Related Eyes Chicago Spire Debt as Speculation On New Life Swirls

Midwest
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
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The Chicago Spire site, currently the city’s most-watched hole in the ground, has had false starts before. This week The Wall Street Journal reported that Related Cos. of New York signed on to buy the stalled project’s debt, raising suspicions that development might proceed on the riverfront site.

Santiago Calatrava’s twisting tower design was to stand 2,000 feet high and house condos, but the $64 million land bordering Lake Shore Drive in Streeterville sat idle after the recession hit in 2008. The troubled project has been tangled up in litigation ever since.

Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency put the project’s $93 million in debt on the market earlier this year. While Irish developer Garett Kelleher’s firm still holds title to the parcel, and Related’s reported deal remains up in the air, speculation swirls around the site which not long ago was prepared to house the nation’s tallest building.

Contest Aims To Enliven Chicago’s Union Station

Midwest
Friday, June 21, 2013
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Chicago Union Station (J. Stephen Conn via Flickr)

Chicago Union Station (J. Stephen Conn via Flickr)

Although it gets more daily traffic than Midway Airport, Chicago’s main rail hub remains little more than a waypoint for most people—a bustling transit station buried beneath an often empty Beaux Arts volume.

The Metropolitan Planning Council wants to change that. Their new placemaking contest, Activate Union Station, calls on architects, landscape architects, planners and designers of all stripes to submit ideas for a design-build program that will enliven the underused West Loop hub.

Continue reading after the jump.

Frank Gehry’s Ice Blocks Chilling Out Inside Chicago’s Inland Steel Building

Midwest, Newsletter
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
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Frank Gehry's new sculpture in the Inland Steel Building lobby. (Lynn Becker)

Frank Gehry’s new sculpture in the Inland Steel Building lobby. (Lynn Becker)

Follow the Architecture Chicago Plus blog as Lynn Becker raises an eyebrow at the new sculpture that quietly popped up in the lobby of downtown Chicago’s celebrated Inland Steel Building.

The 1957 SOM icon seems to have acquired a consortium of ice hunks, courtesy Frank Gehry. Ostensibly a formal counterpoint to the elegant energy of Richard Lippold’s Radiant I, the original lobby art, Gehry’s glass agglomeration (fabricated by the John Lewis Glass Studio of Oakland, California) frames Radiant I and responds to its angularity with carved blobs. It’s admittedly atypical in the setting of the modernist masterpiece, but doesn’t overpower the space or the original artwork.

Make Way For People! Chicago Opens First “People Plaza” on State Street

Midwest
Monday, June 10, 2013
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State Street's new People Spot, dubbed The Gateway. (Chris Bentley)

State Street’s new People Spot, dubbed The Gateway. (Chris Bentley / AN)

The median of a downtown stretch of State Street is now home to the latest of Chicago’s People Spots, a series of parklets sprinkled throughout the city as part of its “Make Way for People” program.

Dubbed “The Gateway,” the portion of State Street between Lake Street and Wacker Drive features shaded tables and chairs in what the city is calling its first “People Plaza.” Flowerboxes, banners, and bright red and blue colors lighten up the otherwise utilitarian median. While the spot’s central location is probably its greatest asset in attracting visitors, satisfying views of downtown’s architectural gems impart some elegance to the straightforward design.

Continue reading after the jump.

On View> “Abelardo Morell: The Universe Next Door” at the Art Institute of Chicago

Midwest
Friday, June 7, 2013
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(Abelardo Morell)

Camera Obscura: View of the Brooklyn Bridge in Bedroom, 2009. (Abelardo Morell)

Abelardo Morell: The Universe Next Door
Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Through September 2, 2013

Abelardo Morell is a Cuban-born American photographer who over the past 25 years has used photography and his unique way of looking at the world to create compelling works of art. Morell finds inspiration for his pictures in the environment he is most comfortable in, his home. The subjects of Morell’s photographs are common household objects—still lives of books and money—but the photographer is most known for his Camera Obscura series. To create these unique, large-format photographs, Morell cuts out a small opening in a dark room that reveals a view of the outside world. An upside down image of the outside is then projected back into the interior of the room. Morell then photographs a projection of the outside world set against the common objects that fill a room’s interior, such as a bed, or a table of stacked books. This exhibition features more than 100 of the artist’s works in which he experimented with various techniques, including photograms, still-life tableaux, stop-motion studies, and the tent camera.

More images after the jump.

