Visitors to Chicago’s John Hancock Tower this weekend were, of course, treated to the skyscraper’s stunning views of Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago, but the thrill-seekers among them also had another option. On the 94th floor, up to eight people at a time can stand in a glass box that tilts out 20 degrees, dangling them 1,000 feet above the street.
bKL Architecture is going as bullish as any Chicago-based firm in this start-and-stop economy, embarking on big commissions in Beijing and Toronto while committing to more and more work at home. The firm bunks with Magellan Development in ground floor offices at Aqua Tower and has partnered with the Lakeshore East progenitor on a number of buildings including two phases of the new GEMS Academy private school.
And now that kinship is extending into River North. Fresh off the drafting table is a 38-story rental tower slated for 720 North LaSalle Street (at Superior) on the present site of a Howard Johnson Inn, one of downtown Chicago’s last remaining suburban-style motels—and a relic of affordability.
One of Philadelphia’s most impressive old ruins might be coming back to life. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that a New Jersey real estate lender is providing $31.5 million to convert the decaying Divine Lorraine hotel into luxury apartments and commercial space. This is not the first attempt to transform the Lorraine, but it just might be its best.
In Las Vegas, you win some and you lose some. Lining up as what must be one of the biggest busts in Sin City history, the exceptionally-botched, Foster + Partners–designed Harmon Hotel, now has a date with the wrecking ball. The stubby 27-story tower—it was originally supposed to measure 49 stories but construction problems stunted its growth—never opened and no one ever checked in at what would surely have been a posh front desk.
In sad but spectacular gossip news, we’ve been informed that Culver City firm SPF:a has been removed from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ new museum project in Los Angeles. SPF:a principal Zoltan Pali had been working with Renzo Piano on the project since 2012.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro‘s concrete-veiled Los Angeles art museum and its accompanying plaza, The Broad, named for the billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad who commissioned it, continue to rise in downtown. Meanwhile, across the street, Broad’s longtime project, MOCA, struggles to find its footing. Addressing these two projects, Broad sat down with Los Angeles Magazine, giving an unusually candid interview about the state of the city, his own giving, and much more. Here are some of his most revealing quotes from a man who, this time, departed from his usual tactic of sticking to talking points.
The New York Public Library has canceled its controversial renovation plan by Foster + Partners, according to a report in the New York Times. The plan, which would have removed the historic book stacks and turned the non-lending research library into a circulating library, was widely opposed by scholars, writers, and architectural historians.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has issued an RFP to create a network of free, outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots across all five boroughs. The network would become one of the largest in the country, and have a significant impact on the city’s streetscape. That’s because the plan transforms New York’s aging system of payphones—commonly known today as al fresco “toilets”—with what are being described by the city as public connection points.
Chicago‘s most famous architect has just acquired a New York City pied-à-terre. Studio Gang has opened an office on Water Street in Lower Manhattan, which will be led by Weston Walker, a design principal. “This is a natural next step for the firm,” said founding principal Jeanne Gang in a statement. “We have been working in New York for the past several years and are excited by the variety of work currently in design, along with potential engagements in the city and beyond.”
The firm is currently working on a Fire Rescue facility for the New York City Department of Design and Construction and on the “Solar Carve” tower adjacent to the High Line. That project met resistance from the community for its height. There is no word yet on how tall it will be or how it will be redesigned.
Six months after its proposal for a mid-sized development on the site of Chicago’s one-time “punk rock donut shop” raised height concerns, developer BlitzLake Capital Partners has scaled back its plans. Now the mixed-use development at the corner of Belmont and Clark in the Lakeview neighborhood is hoping for eight stories instead of 11.
As AN reported in our recent Southwest edition, Michael Van Valkenburgh is hard at work on plans for a massive park in Tulsa, Oklahoma. According to the article, “The community expressed a strong need for the park to accommodate not just children, but the whole family unit. Having a variety of activities for a wide age range became a primary factor in the development of the design.” The $300 million waterfront plan is expected to be complete by 2017. MVVA shared this set of renderings with AN to keep us excited in the meantime.
At this year’s SXSW Festival, engineering took center stage in the documentary DamNation (directors Travis Rummel & Ben Knight), which won the Documentary Spotlight Audience Award. It begins with America’s rash of dam-building under FDR when these mammoth structures were considered man-made wonders. Hoover and Grand Coulee are the large-scale examples, but there were about 80,000 smaller dams built across the country.