Another Close-Up for Studio Gang

Midwest
Monday, February 8, 2010
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(photos courtesy Columbia College)

Last Friday’s ribbon-cutting festivities marking the opening of Columbia College’s 35,500 square foot,  $21 million Media Production Center (MPC) in Chicago’s South Loop featured retired anchorman/documentarian/pitchman Bill Kurtis emceeing a ceremony in the building’s large soundstage that included remarks by Mayor Richard Daley and a slew of college officials and donors, all extolling the virtues of the first new building in the school’s 120 years of operation. Columbia claims to have the nation’s largest film and video school, and refers to the MPC as a “state of the art facility designed to foster cross disciplinary collaboration among students in film, television, interactive arts and media and television.” Read More

Such Great Heights

Midwest
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
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Blue Ridge Pass by Maya Lin (images courtesy Arts Club of Chicago)

Winter makes Chicagoans crave a sense of escape. An intriguing new exhibition of Maya Lin’s work at the Arts Club of Chicago provides a timely opportunity to visit, visually at least, some fascinating terrain. With its small and large-scale sculpture and installations, viewers can travel from mountain peaks to the bottom of the sea. Read More

Rough Ride on the South Side

Midwest
Friday, January 29, 2010
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(Courtesy Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center)

With project’s like the Gary Comer Youth Center, designed by John Ronan Architects, and the SOS Children’s Villages by Studio Gang, Chicago’s South Side has some of the most exciting non-profit institutional architecture in the country. Chicago Magazine takes an in-depth look at one project that has had a decidely bumpier ride, the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, once planned for Bronzeville in an Antoine Predock-designed building, now destined for West Pullman in a less ambitious piece of architecture designed by Antunovich Associates (above). The piece lays out in detail how in 2004 the project was scuttled when then Alderman Dorothy Tillman vetoed the project, saying she wanted a shopping center on the site. The project was then relocated to West Pullman, with a slightly less expensive design by Murphy/Jahn. Read More

Turning Up Design

Midwest
Thursday, January 21, 2010
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(images courtesy of the Volume Gallery)

We have previously reported on Chicago’s burgeoning independent design scene, and now the Windy City is gaining a new venue to see the newest design thinking. The Volume Gallery will serve as a “platform for emerging American designers to engage with an international audience,” according to a statement form the organizers. Their first exhibition on designer Jonathan Nesci, called THE NEW, will be held at the Andrew Rafacz Gallery in the West Loop, and will feature limited editions, including tables, chairs, and pendant lamps. Nesci’s work has been widely published and has been show at Design Miami, ICFF, Design Art London, and the Salone del Mobile in Milan. Read More

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Targeting the Loop

Midwest
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
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(courtesy Joseph Freed and Associates)

Crain’s Chicago Business reports that big-box retailer Target is negotiating with the developers Joseph Freed and Associates for space at the venerable Carson Pirie Scott & Co. building, now named the Sullivan Center.  Formerly home of the department store Carson Pirie Scott, the building, designed by Louis Sullivan, has remained largely vacant following a recent substantial rehab effort.  The upper floors house the School of the Art Institute Chicago’s departments of  architecture, interior architecture, and designed objects and the architectural mega-firm Gensler.  The building anchors the slightly more downtrodden southern end of State Street within the Loop.  Read More

New Leadership at AIA Chicago

Midwest
Thursday, January 14, 2010
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There’s a new regime in town. AIA Chicago has announced its new board of directors and chapter officers. Walter D. Street III has been named chapter president. He brings a wealth of professional experience and has shown a commitment to expanding diversity and mentorship within the profession. According to a statement from AIA Chicago

Street will lead ongoing efforts for the chapter, which serves more than 3,200 members in Chicagoland.  He is currently a senior architect at Johnson & Lee, Ltd. and has been a member of AIA Chicago for many years, previously serving as Treasurer in 2008.  Street also regularly participates in the National AIA Grassroots legislative conferences in Washington, D.C., the Illinois Prairie Grassroots conferences in Springfield, and is an active member of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA).  Street has also served on the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s committee to develop an architecture curriculum for K-12 students.

