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Project set to commence construction in July 2014


CHICAGO – The O’Donnell Investment Company’s planned development of a 1.2 million square foot office tower at 150 North Riverside Plaza completed the zoning process on Wednesday, December 11 with a unanimous vote by the Chicago City Council in favor of the planned development (“PD”) ordinance. The City Council vote followed a unanimous vote by the Chicago Plan Commission on November 21 to recommend passage of the ordinance. The project is scheduled to commence construction in July 2014.

“We’re very pleased the City Council has recognized the benefits of this project and we look forward to commencing construction next year,” said John O’Donnell, principal of O’Donnell Investment Company. “Our plans reflect designs refined over two years of meetings between the development team, Alderman Reilly and City of Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development.”

The development site is one of the most prominent in the city, bounded by Randolph and Lake Streets at the confluence of the three branches of the Chicago River. The 53-story office tower will be located along the river on the eastern edge of the 2-acre site.  Additionally, as a result of its unique superstructure design, the building footprint will comprise less than 25 percent of the total site area, with the remaining 75 percent reserved for a public park, riverside amphitheater and riverwalk.

The numerous public improvements contained within the PD ordinance, helped to secure broad support for the project from the local community, including nearby residents and neighborhood organizations. These improvements include over an acre of public park space, reconstruction and modernization of the site’s riverwall, upgraded traffic and pedestrian signals at several intersections outside the property, and the connection of the Riverside Plaza riverwalk, which extends north from Van Buren Street but currently terminates at Randolph Street. The public park and plaza areas will include a number of different seating and assembly zones, along with overlook points for enjoyment of the river, and feature 24/7 security, public restrooms and access to a range of onsite food and beverage options.

Said Mr. O’Donnell, “The building itself occupies less than a quarter of the two-acre site, with the rest comprised of landscaped park, riverside promenade and vista points. We are confident that the project’s open space will be heavily used by tenants and the public for years to come.”

Additionally, the tower will be constructed using sustainable design principles, having recently achieved LEED-CS Gold precertification from the US Green Building Council.  The project design will minimize energy consumption while maximizing light and air, open space, and the overall quality of the tenant work environment. In addition to the plaza-level open space, the tower features 100 percent green roof coverage.





Weekly Citizen | Deborah Bayless - Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) elevated structure at Wabash - Washington will soon be transformed into what’s being called “a gateway for Millennium Park and the Loop.”

“This station features a modern design with undulating waves that serve as a welcome contrast to the city grid and will replace two century-old stations that were not designed for the needs of modern public transit,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Full article available at






MEG GRAHAM | - The Chicago school, designed by bKL Architecture, will be the first in the U.S. when it opens next fall to 350 kindergarten through fourth-grade students. Full story at



Rendering of 200 South Michigan Ave from bKL Architecture



The Chicago Architecture Blog is reporting that developer John Buck has proposed a 45-story rental and retail building at 200 South Michigan Avenue (corner of Michigan Ave and Lake St). The building under design by bKL Architecture would 25,000 feet of retail space at ground and second story levels. More on this at the Chicago Architecture Blog



1611 West Division (Photo: Kevin Dickert)



By Ian Soula | Curbed Chicago: How often does a building come out of the oven looking exactly like its rendering? Not very, but the Wheeler Kearns-designed 1611 West Division has pulled it off. The striking building at Ashland & Division with the fading moniker "Tower of Pizza Hut" has achieved its full height and adornment. Visible from a mile or more south on Ashland, the 11-story tower may have its detractors owing to scale and aesthetics, but many admire the playful design ... Complete article at Curbed Chicago





  • Site size: 2.55 acres.
  • Developers: Ivanhoe Cambridge, Hines, and Levy.
  • Height: 650 feet
  • Floors: 45 stories
  • Neighborhood: Fulton River District, not the West Loop, no matter what the Tribune says.
  • Floor space: ~900,000 square feet
  • Floor height: 13 feet
  • Floor finished height: 9 feet
  • Column spacing: 30 feet
  • Parking: 200 spaces
  • Oversized stairways intended to be used everyday, not just for emergencies
  • Lobby size: ~7,000 square feet
  • Lobby height: 2.5 stories
  • Park size: 1.5 acres
  • Construction start: Before the end of the year.
  • Construction finish: 2016
  • Architect: Pickard Chilton
  • Size: 850,000 square feet
  • Environmental: It was pre-certified LEED Gold back in 2008

 River Point Tower

The new River Point Tower just broke ground after being approved by the city in 2008. The project marks the rebirth of the Chicago building economy, as it is the one of the only big name buildings to contribute to the skyline since Trump placed his mark in the City of Chicago in 2008. The most exciting part of the project, however, is not the 45 stories or 850,000 square feet, but rather is the public spaces that the River Point Tower creates. Opening and generating a new riverfront space, the tower features shops and a public park to help re-generate and expand upon the city’s riverfront. The tower should be complete in 2016 and is LEED Gold certified.

More at




Local leader Richard H. Driehaus to receive national honor and
four IL seniors to receive $20,000 Horatio Alger scholarships


(WASHINGTON, D.C. February 2013) - The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., is pleased to announce that Richard H. Driehaus is one of 11 individuals selected to receive the Horatio Alger Award in 2013.  The Horatio Alger Award is presented each year to individuals who have overcome obstacles to become successful entrepreneurs or community leaders.  Based in Illinois, Richard Driehaus is the Founder and Chairman of Driehaus Capital Management LLC. Recipients of this award become lifelong members of the Horatio Alger Association, and they serve as role models for its young scholarship recipients.

The Horatio Alger Association is pleased to announce that 106 students, who hail from every state in the nation, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, have been selected to receive National Scholarships. This is the Association’s top college scholarship, valued at $20,000, to be used toward a bachelor's degree.  It is accompanied by an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the annual Horatio Alger award ceremonies.  These exceptional students were selected to receive National Scholarships because of the courage they demonstrated in overcoming personal challenges to attain academic success.

The 2013 Horatio Alger National Scholarship recipients from Illinois are:

  • Marissa L. Cahill, Christopher Community High School, Christopher;
  • Shajaya Martinez, Lane Technical High School, Chicago;
  • Richard A. Pena, Saint Martin de Porres High School, Waukegan;
  • Deior Toney, Fenger High School, Chicago. 

Both the Horatio Alger Award recipients and the National Scholarship recipients will be honored in Washington, D.C., during the 66th Annual Horatio Alger Awards Induction Ceremonies on April 4-6, 2013.

“The Association is proud to salute men and women of exceptional achievement with the Horatio Alger Award, and we are grateful to them for joining in our efforts to enable more and more young people to achieve their own versions of the American Dream through higher education, “said Tony Novelly, President and CEO of the Horatio Alger Association.






Alejandro Daras  Chicago Arch Today| CHICAGO: “Change is the key to progress.” This opening pronouncement of Adrian Smith’s lecture at the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Lunchtime Lecture Series defined the starting point of an entire architectural firm. Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture is currently considered one of the most important worldwide because of the magnitude of their projects. Among them are Wuhan Greenland Center (China), Verde Residences (Dubai) and Kingdom Tower (Saudi Arabia) which will be the de-facto tallest building in the world upon completion.

Adrian Smith emphasized the idea that the future of design does not rely on a changed aesthetic but on a changed process. “It is possible to invent today by remaking yesterday”. In order to explain those statements, Smith showed a Mies’ project (Friedrichstrasse Skyscraper) and compared it with some of the most modern skyscrapers around the world, highlighting the common features within their plans. Moreover, he assured the small gathering that in spite of current trends, we are not limited by known solutions because architects must evolve their old ideas into becoming new solutions.

