Floodwaters Surround Mies Van Der Rohe’s Farnsworth House

Midwest
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
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Floodwaters surround Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House. (Courtesy Farnsworth House)

Floodwaters surround Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. (Courtesy Farnsworth House)

Just over four years ago, the Fox River spilled its banks, sending floodwaters into Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and causing significant damage. Built in 1951 and located outside Chicago, the river is again rising, now fully surrounding the stilted abode turned museum, and the house, operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has shared watery photos on its Farnsworth blog, stating: “The house is fully surrounded by river water, but neither the lower deck nor the upper deck has yet to be breached.” Water is not expected to enter the house, but all precautions are being taken, including elevating interior furnishings on milk crates.When the site is not flooded, tours of the house are available to the public.

Chicago’s Portage Theater Gets Landmarks Nod, Still Faces Uncertain Future

Midwest
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
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portage_theater_01

The Portage Theater, a 1920s-era theater on Chicago’s northwest side, escaped acquisition by an Albany Park church. (Eric Allix Rogers / Flickr)

Portage Park’s historic Portage Theater won a unanimous recommendation from the Chicago Commission on Landmarks last week, but the 1920s movie house isn’t out of the woods yet.

After a neighborhood church announced it would withdraw its bid to acquire the northwest side cinema, preservationists celebrated. But a September acquisition by Congress Theater owner Erineo “Eddie” Carranza left some of them with lingering doubts. WBEZ’s Jim DeRogatis reported theater owners Dennis Wolkowicz and Dave Dziedzic may have been served with a 60-day eviction notice, noting the Portage has no new bookings after mid-April.

Continue reading after the jump.

Is “Marketing” A Dirty Word?

Eavesdroplet, Midwest
Monday, March 11, 2013
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Studio Gang's Nature Boardwalk at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. (Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing)

Studio Gang’s Nature Boardwalk at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. (Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing)

We were glad to be included on the Studio Gang’s Archi-Salon panel on “outside research” at the Art Institute of Chicago on February 2. UIC’s Clare Lyster moderated a lively discussion that, true to its roots in academic theory, kicked off by questioning the premise in the first place. Are practice and research separated by anything more than semantics? Based on the turnout it seems the discussion series achieved its goal of public engagement—what can we say? We’re thrilled and a bit surprised that you all find architectural theory as stimulating as we do.

During the discussion, Paul Preissner detected a whiff of marketing in architects’ clambering to engage “outside” disciplines. You might have thought he accused them of artistic treason, based on the defensive tone that the discussion took whenever the topic popped back up.

Lessons for Chicago’s Riverwalk: Engage With The City

Midwest
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
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Wolf Point on the Chicago River. (Courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli)

Wolf Point on the Chicago River. The towers’ landscaping spurred a good year for riverside development downtown, which saw Mayor Rahm Emanuel call for an expansion of the Chicago Riverwalk.(Courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli)

As Chicago gears up for an overhaul of the city’s Riverwalk, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has touted his architectural cause célèbre as a way for the city to reengage with its “second shoreline.” The renderings by Sasaki Associates show six new blocks of riverfront parks, effectively connecting the shore of Lake Michigan with a small park at the foot of  the three massive towers planned for Wolf Point, at the confluence of the Chicago River’s three branches.

Continue reading after the jump.

On View> Victoria Sambunaris’ Photography Captures Human Interactions with Landscape

Midwest
Thursday, February 21, 2013
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Untitled (Distant steam vents, Yellowstone), 2008

Untitled (Distant steam vents, Yellowstone), 2008. (Victoria Sambunaris)

Victoria Sambunaris: Taxonomy of a Landscape
Museum of Contemporary Photography
600 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL
Through March 31

Victoria Sambunaris has photographed the American landscape from coast to coast, investigating human interaction with and relationship to the natural environment. Over a decade’s worth of color photographs taken with a 5 by 7 field camera capture the multiple layers of America’s expansive landscapes that are interrupted by human development. Born to Greek immigrant parents driven by the American dream, Sambunaris has become fascinated and identifies with the unease of the Mexico/United States border. Her photographs of over 2,000 miles of these borderlands suggest an innate similarity between the two lands in spite of national boundaries. Taxonomy of a Landscape also includes a complete archive of Sambunaris’ travels with maps, journals, road logs, collected souvenirs, and sketches.

UrbanWorks, Pappageorge Haymes, Koo, JGMA Take Home Development Awards

Midwest
Thursday, February 14, 2013
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La Casa Student Housing in Pilsen. (UrbanWorks)

La Casa Student Housing in Pilsen. (UrbanWorks)

Community development in design was the topic at hand Wednesday at the 19th Richard H. Driehaus Foundation’s Community Neighborhood Development Awards. The award was established in 1995 by Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago (LISC).

