The whole thing won't be finished until spring of 2009, but the topping out of Renzo Piano's new Modern Wing for the Art Institute of Chicago has already begun.
Construction of the beam lattice that will support what the architect has called the "flying carpet" is well underway. Suspended above the roof, the lattice will eventually be covered by rows of curving, extruded aluminum wings that filter northern sunlight through the skylights of the third floor galleries in a way that doesn't degrade the art, but cuts energy costs by up to 20%. Overall, the carpet will be 216 feet square, covering both the building and adjacent Griffin Court garden, with a surface area of 47,000 square feet.
According to Zero Gravity, the catalogue to an exhibition on the new building, the white-painted blades are "creating a dialogue with the stainless steel Pritzker Pavilion across the street in Millennium Park. Piano has said that while the music pavilion expresses its definition of space through sound, the Art Institute's new building expresses it through light."
You can see Charles G. Young's far superior Flickr portfolio of photographs here.