The world-renown architect focused his lecture on what surely will become one of the future icons of the world: Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia. It will be the tallest building worldwide in 2017 with over 1000 meters high. It will consist in a mixed-use building featuring offices, a luxury hotel, apartments and an observatory. Design of Kingdom Tower has been influenced by other skyscrapers as Tower Palace III or Burj Khalifa, it has a three-petal footprint with a triangular resistant concrete core and tapering wings; however, it has simplified the structural system of Burj Khalifa including hammerhead concrete pieces at the end of the corridors which are located in each wing of the plan.

Its design is not primarily based in its specific location, the architect has preferred to refine and continue typical approaches in skyscraper design, adding new features in order to optimize its structural system, improve its behavior against wind loads and enhance energy efficiency. Despite those factors, it is also possible to find a contextual reason in order to obtain the final shape of Kingdom Tower: located in Saudi Arabia, inside the desert; this building can be interpreted as a reference to the folded leaves of young desert plant growth. One can easily identify the way the leaves emerge upward from the ground as a single form and then begin to unfurl toward the top resulting in the final shape of the building.

The end result of the focus of this direction in construction is a combination of tradition and innovation. In other words, conventional elements of skyscraper technology are combined with aggressive state of the art building materials. This design minimizes energy losses thru the wall as well as reduces wind loads due to the particular shape of the enclosure. Moreover, there is a round sky terrace, roughly 30 meters which is located at level 157 and it is intended for use as an outdoor amenity space by the penthouse floor. Article continues in Archives.







The design team of renown architect Pelli Clark Pelli and developer Hines Interests, LLP have floated their latest adjustments to the 3-building complex planned for Wolf's Point. Most of the changes were applied to the landscape around the edifices with little if any aesthetic differences in the towers themselves. Although alderman Brendan Reilly generally approves of the submitted plan, many area residents continue to be unconvinced especially about concerns with density as it applies to such issues as traffic. 



This revised site plan above shows the locations of the east, south, and west towers. A 30-foot-wide riverwalk, nine feet above the river and extending over the riverbank, will curve around the property, then access a lower level in the upper left corner of the diagram. The driveway at the top currently exists, providing access to 350 West Mart Center. Orleans Street is at upper right.



Artist's rendering of the south point of the building complex which may include a public space featuring a fountain.




Kingdom Tower, Saudi Arabia




“Change is the key to progress.” This opening pronouncement of Adrian Smith’s lecture at the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Lunchtime Lecture Series defined the starting point of an entire architectural firm. This leading architectural firm is currently considered one of the most important worldwide because of the magnitude of their projects. Among them are Wuhan Greenland Center (China), Verde Residences (Dubai) and Kingdom Tower (Saudi Arabia) which will be the de-facto tallest building in the world upon completion.

Adrian Smith emphasized the idea that the future of design does not rely on a changed aesthetic but on a changed process. “It is possible to invent today by remaking yesterday”. In order to explain those statements, Smith showed a Mies’ project (Friedrichstrasse Skyscraper) and compared it with some of the most modern skyscrapers around the world, highlighting the common features within their plans. Moreover, he assured the small gathering that in spite of current trends, we are not limited by known solutions because architects must evolve their old ideas into becoming new solutions.

The world-renown architect focused his lecture on what surely will become one of the future icons of the world: Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia. It will be the tallest building worldwide in 2017 with over 1000 meters high. It will consist in a mixed-use building featuring offices, a luxury hotel, apartments and an observatory. Design of Kingdom Tower has been influenced by other skyscrapers as Tower Palace III or Burj Khalifa, it has a three-petal footprint with a triangular resistant concrete core and tapering wings; however, it has simplified the structural system of Burj Khalifa including hammerhead concrete pieces at the end of the corridors which are located in each wing of the plan.

Its design is not primarily based in its specific location, the architect has preferred to refine and continue typical approaches in skyscraper design, adding new features in order to optimize its structural system, improve its behavior against wind loads and enhance energy efficiency. Despite those factors, it is also possible to find a contextual reason in order to obtain the final shape of Kingdom Tower: located in Saudi Arabia, inside the desert; this building can be interpreted as a reference to the folded leaves of young desert plant growth. One can easily identify the way the leaves emerge upward from the ground as a single form and then begin to unfurl toward the top resulting in the final shape of the building.

The end result of the focus of this direction in construction is a combination of tradition and innovation. In other words, conventional elements of skyscraper technology are combined with aggressive state of the art building materials. This design minimizes energy losses thru the wall as well as reduces wind loads due to the particular shape of the enclosure. Moreover, there is a round sky terrace, roughly 30 meters which is located at level 157 and it is intended for use as an outdoor amenity space by the penthouse floor.  

Lastly, we took the opportunity to engage Adrian Smith concerning issues facing today’s supertall buildings. First of all, he was asked about the importance of context in building and why do super-tall structures seem quite similar despite of their completely different locations?

Mr. Smith answered the question based on his extensive experience in this genre. His response was that location is one of the key points in design because some of the particular features of the building must be solved according to the weather, orientation even culture of the specific place; nevertheless, skyscrapers are an exception. Adrian Smith noted that the design of super-tall buildings cannot be primarily based on their location because efficiency is the most important factor in this kind of constructions. In recent years the most efficient way to build a skyscraper has been slightly modified, refined and evolved since their evolution, thus it is possible to find lots of coincident solutions between those kinds of buildings. In spite of structural and shape similarities in order to achieve the best performance against gravity or wind forces which will define the global shape of the building, Professor Smith also ensured that it is possible to resolve some details and minor questions basing on contextual elements of the specific location.

On the question of sustainability, today energy savings and efficient buildings are of primary concern, so can we consider skyscrapers to be efficient? Mr. Smith’s response was that they could be more sustainable despite having high performance façades which minimize heat transfer and provide enough solar protection to maintain the interior spaces at a comfort temperature. However, this problem is not easy to solve because the main wishes of his clients are not related to energy efficiency, they want iconic buildings with flashy enclosures and showy designs in order to demonstrate their economic power.

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 Southeast view from Aqua Tower




By Agnes Rutkowski, Chicago Architecture Today 10/23/2012


Running a development company could be a very risky task, however, if done right, could be an incredibly successful and rewarding experience. Magellan Development is one such example of development success.


Magellan Development Group’s achievements have been led by its principle co-CEO’s Joel Carlins and James Loewenberg as well as an extensive team of individuals. Magellan has developed world-recognized high-rise residential and mixed-use buildings as well as commercial, institutional, government, educational, hospital and transportation projects. Magellan is known for creating trend setting neighborhoods which include buildings with outstanding amenities and LEED-certification.


An example of one of Magellan’s many successes is the new Lakeshore East community. The 4 billion dollar, 28 acre neighborhood has won many awards, including the AIA Planned Community Award and the FIABCI Prix d’Excellence Award by the International Real Estate Federation. The neighborhood is home to some of Chicago’s most iconic buildings including; 340 on the Park, The Aqua, Aqua Parkhomes, Benton Place Parkhomes, The Coast, The Regatta, The Chandler, The Lancaster, The Shoreham, and The Tides.



Magellan prides itself on being a company that “Is committed to developing premier, environmentally-sensitive urban communities that combine innovative architectural design with high-quality construction, “and that is exactly what they have accomplished with Lakeshore East. Joel Carlins, co-CEO of Magellan, from his office space in the Aqua Tower overlooking the entire Lakeshore community claims, “We are proud of what we have done. We have built a village in the heart of the city. I look out of my window and enjoy seeing our vision achieved.”


