Poll: Who Will Design Obama’s Presidential Library and Museum?

On Tuesday, the Barack Obama Foundation is expected to officially announce its decision to build Obama’s and museum in Chicago. With two sites under consideration - Washington Park or Jackson Park – speculation has now shifted towards the architect. Who will design the  Presidential Library and Museum?

Will it be David Adjaye, the London-based, Tanzanian-born architect who designed the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (which will complete next year)? Or how about one of the city’s leading architects: Jeanne Gang, Helmut Jahn, Ralph Johnson or John Ronan? Perhaps it will be Philip Freelon; as the Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin points out, Obama made a recent visit to a library he designed in Washington DC. Some are even considering Renzo Piano; Michelle Obama seemed to have a deep appreciation for his newly constructed Whitney Museum when she spoke at its dedication ceremony a few weeks back.

With all this to bear in mind, who do you think will design the  Presidential Library and Museum? Answer a poll after the break.

University of Chicago Selected to Host Barack Obama Presidential Library

Courtesy of OPLSouthSide.org

According to Forbes, the University of Chicago has been selected to be the official home of the Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum. The proposal, selected over sites at Columbia University, the University of Hawaii, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, will be built in the city’s South Side Hyde Park, near a home owned by the Obamas.

“Lina Bo Bardi: Together” Opens at The Graham Foundation

Courtesy of

From April 25 through July 25, 2015, the Graham Foundation will host an at its Madlener House showcasing the vision of Italian-Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi. Known for her emphasis on social modernism and expressive use of materials, Lina Bo Bardi: Together explores her legacy through her collected works, as well as that of other artists paying homage to the architect and striving to generate new conversations about her designs. Curated by Noemi Blager, the exhibition features photographs, films, and artistic objects reflecting Bo Bardi’s diverse work and immersion in Brazilian culture.

Inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial Announces 2015 Participants

Chicago Biennial to feature photo series by Iwan Baan. Image © Iwan Baan

A 60-strong list of international studios has named the official participants of the first-ever Chicago Architecture Biennial - the “largest international survey of contemporary architecture in North America.” Chosen by Biennial Co-Artistic Directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda – who are supported by an advisory council comprising David Adjaye, Elizabeth Diller, , Frank Gehry, Sylvia Lavin, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Peter Palumbo, and Stanley Tigerman - each participating practice will convene in Chicago to discuss “The State of the Art of Architecture” and showcase their work from October 3 to January 3, 2016.

“The city of Chicago has left an indelible mark on the field of architecture, from the world’s first modern skyscraper to revolutionary urban designs,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “That’s why there’s no better host city than Chicago for this rare global event. The offers an unprecedented chance to celebrate the architectural, cultural, and design advancements that have collectively shaped our world.”

A complete list of participants, after the break. 

Studio Gang Goes Public with Chicago’s Newest Tower: Wanda Vista

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Studio Gang Architects has gone public with what will be Chicago‘s third tallest tower, Wanda Vista. The massive mixed-use development, planned to open adjacent to the River in the city’s Lake Shore East community by 2019, will reach 1100 feet (335 meters) and encompass more than 1.8 million-square-feet of residential and hotel space.

Defined by three vertical elements, the tower is shaped to maximize resident views of the city and river below.

6 Ways to Repurpose the Chicago Spire “Hole”

Beacon / Solomon Cordwell Buenz. Image Courtesy of magazine

With Santiago Calatrava’s unfulfilled Chicago Spire amounting to just a (costly) depression along the Chicago River, what was to be the second-tallest building in the world certainly has not established the legacy it intended. However, following the site’s relinquishment to local developers Related Midwest, it may yet have a meaningful impact on its community. Six Chicago-based firms of various disciplines have developed designs to make use of the “hole” by injecting a public program into the abandoned site.

Check out the inventive proposals, with ideas from firms including UrbanLab and Solomon Cordwell Buenz, after the break.

