Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Model Chicago Engulfed by Water at CAF, plus AIC, Maggie Daley Park: Thursday Updates Edition

Smokefall production still, courtesy Goodman Theatre
As we continue to work on the November calendar, and just in general take a breather (including taking in Noah Haidle's Smokefall, with the great Mike Nussbaum, at the Goodman Thursday night - closing Sunday), we turn to our indefatigable correspondent Bob Johnson to bring you this update, which begins at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, where its striking model of Chicago . . .
photograph: Lynn Becker
. . . now well into its fifth year, has seen even its tallest tower eclipsed by twin walls of water . . .
photograph: Bob Johnson
 . . .  that form the backdrop for CAF's new exhibition, Great Lakes, Great Cities, Great Basin: Bold Ideas for the Great Basin Park . . .
You know your neighborhood, but do you know your basin? Through this exhibition, the urban designers at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP issue a call to arms for all of us to think about our water, our boundaries and our identity. The Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin exhibition depicts the Great Basin as one region defined by the watershed rather than political boundaries. Visit this exhibition and learn the impact you make not only in your immediate neighborhood or city, but in the basin in which you live.
Now open daily, 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
photograph: Bob Johnson
Meanwhile, Bob provides us this aerial shot of the progress at the $55 million Maggie Daley Park, which the Sun-Times' Tina Sfondeles reported  this week has reached the halfway mark towards a soft opening next fall, and a final completion in 2015.  Viewer drivable webcams here.
And that crane you see in the picture hovering over the Modern Wing of the Art Institute?  That was for the installation of the latest installation at the sculpture garden, Ugo Rondinone's we run through a desert on burning feet, all of us are glowing our faces look twisted, which runs through April 20 of next year, by which time the Picasso's and Matisse's should be back from Ft. Worth and the now closed Modern Wing third floor re-opened..

Now, back to the calendar.  Or maybe just a nap.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rare! Greenway Self-Park Turbines Actually Spinning!

The usually decorative-only wind turbines at the Greenway Self-Park actually spinning in the fall wind.  Do you think they're actually generating enough juice to power the cool atmospheric lighting?

Read More:

Twirling Rotini and Green Indulgences  in a River North Parking Garage

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A New Performance Space for Pianoforte Foundation; A Great Recital by Kimiko Ishizaka Tonight at 7:30

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This afternoon (Saturday, October 26) I stopped by to take a look at the handsome new home for the Pianoforte Foundation.  The Foundation has moved from their former quarters in the Fine Arts Annex, to a three story, 11,000 square foot building at 1335 South Michigan, rehabbed by Neil Sheehan of Sheehan Partners Architects.
The first floor is PianoForte Chicago, a retail piano store opened in 2004 by Thomas Zoells, who the next year established the PianoForte Foundation, “dedicated to preserving and promoting the art of the piano in Chicago and creating a vibrant piano community that closely connects audiences and artists.” 

On the second floor at 1335 are offices, a kitchen, a series of practice rooms, and the aforementioned 100 seat performance space, a comfortable, acoustically alive environment which sounded good to me, although I have to admit mechanical or plumbing sounds sometimes intruded into the room at a low level.
I was taking pictures of the hall when a young woman came in, sat down at the Fazioli piano, and began to play Bach.  She was practicing the Well-Tempered Clavier in a romantic, utterly musical performance, full of color and life, which carried over to the Chopin preludes, and selections from the etudes, Op. 10, that came next.  I was having the extreme good fortune of stumbling onto the rehearsal of pianist Kimiko Ishizaka for her recital at 7:30 p.m. tonight.  If you can make it, do so.  You won't regret it.  She's an absolutely marvelous performer.  The recital is free, and if you come early, at 7:00 p.m., you can hear a discussion about Ishizaka's Open-Source Bach project.

If you can't make it, you can watch a live broadcoast of the concert via Google Hangouts.  I haven't quite figured out exactly how it works, myself, but you can check it out for yourself here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

As he receives a Lifetime Achievement Award from AIA Chicago, A Stanley Tigerman Miscellany

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A Confession: I've been working on a piece on Stanley Tigerman's Illinois Holocaust Museum ever since it opened ever since it opened over three years ago.  I've been grappling with it ever since, so, for the moment, all I can give you this very informal photo essay on just some of the buildings from his very long career.

