Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chicago Streetscene: Trump's Christmas Spiral

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Blair Kamin at Friends of Downtown Annual Meeting, Thursday, December 2nd

As if five events for the evening of Thursday, December 2nd - including Richard Sennett, Barry Bergdoll, the story of the Nickerson Mansion, and the unveiling of plans for Northerly Island - weren't enough of a logjam, we've just been reminded of a sixth:  Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin will be the keynote speaker at Friends of Downtown's annual meeting at the Sullivan Center.   If you haven't already, you can check out all the great events on the December architectural calendar here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Richard Sennett, Antonio Gaudi, Barry Bergdohl, The Malling of Chicago, Pecha Kucha 16, Northerly Island and more - the December Calendar of Chicago Architectural Events

It was the week before Christmas, and all through the city, the only thing stirring was the Gene Siskel Film Center's holiday tradition - Hiroshi Teshigahara's hypnotic documentary, Antonio Gaudi, whose masterpiece, Barcelona's Sagrada Família, begins to enter the home stretch to completion eight decades after its architect's death.

After the 24th, everything shuts down for the year-end holidays.  Before the 24th, there's still nearly three dozen great events for you to check out on the December Calendar of Chicago Architectural Events.

There's still several great events coming up this Tuesday, the 30th, including on Empathy, Storytelling, &   Prototyping: 3 stories + 1 conversation at Archeworks and John Vinci and Ward Miller talking about their new book, The Complete Architecture of Adler and Sullivan at AIA/Chicago.  If you can't make to AIA/Chicago, the authors will also be at the Glessner House Museum on December 8th.

December starts off with a bang on Wednesday, with the first of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Chicago Debates: The Malling of Chicago,  with a panel of heavyweights including Linda Searl, John Lahey, the Reader's Ben Joravsky, Chris Robling, Jonathan Fine and Edward Lifson.

That same evening, Belinda Tato of Ecosistema Urbano lectures of Urban Social Design in Madrid at the Institute Cervantes.  On Thursday, December 2nd the proposed plans for Northerly Island will be unveiled at CAF by the Chicago Park District and Studio/Gang Architects, while MOMA's Barry Bergdoll will be lecturing on New Research Projects in French Architecture at the Block Museum in Evanston, the kick-off to a day-long conference on the same topic with another blue ribbon panel on Friday, the 3rd.

On Wednesday the 8th, another day-long event, the Global Metro Summit: How Metros are Delivering the Next Economy: Lessons from the U.S. and Abroad, takes place at UIC, with Saskia Sassen, Ricky Burdett, the Brookings' Strobe Talcott, and Mayor Richard M. Daley among the scheduled participants. Renowned sociologist Richard Sennett makes not one, but two December appearances, at the Graham on the 2nd,  and at SAIC's Columbus Auditorium on the 6th.

Katerina Rüedi Ray and Igor Marjanovic will be discussing their book, Marina City: Bertrand Goldberg's Urban Vision, at a CAF lunchtime lecture on the 15th, where Larry Bennett will be talking about his new book, The Third city: Chicago and American Urbanism and Why Chicago Isn't and Is Important on the 1st.

Did I mention Pecha Kucha Volume 16, at Martyrs on the 7th with a roster of at least ten presenters, including. Jacqueline Edelberg, Hal Chaffee and the legendary Ken Nordine?

And there's more.  Experience the joy of discovery for yourself.  Check out all the great events on the December calendar here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tiny bubbles in the wreath, complete with wishes, adorn Art Institute Lions for the holidays

Last year, the lions at the Art Institute went slightly mod for the holidays, donning wreaths designed by Yves Behar of multi-colored aluminum leaves.  A week before Christmas, as scheduled, the traditional evergreen wreaths returned.

This year, there was one word for the lions' wreaths: plastic.