Controversy Shrouds Chicago’s Plan for the Barack Obama Presidential Library

One of the University of Chicago’s proposed parkland sites. Image Courtesy of University of Chicago

The competition to host the new Barack Obama  has generated quite a stir, attracting proposals from cities across the United States with Chicago emerging as the current front runner. Amid the debate, that is expected to end with a decision later this month, a new controversy has surfaced on the coattails of the University of Chicago’s speculative plan. The proposed concept involves a land transfer for the library to occupy one of two historic parks designed by iconic landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the 1870s. Read more about the heated debate over using public parkland to house the library, here.

Ranquist Development Group Office / Vladimir Radutny Architects

© Mike Schwartz Photography

Architects: Vladimir Radutny Architects
Location: , IL, USA
Area: 1200.0 ft2
Year: 2014
Photographs: Mike Schwartz Photography

Mediating Mies: Dirk Lohan’s Langham Hotel Lobby at the IBM Building

The former in Chicago. Image Courtesy of DesignCurial

In 2013 the former IBM Building in Chicago, Mies van der Rohe’s last completed skyscraper, underwent a significant renovation as a part of the tower was converted into a hotel. In this article, originally published in Blueprint issue #338 as “Lobbying for Mies van der Rohe,” Anthea Gerrie catches up with – the Chicago architect who helped his grandfather design the building nearly 50 years ago, and who was called back in to design the new hotel’s entrance lobby.

“It’s not very Mies,” says Dirk Lohan dubiously, in one of the great understatements of the year. We are standing in the double-height reception hall of the Langham Chicago hotel with what looks like dozens of multicoloured glass balloons swimming above us and a mirror-glass frieze adding to a cacophony of glitz and dazzle.

It is indeed the very antithesis of the aesthetic of the architect known for the phrase “less is more”. But then the audacious idea of converting an office building by the most functionalist of architects into a five-star hotel was always going to be problematic.

Intrinsic School / Wheeler Kearns Architects

© Steve Hall – Hedrich Blessing Photography

Architects: Wheeler Kearns Architects
Location: Intrinsic Schools, 4540 West Belmont Avenue, , IL 60641, USA
Year: 2014
Photographs: Steve Hall – Hedrich Blessing Photography

The Chicago Prize Highlights Two Speculative Proposals for Obama’s Presidential Library

Winner / Zhu Wenyi, Fu Junsheng, and Liang Yiang. Image Courtesy of

The Chicago Architectural Club (CAC) has revealed the winners of its fourteenth annual Chicago Prize Competition - The Barack Obama Presidential  - following Chicago’s recent selection as one of three cities being considered to host the presidential library

Inspiring designs across the United States, the winning entries aimed to envision a library that could both recognize the President by displaying a collection of mementos from his life and provide the basis for community programs. Contestants were asked to consider the building’s context within the city of Chicago to generate a speculative proposal that not only fosters learning and exploration, but also inspires public discussion. To further encourage creativity, the library’s program was unspecified, allowing participants to decide how to incorporate these civic and educational elements in their designs. 

Ultimately, a distinguished panel selected two winners and three honorable mentions emerged from the competition. The winning proposals and honorable mentions are as follows:

The Destruction of a Classic: Time-Lapse Captures Demolition of Chicago’s Prentice Women’s Hospital

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Following the extensive battle over Bertrand Goldberg’s iconic Prentice Women’s Hospital, the Chicago landmark was demolished a few months ago to pave the way for Perkins+Will’s new Biomedical Research Building for the Feinberg School of Medicine. The four year preservation struggle was marked by repeated appeals to the Commission on Landmarks and Mayor Rahm Emanuel with attempts to place the building on historic registers, proposals to adapt it for modern use, and design competitions to gain public opinion on the future of the building. Ultimately, the outpouring of global support by architects and preservationists to save Prentice fell short of the political agenda of progress, prioritizing future development over preserving the city’s past.

