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
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
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.
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?
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
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
There’s a certain dorky pleasure in the reading lists of teams vying for design competitions. The big names paired with the dependable locals. The firms with very busy dance cards that everyone seems to want. The odd random people with no discernible reason to be involved. The 52 teams that responded to the Navy Pier RFQ have all those in spades. Zaha! Foster + Partners, BIG, OMA! Every prominent Chicago architect! Hoerr Schaupt Landscape Architects on no less than four teams! We’ll be watching to see who makes the next round. Amusement aside, it’s great to see so many prominent local and international designers vying to improve the iconic pier.