Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gas, Food, Lodging, CBS2, plus Uptown gets into Jam

On-street video gets no respect at the Chicago Tribune, In 2006, art critic Alan Artner dumped on the 40-foot-high "sculpture"/sign tower outside of ABC7's State Street studios. Today, it's architecture critic Blair Kamin, writing in his Skyline blog, ripping the video board for the new sidewalk studio CBS2 is completing on Dearborn across the street from Daley Plaza. I thought Artner's critique was a bit silly, decrying ABC7's bringing of "light pollution" to a district that was once replete with glittering marquees. Kamin has a better gripe.

The CBS2 studios occupy the base of architect Ralph Johnson's handsome new Morningstar tower at Dearborn and Washington. What was, in Johnson's original design, a continuous 80-foot-wide video band has become a clunky square board 30 x 19 feet. Set against it's now predominantly empty supporting frame, it's taken on the makeshift quality of one of those homespun wood "Gas/Food - 10 Miles" signs you find rotting along the sides of old highways.

The CBS2 Studios occupy the site of the 1871 McCarthy Building, whose official city landmark protection was hurriedly revoked so it could be demolished and left a vacant lot for the following decade and a half. The Block 37 curse lives. Read Blair's take, and some interaction with readers posting comments, here.
Uptown Redux - Today's Trib also offers Chris Jones' report on the historic, beleaguered and crumbling Uptown Theater finding itself in court today, where it will be sold off to the highest bidder. Bad news would have it falling in the hands of another slumlord with good lawyers. Good news would be a purchase by either Jam Productions or Live Event, promoters with deep enough pockets to raise the over $40,000,000 estimated to be required to bring the 4,300 seat Uptown back to its full movie palace glory. Read it all here.

Postscript: Crain's Chicago Business is reporting that Jam Productions has purchased the Uptown for $3.2 million, plus the aggreement to resolves another $1.8 million in lines against the property. Read it here.


HistPresD said...

Thanks for the news update on the Uptown. I heard on NPR (848) this morning that there was to be a sale.

Maybe now something can happen.

Anonymous said...

I've never been sure of much, but I'm sure something will happen.


Anonymous said...

Lynn, could you clarify something? This may be a dumb question, but is that photo of the CBS site going to be the final appearance? Or will there be signs to the left and right of the sign that is shown?

I can't believe that is the finished product.

Lynn Becker said...

I can't believe it, either, but if they're capable of this, they're capable of anything. We'll just have to see.

R2J said...

Guys, money doesn't grow on trees.

I can't imagine how expensive the original video screen concept was.

I can't imagine that the city will let them leave it this way. I just question the position of it. If you stand on the other side of Daley Plaza at Clark Street, there is a tree that obstructs the screen.

I had once envisioned crowds in Daley Plaza watching the Bears, Bulls, Sox, Cubs, and Hawks on the screen. This will now be very difficult. (And also because CBS only carries CSI)