Monday, March 31, 2008

April Architectural Events Calendar Up - 60+ Events: Check it Out

Ok, it's nearly 1 A.M., and I finally got the April Calendar up. I know I've missed a few things, but even now there's over 60 neat events. They'll be a nice graphic and a fuller description later this week, but I'm tired and I still have to unstop my bathtub, so just check out all the great stuff here.

Tribune slams Children's Museum land grab "travesty", Germania on Landmarks agenda

The Chicago Tribune's Sunday editorial The Grant Park land grab capably dissects the Chicago Children's Museum's curdled campaign to deploy raw political muscle to ram a new building into Grant Park against overwhelming "public revulsion . . . Is there no voice of reason and courage in their ranks?" the Trib asks. The editorial's final paragraphs puts the situation in a clear light:
". . let's not pretend this project is about putting children at the center of our city or any other sentimental platitude. Because this land grab isn't really about children.

This land grab is about clout."
Elsewhere, on the Germania Club front, after 42nd alderman Brendan Reilly urged the Commission on Chicago Landmarks to consider landmarking the historic 1888 Germania Club after the property was recently acquired by powerhouse strip mall developer Kimco Realty, the Commission has placed consideration of the Germania, along with the adjacent 1916 Village Theater, on the agenda for this Thursday's monthly meeting as "preliminary landmark recommendations".

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Angel Reprieved as Soft Market Fells First Giant

The increasingly unsettled real estate market has claimed its first Chicago megaproject. The Chicago Sun-Time's David Roeder is reporting today that a planned 67-story high skyscraper, Canyon Ranch Chicago, has been canceled. The rounded tower, designed by Destefano+Partners, was to have risen on the current site of Episcopal Center, a mid-rise Miesian structure at 65 E. Huron, behind the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago's St. James Cathedral on Wabash. A tightening of lending restrictions and a paucity of buyers were the reasons cited for deep-sixing Canyon.

Crain's Chicago Business reported earlier this month that the developer, New York's Related Companies, was having trouble getting Canyon and another major project - Streeterville's Peshtigo - off the ground, and was contemplating having the developments taken over by Magellan Group LLC, the city's largest homebuilder and the force behind Lakeshore East. Canyon Ranch's units were priced at the top-of-market $1,000 a square-foot range. Could its failure mean the pool of millionaires to which a glut of other similar proposed Chicago projects are being marketing has finally begun to run dry?

The Episcopal Diocese will continue to consider other uses for their prime property, but for at least one more summer, the Angel of Peace sculpture will continue to stand watch over one of the last remaining open spaces in River North.

Chicago Spire: Planetarily notorious

The real estate section of this weekend's Financial Times carries a story by Hal Weitzman extolling the virtues of Santiago Calatrava's Chicago Spire. The puffy piece which would seem to bear the fingerprints of Savills, the firm developer Garrett Kelleher was hired to market his billion dollar project, but it's still an interesting read. We learn that a deposit has already been placed on the $40 million penthouse, but don't be totally discouraged. Savills "is still open to expressions of interest on the unit." Weitzman calls the spire "one of the most talked-about developments on the planet."

As always, the Gatsby-like Kelleher insists the Spire will prove immune from the world-wide housing slump, "Everybody in the world knows about this project," he says, although no particulars are offered as to exactly how many of the nearly 1,200 units have been sold to date. Chicago is said to be underpriced compared to other World cities, with the current weak dollar an additional incentive to international buyers. Kelleher sees the Spire as rescuing Chicago's residential towers from their current mediocrity, and pairs his baby with a possible 2016 Olympics as the portents of "a new Chicago . . . There is a renaissance happening here.” Read the fully story here.

There's also an article on hedgehogs. [Photograph: Samuel Palmer, Wikipedia. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant.]

Friday, March 28, 2008

Saturday 3:29, 8:9 - Put Out the Light

This Saturday, March 29th, from 8:00 to 9:00, Chicago Earth Hour is urging Chicagoans to turn off their nights to join "neighbors and businesses and millions of people around the world to make a bold statement about climate change."

