Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wrigley Building Plaza: Where Perfect People meet the Rest of Us

click images for larger view (recommended)
If you're wondering about the mix at Wrigley Plaza - people bundled in fall sweaters sharing the sidewalk with young women in summer dresses - step back.
Originally, the plywood barricades that went up for the rehab of the plaza between the Wrigley Building and its northern annex got a rather desultory paint job, but now the one along Michigan Avenue has become an idealized trompe-l'œil duplicate of the actual facade behind it, complete with its own highly selective group of exceptionally attractive and stylish pedestrians blending in with the more realistically imperfect stream of actual passersby.
The plaza and its substructure is owned by the City of Chicago, which built it in 1957, when it led to what was still a loft district with a distinctive skid row tinge. Now it's the Mag Mile gateway to the Trump Riverwalk and what's become a booming River North. In exchange for paying for the rehab and assuming the cost of maintenance, the developer, 400-410 N. Michigan Real Estate LLC, gets to call the shots on the use of the space for the next 50 years, subject to city approval.
Both the support framing beneath and the plaza itself are undergoing a $2 million rehab, with Goettsch Partners as the project architects for plaza and buildings alike. There's to be new granite pavers, an embedded lighting system.
Already stripped away are the cheesy-looking metal storefronts installed in 2010 after Mars took over the Wrigley Company and its iconic buildings, to be replaced with new terra cotta matching the original. The scope of work for the rehab also specifies two new storefronts and doors on both the north and south elevations of the plaza. The "non-historic" infill at the ground level of the breezeway has been demolished, leaving free-standing columns that look like they belong in the aisle of a Baroque cathedral.
Below is a rendering of the finished design from Goettsch Partners.
For now, you can actually watch for yourself the process unfold. Real people get to stand next to the fake people, and gaze through a fake shop front that's a real window looking onto the real plaza and its rehab.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Her/Moth/Others - spin them all together and they spell . . .

, by Glaswegian artist Martin Creed, rotates before Josef Paul Kliehaus's Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Part of the exhibition, Martin Creed Plays Chicago, which runs December. See a time-lapse video on the installation of the work here.

Friday, September 28, 2012

October in Chicago is Crazy Busy: Roggeveen's Go West, Arets, Vinoly, Tigerman, Stern, Gehry, Jahn(x2), Open House Chicago, MAS Context Analog - much, much more

Now up: At well over 60 items already, we're setting a blistering pace for the October 2012 Calendar of Chicago Architectural Events.
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You want architects?  At UIC, there's Daan Roggeveen of the Go West Project on the 8th, and Tom Leader on the 29th.  At IIT, there's new dean Wiel Arets this coming Wednesday, the 3rd, Kevin Daly on the 10th, Felipe Assadi and Ignacio Volante of Chile's Universidad Finis Terrae on the 16th, and Christian Kerez on the 24th.  On Monday, the 8th, Rafael Viñoly is at U of C's new Logan Center for Arts - his huge New Hospital Pavilion opens next year.  On the 17th, Carol Ross Barney talks about Design for Sustainable Transportation at CAF lunchtime, where Mary T. Schaffer talks about Target's rehab of Louis Sullivan's Carson Pirie Scott store on the 31st.

You want benefits?  How about Helmut Jahn x2?  On the 3rd, he's being honored at Facets Multimedia's Screen Gems Benefit, while on the 26th, he receives the AIA Chicago Lifetime Achievement Award to Designight 2012 with Victoria Lautman.  And on the 13th, at the Art Institute's Modern Ball, Stanley Tigerman is honored for his lifetime achievements and participates in a dialogue with Frank Gehry and Robert A.M. Stern, moderated by Geoffrey Baer.
For ambition and shear density, nothing matches the 2012 edition of Open House Chicago, Saturday and Sunday the 13th and 14th, offering often rare access to over 150 buildings both downtown and in twelve other Chicago neighborhoods, from Hyde Park to Edgewater.  (Expect to reach me only through Twitter on those days)

We got Chicago Ideas Week 2012, including events with Martin Felsen, Devon Patterson,  Navy Pier,  Gunny Harboe and Tim Samuelson on saving the Rookery, and Steve Wiesenthal and Anthony Shou of Kirkegaard Associates on their new Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at U of C.

