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Architecture's Brave New Digital World

“Increasingly we experience cities mediated by digital technology — whether that's via smartphone maps, digital transit signage, or texting a friend that you've arrived at a destination. How our city is built to support residents, businesses, and visitors [...] is now part physical and part digital.”

John Tolva, the Chief Technology Officer for the City of Chicago, is on a mission: a mission to bring the physical and digital worlds into conversation.

To embed more and more digital information into the physical world, a growing number of digital specialists are beginning to embrace the worlds of architects, planners and urbanists. But, so far, it has not been a two way street to make the digital leap.

Find out why architects should be at the forefront of the digital/spatial overlap, after the break...

City Works: Provocations for Chicago’s Urban Future

City Works: Provocations for Chicago’s Urban Future, an exhibition that debuted last year at the 13th International Architecture Biennale in Venice (2012), has returned to the city of its origin. Currently on display though September 29th at the City of Chicago’ Expo 72 Gallery, the exhibition re-envisions a series of typical Chicagoan urban environments in an effort to examine alternative ways in which architecture can engage the city. 

Studio Gang to Design New Residence Hall and Dining Commons for UChicago

Studio Gang Architects will design a new residence hall and dining commons for the University of Chicago, officials announced today. Expected to open in 2016, the new facility will stand at the corner of 55th Street and University Ave and will act as a gateway connecting the Hyde Park community to the rest of the University.  Jeanne Gang’s studio was chosen out of dozens of entries, in a process that called upon the input of faculty, staff, students, as well as community and University stakeholders.

Mies' IBM Building Gets Lavish Refurbishment

Mies van der Rohe's last constructed skyscraper, the IBM building in Chicago, recently underwent a significant transformation: the modernist office building is now a 316-room luxury hotel. An interesting post on the ArchitectureChicago Plus blog weighs in on the building's history and ponders: will Mies' minimalist aesthetic be compromised by its new lavish furnishings? Read it all here. 

The City of Chicago Gets 3D Printed

We've talked at length about the future potential of 3D Printing for Architecture - from rapidly producing emergency shelters to putting structures on the moon - but The Chicago Architecture Foundation has already found a way to make 3D Printing practical for architects - today. Since 2009, the foundation has been using 3D Printing to make models of all the buildings of the city of Chicago (that's over 1,000 buildings in a 320 sq ft area). The idea is to let native Chicago-ans and tourists alike get a better sense of the city, seeing the city grid, the relationship of heights between the tall buildings, its patterns of development." 

Three Firms Shortlisted to Design Prentice Successor

Shortly after confirming the demise of Bertrand Goldberg’s beloved Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago, Northwestern has released a shortlist of three firms competing to design the school’s new biomedical research facility. This comes with the support of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and despite strong backlash from architects and preservationists worldwide.

The finalists are: 

CLOG Presents 'New Views: The Rendered Image in Architecture'

As a continuation to their in-depth review on the render, CLOG has selected 60 images from an international group of architects and design studios - including Zaha Hadid Architects, BIG, Mansilla+Tuñón Architects, and visualhouse - to serve as case studies in the exhibition New Views: The Rendered Image in Architecture. Now on view at the Art Institute of Chicago through January 5th, 2014, New Views will explore the diversity of rendering types being produced today and their effect on contemporary architecture. More information can be found here

2013 Burnham Prize Competition Winners Announced

Three cutting edge designs were just selected as the winners of the 2013 Burnham Prize competition, organized by 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. Titled, 'NEXT STOP: Designing Chicago BRT Stations,' the competition asked participants to integrate innovative and compelling transportation design into Chicago's urban fabric. Awarded the first prize was the 'Form vs. Uniform: Generative Chicago BRT Stations' proposal by designers Hesam T. Rostami and Bahareh Atash. More images and information on the winning entries after the break.

The Timber Tower Research Project: Re-imagining the Skyscraper

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 Timber Tower Research Project.

2014 AIA National Convention Call for Educational Proposals

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 Chicago. 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!

Updated Plans Released for Chicago's Navy Pier

Courtesy of nARCHITECTS
Courtesy of nARCHITECTS

James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) and nARCHITECTS have released updated renderings for their competition-winning redesign of Chicago’s 3,300 foot long Navy Pier. 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

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

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

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 Chicago's unique proposal after the break...

Chicago's Mayor Launches Transformative Urban Farming Plan

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 urban farming 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

When emigrating from Germany in 1938 to head Chicago’s Armour Institute, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe 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 Illinois 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 was complied this comprehensive video that features Mies’ contribution to the modern landscape of their campus and city.