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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Voters Endorse Rail in Southern Ohio

Midwest
Thursday, November 5, 2009
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An effort to block a streetcar line in Cincinnati, represented here by the solid yellow line, was defeated at the polls. (courtesy cincystreetcar.com)

On Tuesday, voters in Cincinnati voted to reject Issue 9, a proposed charter amendment that would have made any passenger rail-related spending conditional on ballot approval. The amendment appeared to be an effort to block the proposed Downtown to Uptown streetcar line. Now that the ballot measure has been defeated, the Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that local officials appear poised to announce significant Federal funding to advance the project.

Bright Holiday Ideas

Midwest
Monday, November 2, 2009
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(all photos courtesy Object Design League)

The Object Design League, working with Pavilion Antiques, is opening a pop-up design store in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. Opening the day after Thanksgiving, the shop, called Worth Your Salt, will feature pieces by 19 American designers, including lighting, accessories, jewelry, and household items. The designs explore themes of “industriousness and play” according to a statement from the league. Craighton Berman’s Coil Lamp, for examples, is made from a single electrical cord wrapped around a nearly invisible frame in the form of an everyday table-top light. Click through for a preview of a few of the objects that will be offered. Read More

AN Midwest is Conceived

Midwest
Monday, October 26, 2009
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Our preview issue.

The cover of our preview issue.

We have a very special announcement to make. The AN family is growing! In February 2010, we will publish our third edition of the paper based in the Midwest. Thousands of architects in the region have received a preview copy, and we hope our new readers will take a moment to subscribe. As with our East and West editions, the paper is free for registered architects and architectural designers. Show us your support by signing up today, and stay informed on the latest architectural news, projects, innovative products, gossip, and culture from Chicago to Cincinnati and St. Louis to St. Paul.

As I wrote in the my editorial, AN aims reflect the aspirations of the region’s architects, provide a forum for debate, and most of all, be consistently informative and useful to our readers. Start following us now for weekly Midwest news stories and blog posts on www.archpaper.com. And send tips, comments, and suggestions to Midwesteditor@archpaper.com.

City Stunts

Midwest
Monday, October 19, 2009
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(all photos: Michelle Litvin)

A new exhibition at the Graham Foundation’s Madlener House puts urban residents on notice: engage your community, become amateur planners, designers, and architects. Actions: What You Can Do with the City was organized and curated by the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal and seeks to challenge traditional planning’s organization of the built environment into work, residential, and leisure zones. The exhibition is composed of 99 actions, “common activities such as walking, playing, recycling, and gardening that are pushed beyond their usual definition by the international architects, artists, and collectives featured in the exhibition.” The actions range from cheeky solutions to lying down on hostile benches (Action #38) to sensible maps of how and where to forage for urban fruits and vegetables (Action #9). Read More

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Eavesdrop MW 01

Midwest
Thursday, October 15, 2009
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MacLear and Wright (center) spotted with Metropolis Martin Peterson (left) and Karrie Jacobs (right) at MoMA in May. (Courtesy Metropolis)

MacLear and Wright (center) spotted with Metropolis' Martin Peterson (left) and Karrie Jacobs (right) at MoMA in May. (Courtesy Metropolis)

PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN GLASS HOUSES
Word on the street is that Chicago’s modern design auctioneer extraordinaire Richard Wright and Philip Johnson Glass House executive director Christy MacLear have been spending time together. That’s a lot of design obsession for one relationship, we’re just sayin’. Moreover, what about the poor flooded Farnsworth House? Wright, it seems, prefers to rendezvous at the imitation over the original, even as its water-stained furniture is being restored. Richard—your hometown needs you! (OK, so the Glass House is actually older than Farnsworth, but we all know Johnson borrowed his best ideas.) Read More

Sprucing Up the Speed

Midwest
Monday, October 12, 2009
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(courtesy Saatchi Gallery)

On Friday, the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky announced the selection of Watertown, MA-based Reed Hilderbrand as the landscape architect for its planned
renovation and expansion, led by LA-based wHY Architecture. The encyclopedic museum sits on the campus of the University of Louisville, and across from a park designed by the Olmsted firm. The museum has put a special emphasis the landscape strategy of the project, which they hope will help open up the museum to the campus and the community at large. The museum expects to release designs in Spring 2010. Read More

AIC Adds Architecture Curator

Midwest
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
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(photo: Dave Jordano)

(photo: Dave Jordano)

Another sign of the growing importance of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Architecture and Design Department, the museum announced the appointment Alison Fisher as assistant curator. Fisher, who will focus on the department’s historical collection, joins department chair Joe Rosa, and curator Zoe Ryan, who has been building the department’s contemporary design collection. The department, which now boasts the country’s largest architecture and design galleries, is working on a major exhibition on Bertrand Goldberg, among other shows. Fisher previously served as a curatorial fellow at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University and she is completing a doctorate in art history at Northwestern.

Broad Shoulders, Big Ideas

Midwest
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
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The Chicago Grid, Brinistool + Lynch (all images courtesy The Burnham Plan Centennial)

Big. Bold. Visionary: Chicago Considers the Next Century, another event commemorating the Burnham Plan Centennial, taps local architects, planners, and landscape architects to envision the ideal Windy City of the future. Some designers took a creative and sometimes whimsical approach, while others offered up more practical concepts. Read More

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