Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Onions Awarded, Ammonia Protested, Public Art Celebrated, Reader Sold - A Wednesday Miscellany

DuPage Theater demolition bottoms out Preservation Onions - Enough about recognizing preservation excellence - what about honoring the stinkers? That was the premise behind a recent Landmarks Illinois program where the 100 people in attendance were asked to choose "the stinkiest onion of the bunch", the lowest point in architectural preservation this past year. They picked the March approval for bulldozing the DuPage, one of only two structures in the suburb listed on the National Register. My own choice wasn't even on the list of the nominees: the Commission on Chicago Landmarks vote to demolish an official landmark, the Farwell Building and paste its facades on a completely new building, a precedent that threatens to turn much of Chicago's architectural heritage into a cross between Disneyland and a Potemkin village.

The Save Our Lake Initiative is a petition drive to stop British Petroleum from upping the volume of pollutants it dumps into Lake Michigan from its Whiting, Indiana refinery. The Grant Park Conservancy is pitching in by offering a copy of the petition on its website, in Adobe Acrobat format. The signatures are due by this Friday, at 3 P.M., to be turned in at the Daley Bicentennial Fieldhouse, 337 East Randolph.

Goodbye Roosevelt Collection, Hello, Public Art - Friends of Downtown has changed its July program, to be offered this Thursday at 12:15 in the Millennium Room of the Chicago Cultural Center. Nathan Mason, curator of special projects for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, will lecture on the wealth of public art in downtown Chicago.

Chicago Reader Sold - word came this afternoon that the Chicago Reader, which carries the blame for making my career writing on architecture possible, has been sold to Creative Loafing, Inc., which publishes alternative weeklies under that name in Atlanta, Charlotte, Tampa Bay and Sarasota. The Tampa-based company made Richard Roth, who founded the Reader in 1971, an offer too lucrative to refuse, and while no one can blame Roth for deciding, after 36 years, that it was a good time to move on - in today's web-based world, it's not going to get any easier - it's still a very sad day for Chicago. Staffers (I'm only a grateful occasional freelancer) will get more information about the paper's future direction tomorrow, but a certain amount of economies engineered through national consolidation would appear to be inevitable.

On a parallel note, even as the food court in its former Marshall Fields flagship on State Street was shut down for health code violations, Macy's announced it's closing its Lake Forest store in the Howard Van Doren Shaw designed Market Square.

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