Chicago Magazine’s Elly Fishman has an interesting story on Lands’ End founder Gary Comer’s efforts to save his old neighborhood. Pocket Town, a portion of Greater Grand Crossing on the Far South Side, suffered a 25 percent unemployment rate and longstanding poverty when septuagenarian Gary Comer popped into his alma mater Paul Revere Elementary School. Shortly after he began writing checks to the principal for improvements to the aging red brick building. That philanthropy snowballed into millions of dollars each year for Revere and the neighborhood. In 2010, Gary Comer College Prep moved into a John Ronan-designed school that has garnered praise from the design community.
The top brass in the field of design have long supported preserving Chicago’s Old Prentice Women’s Hospital. Now proposals to save the embattled Bertrand Goldberg building may have economics on their side, too, according to a new report commissioned by advocates who hope to convince owner Northwestern University not to demolish the four-pronged curvilinear tower.
The University of Chicago’s ongoing development is a balancing act of preserving its collegiate gothic badge of architectural honor and making bold contemporary bounds ahead. One project that maintains that equilibrium with grace is Ann Beha Architect’s conversion of the University’s old Theological Seminary into a new economics building.
The area surrounding the site at 58th and University is on the preservation watch list, so the new steel-and-glass research pavilion along Woodlawn Avenue is likely to ruffle a few feathers. But most of the work treads lightly on the site. Glass infill will create a new entryway between the seminary building’s two main wings.
While historic facades remain throughout much of the building, designers hope a new staircase will improve vertical circulation. And a 90-seat classroom anchors an expansion below grade that improves access to existing space, drawing in light from openings to a new loggia above. Placed atop a terra cotta base, the modern addition jives tastefully with the former seminary.
One of the “Chicago Seven” architects who broke with the city’s modernist aesthetic during the 1970s and 80s, Thomas H. Beeby, will receive the 2013 Richard H. Driehaus Prize. Considered the traditionalist’s Pritzker Prize, the Driehaus comes with a $200,000 purse and denotes a lifetime of contributions to classicism in contemporary built work.
Cities matter. In the Midwest recent headlines have read like an urban planning syllabus: post-industrial rebirth attracts a new generation of urbanites downtown, the roll-out of high-speed rail begins to pick up pace, and while innovative solutions to the region’s well-documented problems abound, a lingering fiscal crisis and unfunded pension liabilities threaten to squash even the most attainable aspirations.
Those topics and more made the agenda at University of Illinois Chicago’s annual Urban Forum held Thursday, whose lineup included the mayors of Columbus and Pittsburgh, as well as U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “Metropolitan Resilience in a Time of Economic Turmoil” was the topic at hand.
AIA Chicago announced their 2012 awards, to be officially presented tomorrow at the chapter’s annual meeting.
Firm of the year goes to Farr Associates, whose sustainable design credentials include seven LEED Platinum projects, two net-zero-energy buildings and three LEED-Neighborhood Developments. Farr was the first firm in the world to rack up three LEED Platinum projects. The New York Times’ Keith Schneider once called them “The most prominent of the city’s growing cadre of ecologically sensitive architects.” Eco-urbanists are in good company these days, and it seems a timely choice by AIA to highlight a firm so actively involved in the hard work of implementing smart growth and sustainable design.
A push to consolidate art classrooms and performance venues on the campus of a prominent Rockford, Illinois college seems to have hit the doldrums, as Rock Valley College (RVC) administrators shake up priorities and pull back the budget. The Rockford Register Star reported RVC’s new arts instructional center, which received plans from Booth Hansen and Jeanne Gang, may get the axe.
A bizarre parliamentary maneuver two weeks ago granted and subsequently revoked landmark status for Bertrand Goldberg’s embattled Old Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago, leading some to speculate about legal recourse for a coalition of preservationists who have fought owner Northwestern University’s plans to demolish the building. Today members of that coalition took their battle to court, alleging the Commission on Chicago Landmarks “acted arbitrarily and exceeded its authority.”
It’s been (another) terrible year for Jeanne Gang! From being awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant to starring in the just opened solo exhibition, Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects, at the Art Institute, there appears to be no slowdown in Studio Gang momentum. Of course, Eavesdrop stopped by the opening and we have a few things to say. The first has little to do with Jeanne and more with the Art Institute. Their openings are always so snoozy! Get more of the students and younger folks in there, in addition to your stodgy museum patrons! We probably wouldn’t have stuck around long, accept a little bird told us that Mayor Rahm Emanuel would be making an appearance and we wanted to see how short he is in real life.
Zoë Ryan, the museum’s chair of the department of architecture and design, looked nervous awaiting Rahm’s arrival, while Jeanne looked quite at ease, milling about in a really cute dress. One of the hottest architects in the world is certainly in the same power echelon as the mayor of the Second City.