MacArthur Dubs Jeanne a Genius

Midwest
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
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Jeanne Gang (courtesy MacArthur Foundation)

Today the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced their 22 new fellows, including Chicago architect Jeanne Gang. Congratulations to Jeanne and everyone at Studio Gang. Best known for the Aqua Tower, the firm has generated consistently innovative solutions for houses, community and cultural projects, beginning, most notably, with the Starlight Theatre in 2003 all the way through their contribution to MoMA’s Foreclosed exhibition, currently in development. One of the most prestigious awards in the country for artistic, intellectual, scientific, and professional achievement, the MacArthur also comes with a $500,000 prize, doled out over five years.

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The Justice is on the Jury, Oh Yeah and Zaha Too

International, Midwest
Friday, September 16, 2011
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Justice Stephen Breyer and Zaha Hadid (courtesy Pritzker Prize)

File under: “Say What?” Retired  Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has joined the jury for the Pritzker Prize. Prize organizers say the Justice has a long and demonstrable interest in architecture. Who knew? Also joining the jury is 2004 laureate Zaha Hadid. Is it just us, or does it seem strange for Zaha to be upstaged by a guy in a black robe known for his rigorous legal scholarship and even temperament?  Read More

On View> Brian Ulrich: Copia-Retail, Thrift, & Dark Stores

Midwest
Monday, August 29, 2011
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(Courtesy Brian Ulrich)

(Courtesy Brian Ulrich)

Brian Ulrich: Copia—Retail,
Thrift, and Dark Stores, 2001–11
Cleveland Museum of Art
11150 East Boulevard
Through January 16, 2012

Using only a hand-held camera, photographer Brian Ulrich captured the fluctuating economic climate’s impact on American consumerism in the last decade. Brian Ulrich: Copia – Retail, Thrift and Dark Stores, 2001–11 at the Cleveland Museum of Art features 50 color photographs, portraying anonymous commercial excess in three distinct venues. Whether engrossed by the saccharine colors and limitless temptation of big box stores or by the discarded whimsies of thrift shops, the photographed subjects are caught in a vicious cycle of spending. The final phase highlights the absent consumer, focusing on the prevalence of ghost stores and dark shopping malls as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, such as J.C. Penney, Dixie Square Mall (above).

More images after the jump.

On View> Process and Artistry in the Soviet Vanguard

Midwest
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
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Soviet propaganda poster from 1935. (Courtesy Smart Museum of Art)

Soviet propaganda poster from 1935. (Courtesy Smart Museum of Art)

Process and Artistry in the Soviet Vanguard
Smart Museum of Art
5550 South Greenwood Avenue
Chicago
Through December 11

In Process and Artistry in the Soviet Vanguard the Smart Museum examines Soviet propaganda of the 1920s and 1930s, including a number of art pieces that set the creative precedent for mass-produced works. The show features artists Gustav Klutsis and Valentina Kulagina, from their informal drawings, collages, and visual studies to completed designs, posters, and printed material. Concerned with the “politicization of art making,” the works of Klutsis and Kulagina begin to tell a story about artistic expression, political institutions, and mass production. The show presents both experimental modes of representation and what became the iconic graphics associated with propaganda, such as Klutsis’ Glory to the Red Army of workers and peasants – loyal guard of Soviet borders!, 1935, pictured above.

Mayor Rahmbo Mowing Down Permitting Times

Midwest
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
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Today Mayor Emanuel’s office announced plans to streamline the process for submitting and reviewing plans for building permits. The so-called “E-Plan” will eliminate paper drawings, and allow architects and engineers to submit projects to the Department of Buildings electronically. Architects and building owners will also be able to check the status of their permits instantly. “We are taking much-needed steps to increase efficiency and decrease the time it takes developers to obtain a building permit in the City of Chicago,” said the mayor, in a statement. According to an interview with NBC Chicago, Emanuel believes the new permitting measures will shave an average of 10 days off the process.

 

Museum Plaza Developers Scrap Plans for Tower

Midwest, Newsletter
Monday, August 1, 2011
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Museum Plaza would have extended Louisville's skyline. (Courtesy REX)

Museum Plaza would have extended Louisville's skyline. (Courtesy REX)

The first line of a press statement sent out by developers of the REX-designed Museum Plaza tower in Louisville, Kentucky put it bluntly: “Museum Plaza will not be built.” The 62-story hyper-rational tower—part kunsthalle museum, part residential and commercial hub, part art school—was hoped to signal the rejuvenation of the city’s urban core, but like so many iconic buildings proposed in the days leading up to the great recession, the vision succumbed to the realities of the financial markets.

