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Chicago: The Latest Architecture and News

Reappraising Chicago’s Most Endangered Building: The James R. Thompson Center

Perhaps no building is closer to a date with the wrecking ball in Chicago than the James R. Thompson Center. While those responsible for initiating this threat cite years worth of deferred maintenance and high costs of operation as the primary reasons for their decision, these are not the real reasons for the building’s demise. It suffers from a much more lethal ailment — treating it like a normal building. In this video, Stewart explains why the Thompson Center is definitely not a normal building and offers alternative ways to evaluate it. What if we considered it to be a piece of urban infrastructure or public plaza instead? Relating the building to Rem Koolhaas’ theory of ‘Bigness’, this video builds the case that the Thompson Center should be valued for how it brings people together in space rather than its colors, or material palette, or any other normal ways of appraising mere buildings.

Chicago Architecture Biennial Announces Contributors for its Fourth Edition: The Available City

The Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) has announced the list of contributors for its 2021 edition The Available City, selected by Artistic Director David Brown. Bringing design perspectives from around the world, the list of 29 contributors includes the global perception of cities such as Cape Town, Caracas, Chicago, Copenhagen, Dublin, Paris, Basel, and Tokyo.

The US Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale, Curated by Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner, Explores Wood-Framed Construction in American Architecture

Titled "American Framing", the United States pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, will explore the omnipresence and creative power of wood-framed construction in American architecture, an overlooked structural element. Curated by Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner, the exhibition will be on display at the Giardini della Biennale from May 22 through November 21, 2021.

San Francisco earthquake refugee housing, 1906.. Image Courtesy of San Francisco History CenterWar housing in Erie, Pennsylvania, 1941. Photo by Al Palmer.. Image Courtesy of Library of CongressChicago Lumberyard, 1870. Photographer Unknown.. Image Courtesy of Chicago History MuseumNight Construction, Reno, 1977. . Image © Lewis Batlz+ 10

SOM Transforms the Skydeck of Willis Tower

After an extensive renovation, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) completes the transformation of the Willis Tower observation deck and inaugurates a new interactive exhibition showcasing how architecture shaped Chicago’s identity through the city’s history. Now reopened to the public, the Skydeck is part of SOM’s ongoing design stewardship of Willis Tower, which started with the building’s conception and continued in 2009 with the addition of the Ledge.

© Dave Burk© Dave Burk© Dave Burk© Dave Burk+ 5

Taft Freshman Academy / STL Architects

© Ignacio Espigares© Ignacio Espigares© Ignacio Espigares© Ignacio Espigares+ 27

  • Architects: STL Architects
  • Area Area of this architecture project Area:  150000 ft²
  • Year Completion year of this architecture project Year:  2019
  • Manufacturers Brands with products used in this architecture project
    Manufacturers: Interstate Brick, Alucobond

A Windy City Welcome: Rethinking Hospitality Design in Chicago

Chicago has long been a center of design. The third-most populous city in the United States with one of the world's largest and most diversified economies, the Windy City is a hub for commerce, transportation and culture. Chicago has continuously redefined hospitality architecture long before the pandemic, and the city will once again take stock as it looks to reimagine the future of travel and entertainment.

© Nigel Young© Hedrich Blessing© Steve Hall, Hedrich Blessing© Kendall McCaugherty, Hall+Merrick Photographers+ 12

Potential Demise of Chicago’s Thompson Center Inches Closer With Proposed Zoning Change

It would seem that the ongoing saga of the James R. Thompson Center, Chicago’s beloved but neglected governmental office building-slash-postmodernist mecca, might be reaching its final act.

Yesterday, Brendan Reilly, alderman of the city’s 42nd ward, announced a proposed rezoning ordinance that could kick the sale of the prized 3-acre site (12,140 m2) at 100 West Randolph Street into high-gear. The cash-strapped State of Illinois has been considering/trying to offload the property as early as 2003.

SOM and TnS Studio Design Community Hub for Chicago’s South Side

The City of Chicago has selected Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and TnS Studio to create an incubator for small businesses and entrepreneurs in the city’s Englewood neighborhood. Called Englewood Connect, the project is part of Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West initiative, and it aims to foster local commerce and greater connectivity, as well as create new, flexible public spaces.

Courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)Courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)Courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)Courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)+ 5

Chicago Architecture Biennial Announces Winners of its First Commission, the DAF Open Call

The Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) and the Danish Arts Foundation (DAF) have selected Soil Lab as the winning project of a DAF Open Call for a major new commission in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Responding to the biennial’s 2021 edition theme The Available City, led by Artistic Director David Brown, the proposal, chosen to represent Denmark at the 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial, was imagined by an international design team that includes Eibhlín Ní Chathasaigh (Dublin), James Albert Martin (Dublin), Anne Dorthe Vester (Copenhagen), Maria Bruun (Copenhagen) and Chicago residents.

