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Brick by Brick LEGO Exhibition on Display at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry

12:00 - 23 April, 2016
Brick by Brick LEGO Exhibition on Display at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, Fallingwater. Image © J.B. Spector
Fallingwater. Image © J.B. Spector

Brick by Brick features a spectacular collection of more than a dozen LEGO-built structures of engineering marvels, constructed by LEGO Certified Professional and Chicago native, Adam Reed Tucker. These model structures include:

  • • A 60-foot-long Golden Gate Bridge
  • • The Hoover Dam, made with 42,000 bricks
  • • The American Eagle roller coaster from Six Flags Great America, and it even operates!
  • • The Roman Colosseum, whose oval structure was designed more than a dozen times to get it right
  • • A 9-feet-tall Burj Khalifa

Egyptian Pyramids. Image © J.B. Spector Colosseum. Image © J.B. Spector St. Louis Arch. Image © J.B. Spector Golden Gate Bridge. Image © J.B. Spector +16

Buy Land for a Dollar! Converting Chicago’s 15,000 Vacant Lots Into Booming Public Space

08:00 - 4 April, 2016
Buy Land for a Dollar! Converting Chicago’s 15,000 Vacant Lots Into Booming Public Space, The Available City exhibition at the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Courtesy David Schalliol
The Available City exhibition at the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Courtesy David Schalliol

At the Chicago Architecture Biennale, David Brown’s project “The Available City” addressed the fact that Chicago currently owns 15,000 vacant lots, many of which have become “havens for illegal dumping, weeds, rodents and street crime.” In this article, originally published on Autodesk’s Line//Shape//Space publication, Jeff Link takes a look at Brown’s project, examining its unique approach to developing the empty lots and converting them into public space. 

David Brown’s Chicago Architecture Biennial project, The Available City, responds to a striking fact: Chicago, in an exodus story echoed across the rust belt, owns 15,000 vacant lots.

The parcels, many of them on the South and West Sides, don’t generate tax revenue, but the city is obliged to maintain them. Outside the watch of homeowners, many are havens for illegal dumping, weeds, rodents, and street crime.

Chicago hasn’t exactly turned a blind eye, says Brown, associate director of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture and the author of Noise Orders: Jazz, Improvisation, and Architecture. Through the Large Lot Program—a pilot that began in Chicago’s Englewood, East Garfield Park, and Austin neighborhoods—individuals and nonprofits that live on the same block as a city-owned vacant residential lot can buy select pieces of land for a dollar.

It’s a compelling idea, and through it and the related Adjacent Neighbors Land Acquisition Program, about 1,000 lots have been purchased in the past five years. But Brown says the city can do more; he suggests thinking of architecture and urban planning like jazz: a formal compositional structure inside of which experimentation can take place.

Debate Over the Future Site of George Lucas Museum Heats Up

12:00 - 5 March, 2016
Debate Over the Future Site of George Lucas Museum Heats Up , Courtesy of Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts
Courtesy of Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts

Over the past few months, Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has been caught in the crossfire between two groups who have very different opinions on the future home of the George Lucas Narrative Art Museum. The site in question is a 1,500-space parking lot situated north of the McCormick Place’s Lakeside Center and just south of Soldier Field. The commission for the museum was won in July of 2014 by MAD Architects. Their design proposes a large, white, sculptural “mountain” which rises up from the site and is topped by a “metallic crown”.

Competition: Chicago Sukkah Expo 2016

06:30 - 2 March, 2016
Competition: Chicago Sukkah Expo 2016

Chicago Sukkah Expo ’16 is a national design competition that challenges entrants to re-imagine the sukkah. The sukkah, a temporary structure that is built during the Jewish festival of Sukkot, commemorates the 40 years that Jews spent wandering the desert (Leviticus 23:42-43). The impermanence of the sukkah reminds us that many community members do not have adequate shelter and are threatened by the dangers of homelessness. We must devote attention and support those without a permanent home.

