Gehry Sides with MAD, Defends Lucas Museum from Critics

Courtesy of Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts

With criticism forcing progress on MAD’s “mountainous” Lucas Museum to come to a standstill, Frank Gehry has released a statement on the Chicago Tribune urging critics to “take the proper time to review” the museum before dismissing it.

“Chicago is a great city for architecture and has historically supported innovative, forward-looking work. There is a natural impulse to deride a project in the early stages of design, particularly one that has a new shape or expression. This is not a new concept,” says Gehry, citing that both the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and Los Angeles Walt Disney Concert Hall were shrouded in criticism before becoming “great assets to their mutual cities.”

Sam Jacob On The “Post-Digital Phase”

Eco Ruburb, a community hybrid of the rural and the urban (with Hawkins\Brown). Image ©

In an interview with Core77 Sam Jacob, formerly of FAT and now principal at Sam Jacob Studio, has “always pursued an idea of design practice as a combination of criticism, research and speculation that all feed directly into the design studio.” This approach has allowed his ideas to “cross-fertilize, find connections and directions that make the practice stronger, more agile and able to respond intelligently to the problem at hand.” Jacob, who is also a Visiting Professor at Yale and the University of Illinois at Chicago whilst simultaneously director of the Night School at ’s Architectural Association, recently saw one of FAT’s final projects to completion: the curation of the British Pavilion (alongside Dutch architect and academic Wouter Vanstiphout). In the UK, former partner Charles Holland is bringing a collaborative project with artist Grayson Perry to completion in Essex.

Read more and see some of Jacob’s drawings after the break.

Last Is More: The Miesian Lesson

Courtesy of The Images Publishing Group

The following is an excerpt from Last Is More: Mies, IBM and the Transformation of Chicago. The Langham Hospitality Group commissioned architectural photojournalists Robert Sharoff and William Zbaren to document the transformation of eminent architect Mies van der Rohe‘s IBM Building — the last skyscraper he designed — into The Langham, . In this chapter, Sharoff and Zbaren provide a more detailed look into the period between 1965 and 1975, when Mies’s influence on ’s skyline was at its most pervasive.

The construction of the IBM Building occurred midway through a legendary period in Chicago architecture—the decadelong building boom between 1965 and 1975, when Mies’s influence on the city’s skyline was at its most pervasive.

During these years, numerous Miesian structures by firms such as Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, C. F. Murphy Associates, and Loebl, Schlossman & Bennett were erected, and the city’s reputation as the founder of American modernism was finally and firmly established. The best of those buildings continue to dominate the skyline.

Call for Entries: Design the Barack Obama Presidential Library

Courtesy of CAC

Calling all architects and students, the Chicago Architectural Club (CAC) wants to see your ideas for The Presidential Library. The recent media coverage surrounding the announced library, drawing bids from New York, Honolulu, and Chicago, once again initiates the desire for speculations and projections. As the fourteenth of its kind, this civic institution will not only function to house a collection of artifacts and documents relating to the president’s life but will also provide an educational infrastructure and framework for outreach and community programs. Thus, in partnership with the (CAF), this year’s Chicago Prize Competition is calling for speculative proposals for the Barack Obama Presidential Library to initiate a debate in order to rethink and redefine this particular building typology.

Chicago Biennial: “The State of the Art of Architecture” Will Feature Photo Series by Iwan Baan

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The inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial now has an official name, with co-directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda announcing “The State of the Art of Architecture” as the biennial’s theme last week. Taking its name from a 1977 conference organized in Chicago by Stanley Tigerman, which focused on the state of architecture in the US, next year’s will aim to expand that conversation into the “international and intergenerational” arena.

In addition to the new name, the Biennial also announced its first major project, a photo essay of Chicago by Iwan Baan, which will contextualize the many landmarks of the Chicago skyline within the wider cityscape and within the day-to-day life of the city.

Read on for more about the biennial theme and more images from Iwan Baan. 

Santiago Calatrava’s Chicago Spire Finally Axed

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Santiago Calatrava‘s much maligned design for the Chicago Spire has finally met its end, thanks to a lapsed payment deadline from the site’s developer, Grant Kelleher. The project, which would have been the tallest building in the USA, began construction in 2007 but was halted at the onset of the global financial crisis, leaving nothing more than a large hole in the ground for over six years.

