Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Reveal: Tod Williams and Billie Tsien's Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago

click images for larger view (highly recommended)
The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts has its official opening this weekend with a Launch Logan Festival, Friday through Sunday, October 12-14, and an October 12th program Beware the Stairs are Always Moving: a conversation with Architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, 6:00 p.m. in the Logan Center's Performance Hall.  Read our profile of the building and its architects here.

 “I think in life it's generally true,” said architect Tod Williams, “everything's pushing to the more broadly based and generic, kind of universal answers.  I think that's the trend of the moment, and I think there's certain places, certain institutions, and people that go against that.  We go against that.”
He was responding to my question about architecture in the era of the supply chain, where it's all about maximizing efficiency through standardization and scale . . .
We had the opportunity to tour the this stunning new building, the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts with its architects, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien last Friday, and the result is this photo-essay.   Williams and Tsien talk to me about about how the building came about, how it works, and the challenges they faced in getting it done.  Images, in abundance.

Read:  The Reveal: Tod Williams and Billie Tsien's Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago


Rick Lightburn said...


What you refer to as supply chain architecture was a core principle for many modernists: see Mauro F. Guillen The Taylorized Beauty of the Mechanical, Princeton University Press, 2006.

Also, McDonald's did a lot of architectural experimentation to come up with a 'standardized' design for its restaurants some 15 years ago. In the late '80s, it's restaurants had gotten too elaborate, customized and expensive, and they started a project to develop buildings that could be developed for 'only' $1million.

Eric Davis said...

I find the Logan Center profoundly disappointing. I have been a fan of Tod and Billie's since they were visiting critics at my school in the early 80s. I've even written Tod, as a fellow architect, and complimented him on the deep quality of one of their projects. Here, I just feel like they mailed this one in. I don't find the original scheme especially compelling either - it seems like an insincere riff on Miesian modernity and its proportions don't hit their usual elegance - and the final scheme seems to me as generic as Todd says he was seeking to avoid. A tower, sure, put it up there in the skyline with Goodhue's Rockefeller Chapel and I-House - except that Vinoly's staggeringly dreadful hospital has forever ended any ability to do that anymore. The U of C skyline is ruined by that overscaled mess. So Todd did a tower with suspiciously trendy slots and corner cutouts, next to what I first thought was a rehab of a traditional Chicago sawtooth-truss industrial building. Also startlingly generic. Even the interior detailing is...blah. Williams and Tsien have done some remarkable work. This is not that. We deserved better than this.