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In his piece, Millennium Park's impact on summer classical scene, Trib Music critic John Von Rhein praises (rightly) the acoustics of the Pritzker Pavilion, but can't be bothered to mention the people who designed it. (For the record, it was Oak Park's Rick Talaske).
Von Rhein is willfully blinding himself to the most basic fact of the Grant Park Music Festival. It's free. At Ravinia, there are zero free seats, none, zilch, nada. At the Pritzker, the bulk of the seats in the pavilion - and the entire lawn - are free. It is a free music festival in which some seats are allocated to contributors. Von Rhein's truly bizarre non-sequiter can only be explained as a sop to Ravinia, a major Trib advertiser.
and so are they all honourable men" disclaimers, Kamin's piece reads less like as an architectural analysis than a real estate report. While writers most often don't compose their own headlines, the one attached to Kamin's piece pretty much sums up its perspective: Millennium Park: 10 years old and an economic boom - Chicago's dazzling urban space also proves a good investment.
destroying the Michael Reese campus in an inept quest for the 2016 Olympics, and the use of gimmicks such as interest-rate swaps that are now threatening to backfire to the tune of $200 million. The story of Millennium Park shows what made them all possible, but, hey, Millennium Park is great, so we get to stay stupid. Who wants to look behind the curtain, right?
Kamin quotes one of those risible academic studies (or TIF reports) that starts with a conclusion and then back pedals to assemble data in support, inferring that without Millennium Park, $2.4 billion of development would never have happened, and Chicago itself would have sunk to the bottom of Lake Michigan. But why stop there? Shouldn't we also credit Millennium Park for all those new residential towers in River North, Streeterville, and the booming Fulton Market district?
Kamin writes how Millennium Park was “praised as a departure from the 19th century model of parks as nature-inspired refuges from the industrial city's polluted air and packaged streets,” as if that concept were some kind of antiquated relic rather than continuing to be an essential resource for any dense city.
protected “Open, Clear and Free” park just west of Millennium Park. If he had not been thwarted, we would be seeing a lot more construction cranes above Grant Park right now, and that wouldn't be a good thing.
Millennium Park sucks in the bodies - nearing 5 million a year - and spins off money, which makes it a media darling, but equally important, I would argue, is the kind of community resource that's to be found in recent neighborhood parks such as Palmisano in Bridgeport or Bartelme on the West side, or the new Maggie Daley Park currently under construction on the site where Daley wanted his museum. Millennium Park had minimal influence on these new parks, and they're all the better for it.
wrote just after it opened, the triumph of Millennium Park is founded in “shear consumerist delight”. Both Anish Kapoor and Jaume Plensa's contributions arose out of strong aesthetic conceptions, and while the strength of their ideas may well filter down subconsciously to visitors, the fundamental payback is how the public has taken to the Crown Fountain as an urban water park, and to Cloud Gate as a funhouse mirror prophetically custom-made for selfies.
The triumph of Millennium Park is being plotted on an economic scorecard. That's only fitting in this, our Age of the Supply Chain, where a value that cannot be monetized or reduced to a mathematical construct has no valid existence. It's the lie that distorts and hollows out our humanity. I'm as much a sucker for numbers as the next guy, but I think that what's most interesting about Millennium Park is to be found beyond that lazy and accustomed scorecard, in the realm of sensual experience and emotion, and it's what I hope to address - however imperfectly - in subsequent posts.