The development field is a risky business and when asked why developers do what they do, Joel replied “Because it is their chosen field… I practiced law for 40 years. I had some outstanding cases, but even when I did something very well, once I did it I never walked by my file cabinet and felt success because it was intangible. This field is tangible; you can see your success.”


Magellan sets itself apart from many other development companies because they strive to be an all-inclusive firm. They have a wide range of staff that appeals to the many different aspects of the field. They believe that in order to be successful and to stay in business, you must do what you agree to, and you must strive to do it better. Joel claims, “We try and give people a minimum of what they bargain for and try to exceed wants and address complaints.” Joel emphasized that when they take on a project, they are not simply trying to build a building, and instead they want to contribute to the area by developing many different types of buildings and programs as well as add value to the city. Each building has a different style and theme so that they all do not look the same.



Apart from sticking to their word and striving to keep their credibility, which is important in this particular field, Magellan goes above and beyond their clients expectations by giving people outstanding amenities.  An example of their efforts, aside from creating unique living environments, is to include many retail and restaurant amenities in the area, as well as having their own Magellan Newsletter and a Magellan Rewards program which includes book clubs, discount cards, and many other extra bonuses for the residence of their developments.  Magellan has proved that with hard work and commitment, success can be achieved.

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By Jon Hilkevitch, Tribune reporter 10/08/2012


Attempting to create another popular venue like Millennium Park, the city is unveiling a proposed $100 million build-out of the Chicago River riverwalk stretching from State to Lake streets, complete with distinctive names and themes for each of the six blocks.

The plans are still conceptual, and the Emanuel administration has not secured funding or set a timetable for constructing the evolving urban pedestrian walkway at water's edge, officials said.


But now there is a clearer vision to complete the riverwalk. It broadens the mainly functional and formal qualities of the completed section between Lake Shore Drive and State Street at Wacker Drive in the center of downtown.


The new portion, continuing along the south bank of the river, will house more restaurants. But it is also intended to offer individual spaces between the bridges spanning the river -- spaces that are naturalistic, recreational, even playful, and above all welcoming to residents, visitors and people of all ages, according to the design team, which consists of Sasaki Associates Inc., Alfred Benesch & Co., Ross Barney Architects and Jacobs/Ryan Associates. The city hired the firms last year after a competitive bidding process Follow link here for the complete story






AGNES RUTKOWSKI | CHICAGO | SEPT 4, 2012 :: Having been relocated many times, the National Hellenic Museum finally found its permanent home in Greek town located at 333 S. Halstead. Previously known as the “Greek Museum,” it was founded in 1983 by Greek Americans who wanted to promote their heritage. Its location changed four times with the most recent location being on Adams and Halsted above the Greek Islands restuarant. It officially opened in its new location on December 10, 2011.


The NHM is the first museum of its kind and of its size in the United States. The goal of the museum is to tell the story of Greece as well as Greek America and to acknowledge the contributions of Greek Americans. It is a way of educating and connecting everyone, Greeks and non-Greeks, through oral histories, physical artifacts, and other forms of art and display.



The building itself drew inspiration from Greek monasteries and therefore makes significant use of wood and stone materials on the exterior. The building’s cantilever out front is reminiscent of the Greek stoa and the Grand staircase inside is specifically positioned from East to West as a representation of the immigrant journey from Greece to America.


Having been designed by a second generation Greek American, Demetrios Stavrianos, the architect wanted to incorporate a range of modern Greek American aspects leading all the way back to classic Greek mythology. Stavrianos included Aristotle’s elements of wind, fire, water and earth through the use of glass, marble and wood, as well as the installation of an artificial fireplace in the Great Hall.



The museum received a large grant from the City of Chicago and received its land through TIF Financing. Otherwise, the museum was largely funded by private donors and companies. Throughout the NHM there are many acknowledgements made to its contributors through the displaying of plaques acknowledging donors, as well as the naming of certain halls and rooms after them.



The first floor of the museum holds a rotating exhibit, which currently consists of displays about “Gods, Myths and Mortals.” This particular hall will be transitioning to an exhibit called “The Spirit of the Marathon,” in October. The second floor is referred to as “In Search of Home,” and is about the journey of Greeks and Greek Americans as well as their sense of identity and culture. The second floor display is still in the process of being finished off, however, once completed, it will be a permanent gallery space. The third floor contains the library and oral history exhibits as well as administrative offices. Finally the fourth floor/roof top terrace is meant to be used as an area to hold events, as well as to look out at the magnificent views of the city.



The National Hellenic Museum is visited on a daily basis by a wide age range of individuals, whether they are young children in their early schooling years or elders, it is undoubtedly a wonderful place to learn about the history of Greece and Greek Americans. The museum welcomes all people of various nationalities and enjoys educating others of the Greek story. The NHM frequently hosts school field trips, as well as group tours for individuals who take interest in the Hellenic culture.







AGNES RUTKOWSKI | CHICAGO | AUG 13, 2012 ::In a world that is so entranced by the fast pace connection of technology, it is refreshing to see that not everyone has forgotten the importance of person to person relations. For such a contemporary design company, it was shocking to hear that Manifest Digital declared its new home to be in the historical Jeweler’s Building located at 35 E. Wacker Dr. in Chicago.


Manifest Digital, unlike most other design companies, strives to push against the traditional “digital thing,” and believes that although media brings people together, it becomes rather easy to avoid people. They strive to push against the easiness of the digital world and constantly try to remember the importance of empathy and the gift of time. Their objectives and beliefs are reflected very well in the new space designed for their company.



The new home for Manifest Digital occupies the entire 10th floor of the Jeweler’s Building. The global architecture, design, planning and consulting firm, Gensler, designed the office with the Beta Space technique in mind. The Beta Space technique allows for the flexibility and performance enhancement that Manifest believed that they needed. Aside from the general employee desk spaces, the new office contains observation labs, teaching rooms, testing rooms, and break out areas that allow its employees to brainstorm and solve issues in a new environment, one that allows them to work together in a unique way. In addition to the various spaces that allow for work to be completed, the office space is covered with white boards as well as chalk boards that allow for brainstorming and easy access to ideas and problem solving.


The Beta Space design allows for easy modification of the space, which works well with Manifest’s new office because the 10th floor allows for up to 50 percent expansion.  Should that amount of space ever become an issue, there are various expansion opportunities within the building, however, according to Jim Jacoby, “[They] are here to stay.”



The employees of Manifest Digital have responded well to the Beta Space technique and believe that the new office is relaxed, however, well designed. Jim Jacoby expressed that Gensler truly understood the essence of the brand and was able to create a space that was sleek, edgy, and cool while still using traditional materials with incorporated designs. He expressed that the new space reflects their personality very well and oozes a good vibe while still being able to put people at ease.


Although being a very contemporary company, Manifest Digital, with its constant emphasis on history and the importance of where we came from, has also collected various forms of technological machinery from the past that they plan on displaying throughout their space. It is amazing to think that a computer from 10 or even 5 years ago looks so different from what a computer looks like now-a-days and Manifest believes that remembering these sorts of things is important so that we never forget our past.


With the completion of the project, Gensler, is extremely happy to hear that their clients love the new space and they believe that it is an excellent example of the Beta Space technique. Gensler prides itself of being sustainable and approaches each project with the attempts of using the maximum amount of existing materials that are embedded in the space. Their firm has worked on many similar Beta Space designs; however, each space has its own attitude and environment that is specific to the company residing in it. Gensler is currently working on a number of projects, some of which we will be seeing towards the end of the year, and some even being located in the same building as Manifest Digital.