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Stretched for the Stars

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
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(Courtesy Adler Planetarium)

When folks wait in line for the Adler Planetarium’s rehabbed space theater, they won’t be staring at a bland hallway. The new Clark Family Welcome Gallery, designed by Thomas Roszak Architecture, corrals the queue at the theater’s entrance. The goal for its design: “We wanted people to stop thinking about driving and parking, and start thinking about the mysteries of the universe,” says Adler president Paul Knappenberger. Read More

Video> Welcome to Cloquet, Home of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Only Gas Station

Midwest
Friday, July 22, 2011
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Gas station designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. (Screen Capture)

Gas station designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. (Screen Capture)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision of Broadacre City may have been the prototype for the modern American suburb, but in Cloquet, Minnesota, a small piece of the original plan was actually built and is still in operation. The R.W. Lindholm Service Station, the only gas station ever designed by the architect, was commissioned after the Lindholm family previously hired Wright to design their house. Finished in 1956, the service station offered a futuristic vision of the gas station as place of community and culture with a novel waiting room prominently perched overlooking the filling bays. Wright took the structure’s design seriously, even specifying that gas be dispensed from the ceiling to avoid obstacles to auto traffic flow, an innovation that didn’t make it through history.

Watch the videos after the jump.

Filed Under: 

Competition> Envision a Future for the Pruitt-Igoe Site

Midwest, Newsletter
Thursday, July 21, 2011
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Pruitt-Igoe as planned. (all images courtesy Pruitt-Igoe Now)

Building on the renewed interest in the destruction of the Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex in St. Louis, a new competition looks to engage the history and inspire possible future uses for the 33 acre site. Nearly 40 years after the demolition–which Charles Jencks claimed signaled the death of Modern architecture itself–most of the site remains cleared, filled in with trees and grasses that have sprung up over time. Organized by the newly formed non-profit Pruitt-Igoe Now, the competition brief asks, “Can this site itself be liberated from a turbulent and mythologized past through re-imagination and community engagement?” Read More

Stop, Collaborate & Lexington: Studio Gang Reveals New Plans for Stalled Kentucky Site

Midwest, Newsletter
Thursday, July 14, 2011
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Studio Gang's design for a 30-story tower in Lexington, Kentucky (Courtesy Studio Gang)

Studio Gang's design for a 30-story tower in Lexington, Kentucky (Courtesy Studio Gang)

Developer Dudley Webb of the Webb Companies didn’t make any friends when his company razed an entire block of Downtown Lexington, Kentucky for a massive mixed-use tower that ended up stalling in the recession. Now, though, after bringing on Chicago-based Studio Gang to help reimagine the project at the behest of Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and dean of the University of Kentucky College of Design Michael Speaks, the community is regaining excitement over new plans to revamp the CentrePointe site.

Continue reading after the jump.

Front Lawn Wayfinding in Kansas City

Midwest
Friday, July 1, 2011
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Site seeing in the burbs. (photo: Gunnar Hand)

Last month rumblings started going around the leafy Armour Hills neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri. “Those hippies are up to something,” exclaimed one the area’s more conservative residents.

Local artist Pete Cowdin, who goes by the pseudonym A. Bitterman, has created a unique outdoor experience in his front and back yards. Entitled Point of Interest, the installation takes the property of the single-family home, and transforms it into a “national park.” The installation is an interesting critique of how society views nature as somewhere outside of the built environment. “We confuse Nature for the natural world, and this has generated a kind of madness,” Cowdin said.

Continue reading after the jump.

Mark Handforth Sculptures at Chicago MCA “Big” Deal

Midwest
Thursday, June 30, 2011
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Mark Handforth Plaza Project
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 East Chicago Avenue
July 8 through October 10

The formality of the plaza and entrance that Josef Paul Kleihues designed for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago has always stood in contrast to the institution’s experimental spirit. This summer the Miami-based artist Mark Handforth will debut four playful sculptures on the plaza and west facade of the building, including a giant brass coat hanger (above) hand bent by the artist. Other pieces, which mine Surrealism even more explicitly, include a giant streetlamp coiled like a snake, a monumental bone with a telephone handset hanging off the top, and a massive crumpled traffic cone topped with an English bobby’s hat.

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