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Exploring Chicago's Architectural Legacy Through 5 Exceptional Projects

Chicago has long been known for distinctive architecture, and this year’s inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial has only furthered that reputation. Although it is nearly impossible to narrow down the countless iconic structures, in celebration of the Biennial, we have compiled five Chicago buildings that highlight the many phases of the city’s architectural history.

6 Shortlisted for U.S. Embassy Project in Brasília

In June, the Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) released a call for architects interested in designing a New Embassy Compound (NEC) in BrasíliaBrazil's federal capital. Of the 48 firms deemed eligible to compete, 6 practices have been shortlisted to move on to the second and final stage of the international competition. 

These 6 shortlisted teams include: 

Architect Magazine Names Top 50 US Architecture Firms for 2015

Architect Magazine has unveiled its list of the 50 best architecture firms in the US, with Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Gensler taking the top three slots in the overall ranking, respectively. The rankings are based on scores from three categories: business, sustainability and design. This year the methodology was updated to include three new factors: percentage of women and minority designers; range and value of employee benefits and the rate of employee turnover. Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture also ranked first in the business category, followed by Kirksey Architecture and EYP Architecture & Engineering. EYP also headed the sustainability rankings, followed by Gensler and ZeroEnergy Design, while the design rankings were led by NADAAA, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Studio Gang Architects. Learn more about the methodology and view the full rankings here

Studio Gang Behind Supertall Tower Planned for Chicago

© City of Chicago
© City of Chicago

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. 

Studio Gang Tapped to Extend American Museum of Natural History

Chicago’s Studio Gang Architects have been selected to design a new Center for Science, Education and Innovation for the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Named after its largest donor, the $325 million Gilder Center will include 218,000-square-feet of existing and new space. It is slated to open on Columbus Avenue at 79th Street on the west side of the Museum campus, in conjunction with its 150th anniversary in 2019–2020.

Studio Gang Breaks Ground on Chicago Writers’ Theatre

Studio Gang has broke ground on the new home for Chicago’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.

VIDEO: Jeanne Gang on Resurrecting a Chicago Landmark

Shoreland, once a prominent destination built for the stars in 1926, stood derelict for years at risk of being erased from Chicago’s built history. This all changed the moment Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects seized an opportunity to restore the monumental building into a highly sought after residential tower.

Provided by our friends at Spirit of Space, the video above takes you through the meticulous process and unique transformation of this historic landmark, highlighting insight by Gang herself and David Gwinn of Silliman Group.

For more on Gang's design philosophy, watch our recent ArchDaily interview with her after the break...

AD Interviews: Jeanne Gang / Studio Gang Architects

If you don’t know Jeanne Gang, here’s the short and impressive bio: she received her Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Illinois and then went on to Harvard’s GSD for her masters degree. After working at OMA (where she participated in projects such as the Maison à Bordeaux), Jeanne founded Studio Gang in 1997. She has since become a MacArthur Fellow and was 2011's Fast Company Master of Design. So it was particularly exciting to sit down with Jeanne at the 2013 World Architecture Festival in Singapore.

Jeanne Gang Selected to Design San Francisco Skyscraper

Though few details have emerged, developers Tishman Speyer have confirmed that they have selected Chicago-based architects Studio Gang to design a skyscraper in San Francisco. Gang's tower will be one of three Tishman Speyer projects in the city. We'll be sure to update you as more information becomes available. Via SFGate.

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.

Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects / Jeanne Gang

From the Publisher. One of the foremost architects working today, Jeanne Gang is widely recognized for her innovative and independent practice. Studio Gang Architects confronts pressing contemporary issues and seeks to answer questions that exist locally but resound globally. The firm’s work is exemplified by recent projects such as the Aqua Tower in Chicago, an 82-story high-rise, which critic Paul Goldberger described as “reclaim[ing] the notion that thrilling and beautiful form can still emerge out of the realm of the practical.”

2013 Great Places Award Winners Announced

Seven exemplary projects in architecture, planning, landscape architecture, and urban design have been named winners of the 2013 Great Places Awards and were honored during the 44th annual conference of the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) earlier this month. The EDRA Great Places Awards recognizes professional and scholarly excellence in environmental design and pay special attention to the relationship between physical form and human activity or experience.