Chicago is the United States flagship city for the World Wildlife Fund's initiative, whose local partners include Leo Burnett, ComEd, and the City of Chicago. Chicago Earth Hour organizers are urging you spend the hour contemplating your energy wasting sins and making vows of penance through reducing your carbon footprint in the year ahead. They're also suggesting you use the time to "replace your old light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs," but be careful not trip in the dark, because if you break one of those new "green" bulbs, the escaping mercury vapor will create a mini-hazmat situation right there in your living room.

Organizers are working to get the lights turned off on major Chicago landmarks. However, essential lighting in streets, hospitals and the like will remain in the "on" position, so don't expect the stars in the heavens to suddenly reveal themselves in a darkened Chicago sky, as neat as that might be to contemplate.

Despite coal-ridden China's efforts to overtake us, according to Chicago Earth Hour the United States remains "the world's leading emitter of carbon dioxide, with over 20 tons per person produced every year."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Chicago Children's Museum Going into Astroturf Overdrive

Fran Spielman is reporting in today's Sun-Times that an "influential alderman" has told her there are at least 30 votes to override the objections of 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly and approve the Chicago Children's Museum land grab of a large tract of Grant Park on which to build a new museum.

Reilly disputes the assertion. He is scheduled to appear, along with CCM CEO Jennifer Farrington, on this evenings edition of Chicago Tonight, 7 P.M. on Channel 11, WTTW. A Daley administration override of the long tradition of aldermanic veto over projects in their wards would set the stage for decimating a key aldermanic control over how future mayoral initiatives such as the 2016 Olympics will affect their constituencies.

Farrington told the Sun-Times that the museum, which so far has raised only 40% of the $100 million cost for the new structure, intends to submit an application for a planned development for the project. It has already been rumored that the issue will be put before the Chicago Plan Commission in late April.

Dan Mihalopoulos of the Chicago Tribune reported last Saturday that the CCM has retained the services of powerhouse PR firm Hill & Knowlton, which has created an All Chicago Children's Museum Committee to manufacture support (i.e.,astroturf) for the CCM's initiative. It recently sent out a letter seeking to line up additional supporters for a future PR blitz. Although the letter is meant to impress with a broad base of support, two of the five signatories are directly affiliated with CCM, including former Board Chair Phillip Harris, and Maria Whelan, whose group Action for Children has as its Treasurer former CCM CEO Peter England.

The Sun-Times is also running a poll with its story, asking "Should the Children's Museum move to Grant Park?" As of 2:00 P.M., the 350 votes cast were running 84% against the CCM's in Grant Park. Apparently, Hill and Knowlton hasn't rallied the troops yet. [at midnight tonight, new total: 600 votes, 84% against]

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Alsop's Delirious Islington: No Fries -Cheeps!

Chloë McCulloch of Britain's Building Magazine has an article on the general awfulness of architectural firm websites, part of a survey of the best websites, 25 of which were disqualified for the crime of using Flash (talk about strict). McCulloch also points readers to "Three sites we like."
The third is one of the most amazing real estate sites I've ever seen. It's a microsite, designed by mN Magnetic North, for the Chips condo product in lovely downtown Manchester, by architect Will Alsop, who becomes an animated presence on its pages.

This site mixmasters idealism, marketing and whimsy into a delightful, loopy delirium. It begins with a animation (Flash!) that unwraps the building from a wrapper of newsprint, as if it were a Pub luncheon. The fish is nowhere to be seen, but the building itself becomes the chips, bring sprinkled with salt and malt vinegar. Click past it, and you enter a world where Alsop, wine glass in hand, becomes your maitre d', carrying a menu of click-through choices, which display in a central frame whose scroll bar is also a chip.

Chips is built on a former brownfield site, the inaugural entry in an ambitious master plan. Alsop has angled the building's three rectangular blocks to sculpt the structure in an arresting way. An architectural Pillow Book, the facades are covered with rainscreens with type, in various sizes, inscribing the names of ports with which Manchester once traded.

