Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sunday June 3rd rally to save the Lake Shore Athletic Club

Preservation Chicago is organizing a Sunday, June 3rd rally set for 1:00 P.M. in front of the 1927 Beaux Arts Lake Shore Athletic Club, 850 North Lake Shore Drive at Chestnut, to support saving the building it describes as a "Georgian Jewel" from Fifield Realty's plans to demolish the structure to make way for a Lucien Lagrange highrise. The building had been used as a residence hall by Northwestern University until they closed it down in 2005 and sold out to Fifield, who filed for a demolition permit on April 15th. As a property listed as "Orange" in the Chicago Historical Resources Survey, indicating it is "potentially significant", the permit is on a 90-day hold while the city decides whether the building merits saving. Designed by architect Jarvis Hunt, the structure's features include a muraled, 35-by-75-foot indoor swimming pool, a two-story high foyer, carved marble fireplace and a three-story high Great Hall.

In addition to Preservation Chicago, other groups working to save the Club include the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR), and Landmarks Illinois, which named the structure to its 2007 Ten Most Endangered List.

For Sunday's rally, Preservation Chicago promises "a torch-bearing runner, athletically-clad protesters will be out in full force, highlighting the Lake Shore Athletic Club as not only a stunning example of Chicago’s architectural might, but a site where many Olympic swimmers have trained, and where the U.S. Olympic trials for swimming were held in 1928." The organization is urging participants to come dressed in their own athletic gear to carry forward the theme.

Key to the effort is gaining the support of newly elected 42nd Ward alderman Brendan Reilly, who defeated 35 year-incumbent Burton Natarus on a platform predicated on a more balanced approach to development. (, 312/642.4242; fax: 312/277.1009) In Chicago, where alderman usually wield veto power over projects in their wards, the positions Reilly takes on issues like the Lake Shore Athletic Club and a proposal to build a new Chicago Children's Museum on what is largely open land in Grant Park are seen as key indicators as to whether his election will mark substantive change or a continuation of predecessor Natarus's long-time coziness to developers who were major contributors to his campaigns.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Stateway's Final Gasp, Park Boulevard's First Breath

The last highrise at Stateway Gardens is in its death throes. Stripped of everything but bare structure, it is, for the brief moment just before being pummeled into cascading debris, once again clean, open and elegant - almost hopeful.

The highrise was one of eight public housing towers built on a 33-acre site at 35th and State, just south of Mies van der Rohe's IIT campus, that opened in 1958 with the greatest of hope, but degenerated down through the decades into an anarchic, crime-ridden, drug and gang riddled residences of last resort that wound up being even worse than the slums they replaced. When the Chicago Housing Authority created a "Plan for Transformation" in the mid-1990's, the keystone of that transformation was annihilation - wiping out all of Stateway Gardens, and of the Robert Taylor Homes, and Cabrini-Green, and just starting all over again.

Skidmore, Owings and Merrill created a new site plan for a replacement housing mix in which only a third of the new units will be public housing, with one-third of the remaining units "affordable", and the last third "market rate". One of the key features of the site plan is restoring the original street grid, whose abolition had disconnected Stateway Gardens from the surrounding community and left its internal terrain an amorphous, increasingly isolated and dangerous blob.

Now, a new community, Park Boulevard, is rising where Stateway Gardens once stood, and the maximum height for any one structure is a six-flat. There will be freestanding homes, townhomes, and low-rise condominiums, like those now being constructed at the corner of State and 35th.

Landon, Bone Baker are the architects. (thanks to Bill Worn for the correction and info), one of five firms, including Johnson & Lee, Worn Jerabek Architects, Kathryn Quinn Architects, and UrbanLab, working on different part of the complex. Some of efforts to enliven the facades (see the middle building below) have a distinctly eccentric feel. It's far too early too judge the final result. Just enjoy this moment of renewed hope.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Meeting Tonight Considers Children's Museum Muscling into Grant Park

The Grant Park Advisory Council/Grant Park Conservancy will be holding a meeting tonight, Tuesday, May 29th, at 6:30 at Daley Bicentennial Fieldhouse, 337 East Randolph just east of Columbus, to consider Krueck and Sexton's latest redesign for a new Chicago's Children Museum in Grant Park, just south of Randolph. The revised two-story 100,000-square-foot design, though largely underground, would still eat up parkland for sprawling skylights and green roofs. Lots of glass, apparently.