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ALINA HSIEH | CHICAGO | JULY 15, 2012 :: Recently, Cannon Design, an international leading architectural, engineering and planning firm, announced they’re joining forces with Peter Ellis New Cities. Peter Ellis New Cities is one of the few, possibly only, city-design firms which has successfully designed a city and have it built. With many Third World countries rising financially and economically, there has been a sudden shift in population from rural regions to urban areas.  This significant pattern of migration coupled with the minimal availability of urban communities has resulted in an increased need for the building of dense population centers.  Because designing an entire city is a daunting project, many firms are hesitant to take on such a task and opt to designing only one aspect of the city. However,


Cannon Design and Peter Ellis New Cities are not ones to shy away from this challenge.  With their recent collaboration, and Peter Ellis New Cities now leading Cannon Design’s urban planning and city design practice, Cannon Design can further advance their standing as a leading global firm and together create successful cities.


Jaypee Sports City


Currently Peter Ellis New Cities has been working on Jaypee Sports City, located in New Delhi, India.  This city commissioned by Jaypee Group, one of the largest companies in India, is planned for a million people and will spread across 5,000 acres. The vision for this city is to create a continuous and coexisting green system.  This is achieved with the incorporation of sustainable aspects such as local neighborhood sewage systems, conversions of sewage to methane gas, and manmade monsoon lakes which together can help save up to 50% more water and 20% more electricity. 


Lake District Tea Pavilion


A large park also spans across the entire city, connecting local areas and offer an efficient way to collect storm water.  Bike paths as well as a bus system, running only within the park, provide public transportation and reduce the amount of pollution and traffic on city streets.  An advanced subway systems is also developed for the city to encourage public transport.  Mixed use buildings ranging in height fill the remainder of the city, with the majority standing 6-8 stories high.  To keep people cool from the hot India weather, streets and parks are aligned with wind directions to achieve cool air flow and direct sunlight is made sure to never hit glass on any buildings.  Construction on this city has already begun and is set to be completed within the next 15-30 years.


In addition to the Jaypee Sports City, Cannon Design has recently been commissioned by the Mongolian government to design a new university fit to inhabitant around 100,000 students. With cold winters and large affects from climate change in Mongolia, there are many factors to take into consideration for this design.  Aside from projects overseas, Cannon Design with Peter Ellis New Cities also has high hopes for refreshing American cities.  However, unlike Jaypee Sports City that started from scratch, American cities are already built making it difficult to integrate new systems to better the city and its resources. 


Villa Residential District


However, difficult isn’t impossible and cities such as Chicago, at around 100 years old, are still young and have room to grow. Chicago, being one of the greatest planned cities, has high potential for growth and already with great pieces such as the great lake and boulevard just needs stitching together.  Other aspects such as the Chicago water and public transportation systems can also use improvement.


All and all, with this recent collaboration it is an exciting time for Cannon Design as they take on this new challenge of city design.  With the firm’s dedication to leading the design industry in creating environments that enhance human culture and quality of life  and preserve the environment, many successful cities in America as well as overseas can be anticipated to come.








On June 22, 2012 a crowd of design professionals and academics gathered at the Chicago Architecture Foundation for the opening of its newest exhibit, Unseen City: Design for a Future in Chicago.  Exploring the future possibilities of Chicago, this exhibit features four projects, “Hi-Rise, Lo-Carb”, “Garfield Boulevard: Completely Stripped Naked, Dirty, and Wet”, “Envision Cermark”, and “Visionary Chicago”.  Two of the four projects feature the works of local architecture students at the IIT College of Architecture.  Inspired by Smith + Gill’s Chicago DeCarbonization Plan, to dramatically lower Chicago’s carbon emissions by 2030,  the “Hi-Rise, Lo-Carb” project challenges students to create sustainable designs that redefine skyscrapers of today.  

Twelve students with the guidance of their professor Anthony Wood along with assistance from his colleagues from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat and Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture developed six visionary proposals.  Also completed by IIT students is the “Garfield Boulevard: Completely Stripped Naked, Dirty, and Wet” project.  Led by Professor Marshall Brown this project looks to restore Garfield Boulevard, a historic landscape in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood, from its current disrepair to its original role as a civic space. 

This exhibit not only introduces innovative concepts and possibilities for the future of Chicago but also, with the help of Chicago professional, reveals the fresh talent entering the field.  This exhibit is open to the public daily from 9:00 am- 5:00 pm and is located in the lobby of the Santa Fe Building, located at 224 S. Michigan Avenue.




Tribune photo by Nancy Stone




CHICAGO, June 13—Dramatic towers in Canada, Qatar, Australia and Italy have been named the best tall buildings in the world for 2012 by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the international not-for-profit association.


The four regional winners include the Absolute Towers in Mississauga, Canada (Americas); 1 Bligh Street, Sydney (Asia and Australia); Palazzo Lombardia, Milan (Europe); and Doha Tower/BurjQatar, Doha (Middle East and Africa).


The Al Bahar Towers in Abu Dhabi won the CTBUH’s first Innovation Award for the project’s computer-controlled sun-screen.

In addition to ground-breaking designs, this year’s award winners demonstrate the continued renaissance of tall building development around the world. Palazzo Lombardia is the first tall building in Italy to earn CTBUH recognition and 1 Bligh is the first building in Australia honored.


A record number of towers of height greater than 200 meters were completed in 2011--88 compared to 32 in 2005, according to CTBUH data. Another 96 are projected to complete this year, with China the biggest builder. 


“The winners display remarkable creativity, as well as a respect for the environment, connection with place, and the urban surroundings,” said Richard Cook, awards committee chairman and founding partner of Cook+Fox Architects.


An overall winner for the “Best Tall Building Worldwide” will be named at the CTBUH 11th Annual Awards Ceremony and Dinner at the Illinois Institute of Technology, October 18, in the iconic Crown Hall, designed by Mies van der Rohe.


The CTBUH Best Tall Building Awards are an independent review of new projects, judged by a panel of industry executives. Projects are recognized for making an extraordinary contribution to the advancement of tall buildings and the urban environment, and for achieving sustainability at the broadest level.


This year the CTBUH Board of Trustees also awarded the Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award to Helmut Jahn, the architect known for his simple and elegant designs.


Past winners of the Lynn S. Beedle Award, named after the founder of the CTBUH, include Lord Norman Foster, Cesar Pelli, William Pedersen and the 2011 winner, Adrian Smith of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.


The Fazlur R. Khan Lifetime Achievement Medal went to Charles Thornton & Richard Tomasetti, founders of Thornton & Tomasetti, the structural engineers who helped design many of the most innovative and advanced tall buildings around the world.


The recognition of Mr. Thornton and Mr. Tomasetti represents the first time the panel has awarded the prize to two people. “Charlie and Richard are one of the industry’s enduring great partnerships in structural engineering, reminding us that no building is about one single person,” said Timothy Johnson, Chairman of the CTBUH and a Principal at NBBJ Architects.


The Council received 78 entries from around the world for the Best Tall Building awards. The majority of the entries were from Asia, followed by the Middle East. The number of entries from the Americas continued to decline, reflecting the impact of the recent global recession.


Winners and finalists are featured in the annual CTBUH Awards Book, which is published in conjunction with a major global publisher and distributed internationally each year.