This evening, Friday, October 25, Stanley Tigerman will be honored by AIA Chicago with it's Lifetime Achievement Award.  You can read an interview with Tigerman by AIA Chicago's Peter Exley here, or watch last night's interview with WTTW's Geoffrey Baer below.
When I wrote my first article for the The Chicago Reader over ten years ago, it was about the dismal current state of architecture in the city.  My editor Kiki Yablon suggested I get in touch with Tigerman for some input, and although he didn't know me from Adam, he still was incredibly patient and gracious, as he's been in every one of our encounters ever since.  I asked him for some up-and-coming architects we should be watching.  One he mentioned, Darryl Crosby, is a very talented architect we haven't heard enough from.  The second was David Woodhouse,  The third was Jeanne Gang, then largely an unknown.

It just goes to show you how, across six decades, Stanley Tigerman has not just hand his finger on the pulse on Chicago architecture.  He's helped define it, not only through his iconoclastic, often witty buildings, but through his acerbic, pinpoint criticism, and his never flagging activism for architectural education and social justice through the built environment.  If Stanley Tigerman didn't exist, no one could ever have figured out how to create someone like him.  We're all the richer for his enduring presence.

Read more:

The Architect as Zelig:  Tigerman's Ceci n'est pas une reverie


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

As Jeanne Gang is honored by National Design Museum, a walk through the seasons at the Lincoln Park Nature Boardwalk

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At a gala in New York City last Thursday, October 17th,  Jeanne Gang of Studio/Gang was recognized in the Architecture Design category of this year's National Design Awards handed out by the National Design Museum at Cooper-Hewitt.  Also among this year's honorees were landscape architect Margie Ruddick, interior designers Aidlin Darling Design, and architect and writer Michael Sorkin, with a Lifetime Achievement Award going to SITE's James Wines.

Gang was cited for her . . .
. . . Chicago-based collective of architects, designers, and thinkers practicing internationally. Gang uses architecture as a medium of active response to contemporary issues and their impact on human experience. Each project resonates with its specific site and culture while addressing larger global themes such as urbanization, climate, and sustainability.
We're still working on our piece on Studio/Gang's WMS Clark Park Boathouse, which had it's official opening last Saturday, but for now, what better way to celebrate Gang's mastery of merging structure and environment than by traveling through the seasons at one of my favorite places in the city, the Studio/Gang designed Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park . . .

Read More: 
Reimaging Urban Eden: Studio/Gang and the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cue the Gondoliers: Henry Ives Cobb's lavish Venetian Gothic Palace revisits 1893 grandeur

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“The Chicago Athletic Club stands on the lake front a rival in grace and symmetry to the great palace of the Doges on St. Mark's Square, Venice, and loses nothing by the comparison.”
So said an account in 1898's Outing magazine, which described the ten-story, 1893 Venetian-Gothic styled building, designed by Henry Ives Cobb, as one the major attractions of the city, with its 2,000 members “comprising the best class of people.”
And so it remained for over a century, until declining membership resulted in the club's closing in 2007.  After the requisite period of failed deals, the property was purchased for $13 million in 2012 by AJ Capital Partners LLC  and Geolo and Agman. which have committed over $60 million to convert the clubhouse into a four-star (+!)hotel, appealing to the same best - or most monied - class of people that powered the CAC's initial creation.
Outing described the splendor of the building in detail . . .
The interior is magnificent and costly, every atom of material and every article of equipment being placed with a thought to defy the ravages of time and use.  The entrance and main lobby are studies in marble and mosaic, relieved by massive mahogany furniture standing sentinel-like at posts of duty . . . A broad stairway starts with a graceful curve and leads along a side-wall of the purest slabs of monolithic marble, transcending a ceiling of pure white stucco, divided into panel formations, which
completes an entrance view of exceptional beauty.
 The 6,400 square-foot, 9th floor dining room wast “as beautiful a dining salon as one would find in a long journey.  Finished in quartered oak, with the finest of which the buildings were extremely lavish . . . and overhanging all a stucco ceiling, with hundreds of drooping tips, studded with incandescents, giving the room at night a brilliant and cheerful appearance.”
Did I mention there are 15 working fireplaces?
The original 1893 building was eventually expanded along the back to a Richard Schmidt designed addition completed in 1907, with floors added in 1926.  As part of the current rehab by Hartshorne Plunkard, with interiors by Roman and Williams, decades of alternations are being removed to reveal the original design underneath.  We received pictures of some of those uncovered elements from Eric Nordstrom of Urban Remains. He assures me their salvaging is confined to old furniture and later alternations, and that many of the original spaces are being meticulously reconstructed. 
Actually, much of the original design has survived largely intact and entirely striking, as you can see in these photosets from AJ Capital Partners LLC, the Hotel Chatter website, and some Landmarks Illinois interior shots by Rolf Achilles

We should see how it all turns out in the fall of 2014, when the new, still unnamed hotel is scheduled to open its doors.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Gray Ghost: Dead Architectural Souls on Milwaukee Share a Ghastly Shroud

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[Update: September 7, 2014]
The Gray Ghost continues to haunt the intersection, perhaps hoping to hang on at least until Halloween.

