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Little-Known Floating Concert Hall Designed by Louis Kahn Faces Demolition

16:00 - 19 July, 2017
Little-Known Floating Concert Hall Designed by Louis Kahn Faces Demolition, © <a href='http://https://www.flickr.com/photos/spablab/3789270610/in/photolist-6LR18U-6fVSsc-6HZDsy-6LLR7H-6HZrQ7/'>Flickr user spablab</a>. Licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
© Flickr user spablab. Licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

One of Louis Kahn’s most unique and lesser-known projects, the floating concert hall known as Point Counterpoint II, is at risk of demolition, reports the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Built from 1964 to ’67  as part of celebrations for the American Bicentennial, the 195-foot-long vessel has since been used as the waterborne home of the American Wind Symphony Orchestra (AWSO), allowing the group to take their own venue places as far away as Paris, France and St. Petersburg, Russia. Along with circular doorways and portholes, the structure features a 75-foot-wide stage that can be opened and closed using a hydraulic lift system.

Mies van der Rohe's Other Illinois Home, the McCormick House, to Undergo Restoration

16:05 - 3 July, 2017
Mies van der Rohe's Other Illinois Home, the McCormick House, to Undergo Restoration, © Heritage Architecture Studio, LLC and LP Studio Inc. Via Curbed
© Heritage Architecture Studio, LLC and LP Studio Inc. Via Curbed

As Mies van der Rohe’s adopted city, Chicago and its surrounding area are home to more of the Modernist architect’s projects than anywhere else in the world, from Crown Hall to Federal Center to the Farnsworth House. Perhaps for that very reason, the McCormick House, located in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst, is one of the lesser known projects in the architect's’ oeuvre – despite being one of just three single-family homes in the United States completed by Mies.

Built in 1952 for Robert McCormick Jr. – the owner of the land where Mies' 860-880 N. Lake Shore Drive was constructed – the house was moved down the street in 1994, where it was attached to the newly built Elmhurst Museum of Art via a 15-foot-long corridor. While its relocation allowed the building to remain in good care over the next 23 years, it also obscured the home’s front facade, “camouflaging one of the most prized objects in the museum's collection.”

But that’s all about to change, thanks to an upcoming restoration that will remove the offending corridor, allowing the original architecture to shine once again.

Helmut Jahn-Designed Skyscraper to Rise on Chicago's Historic Michigan Avenue

16:30 - 16 June, 2017
Helmut Jahn-Designed Skyscraper to Rise on Chicago's Historic Michigan Avenue, Courtesy of 1000M
Courtesy of 1000M

Renderings have been revealed for a new 832-foot-tall skyscraper that will rise from a current vacant lot on Chicago’s historic Michigan Avenue. Known as 1000M, the tower has been designed by JAHN, the practice helmed by one of Chicago’s most prolific architects, Helmut Jahn. The 74-story building will feature a blue-green glass curtain wall subdivided with metal horizontal spandrel panels, and a metallic mesh crown hovering over a rooftop terrace.

"See You in Court!": 9 of Architecture’s Nastiest Lawsuits

09:30 - 8 May, 2017
© <a href=‘https://www.flickr.com/photos/diversey/16868722144/'>Flickr user diversey</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en'>CC BY-2.0</a>
© Flickr user diversey licensed under CC BY-2.0

What did Pritzker Prize winner Frank Gehry get when he designed the Stata Center, an exuberantly whimsical academic complex for MIT? A very large check, plus a major lawsuit, alleging negligence and breach of contract due to rampant leaks, mold, cracks, drainage problems and sliding ice. Sometimes the most inspired designs can go awry. And when they do, some clients lawyer up. Here are 9 fascinating examples.

Willis Tower To Receive $20 Million of New SkyDeck Attractions

14:15 - 24 March, 2017
Willis Tower To Receive $20 Million of New SkyDeck Attractions, Courtesy of Morningstar. Via Crain's
Courtesy of Morningstar. Via Crain's

Adrenaline junkies rejoice: the Willis Tower has announced plans for $20 million dollars of improvements to their popular glass-bottom SkyDeck observation attractions. Among the additions will be a series of new all-glass protrusions from the building, as well as a chance to rappel down a glass shaft suspended from the building’s 103rd floor.

3 Top Architects Selected to Design Community-Oriented Housing Library Developments in Chicago

12:20 - 24 March, 2017
3 Top Architects Selected to Design Community-Oriented Housing Library Developments in Chicago, Initial renderings for the Roosevelt Branch, designed by SOM. Image Courtesy of The Chicago Housing Authority
Initial renderings for the Roosevelt Branch, designed by SOM. Image Courtesy of The Chicago Housing Authority

The City of Chicago and the Chicago Housing Authority have announced the selection of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), Perkins + Will and John Ronan Architects to lead in the design of three new “co-located” affordable housing and library developments in the Chicago neighborhoods of Little Italy, West Ridge, and Irving Park.

Selected from a shortlist of nine firms, the three Chicago-based teams were chosen for their “innovative ideas that will ensure that each community will have a design that best reflects its needs.” The practices will work intimately with their respective communities to develop their designs.