Reference article from Chicago Journal online edition
The purpose of the trio design, he said, was to intended to avoid “having a big podium at the bottom” — a characteristic that Kennedy saw as perhaps a bit too common in the tradition of modern Chicago architecture. “While it can create enormous ...





William Zbaren for The New York Times


The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency has begun $3.5 million in work

on the long-vacant Hotel Florence in Chicago's Pullman neighborhood

CHICAGO—Pullman, which was built over a four-year period starting in 1880, was one of the first built-from-scratch industrial cities in America. But the town’s fate was sealed just a few years later by the recession of 1894. Now, a series of projects and initiatives by various state agencies and nonprofit groups is raising hopes that the neighborhood may be on the brink of a revival. The largest project is Pullman Park, a $350 million mixed-use development on the site of an old steel plant. Full story at the








(CHICAGO, April 2012) Just in time for baseball’s opening day on April 5, 2012, the Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) partners with the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox to encourage fans to “Root, root, root” for the home teams in Chicago’s Loop—with State Street serving as a home base for fans regardless of which team they’re rooting for. Throughout the month of April, each side of State Street from Wacker Drive to Congress Parkway will be decked out in team colors, including signage and season schedules for the respective teams. Pedestrians can also star in their very own “trading cards,” snapping photos in front of iconic scenes from Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field featured on the State Street CTA subway entrances between Madison and Washington Streets.

The sounds of baseball will also fill the Loop, as CLA’s unique year-round light and sound installation Lightscape: a Multisensory Experience on State Street celebrates the great traditions of America’s pastime by featuring iconic baseball anthems, including “Say Hay (The Willie Mays Song)” by The Treniers, “Centerfield” by John Fogerty, “We Will Rock You” by Queen and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Fans will also enjoy familiar sounds of the season: the crack of bats, ballpark organ music, announcers’ excited voices and the roar of stadium crowds.

“Whether you’re a North-sider or South-sider, the Loop is the center of cross-town rivalries and friendships this spring,” says CLA Executive Director Ty Tabing. “We’re thrilled to partner with the Cubs and White Sox to celebrate the beginning of baseball season and invite those who visit and live in Chicago to come downtown and root for the home teams!”

Commissioned by CLA and unveiled this past November, Lightscape: a Multisensory Experience on State Street is comprised of a dozen “prairie grass” landscapes of varying heights up to 9-feet-tall, “planted” along sidewalks on State Street from Lake to Van Buren Streets. The decorative clusters feature 50-100 energy-efficient LED lights each, along with embedded speakers which broadcast musical selections and special announcements, as the lights change patterns in synchronization with songs. CLA’s continued plans for Lightscape include updates to enhance visitors’ physical experience, generate public attention and engagement and provide a platform for creative partnerships with Chicago businesses and cultural organizations. Lightscape is funded by State Street property owners.

A select playlist of the baseball anthems featured in Lightscape is available at






James Corner Field Operations design concept for Navy Pier


CHICAGO—The Navy Pier Inc. (NPI) Board today announced that design firm James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) has been selected to help reimagine Navy Pier’s public spaces, an effort designated as “Pierscape.” The decision was made at a special public meeting of the NPI board, confirming the recommendation by the Board’s Strategic Planning Committee.

Corner and his team were among the five finalists in Navy Pier’s search for a Pierscape design team that began six-months ago with 52 submissions from around the globe to redesign the Pier’s public spaces.

“Public spaces do not only help define a city – they are the heart and soul of a city. We have a remarkable opportunity to make Navy Pier one of those unique public spaces,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Having an internationally renowned design firm like James Corner Field Operations working with one of our city’s greatest icons demonstrates that Chicago has the energy and vision to continue to lead on the world stage.”

The Pierscape portion of the Centennial Vision plan calls for reimagining the Pier’s public spaces including Gateway Park at the west entrance of the Pier, Crystal Garden, Pier Park, East End Park, the South Dock as well as the smaller public spaces tat dot the length of the Pier. This work will include enhancements to the Pier’s landscaping and streetscape along with the addition of water features, public art and lighting.

“More families visit Navy Pier every year than any other site in Illinois, and, for many, it is one of their first impressions of our state,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “We have a responsibility to make Navy Pier a modern, appealing and sustainable attraction that takes advantage of one of our state’s most valuable natural resources  - Lake Michigan. When they visit, they should see a vision that highlights the best Illinois has to offer and the best yet to come.”

The next step in the process will be for Navy Pier and JCFO to begin putting more definition around the project. The Board emphasized that JCFO’s vision will inform and guide the Pierscape redesign, but were quick to point out that the final design will reflect other factors including practicality, functionality, collaboration with the NPI board, and available capital.

“This was not an easy decision. But we are confident that by selecting James Corner and his team, we have selected the design team who best represents the goals set forth in the Centennial Vision and will transform Navy Pier into a truly unique destination,” said Sarah Garvey, chair of the NPI board.

Garvey went on to praise all the design teams for their efforts. “While we selected only one team, we are thrilled with what all of the teams added to the process. Each of the five finalists demonstrated a superior command of their field and a level of creativity and imagination that will, undoubtedly, contribute to transforming Navy Pier into a world-class venue. We are grateful for their time, effort and dedication to this project.”

While there are many factors that went into the Board’s decision, Garvey highlighted a few elements in JCFO’s presentation that stood out among board members:

an interesting and appropriate balance between creativity and practicality;

 •  a thorough understanding of the complexity of Navy Pier;

 •  relevant experience with several successful high profile, large-scale and complex     projects; and

 •  a strong sense of flexibility and collaboration.

Environmental sustainability, a theme highlighted in all the competing teams concepts, is also critical to the mission and will be a key factor in JCFO’s ultimate design.

James Corner Field Operations, led by Founder James Corner, is an award-winning landscape architecture and urban design firm that has gained international recognition for projects including New York City’s Highline, where the firm turned a 1.45-mile stretch of an abandoned railway viaduct into a public park. The project spanned six years and was completed in two separate stages. Now, it draws millions of visitors each year and has become a prominent gathering place for New Yorkers and tourists alike. It has also been credited for attracting in billions of dollars in private investment that led to an influx of economic activity including jobs, restaurants and retail.

The Board also cited JCFO’s ongoing work on the Seattle Central Waterfront, Santa Monica Civic Center Parks, and its recent selection to design Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London as further evidence of the firm’s ability to transform large public spaces into civic centerpieces for major urban cities.

“This is our State’s top tourist attraction. Millions of Chicagoans and tourists visit this site annually and as Pierscape evolves, that number will grow. A project of this prestige, magnitude and visibility is rare, and we hope that people will want to participate in a significant way that enhances Chicago’s civic and cultural infrastructure,” concluded Gardner.

~ ~ ~

 Background on the Pierscape and The Centennial Vision

The Pierscape redevelopment project is an important component of the Centennial Vision, which seeks to make Navy Pier a truly iconic and world-class destination as it approaches its 100th anniversary in 2016. The plan aims to broaden the Pier’s success as Illinois’ most popular tourist destination by maintaining its family appeal while drawing more adults and year-round visitors with more dining and entertainment options.

The Pierscape portion of this plan includes redesigning the Pier’s public spaces including Gateway Park at the west entrance of the Pier, Crystal Garden, Pier Park, East End Park, the South Dock as well as the smaller public spaces that do the length of the Pier. This work will include enhancements to the Pier’s landscaping and streetscape along with the addition of water features, public art and lighting.