Netsch Residence Renovation / Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

© Dave Burk | SOM© Dave Burk | SOM© Dave Burk | SOM© Dave Burk | SOM+ 31

  • Area Area of this architecture project Area:  3500 ft²
  • Year Completion year of this architecture project Year:  2019
  • Manufacturers Brands with products used in this architecture project
    Manufacturers: Gallotti & Radice, Ruckstuhl, FLOS, K W I Custom Cabinetry, Knoll

The Obama Presidential Center in Chicago to Break Ground in 2021

After 4 years of delay, the groundbreaking of the Obama Presidential Center could happen in August 2021, and preliminary work could start as of April, according to the Chicago Tribune. In fact, former President Barack Obama confirmed yesterday on his Facebook account that "the Obama Presidential Center will break ground in 2021" and construction will most likely take about four years.

Obama Presidential Center. Image Courtesy of The Obama FoundationObama Presidential Center. Image Courtesy of The Obama FoundationObama Presidential Center. Image Courtesy of The Obama FoundationObama Presidential Center. Image Courtesy of The Obama Foundation+ 12

What Chicago Loses When It Loses an Architecture Critic

Chicago architecture is empty without Chicago architectural journalism. From the 1880s launch of the black-and-white publication Inland Architect, which covered the rebuilding after the Great Chicago Fire, to a 1985 critique of the James R. Thompson Center by Paul Gapp in the Chicago Tribune titled “Masterpiece or Ego Trip?” which set the course for the public reception of the building, coverage, and criticism of architecture in local newspapers and architecture publications has provided a critical link to how Chicago maintains its reputation as a city of extraordinary architecture. Architectural criticism and journalism have and continue to help Chicago understand how we arrived at this built environment and what the future holds.

Blair Kamin: "You Judge the Architecture, Not the Architect"

This article was originally published on Common Edge as "Blair Kamin Ends His Run as Architecture Critic of the Chicago Tribune"

Last Friday, January 15, Blair Kamin ended his 28-year run as architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune. I have known and admired Kamin for almost two decades. His writing on architecture and the built environment was sharp and lucid; he was not afraid to offend the less than delicate sensibilities of those in power.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1999, Kamin was an activist critic, very much in the tradition of Ada Louise Huxtable and Allan Temko. Late last week, I reached out to Kamin to talk about the role of critics, and the end of his singular run.

Ardmore House / Kwong Von Glinow

© James Florio Photography© James Florio Photography© James Florio Photography© James Florio Photography+ 50

  • Architects: Kwong Von Glinow
  • Area Area of this architecture project Area:  3100 ft²
  • Year Completion year of this architecture project Year:  2020

110 North Wacker Drive Office Building / Goettsch Partners

© Nick Ulivieri Photography© Nick Ulivieri Photography© Nick Ulivieri Photography© Nick Ulivieri Photography+ 29

The Thompson Center: A Building Facing Demolition Threat in Chicago

Every city has its odd building. Paris has Centre Pompidou. London –Lloyd’s of London. New York –the Guggenheim. Naturally, Chicago, the architectural capital of the world, has one too. Here it is –James R. Thompson Center, named so in honor of four-term Illinois Republican Governor (1977-91) who was brave enough to get it built in 1985. Home to offices of the Illinois state government the building is unlike anything you have ever seen before.

Graham Foundation Announces 2020 Grants to Organizations Exploring Challenges in Architecture

The Chicago-based Graham Foundation has just announced its support to 36 international organizations leading projects that respond to today’s challenges, foster new connections across disciplines, and expand the field of architecture”. Based everywhere in the world, these associations push forward the work of eminent and emerging architects, artists, designers, critics, curators, scholars, and others, to explore new possibilities for the field and engage practitioners and the public worldwide.

Serpentine Pavilion 2020–21 designed by Counterspace. Design render, exterior view. From the 2020 organizational grant to Serpentine Galleries for the exhibition "Serpentine Pavilion 2020–21 designed by Counterspace". Image Courtesy of CounterspaceSoraia Teixeira, "Public Devices for Therapy", Bes?ktas Peer, Istanbul, 2020From the 2020 organizational grant to Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts for the exhibition "Empathy Revisited: designs for more than one, 5th Istanbul Design Biennial". Image © Kayhan KaygusuzNari Ward, rendering for "Battleground Beacon", 2020. Graphite on paper.From the 2020 organizational grant to Prospect New Orleans for the exhibition "Prospect.5: Yesterday we said tomorrow". Image Courtesy of the artistOlalekan Jeyifous, "…other seasonal occupancy neighborhoods", 2020. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. From the 2020 organizational grant to The Museum of Modern Art for the exhibition "Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America". Image Courtesy of the artist+ 8

2016 West Rice Residences / Vladimir Radutny Architects

© JC Buck
© JC Buck

© JC Buck© JC Buck© Mike Schwartz© JC Buck+ 26