Monday, December 31, 2012

Yes, Virginia, there will be a 2013 - the January Calendar of Chicago Architectural Events: Gang, Kearns, Guen, Vivian Maier and more!

Yes, we survived 2012 and now live to tell the tale of the January 2013 Calendar of Chicago Architectural Events.

The year starts out this Thursday, with Friends of Downtown asking What Do You Love or Hate About Downtown Chicago?, at the Cultural Center.  Then things really start getting in gear the following week, with Michael Williams and Richard Cahan, publishers of Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows at the MCA on Tuesday the 8th, and a discussion of Historic Preservation lunchtime Wednesday the 9th at CAF.

As part of the one of largest preservation projects currently underway, Randolph (Steuben Club) Tower Terra Cotta Restoration will be discussed at a Landmarks Illinois lunchtime lecture at the Cultural Center, Thursday, the 17th.
The don't-miss exhibition Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects continues at the Art Institute, where curator Karen Kice will be offering a gallery talk lunchtime on Tuesday the 15th, and Jeanne Gang, herself, talking about her firm's recent projects in Fullerton Hall on Thursday, the 17th.

Several organizations demonstrate that the holiday party refuses to go gentle into the new year, with Architecture for Humanity/Chicago offering up its Holiday Hangover 2013 party at the DIRTT Showroom on Friday the 11th, while lunchtime Wednesday the 23rd at CAF, Co-Director Katherine Darnstadt talks about AFH/Chicago's local projects.

AIA Chicago offers Larry Kearns and Neil Sheehan talk about the Facebook Data Center and Inspiration Kitchen on Tuesday the 15th, and CAF offers Terry Guen lunchtime on Wednesday the 16th.  At it's January 24th breakfast panel, the Urban Land Institute Chicago considers Chicago: The Next Technology Hub?  As of this writing, there are still tickets available for CAF's Sunday, January 27th behind-the-scenes tour of Rafael Viñoly Architects new Center for Care and Discovery at the University of Chicago.

But wait: there's more!  And I'm sure we'll be adding as hangovers subside and people start firing up the mimeographs again - we're still waiting for the Plan and Community Development Commissions to post their meeting schedule for the New Year.  Already, however, there are already nearly three dozen great items, so check it all out on the January 2013 Calendar of Chicago Architectural Events.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Time to Kick 2012 Down the Stairs: Our Top Ten Stories of the Year

I really wasn't planning to do this, but I just got a stern letter from the U.S. Department of Blogs, Memes and Spam reminding me that at the end of each year, every blog on the internet must publish some kind of "Top Ten" list or face stiff fines for falling below federal recycling minimums.

So, to keep me free from grand jury consideration, let's start the countdown on our ten most popular posts for 2012:

Number Ten:  An Open Letter to Rahm Emanuel on Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Hospital - a few truths versus One Big Lie. (10/16/2012)
Number Nine: The Mummy of River North:  Chicago has gone New Hotel Crazy (Just not at LaSalle and Huron)(1/10/2012)

Number Eight:  I've Got You (1913) Under My Skin:  Virtual Restoration at 618 South Michigan. (8/29/2012)

Number Seven:  Can Signage Save Block 37? (7/23/2012)

Number Six: The Invention of Dreams - The Themes of Martin Scorsese's Hugo - Part I (I guess I should finally get around to finishing Part II.) (3/9/2012)

Number Five:  Two Gated Communities:  Will the Lathrop Homes be Drowned in a River of Gentrification? (7/23/2012)

Number Four:  Future Prentice: ideas for saving endangered Betrand Goldberg building subject of Chicago Architectural's Club 2012 Chicago Prize competition. (8/21/2012)

Number Three:  The Architects behind the Architects:  Anne Tyng dies at 9. (1/7/2012)

Number Two: Frontier Outpost:  The Roosevelt Collection and the Future of the Viaduct District.(10/29/2012)
And now - drumroll please - our most popular story of 2012:
Number One:  Four Buildings and  a Funeral - Wrigley: The life and death of a great Chicago corporation as seen through the buildings William Wrigley created for the city in which he made his fortune. (2/8/2012)

There were also several posts from previous years that actually got numbers in 2012 that would have placed them among this year's ten most popular . . .

Two Cats Ponder the Tax Cut Deal:  yes, pictures of cats are what keeps the Internet spinning, and this portrait of my late cat Dante and his companion Chet was our second most popular post in 2012.  (12/6/2010)

Gary Comer College Prep, John Ronan Architects.  Ran the cats a very close race. Our third most popular post in 2012 (9/20/2010) 

On the great stair of the Art Institute, fear and hope stream  beneath your feet in color and light.  The story of Swami Vivekananda's speech at the 1893 World Parliament of Religions.  January 12, 2013 will mark the 150th anniversary of Vivekananda's birth.  Our seventh most popular post of 2012. (10/3/2010)

Caedemon: The End of Cabrini Green  Our tenth most popular post in 2012.  (3/29/2011)

Triskaidekaphobia be damned:  on to 2013!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Am I Boring You?

click images for larger view

Watching it is vaguely arousing:  the drill plunges deep, deep into the shaft, and then it starts screwing.  It screws in.  It screws out.  When it finally pulls clear, the drill-bit tip is encased in a horse hockey canister of dense Chicago clay, which it then spins away, like a dog shaking off rain, onto a ground that takes on the appearance of an over-painted canvas, there for but moments before a  power shovel smears the brushstrokes, scoops up the heavy muck, and dumps it on a growing nearby pile.
This is a site, just south of the Sheraton Chicago, that's been vacant as long as anyone can remember.  For a brief time in the delusional part of the century's first decade, it was to be home to a 107-story, 1,265-foot-high Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, designed by DeStefano+Partners.
Unlike the equally hallucinatory Chicago Spire, however,  it never even got to the point of being a big hole in the ground.
The south end, was  a surface parking lot, complete with its own anemic forest.
The north end, across from the AMC River East, was a garden of rubble that served briefly as the dumping ground for architectural mock-ups used in the filming of Transformers 3: Decepticons Trash Wacker Drive.
Now, after multiple delays, work is actually beginning to fill up the full city block with a Solomon Cordwell Buenz-designed, 53-story, 590-foot-tall mixed use project combining about 400 apartments with 400 hotel rooms.
Stop by in 2015 to see the completed product.  For now, enjoy the mud . . .

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas in Chicago Retro: Zoo Lights, Trains, Trees and Kringles

Okay, so we just posted on Christmas in Chicago 2012.  Now here's what it was like in 2009 . . .

Check out all the photographs here. And if you're still not Christmas'd out, check all the great photo essays and stories from previous years.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas in Chicago 2012: a City's Architecture as Holiday Backdrop

click images for larger view (recommended)
Yes, it's time for annual photographic essay on how Christmas transforms Chicago and its architecture, complete with our patented bad video of interesting things . . .
As the jolly guy says as his train pulls away:  "Santa's got to fly!  Stand Back!  See ya all Soon!"

And so, dear readers,  a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!  . . .