Drawing their inspiration from traditional cranberry wreaths, U of I professors Bruce and Stephanie Tharp fabricated wreathes out of 2,011 separate cranberry-colored plastic bubbles, each containing a wish from a Chicago area child.  Kara Spak of the Sun-Times has a great story on the wreathes and their creators, including a sampling of wishes, here.
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The Tharp's design firm, Materious have brought to manufacture such designs as their easy-grip Samurai handled Umbrella,  and their Piggy bank, sold out for the holidays in white, still available in pink - what does that say about us as a society?  Also available is the super-sized Morgan Stanley version with the image of a golden parking meter inscribed on its side.

During the day, the wreathes look a bit hard and synthetic, a big concord-grapey.
They really come into their own at night.
The bubbles actually include solar-power lights to provide a subtle glow, although this is somewhat minimized by the high ambient lighting levels around the museum.
And evergreen is apparently not forever green.  This year, the Tharp wreathes will adorn the lions -  Attitude of Defiance and On the Prowl, or Atti and Pro for short - throughout the holiday season.

Black Friday edition: 4D Chicago with 127 individual plastic landmarks, free shipping at CAF, Richard Neutra dollhouse, Kamin, Weese, Adler & Sullivan

Let the gift buying frenzy begin.

Through November and December, the Chicago Architecture Foundation is offering free shipping on orders of $50.00 or more to locations in the continental U.S.
The on-line bookshop still offers only a small fraction of the titles available in CAF's great Michigan Avenue store, but it does include such items as the new Blair Kamin compilation, Terror & Wonder, and two of the season's "must-have" titles for any architecture buff: Robert Bruegmann and Kathleen Murphy Skolnick's The Architecture of Harry Weese, and the landmark The Complete Architecture of Alder and Sullivan. You can also get your copy of the just released DVD of Mark Richard Smith's documentary Louis Sullivan: the Struggle for American Architecture.

Among the many special items is the Emerson House, a "modern dollhouse" which "draws inspiration from Richard Neutra's Desert House and A. Quincy Jones' house for Gary Cooper"
The Emerson House modern dollhouse is the perfect home for the modern family. The modern home has six rooms including a living room, kitchen, library/office, master bedroom, bathroom and child's bedroom. With its large, open floor plan and floor-to-ceiling windows, the Emerson House enjoys year-round sunlight. The modern dollhouse features many extras including mitered-glass corners, two fireplaces, sliding glass doors, solar panels, and recessed LED lights. Finally, the dollhouse is easy on the environment with only non-toxic and lead-free wood stains and paints.
It's $329.00 ($296.10 for CAF members - Coop doll not included), but think how much those solar panels will save you on batteries.

And if that price is a bit too rich for your blood . . . I'm not sure the actual product will be able to live up to the hype, and we won't know until it's released December 3rd, but you could have your own version of CAF's terrific Chicago Model City exhibition with the 831-piece jigsaw puzzle 4D Cityscape Chicago.

The kicker on this one is that once you've figured out the puzzle, you'll find pre-cut holes for 127 plastic models (included) of buildings "that depict the city as it appeared as far back as 1873 through to 2015 Including icons such as the Willis Tower, John Hancock, and Navy Pier." You could borrow your favorite building to use as your personal Monopoly piece. Among the pieces are a couple of key unbuilt projects, and at $44.95 ($40.46 for CAF members) it may turn out to be the only version of the Santiago Calatrava designed Chicago Spire that developer Garrett Kelleher will ever be able to afford.  Did I mention the streets are claimed to glow in the dark? Unless this thing is a complete dud, this could be the Chicago architectural toy to have this year.