In the best Chicago tradition, the museum is seeking to buy off community groups with the inclusion of a new 20,000 square foot fieldhouse, causing Advisory Council President Bob O'Neill, a critic of the earlier design, to revert to his traditional role as unflagging cheerleader for all whims Daley. (The mayor has endorsed the Museum's move to Grant Park from its current home at Navy Pier.) "The public will be blown away by the innovative designs, and that will overwhelm the negativity," O'Neill told the Tribune. If you need this decoded, "negativity" refers to any dissent from City Hall's omnipotent, unchallengeable wisdom.

It remains to be seen whether another community group, Friends of Downtown, will also take the bait, having previously taking a position opposing the construction as both a violation of A. Montgomery Ward's hard-won battle to have the park declared “Public ground—a common to remain forever open, free and clear of any buildings or other obstructions whatever,” and also as setting a precedent for allowing admission-required facilities in a public park whose attractions historically have been free.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Chicago Streetscenes - Memorial Day

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Harboe to be Honored at Unity Temple Gala

May 28th is the deadline for reserving tickets for the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation's 2007 Gala. The Foundation's Unity Award will go to preservation architect T. Gunny Harboe , who has been instrumental in such restorations as Mies van der Rohe's Crown Hall at IIT, Louis Sullivan's Carson Pirie Scott store on State Street, the Marquette and Reliance Buildings, and the recent concrete restoration at Unity Temple, itself. The UTRF award will go to Carol Wyant of Pathfinder Consulting for her work in assessing needs and creating a plan for the Frank Lloyd Wright landmark's restoration.

The evening will include traditional Japanese drumming and choreography by Tsukasa Taiko and an interior lighting show from De Paul University's Theater School. Dinner will provided by key Oak Park Restaurants, and the evening will also include an origami demonstation, and, perhaps most importantly, a sake tasting. Tickets are $100 each, with $150 patron level tickets including preferred concert seating. Contributers can also purchase a $80.00 sponsorship of tickets for architecture, design and art students.

Call 708/383.8873 for reservations or information. Unity Temple is at 875 Lake Street in Oak Park.

News from all over - the Curmudgeon Edition

ICA DOA - In the May issue of Metropolis, Philip Nobel takes on Diller Scofidio and Renfro's rapturously received Institute of Contemporary Art on Boston's waterfront, and not only is he less than impressed (badly detailed, poor circulation, ugly rear end), but he sees the mega-happy press that has greeted the ICA as a sign of a disturbing co-dependence between critics and architects that winds up in a constant, uncritical, shilling for the newest sensation, which sort of underscores that 90% of what passes for art criticism is really fashion reporting. Read Nobel's take here.

Obsessive vs Elective -Elsewhere in Metropolis, Natalia Ilyin is fed up with the devaluation of the concept of passion, greeting with gritted teeth freshman students' proclamation of having "a passion for" - design, humanity, Dancing With the Stars, or collecting all four Shrek the Third limited edition glasses.
"Passion is not enthusiasm. It is not love. It is not enjoyment, and it is not flow. Passion is an unstoppable overflowing of emotion that destroys in its satisfaction, that torpedoes lives and marriages and nations, that shoots husbands or coworkers or strangers in rage. It is the hot lava of the soul, and it burns what it pours over. It is not the positive team-building thing your sup­ervisor would have you believe. Passion causes wars and brutal killings and divorces, and has astronauts wearing Depends and the headmistresses of girls’ schools going to jail, and gets husbands run over in parking lots. To say that a bunch of software engineers or graphic designers are passionate about their work is to try to interject sex and confusion and addiction and desire into a kind of work that is essentially asexual, organized, left brain, and sober."
There's a lot more where that came from. Read it all here.

To Jerry, without Love
- Chicago Sun-Times normally mild-mannered religion writer Cathleen Falsani says an unfond goodbye to Jerry Falwell. "The Rev. Falwell was a spiritual bully. He was the Tony Soprano to Pat Robertson's Paulie Walnuts . . . May he rest in peace. And may grace fill his absence."

Monday, May 21, 2007

Clout Takes a Holiday

The invaluable Ben Joravsky has a report on the Chicago Reader's Clout City blog on how the Chicago City Council Zoning Committee on Friday momentarily misplaced its rubber stamp and actually voted to defer a controversial 51-unit development in Bucktown, whose approval was being engineered by departing 32nd ward alderman Ted Matlak as a final raspberry to the constituents who voted him out of office in April, largely due to supine relationship with developers.