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Crowd of onlookers at the Museum of Contemporary Art

Paul Kulon | Special Assignment | Feb 6, 3012 | CHICAGO­ – The Navy Pier Redesign Competition brought plenty of excitement to the Museum of Contemporary Art on Tuesday night, the first of two evenings of presentations by the design teams articulating new visions for the tourist favorite local landmark. The public was able to inspect models of the proposals and glance at television screens flashing renderings. As the start of the program approached, the 300-seat theater was at capacity, and even the overflow room was overflowing. The strong public interest illustrates Chicago’s love of visionary design and Navy Pier’s ability to generate publicity for the project.

Despite coming for different corners of the globe and representing various styles, the design teams shared two central principles in approaching the Navy Pier project. First, they wanted to continue Daniel Burnham’s legacy of “making no small plans.” Navy Pier’s massive scale, prominent location, popularity, and rich history demand a transformation into a world class, iconic civic landmark. In response, the presentations indulged in practical possibilities, creative imagination and outright fantasy. Second, all of the designs transformed Navy Pier into a “pierscape” with diverse activities to engage and attract the public and efforts to lengthen the pier experience.

Although each plan is very different, they shared similar design elements:

     A re-design of Gateway Park for greater integration into the urban fabric.

     Establishing a relationship with the lake’s ecology, bringing people closer to the water and a broad greening of the pier with gardens and vegetation.

     Expansion of children and family actives.

     Realignment of the boat moorings to no longer obstruct views of the city skyline.

     The creation of a climax at the pier eastern edge.


The goal of the design competition is to transform Navy Pier from a rather dull commercial and recreational space into a true civic monument. As such, the central element of the design plans was the creation of a civic space.

The first team to present was Aedas Architects/Davis Brody Bond/Martha Schwartz Partners. Their plan showcased a series of floating, zigzagging piers extending out into the lake. Different piers would have different activities and be largely free of commercial pressures. They would stand as a grand public space.

The next team, AECOM/BIG with Danish starchitect Bjarke Ingels, presented the highlight of the evening: a grand staircase-like half amphitheater facing the Ferris wheel which would be festooned with LED lights. The staircase and Ferris wheel would frame a civic space for public events. The AECOM/BIG team even envisioned a mobile phone app that could personalize your pier experience.

The final team, !melk/HOK/UrbanLab, had the most restrained design, which failed to inspire. The boldest feature was a structure out in the water at the eastern most edge of the pier, suggesting a glacier that would shower water in the summer and freeze over in the winter.

All of the designs as presented would seem to cost significantly more than Navy Pier’s $85 million budget. Unless more money is raised, there is a risk of a scaled back design and disappointment. However, Tuesday night at the MCA was less about reality as it was about vision. The competition is intended to select a design team and their theme, not necessarily the actual finished design.

If built, the project is not scheduled to be completed until 2016, and will no doubt encounter hurdles and drama. For the moment however, let us indulge these international architects and their plans to make Navy Pier truly world class.


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Renderings by GBBN Architects



Paul Kulon | Feature Writer | January 24, 2012 – Chicago, IL  - Don’t let the hole in the ground fool you. A real drama is underway at the corner of Racine and Fullerton. Six months after groundbreaking, the opening act of DePaul’s new Theater Building is well underway. Heavy machinery guided by men with orange vests move the earth, pour concrete and lay pipes as they transform a parking lot into a modern arts facility.

The architect of this play is Cesar Pelli, former dean of Yale architecture with a portfolio full of notable international projects. DePaul has made an unusual move selecting someone as creative as Pelli for the commission. When a ripe opportunity for architectural expression like the Art Museum is used to build another conservative, uninspired building, expectations are modest. Yet even DePaul is realizing that to be attractive to prospective students, it needs compelling architecture.

With a spectrum of space from a 250 seat theater to an intimate design studio, the modern facility is sure to energize DePaul’s theater and music programs, which have been outperforming their dated buildings for years. DePaul and Pelli have emphasized the design’s integration into its environment, with plenty of glass for transparency, allowing the passerby to get a glimpse of artistic production. The campus and the Lincoln Park neighborhood will be benefited by the creative work that will transpire inside these walls.

Unfortunately, the design of the exterior leaves something to be desired. Although the building plays with cantilevered planes and geometric shapes, it is all rather subdued. The building appears heavy and stocky with the risk of being overshadowed by the adjacent Loft Right. A major focal point in the renderings is an illuminated glass façade on Fullerton Ave, but will this element be largely irrelevant during the day? Finally, the tasteless electronic news ticker above the corner entrance, can cheapen the integrity of the project associated with conservatory arts.

A lot remains to be seen before the construction workers are replaced with actors. The new Theater School is not set to open until March 2013.





Six homeowners win a cash prize for home projects that serve as models

December 11, 2011 – Chicago, IL  - (Press Release) An eco-friendly chicken coop.  Do-it-yourself kitchen renovations.  A full-basement rehabilitation.  Restored original wood trim.  The Historic Chicago Bungalow Association’s (HCBA) 7th Annual Richard H. Driehaus Bungalow Awards saw an unprecedented number of creative and inspiring projects, but six stood out among the rest as models for adapting and preserving Chicago bungalows.  Five judges comprised of preservation, community development and energy efficiency experts selected the following winners:

  • Exterior Rehabilitation: Craig Williams
  • Green Project: Sid Overbey
  • Interior Rehabilitation: Peggy Bradley
  • Interior Restoration: Armrhad Johnson
  • Small Project: Ted Kiper
  • HCBA Staff Favorite: Beth Martin
The winners received a $1,000 cash prize, $50 gift certificate for a garden consultation from Prairie Godmothers and a handcrafted bronze plaque. The winner of “HCBC Staff Favorite” received a $500 cash prize and bronze plaque. 
Armrhad Johnson had never attempted a home restoration project before, but as a first-time-homebuyer of a historic Chicago bungalow, he wanted to restore the original wood trim and hardwood floors, update the electrical system and restore the original brick fireplace.  With a lot of do-it-yourself work, Johnson accurately recovered the original details of his historic Chicago bungalow.


Ted and Allison Kiper wanted to completely renovate their kitchen at a low cost.  Previous owners had left the space cluttered with non-cohesive wall paper, countertops and a poorly designed layout.  The Kipers removed the wall paper, repainted the cabinets, replaced the wood floors to match the rest of the house and installed granite countertops.  The “Small Project” cost less than $5,000 because of the Kiper’s extensive do-it-yourself work and creativity.
Craig and Mindy Williams’ front entry opened from the side of his historic bungalow, which was unwelcoming, small and confusing to visitors.  The created a new front entrance that matched the rest of their home while maintaining the historic integrity of the original structure.  The result was a welcoming front entrance that matched their home and their neighbors’. 


Sid Overbey’s winning Green Project is a model for using energy-efficient design to maximize use out of an unused, small backyard.  Overbey removed the cracked concrete patio and incorporated green elements, such as permeable stone pavers, solar lighting and a vegetable garden.
Peggy Bradley won the Interior Rehabilitation category by transforming her basement into an entertainment and living area while maintaining the exterior façade of her historic Chicago bungalow.  Bradley created a guest bedroom, bathroom, work room and living area with stained glass accents, hardwood trim and period furniture to replicate the feel of a bungalow.  A large casement window was built to bring in light and natural elements while opening the space.  Original materials were salvaged where possible.
Beth and Ken Martin are longtime bungalow owners and green enthusiasts.  They were named the HCBA Staff Favorite for constructing a chicken coop that catered to both the owners’ and the chickens’ needs.  The coop is made out of recycled and salvaged materials and features a vegetable garden on the roof, as well as ample storage space.  The chickens are fed organic food and their eggs are gifted to the Martins’ friends and family.  The Martins have been asked to reproduce their prototype for the Museum of Science and Industry’s Smart Home.


