The Timber Tower Research Project: Re-imagining the Skyscraper

Dewitt-Chestnut Apartments © Hedrich Blessing via SOM

SOM has come up with a structural system for skyscrapers that uses mass timber as the main structural material and minimizes the embodied carbon footprint of the building. The firm believes that their proposal is technically feasible from the standpoint of structural engineering, architecture, interior layouts, and building services and would revolutionize the traditional skyscraper as we know it.

Read on to learn more about The Tower Research Project.

2014 AIA National Convention Call for Educational Proposals

© AIA

Change—both collectively as a profession and individually as architects—is essential in three critical areas: culture, community, and commitment. Architects have the power to influence a broader societal culture that appreciates architecture and understands the value of an architect. Reflecting the Institute’s repositioning to serve the needs of our diverse membership, education content is to be relevant and emphasize practical application to support the needs of all members of the profession, particularly our emerging professionals and small firm owners in the areas of leadership, management, project delivery, and technology.

With that being said, the AIA is inviting articulate subject matter experts who can engage and connect with the design community in support of the Institute’s repositioning to submit a proposal for an educational program at the AIA National Convention in Chicago. The convention will take place June 26-28, 2014 in . The Call for Submissions are due July 1. For more information, please visit here.

VIDEO: Five Great Buildings in Chicago

A short and sweet animation displaying 5 of Chicago’s great buildings – including, the John Hancock Center, by SOM, The Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), also by SOM, and Marina City by Bertrand Goldberg. Enjoy!

Video via Sebastian Rodriguez

Updated Plans Released for Chicago’s Navy Pier

Courtesy of James Corner Field Operations, / Pierscape Team

James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) and nARCHITECTS have released updated renderings for their competition-winning redesign of Chicago’s 3,300 foot long . The slightly scaled-back, revised plans seemed to have dismissed the more “dramatic” and costly facets reviewed in last years’ submittal, such as the floating pool and sand beach, to depict a contemporary “park-like feel.” Highlighted features include the south-facing Wave Wall and grand stairway, inspired by the Spanish Steps in Rome, along with an interactive splash fountain-turned-winter ice skating rink at the beginning of a heavily vegetated promenade.

These updated plans for phase-one of the Navy Pier redesign were released alongside an announcement by the Chicago Mayor’s office that confirmed the project will receive $55 million in public funding.

More images and information after the break…

AD College Guide: InSB, Integrated School of Building

The ongoing struggles in the world’s economies has produced several innovations in the field of Architecture. One important change has been for professionals and students to seek more interdisciplinary skills that better prepare them for these inevitable economic shifts. Schools have responded in kind, defining those skills in either intellectual, analytical terms (i.e. teaching students how to better critically analyze situations while eschewing superficial “theoretical” approaches) while other schools have emphasized a more practical approach.

InSB exemplifies the latter: a program that combines all aspects of AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) into a single curriculum for both undergraduates and graduates. Founded by Tabitha Ponte and co-founder Arturo Vasquez, the school has an ambitious mission: to offer a truly integrated AEC education that is tuition-free.

Chicago, First U.S. City to Line Streets with Smog-Eating Cement

lines Blue Island Avenue with the new cement. Via Design Build Source

There are many sustainable technologies designers can utilize these days to make a project more Earth- and people-friendly, but smog-eating cement isn’t the most talked-about – until now. The City of Chicago is pioneering the use of a revolutionary type of cement that is capable of eradicating the air around it of pollution, potentially reducing the levels of certain common pollutants by 20 – 70% depending on local conditions and the amount of exposed surface area.

2013 Burnham Prize Competition: NEXT STOP: Designing Chicago BRT Stations

Courtesy of Architectural Club

The Chicago Architectural Club and Chicago Architecture Foundation, in partnership with the Chicago Department of Transportation, the Chicago Transit Authority, and the Chicago Bus Rapid Transit Steering Committee, recently launched the 2013 Burnham Prize Competition: NEXT STOP: Designing Chicago BRT Stations. Intended to catalyze iconic, sustainable, and functional design for representative corridors in Chicago’s planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, they are seeking entries that integrate innovative and compelling transportation design into Chicago’s urban fabric. Each design team must submit designs for three different prototype sites and demonstrate how BRT station design can be adapted to each context. Submissions are due by May 13. For more information, please visit here.

Chicago On-Track To Break Ground On Elevated Parkway

Courtesy of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

Chicago is set to be the next U.S. city to park-ify on one of its abandoned rail-lines. First proposed back in 1997, the 2.7 mile, 13-acre Bloomingdale Trail and Park is proposed for a stretch of abandoned railway trestle dating from 1910, which has been lying unused since the turn of the century. And, even though it is already being compared to New-York’s High Line, the planners are adamant that the park will be an entirely different animal to its New York cousin.

Read more about ’s unique proposal after the break…

Chicago’s Mayor Launches Transformative Urban Farming Plan

© M. Spencer Green via Huffington Post

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Growing Power, a Chicago-based urban agriculture organization, announced recently the formation of Farmers for Chicago, a program that will transform vacant south-side Chicago lots into productive urban farms. The program will make available up to five acres of city-owned vacant lots for activity and “help expand the supply chain for local neighborhood-level food production and wholesale,” “improve community access to healthy food, help participants to supplement their incomes, and to foster workforce training.”

Read more about Farmers for Chicago after the break.