The proposal calls for an 8-story building, with 248 parking spaces right next to the iconic 1929 Northwest Tower at Milwaukee, North and Damen. In an object lesson of how the city works, the three historic buildings that currently occupy site were magically left off the list of about 150 structures to be protected under the new Milwaukee Avenue Preservation District, approved by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks early in May. On April 11th, just days before the election in which he was to be defeated, Matlak submitted a request for a zoning change to make the development possible. The developer refused to meet with community groups, but engineered a closed door meeting with the local Chamber of Commerce to obtain their blessing. Those living near the project did not receive the required public notice of the developer's intentions until one week after the April 17th election. Oh, and the developer's attorney is the nephew of alderman William Banks, chairman of the City Council Zoning Committee.

You get the picture. Community newspapers published outraged editorials, activists such as Craig Norris of the Wicker Park Committee made as much noise as possible, but the die was cast. Then last Thursday, something unprecedented happened. Chairman Banks announced that the consideration of the resolution had been deferred, at Matlak's request. The matter is now in the hands of incoming alderman Scott Waguespack, who has pledged, according to Joravsky, to hold public hearings before coming to a decision, something Matlak never had much interest in.

Lest activists be tempted to celebrate, however, they should remember the case of the landmark Farwell Building. In January, preservationists were elated by their surprise victory when the Landmarks Commission voted against its demolition. Within in a matter of weeks, however, city insiders, awakened from their slumber, mounted a dazzling blitzkrieg, powered by equal parts pure b.s. and the rawest chutzpah, that ended in a special session where the now chastened Commission reversed itself and approved demolition with only one dissenting vote.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Cranes are Flying - Right into Your Building

Actually just one crane, but when its a 60 foot plus high yellow behemoth, it's enough to throw Wabash avenue and four CTA rail lines into chaos.

The multi-ton crane was erected to lift air conditioning equipment to a roof of 6 North Michigan, in a mid-block alley that retains the name of Garland Court, a former three block long street that has devolved into a service route and dumpster haven.

A loud boom resounded throughout the east Loop as the alley - sorry, street - cracked under the weight of the crane, upending the cab and leaning the crane into the back of a Jeweler's Row building facing Wabash, sending a hail of bricks and debris crashing to the pavement, crushing a loading dock and possibly damaging the foundation.

Buildings along the block were hurriedly evacuated, and service along the Loop 'L', already overtaxed by the addition of Red Line trains diverted from the State Street subway, was shut down along its Wabash and Lake Street legs, with Brown Line service terminated at the Merchandise Mart.

As of 10:00 P.M., officials were still struggling to remove the crane without causing more damage, planning to ease the crane - gently, it's hoped - on its side, down the length of Garland Court, to allow for dismantling into non-threatening pieces. How do you do this? Bring in more cranes. New crane number one couldn't quite hack it. They're currently on their second. By now, everyone concerned must now be wishing they could have brought in a copter to do the aborted heavy lifting.

[Sunday, May 20] - more news from a story by the Sun-Times Dave Newbart:
1. The crane weighs 160,000 pounds
2. Garland Court is empty underneath. The crane company says they were never told this when they got their permit.
3. The crane is still there.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Oh, yeah, you can barely tell 'em apart

The venerable architect Henry N. Cobb was featured in a Tuesday press release announcing his latest design, 700 West Broadway in San Diego. A not unhandsome structure, a cut well above the city's norm, but, unfortunately, it couldn't be left there.

According to the release, Cobb says he drew the inspiration for his 34-story tower from John Wellborn Root's 1891 masterpiece, the Monadnock Building, on which he speaks eloquently in a video featured on the project's impressively designed, if annoyingly scored, website. But what exactly ties these two together? Let's see: 700 West Broadway - squarish, glass and travertine, shallow blocky setbacks. The Monadnock - plain brick bearing walls, simple yet seamlessly plastic concave profile. Oh, wait - here's the link: that cute retro hat slapped onto 700 West Broadway's roofline like a bad toupee.