No word yet whether The Frank Lloyd Wright Illustrated Guide to Matrimony will be in stock in time for Christmas. Check out all the great stuff at the CAF store here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Holiday Tradition: The Short, Brutal Life of a Parade Balloon

Read the story and see all the pictures (parental supervision advised) here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

"I can't believe you cut the turkey!" - Gabriel Krichinsky, as played by the great, late Lou Jacobi.
May your family gathering be bereft of such schisms, and may you take a turkey out for a tofu dinner. Have a great holiday, Pilgrim!
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 a horrified onlooker reacts to the pummeled remains of Yogi Bear

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One more for November: Empathy, Storytelling and Prototyping at Archeworks, plus for December: Northerly Island plans unveiled; max Sennett

In what I predict with some confidence will be the last addition to the November calendar of Chicago Architectural events, next Tuesday, November 30th, Archeworks will be presenting a program, on Empathy, Storytelling, and Prototyping: 3 stories + 1 conversation, with the storytellers including Adam Goss of Spirit of Space, Chris Force of Design Bureau/ALARM Press and Martin Thaler from the IIT Institute of Design.  Earlier in the day, AIA Chicago will be sponsoring a talk by John Vinci and Ward Miller about their new book, The Complete Architecture of Adler and Sullivan.  There are three events - count 'em: three! - still to come in November.  Check them out here.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, December the 2nd, The Chicago Park District, Gia Biagi, Jeanne Gang from Studio/Gang/Architects and JJR will present plans for Northerly Island.  At noontime that same day, Lawrence Okrent will be presenting The History of Grant Park at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. And the very same famed sociologist Richard Sennett who will be speaking at the Graham on the 2nd becomes a recidivist lecturer with a second event sponsored by the School of the Art Institute at Columbus Auditorium on the 6th.

Check out all the events on the rapidly evolving December calendar here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chicago Streetscene: Tree on Root

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Geoffrey Goldberg on the 50th anniversary of Marina City groundbreaking

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On November 22, 1960, in a ceremony attended by Mayor Richard J. Daley, ground was broken on Chicago's Block 1, on north bank of the river between State and Dearborn, for what would become an icon famous throughout the world:  architect Bertrand Goldberg's Marina City, a pioneering mixed used complex that brought residential living back to the center city, and coupled it with an office building, a theatre, shops, restaurants and a skating rink.  There had been nothing quite like it before - or since. 

Monday, the Portland Cement Associationn marked the 50th anniversary of that event with a press conference featuring Geoffrey Goldberg, an architect, critic and educator in his own right, talking about his father's achievement in creating Marina City, "a place where everyday folks could have fancy architecture." 
The design, of course, created a sensation, including a 1962 Jim Beam gift decanter modeled after the Marina City's twin towers, united with a single roof with easy-pour spout.

Afterwards, Goldberg also discussed photographs of much of his father's other work, including the gravely endangered Prentice Hospital.  Especially poignant was a final group photo of the employees of Bertrand Goldberg's Marina City office just before the firm was evicted by a landlord would soon leave the commercial part of the complex as, essentially, an abandoned building.  "We were asked to leave."

That office building is now the Hotel Sax, where as a part of the Monday press conference, a restored version of a fascinating 1965 Portland Cement Association documentary about the building of Marina City was unveiled.  We've written about this before.  The current restoration is far from pristine - the images still a bit unfocused, the colors subdued - but its still a visible improvement from the previous version.
More importantly, it's a spectacular photographic record of Chicago in the early 1960's, when River North, still described as a derelict district, was dominated by surface parking lots, massive cold storage warehouses along the river, and one of the city's Skid Rows to the north.  It is, to a large degree, a lost world, a forgotten interstitial link between Chicago's legendary industrial past and uncertain post-industrial future.
Steven Dahlman's indispensable Marina City Online website has the entire documentary, in two parts, along with an encyclopedic collection of information, drawings and photographs on the origins, creation, and history of Marina City.  We include part two below.
Even after fifty years, Marina City has not lost its capacity to thrill.  As Geoffrey Goldberg said on Monday, "When built it was an inspiration, and it remains one today.  It was then, and still is, essentially, an optimistic place."  In this day of strip malls and big box warehouses, of cheap and dispiriting condo towers, would that there would be a few more of its kind today.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Adopt an Orange: $1

The latest newsletter from Preservation Chicago brings us the tale of this 1870's wood-frame Italianate cottage in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood.  It's owner, the Illinois College of Optometry, apparently can't see much in it, because they're going to tear it down if someone doesn't come forward to acquire and move it.  However, the house is rated "Orange" in Chicago's Historic Resources Survey, classifying it as having features that could qualify it as historically significant.
This house is distinguished due to its age, and that the basic form and decorative elements such as window hoods and bracketed gable still exist. There is a two-story brick addition at the rear that was constructed in 1902.