The website for developer Urban Splash's project proclaims Manchester the "capital of the planet supercool." The pitch is a mix of Donald Trump, Steve Jobs, and Mother Jones:
We want a mix in Chips; no ghetto, no charity, just a new way of living together. So out of the 142 flats in Chips, 50 will be sold to key workers and first time buyers.

Chips has an outside. Nearly half of New Islington is open space or water. Fingers of canals on both sides where the traffic-jammed streets should be. A Real park next to the retail park.

Abraham Lincoln was wrong: you can please all the people all the time.

Developers, the existing residents, the fish, the planners, and tomorrow's residents. Everyone has a share. This is New Islington.

This is Every Street. You and me.

Chips is Will Alsop's first residential development in the UK, and we are delivering it.

We're very proud. And we're proving that the best housing, design, sustainability, can be part of every development. It's something we believe in. And after the mistakes of the 60's, 70's, and 80's, we need that belief.

We're more than just a property developer. There's no formula at Urban Splash, no pattern book or celebrity designers(?!). It's about amazing architecture and appropriate, innovative development, without pretence. About buildings that are used and loved.

Be sure not to miss the promo film off the What is Chips? section, which takes the project from chips on a little boys plate, to the three extruded vertical sections of the building. Later on, still another visual metaphor starts off with the different unit types color-coded as elements on strands of DNA that are then straightened, chopped, and stacked to get to the final building.

You also get introduced to some of your potential neighbors, who are a bit like the apartment building residents in Wings of Desire, if they had been in color and on acid. Saul Bass, Yellow Submarine, vintage 60's marketing films - they're all in there.

You feel exhausted and giddy by the time you get to the end. Could any mere building, even one by Will Alsop, be as much of a trip as this website? Would any Chicago developer take a chance on something so brazenly creative that it trumpets its project with the claim, "It's got balls!" Most importantly, would it move units? Check out this remarkable site here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Nelson Algren Cover-up - $30,000 Payoff

Just in time for the Chicago author's 99th birthday on Friday, the Wicker Park Bucktown Special Service Area is conducting a competition for the design, manufacture and installation of a new cover for the Nelson Algren fountain at the Polish Triangle plaza at Milwaukee, Ashland and Division, with the objective of making:
the pedestrian park in the middle of this busy intersection more inviting, safe and useful by replacing the current dilapidated plywood cover with one that is artistic, colorful, functional and reusable year after year. Like the fountain in warmer months, the new cover could itself be one of the welcoming attractions encouraging visitors to the neighborhood through the winter months, when the fountain is inactive. Designs that suggest functional uses for the fountain cover are encouraged. The new fountain cover could also incorporate lighting, whether for seasonal purposes or for general ambient lighting. Perhaps the new cover can incorporate sound (music). The fountain basin is approximately 18 feet in diameter.
The budget for design, construction and materials is $30,000. May 5th is the deadline for registration, June 2 for first stage submissions, with up to 5K to be divvied up among five finalists. The winner is scheduled to be announced September 2nd, with late November set for the installation of the new cover. You can download the RFP here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Kamin Blogs; Casts Aqua a Valentine

"Everybody wants to get into the act!", Jimmy Durante used to fume, and now you can add Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin to that number. He has a new blog, The Skyline, (not to be confused with Philadelphia Inquirer's Inga Saffron's Changing Skyline). He's been posting items since Mid-March.

A lot of the content is simply a republication of his own print columns and references to the work of other Trib writers on architecture and development issues, but there's a great call out to a crackerjack profile, complete with audio, from the Yale Alumni Magazine (Kamin's alma mater, as he's wont to remind you) on the great Vincent Scully, still going strong at 87, at least partially due to his life-long commitment to strenuous rowing, even in the raw winters of Long Island Sound. The Skyline also has a rather anemic list of recommended events (today numbering but two) and a nice set of links to other bloggers, including myself (many thanks), Edward Lifson, Inga Saffron, Ned Cramer, and a top-notch blog I didn't even know existed, that of the New York Time's indispensable writer on architecture, David Dunlap.

