John Ronan (b. 1963, Grand Rapids, Michigan) is known for his sensual atmospheric buildings that tend to unfold layer by layer their spatial complexity, as one moves through them. His focus is on the use of materiality in ways that reinvent architecture. Ronan holds a Master of Architecture degree with distinction from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (1991) and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan (1985). He has been teaching architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology since 1992. John Ronan Architects was established in Chicago in 1999, the year Ronan won the Townhouse Revisited Competition sponsored by the Graham Foundation. In 2006, the firm was featured in the Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices and the Young Chicago exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2007, the architect was selected to build the prestigious Poetry Foundation in Chicago, out of a pool of 50 international contenders. His monograph Explorations: The Architecture of John Ronan was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2010. In 2016, the firm was named one of seven international finalists for the Obama Presidential Library. The following interview is a condensed version of our conversation at the architect’s studio in Chicago.
John Ronan Architects: The Latest Architecture and News
The American Institute of Architects’ Technology in Architectural Practice (TAP) Knowledge Community has announced the winners of the 2019 Innovation Awards. The Innovation Awards recognize the exemplary use and implementation of innovative technologies and progressive practices among architects and designers, collaborators, and clients.
On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago had roughly 200 inhabitants. Four years later, in 1837, it was upgraded to The City of Chicago – an interesting fact given that there are still 19 incorporated towns in Illinois. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 killed 300 people, destroyed about 3.3 square miles (9 km2), and left more than 100,000 residents homeless. However, by that time Chicago had become the world’s fastest-growing city and its population had risen over 300,000 inhabitants. The fire meant these ambitious citizens had to start again.
With admirable strength, the city was reborn from the ashes and some of Chicago’s best architecture was constructed immediately after. Structures like the Rookery Building (1888, Frank Lloyd Wright), the Auditorium Building (1889, Louis Sullivan) and the Monadnock Building (1893, Burnham & Root, Holabird & Roche) are a few examples of the high standards the city was aiming for.
Since then, Chicago has only continued adding value to its urban grid and new buildings have been progressively enhancing the city’s beautiful skyline. This year Chicago celebrates the 2019-2020 Biennial and the city has plenty to offer. But, where to start?
If you love architecture, here is a list of buildings – old and new – that will help you understand, internalize and love Chicago’s built environment.
Shall we begin?
Steven Holl Architects, Studio Libeskind Among Finalists for University College Dublin's Campus Makeover
After receiving 98 entries from teams based in 23 different countries, the jury for University College Dublin’s Future Campus project has selected six proposals for their shortlist, putting each selected firm’s design on display to the public on the project’s website. The finalists include the American firms Steven Holl Architects, Studio Libeskind, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and John Ronan Architects, as well as the Dutch firm UNStudio and Irish architects O’Donnell + Tuomey.
The project will include two major changes to UCD’s Belfield campus, located about 5 km from Dublin’s city center: a major update to the campus’ entry precinct along Stillorgan Road, as well as a new 8,000 square meter Centre for Creative Design, which will house UCD’s design studios.
Architect Magazine has unveiled the 2017 edition of the “Architect 50,” their list of the 50 best architecture firms in the United States. The 2017 rankings are based on scores from three categories: business, design and sustainability. This year saw more entrants than ever before, with several first-time entrants making notable impressions, including the number 1 ranked design firm, WORKac. Topping the overall list was Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), who also ranked in the top 10 in both design and sustainability.
See the top 10 from each category after the break.
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.
The Obama Foundation has selected Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (TWBTA) with partner Interactive Design Architects (IDEA) to lead the design of the Obama Presidential Center for Chicago's South Side. Chosen from a shortlist including Diller Scofidio + Renfro, John Ronan Architects, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, SHoP Architects, Snøhetta and Adjaye Associates, TWBTA stood out for their “commitment to explore the best ways of creating an innovative center for action that inspires communities and individuals to take on our biggest challenges.”
Confirming the speculation, Adjaye Associates has been asked alongside six others to submit design proposals for the Barack Obama Presidential Center planned for Chicago's South Side. Diller Scofidio + Renfro, John Ronan Architects, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, SHoP Architects, Snøhetta and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects complete the list; all are expected to provide designs for both considered sites - Jackson Park and Washington Park.
“These finalists offer a variety of backgrounds and styles, and any one of them would be an excellent choice,” Obama Foundation chairman Martin Nesbitt, according to CBS Chicago. “We are excited to see this process moving forward because the Obama Presidential Center will be so much more than a library – this facility will seek to inspire citizens across the globe to better their communities, their countries, and their world.”
Architect: John Ronan Architects Location: 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, USA Project Team: John Ronan AIA, Lead Designer; Marcin Szef, Tom Lee Graphic Designer: Studio Blue General contractor: Art Institute of Chicago Project Area: 6600 sqf Project Year: 2011 Photographs: Steve Hall/Hedrich Blessing
AIA recently made us aware of this year’s CAE Educational Facility Design Awards. The purpose of the design awards program is to identify trends and emerging ideas, honor excellence in planning and design, and disseminate knowledge about best practices in educational and community facilities. Check out the list of 13 after the break, including several of the firms we have previously featured.
Architect Magazine‘s third-annual ranking of American architecture firms takes a look at three factors: profitability, sustainability, and design quality. This whole picture approach provides an opportunity for small and large firms to go head to head, with a result of the best architecture firms, not necessarily the biggest.
Some of these practices have been featured on ArchDaily like Perkins + Will, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, Cannon Design, and Frank Harmon Architect.
Take a look at the complete rankings after the break.
We are headed to the windy city of Chicago for this weeks Architecture City Guide series. Jam packed with architecture from Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe, here are our 12 recommendations if you are visiting Chicago. Head to the comment section and share your recommendations for additional buildings to include on our list!