We’ve been following Chicago’s Olympic bid rather closely of late, and not only because we’re on the way to inaugurating a Midwest edition of the paper. First, there was SOM’s intriguing proposal to create “sustainable,” “low-impact” Olympics that would have few legacy costs by using temporary facilities, an approach the IOC apparently favored. Then there was the impact of that plan, which still called for the demolition of some buildings—as well as hundreds of trees in Washington Park—most notably at the Walter Gropius-designed Michael Reese hospital campus. Outcry from preservationists led the city to delay demolition, which made time for the preservationists to develop alternative plans. Olympic opponents may be catching another break now, as, ironically enough, the very things the IOC purportedly liked about Chicago’s bid-lite may also be its undoing. Read More
There is a lot to like about Chicago’s Quincy Court, an alley turned public space outside the Mies van der Rohe-designed Dirksen Federal Building that opened this summer. The General Services Administration (GSA) initiated the project to help beef up security around the federal campus, and they can certainly be praised for hiring a design firm to reimagine the space, in this case Rios Clementi Hale of Los Angeles, instead of just bolting a bunch of bollards into the ground. And while the design has a certain whimsy, which may appeal to some, we’re having a hard time getting over the giant plastic palms. Read More
A non-profit group in Mason City, Iowa is restoring the last remaining Frank Lloyd Wright designed hotel, according to the AP. Completed in 1910, the Park Inn Hotel complex also includes a bank branch and a small office building. It had previously been used as a hotel, apartments, and a strip club. Read More
On Tuesday, after a nearly two-month delay, Zaha Hadid’s pavilion honoring the 100th-year anniversary of Daniel Burnham’s plan for Chicago finally opened in Millennium Park. The wait—allegedly caused by problems with the project’s contractor—was more than made up for by the dynamism of the space, or so thought the Tribune. The installation at last joins its neighbor, the on-schedule Burnham pavilion by UNStudio, which is already showing significant signs of wear on its plywood surface from being used as a public rumpus room. See more pictures of Zaha’s creation here.
Despite interest from developers and pleas from activists in St. Louis, yesterday the Missouri Circuit Court ruled that the demolition of the mid-century modern San Luis Apartments can proceed. An appeal brought to the court by The Friends of the San Luis last week attempted to prevent the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which owns the building, from the further demolition of the structure. The Archdiocese wants to build a surface parking lot on the site, creating a large gap in the urban fabric of Lindell Boulevard. Read More
The governors of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin today pledged to work together to implement a high-speed rail network centered in Chicago. In recent months, Vice President Biden and Transportation Secretary LaHood have urged such coordinated action, as the region competes against other parts of the country, especially the East and West coasts, for federal funds. The first legs of the system would connect Chicago to St. Louis, Detroit/Pontiac, and Milwaukee/Madison. If all goes according to plan, those first segments could be open in three to five years.
The demolition of the Michael Reese hospital campus in Chicago, partially designed by Walter Gropius, has been put on hold until after October 2, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will announce the host city for the 2016 Games. Preservation groups are pushing for adaptive reuse of some of the buildings, but the city is determined to clear the site for either an Olympic Village or for private development. The delay, then, probably does not signal a victory for preservationists. It is more likely a calculated move on the part of the city and Chicago 2016 to quiet opposition until after the IOC makes its decision.
Rafael Vinoly recently completed a new addition and renovation at the Cleveland Museum of Art, a major encyclopedic collection set in the city’s leafy University Circle area, which includes Case Western Reserve University and cultural institutions like the famed Cleveland Orchestra. The campus includes a 1916 Beaux Arts building and a Marcel Breuer-designed addition from 1971. Vinoly reportedly worked closely with the museum’s then director Timothy Rub, and critics have praised the addition’s galleries and the improved circulation throughout the complex.
Architect and writer Brian Newman recently took a walk through St. Louis’ newest urban park and sent this dispatch.
Before setting foot in St. Louis’ downtown City Garden, which officially opened to the public last week, before you come across the bright red Keith Herring totem or Tom Otterness’ bulbous bronze Gepetto, even before you see its verdant paths and shaded lawns, you see the packs of happily damp children, wrapped in beach towels. There are children everywhere in City Garden, swimming in fountains and splashing under limestone framed waterfalls, playing in front of a huge interactive LED video wall and climbing on any one of the almost two dozen sculptures installed throughout the park. Read More
In our pilot Midwest issue, I wrote about The Ledge, a new viewing platform at the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago. At the time, only renderings were available of the SOM-designed all-glass cubes that protrude off of the tower’s west face, and the project was expected to open in mid June. Well, it appears that the dizzying new viewing experience is now accepting visitors, as a whole rash of pictures have popped up on flickr. Among them is the above image, which reminds us that sometimes the highest achievement that architecture can aspire to is to fuel the dreams of a child.