Despite numerous attempts to revive the Spire, Grant Kelleher’s Shelbourne Development Group never overcame its financial troubles. Shelbourne Development Group and its partner Atlas Apartment Holdings received a court order to pay $22 million to one of their creditors, Related Midwest, who had bought $93 million worth of debt from the project. However, the Chicago Tribune reports that within minutes of the October 31st deadline lapsing with no sign of payment, Related Midwest filed papers in a Chicago court requiring that the deeds for the property be passed to them.

MAD Architects Unveils Mountainous Design for Lucas Museum in Chicago

Courtesy of Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts

The design for Chicago‘s Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts has been revealed, with MAD Architects unveiling their plans for a sculptural white “mountain,” rising from the site to be topped by a metallic crown. Designed as a landscape that can be approached from all sides, with the main entrance located on a ‘floating’ public plaza accessed via a network of ramps and steps, the building is organized around a central domed lobby and events space, with four stories of gallery spaces, a set of four theaters, and at the top of the building an observation deck and glass-encased restaurant. In a connected, smaller “mountain” are the building’s educational functions, with classrooms, lecture theaters and a library.

Speaking to ArchDaily from Chicago, director of Ma Yansong explained how he wanted the design “to be futuristic but at the same time to be natural,” connecting with the landscape of the waterfront site.

More about the design from after the break

Video: Tightrope Walker Nik Wallenda Crosses Chicago’s “Skyscraper Canyon”

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Last night, thousands in Chicago turned out to cheer on tightrope walker Nik Wallenda, as he performed two tightrope walks involving some of the Windy City’s most famous buildings: Bertrand Goldberg‘s Marina City Apartments and Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates‘ Leo Burnett Building. Wallenda set two Guinness World records, the first for the steepest ever tightrope walk as he climbed from the 588-foot Marina City to the 671-foot Leo Burnett Building, and then for the highest blindfolded tightrope walk as he crossed between the two Marina City towers. The stunt was covered live by Discovery, whose footage comes replete with dramatic sweeping shots of a mid-walk Wallenda, made miniscule against the backdrop of ’s famous Skyscraper Canyon.

Erie Elementary Charter School / John Ronan Architects

© Steve Hall, Hedrich Blessing

Architects: John Ronan Architects
Location: 1405 North Washtenaw Avenue, , IL 60622, USA
Design Team: John Ronan FAIA, Lead Designer; Evan Menk, Senior Technical Coordinator; Gregory Pinter AIA, (design team); Tom Lee, Marcin Szef , John Trocke
Area: 17470.0 ft2
Year: 2013
Photographs: Steve Hall, Hedrich Blessing

Studio Gang Breaks Ground on Chicago Writers’ Theatre

Main Entrance . Image Courtesy of

Studio Gang has broke ground on the new home for ’s beloved Writers’ Theatre. Situated on the sloped Tudor Court site of the Glencoe Woman’s Library Club, the glass encased timber structure will be a theatrical spectacle, as the main performance space’s second story catwalk is designed to peer through the transparent facade.

“Our process has been built around the creative team dialogue with Writers Theatre, its audiences, and the community, and we could not be more excited to celebrate this milestone today while looking forward to the ideas that will soon become a built reality in 2016,” said Jeanne Gang. “The design of Writers Theatre’s first purpose-built theatre reinforces their important mission and vision to maximize the feeling of intimacy between actors and audience within the park-like setting of downtown Glencoe.”

New renderings and more information from the architect, after the break.