Initial renderings for the Roosevelt Branch, designed by SOM. Image Courtesy of The Chicago Housing Authority The Northtown Branch at Western and Pratt avenues in West Ridge will be designed by Perkins + Will. Image Courtesy of The Chicago Housing Authority The design of the Independence Branch at 4022 N. Elston in Irving Park will be lead be John Ronan Architects. Image Courtesy of The Chicago Housing Authority SOM will design the Roosevelt Branch at Taylor and Ada streets on the Near West Side (Little Italy). Image Courtesy of The Chicago Housing Authority +4

Chicago Architecture Biennial to Exhibit 16 Tribune Tower Redesigns

16:30 - 7 March, 2017
Chicago Architecture Biennial to Exhibit 16 Tribune Tower Redesigns, Designs for the Chicago Tribune Tower by (left to right) Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer; Max Taut; Adolf Loos; and Bruno Taut, Walter Gunther, and Kurz Schutz. Image via skyscraper.org
Designs for the Chicago Tribune Tower by (left to right) Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer; Max Taut; Adolf Loos; and Bruno Taut, Walter Gunther, and Kurz Schutz. Image via skyscraper.org

The Chicago Architecture Biennial has announced the first exhibit that will on display during the event’s second edition from September 16 to January 7, 2018 – a contemporary reboot of one of architecture’s most well-known competitions, the Chicago Tribune tower design contest. Sixteen young architects from around the world will contribute new versions of the iconic skyscraper that will be displayed as a series of 16-foot-tall architectural models in the Chicago Cultural Center, the Biennial’s main venue.

Willis Tower to Receive $500 Million Renovation

16:20 - 7 February, 2017
Willis Tower to Receive $500 Million Renovation, Courtesy of Blackstone and Equity Office
Courtesy of Blackstone and Equity Office

One of the United States’ most recognizable skyscrapers, the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), is set to receive a $500 million renovation designed by the Chicago office of Gensler. Announced by Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel with real estate holders Blackstone and Equity Office, the project will transform and reinvigorate the 43-year-old building, which held the title of world’s tallest building for nearly a quarter century. 

Courtesy of Blackstone and Equity Office Courtesy of Blackstone and Equity Office Courtesy of Blackstone and Equity Office Courtesy of Blackstone and Equity Office +14

Chicago Riverwalk Opens to the Public, Returning the City to the River

16:25 - 1 November, 2016
Chicago Riverwalk Opens to the Public, Returning the City to the River, © Kate Joyce Studios
© Kate Joyce Studios

The third and final phase of the Chicago Riverwalk is officially open to the public. Designed by Sasaki and Ross Barney Architects, the 1.5 mile long promenade revitalizes an underutilized industrial area into an active public space featuring restaurants, cultural activities and amenities while reconnecting the Chicago River to the urban fabric of the city.

© Iwan Baan © Kate Joyce Studios © Kate Joyce Studios © Kate Joyce Studios +37

Perkins Eastman Update SOM-Designed Laboratory at the University of Chicago

16:05 - 22 July, 2016
Perkins Eastman Update SOM-Designed Laboratory at the University of Chicago, Southwest Facade After. Image Courtesy of Perkins Eastman
Southwest Facade After. Image Courtesy of Perkins Eastman

Perkins Eastman has released plans for a two-story expansion and redesign of the SOM-designed Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research at the University of Chicago campus in Chicago, Illinois. Construction on the 63,500 square foot building has just begun, and once completed, will serve as the renewed home of the University’s Department of Physics. The addition and renovation will create a new physics hub on campus that will allow students of different sub-disciplines to collaborate under the same roof for the first time.

Soutwest Facade Before. Image Courtesy of Perkins Eastman Northwest Facade After. Image Courtesy of Perkins Eastman Northwest Facade Before. Image Courtesy of Perkins Eastman Aerial Perspective After. Image Courtesy of Perkins Eastman +6

Rafael Viñoly Proposes Twin Residential Towers for Chicago's South Loop

14:15 - 29 September, 2015
© Rafael Viñoly Architects
© Rafael Viñoly Architects

Rafael Viñoly Architects has presented plans for a two-tower residential project in Chicago's South Loop neighborhood. The phased Crescent Heights development hopes to be home to Chicago's 6th tallest building, rising 829-feet on the south end of Grant Park. If approved, the project would be completed in three phases; the first realizing a 76-story, 792-unit apartment building on the eastern portion of the site. 

Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple Undergoes Massive Restoration

14:42 - 30 July, 2015
Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple Undergoes Massive Restoration , © Flickr CC User matt72
© Flickr CC User matt72

Frank Lloyd Wrights's Unity Temple is undergoing a much needed $23 million restoration. As the Chicago Tribune reports, the Oak Park temple's integrity was first called into question when a large piece of the ceiling fell above the pulpit in 2008 (thankfully no one was hurt).

The comprehensive overhaul is going beyond restoring the building's to its original beauty; a geothermal heating system and air conditioning will be integrated into the building and site for the first time, allowing the uninterrupted services year-round.