This year’s award winners submitted exemplary projects that can serve as models for other homeowners, and achieved an overall visual impression and creative design solution that was sympathetic to the historic integrity of the Chicago bungalow.
Pictures of winners and honorable mentions can be viewed here.
The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation benefits individuals and communities primarily by supporting the preservation and enhancement of the built and natural environments through historic preservation, encouragement of quality architectural and landscape design, and conserving open space. The Foundation also supports the performing and visual arts, investigative reporting and government accountability, and makes grants to organizations that provide opportunities for working families who remain poor.
Launched by Mayor Richard M. Daley in September of 2000, the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association is a nonprofit organization designed to foster an appreciation of the Chicago Bungalow as a distinctive housing type, encourage sympathetic and energy efficient rehabilitation of Chicago bungalows, and assist bungalow owners with adapting their homes to current needs, which in turn helps to strengthen Chicago bungalow neighborhoods.







December 7, 2011 – Chicago, IL  - (Press Release) The Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), with its culture of inter-practice innovation, design excellence and  commitment to the city where the firm was founded, has earned the 2011 Firm of the Year Award from the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Chicago chapter.  The award is the organization’s highest honor a firm can receive.  It recognizes outstanding achievements by a firm, excellence in the body of work produced by the firm, and the contribution made by the firm to the advancement of the architectural profession in the areas of design, research, planning, technology and architectural practice. 

The Firm Award Jury concisely summarized SOM Chicago’s qualifications in the following statement:

“Skidmore Owings & Merrill is the jury’s unanimous choice for AIA Chicago’s 2011 Firm of the Year.  It is evident in the submission that SOM has a distinct culture that is collaborative and team-oriented with a history of high aspirations for design excellence.  For the professional community, SOM’s innovation continues to impact and inform tall building design around the world, while it is also evident that SOM is an involved and active citizen of Chicago, reaching outside of itself to positively impact the community and its organizations.”

SOM Chicago will celebrate this honor with members of the design community at the AIA Chicago annual meeting and awards presentation on Friday, December 9, 2011 held at ReBuilding Exchange in Chicago. 





Lobby of Tribune Tower


L. Darrell Jones \\ Chicago Architecture Today \\ Oct 16, 2o11--The "Second City" has again pushed its way toward the front of the line of innovation. With the inaugural openhousechicago 2011 campaign, the city has flung open typically closed doors to the masses ala New York City. For 2 days, over 100 diverse sites of intrigue and interest will be made accessible to a curious and eager public through the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Chicagoans pride and appreciation for its architectural pedigree is well noted. Why we haven't been on the leading edge of this like NYC which has been at it for about 7 years is a mystery. The belief is here that an event such as this could rival even the popularity of the CAF's iconic architecture river cruise.

Of particular interest here were the opportunities to tour the Tribune and Lake Point Towers. Around 11am, lines of enthusiastic gawkers like myself began to form along the south-facing wall of Tribune Tower for a rare peek inside the seemingly fortress-like Neo-Gothic structure. Locals as well as tourists from around the country and around the world availed themselves of this unique experience. The tour did not disappoint. The space oozed of history and the docent guides which changed at various points along the walkthrough were well-informed and engaging. The tour path led into the lobby, back corridors and up to the boardroom and the  office of former editor and publisher Col. Robert R. McCormick.


Lake Point Tower Garden


The tour of Lake Point Tower was another site we were keenly anticipating checking out. Although we were treated to a tour of its magnificently designed garden and park space atop the garage deck, most of us were anticipating a trip to the top floors were the very expensive restaurant sits. Unfortunately, that was not apart of this tour and thus left that particular crowd a bit disappointed. Nevertheless, taking a quick overview of the selected sites which were offered to the public, the variety of skyscrapers, firms, schools, businesses and civic spaces represented an excellent variety for what was sure to turn out to be a great success. Kudos to each business which opened its private spaces to the public and to the Chicago Architecture Foundation for organizing and hosting such an unforgettable event!






Anthony Pagliuco on assignment \\ Chicago Architecture Today--Last week the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents, Soar, honored architect Lawrence O. Booth for his contribution to the community. Booth was named 2011’s Outstanding Architect. This year’s 6th annual ceremony was held at the historic Drake Hotel on Thursday, September 27th.


Booth was honored with the Vision Into Reality Award, and praised for his redesign of many local buildings, which involved reprogramming of either outdated or unnecessary functions, and his design of original buildings as well. The award was inspired by Daniel H. Burnham, whose vision changed Chicago, making the city what it is today. With this award, Soar honors architects whose impact on Chicago will most likely be felt by future generations to come.


Booth has been practicing architecture for over 40 years, and has received numerous awards, including over 30 regional Honor Awards from AIA. The Blueprints ceremony hosted various models of Booth Hansen’s work and honored Streeterville projects that were designed by the firm including 850 Lake Shore Drive, the Palmolive Building, East Water Tower Place and the Esquire Theater. Booth received an honorable mention for his Palmolive Building condominium conversion, and 850 Lake Shore Drive.


850 Lake Shore Drive was once home to the Lake Shore Athletic Club. However, Booth Hansen and Integrated Development Group will be repurposing its interior to accommodate a community for independent seniors. The building holds historical significance as being the previous home to the Lake Shore Athletic Club, and more prominently as being Jarvis Hunt’s Beaux Arts architectural achievement. Booth Hansen will be preserving the exterior while enlivening the interior.


“The residents of Streeterville take great pride in the architecture that surrounds us. SOAR welcomes well designed new buildings, but also recognizes that many older existing buildings can live new lives with intelligent re-purposing.  This award is one way of letting individuals, such as Larry Booth, know how their work positively impacts the lives of Chicagoans” said Brian Hopkins, President of SOAR. “The BLUEPRINTs event allows us to bring together residents, business leaders, and development teams to celebrate all that our world-class neighborhood has to offer.”


In addition to giving out the award, presenting Lawrence Booth’s models, and serving an outstanding dinner, Soar also auctioned off several items to raise money for their organization, which is aimed at keeping Streeterville a neighborhood. The items included Hotel stays, theater tickets and shopping sprees, juried artisan jewelry, paintings and photographs, fine wine and spirits and dinners at over 20 downtown restaurants. Non-profit organizations like Soar and architects like Lawrence Booth help preserve the historical value of Chicago, and help create the atmosphere that is known and cherished from around the world.






CHICAGO – The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and Navy Pier, Inc. today unveiled a new redevelopment framework that reimagines the Pier as a world-class attraction with dramatic, engaging public spaces and expanded entertainment, dining and retail options to draw more year-round and adult visitors.


The planning framework also anticipates potential expansion of two major institutions, Chicago Children’s Museum and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. While plans are not final, possible Pier locations for the expansions are under discussion.


Other elements include a boutique hotel at the Pier’s east end to capitalize on the captivating view of the Chicago skyline and renovation of the interior of the Family Pavilion with a focus on authentic Chicago retailers.


The Centennial Vision: A Framework for Reimagining Navy Pier aims to build on the Pier’s success to assure its continued growth in coming years. A key goal is to maintain the Pier’s family appeal while drawing more adults and year-round visitors with upscale dining and entertainment options and more aesthetically appealing public spaces that take full advantage of the Pier’s unique setting.


