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.

 

Transit Stalls and Starts in the Midwest

Midwest
Thursday, December 15, 2011
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On Wednesday, federal transportation secretary Ray LaHood effectively killed Detroit’s planned light rail line, citing doubt about the city’s ability to build and maintain the project, given its dire finances and collapsing levels of density. He instead pushed for bus rapid transit along the Woodward Avenue corridor. Elsewhere, however, transit seems to be gaining traction.  Read More

Unveiled> David Hovey’s Streeterville Tower in Chicago

Midwest
Friday, December 9, 2011
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(courtesy Optima)

The architect/developer David Hovey has designed buildings in the Chicago suburbs as well as city neighborhoods outside of downtown. With the Optima Center Chicago, he is making a 42 story debut just north of the Loop. The luxury rental tower will have 325 units. Hovey is bullish on the building’s potential. “All our market research shows a lot of demand for rentals in that area,” he said of Streeterville. The units will sit on top of nine floors of parking as well as 20,000 square feet of commercial space. Hovey thinks the building’s location–walkable to the Loop, the Lake, and the Magnificent Mile–will make it appealing to upper-end renters. Amenities will include 10th floor recreation center and a sky deck on the 42nd floor concealed behind an ultra-smooth glass curtain wall.

Detroit Still Awaiting Its Very Own RoboCop

Midwest, Newsletter
Monday, December 5, 2011
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Earlier this year, over 2,700 people ponied up cash through the online crowd-funding platform Kickstarter to erect a statue of the 1980s icon RoboCop in Detroit, Michigan. Plenty has been said—both good and bad—about this quest to “uphold the awesome,” whether the statue will be a good or bad thing for the city struggling to regain a solid footing. Curbed Detroit recently checked in with Brandon Walley of Detroit Needs RoboCop and learned the statue could be ready to install as early as the summer of 2012. While a site for the statue must still be secured, organizers are currently awaiting the original RoboCop model to be shipped from Hollywood before the statue can be dipped in bronze. Considering that the 1987 American sci-fi action film was literally set in a near-future (you could say present-day) Detroit, and given the themes of resurrection, memories, and conflicted policies with logical fallacies, the statue likely holds more than just a nugget of nostalgia to the supporters.

In Chicago, Small and Steady May Win the Race

Midwest
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
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(photo: Steve Vance/flickr)

While a number of new rental towers have been announced in recent months, Crain’s has an informative article about a number of Chicago condominium developers who are beginning to build again, albeit at a very small scale and in tightly phased sequences. Even for projects as small as 14 units, banks are demanding projects be split into two phases, six units first, followed by eight in a second building. Some developers are also willing to accept lower offers from buyers for higher down payments up front. The thinking reflects new stricter lending standards and continuing economic uncertainty. But with Chicago’s condo market still over-saturated and the foreclosure crisis just beginning to wane, it also reflects a much needed correction from previous patterns of over building and over lending. And, pardon me Mr. Burnham, but isn’t incremental city-making and infill development often the best approach?

 

 

On View> Jürgen Mayer H. at the Art Institute of Chicago

Midwest
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
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Court of Justice in Hasselt, Belgium. (Courtesy AIC)

Court of Justice in Hasselt, Belgium. (Courtesy AIC)

Jürgen Mayer H.: Wirrwarr
The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago
Through January 22, 2012

While the Berlin-based architect Jürgen Mayer H. is known for his highly sculptural, honeycomb-like buildings, such as the Metropol Parasol in Seville or the the Court of Justice in Hasselt, Belgium (above), one of his quirky obsessions is not as widely known: a fascination with secret codes and numbers encrypted into patterns. Used by institutions such as banks to ensure that sensitive information such as PINs and passwords are only visible to the recipient, these intricately patterned data sheets are largely unexamined. To Jürgen Mayer H., however, this visual expression of our fear of exposure and desire for protection is fascinating and relevant to architecture.

Continue reading after the jump.

Aiming for Net Zero in Urbana-Champaign

Midwest
Thursday, November 17, 2011
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(courtesy SmithGroup)

The new Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) building at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign uses the latest in sustainable technology and building practices in hopes of reaching not only LEED Platinum, but even zero net energy usuage. Designed by SmithGroup, the 230,000 square foot building is also meant to serve as a prototype for sustainable building across the campus. The ECE department is working toward a net zero building that will supply one hundred percent of its energy demands by incorporating renewable energy systems. The architects and engineers from KJWW have integrated a range of system, including an array of photovoltaic cells panels, displacement and demand control ventilation, heat recovery chillers with net metering, and a chilled beam system for cooling and heating the classroom tower. The building also features solar shading and a multi-hued terra cotta rainscreen over an R30 building envelope. Construction is expected to begin at the end of this year, with an estimated completion date of fall 2014.

Yet Another Star Turn For Jeanne Gang

Midwest
Monday, November 14, 2011
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Watch Jeanne Gang: The Sky’s the Limit on PBS. See more from WTTW DOCUMENTARIES.

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.

 

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