Chicago’s Marina City Complex Officially Named City Landmark

08:00 - 26 February, 2016
© "Marina City Complex" by Flickr User TRAFFIK [US] is licensed under CC BY 2.0
© "Marina City Complex" by Flickr User TRAFFIK [US] is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Fifty-two years after its completion, the Marina City Complex in Chicago has been named an official architectural landmark. Following a 48-0 vote by the City Council, the buildings by Bertrand Goldberg will be given their official designation on March 16, reports The Architect Magazine.

Debate: On the Chicago Architecture Biennial

13:16 - 22 February, 2016
Debate: On the Chicago Architecture Biennial

AAgora is a newly-founded critical architecture debate platform at the Architectural Association in London, which aims to shed light on relevant architectural topics. These debates take the form of an open-table discussion which encourages the audience to participate at any time. AAgora's second debate will be "On the Chicago Biennial" - On Biennials, and how we define contemporary architecture.

Kevin Roche Reflects on His Five Decade Career, From Beginnings in Ireland to His US Career

04:00 - 17 February, 2016
Kevin Roche Reflects on His Five Decade Career, From Beginnings in Ireland to His US Career, Kevin Roche (2016). Image © Gerald Wenner
Kevin Roche (2016). Image © Gerald Wenner

In an exclusive thirty minute-long discussion with Kevin Roche, described in this interview as "arguably the greatest living architect you've never heard of," Monocle's Steve Bloomfield hears about his early years in practice through to the evolution of his design philosophy over a career which has spanned five decades.

Gordon Parks Arts Hall / Valerio Dewalt Train Associates

12:00 - 16 February, 2016
Gordon Parks Arts Hall / Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, © Steve Hall
© Steve Hall

© Steve Hall © Barbara Karant © Steve Hall © Barbara Karant +19

Marwen’s Expansion / Wheeler Kearns Architects

17:00 - 11 February, 2016
Marwen’s Expansion / Wheeler Kearns Architects, © Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing
© Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing

© Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing © Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing © Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing © Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing +18

Prescient Offices / Perkins+Will

13:00 - 30 January, 2016
Prescient Offices / Perkins+Will, © Hedrich Blessing Photographers
© Hedrich Blessing Photographers

© Hedrich Blessing Photographers © Hedrich Blessing Photographers © Hedrich Blessing Photographers © Hedrich Blessing Photographers +16

Exhibition at Chicago's Graham Foundation to Examine African Modernism

07:00 - 21 January, 2016
Exhibition at Chicago's Graham Foundation to Examine African Modernism,  Rinaldo Olivieri, La Pyramide, 1973, Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire). Image © Iwan Baan
Rinaldo Olivieri, La Pyramide, 1973, Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire). Image © Iwan Baan

new exhibition opening later this month at Chicago's Graham Foundation seeks to explore the complex history and legacy of modernist architecture in sub-Saharan Africa during the 1960s and 1970s. Architecture of Independence: African Modernism will feature nearly eighty buildings in commissioned photographs by Iwan Baan, Alexia Webster, and Manuel Herz. Alongside archival material, the exhibition "imparts a new perspective on the intersection of architecture and nation-building in Ghana, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Zambia and investigates some of the most compelling yet under-studied examples of 1960s and 1970s architecture worldwide."

Inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial Closes with Over Half a Million Visitors

08:00 - 20 January, 2016
Inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial Closes with Over Half a Million Visitors, Installation view of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Photo by Steve Hall, © Hedrich Blessing. Image Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial
Installation view of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Photo by Steve Hall, © Hedrich Blessing. Image Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial

The first ever Chicago Architecture Biennial closed January 3, with over half a million visitors having attended the event. An architecture exhibition of unprecedented size on the continent, the Biennial gathered 93 projects from 120 offices from over 30 countries to discuss the “State of the Art of Architecture.” We take a look at some of the Biennial's highlights after the break.