In the wake of the loss of this icon, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has released a time-lapse video documenting the demolition process of Prentice from start to finish. This incredible footage memorializes the one-of-a-kind building so although the new Biomedical Research Building will soon take its place, a piece of its predecessor will always be remembered.

George Lucas May Reconsider Los Angeles as Potential Home of Self-Titled Museum

Courtesy of Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts

Concerns regarding the environmental sensitivity of George Lucas’ proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago has caused the project to halt, and may even prevent it from being realized. According to a suit filed against the museum by the Friends of the Parks, environmentalists believe that the “mountainous” lakefront proposal, designed by MAD Architects, will disrupt the site’s ecosystem.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Lucas’ hasn’t given up on yet. However, considering that Lucas wants to see the museum built within his lifetime, the 70-year-old Star Wars director is starting to reconsider a University of Southern California (USC) campus site in Los Angeles.

Yoko Ono and Project 120 Collaborate to Reimagine Chicago’s Jackson Park

Aerial View of the Park. Image Courtesy of Project 120

Chicago’s is expected to see some big changes in the coming years. Nonprofit organization Project 120 is working to revitalize the park, restoring many of the design aspects implemented by its landscape architect, the famous Frederick Law Olmsted. Alongside this restoration, the park will also receive a new Phoenix Pavilion, homage to Japan’s gift to the US for the 1893 Columbian Exposition. An outdoor performance space will be added to the park, as will an installation funded by musician and activist Yoko Ono. See the details, after the break.

Chicago Architecture Data: A Historic Buildings Guide For the Windy City

Kelly Hall. Image © John Morris

Visiting a city as large as Chicago can be overwhelming. For the architect, this is doubly true. The city is a treasure trove of architectural history, perhaps most notable as the birthplace of the skyscraper and the School. Names like Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Daniel Burnham are commonplace in Chicago, their buildings nestled amidst more modern works by the likes of SOM, Jelmut Jahn, and Studio Gang Architects.

Still more works are hidden away in obscure corners of the city, less well known but equally representative of the time and style in which they were built. In the interest of cataloging these buildings, and bringing attention to those that may not be on the typical city tour, blogger John Morris has created Chicago Architecture Data. A near-comprehensive survey of projects built before 1940 organized by neighborhood and architectural style, Chicago Architecture Data is a veritable history book for the architecture of the Windy City.

Society of Architectural Historians 68th Annual International Conference

Courtesy of SAH

The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) will hold its 68th Annual International Conference in Chicago, Illinois, from April 15–19, 2015, with the theme “Chicago at the Global Crossroads.” SAH will celebrate its 75th anniversary during the conference, which includes lectures by Jeanne Gang and , as well as roundtables and 36 paper sessions covering topics in architecture, art and architectural history, , landscape architecture, and the built environment. SAH is committed to engaging both conference attendees and local participants with public programming that includes over 30 architectural tours, a plenary talk, and a half-day seminar addressing Chicago’s waterways and neighborhoods. Register at sah.org/2015.

Demolished: The End of Chicago’s Public Housing

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NPR journalists David Eads and Helga Salinas have published a photographic essay by Patricia Evans alongside their story of Chicago’s public housing. Starting with Evans’ iconic image of a 10-year-old girl swinging at Chicago’s notorious Clarence Darrow high-rises, the story recounts the rise and fall of , the invisible boarders that shaped it and how the city’s most notorious towers became known as “symbols of urban dysfunction.” The complete essay, here.

Four Presidential Libraries for Obama to Consider

University of Illinois at Chicago. Image Courtesy of UIC

Of the four locations that are under consideration to host the future presidential library, two have released visions of what could be if their sites were selected – the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and the University of Hawaii at (UH). UH, who’s offering a stunning oceanside site on Waikiki Beach, paired Snøhetta, MOS, and Allied Works Architecture with local architects to draw up proposals, all of which share a deep connection to nature. UIC, on the other hand, has proposed an idea that reinterprets the library as a systemized network of public infrastructure focused on revitalization.

View all four proposals, after the break.