estate of Balthazar Korab)

More than one year after Reed Kroloff announced he would leave his post as director of Michigan’s Cranbrook Academy of Art, the illustrious arts campus and museum has plucked an art museum director from the West Coast to fill his shoes.

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MAD Architects, Studio Gang, VOA to design Chicago’s George Lucas Museum

The lakefront site, outlined in white, proposed for Chicago's George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. (Courtesy City of Chicago from Lucas Museum task force report)

The lakefront site, outlined in white, proposed for Chicago’s George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. (Courtesy City of Chicago from Lucas Museum task force report)

MAD Architects, the Chinese designers known for their organically curving buildings from Inner Mongolia to Canada, will work with two local firms—including Studio Gang Architects—to bring filmmaker George Lucas’ new Chicago museum to life. Read More

Letter to the Editor> Motor City Mouthful

Detroit's Michigan Central Station. (Juan N Only / Flickr)

Detroit’s Michigan Central Station. (Juan N Only / Flickr)

[Editor's Note: The following comment was left on archpaper.com in response to the editorial “Motoring Toward Destruction?” (AN 08_06.05.2014), which parsed the wisdom of Detroit’s blight removal program.Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com. ]

I’m failing to find a thesis in here, other than wholesale demolition = bad, which is something we’re well aware of. Other considerations that weren’t even mentioned in this are aspects of public safety (arson and the use of dilapidated structures in which to commit crimes, peddle drugs, etc.) and the question of revenue (clearing blighted structures for redevelopment). The article even mentions that of the 80,000 blighted structures, we’re attempting to save more than half.

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Deborah Berke, SHoP, Tod Williams Billie Tsien to compete for new Cummins’ Indianapolis headquarters

(Jay Denney via Flickr)

(Jay Denney via Flickr)

Engine manufacturer Cummins Corporation announced plans for a new regional headquarters in Indianapolis Monday, but the Columbus, Indiana–based Fortune 500 company won’t look to local design talent to lead the project. Instead, three of the country’s leading names—all based in New York City—will compete for the project.

Continue reading after the jump.

Navy Pier redesign gets $20 million private donation

The $20 million donation helps fund the redesign of Gateway Park, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel called Chicago's new "front door." (James Corner Field Operations)

The $20 million donation helps fund the redesign of Gateway Park, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel called Chicago’s new “front door.” (James Corner Field Operations)

Chicago’s Navy Pier is currently undergoing major changes courtesy of a design team led by James Corner Field Operations. That work got an infusion of cash Thursday, as local benefactors from the Polk Bros. department store chain announced a donation of $20 million. It’s the single largest private gift ever made to Navy Pier, Illinois’ most-visited tourist attraction. Read More

Sustainability Expert Juan Betancur Talks Integrated Facades

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture's Federation of Korean Industries office tower. (©Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture/Namgoong Sun)

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture’s Federation of Korean Industries office tower. (©Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture/Namgoong Sun)

In a high-performance building, argues Juan Betancur, director at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the envelope must never be an afterthought. Rather, it should be a material expression of the overall environmental strategy. “The key to what we’re doing with energy and sustainability is: how do the systems become the facades themselves?” he said. “If we make it part of the building, it’s an integrated systems solution.” Read More

Cleveland’s Public Square could break ground soon, thanks to $8 million cash boost

Cleveland's Public Square is the subject of a major redesign, which recently received a funding boost from a local foundation. (James Corner Field Operations and LAND Studio)

Cleveland’s Public Square is the subject of a major redesign, which recently received a funding boost from a local foundation. (James Corner Field Operations and LAND Studio)

Cleveland last year unveiled a plan to revamp Public Square—a space that, as its name suggests, is meant to serve as a civic space for the city’s downtown. Now an $8 million grant could make that ambitious project shovel-ready by the end of this year. Read More

Obama library round-up: Woodlawn, Lakeside, Bronzeville and more vying for nation’s 14th presidential library

(HOK)

HOK’s scheme for Bronzeville. (HOK)

Speculation over the future site of President Barack Obama’s presidential library has picked up as a slew of Chicago sites—as well as some in New York, Hawaii, and even Kenya—made the June deadline for proposals. Ultimately the decision is up to the President and the board tasked with developing what will be the nation’s 14th presidential library, but dozens of groups are attempting to tug at that group’s ears. (Even I used AN‘s June editorial page to consider the library’s urban impact.) Here’s a round-up of some of the Chicago proposals made public so far.

Continue reading after the jump.

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