UrbanWorks received first place for La Casa Student Housing. A dormitory for 100 students in Pilsen, La Casa responds to the neighborhood’s growing vibrancy, as well as its working-class roots — created at the behest of The Resurrection Project, La Casa is affordable housing for neighborhood students attending college, many of them the first in their families to do so.

Continue reading after the jump.

Bertrand Goldberg’s Chicago Prentice Hospital Denied Landmark Status, Again

Midwest
Thursday, February 7, 2013
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Ceci n'est pas une landmark? (ChicagoGeek/Flickr)

Ceci n’est pas une landmark? (ChicagoGeek/Flickr)

Amid the latest in a series of temporary reprieves, Bertrand Goldberg’s former Prentice Women’s Hospital was again denied landmark status by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

Despite once again turning out a crowd of supporters who contributed hours of impassioned testimony, many preservationists were unsurprised by an outcome that they chalked up to political determinism.

Continue reading after the jump.

Post Modern Roulette: Chicago’s Thompson Center Eyed For Casino

Eavesdroplet, Midwest
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
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Inside the rotunda of Chicago's Thompson Center. (John Picken / Flickr)

Inside the rotunda of Chicago’s Thompson Center. (John Picken / Flickr)

The Thompson Center is an easy target. Most Chicagoans only know it as that Po-Mo Behemoth where we transfer between L lines and occasionally visit the DMV in the basement food court, perhaps the only location in America where you can get a slice of Sbarro and a new driver’s license. It’s a beast of a building—so bad, it’s almost good­—and has been plagued with problem after problem, most recently the removal of the granite panels along the plaza. Tackling its so obviously deferred maintenance and adapting it for future use would be no small task. That’s why, according to the Sun-Times, the president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and a major labor chief have proposed building a casino in the lower level and first floor of the building.

When we think of downtown casinos, we think of Detroit. Look, Eavesdrop loves Detroit and is rooting for its revival on a daily basis, but Chicago doesn’t want to be using Detroit as its urban development role model. If this nutty scheme comes to fruition, there would be a casino in a building located across from City Hall, which also houses hundreds of state government employees. They better get ready to beef up their Employee Assistance Program, as the state might have a few more gambling addicts on their payroll.

Developer Eyes Chicago Post Office for Casino, Retail Center

Midwest
Friday, February 1, 2013
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chicago's old main post office (courtesy ian freimuth via flickr)

Chicago’s old Main Post Office. (Ian Freimuth / flickr)

Could that hulking behemoth, Chicago’s Main Post Office, see new life at last? According to the Sun-Times’ David Roeder, developer Bill Davies is betting on it, and he has brought Antunovich Associates to the table. If talk of a downtown casino has any merit, the Post Office could be the right place for it.

The massive 1921 building (expanded in 1932) comprises 2.5 million square feet downtown, looming over Congress Parkway. Davies’ fanciful plans for the facility have grabbed headlines since 2009, when the US Postal Service first put it on the auction block. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is still pushing the state legislature for a casino license, touting the potential revenue as a much-needed influx for school construction and repairs.

Chateau Hotel is Latest in Long Line of Chicago SROs At Risk

Midwest
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
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The Chateau Hotel in Chicago. (Chicago Crime Scenes / Flickr)

The Chateau Hotel in Chicago. (Chicago Crime Scenes / Flickr)

Single Room Occupancy hotels are a dying breed in Chicago. Notoriously undermanaged and generally unpopular among immediate neighbors, the majority of these base-service dwellings have been condemned or rehabbed into other residential uses over the past decade.

The fate of the Chateau Hotel, one of the last SRO hotels on Chicago’s North Side, looks to be leaning toward the latter.

Continue reading after the jump.

Reviving Chicago’s 1893 Glory with Seven Ferris-ish Wheels

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
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Wheels of Chicago. (Courtesy Hapsitus)

Wheels of Chicago. (Courtesy Hapsitus)

Chicago’s 1893 Ferris Wheel—the world’s first—inspired visitors at the World’s Columbian Exposition and helped establish the burgeoning city’s reputation for big dreams and hard work. Although it’s unlikely to have quite the same impact as its historical touchstone, a new proposal for seven wheels in Navy Pier’s Gateway Park could rekindle a semblance of that awe in modern day passersby.

Continue reading after the jump.

Wolf Point’s Phase One is a Go Along the Chicago River

Midwest
Friday, January 25, 2013
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Wolf Point on the Chicago River. (Courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli)

Wolf Point on the Chicago River. (Courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli)

After a few administrative hurdles and several packed community meetings that aired downtown residents’ concerns, Chicago’s Wolf Point is poised to turn perhaps the most prominently underdeveloped piece of land in Chicago into a billion-dollar suite of skyscrapers along the Chicago River.

Continue reading after the jump.

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