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Molded gypsum shapes a Chicago Merchandise Mart space.
The Steelcase Worklife Center is one of the Chicago Merchandise Mart’s largest showrooms, spanning 45,000 square feet and encompassing four areas displaying the furniture manufacturers’ various brands. The company hired Los Angeles-based architect Joey Shimoda, who also designed the Steelcase center in Santa Monica, to create interiors that would unify the showroom with the common corridor bisecting it. After reading about a project by molded gypsum, concrete, and fiberglass fabricator Formglas in a magazine, he called the company and was on a plane to its Toronto headquarters the next day to discuss a series of geometric architectural elements he envisioned for the space.
Yesterday that National Trust for Historic Preservation announced Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital had made its annual 11 Most Endangered List, bringing national attention to the fight to save the quatrefoil-plan, concrete building. Also yesterday, the local group Save Prentice staged a rally outside the building featuring speakers including Zurich Esposito of the Chicago AIA and Jim Peters from Landmarks Illinois.
Progressive transportation commissioners have become heroes in planning circles. There’s a lot of excitement surrounding Chicago Mayor Emanuel’s appointment of Gabe Klein as DOT commissioner. Poached from Washington D.C., where Emanuel saw his work first-hand, Klein has extensive experience instituting new transportation ideas, including the nation’s largest bike sharing program and a new streetcar system. Read More
Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
June 11 through October 9, 2011
Soon after the turn of the last century, artists and designers from Central and Eastern Europe began producing radically innovative images and objects that remain remarkably fresh today. For the first time, the Art Institute has gathered over 300 objects from across departments to present a comprehensive view of works from the period. Bold graphics, such as John Heartfield’s cover and illustrations for Kurt Tucholsky, Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles from 1929 (above), and pared back design objects show some of the ways in which these artists sought to transform daily living, an experiment that historical events would quickly bring to an end.
Prepared Motors. Included in recent news from BLDGBLOG, Swiss artist Zimoun installs a series of sound sculptures. Each cardboard piece, comprised of micro-mechanisms, projects subtle sound upon interaction. Watch the following video for the installation plus movement.
Renovation Take-over. The New York Times reveals that the Randhurst Mall, just outside Chicago in Mt. Prospect, plans to undergo serious renovation. The indoor mid-century shopping center will take on a new look with a $190 million renovation. Expect commercial transformation as the mall goes outdoors, for which it will destroy most original elements in favor of an open air shopping experience.
Highline 2.0. If you haven’t heard, the second phase of everyone’s favorite park, the Highline, opened this week, stretching from 20th to 30th streets through New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. The NYC Economic Development Corporation snuck onto the elevated railway before the official opening and has put together a fascinating before-and-after display.
The Design Sector. Archinect features a report from the Center for an Urban Future that specifies the capacity of New York City’s architecture and design sector and encourages its continued growth. The report reviews the “untapped potential” despite a remarkable 40,470 designers currently based in the Metropolitan area.
Two dirty coal powered electric plants in central Chicago are coming under increasing scrutiny from neighbors, environmental activists, and architects and designers. Earlier this week Greenpeace activists scaled the stacks of the Pilsen plant operated by Midwest Generation, and painted a large sign calling for their closure. The plants were also the subject of a recent design competition, the results of which will be on display on June 10 at the Pilsen/Chicago Arts District and on June 13-15 at the Merchandise Mart during NeoCon.
You’re not supposed to judge a project before it’s completed, but last week the scaffolding came down around the highly anticipated new Poetry Foundation building in Chicago designed by John Ronan Architects, offering a glimpse of how the building is coming together. While the elegant glass box looks refined enough for a finished building, it will soon be concealed behind a perforated metal screen, creating an interstitial space between the building envelope and the street. The combination of glazing and screen should make for shifting effects of light and texture that change throughout the day and over the seasons.
Watch for Falling Libeskinds. The breaking news of the day from Building Design: Daniel Libeskind’s $555 million Westside retail center in Bern, Switzerland has collapsed for a second time in three years. An elevated swimming pool fell into the building injuring two people. An investigation is pending. In 2008, shortly after the building was completed, the roof of a fast food restaurant inside the center collapsed, injuring two children.
Transporting Chicago. Transportation Nation reports today that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has tapped Gabe Klein to head up the city’s DOT. Widely viewed as a pro-bike kind of guy in his former role as head of Washington D.C.’s DOT, Klein helped launch a bike-share program, expand bike lanes, and install electric car charging stations across the city. Could more alternative transportation be in store for the Windy City?
Gaudi Burns. An arsonist set fire to Antoni Gaudí’s Segrada Familia in Barcelona said the Guardian. The cathedral’s sacristy was destroyed and the crypt heavily damaged during the attack. Some 1,500 tourists were evacuated and four treated for smoke inhalation.
Wisconsin Bamboo. Sarah F. Cox talks with NYC-based architecture firm Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis for Curbed about a recently completed student center at the University of Wyoming which includes a stunningly intricate bamboo-lattice screen.
Nature’s Benz. LA Autoshow reveals a radically green Mercedes-Benz concept called Biome– it’s made of organic fibers, powered by the sun, and releases pure oxygen into the air! The system behind this model is called “Mercedes-Benz Symbiosis,” in which vehicles are seamless part of the ecosystem.
Facebook’s Exodus. According to the New York Times, Facebook is moving out — of the office clusters in Palo Alto — and into an insulated 57-acre corporate campus in Menlo Park, California, which is to be renovated by San Francisco-based Gensler. About 2,000 workers, including Mark Zuckerberg, will be moved in within next 10 months. These young 20-somethings don’t want a sleek corporate office, but something idiosyncratic and soulful, which the new campus aims for.
Code Green. Crain‘s reports that the New York City Council continues to green up the city’s building codes. A trio of bills looks to “create more energy-efficient roofs.” While the first bill requires more reflective and less heat-absorbent roof materials, the second removes building-height limitations from solar thermal equipment and electric collectors and the third bill will add heat and power systems to the list of allowable rooftop structures.
Well-spoken Vowell. Chicago magazine talks to Sarah Vowell about Chicago — and a little New York — architecture. “It’s what I do for fun: Go see buildings. I like architecture because it’s so nonverbal,” she said, and then goes on to discuss her personal relationship with the Carson Pirie-Scott Building. Vowell recently finished her new book on Hawaii called Unfamiliar Fishes.
Mies Bashing. For all the glory of Modernist Chicago, there are still those who mourn the loss of the White City‘s Beaux Arts influence. Historian David Garrard tells WBEZ of the “sterile” Daley Center‘s ruinous effect on The Loop. One has to wonder what he’d make of Time Out Chicago’s “Fifteen Fanciful Ways to Fix Navy Pier.”
Tiiiimmmmbeeeeerrrrr! Meanwhile, at another Navy locale…Chuck Schumer is hopping mad about contorting being done by the U.S. Army to get out of repairing the 158-year-old Timber Shed at Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. The Brooklyn Paper reports that the senator is pressing army brass, which still has control over the building, to fix it or get out of the way and let the city do it.
For Sale: Beach front property, water views, lively neighborhood. WSJ reports that the land where Coney Island‘s famed Thunderbolt roller coaster scared the bejesus out of generations of New Yorkers can now be had for $75 million to $95 million.
Way Head Start. NYC Department of Buildings launched their Junior Architects and Engineers Program this week at PS31, reports NY1. (The news clip, starring fifth grade Frank Lloyd Wright fan Thomas Patras, is just too cute to pass up.)