Chicago Residence / Dirk Denison Architects

© The Michelle Litvin Studio

Architects: Dirk Denison Architects
Location: , IL,
Area: 9700.0 ft2
Year: 2014
Photographs: The Michelle Litvin Studio

A Walk Along the Bayou: An Award-Winning Proposal Aims to Reinvent Houston’s River

02 Mile Aerial Perspective – Downtown. Image Courtesy of UH College of Architecture

Nearly 9,000 kilometers separate Venice, Italy from Houston, Texas, and yet, both cities are bound by a simple connection: the coexistence of the urban fabric with the waterfront. This connection was brought to life this summer through The University of Houston’s exhibition at the Venice Architectural Biennale‘s Time Space Existence Event: RISKY HABIT[AT]: DYNAMIC LIVING ON THE BUFFALO BAYOU. Awarded  the Global Art Affairs Foundation (GAAF) Award for Best Exhibition, the exhibition showcased the complexities and potential of the city’s relationship with its waterfront. To better understand Houston’s waterfront and the changing relationship between the city and its river we visited the site ourselves. Read after the break to see what it’s like to talk a walk along the Bayou, and to find out what the Houston river project can learn from similar undertakings in Chicago, Des Moines, and Newark.

Interactive Infographic Tracks the Growth of the World’s Megacities

Tokyo remains the world’s largest city, but is beginning to see competition from the world’s other megacities. Image © Flickr CC User Les Taylor

With more than 7 billion people now alive, the greatest population growth over the last century has occurred in urban areas. Now, a new series of interactive maps entitled “The Age of Megacities” and developed by software company ESRI allows us to visualize these dramatic effects and see just how this growth has shaped the geography of 10 of the world’s 28 megacities. Defined as areas with continuous urban development of over 10 million people, the number of megacities in the world is expected to increase, and while Tokyo still tops the list as the world’s largest megacity, other cities throughout Asia are quickly catching up. Find out more after the break.

Wood House / Brininstool + Lynch

© Christopher Barrett Photographer

Architects: Brininstool + Lynch
Location: , IL,
Area: 734.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Christopher Barrett Photographer

In Defense of Rewarding Vanity Height

One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the … arguably. Image © Joe Mabel via Wikipedia

Recently, ArchDaily editors received an interesting request from an anonymous Communications Director of an unnamed New York firm, asking us “In your reporting, please do not repeat as fact, or as “official,” the opinion that One World Trade Center in will be the tallest building in the United States.” He or she goes on to explain that the decision maker who ‘announced’ the building as the tallest in the US, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), is not officially endorsed by the AIA or the US Government, and that while their work is beneficial for architecture and cities as a whole, their criteria for height evaluation are flawed and have been criticized by many in the industry.

The desire to have the tallest building in a city, country or even the world goes back to at least the medieval period, when competing noble families of Italian hill towns such as San Gimignano would try to out-do each other’s best construction efforts (jokes about the Freudian nature of such contests are, I imagine, not much younger). Perhaps the greatest symbol of this desire is the decorative crown of the Chrysler Building, which was developed in secret and enabled the building to briefly take the prize as the world’s tallest, much to the surprise and ire of its competitors at the time.

With this competitive spirit apparently still very much alive, I thought it might be worthwhile to address the issue raised by our anonymous friend.

Bernard Tschumi On His Education, Work and Writings

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In this extended interview between Bernard Tschumi and The Architectural Review’s Paul Finch, the pre-eminent Swiss-born architect discusses his education, writing, design and wider critical position. Speaking candidly, Tschumi explains how a visit to Chicago when he was seventeen years old sparked a life-long passion for architectural design - something that had been somewhat repressed due to his father who was, at that time, one of the world’s most highly respected architects. His friendship with British architect and theorist Cedric Price led to the start of a career that saw his proposals for Paris’s Parc de la Villette foreshadow the age of . Ending with his take on the future of the profession, Tschumi also offers advice to students and young practices looking to make their mark.

Spotlight: Louis Sullivan

Louis Sullivan circa 1895

Louis Sullivan, Chicago‘s “Father of Skyscrapers” who foreshadowed modernism with his famous phrase “form follows function,” would have turned 158 today. Sullivan was an architectural prodigy even as a young man, graduating high school and beginning his studies at MIT when he was just 16. After just a year of study he dropped out of MIT, and by the time he was just 24 he had joined forces with Dankmar Adler as a full partner of Adler and Sullivan.

Engine Company 16 FireHouse / DLR Group

Courtesy of

Architects: DLR Group
Location: 3901 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60653,
Area: 20000.0 ft2
Year: 2012
Photographs: Courtesy of DLR Group