Leading the Charge

Midwest
Friday, March 19, 2010
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Toni Griffin, Detroit's new planning director.

In an effort to contain costs and regain some control of the Motor City’s destiny, this month Detroit Mayor Dave Bing will announce the details of a plan to clear largely abandoned sections of the city and reinvigorate more stable neighborhoods. Signaling the importance of this controlled shrinkage plan, Time is reporting that Detroit has hired Newark’s urban planning director Toni Griffin to lead the effort. Griffin is one of the best known planners in the country, and she’s been working to reestablish planning principles and guide renewal in New Jersey’s largest city. A graduate of the Harvard GSD, prior to her time in Newark, she worked for SOM Chicago and for Washington D.C.’s planning department. In Detroit, Griffin’s salary, as well as those of some of her staff, will be underwritten by the Kresge Foundation. Her job will no doubt be a difficult one. Residents have previously fought neighbhorhood clearance and scuttled earlier shrinkage plans.

Less is More on Lakeshore

Midwest
Monday, March 15, 2010
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Photographers and videographers William Zbaren and Robert Sharoff interviewed architect Ron Krueck about his firm’s restoration of Mies van der Rohe’s  towers at 860-880 Lake Shore Drive, better known as the Lake Shore Drive apartments. Krueck, a principal at Krueck + Sexton Architects, calls the towers “revolutionary” for their time for their delicacy and lightness. The video is accompanied by beautiful photographs of the exteriors and grounds.

Highway to Isolation

Midwest
Thursday, March 4, 2010
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David Sunberg/Esto

Multidisciplinary teams are working to rethink the grounds surrounding the Eero Saarinen-designed Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, better known as the St. Louis Arch, to improve its connectivity with the city and the riverfront. An editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is calling on the teams to substantially rework I-70, which creates a barrier along the park’s western edge. Read More

Disappearing Detroit

Midwest
Thursday, February 25, 2010
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Walden Street, Detroit by photographer Andrew Moore. An exhibition of his Detroit work will be on display at the Akron Art Museum in June.

The plight of Detroit is a subject of endless fascination for architects and planners and has been irresistible to photographers. Still, the scale of the city’s problems retains the ability to shock. According to the Detroit Free Press, the city is moving to bulldoze between 2500 to 3000 abandoned homes this year—a fraction of the more than 10,000 homes considered dangerous and slated for demolition. Given the fact that it costs approximately $10,000 to demolish a house, the 2500 figure is all the finacially strapped city can afford to take down. Read More

LEEDers in Education

Midwest
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
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(photos by Cameron Campbell, RDG Planning and Design unless otherwise noted)

It’s official: design students at Iowa State University learn their craft in a LEED Platinum facility. The King Pavilion is the third Platinum building in Iowa, and one of the only design school buildings in the country to reach this highest level of certification. Designed by RDG Planning & Design of Des Moines, the wing features a green roof, extensive daylighting, blue jean insulation and other recycled building materials, among other sustainable strategies. Click through for more photos. Read More

Piano Bombed

Midwest
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
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(photos courtesy Fat Caps and Chrome)

Chicago is known for the combination of its excellent architecture and tough, gritty urban life. Both aspects of the city’s personality met briefly yesterday, when two graffiti crews tagged a long wall of the Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing at the Art Institute. While we would never endorse vandalism, there is no denying the visual power of the bright colors and riotous script dashed across Piano’s formal surfaces. The Art Institute, however, did not ponder the artistic merit of the tags. Read More

The Makers of the Design Canon

Midwest
Monday, February 22, 2010
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Recent acquisitions by the AIC's A&D department include the Obama logo designed by Sol Sender.

You probably would not expect to find the ubiquitous “@” symbol in the same category as the Olivetti portable typewriter, the Saarinen tulip chair, or the Pininfarina Cisitalia 202 GT car. But on Saturday at the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC), Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, persuasively argued for its inclusion in MoMA’s famed design collection alongside the items described above.

Within the very small world of museum architecture and design curators the AIC’s symposium, “Modern Construction: Creating Architecture and Design Collection” assembled a blue-chip group to discuss acquisition methodologies, philosophies, and approaches. Read More

A Public Art Plan for the Derby City

Midwest
Friday, February 19, 2010
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The report identified possible urban sites for public art (photos by Sarah Lyon).

Today the City of Louisville and the New York-based public art organization Creative Time unveiled a long-term plan for funding and developing public art across the city.  The Louisville Public Art Master Plan recommends the creation of a Committee on Public Art (COPA) that will oversee the city’s current art collection, manage a granting system for new public art and advise future city leaders on the continued creation and development of new art. Read More

Building Traveling Thinking

Midwest
Friday, February 12, 2010
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(images courtesy Kavi Gupta Gallery)

We urbanites have all cursed the slow-moving, camera-toting tourists, snapping photos of the iconic buildings in the cities we hustle through daily. As residents, with the dulling nature of time, our appreciation of these structures is diminished. As tourists, they are like vivid stage-sets captured in our minds, but, like all other memories, they are fleeting. We return home and try to explain them to our friends with words, charades-like gestures, and amateur photographs.  Artist Susan Giles explores these ideas in greater detail with her current exhibition, Buildings and Gestures, currently on display at Kavi Gupta Gallery in Chicago through March 13. Read More

Be My Neighbor

Midwest
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
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Charles H. Shaw Technology Learning Center (all images courtesy Chicago Neighborhood Design Awards)

Members of Chicago’s community development world gathered Tuesday evening for the 16th annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA). Established by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation/Chicago, the CNDA recognizes outstanding achievement in neighborhood real estate development and community building. This year, ten honorees were celebrated in a ceremony attended by Mayor Richard M. Daley. The CNDA is the largest awards program of its kind in the country. In addition to the prestige of winning, many of the awards are complemented by a monetary gift. Read the full list and see images of some of the winning projects after the jump. Read More

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

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