Get Out Your Scotch Guard—Eavesdrop Is Coming! If the hors d’ouevres make a party, Luminaire threw quite the fête last month. The huge design showroom in Chicago’s River North staged the top floor with more affordable items from their inventory, alongside of pop-ups from local artisans, including European bike-lifestyle guru J.C. Lind Bike Co. This was our first stop of several that evening, so the substantial hors d’oeuvres—a.k.a. Prosecco sponges—were fully appreciated. What didn’t appreciate them?
The Rockefeller Foundation has announced that four cities will receive a combined $1.2 million in grants to foster research, communications, and community outreach efforts in an endeavor to educate local stakeholders about the advantages of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems. The Foundation’s solution to “Transform Cities” and promote fiscal growth and quality of life proposes better mass transit investments. Boston, Chicago, Nashville, and Pittsburgh will participate in the project.
Chicago’s bike share program will kick off in June when the city debuts hundreds of light blue, three-speed bicycles that can be rented for an hourly fee or with a yearly $75 membership.
Managed by Portland, OR–based Alta Bicycle Share, which also runs New York and DC’s bike share, Chicago’s program goes by the name “Divvy.” Alta was supposed to launch the $22 million program last summer, and has since become the subject of controversy. Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein was formerly a consultant for the company, and competitors have alleged foul play, which Alta and the city have flatly denied.
The first of Divvy’s 75 solar-powered docking stations will be downtown and in River North. Within a year the city’s plan is to roll out 400 stations and about 4,000 bicycles across the city.
Above: Before & After: Ashland Avenue at Polk. (Courtesy Chicago Transit Authority)
Chicago officials released details Friday about a much-anticipated project to roll out bus rapid transit along Ashland Avenue, a major arterial street that runs north-south a bit more than a mile and half west of downtown. Previous plans from the city included a route on Western Avenue as well, but a statement from the Chicago Transit Authority and the Chicago Department of Transportation revealed only plans for Ashland.
International Property Developers (IPD) has renewed plans for massive developments around Chicago’s Old Main Post Office. IPD bought the structure in 2009 for $40 million and has been working with Chicago-based architects Antunovich Associates on a plan to surround the massive building, which has almost as much interior space as Willis Tower, with three new towers.
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 East Chicago Avenue
Through June 18
Jason Lazarus’ exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago centers around three pieces. The first, Untitled (2013), is a performance piece featuring a classical piano student playing Frederic Chopin’s Nocturne in F minor, mistakes and all. Phase 1/Live Archive (2011-present) is a collection of Occupy Wall Street signs, remade by both Lazarus and the public and based on images from print and online sources. The final piece is a project that explores the thin line between public and private sectors through media generated photography. In employing found photographs he also comments on ways archives are used and on their relationship to history. Lazarus, a Chicago-based artist, is best known as a photographer, though he is also deeply invested in the art of sign making, both physically and symbolically. He has recently expanded his artistic practice into art collector, archivist, and curator.
Work took place in March to replace a portion of Chicago’s Wells Street bridge—“the engineering equivalent of a heart transplant,” in the words of the Tribune’s Cynthia Dizikes. Work crews replaced a portion of the 91-year old double-decker bascule bridge during just two nine-day periods (a similar replacement in 1996 took almost a year). Inconvenience or not, seeing a 500,000-pound hunk of metal floating into downtown Chicago atop a barge makes one feel like a witness to latter-day Carl Sandburg paeans: “Here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities.”
It might bode well for the burgeoning BRT movement in Chicago, then, that the Chicago Architecture Foundation and Chicago Architectural Club have launched a bus rapid transit station design competition. Dubbed “NEXT STOP,” the station design contest will be the subject of the 2013 Burnham Prize Competition.
Submit designs for three stations (downtown, near State and Madison; Bucktown-Logan Square at Western Avenue Blue Line ‘L’ Stop; Pilsen near 18th and Ashland) by noon May 13.
American Standard Movement
Smart Museum of Art
University of Chicago
5550 South Greenwood Avenue, Chicago
Through October 6
Valerie Snobeck reuses left over construction materials from a project on the University of Chicago campus in her exhibition American Standard Movement, which is showing at the Smart Museum of Art’s courtyard. In doing so, her work presents questions of art, materiality, temporality, and significance. The exhibition displays a net tacked up against a wall and adorned with markings derived from repair tools that measure the small inner parts of watches. The function of netting is twofold: to catch the construction’s falling dust and debris and to serve as a visible indicator of the construction site and its parameters. Netting acts as a temporary stand-in for a wall during construction, but, due to its malleable nature and woven fabric, is physically unlike a wall. Snobeck’s net is not being used in its typical function, but is not necessarily functionless. She asks viewers to consider what is behind netting and what is being built or rebuilt. American Standard Movement proposes a connection between the body and space measured in parts. The piece questions efforts to dictate the future in physical and speculative ways.
To celebrate its perennial master of modernism, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the Illinois Institute of Technology produced a video showcasing his work and influence in Chicago. Take a few minutes on the 75th anniversary of Mies’ arrival in the Windy City to watch it.
The slow and tortured demise of Chicago’s Prentice Women’s Hospital now has an official stamp: according to the Chicago Tribune, Northwestern University was issued a demolition permit for the Bertrand Goldberg cloverleaf last Friday. Wrecking crews will be on site in a few weeks after asbestos abatement wraps up, and there are sure to be protesters around the construction fence.
Of course, as seems all too common, the city is also busy readying soldiers for the next preservation battle. The 1957 Edo Belli-designed Cuneo Memorial Hospital is targeted for demolition, but Uptown residents have reached out to Preservation Chicago for support seeking landmark status. The group listed the building on its 2012 list of seven most-threatened structures in the city. Add this to what happened to Prentice and it isn’t a good year to be a midcentury modernist hospital in Chicago.
Beeby is one of the “Chicago Seven” (Stanley Tigerman, Larry Booth, Stuart Cohen, Ben Weese, James Ingo Freed, and James L. Nagle round out the group) who split with modernism in one of its key proving grounds during the 1970s. His postmodern historicism relies on representational imagery and ornamentation, which won him high praise from the committee that awards the top prize for traditional and classical architecture.