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Chicago's New Apple Store Is Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Homes

Apple's new Foster + Partners-designed flagship store in Chicago is said to have been inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Style Homes outside the city. Unveiled first by the Chicago Tribune, the store will feature a 14-foot entry pavilion that will usher visitors from Michigan Avenue down into the sales floor backdropped with views of the Chicago River. A "grand flight of stairs" will offer pedestrians an alternative route to the riverside walkway that flanks the bank. 

Atelier 2B's "Soft in the Middle" Rethinks Modernism for An Age of Collaboration and Sharing

In his book We Have Never Been Modern, philosopher Bruno Latour concludes that an inability to make humanity and nature inherently separate is one of Modernism’s most misguided tropes. Thus, contemporary designers that hope to riff on or have continuity with modernism must understand that architecture, even at its most aestheticized, is not hermetically sealed off from the outside world - and that therefore modernism is not a plateau of design, but another base camp on the road to further refinement.

In Chicago, the city where Modernism reached both its metaphoric and physical peak, Atelier 2B, a team of Yewon Ji, Nicolas Lee, Ryan Otterson, recently shared the top-five prize of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's ChiDesign Competition (part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial) for their project Soft in the Middle: The Collaborative Core. Indebted to the legacy of Mies and the International Style, Atelier 2B proposed a Modernist-tower-redux that (externally at least) is composed of three stacked rectangular volumes bisected with terraces, set back from the street by a large public plaza. The project brief called for “a new center for architecture, design and education,” in a competition judged by critics including Stanley Tigerman, David Adjaye, Ned Cramer, Monica Ponce de Leon, and Billie Tsien.

Courtesy of Atelier 2B Courtesy of Atelier 2B Design and Allied Arts High School. Image Courtesy of Atelier 2B Out-of-School-Time Youth Program. Image Courtesy of Atelier 2B

Back of the Yards High School / STL Architects

  • Architect of record: STL Architects
  • Location: 2111 W 47th St, Chicago, IL 60609, USA
  • Area: 215000.0 ft2
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Ignacio Espigares/STL Architects

© Ignacio Espigares/STL Architects © Ignacio Espigares/STL Architects © Ignacio Espigares/STL Architects © Ignacio Espigares/STL Architects

Exploring Chicago's Architectural Legacy Through 5 Exceptional Projects

Chicago has long been known for distinctive architecture, and this year’s inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial has only furthered that reputation. Although it is nearly impossible to narrow down the countless iconic structures, in celebration of the Biennial, we have compiled five Chicago buildings that highlight the many phases of the city’s architectural history.

5 Projects at the Chicago Biennial that Demonstrate the State of the Art of Sustainability

At the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the theme selected by directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda was deliberately wide in scope, with the expectation that more than one hundred exhibitors would each bring their own perspective on what is “The State of the Art of Architecture.” But where does that leave one of architecture's most widely adopted missions of the 21st century: sustainability? In this article, originally published on her blog Architectstasy as “Chicago Architecture Biennial: The State of the Art of Sustainability,” Jessica A S Letaw delves into five projects that take on sustainability in the context of Chicago's biennial.

At North America's inaugural Architecture Biennial in Chicago, “The State of the Art of Architecture,” architectural firms and practices from all six inhabited continents have been invited to display their work. Spanning all sizes and kinds of projects, the Biennial is showcasing solutions to design problems from spiderwebs to social housing.

US buildings use around 40% of all the country’s energy consumption. It is a disconcerting truth that even if every new building starting construction tomorrow were to be net-zero energy and net-zero water, we’d still be on a crash course, draining more naturally-available resources than our one planet can permanently sustain. In this environment, architectural designers have a special responsibility to educate themselves about innovative sustainable design techniques, from those that have worked for thousands of years to those that, as the Biennial’s title hopefully suggests, are state of the art.

So what does the Biennial have to say about sustainability? Five projects on display demonstrate different approaches at five different scales: materials, buildings, resources, cities, and the globe.

Watch the Official Performance of “We Know How to Order” at the Chicago Architecture Biennial

The city of Chicago is an intersection of multiple systems – the organizational orders of its modernist buildings; the presence of the federal government; the negotiations and orders of the lives of its marginalized communities. “We Know How to Order”, conceived by Bryony Roberts, choreographed by Asher Waldron and performed by the South Shore Drill Team, brings these intersections to life in a vibrant street performance for the first ever Chicago Architecture Biennial. A series of drill routines with influences from street choreography, the project explicitly "super-imposes" its system of movement onto the organization of Mies van der Rohe’s Federal Center, calling "attention to the accessibility of public space in the US" and "how architectural systems alongside social expectations influence the occupation of common space," according to the Chicago Architecture Biennial guidebook.

mcdowellespinosa’s "Layered Intelligence" Challenges the Typology of Mixed Use Buildings

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) has announced the three winners of its ChiDesign ideas competition to design the Chicago Centre for Architecture, Design and Education (CADE). The competition was in conjunction with the first ever Chicago Architecture Biennial, following the spirit of Robert McCormick’s international competition for the Chicago Tribune Tower in 1922 which opened discourse on the importance of design to the public. Similar to McCormick’s competition, but tackling a more modern, mixed-use typology, the Chicago CADE is envisioned as a facility to house the Chicago Architecture Foundation; the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat; a design and allied arts high school; and learning spaces for an extra-curricular youth program. Read about one of the winners, "Layered Intelligence" after the break, and see another winner, "Unveiled" here.