We got 111 West Wacker (formerly the stalled Waterview) at the Cultural Center for Friends of Downtown, Ulrich Dangel of Nicholas Grimshaw talking about The Eden Project at AIA Chicago, which is also offering a demo tour of Arup's Experience SoundLab and a talk by Matthew Seymour on The Churches of Edward Dart.  On the 27th, Landmarks Illinois offers up this year's edition of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards.

Then there's SOM's Eric Keune and the State Department's Casey Jones and Lydia Muniz talking about the new U.S embassy in Beijing and State's New Design Excellence Initiative at CAF,  Scott Merrill at the Driehaus, Chris Ware and his new book Building Stories at Unity Temple, an Archi Salon led by Clare Lyster inside the galleries of the Art Institute's Building:  Inside Studio Gang Architects, Richard Pare discusses Soviet Modernist Architecture at the Graham, and William Tyre talks about Glessner House at 125 for Landmarks Illinois at the CCL, while a Halloween tradition continues as Glessner House again offers up Edgar Allan Poe readings, and Haunted Tours of Historic Prairie Avenue.
I've never seen so many conferences in a single month, and we're still adding.MAS Context is presenting Analog - Second edition, an all day event with speakers from Jimenez Lai to MCA's Dieter Roelstraete and more at Marsha target="_blank"ll Brown's NewProjects "urbanism studio" on South State. The Architects Newspaper is hosting a day-two symposium, Facades+Innovation, at IIT, with a free keynote by Fernando Romero.  SEAOI offers up symposiums on Structures, learning from the Indiana State Fair Collapse Incident,and Concrete Mix Design

OK, I'm exhausted just talking about it all.  To paraphrase Dr. Johnson, she who is tired of Architecture in Chicago in October is tired of life.  Start filling out your own dance cards by checking out the cornucopic October Calendar of Chicago Architectural Events.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Today- 200 Years of Sitting: The Chair - learn with Achilles, buy at Wright

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Tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Room and Board, 55 East Ohio, in an event co-sponsored by the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation, SAIC professor Rolf Achilles will talk up Chair, an overview of the last 200 years in devices for sitting, from Rietveld,  to Wright, to Eames to Starck. "No other design creation better expresses our ever-changing mood."  The event is free; no ticket required.

And if that's not enough, head over to Wright on Hubbard for a noon auction today, (Thursday, September 27th) , Living Contemporary,  "a unique mix of art and design from the 20th and 21st centuries", including, from 1980. the A-Chair, the first furniture designed by architect Steven Holl.
In addition to art from the likes of Robert Motherwell and Ed Paschke, there's a wealth of design items going up for auction, including these Ron Arad rocking chairs . . .
Paolo Buffa armchairs from the Hotel Bristol,  Merano . . .
Gaetano Pesce's  dining set . .  .

Marcel Wanders' Knotted Rouge . . . 
and Pedro Friedeberg's Hand Foot Chair . . .
Sorry for the late notice, but probably if you're a buyer, you're already there.

Also today, there's Tristan Sterk at AIA Chicago, and Les Albums des Jeunes Architectes et Paysagistes, with Freaks Freearchitects and A + R Salles at Alliance Française de Chicago.  Check it all out - and a number of other events still to come -  on the September calendar here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Ninotchka of River North: George Schipporeit's IBM Self-Park

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Sam Jacob is in town.   The brilliant British architect,  a founding director of London's FAT (Fashion Architecture Taste), is hot off his trip to Venice, poor man, where his Museum of Copying was one of the hits of the 2012 Biennale.  It would be nice to think his visit to Chicago might include the idea of bringing Museum to Chicago.

Judging from Jacob's Instagram pictures, his visit to Chicago has been somewhat constricted in scope.  There are photos of the river skyline, Louis Sullivan's Carson Pirie Scott ornament, Marina City at night, and also of MCA's just-closed Skyscraper show.  He posted pics both of Mies's IBM, and the adjacent IBM Self-Park, captioned "Super massive black urban hole."