Welcome, Blair. Like Andrew Patner's The View From Here, The Skyline is a great addition to the Chicago blogging scene.

Another good thing about The Skyline is that it gives you a heads up about major Kamin
pieces about to appear. This weekend, it's a feature article, At Aqua and other projects, Jeanne Gang offers material evidence for her 'rising star' status, which is an excellent take on the work of someone who's emerging as one of the city's top architects. There's also a great video , produced by Tom Van Dyke, (for which I'm having a hard time finding a link on the main article) with Kamin going up into Aqua with Gang and developer James Loewenberg, from which the signature image you see here was taken. If nothing else, Aqua is going to keep architectural photographers employed for decades.

Kamin also talks about Gang's new SOS Community Center at 76th and Parnell, which I finally got out to see today - hence the photograph - and expect to be writing on in the not too distant future.
And now for something completely different. Here's a link to a photo gallery of dioramas employing iconic Marshmallow Peeps (or, as people like me you can't bring themselves to utter the word "Peeps" in polite conversation refer to them, Marshmallow Chickens). They're the six finalists in the Trib's contest for Peep populated scenes. (Does Sam Zell know about this?) Expecting maybe a handful, the Trib was overwhelmed with over 500 entries. The winners include Peeps Playing With Fire and my favorite, Vincent Van Peep's Bedroom in Arles, complete with earless yellow rabbit. Check them all out here.

And Happy Easter.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Waters Tanks - Still Standing

Great minds (or at least their headline writers) think alike.

Tanks for the Memory - an article I wrote a few years ago on the Chicago Architectural Club's Water Tanks competition.

Tanks for the memories - the great Rick Kogan's piece in last Sunday's Tribune magazine on Water Tanks of Chicago: A Vanishing Legacy, a new book of Larry W. Green's photographs and paintings on the cities surviving stock of elevated water tanks, which began ubiquitous after the Great Fire of 1871 as to a way to quickly deliver water, pressurized through gravity, throughout a building to put out blazes.

You can check out my article on water tank's history in Chicago, and the nearly 200, often enormously creative and beautiful entries to the CAC competition, including Rahman Polk's striking winning entry, involving water tanks, wind turbines, LED's and wireless access points, here. Despite the mayor suggesting water tanks to the CAC as a topic of a competition, and his continued participation, absolutely nothing has come of any of the proposals in the competitions, which was pretty much what I fear but, hey, that's life in the big city.

And you can read more about - and order - Green's new book, here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Children's Museum Battle Moves to Plan Commission - plus Germania Club, Marina City. IBM Updates

Chicago Children's Museum
In a newsletter sent out last week, 42nd ward alderman Brendan Reilly writes that the Chicago Children's Museum's proposal to build itself a new home in Grant Park will "very likely [be] heard at the April 17th, 2007 meeting" of the Chicago Plan Commission. It could be that the Museum thinks it has the votes to muscle its way through the Commission. Heavy lobbying has been going on in the City Council, with the Sun-Times reporting that the museum continues to play the race card in smearing opposition to its land grab as racist. The photo you see here is of the current park, derisively dismissed by Mayor Richard M. Daley as "nowhere".

David Axelrod - the Daley street fighter behind CCM's Push
The museum has retained high-powered lobbyists to advance its interests behind the scenes. In a profile of lobbyist (and Barack Obama's chief strategist) David Axelrod in the current Business Week, Reilly characterizes Axelrod's firm ASK Public Strategies as "the gold standard in Astroturf organizing. This is an emerging industry, and ASK has made a name for itself in shaping public opinion and manufacturing public support."

Axelrod's ASK is the politically-connected muscle behind the CCM's campaign. You can see the Astroturf under its fingernails in the hijacking of a community meeting on the proposal last year where museum supporters, of whom few, if any, appeared to be from the community, filled up the auditorium and forced the actual residents, overwhelmingly opposed to the CCM's plan, into side hallways. The gutter politics continued with Father Michael Pfleger who, based on an encounter with a single person attending the meeting, began echoing the canned message refrain that museum opponents were acting out of racist motives. Astroturf, in abundance. Will Axelrod's operatives succeed in placing their Astroturf blindfolds over the eyes of Plan Commission members?