Video: 75 Years of Mies van der Rohe and His Chicago School

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When emigrating from Germany in 1938 to head Chicago’s Armour Institute, was challenged with two tasks: first reform the schools curriculum to his “back-to-basics” approach and then develop plans for a newly expanded 120-acre campus for the creation of Institute of Technology, a product of the Armour Institute and Lewis Institute merger. Mies was able to exceed both challenges and the outcomes have had a lasting influence on Chicago and modernism for the past 75 years. In celebration of this legacy and Mies’ 127th birthday, IIT complied this comprehensive video that features Mies’ contribution to the modern landscape of their campus and city. 

Learn more about Mies’ IIT master plan and building here on ArchDaily.

Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Center for Advanced Care Proposal / SmithGroupJJR

Courtesy of

Currently being constructed adjacent to Advocate Masonic’s existing hospital, the SmithGroupJJR designed Center for Advanced Care is the first of a planned two-phase building program that will add 156,000-square feet dedicated to cancer care, digestive health, and ambulatory surgery services. With completion expected for early 2015, the architects are striving for a building that is a response to the needs of their community. Not only does this building reflect the personality of their organization, but it will give them a platform to transform how they deliver care to their patients. More images and architects’ description after the break.

The Butler-VanderLinden Lecture on Architecture

Amateur Architecture Studio. Ningbo History Museum, 2003-2008. Ningbo, China. Photo by Lv Hengzhong.

The Architecture & Design Society at the Art Institute of Chicago is presenting the Butler-VanderLinden Lecture on Architecture featuring Wang Shu: 2012 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate and co-founder of Amateur Architecture Studio, founded by him and his wife, Lu Wenyu, in 1997 in Hangzhou, China. They are known for a keen dedication to handicraft, a penchant for sustainable building methods, and thoughtful projects that are contextualized within Chinese culture and history. The firm’s work has been described by the Pritzker Prize jury as “timeless, deeply rooted in its context, and yet universal. The event will be held in the Rubloff Auditorium on March 28th from 6:30pm-7:30pm. For more information, please visit here.

Call for Projects: Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good

Installation at the Venice Biennale 2012 / © Nico Saieh

Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good, the official U.S. representation at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale (2012), will travel to in May 2013, and is seeking new projects—urban interventions realized in U.S. cities in the past two years—with an emphasis on those based in Chicago and the Midwest region. The exhibition will be on view through Summer 2013. The exhibition in Chicago will feature a site-specific adaptation of the original exhibition design and will include many of the projects featured in Venice alongside dozens of new projects selected as a result of this open call for submissions. Submissions are due no later than March 6th. For more information, please visit here.

Chicago: The City to See in ’63

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1960’s Chicago: cars zooming down Lake Shore Drive, crowds heading into the Opera House, people observing artworks in the Art Institute, and Chicagoans laying around Grant Park on a sunny day. These are just a few of the scenes captured by amateur filmmaker in her The City to See in ’63. The people, neighborhoods, and architecture of Chicago are all captured in this well-crafted 12-minute, 16mm color film taped in 1962.

The film captures some key architectural sites in Chicago, including the construction of Marina City. In addition, there are clips of a few buildings that no longer exist such as the Chicago Sun-Times building, demolished in 2004; White Sox Park, demolished in 1991; and the first McCormick place, wrecked in 1967.

Conneely also covers different neighborhoods of Chicago including Lincoln Park, Logan Square, Garfield Park, and old Maxwell Street.

As shown in the film, Chicago has always been known for its spectacular array of architecture. To see more current architectural sites in Chicago, view our Architecture City Guide: Chicago.

Center for Care and Discovery, University of Chicago Medicine / Rafael Viñoly Architects

© Tom Rossiter

Architects: Rafael Viñoly Architects
Location: South Maryland Avenue, , IL,
Consulting Architects: Cannon Design
Mep/Fp Engineers: Affiliated Engineers and Primera Engineers
Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
Area: 111484.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Tom Rossiter

Preservationists Surrender to Hopeless Battle for Prentice

© C. William Brubaker via Flickr user UIC Digital Collections

In response to the Commission on Landmarks’ decision to reject landmark status to Prentice Woman’s Hospital for the second time in three months, the two preservationist groups challenging the City of have withdrawn their lawsuits. This eliminates the last barrier standing in Northwestern University’s way to demolish the historic, Bertrand Goldberg structure for a new biomedical research facility.

“We felt that we had done as much as we possibly could to demonstrate the significance of the building and ways to reuse,” stated Christina Morris, a senior field officer for the National Trust for Historic . “We just couldn’t see that we’d have any other outcome.”

For many, this news is disheartening as architects and preservationists from around the globe have fought in solidarity for much of the past year in an attempt to illustrate the importance of this one-of-a-kind structure.

More after the break…

AD Classics: Chicago Federal Center / Mies van der Rohe

Courtesy of Samuel Ludwig

The Federal Center, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and completed in 1974, actually consists of three buildings which are arranged around and define the Chicago Federal Plaza. On the eastern side of South Dearborn Street sits the 30-story Everett M. Dirksen U.S. Courthouse. On the western side, the 42-story John C. Kluczynski Federal Building and the single story Post Office define the plaza.

Studio Gang Breaks Ground on Ecologically Diverse Urban Mecca

Courtesy of

For the past several years the Park District and the City of have been working on appropriate uses for Northerly Island, a 91-acre man-made peninsula in , Illinois. The lakefront site branches off from Museum Campus, a section along Lake Michigan that is home to the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium. Serving as an expansion to these cultural programs, Studio Gang Architects, in collaboration with SmithGroupJJR, have created an innovative design that integrates educational, cultural, social, and recreational activities into Northerly Island.

Read more about Northerly Island’s future after the break!