Jacob is surely not the first observer to draw the same conclusion.  On a cloudy day, with flat light, the IBM Self-Park truly takes the form of a dark prison, sucking up all available light into the depths of its monolithic black form.  There are many, I'm sure, who hate it for that.  If it was the Self-Park's only trick, I might be among them.

But it's not, and the longer I live downtown the more I love this structure.   I don't think I'm alone.
When IBM acquired the large parcel at Wabash and the river for its new tower, to be designed by Mies van der Rohe, it also acquired a slightly smaller parcel across Kinzie street, just to the north.
When the IBM opened in 1972, three years after Mies's death, it became an instant landmark, the classic Miesian modernist box.  No barnacle of a bustle like the Seagram, it soars 52 stories atop a raised plinth, on its own  urban island, isolated in an enveloping ether of open space.

Mies's grandson Dirk Lohan has said that the IBM was deliberately sited to block the view from Michigan Avenue of the apostasy of Bertrand Golberg's curving, corn cob cylinders of Marina City.  Like Marina City, however, the IBM was a pioneer in an old loft warehouse district that still often reeked of Skid Row.  Someday, booming IBM would build a second tower and its parcel to the north - just not yet.
As Linda Legner wrote in Inland Architect, May, 1974 . . .
Rather than let its smaller plot lie fallow for the duration, IBM went ahead with the second stage: IBM Self-Park, insisting that the design incorporate provision for the last phase of the project, the future addition of another tower atop the garage.
To design the self-park, IBM turned to young architect George Schipporeit, an even more insidious kind of heretic.  Where Goldberg joyfully broke Mies's right-angled mode, Schipporeit merely bent it.  His Lake Point Tower of 1968, designed with John Henrich, extruded the Miesian box, pulling the edges of the curtain wall out like taffy to form three curve-edged wings around a central core.
The $3.5 million IBM Self-Park would have a reinforced concrete frame, be 12 stories tall, and hold 800 cars.  In deference to the IBM, the exterior would be metal, in this case Corten steel, the same self-oxidizing Corten that is Richard Serra's material of choice for his monumental sculptures. In place of the Miesian I-beam mullions, however, Shipporeit created a facade out of thin strips of vertical steel, very closely placed.  The Corten starts out the color of rust, and then turns dark as it ages. although, as you can see above, the setting sun can bring it all out again. 

The IBM Self-Park is often referred to as "sculptural".  It curves at its southeast corner, mimicking the curve of Wabash itself, first west, then doubling back east, as it reaches Kinzie street.  Descend the slightly scary open metal stair, and you can see how rain on the Corten steel has stained the concrete base of the building, raw and threatening, befitting the former abject character of its neighborhood.
What truly makes the IBM Self-Park sculptural, however, is not so much its form, as the way its steel screen interacts with the light.  It is about as far from a black hole as you can get.
During the day, it plays with the sunlight, becoming a canvas of weird and wonderful patterns.
At night, like a vampire, it really comes to life. 

As one of our readers noted, this is directly related to the form of the steel strips:

When looked at on end they are essentially 'Z' shaped. This has a big impact. The reason why the interior seems to play peek-a-boo as you move around the building is due to this shape. From some angles the shape of the steel completely blocks views into (or out of) the interior and from others they come close to disappearing. It is a deceptively simple building that does not give up its delights quickly. 
 At night, the actual structure of the garage is now clearly expressed.  The screen dissolves into patterns of frame and void.  Close up, viewed obliquely, those voids seem almost ghostly.
Step back, and the effect is astonishing.
The structural grid, hidden in daylight, reveals itself, as strong as bedrock, and those metal ribs, seemingly forming one impenetrable mass during the day, now look as fine as threads of silk.  Within each frame of the grid, a bulb of light hovers, showing up the angled horizontals of the support beams.  As cars move through the garage, their headlights animate the now diaphanous screen.
In the shorter, wider IBM Self-Park, Mie's elegant tower - Webern minimalism crossed with Gershwin swank - finds it perfect backdrop and counterpoint.  Don't be fooled by the sometime dour demeanor;  Schipporeit's IBM Self-Park is the sparkling Ninotchka of River North.