By The Hand Club For Kids / TEAM A

13:00 - 19 January, 2016
By The Hand Club For Kids / TEAM A, © Tom Harris / Hedrich Blessing
© Tom Harris / Hedrich Blessing

© Tom Harris / Hedrich Blessing © Tom Harris / Hedrich Blessing © Tom Harris / Hedrich Blessing © Tom Harris / Hedrich Blessing +8

Chicago Riverwalk / Chicago Department of Transportation

13:00 - 14 January, 2016

These Are the Best Architecture Images from the NYPL’s New Public Domain Collection

09:30 - 14 January, 2016
These Are the Best Architecture Images from the NYPL’s New Public Domain Collection, Woolworth Building construction. Image via The New York Public Library
Woolworth Building construction. Image via The New York Public Library

Last week the New York Public Library made over 180,000 images from their digital archives available in the public domain, and free for high-resolution download. Not only are the images available for download, but since they are in the public domain and free of any copyright restrictions, users have the freedom to get creative and alter, modify, and reuse the images in any manner they see fit. Featuring a wide variety of images including drawings, engravings, photographs, maps, postcards, and in some cases, digitized copies of entire books, the collection has been noted for fascinating historical artifacts such as a set of color drawings of Egyptian gods and goddesses, and a digitized book from the 18th century containing over 400 color plates depicting various current and historical fashion trends.

Of course, the archive also includes a significant assortment of captivating architectural images that range from everyday scenes to historic treasures. We've trawled the database to find some of the most unusual and insightful examples - read on to see a selection of the most interesting architectural images from NYPL’s digital archives.

Design Development of the Chrysler Building. Image via The New York Public Library The Bund, Shanghai in the early 1900s. Image via The New York Public Library World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893. Image via The New York Public Library via The New York Public Library +36

Cape Horn Illustration Creates Detailed Ink Drawings of Chicago Residences

06:00 - 12 January, 2016
Cape Horn Illustration Creates Detailed Ink Drawings of Chicago Residences, © Cape Horn Illustration
© Cape Horn Illustration

For the past two years, artist Phil Thompson of Cape Horn Illustration has been creating pen and ink drawings of Chicago's homes and residential buildings.

Inspired by the patterns and themes of the streets and neighborhoods and a love for art and architecture, Thompson began drawing two-flat styled homes, which are "long and narrow to fit on standard city lots, able to accommodate two-generation immigrant families, and have distinctive large bay windows, elements of Arts and Crafts style, exteriors heavy on masonry, and terracotta, but wood-framed interiors with built-ins," Thompson told us. "I love them." 

Judging Architecture by Altered Photos: Has Photoshop Gone Too Far?

12:00 - 12 December, 2015
Judging Architecture by Altered Photos: Has Photoshop Gone Too Far?, An image of El Centro showing a portion of the rooftop mechanical equipment. Image © flickr user jkz, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
An image of El Centro showing a portion of the rooftop mechanical equipment. Image © flickr user jkz, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

How much editing is acceptable in architectural photographs? And what if those edited photographs are the basis of judging a design competition? Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin explored these questions in a recent column after an altered photo led to a Design Excellence Award from the Chicago chapter of the AIA. The building in question, the El Centro campus of Northeastern Illinois University designed by Juan Moreno, was one of five recipients of the chapter's honor award, the highest level of recognition. But one of photos submitted to the award jury had been digitally altered by the photographer to remove a prominent row of large air handling units on the roof that marred one of the best views of the building.

This SOM Archive Video Offers a Look Back at the Early Days of 3D Visualization

09:30 - 10 December, 2015

Until recently, the only options for providing clients and the public with visualizations of what a prospective building would look like were almost exclusively hand drawn renderings, or scale models built by hand. Both of these practices are still in use today, but now there is a much wider range of options with 3D modeling software providing the bulk of renderings, the growing presence of 3D printing, and even video fly-throughs with special effects that rival the latest Hollywood action movie. This 16mm film created by architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) in 1984, and digitized by illustrator Peter Little, reminded us of what the early days of digital 3D modeling looked like.