Two new competitions of note explore possible futures for Chicago‘s public realm. The 2011 Burnham Prize ideas competition sponsored by AIA Chicago and the Chicago Architectural Club calls for new visions for the McCormick Place East building, the 1971 modernist covention center on the lakefront designed by Gene Summers of C.F. Murphy Associates.
The massive, Miesian building has a powerful presence on the lakefront, and a vast column-free interior, but parks advocates have long contended it should be removed. Meanwhile, the building’s owner, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, says it needs $150 million in repairs and is functionally obsolete.
The competition aims to inspire new dialogue around the future of the building and site. The Street Furniture 2011 competition sponsored by Architecture for Humanity‘s Chicago chapter aims for something more universal, new street furniture that could be deployed to activate almost any vacant site.
Distorted. In a nod to fun-house architecture, artist Kyung Woo Han created a physically-distorted room that’s made to look normal through a fish-eye camera lens. Today and Tomorrow has more photos.
Cities Rule. Economist Ed Glaesar talks with Grist‘s Sarah Goodyear about why cities rule the fate of humanity. He has a new book out called Triumph of the City in which he calls for, among other things, rethinking policies like highway subsidies and the mortgage tax credit.
Districted. Cincinnati is currently rebranding itself, and UrbanCincy suggests the city focus on an emerging core of design called the 8th Street Design District, home to 336 creative professionals including architects and designers.
Superfunded. Everyone knows it’s not a good idea to take a dip in the Gowanus Canal, but just how dirty is the Brooklyn waterway and Superfund site? A new EPA report lets us know and the Brooklyn Paper has the details. In short, its still going to be contaminated, even after the cleanup.
Australian architecture firm Woods Bagot has completed a new tower in Hong Kong inspired by an ice cube. The aptly named Cubus Tower utilizes angular glass shards and a bright lighting scheme at night to help differentiate itself from the city’s dense collection of high-rises.
A small, twisting airport in Mestia, a medieval town in the Democratic Republic of Georgia manages to capture the essence of the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s ancient stone defensive towers while still standing on its own as a skyward-reaching modern structure.
Here’s a bandwagon worth jumping on: designers and books. The new website launched yesterday and is dedicated to sharing the reading lists and the commentaries of book-loving architects and designers from all over. Starting with 50 well-known designers naming their favorite books. (Example: High Rise by J.G. Ballard. Why? “I do have a tooth for dystopia and this is a coolly familiar one,” writes Michael Sorkin), it makes for compulsive skimming, and not a little inspiration. Guess how many architects are Lolita fans?
The site will be updated constantly. Right now, the list is already 677 strong. Additional features include five invited commentators—one each for architecture, product design, fashion, graphics, interior design—describing their must-reads for those in the field. Commentary is encouraged at every turn. And future pages will establish connections with not only readers but bookstores, too.
A paean to books in print, designerandbooks.com is also an education in what makes the mind of the architect tick.
Where one architect might see an incinerator, Bjarke Ingels, principal at Dutch firm BIG, envisions a ski slope. Ingels has been fond of the mountain typology and he hasn’t been all that subtle about it, giving projects names like Mountain Dwellings and emblazoning Mount Everest on the side.
In his latest competition-winning proposal for Copenhagen, BIG takes the concept one step further, with a mountain you can actually ski down.