CTA looking for 7 or so good artists: October 10 deadline for proposals for public art in 7 rehabbed CTA Red Line North stations

CTA rehabbed Granville Red Line station (click images for larger view)
 The question period actually closed yesterday, but artists have until 3:30 p.m., October 10th, to submit proposals for artworks to be installed along seven stations on the north branch of the Chicago Transit Authority's Red Line, which are, in sequence, undergoing at $81 million rehab.

Artwork on the CTA includes everything from, at the Brown Line Western stop, a slice of the Berlin wall . . .
To 50 works of arts from 41 artists on the Pink, Red, and Brown lines, including Jo Hormuth's Canopy Lights at Red Line 47th street . . .
. . . Jason Pickleman's MONT/ROSE: Area at Brown Line Montrose, and . . .
. . . Juan Angel Chávez and Corinne Peterson's Hopes and Dreams at Red/Roosevelt.  (The CTA has published a pdf of all the artworks._
The Red Line Granville stop was the first to shut down, this past June 1st, re-opening July 13th.  The century-old station had already had one gut rehab back in 1980, so the latest fix was a matter of repairing and restoring concrete and masonry, cleaning, repainting, and refurbishing the platform.  The end result is a bright open design, although the granite fascia - leftover from 1980? - is an incongruous element that weighs down the lightness.
More recently, the Argyle stop closed down for its facelift on August 24th.  Will the distinctive Chinese color palette survive?
Unlike the Brown Line stations, where the art was co-ordinated with the reconstruction of the stations, the Red Line project is a bit of an applique.  Artists are given a pre-configured tabula rasa to work with.  According to the press release, "Prior public art experience is not a requirement."  There's a $525,000 budget for the art works, paid for by the feds.  The stations are Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, Thorndale, Granville, Morse and Jarvis.  (You can find full descriptions and histories for each station on Graham Garfield's indispensable Chicago-L website. )

The budget for individual stations will range from $45,000 to $99.000.  There will be two steps to the judging process, with 25 artists selected as finalists, winners announced next February, and all art to be in place by September, 2013. You can read the CTA press release, with a link to the RFP here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Im Daley Platz: Ist dies nicht ein Passivhaus? Ja, dies ist dasHaus.

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It's all about imagining a house that's so energy efficient, it generates all the power it needs, keeping it off the grid.  The official opening is 4:00 p.m today, Monday, September 24th,  but dasHaus Chicago has been set up in Daley Plaza since Friday, where it will remain until Sunday, September 30th.  It's a gleaming white construction built around two shipping containers, with everything fitting into a far larger shipping container for transport. It takes three days to put together and four days to take apart. 
dasHaus is the German American Chamber of Commerce's way of showcasing that country's advanced sustainable building technology.  There are photovoltaics on the roof and on the facade in louvered panels, charging an array of lead batteries.  Energy is captured as air is exchanged with the outside.  The lighting is LED, the appliances high-efficiency, the windows triple-pane.
Cutaways of different types of highly insulated wall construction are on display.
One of the shipping containers demonstrates the tightly-sealed and insulated energy-efficient environment, ingenuously designed, but more than slightly claustrophobic. 
In addition to regular tours of dasHaus at Daley Plaza, there are a number of other events, including a lecture by Passive House Institute US Executive Director Katrin Klingenberg at the Goethe Center, Monday at noon, and on Thursday the 27th, a dasHaus Chicago Conference and Networking Lunch, with half a dozen expert presents, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
Also on Thursday, there's Dubin Family Young Architect Tristan Sterk at AIA Chicago, and Les Albums des Jeunes Architects et Paysagistes at the Alliance Française de Chicago, while on Friday, there's a performance of June Finfer's musical, The White City, at Glessner House, and on Wednesday Jon Miller of Hedrich Blessing lectures at Crown Hall, IIT.

We may be in the last week of the month, but there are still over a dozen great items to check out on September Calendar of Chicago Architectural Events.