I can't help but be reminded of the pairing between another work of art and its supposed inspiration:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Chicago Streetscene - Fairies on Michigan Avenue

(click picture for larger image)

For May 23rd: A Correction for CAC and a new event for WP + D Chicago

A correction on our previous listing for the Chicago Architectural Club's May 23rd event featuring a panel discussion with Martha Thorne, Dan Wheeler, Kathy Dickhut, Ed Uhlir and Keith Privett. It will be held NOT at ISpace, as we previously mentioned, but at Acme Art Works, 1741 North Western, beginning at 6:30 pm.

Also, we have news of another event, also on May 23rd, sponsored by Women in Planning + Development Chicago. Bola Delano, Deputy Executive Director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) for Economic and Community Development, will speak on The Inside Track to Leadership in Regional Economic Development. The event will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Jefferson Tap, 325 North Jefferson, and will feature, along with Ms. Delano, "appetizers, drinks and networking." Payable at the door $20 for WP+D Chicago members, $30.00 non-members, with a $5.00 discount if you register on-line. More information on the WP+D Chicago website here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sao Paulo goes Martin Luther on signage's ass

Imagine there's no neon
It's easy if you try . . .
Pope Benedict's current roadshow invocations against the Fleurs de Mal notwithstanding, it's hard to imagine Brazilians giving up sex, but perhaps even more difficult to imagine them giving up advertising - read all about it and see the pictures here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Thorne, Wheeler and Uhlir at CAC, Roszak at Prarie Avenue Bookshop - Two additions to May Calendar

Two late additions to the May architectural calendar:

Saturday, May 19th, 3:00 P.M. - Architect Tom Roszak will be at the Prairie Avenue Bookshop, 418 South Wabash, to talk about and sign copies of his new book, Glass House: A Family Home, a monograph on the 5,500 square foot glass house he built for his own family.

Wednesday, May 23rd, 6:30 P.M. - The Chicago Architectural Club will sponsor a panel discussion, public works/community initiative, featuring Martha Thorne, executive director of the Pritzker Prize, Beth White, Director, Chicago Area Office, the Trust for Public Land, Kathy Dickhut, City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Dan Wheeler, interim director of School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Chicago, Ed Uhlir, Executive Director, Millennium Park and Keith Privett, Chicago Department of Transportation, at Acme Art Works, 1741 North Western.

This coming Friday, May 18th, will mark the opening of the CAC exhibition Envisioning the Bloomingdale also at Acme Art Works, 1741 North Western, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. which presents ideas for the Bloomingdale Trail, a proposed park to be built along an unused railroad viaduct north of North avenue from Central Park to the river. The exhibition will run through Sunday, June 3rd, Thursdays through Sundays, noon to 5:00 P.M.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Frank Gehry Shocked - Shocked - Developer Cashing Out Inland Steel Building

Chicago Tribune reporter Susan Disenhouse had a report in last Friday's Chicago Tribune quoting Frank Gehry's dismay at seeing the 1956 Inland Steel Building, one of the Chicago's most essential landmarks, being put on the block less than two years after he joined a group of investors to buy the building in August of 2005. Gehry's name was used extensively in both the acquisition and subsequent marketing of the building. The investors, who paid about $44.5 million, are now expected to fetch anywhere from $55 to $65 million from the flip.

Gehry told Diesenhouse that "the only reason it was sold to someone like me was to preserve it." However, Diesenhouse also reveals that Gehry apparently didn't put any of his own money into the acquisition, and stands to earn up a quarter million dollars from the sale. "It upsets me that these guys are taking the easy way out," she quotes Gehry as protesting. "To just dump it on the market isn't responsible."

Yet veteran Chicago real estate investor Harvey Camins and his partners are far from alone in finding the current market too tempting to pass up. As reported by Crain's Chicago Business, there's now a boom market in landmark office buildings. The partnership that lovingly restored John Wellborn Root's 1891 Monadnock Building - the dazzling masterpiece that combines skyscraper height with daringly plastic, load bearing walls - and held on to it for twenty-eight years, has now put that structure on the market with an anticipated sale price of between $45 to $60 million. Root's other Loop masterpiece, the 1888 Rookery Building on LaSalle is, according to Crain's, in the process of being sold for $73 million.