Read the full list of directors after the jump. Read More

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Konstantin Craving

Midwest
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
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Osorom Seating Element for Moroso (all images courtesy respective manufacturers)

Konstantin Grcic: Decisive Design currently on view in The Art Institute of Chicago’s new Modern wing marks the first stateside showcase of the Munich-born, London-trained designer. Curated by Zoe Ryan, the exhibition is the fifth installment of the museum’s A+D Series that previously featured Chicago architect Douglas Garofalo and graphic design firm Graphic Thought Facility.

It’s also the first show with a subtitle. Although delightfully alliterative, “Decisive Design” is a misnomer. It sets up Grcic, a craftsman who studied at the Royal College of Art and came of age under the sly wit of designers Jasper Morrison and Ettore Sottsass, as an exacting decider. Sure, the 100 plus objects in the gallery reveal that Grcic is always searching logical production methods and that he takes an honest approach to materials, but the products themselves tell stories richer than pure functionalism. Read More

Spire Sputters Again

Midwest
Monday, December 21, 2009
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According to Crain’s Chicago Business, major construction unions will not be loaning funds to restart the Chicago Spire, as many had speculated. The union pension funds are feeling cautious, much like other lenders, so the Spire, which was always an ambitious project, remains a high risk bet. Who will the developers turn to next?

High Tech Holidays

Midwest
Monday, December 14, 2009
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(images courtesy SOM)

The Chicago office of SOM has designed a modern take on the menorah, which recently took top prize in a charity competition sponsored by Steelcase. The solid wax menorah, which was created by Colin Gorsuch, burns so that the eight inch square frame is revealed with the passing of each night of Chanukkah. Read More

Spire Revival

Midwest
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
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(image courtesy Shelbourne Development)

First reported in the Chicago Tribune, and today in the Wall Street Journal, officials at a group of union pension funds are vetting a plan to lend $170 million to restart construction on the stalled Chicago Spire. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the 150 story residential tower would be the tallest building in the US. The Journal piece points out that with a drastic drop off in condo construction downtown predicted for 2010 and 2011, the completion of the Spire could actually come at a time when there is pent up demand for housing. Blair Kamin previously pointed out that unions have made similar loans in previous downturns, notably providing loans for the construction of Marina City.

According to the Journal, Chicago’s failure to win the 2016 Olympics may have been the key to giving the Spire new life. The pensions had previously been looking to lend funds for the construction of the planned Olympic Village.

NOLA Lights Up

Midwest
Monday, December 7, 2009
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Star light, star bright.

Star light, star bright.

For the last three years, AIA New Orleans has invited teams of architects and artists to takeover “hidden” spaces within the city, transforming them with the latest design tech and hopefully testing the boundaries of this at-times-ephemeral place in the process. One of installations at this year’s DesCours comes from the Chicago team of Marshall Brown and Dana Carter. (Brooklynites may know Brown from his work on the anti-Ratner UNITY plan for the Atlantic Yards.) The duo has focused their gaze on the heavens, where they are harnessing the sun—through photovoltaic, of course—and transforming it for the weeklong nightly event into a constellation in no less a celestial place than Charles Moore’s Piazza d’Italia. More illuminating photos after the jump, and if you happen to be in town for the event, let us know what you think about this or any of the other 13 projects. Read More

Northerly Night

Midwest
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
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The Chicago skyline as seen from Northerly Island. (photo:-bc/flickr)

The Chicago Parks District is holding a public meeting on the future of Northerly Island tonight at the Spertus Institute from 6-9pm. The 91-acre peninsula, which is connected to the lakefront by a causeway, has played an important and evolving role  in Chicago’s civic imagination. It figures prominently in the Burnham Plan, was home to 1933-1934 World’s Fair, and later the Meigs Field airport, and was part of the 2016 Olympic bid. The meeting will offer a preview of plans for the island and solicit public comment.

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