The refurbished temple will reopen in late 2016. 

Design With Company + Arup Create “Shaw Town” Theatre in Chicago

16:00 - 11 July, 2015
Design With Company + Arup Create “Shaw Town” Theatre in Chicago , Courtesy of Design With Company
Courtesy of Design With Company

Chicago based architecture studio Design With Company, in collaboration with Arup, have constructed their winning proposal for the Ragdale Ring design competition, which asked entrants to redesign Howard Van Doren Shaw’s 1912 performance venue for a Chicago artists’ community. Their design lightheartedly references features of Shaw’s architecture, while creating a venue for acoustically unamplified performances.

Courtesy of Robert Becker/Design With Company Courtesy of Allison Derr/Design With Company Courtesy of Robert Becker/Design With Company Courtesy of Allison Derr/Design With Company +24

Sex and Real Estate, Reconsidered: What Was the True Story Behind Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House?

08:30 - 3 July, 2015
Unidentified woman, perhaps Edith Farnsworth, at Farnsworth House. Undated.  [BACK] Gorman’s Child Photography. Courtesy and copyright of Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois.
Unidentified woman, perhaps Edith Farnsworth, at Farnsworth House. Undated. [BACK] Gorman’s Child Photography. Courtesy and copyright of Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois.

In 1951, Mies van der Rohe completed a house in Plano, Illinois that was the epitome of his modernist ideals; with a steel structure surrounded entirely by glass walls the building perfectly connected the user with its idyllic natural setting, and it was - and is - venerated as a masterwork. A lesser-known story about the work is how its owner Dr Edith Farnsworth attempted to sue her architect, in a story of bitterness and unrequited love - but even less well-known, argues Nora Wendl, is the story of what really happened. In this excerpt from her essay "Uncompromising Reasons for Going West: A Story of Sex and Real Estate, Reconsidered," published in Thresholds issue 43: "Scandalous," Wendl examines the overblown and dubious assertions made about Farnsworth's intentions, finding that the truth may be much more simple: perhaps the Farnsworth House is just not a pleasant place to live.

“I have decided to speak up.”

Such is the threshold between a private affair and a public scandal: one person speaks. These are also the opening lines to “The Threat to the Next America,” which appears in the April 1953 issue of House Beautiful. Penned by editor Elizabeth Gordon, the article describes an unnamed, but “highly intelligent, now disillusioned, woman who spent more than $70,000 building a 1-room house that is nothing but a glass cage on stilts.”[1] Gordon warns readers of a design movement sweeping the nation:

Something is rotten in the state of design—and it is spoiling some of our best efforts in modern living. After watching it for several years, after meeting it with silence, House Beautiful has decided to speak out and appeal to your common sense, because it is common sense that is mostly under attack. Two ways of life stretch before us. One leads to the richness of variety, to comfort and beauty. The other, the one we want fully to expose to you, retreats to poverty and unlivability. Worst of all, it contains the threat of cultural dictatorship.[2]

Farnsworth House, south façade and terrace. Undated.  [BACK] Gorman’s Child Photography. Courtesy and copyright of Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois. Farnsworth House, interior. Undated.  [BACK] Gorman’s Child Photography. Courtesy and copyright of Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois. Farnsworth House, looking northwest from the interior of screened-in porch, furnished by Farnsworth. Undated.  [BACK] Gorman’s Child Photography. Courtesy and copyright of Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois. Farnsworth House, exterior, view of south façade and east end of terrace with Farnsworth’s sculptures. Undated.  [BACK] Gorman’s Child Photography. Courtesy and copyright of Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois. +15

"Lina Bo Bardi: Together" Opens at The Graham Foundation

09:00 - 25 April, 2015
"Lina Bo Bardi: Together" Opens at The Graham Foundation , Courtesy of The Graham Foundation
Courtesy of The Graham Foundation

From April 25 through July 25, 2015, the Graham Foundation will host an exhibition 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.

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

13:00 - 14 April, 2015
Studio Gang Goes Public with Chicago's Newest Tower: Wanda Vista, © Studio Gang Architects
© Studio Gang Architects

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 Chicago 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"

12:00 - 29 March, 2015
6 Ways to Repurpose the Chicago Spire "Hole", Chicago Beacon / Solomon Cordwell Buenz. Image Courtesy of Chicago magazine
Chicago Beacon / Solomon Cordwell Buenz. Image Courtesy of Chicago 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.

Urban Island / VOA. Image Courtesy of Chicago magazine Birds in Horto / Hoerr Schaudt. Image Courtesy of Chicago magazine Swimming Hole / UrbanLab. Image Courtesy of Chicago magazine Underground Amphitheater / SPACE Architects + Planners. Image Courtesy of Chicago magazine +7

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

18:00 - 11 March, 2015
Controversy Shrouds Chicago's Plan for the Barack Obama Presidential Library, One of the University of Chicago's proposed parkland sites. Image © University of Chicago
One of the University of Chicago's proposed parkland sites. Image © University of Chicago

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.