Putting aside the irony of Gehry bitching about a deal in which he stands to make a cool quarter million without investing a dime of his own, his concerns about the future of the building are probably misplaced. Inland Steel is an official city landmark, and while the value of that protection is currently undergoing a radical devaluation, the Inland stands to endure due both to its method of construction and surrounding geography. While its small site would seem to make it a prime candidate for agglomeration into a larger megasite, its neighbors are structures that aren't going anywhere. To the east, there's the just-restored Majestic Theatre building. To the north is a plaza built for the newly-minted skyscraper, One South Dearborn, that also puts the Inland on display as an added bonus. And although Chicago is being hit by a contagion of facadectomies where everything but the facade of a landmark is allowed to be destroyed, at the Inland, with no interior columns, the exterior facade is its structure.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pink Ribbon Cement Mixer

Sunday, May 13th is the date for the Mothers Day Race to Empower benefiting the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization. Registration begins at 7:30 A.M. at Columbus and Balbo. Race day registrations are $30.00 for adults, $15.00 for children 14 and younger. The Race proper begins at 9:00 a.m., encompassing a 1 or 3 mile walk, and a United 5K run along a route that runs along Michigan, Columbus and Lakeshore Drive from Roosevelt to Randolph. The Y-ME offers an array of programs, advocacy, and a 24-hour hotline staffed by breast cancer survivors. Interested donors who have not yet made a pledge can contribute on-line.

The vehicle pictured above is The Pink Truck, one of two created by Prairie Material to symbolize its support of Breast Cancer Awareness.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Architectural Where Am I - Friday Edition

Two puzzles, open to everyone (even Brian)

The Answers:

The Union Park mansion directly to the west of First Baptist Congregational Church

The Germania Club on Clark near North Avenue

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mies: Tubed and Bubbled

You've got to wonder what Mies "almost nothing" van der Rohe would have made of YouTube, the anarchic explosion of videos where everyone gets to be an author, and less is - unheard of, actually. I was sent to the portal by a posting on Edward Lifson's blog, The New Modernist, which compresses the architect's sixty year career into an affectionately goofy three minute music video.

But you can't visit YouTube without being sucked down the rabbit hole of the Related Video List, where I found such gems as a video with Farnsworth House transported to Second Life's Architecture island (shown above), a knockout video animation from Columbia University illustrating Farnsworth House's construction. and an informative dissection
of how Mies' unrealized design for a German Pavilion for the 1935 Brussels International Exposition contained the precedents for many of the projects he would later build following his emigration to the United States.

And speaking of precedents, it's hard to look at the massive cubic National Aquatics Center (aka the "Water Cube", aka "H203") being constructed for the 2008 Beijing Olympics without being reminded of another unrealized Mies design, his 1953 proposal for a Chicago Convention Hall, on site of the current McCormick Place, that would have placed a half million square feet of exhibition space within a 720-foot-square structure free of any interior columns.

Over half a century later, PTW Architects is actually getting to build it, taking Mies one better by increasing the size by 50%, (to 750,000 square feet,) and trumping Mies' lightweight steel grid with a concept engineered by those show-offs at Arup to be "based on a common natural pattern, the most effective sub-division of three dimensional space –the fundamental arrangement of organic cells and the natural formation of soap bubbles," giving "a random, organic appearance" to both the internal structure and the lightweight cladding of Teflon EFTE "film", one inner film, one outer, pumped with air to trap 90% of the solar energy hitting the building to heat the pools and interiors.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Mo' Mau at Archeworks Benefit

Archeworks is still selling tickets and tables for its Green is the New Black benefit gala next Friday, May 18th at the MCA Warehouse at 1747 West Hubbard. The "green tie" event will include a raffle, and auction of drawings from architects including Helmut Jahn, Richard Meier, Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry and Stanley Tigerman and others. The dinner menu will feature "the best of sustainable farms including micro-greens and pure grass-fed beef," and attendees will receive a sampling of green products provided in "reusable shopping bags designed by Archeworks students." Tickets can be purchased by emailing Stephanie Edwards, calling 312/867.7254, ext. 11 or via fax at 312/867.7260.

The evening will honor graphic artist and activist Bruce Mau who, according to a May 3rd item on Edward Lifson's The New Modernist blog quoting a Gaper's Block report, has confirmed he's opening an office in Chicago and moving his family here from Toronto, with his activities possibly including assisting Mayor Daley commemorate the centenary of the 1909 Burnham Plan and spearheading a contemporary revision.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Gore Anti-Climax

WBEZ's Edward Lifson has posted a link to a story in the San Antonio News Express, which decided to cover Gore's speech despite a media ban enforced by Gore's handlers. The demand for secrecy remains a mystery, as the speech appears to the same he's delivered many times before. It included, according to the News Express Report, a call "for a business pollution tax that would be used to offset or eliminate employment and payroll taxes and for the creation of a federal mortgage institution that would help offset the cost of building environmentally friendly homes."