Germania Club
In the aftermath of our recent story in the Chicago Reader on how the Commission on Chicago Landmarks is leaving important buildings like the 1888 Germania Club on Clark Street twisting in the wind, Alderman Brendan Reilly also announced that, "Because of its significance, I sent a letter to the Commissioner of Planning and Development asking that we pursue land-marking this structure. Although there are currently no redevelopment plans before us, I would prefer to be proactive rather than reactive in order to guarantee the re-use of this significant, and important historic structure. " The property was recently acquired by strip-mall developer Kimco Realty Corporation.

Marina City
The indispensible Marina CityOnline website is reporting that Dick's Last Resort is suffering a number of setbacks in bringing its surly staff and penis-shaped hats to the concourse level of Marina City. A "Stop Work Order" from the Chicago Department of Buildings has been in effect since February 22nd, and in March Dick's failed ventilation, structural and electrical reviews. To date, no fewer than seven reviews, including architectural, fire prevention, plumbing and refrigeration, have been denied. The extent of Dick's intended alterations to the exterior of the iconic building have yet to be revealed.

Just across the street, as Crain's Chicago Business reported Tuesday , LaSalle Hotel Properties, the owner of Marina City's Hotel Sax, has closed on purchasing floors 2 through thirteen of the Mies van der Rohes designed IBM Building, aka 330 North Wabash, paying $46 million for 375,000 square feet that it plans for transform into a 335 room hotel. The project will benefit from tax breaks accrued from the buildings recent designation as an official Chicago landmark. A name for the property has yet to be announced. Mieshaus by Starke anyone? Think that sucks? Ok, smartguy(gal), let's see your bright ideas - post them in our comments section.

On the Ellis Levin front, MCO also carries a story on continuing efforts by resident Mindy Verson to learn the full extent of the fees paid to the Marina Towers Condo Association's controversial attorney.

Marina City Online continues to add items to what has become an extraordinarily rich on-line portrait of the Marina City complex and its history. We'll have more on that, including the story of two extraordinary 1960's films that used Marina City as a location, a few days hence, but that's no reason not to check it all out for yourself here, with a huge gallery of images here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Speed Bumps on the Road to Utopia

Even as we marvel at Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren's spectacular CCTV tower in Beijing, take a moment to remember that their client is CCTV, the Chinese television monopoly. So?

Here is a Sunday headline from the BBC: Eighty killed' in Tibetan unrest. Here's the headline from the China People's Daily: 12 policemen gravely injured in Lhasa riot. According to Monday's Wall Street Journal, CCTV's coverage consisted of pictures of Tibetan protesters "pulling down the iron gates of a Bank of China office." Pictures of the military pouring in the city? Civilian deaths and injuries? Nothing to see there, the CCTV assures us. China has also cut off Internet access to You-Tube after videos of the protests sweeping through Tibet were posted there. The WSJ quotes a Chinese official claiming a " decision to bar foreign journalists from Lhasa was made by the local government in the Tibet Autonomous Region to ensure the safety of the press." The bible of choice for China's government seems no longer to be Mao's Little Red Book, but 1984. There's a glimmer of hope in the fact it apparently still hasn't figured out how to stop Tibetans from using their cell phones to spread news otherwise suppressed.

Are architects from the West helping China move towards a more open, progressive future, or, willing victims to their own egos and delusions, are they mere window dressing for a regime that bargains booming prosperity for unending totalitarian control? Will our traditions influence them, or will their traditions erode our own ideals of democracy and freedom? The Olympics may bring a euphoric sense of future possibilities, but on a day like today, it still looks like it could go either way.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Chicago: World's Greenest City - at least on St. Patrick's Day. A photo portrait

So is St. Patrick's Day really an obsession in Chicago, you ask. Is the Pope Irish? Well, what about the mayor, then? Once again, here's our annual anthropological exploration of Chicago's strange and wonderful St. Patrick's Day rituals, like dyeing its river a day-glo green, with lots of stunning pictures, including the larger version of the above thumbnail of Trump Tower's emerald carpet - here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