Interested parties may request access to the house through Historic Preservation staff at the City of Chicago, who will coordinate entry with the Illinois College of Optometry. Please contact Eleanor Gorski at  312-744-9143 or via email.
The demolition delay that's protecting the house expires in December, so if you have a yen for historic houses and a dollar burning a hole in your pocket - plus a few more to move it and bring it up to snuff - this is your big chance to correct an optometrist's vision.

Instituto Cervantes Eduard Bru lecture tomorrow cancelled

The lecture by Eduard Bru, Barcelona, Finally Free of Icons! Architecture as an Interface for Private/Public, scheduled for tomorrow evening at the Instituto Cervantes, has been cancelled.  

The final lecture in the series, Madrid - Urban Social Design, by Belinda Tato of Ecosistema Urbano, will still take place December 1st.  More information here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chicago Debates: The Malling of Chicago, Barry Bergdoll, Percier, Labrouste and Hittorffs, Richard Sennett, Pecha Kucha 16 with Ken Nordine - early notices on the December calendar

Because of the year-end holidays, the December Calendar of Chicago Architectural Events is looking to be intensely front-loaded, so we wanted to give you a heads-up on some great items taking place in the first few days of December.

On Wednesday, December 1st, at Goose Island Wrigleyville, the Chicago Architecture Foundation will be launching a series of Chicago Debates - "leading voices from architecture, design, business and politics as they debate the changing face of Chicago"  with The Malling of Chicago, with a spectacular panel including Ben Joravsky, staff writer, Chicago Reader; Jonathan Fine, Executive Director, Preservation Chicago, Linda Searl, Chair, Chicago Plan Commission, John Lahey, Chairman and President, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, Christopher Robling, Principal, Jayne Thompson and Associates, and, as moderator Edward Lifson, cultural critic and blogger.

Then on Thursday, December 2nd, the Northwestern University Department of Art History kicks off two days on New Research Projects in French Architecture: Percier . Labrouste . Hittorffs  with a keynote lecture, Exhibiting Architecture, by MOMA Chief Curator of Architecture and Design Barry Bergdoll.

Half an hour later on the evening of the 2nd, famed sociologist Richard Sennett, in an event co-sponsored by Urban Habitat Chicago and the Graham Foundation, will be delivering a lecture, Edges: How People Are Separated in Cities and What Can Be Done About It.

On Friday the 3rd, New Research Projects in French Architecture continues and concludes with an all-day symposium on "understanding the nineteenth-century foundation of modern architecture" with participants including Barry Bergdoll, Andreas Beyer, Director, Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte (Centre Allemand), Paris; Marc Le Coeur, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; Neil Levine, Harvard University; Martin Bressani, McGill University in morning, and an afternoon session, moderated by Jesús Escobar, Northwestern University, with a round table of presenters including Robert Bruegmann, University of Illinois at Chicago; Harry Mallgrave, Illinois Institute of Technology; Katherine Fischer Taylor, University of Chicago; and Alexander Eisenschmidt, University of Illinois at Chicago.  And it's free.

Tuesday December 7th brings Volume 16 of Pecha Kucha Chicago where a dozen of so presenters are get 20 slides for 20 seconds each to "reveal their passions, work and inspirations."  Among those on this month's roster are Kevin Lynch, Jon Langford and the legendary Ken Nordine.

Elsewhere in December, John Vinci and Ward Miller talk about their spectacular new book, The Complete Architecture of Adler and Sullivan at the Glessner House Museum on December 8th.

Igor Marjanovic and Katerina Rüedi Ray discuss and sign copies of their book, Marina City: Bertrand Goldberg's Urban Vision, at a lunchtime lecture at the Chicago Architecture Foundation December 15th. Today, November 22nd, is the 50th anniversary of the ground-breaking for the pathbreaking city-within-a-city project.