Now if we can just get the crew at 1600 to read the damn thing

We got word last week of the April groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Citizenship and Immigration Services building in Irving, outside Dallas, for the Department of Homeland Security, designed by Chicago's 4240 Architecture. We'll overlook the symbolism of the using “hundreds of golden plastic spoons” as a “perfect metaphor for a government run by the people”, to talk about the 50,000 square foot structure's most distinctive feature.

Designed to be welcoming to immigrants, the project combines, in the words of lead designer Robert Benson, “the stature of a United States Government building” while also remaining, “approachable and not imposing to immigrants seeking assistance and citizenship status.” Wrapped around the glass-enclosed ceremony room where new citizens will take their oath of allegiance is a key sentence from that oath, “I Will Support And Defend the Constitution and Laws of the United States." in four-foot-high letters, large enough to be read from nearby Highway 114. Each of the letters is actually a cutout of the full U.S. Constitution. When the sun is at the appropriate angle, the words will be projected onto the floor of the Ceremony Room.

The building, scheduled to be completed early next year, is going for silver LEED status, and the concepts behind the design of the ceremony room are said to be planned for inclusion in other future facilities.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Apparently it Doesn't Take a Village, After All

I've recently caught up with the fact that the Village Theatre at Clark and North closed up shop in March.

According to the listing on the invaluable Cinema Treasures website, it was built in 1916 as the Germania, taking its name from the venerable 1888 Germania Club right next door, at a time when German immigrants were still decisive in the city and its culture. (Here's a 1908 Daily News photo of an alcove at the club decorated to celebrate the Emperor's birthday - Tom Tancredo would have had a field day.)

With the advent of the World War I, of course, the nation's view of German immigrants and nationals took a dire turn, including locking up Boston Symphony conductor Karl Muck, and the Germania Theatre was renamed the Parkside. It was renamed again as the Gold Coast, advertised in 1931, according to Cinema Treasures poster Brian W., as "One of Chicago's Most Beautiful and Coziest Talking Picture Palaces, with" Edith Rockefeller McCormick claimed as a regular patron. After another renovation, it became the Globe in 1962, and finally, the Village in 1967.

While its original interior has been effectively destroyed through multiple renovations, ending in the inevitable multiplexing into four auditoriums in the 1990's, the exterior retains its distinctive polychrome terra cotta ornament.

Perhaps most striking is a series of six bewigged French-classical heads topping off the pilasters, just below the roof line. Complete with small, irregular teeth, they're creepy enough to begin with. But when you add a taut iron chain emerging from the gaping mouth you can't help but wonder if the original model wasn't the Marquis de Sade.

In a city of grand movie palaces, the Village was considered a small, second-run house. As those palaces all fell by the wayside, however, and the survivors began being carved up into multiple shoeboxes, the Village became one of larger surviving auditoriums, and a great place to see films, especially at its bargain price of 75 cents. When it, too, finally was subdivided, it became an increasingly poor alternative to watching a DVD in your own home. The original auditorium, however, had a simple, straightforward elegance.

The above photograph, by the way, comes from Mekong Network, a website whose primary mission is being a rich storehouse of information on Southeast Asian nations, but a side interest of the author is illustrated on the Lost Palaces page, an extraordinary photographic documentation of the demise of a large number of Chicago's movie theatres, including both palaces like the Uptown, Sheridan and Belmont, and smaller, less exalted neighborhood houses such as the Adelphi, Devon and Commodore.

To me, the most remarkable images come from the senselessly destroyed Granada, an extraordinarily beautiful theatre that survived into 1990, only to be destroyed by a combine of political clout and a powerful, tax-exempt university, replaced with a repulsive, characterless condo complex. Here are three heartbreaking photos from the MN site showing this astonishing, irreplacable building in its death throes.

Back to the Village, it's an Orange rated building, meaning it has features that might qualify it for designation as an officially protected landmark, but that seldom is allowed to stand in the way if a developer comes forward with a big-bucks proposal for the site, possibly including the adjacent 24-hour corner restaurant formerly known as Mitchell's. The only - and probably deceptive - cause for optimism is the sign above the marquee, which currently reads not "For Sale", but "For Rent."