Unity Temple Congregation May Yield Ownership in Costly Restoration Campaign

Midwest
Thursday, May 16, 2013
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Unity Temple, Oak Park, IL. 1904.

Unity Temple, Oak Park, IL. 1904.

Unity Temple, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first public building, may come under new ownership as part of a $10 million deal to help restore the 105-year-old national landmark.

Local nonprofit Alphawood Foundation Chicago and longtime owners the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation announced Tuesday a joint fundraising campaign aimed at fixing water damage that, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “urgently requires a multi-million-dollar rescue effort.”

Continue reading after the jump.

On View> Sharing Space: Creative Intersections in Architecture and Design

Midwest
Thursday, May 9, 2013
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(Courtesy Art Institute of Chicago)

(Courtesy Art Institute of Chicago)

Sharing Space: Creative Intersections in Architecture and Design
The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Through August 4

This new exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago explores the influential impact that color inevitably has on our perception of geometry. It presents an extensive collection of modern and contemporary works ranging from the 1940’s to 2012 created by architects, urban planners, graphic designers, and industrial designers. One of the works prominently featured in the exhibit is Camouflage House (above), Doug Garofalo and David Leary’s theoretical project in which the pair “colored-in” the contours of a building, blurring the rigid lines and sharp angles of the structure and causing it to blend in with the surrounding natural landscape. The exhibition underlines the contrasting relationship between color and geometry and highlights the effect this relationship can have on architecture and design.

AIA Chicago Names Small Projects Awards Winners

Midwest
Thursday, May 9, 2013
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(Studio Thomas Photography)

(Studio Thomas Photography)

The Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects honored 107 projects with its annual small project awards last Friday, putting the spotlight on objects, small structures, and small firms. According to the AIA Chicago, “the goal of this award program is to raise public awareness of the value that architects bring to small projects and to promote small practitioners as a resource for design excellence.” This year, the third year for the awards program, small projects were honored in four categories: Additions/RemodelingKitchensNew Construction, and Small Objects.

“Big ideas and transformational spaces come from creative people, and those people are at firms small and large,” AIA Chicago Executive Vice President Zurich Esposito said in a statement. “The Small Projects Awards reward that innovative thinking that works on a smaller scale.”

Spontaneous Interventions To Spruce Up Chicago’s Millennium Park This Summer

International, Midwest
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
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(Courtesy MAS Studio)

(Courtesy MAS Studio)

Starting Memorial Day, Chicago’s Millennium Park will host the U.S. debut of a bright array of public design projects, many of which appeared at the 2012 Venice Biennale. Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good will feature 84 works, including more than a dozen for Chicago and several that also appeared in Venice.

Continue reading after the jump.

The Bruner Foundation Announces Winners of the 2013 Gold and Silver Medals for Urban Excellence

National, Newsletter
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
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Gold Medal Winner, Inspiration Kitchens (Courtesy of Inspiration Corporation/Steve Hall, Hendrich Blessing)

Gold Medal Winner, Inspiration Kitchens (Courtesy of Inspiration Corporation/Steve Hall, Hendrich Blessing)

The Bruner Foundation Inc. has named the 2013 Gold and Silver Medalists of the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA). For twenty-five years, the foundation has celebrated urban projects that stand out for their “contributions to the social, economic, and communal vitality of our nation’s cities” with this biennial award. A panel of six urbanists—including such experts as Cathy Simon, design principal at Perkins + Will, and Mayor Mick Cornett, Oklahoma City—selected the four Silver Medalists, and the recipient of the $50,000 Gold Medal, Inspiration Kitchens in Chicago. Read More

AN’s Eavesdrop Makes A Mark on Chicago Nightlife

Eavesdroplet, Midwest
Monday, May 6, 2013
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Left to right: Thomas Demand, Marina Fine Arts #23, 2011; Thomas Demand, Beyer #15, 2011; Thomas Demand, Segel #25, 2011. (Courtesy Graham Foundation)

Left to right: Thomas Demand, Marina Fine Arts #23, 2011; Thomas Demand, Beyer #15, 2011; Thomas Demand, Segel #25, 2011. (Courtesy Graham Foundation)

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?

Continue reading after the jump.

Rockefeller Foundation Issues Grants To Support Bus Rapid Transit

East, Midwest
Monday, April 29, 2013
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Chicago BRT Proposal. (Courtesy CDOT)

Chicago BRT Proposal. (Courtesy CDOT)

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.

Read More

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