This Whole Save the Animals Thing is More Complicated Than We Thought

From Der Spiegel

EU Carcass Laws Starve Europe's Scavengers

Iannelli - and Wright - out of the Storeroom

An associate of mine where I work was cleaning out our storage rooms when he came across the striking artwork you see here. Looking it over, we were struck by the name on the stylized signature, "Iannelli", with three dots over the "i", and I immediately thought of the Alfonso Iannelli, the sculptor who collaborated with Frank Lloyd Wright at Midway Gardens. Read all about the beautiful posters Iannelli created for the Los Angeles Orpheum between 1911 and 1915, and about his contentious collaboration with Frank Lloyd Wright on Midway Gardens here. And a bit of Sally Rand and a lot about sprites, too.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Chicago Streetscene - Ravenswood Doll House, Night

A Tale of Two Roofs

As was to be expected for an architect at the peak of his fame. power and influence, he's now getting a bit of pushback. Last month, James S. Russell led off with Renzo Piano, Favored Museum Designer, Wears Out His Welcome, where the Bloomberg architecture critic claimed that "Piano has benefited from a trend away from sculpturally
expressive museums to bland designs that are invariably described as `architecture serving art.''

Now, fresh off an article in the Architectural Record on Debunking a myth about museums that pay for themselves, New York Review of Books architecture critic Martin Filler follows up with Broad-Minded Museum, a detailed account of the tangled web, and mixed results, behind Piano's new Broad Museum of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It was built to house the 1,800 piece collection of real estate tycoon Eli Board and his Broad Foundation, valued at $2.5 billion.

Except that it was soon revealed that Broad wasn't really giving LACMA any of the art; title would remain with Broad and his foundation, which will make the ultimate decisions over what will actually be on exhibition. What LACMA thought to be a coup acquisition turned out to be a very tony, high-end variation of a fast food franchise, and quite possibly a second string one, at that. Last June, Broad announced a $26 million gift for a Zaha Hadid designed Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, and one can well imagine part of Broad's collection being siphoned off to be exhibited in East Lansing, with a chain of McBroad Museums, a la Guggenheim, perhaps close behind, barnstorming Broad's art across a national, or even international circuit.

Filler takes note how at this point of his career, Piano seems increasingly to be recycling his greatest hits. At LACMA, there's the bold color and soaring escalator echoing the landmark Piano/Rogers 1970's Pompidou Center in Paris, and expressive roofs that are coming to become a calling card. Filler recounts a conversation between Piano and Broad, who expressed his determination to get the cost down below $200 a square foot. "The roof's great, except it cost more than the rest of the building," Filler quotes Broad. To which Piano replied, "Eli, do you remember one day, we were around the table and you said, "How much do we save if we take the roof away?" Well, you save a lot, especially on the architectural fees!"

Filler speculates that Broad's push for economy "might have led to the architect's use of rows of relatively rudimentary mesh ceiling panels below the rooftop's factory-style sawtooth skylights," which Filler says do not perform at the level of Piano's acclaimed galleries at the Menil Collection in Houston and Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, calling the light at the Broad galleries often "gray and gloomy."

There's reason for optimism that the problem won't be repeated at the Piano designed Modern Wing for the Art Institute of Chicago, now under construction for a scheduled 2009 opening. The Broad comes in at 72,000 square feet and $56 million; the Modern Wing at 264,000 square feet and $265 million. And, once again, the roof is the big tuna driving the building, an over 200 feet square "flying carpet" of complex, computer modeled sunscreen elements, fabricated in Turkey, diffusing the light filtering into the top floor galleries, a magic carpet billboard enticing the hordes in Millennium Park to cross the Piano-designed Nichols Bridgeway to a third floor entrance to the Modern Wing. No word yet on what percentage of the quarter-billion budget is going into that roof.

