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|curator Alexander Eisenschmidt
That grid is abstract as well as realistic. It's optimistic, because it is an equivalency of a democracy of buildings. If you're building you could be anywhere in the grid. It's also alienating, because there's no distinction, there's just the grid block after block.In Europe, the urban model is much more hierarchical, residential quarters spinning out from a cloistered center around a cathedral or town hall. Tigerman superimposes the cloister onto his model of Chicago's street grid through representations of buildings, many his own, that break the grid in different ways. The traditional way of seeing the city is through the hierarchy of its grand boulevards, but Tigerman defended the grid:
The city would begin to promote the use of those lots as the basis of a kind of collective space. Individual lots . . . implemented through local community organizations. Each one of those would have an activity, programmatic recreational, educational or other types of activities and at the same time present some kind of work opportunity.The program would also be about . . .
encouraging private development occurring on a combination of city-owned lots and privately-owned lots, with the idea that anyone who was building could do so to a higher height, in exchange for provisions for collective space.
The first crisis we were interested in is the population loss in Chicago. Over the past 12 to 15 years, the greater Chicago area was the only one of the top 15 cities to lose population, down to the sunbelt, and jobs down to the south. The crisis down there is kind a resource crisis, mostly around water. A lot of corporations use huge amounts of water in their production process. Those companies are often where, let's say Arizona, you need an enormous amount of water, and it's very, very expensive.Sarah Dunn talked a little more about the idea of a “stormwater park” . . .
A new initiative, Chicago Sustainable Industries, says to those companies : why don't you move back to Chicago? We're a very green city, We'll work with you to change our infrastructures because we're rich in certain resources.
We took a look at the area around the [former industrial area] at Lake Calumet . . . now it's become really just these brown, empty, sometimes toxic fields. They're just kind of leftover nothing. They're turning into prairie. So we thought how can we change that ground, that land, that site, in a way that rethinks the grid, and the infrastructure of the grid, to work with buildings and figure out a way that the water that these companies use could be taken out of the lake, used, and then send that water back into the grid of the city itself and have the grid clean all water before it went back to the lake.
So we create a loop. Take the water out. Use it as much as we want. But hold on to it. Let the landscape and the grid take care of it and clean it naturally, using very little energy, and then send that water back. The benefit to the corporations is to get a resource that they spend billions of dollars on every year. The benefit to the city is that they get jobs and a new kind of infrastructure that really thinks about a sustainable way of building a city. And what the area around this renovated, revitalized district gets is, potentially, a new kind of the park system.
. . . as a cultural attractor. These mounds are sometimes seating for an outdoor theater, sometimes places for sheep to graze. There are tennis courts, basketball courts. When the infrastructure is not functioning as a floodplain, it's also a drive-in movie theater.Lindsey Moyer of Studio/Gang talked about her firm's entry, Reclaiming the Edge . . .
The model lays out Studio/Gang's Chicago waterfront projects as a continuous - if geographically incongruous - urban terrain. It begins with an idea - the Reverse Effect project dealing with re-reversing the flow of Chicago river - and moves on to river boathouses and the Lincoln Park Nature Boardwalk. Then the proposed Ford Calumet Environmental Center, which is about . . .
In all these projects it was about starting to look at the water that intersects with the sites and thinking about the condition of the water as it was at the point that we started and how we could revitalize that, and think about how it could be this lasting benefit for the city in future. I guess in a way all of these projects are architecture in response to crisis. In each of these sites, the water was in a condition that was not great for recreation or for habitat and we've worked with engineers and ecologists to revitalize these waterfronts and these water habitats. Each of these sites are an ongoing exploration where the architecture becomes the first step in the process. It is a spotlight on these sites, and can be become a catalyst in rethinking about how we think about the waterways.
nest-making and gathering and taking all of the materials that have been kind of dumped in the Ford Calumet region and gathering those to create a building that's about how to use these recycled materials.. . . and concludes with Studio/Gang's plan for Northerly Island . . .
about integrating with the museum campus to create this outdoor component to that circuit, where you can learn about this inland lagoon, canoe, and even dive to view a sunken ship.The model actually descends below the water level. Be sure to check out the tiny models of both the sunken ship and small plane lying on the lake bed.
Surrounding the exhibition, on the walls of gallery, is Eisenschmidt's Phantom Chicago, in which the drawings of iconic visionary projects from the 20th century, from Adolph Loos entry to the Tribune Tower exhibition to Greg Lynn's Stranded Sears Tower . At one point, Eisenschmidt has actually placed the buildings on their own peninsulas in a realistic, if surreal, re-envisioned juncture of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.
Museum of the the Phantom City, which maps provides information and graphics on such unbuilt projects as the Loos and Gropius Tribune Tower entries.)
This is a great show. Not only are the ideas behind it intriguing, but the models are rather beautiful in their own way. They also in include some of the neatest, tiniest model people you'll ever see. If you look closely UrbanLab's Free Water District, you'll even find horses, sheeps and cows.
City Works: Provocations for Chicago's Urban Future runs only through this coming Sunday, September 29th. Expo 72 Gallery is at 72 East Randolph, open 8:00 a.m. through 7:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, Friday 8:00 to 6:00, Saturday 9:00 to 6:00, Sunday 10:00 to 6:00.