Fifield Companies rendering, from the Chicago Architecture Blog
[Update: January 17, 2014]
The Chicago Architecture Blog reports that the Chicago Plan Commission has approved the new development. Fifield is out; Urban Form Investments is in.
click images for larger view
We've all seen living statues, the street performers who transform themselves into stone by covering the natural color of their skin with a grayish patina.  A living thing masquerading as a dead replica.
At Grand, Milwaukee and Halsted, at least for a while, you can see an architectural equivalent of a living statue, an entire block of once vital buildings gone stone gray cold.
There appear to be seven different structures in the group, from a single story garage to three-story loft - different styles, different sizes, but one thing in common.  They're all dead.  They've been dead and abandoned as long as anyone can remember.  Their brick and stone has been smeared over with a uniform, living-statue-like gray paint.  Along the ground floor, there's a continuous splash of dirty brown evocative of excrement or - if you cling to the metaphor - a failed bronze base.
A recent post on the Chicago Architecture Blog says it used to be a restaurant supply house that suffered a fire sometime back.  The blog author says “somehow it still managed to funk up the neighborhood year after year.”  Which was somewhat more acceptable when the the neighborhood, itself, was pretty funky, a long way from its once solid working-class status.  You can see what it looked like then in this photo.  The buildings on Milwaukee are one of the few surviving components.  The corner building's triangular cuppola is visible in the upper left corner.  Today only the base remains.
 Only a few years ago, the funkiness was literal, attested to by the mural across the street . . .
Now, however,  everything's coming up gentrified.   The currency exchange is gone, and the parking lot in front of the mural has become the home of a new building for The Dawson.  
“Designed to look like a Nineteenth century men's hangout with modern twists”, it's named after the 19th century manufacturers whose five-story loft building is just up the street . . .
Now Fifield is floating a proposal to replace the grayed-out buildings with a new five-story retail and residential structure by Pappageorge/Haymes.    Renderings here.

The vanishing takes place right before your eyes.   Even as the gray erases their individual character, the buildings continue to decay and die beneath the veneer.  For all intents and purposes, they've already disappeared.  Not a smile, but a scowl, is all that's been left behind.  In an instant it, too, will be gone.  You won't even remember they were there.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

From St. James Chapel to Elks National Memorial, with a boathouse in between - Photos from Day One of Open House Chicago 2013

click images for larger view (recommended)
Stop One:  the over-the-top House of Blues, built in the theatre  buildingof Bertrand Goldberg's Marina City Complex.   Also open tomorrow, Sunday, October 20th from 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Stop Two:  St. James Chapel at Archibishop Quigley Center.   1917, Steinbeck and McCarthy.  The 40-foot-high stained glass windows, by Robert Giles of the John Kinsella Company. are modeled after Sainte Chapelle in Paris.  Closed tomorrow, but free docuent-led chapel tours are offered every Saturday (Holiday weekends excluded) from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.  There are also chapel concerts at 2:00 p.m. Saturday November 9, December 14, January 11 and February 8.
I just realized.  The open isn't my photo, it's from the Chicago Architecture Foundation.  So, that's why it's in focus.  I'm leaving it up with credit because it's better than anything I took.
 Stop Three: Gratz Center of the Fourth Presbyterian Church, by Gensler Architects.  Open Sunday 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Best Friends, Gary Lee Price

Buchanan Chapel
 Stop Four:  Fourth Presbyterian Church, 1914, Ralph Adams Cram and Howard van Doren Shaw.
 Intermission:  dedication of WMS Clark Park boathouse by Studio/Gang.  Our piece on the boathouse coming soon.  For now, check out Blair Kamin's review.
 Stop Five: Brewster Apartments, 1893, Enoch Hill Tumoch.  Open Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
 Stop Six: Elks National Memorial, 1924, Egerton Swartwout.  Open Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
 Bonus:  Commonwealth Promenade Apartments, 1953-1956, Mies van der Rohe.
Open House Chicago 2013 continues and concludes Sunday, October 20th, offering access to 150 iconic Chicago sites.