MAD's George Lucas Museum Wins Approval in Chicago

The Chicago City Council has voted to approve zoning for George Lucas' controversial, MAD-designed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Planned for a lakefront site on Chicago's Museum Campus park, near the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum, the "mountainous" design faced opposition from environmentalists who claim the building is a "confiscation of public land." Despite this, and according to reports on NBC News, the Star Wars director won the Council's approval by promising more parking and tailgating space to Chicago Bears fans.

“The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be an incredible addition to Chicago’s Museum Campus,” said Mayor Emanuel in an official statement. “The Lucas Museum will join the 56 other museums in Chicago to provide new cultural and educational benefits for generations to come. And the new parkland will add more open greenspace that will be enjoyed by residents across the city.”   

S House 3 / Vo Trong Nghia Architects

Steve Hall, Copyright Hedrich Blessing. Image Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial Steve Hall, Copyright Hedrich Blessing. Image Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial Steve Hall, Copyright Hedrich Blessing. Image Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial Steve Hall, Copyright Hedrich Blessing. Image Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial

Lycée Français de Chicago / STL Architects

© Ignacio Espigares/STL Architects © Ignacio Espigares/STL Architects © Ignacio Espigares/STL Architects © Ignacio Espigares/STL Architects

Summer Vault / Independent Architecture + Paul Preissner Architects

Subversive Methods Make A Skyscraper in Michael Ryan Charters and Ranjit John Korah's "Unveiled"

In a Los Angeles Times article last December, “The future is in the past: Architecture trends in 2014,” acting critic Christopher Hawthorne sought to make sense of a year that included Koolhaas’s Venice Biennale, Smiljan Radic’s Serpentine Pavilion, and periodicals like Log 31: New Ancients and San Rocco 8: What’s Wrong with the Primitive Hut? Through these examples and others, Hawthorne concluded that it was a year of overdue self-reflection, where in order to determine architecture’s future it was necessary to mine the past.

The Power of Photography: How Images Continue to Shape the Built Environment

In a culture dominated by smartphones and Instagram, with estimates that over one trillion photographs will be taken this year alone, it might seem impossible for photographs to make and shape issues in the ways they once did. Despite this, images still steer debates with shocking resiliency and, with luck, become iconic in their own right. As architecture is synonymous with placemaking and cultural memory, it is only logical that images of the built environment can have lasting effects on the issues of architecture and urbanism. It's never been easier for photographs to gain exposure than they can today, and with social media and civilian journalism, debates have never started more quickly.

Critics Take On "The State of the Art of Architecture" in Chicago

Last week, the Chicago Architecture Biennial opened to over 31,000 visitors and much fanfare, and for good reason - it is the largest architecture event on the continent since the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, featuring over one hundred exhibitors from over thirty countries. With a theme as ambiguous as "The State of the Art of Architecture," and with the hope of making the biennial, according to directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda, "a space for debate, dialog and the production of new ideas," the event was sure to generate equally wide-ranging opinions. Read on to find out what the critics had to say about the Biennial.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro to Design First Building in Chicago

The University of Chicago has selected Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) to design their David M. Rubenstein Forum, a new facility to host conferences, workshops, lectures, ceremonies and other gatherings. Planned for the University’s Campus South, on the southeast corner of Woodlawn Avenue and 60th Street, the Forum will provide a mix of informal and formal meeting spaces that encourage an "open exchange of ideas."

“As our first building in Chicago, the Rubenstein Forum presents a unique challenge: to imagine a contemporary place of discourse for all of the university’s constituent departments and institutes as well as invited scholars and dignitaries from around the world,” said DS+R founding partner Elizabeth Diller.

AIA Announces Look Up Film Challenge Winners at Chicago Biennial

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced the winners of the Look Up Film Challenge at the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Out of 26 entries for the competition launched earlier this year, a jury of architects and media professionals selected three top prize winners and recognized seven additional films in themed categories. The winning pieces best represent the competition’s call for films that highlight the impact that architects have on communities.

The winners of the Look Up Film Challenge are:

Rafael Viñoly Proposes Twin Residential Towers for Chicago's South Loop

© Rafael Viñoly Architects
© Rafael Viñoly Architects

Rafael Viñoly Architects has presented plans for a two-tower residential project in Chicago's South Loop neighborhood. The phased Crescent Heights development hopes to be home to Chicago's 6th tallest building, rising 829-feet on the south end of Grant Park. If approved, the project would be completed in three phases; the first realizing a 76-story, 792-unit apartment building on the eastern portion of the site. 

Chicago Tribune Says 11 "High Caliber" Architects Asked to Submit Qualifications for Obama Library

The University of Chicago's two proposed sites. Image ©
The University of Chicago's two proposed sites. Image ©

Update: The Chicago Tribune's architecture critic Blair Kamin has now reported that 140 architects from 60 cities have expressed their interest in designing the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago by submitting qualifications. Of these, 99 are based in the United States, although names have not been released. The below article, originally published on September 1st, lists 11 architects that Kamin was able to confirm had been invited to submit qualifications by the Barack Obama Foundation.

Last week, it was reported that the Barack Obama Foundation was searching globally for an architect to design Obama's Presidential Library and Museum (officially known as the Barack Obama Presidential Center). With the list of invited candidates for Obama's Presidential Center still a closely-guarded secret, though, the Chicago Tribune's architecture critic Blair Kamin has turned investigator, uncovering a list of 11 firms among the "fifty or more" which are believed to have been invited. Kamin states that the 11 firms he has confirmed to be in the running are "A) Of high caliber; B) Represent a broad geographic and aesthetic spectrum; and C) Include the established firms one would expect to be invited."