 Lawrence Okrent talks about The History of Grant Park for Friends of Downtown at the Chicago Cultural Center Thursday, the 2nd.

And on the 1st at 6:00 p.m., at Instituto Cervantes, Belinda Tato of Ecosistema Urbano delivers the third and final lecture in the series Restoring, Regenerating, Rethinking: The Urban Transformation of Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao.

We're just getting started and we've already got two dozen items on the December calendar.  Check them all out here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chicago's Mag Mile Lights Festival: Distant Parade and Bubble Fireworks

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On the ground, it was the usual great crush of people for the 2010 edition of Chicago's Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, the Disneyfied, rodent-infused kick-off of the Christmas shopping season.
The view from the top of my home was a bit distant, but far less crowded - me sharing the rooftop with a small handful of others braving the bitter chill.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Greenwashing at the Greenway Self Park - Blair Kamin finally notices what was clear to everyone else last February

November 19, 2010, Blair Kamin: Is it absurd to call a garage 'green'?

September 10, 2010, ArchitectureChicago Plus:  Greenwashing at the old "Green" parking behemoth
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February 5, 2010, ArchitectureChicago Plus: Twirling Rotini and Green Indulgences in a River North parking garage.

Preservationists seek to protect Chicago Theological Seminary buildings as complex converts to a different religion

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The url of the new Chicago Theological Seminary Documentation website,  www.CTSthreatened.org, reflects concerns that the 1920's buildings designed by Herbert Riddle on the University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park will undergo major alterations when they are renovated as the new home for the recently formed Milton Friedman Institute for Research in EconomicsAnn Beha Architects is partnering with Gensler on the project.  The University of Chicago paid $44 million to purchase the buildings from  the 153-year--old CTS, which is constructing a new four-story, 75,000-square-foot facility, designed by Nagle, Hatray, Danker, Kagan, McKay Penney, across the Midway Plaisance at Dorchester and 60th.

According to a report on the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference website,
The crux is that by pre-agreement between the University and CTS a goodly proportion of stained glass windows and some other artifacts will move to the new seminary or otherwise be taken out (future undetermined) and not used in the totally repurposed chapels. Historic areas will be respected, other parts will be redone within old masonry and some new construction for mechanicals, circulation, or a lecture hall will be created (not going outside the CTS footprint). Seminary Co-op Bookstore goes into new ample space (including reading space and a student-run cafe) in McGiffert Hall on Woodlawn. 58th Street will become more a connector, perhaps entirely pedestrian. Cost has not been determined and will not be until Beha architects are further into the design-- they have been researching and considering, including the real and size needs of the new uses. Some glass removal will start soon, full construction in 2012. the next public meeting will be after design process.
The Chicago Theological Seminary was also the entity that acquired Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House and eventually announced their intention to tear it down "We are in the business to educate ministers, not to support a national shrine", was the comment of the seminary's business manager, as quoted in Jay Pridmore's excellent, The University of Chicago: An Architectural Tour. Robie House became the focus of one the earliest Chicago preservation battles, with Wright, himself, branding the proposed demolition a "special species of vandalism . . . a religious organization has no sense of beauty. You can't expect much from them."

The 180-foot high, 160-square-foot carillon tower was named after Chicago Daily News publisher Victor Lawson, who left the CTS $3.3 million at his death.  According to Pridmore,
The design is reminiscent of the parish church tower of Boston Stump (1520) in Esssex County, England. Closer to the ground, a graceful cloister has stones from religious sites around the world embedded in the wall. The chapel's windows are patterned after the stained glass in Chartres Cathedral.
Reports that the emptied chapel windows will be replaced by new stained glass depicting more contemporarily observant religious events, such as Milton Friedman bestowing "The Miracle of Chile" and F.A. Hayek freeing the serfs from their Social Security checks, remain unconfirmed.