PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN GLASS HOUSES
Word on the street is that Chicago’s modern design auctioneer extraordinaire Richard Wright and Philip Johnson Glass House executive director Christy MacLear have been spending time together. That’s a lot of design obsession for one relationship, we’re just sayin’. Moreover, what about the poor flooded Farnsworth House? Wright, it seems, prefers to rendezvous at the imitation over the original, even as its water-stained furniture is being restored. Richard—your hometown needs you! (OK, so the Glass House is actually older than Farnsworth, but we all know Johnson borrowed his best ideas.) Read More
Another sign of the growing importance of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Architecture and Design Department, the museum announced the appointment Alison Fisher as assistant curator. Fisher, who will focus on the department’s historical collection, joins department chair Joe Rosa, and curator Zoe Ryan, who has been building the department’s contemporary design collection. The department, which now boasts the country’s largest architecture and design galleries, is working on a major exhibition on Bertrand Goldberg, among other shows. Fisher previously served as a curatorial fellow at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University and she is completing a doctorate in art history at Northwestern.
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
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
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
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.
In our pilot Midwest issue, I wrote about The Ledge, a new viewing platform at the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago. At the time, only renderings were available of the SOM-designed all-glass cubes that protrude off of the tower’s west face, and the project was expected to open in mid June. Well, it appears that the dizzying new viewing experience is now accepting visitors, as a whole rash of pictures have popped up on flickr. Among them is the above image, which reminds us that sometimes the highest achievement that architecture can aspire to is to fuel the dreams of a child.
Friend of AN Ryan Lafollette sends this dispatch from the Windy City.
Recent graduates of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) architecture and design programs are facing a challenging job market. For those employers looking for new talent, as well as for enthusiasts of design who couldn’t make it to the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, SAIC’s department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects is currently showing its graduate design exhibition, Making Modern. Read More
Recognizing the top new contract product and furnishings introduced at this year’s NeoCon Trade Show, the Best of NeoCon 2009 Awards named 74 products winners of the prestigious award. A total of 280 products were entered in 40 different categories, ranging from carpets and flooring to lighting, furniture, and textile design. Read More
There was a lot of trading congratulations and extending thanks at Chicago’s Art Institute last Friday during talks connected to the opening of the Burnham Pavilions, two temporary structures in Millennium Park designed by Ben van Berkel of UN Studio and Zaha Hadid. The pavilions were commissioned as part Chicago’s centennial celebration of Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Chicago Plan, and in truth, construction of only UN Studio’s design is complete. Apparently difficulties with the tensile exterior of Hadid’s project have pushed back the pavilion’s completion to mid-July. Neither that nor the fact that Hadid was unable to attend Friday’s panel as anticipated—reportedly because of a knee injury—dampened the atmosphere. A group of panelists including Robert Somol, director of the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), Donna Robertson, dean of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s (IIT) architecture program, UN Studios’ Ben van Berkel, and Thomas Vitevke, an associate of Zaha Hadid’s studio, spoke to an eager crowd about the designs as well as the collaboration between the architects and the local schools. Read More