Chicago Picks Bike-Sharing Vendor.  Chicago Picks Bike-Sharing Vendor Big changes are coming to Chicago’s streets, as AN has reported. One of the most visible, the city’s planned bike-sharing system, just took a major step forward with the selection of a vendor, Portland, Oregon-based Alta Bicycle Share and Public Bike System. The vendor will supply 3000 bikes and 300 solar powered charging stations this summer, according to the Chicago Tribune. The number will be upped to 5000 bikes and 500 stations by 2014. The Alta/Public partnership operates bike-sharing systems in London, Melbourne, Boston, Minneapolis, Toronto, Washington, D.C. and Montreal among other cities.

 

Another $9 Million Banked for Chicago’s Newest Linear Park.  Another $9 Million Banked for Chicago's Newest Linear Park Today, Mayor Emanuel announced an additional $9 million in pledges for the Bloomingdale Trail, completing funding for the first phase of the elevated rails to trails project, according to the Sun-Times. The funds include a $5 million gift from Excelon, $1 million each from Boeing and CNA, and a $2 million commitment from the city, which, combined with $37 million in federal funds, will cover the $46 million cost of the first phase. The city and park advocates hope to raise an additional $36 million to complete the project, mostly through private, corporate, and foundation sources.

 

Tracking Progress on the Bloomingdale Trail

Midwest
Friday, March 9, 2012
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(all images courtesy Ross Barney Architects)

The community planning process for the conversion of the elevated rail line known as the Bloomingdale Trail into a public park and recreational path is underway. The three mile embankment, twice the length of New York’s High Line, will feature 8 access points from adjacent pocket parks, and a mile and a half of the line will have separated pedestrian and multi-use paths (for bike riders and roller-blades). The trail winds through Chicago’s Logan Square, Wicker Park, Humboldt Park, and Bucktown neighborhoods.  Read More

Unveiled>Grant Park North in Chicago by MVVA

Midwest
Thursday, February 9, 2012
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(All images courtesy MVVA)

Located just east of Millennium Park, and connected by Frank Gehry’s serpentine BP bridge, Grant Park North is getting a dramatic makeover by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA). While Millennium Park draws on Beaux Arts planning, the Van Valkenburg design follows the curving lines established by Gehry’s footbridge. “You can fold more program into curving geometries,” said Matthew Urbanski, a principal at MVVA. Read More

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Whew! EPA Declares Chicago’s Air is Still Dirty.  Whew! EPA Declares Chicago's Air is Still Dirty Most people would think that politicians would want their cities to be declared in compliance with Clean Air Act standards, but not Chicago! Illinois Governor Quinn and others the EPA lobbied to make sure  Chicago is counted as having dirty air, in spite of initial findings from that Chicago’s pollution levels had improved significantly from 2008 to 2010. Why? Money of course! According to Crain’s, a cleaner air ruling would have jeopardized up to $80 million in funding for projects to promote cleaner air, including transit upgrades and bike paths. While the logic is mind-bending, at least it means better public transportation and biking options!

 

Three Pelli Towers to Rise on the Chicago River.  Three Pelli Towers to Rise on the Chicago River According to the Sun-Times, the Kennedy family and top tier developer Hines are working on plans for three towers at the Wolf Point site, just west of the Merchandise Mart, to be designed by Cesar Pelli. Currently used as a parking lot, the Kennedy-owned site has dramatic views of the covergence of the Chicago River as well as the Loop. Plans call for the tallest building to reach 60 stories. No word yet on the uses for the buildings. Full details of the proposal are expected to be released in March or April. Pelli’s only other building in Chicago is an office tower at 181 West Madison.

 

Getting Boxy in Chicago’s South Loop.  Getting Boxy in Chicago's South Loop Chicago’s South Loop skyline may be getting a new bobble in the form of a boxy rental residential tower across from the Roosevelt University vertical campus. Designed by Lothan Van Hook DeStefano Architecture, the black boxes cantilever over the edge of the one below, creating a cubic counterpoint to Roosevelt’s zig zag. Many of these stacked box schemes—including a project in Jersey City by OMA and the dead Museum Plaza by REX in Louisville—have never made it off the drawing board, so it will be interesting to see if the locals can pull it off.

 

It’s Stops A Go for Rahm.  It's Stops A Go for Rahm Yesterday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel officially reopened the Grand/State L station, and pledged to build a new Green Line stop at Cermak and a new Washington/Wabash stop in the Loop. Construction on the two new stops is expected to begin in about a year, and will create approximately 4000 jobs. Curbed Chicago has a good round-up of the news and event.

 

Unveiled> David Hovey’s Streeterville Tower in Chicago

Midwest
Friday, December 9, 2011
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(courtesy Optima)

The architect/developer David Hovey has designed buildings in the Chicago suburbs as well as city neighborhoods outside of downtown. With the Optima Center Chicago, he is making a 42 story debut just north of the Loop. The luxury rental tower will have 325 units. Hovey is bullish on the building’s potential. “All our market research shows a lot of demand for rentals in that area,” he said of Streeterville. The units will sit on top of nine floors of parking as well as 20,000 square feet of commercial space. Hovey thinks the building’s location–walkable to the Loop, the Lake, and the Magnificent Mile–will make it appealing to upper-end renters. Amenities will include 10th floor recreation center and a sky deck on the 42nd floor concealed behind an ultra-smooth glass curtain wall.

In Chicago, Small and Steady May Win the Race

Midwest
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
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(photo: Steve Vance/flickr)

While a number of new rental towers have been announced in recent months, Crain’s has an informative article about a number of Chicago condominium developers who are beginning to build again, albeit at a very small scale and in tightly phased sequences. Even for projects as small as 14 units, banks are demanding projects be split into two phases, six units first, followed by eight in a second building. Some developers are also willing to accept lower offers from buyers for higher down payments up front. The thinking reflects new stricter lending standards and continuing economic uncertainty. But with Chicago’s condo market still over-saturated and the foreclosure crisis just beginning to wane, it also reflects a much needed correction from previous patterns of over building and over lending. And, pardon me Mr. Burnham, but isn’t incremental city-making and infill development often the best approach?

 

 

White Mannequins Are the New Ghost Bikes

Midwest
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
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(Courtesy CDOT)

Yesterday, Chicago’s Department of Transportation (CDOT) began a new pedestrian safety initiative, in hopes of taming the aggressive driving habits of city residents. Following in the footsteps of the grassroots Ghost Bikes campaigns–where cycling advocates place anonymous white painted bikes at the sites where cyclists have been killed–the program includes 32 white mannequins placed along Wacker Drive. The mannequins refer to the 32 pedestriand deaths in the city last year. Read More

Redesigning Chicago’s Navy Pier: And Then There Were 11

Midwest
Monday, October 24, 2011
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(courtesy Navy Pier)

The 52 two teams competing to redesign Chicago’s Navy pier have been narrowed down to 11. Lots of heavy hitters made the cut, including teams headed by BIG, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas/Studio Gang, James Corner Field Operations. Many of Chicago’s leading firms are represented on the teams. See the complete list after the jump

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