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

An Olympic Conundrum for Chicago

Midwest
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
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SOMs official Olympic village proposal.

SOM's official Olympic village proposal.

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

On Plastic Plants

Midwest
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
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(photos: Quincy Court by Scott Shigley, MoMA Rooftop by Peter Mauss/ESTO)

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

Elevated Extensions

Midwest
Friday, August 14, 2009
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On Wednesday, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) approved a plan to extend the Red, Yellow, and Orange L lines. The vote clears the way for the CTA to pursue federal funding for the line extensions. Read More

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Wright Room Service

Midwest
Monday, August 10, 2009
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(courtesy Wright on the Park)

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

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Late Is Better Than Never

Midwest
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
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Zahas fabric and aluminum pod is lit at night by LED fixtures, in a changing color scheme designed by Chicago firm Dear Productions. (Courtesy Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

Zaha's fabric and aluminum pod is lit at night by LED fixtures, in a changing color scheme designed by Chicago firm Dear Productions. (Courtesy Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

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.

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Put Up A Parking Lot

Midwest
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
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(photo: Brian Newman)

(photo: Brian Newman)

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

Inching Toward High-Speed

Midwest
Monday, July 27, 2009
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(photo: Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)

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.

Last Gasp for Gropius?

Midwest
Thursday, July 23, 2009
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(photo: Graham Balkany)

(photo: Graham Balkany)

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.

(Community Media Workshop via Blair Kamin.)

Between a Column and a Hard Place

Midwest
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
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The new East Wing at the Cleveland Museum of Art (photos: Brad Feinknopf).

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.

Read More

Landscape Architects to Invade Chicago

Midwest
Friday, July 17, 2009
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Aerial view of Chicagos Millennium Park (Courtesy The Art Institute of Chicago)

Aerial view of Chicago's Millennium Park (Courtesy The Art Institute of Chicago)

In spite of the down economy, on Wednesday, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) released an official statement that cited an increased number of registrants for this year’s Landscape Architecture Meeting and Expo in Chicago. Read More

An Urban Place to Park the Kids

Midwest
Thursday, July 16, 2009
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(photos by Brian Newman)

(photos by Brian Newman)

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

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