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 ’s proposed parkland sites. Image Courtesy of

The competition to host the new Barack Obama Presidential Library 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.

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 Presidential Library - 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 preservation 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 Chicago 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.

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

Aerial View of the Park. Image Courtesy of Project 120

Chicago’s Jackson Park 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 . See the details, after the break.

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 ’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 public housing, 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 at Chicago. Image Courtesy of UIC

Of the four locations that are under consideration to host the future Barack Obama presidential library, two have released visions of what could be if their sites were selected – the at Chicago (UIC) and the University of Hawaii at Honolulu (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.

Studio Gang Behind Supertall Tower Planned for Chicago

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The City of Chicago has officially linked Studio Gang Architects to the massive mixed-use “Wanda Vista” development planned to rise alongside the Chicago River. A trio of interlocking supertall towers, the $900 million riverfront project is expected to become the city’s third tallest building.

According to the Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin, the tallest part of the skyscraper will reach 1,148 feet and 88 stories, one story less than rumors originally indicated, stirring speculation that the final count has something to due with its Chinese developer and “eight” being considering a lucky number in China.

Gehry Sides with MAD, Defends Lucas Museum from Critics

Courtesy of Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts

With criticism forcing progress on MAD’s “mountainous” Lucas Museum to come to a standstill, Frank Gehry has released a statement on the Tribune urging critics to “take the proper time to review” the museum before dismissing it.

“Chicago is a great city for architecture and has historically supported innovative, forward-looking work. There is a natural impulse to deride a project in the early stages of design, particularly one that has a new shape or expression. This is not a new concept,” says Gehry, citing that both the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and Los Angeles Walt Disney Concert Hall were shrouded in criticism before becoming “great assets to their mutual .”

Studio Gang Breaks Ground on Chicago Writers’ Theatre

Main Entrance . Image Courtesy of

Studio Gang has broke ground on the new home for ’s beloved Writers’ Theatre. Situated on the sloped Tudor Court site of the Glencoe Woman’s Library Club, the glass encased timber structure will be a theatrical spectacle, as the main performance space’s second story catwalk is designed to peer through the transparent facade.

“Our process has been built around the creative team dialogue with Writers Theatre, its audiences, and the community, and we could not be more excited to celebrate this milestone today while looking forward to the ideas that will soon become a built reality in 2016,” said Jeanne Gang. “The design of Writers Theatre’s first purpose-built theatre reinforces their important mission and vision to maximize the feeling of intimacy between actors and audience within the park-like setting of downtown Glencoe.”

New renderings and more information from the architect, after the break.

Luftwerk to Illuminate Mies’ Farnsworth House this Weekend

© Kate Joyce, Courtesy of

Starting tomorrow (October 17), -based artists Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero of Luftwerk will be transforming Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House into a “canvas of light and sound” with the digital installation, INsite. “An exploration of the philosophy of Mies through light,” INsite will offer an entirely new nighttime experience at the Plano residence that highlights the architecture’s famed characteristics with an interactive light show pulsating to the original “sonic exploration” of Owen Clay Condon.

A video preview of the installation, after the break.

Hydraulic Stilts Considered to Protect Farnsworth House

’s Farnsworth House. Image © Greg Robbins

In recent years, Mies van der Rohe‘s famous glass-walled Farnsworth House has been under a grave threat from flooding by the Fox River which runs right past it. In the past 18 years, the house has been flooded three times, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage, and now its owners the National Trust for Historic Preservation are considering plans for a permanent solution – among which is a plan to install hydraulic stilts which would lift the entire house out of harm’s way in the event of a flood.

Read more about the plans after the break

Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic Dome Home to be Restored as Museum

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On April 19, Southern Illinois University will begin to restore the world’s first home, built by . Originally assembled in just seven hours from 60 wooden triangle panels, the dome was occupied by Fuller and his wife, Lady Anne, in the 1960s during his residency at SIU. After Fuller’s death, the dome was used as student housing before falling into disrepair. In 2001, the home was donated to a non-profit that had it listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. It will now be restored and preserved as a museum in Carbondale. 

McCormick Place Event Center / Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

Courtesy of Pelli Clarke Pelli

Architecture firm Pelli Clarke Pelli has been selected to design the new $195 million McCormick Place Event Center in Chicago that will double as home for the DePaul Blue Demons basketball program. With 10,000 seats, the building will also house large business and professional meetings as well as concerts and special events.

Environments and Counter Environments. “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape,” MoMA 1972 Exhibition

© Superstudio, Microevent/Microenvironment, 1972. Photograph by Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, courtesy of Emilio Ambasz.

The Graham Foundation recently announced their upcoming exhibition, Environments and Counter Environments. “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape,” MoMA 1972, which opens to the public on September 18th with a short talk by curators Peter Lang, Luca Molinari, and Mark Wasiuta followed by a reception. This exhibition highlights the lasting significance of MoMA’s groundbreaking 1972 exhibition, Italy: The New Domestic Landscape. Presented for the first time in the outside of New York, the Graham Foundation’s iteration of Environments and Counter Environments highlights both the dynamic context of radical Italian design and architecture in the 1970s, as well as the innovative exhibition that first presented this work in America. The exhibition will be on view until December 14th. More information provided by The Graham Foundation after the break.

Video: Spirit of Space Captures the Essence of Chicago’s Public Art

Spirit of Space has shared with us their most recent collaboration with Phil Enquist of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill: Art in the City. Pairing powerful quotes with imagery from the ’s most prominent works, the film “expresses the vitality and vibrance that public art can bring to the urban environment by experientially including the viewer in the making of place.” As describes, “The art is a reflection of the City, the art becomes a part of the City, the art is instrumental in making the City.”

Featured works include Picasso’s sculpture for Daley Plaza, along with Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate and Jaume Plensa’s Crown Fountain in Millennium Park.

2013 Burnham Prize Competition Winners Announced

1st place ‘Form vs. Uniform: Generative Chicago BRT Stations’ / Courtesy of Hesam T. Rostami and Bahareh Atash

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.