Read Martin Filler's excellent take on museum politics, economics, architecture and aesthetics here.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Kill Da Bulb

We received a press missive from the IALD stating their opposition to the banning of incandescent bulbs, which has been proposed in California and other U.S. locales, Australia and Europe. Politicians have been unable to resist striking a self-righteous pose against incandescents, the lighting created by a dead white guy, in favor of the squiggly cute CLF (compact fluorescent lamp).

On paper, it makes a lot of sense. CFL's are claimed to save $30 over their useful life, and save 2,000 times their own weight in greenhouse gases. But then you start looking at the fine print. You can buy a 60 watt incandescent rated at 20,000 life hours for $1.70, but, even at Wal-Mart, its equivalent CLF goes for $12.37, over seven times more costly. CFL's require more energy in their manufacture. Incandescents generate a lot more heat, bad in hot weather, but in cold more energy will must be expended to make up for the heat the CFL's don't produce. Oh, and don't turn CFL's on and off thinking you're saving electricity; it substantially shortens the life of the CLF bulb.

And did I mention the mercury? Break an incandescent bulb, and the worst part is making sure you sweep up all the pieces when you throw it away. Break a CFL, and your in Hazmat land. The presence of mercury in the air can exceed safe limits by 30,000%. Here's the State of Maine's recommendations for precautions to be taken if you break a CFL:
  • Leaving the area/room and waiting 15 minutes after breakage before returning to begin cleaning up (mercury levels in the air will have fallen from their highest levels by then);
  • Using a glass container, metal screw top lid with a seal, such as a canning jar, to contain the lamp pieces, powder, and cleanup materials;
  • Immediately removing the lamp breakage from the home once containerized, especially if the homeowner did not have a glass container with a good seal;
  • Continue ventilating the room for several hours;
  • Suggesting that homeowners consider removal of the area of carpet where the breakage occurred as a precaution, particularly in homes with infants, small children or pregnant women;
  • If carpet is not removed, the homeowner should consider ventilating the room during vacuuming for the next several vacuuming events . . .
The only way to make sure discarded bulbs don't become a major health hazard is to either return them to the store where you got them - if they'll take them; or transport them to the nearest recycling facility - if you can find one. We can't even recycle our newspapers and plastic bags. What would make anyone think we'll suddenly become totally conscientious about light bulbs we've been used to just throwing away? Or will the costs of the long-after-the-fact-remediation that is the American tradition, both of the physical material, and of the human beings suffering from exposure to excessive amounts of mercury, wind up far outpacing whatever energy savings are gained by CFL's?

Everything in me screams that CFL's are on the side of mother, God and country, but the march of politicians legislating, with a Talibanic smugness, the virtue du jour on the rest of us makes me wonder if they've thought the thing through anywhere past writing up the self-congratulatory press release.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Hoepf, Gang, Tigerman, Burnham, Rock, stone (carving), Name That Landmark and more on March Calendar of Chicago Architectural Events

Ok, now this is getting out of hand. I never get everything in the first pass, but there's already over 50 events on the March calendar of Chicago Architectural events. There's lectures by Thomas Hoepf, Stanley Tigerman, and Jeanne Gang, a trailer for Judith Paine McBrien's new documentary on Daniel Burnham, the 4th Pecha Kucha night, with Tim Samuelson and Lynn Becker, Detlef Martins at IIT, Michael Rock and Albert Pope at UIC, stonecarver Walter S. Arnold at a CAF lunchtime lecture, making the Merchandise Mart green, Minne Sullivan discussing Howard van Doren Shaw's Ragdale for Landmarks Illinois, a Preservation Quiz Show pitting Deputy Commissioner for Landmarks Brian Goeken, David Bahlman, Jonathan Fine, Phyllis Ellin and Vince Michael against each other in a battle of wits in their knowledge of Chicago landmarks, and last but not least: You!, cordially invited to join Chicago Earth 2008 in turning off your lights from 8 to 9 P.M. on March 29th. But wait: there's much, much more! Book signings, workshops, seminars, plus local auditions for ABC's newest reality show, Engineer Swap. Check it all out and start filling up your dance card, here.