The winners after the break...

Studio Gang Breaks Ground on Ecologically Diverse Urban Mecca

© Studio Gang Architects
© Studio Gang Architects

For the past several years the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago have been working on appropriate uses for Northerly Island, a 91-acre man-made peninsula in Chicago, 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 have created an innovate design that integrates educational, cultural, social, and recreational activities into Northerly Island. 

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

Solar Carve Tower / Studio Gang Architects

Courtesy of Studio Gang Architects
Courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

Jeanne Gang is about to make her New York debut, as the Chicago-based architect just unveiled the latest project planned to border New York City’s beloved High Line. The 180,000 square-foot office tower with ground level retail will replace an existing, disused meatpacking plant along 10th Avenue between 13th and 14th streets. It will feature a “gem-like”, glass facade that is intelligently shaped to avoid the disruption of light, air and views from the High Line.

Dubbed the Solar Carve Tower, the mid-rise structure is currently pending city approval and is planned for completion in 2015.

Continue after the break for the architects’ description.

Jeanne Gang and Michael Kimmelman's proposal to save Prentice Women’s Hospital

Image courtesy of Studio Gang Architects; Illustration, Jay Hoffman
Image courtesy of Studio Gang Architects; Illustration, Jay Hoffman

The preservation battle continues over the fate of Bertrand Goldberg’s 1970’s Prentice Woman’s Hospital. As we reported in July, an ever-growing community of prominent architects – such as Frank Gehry, Jeanne Gang, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien – have joined preservationists in the fight to save the late modernist structure that is at risk of being replaced by a new biomedical research facility for Northwestern University.

The seven-story concrete cloverleaf, cantilevered 45 feet from the supporting core and floating atop a glass and steel box, is an engineering feat ahead of it’s time as well as an important icon within the Chicago skyline. As architecture critic Michael Kimmelman argues, “Great late-Modernist buildings, innovative and ruggedly beautiful, deserve respect and, increasingly, careful custody. Prentice is a good example.” However, it is not suited for 21st-century research labs and many Chicagoans hate it. Currently, Northwestern University is leading the debate by arguing that a new building would “bring to the city millions of investment dollars, create jobs and save lives”.

Could there be a compromise? Solutions are rarely black-and-white. Kimmelman has consulted Chicago architect Jeanne Gang to envision a proposal that would satisfy both opposing sides. Continue reading to learn more.

'Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects' Exhibition

Photo by Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing, courtesy of Studio Gang Architects
Photo by Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing, courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects, is the first solo exhibition dedicated to the work of Studio Gang, which will be on view at the Art Institute of Chicago until February 24, 2013. The show immerses visitors in the energy of the studio’s creative process and the stream of ideas that connects its growing body of work. More images and information on the exhibition after the break.

Studio Gang breaks ground on Arcus Center at Kalamazoo College

Night © Studio Gang Architects
Night © Studio Gang Architects

Studio Gang Architects and Kalamazoo College have announced plans to break ground October 9, at 4PM, on a new campus building to house the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership in southwest Michigan. The 10,000 square foot, wood masonry center will be the world’s first purpose-built structure for social justice leadership development, integrating a study, meeting, and event space where students, faculty, visiting scholars, social justice leaders, and members of the public will come together to engage in conversation and activities aimed at creating a more just world.

Set to be completed in Fall 2013, the Arcus Center is targeting LEED Gold certification. Continue after the break to learn more.

Top Architects invited to reimagine San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center

© Sean Munson
© Sean Munson

A mix of twenty local and internationally renowned firms have been invited to participate in a design competition seeking “creative and practical design concepts” on thirteen acres of prime waterfront real estate at the historic Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. Although mostly comprised of parking lots and former military buildings, the site attracts nearly one million annual visitors with its stellar views, cultural events, historic background and well-respected restaurant.

Depending on who accepts the challenge, local firms may compete with big names such as James Corner Field Operations, SANAA, Studio Gang Architects and BIG.

Continue reading after the break for more.