The document, intended to guide the Pier’s redevelopment as it approaches its 100th anniversary in 2016, was to be approved by joint resolution of the MPEA and Navy Pier boards.


The action came as Navy Pier management transitioned from MPEA to Navy Pier, Inc. (NPI), a new not-for-profit board of civic leaders. The July 1 turnover was set last January when the new Pier governance structure was established as an outgrowth of landmark MPEA reforms enacted by the Illinois General Assembly last year.


“The Centennial Vision reflects our belief that we can create a popular attraction that is also a high-quality attraction, such as Millennium Park,” said Sarah Nava Garvey, newly elected by the NPI Board to serve as its first Chair. “This framework for redevelopment builds on the Pier’s success while recognizing that it must also improve to become a world-class attraction befitting a world-class city.”


NPI is working closely with Chicago Children’s Museum and Chicago Shakespeare Theater on potential locations for their anticipated expansions, said Garvey, who is also on the Interim MPEA Board and chairs the Shedd Aquarium board.


“These two major Chicago institutions would contribute significantly to the future of Navy Pier, drawing diverse visitors from far and wide. Their expanded presence would reinforce the quality of our attractions and increase year-round attendance,” said Garvey.


Navy Pier General Manager Marilynn Gardner announced that NPI will soon invite design teams made up of the world’s leading architects, landscape architects and urban designers to submit creative ideas for the Pier’s public areas or “Pierscape.” The search will culminate with the selection of a design team in six months, she said.


“Inviting and intriguing public spaces also are essential to Navy Pier’s future success by capitalizing on its dramatic vantage point, where visitors can engage land, air and water,” Gardner said.


Public spaces include Gateway Park, Crystal Garden, Pier Park, the South Dock and East End Park – along with smaller areas tucked along the length of the Pier. Recreating the “Pierscape” would include changes to the landscape and streetscape, introduction of public art and water features, and relighting the Pier’s exterior. Special emphasis will be put on environmentally sustainable solutions in reprogramming and redesigning public spaces.


The Pier will continue to solicit public input on the vision and refine the planning framework even as it launches the international search for a team of designers and urban planners. Public input will be solicited on, through social media channels, at a kiosk in the Family Pavilion and at briefings for civic and community groups.


The revitalized Navy Pier will be authentically Chicago and appeal to regional, national and international visitors, said MPEA Trustee Jim Reilly.


“Navy Pier is not a theme park. But it does have a theme: It is a real place, in a central part of a very real city,” said Reilly. “Chicago can accurately be described as The Great American City, with its rich mixture of world-class amenities and institutions, diverse neighborhoods and authentic character.”


In addition to expanding the audience, other key objectives of the planning framework are better organization of the Pier’s attractions to create a more cohesive visitor experience, and improved traffic flow and vehicle-pedestrian interface at the entrance to the Pier. Navy Pier is currently working with traffic consultants to evaluate options for reconfiguring traffic patterns approaching the Pier.


The Centennial Vision recognizes the constraints of a changed economy by establishing a framework for redevelopment that can be implemented in phases as resources become available, Reilly said.


The projected cost for the public elements is $155 million, although that likely will change as detailed planning and implementation move forward, Reilly said. Public elements include deferred maintenance, Family Pavilion remodeling and enhancement of the Pierscape. The estimated $155 million does not take into account private investment by partner cultural institutions or commercial partners.


It is anticipated that NPI will provide some investment for these facilities from a pool of MPEA seed funding estimated at approximately $50 million. The Pier also will pursue additional revenue sources for redevelopment of public components, such as naming rights, philanthropy and surplus cash flow from operations.


As the redevelopment moves forward, it will stimulate the economy by creating hundreds of jobs in the construction industry, new permanent fulltime jobs at expanded attractions and increased visitor spending, Reilly noted.


With today’s approval of the planning framework, Navy Pier has come a long way in a short period of time and is on the brink of finally turning ideas for its future into action, observed MPEA Interim Board Chair David Mosena, president of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.


“There have been several well-intentioned plans in recent years for the future of Navy Pier. But with new governance and a new spirit of commitment by civic leaders focused solely on the Pier, we have developed a visionary yet practical planning framework. We are dedicated to seeing it through, ” Mosena said.


Last fall, MPEA released an Urban Land Institute study offering a critique of the Pier and suggesting ways to improve it – a report whose findings echo throughout The Centennial Vision. Early this year, the new Navy Pier Board was created to give the Pier its own advocate so that it would not be overshadowed by McCormick Place, the other public asset owned by MPEA.


Navy Pier is Illinois’ most popular attraction, attracting close to 9 million visitors in 2010.

Press Release







(PressZoom) - CHICAGO – The Theatre School at DePaul will break ground June 1 for a new home – a 165,000 square-foot multipurpose facility designed by internationally renowned architectural firm Pelli Clarke Pelli.

Founded in 1977 and led by Cesar Pelli, Fred Clarke, and Rafael Pelli, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects has designed some of the world’s most recognizable buildings, including the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, the World Financial Center in New York and the International Finance Centre in Hong Kong. The firm has a strong portfolio of performing arts centers affiliated with universities, including those at Vassar College, Grinnell College and the University of Minnesota. Pelli Clarke Pelli was one of seven firms asked to submit designs for the building.

As yet unnamed and with a tentative price tag of $69 million, the airy, five-story building is designed to showcase the varied and dynamic activities that characterize the school, its students and faculty. It will house a 250-seat theatre, a flexible 100-seat black-box theatre as well as administrative and faculty offices, classrooms, rehearsal spaces, design studios, workshops and the school’s script library. The flexible theatre will be named for longtime DePaul supporters Sondra Healy (a 1964 alumna of the Goodman School) and her husband, Denis.

The structure will be located on the southwest corner of West Fullerton and North Racine avenues and serve as the western gateway to the university’s Lincoln Park Campus.

DePaul announced its intention to build a new Theatre School facility – as well as new and renovated facilities for its School of Music – in fall 2009. Funds for the buildings’ construction will be raised in part through the Many Dreams, One Mission Campaign for DePaul University, a $250 million effort which was announced in spring 2010.

“These facilities represent history in the making,” said DePaul’s president, the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M. “For the first time, The Theatre School and the School of Music will be housed in facilities that are specifically designed to serve the work and artistry of our students, faculty and staff.”

DePaul’s theatre and music schools both are ranked among the country’s top conservatory-style programs in their respective disciplines, despite having been housed in inadequate facilities for decades.

According to John Culbert, dean of The Theatre School at DePaul University, the new facilities were specifically designed to support, engage and share the work of theatre artists with the DePaul community, the Lincoln Park community and the city of Chicago.

“The people in our audiences are not just spectators,” he said. “They become part of the training process for actors, designers, stage managers, directors – everyone who is part the performance.” He adds that the idea of engaging the audience in such a way is facilitated by the building’s design.

“The Pelli concept takes a very sophisticated approach to organizing the pieces of the building so that it engages and energizes the entire Theatre School community,” Culbert explains. “When you attend a performance at the new building, you won’t just step off the street into the theatre. You will actually journey through the school, see its inner workings, be immersed in an experience not available anywhere else in Chicago.

Many of those inner workings will be visible from the street too, he continues, noting that pedestrians will have clear views into the scene-building, painting and other usually “behind-the-scenes” workshops that make every theatrical performance tick.

The Theatre School stages 10 productions of contemporary and classic works each year – at little or no cost to the public – at various venues. The school’s Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences Series also presents three unique productions each season to more than 30,000 theatre lovers of all ages at DePaul’s historic Merle Reskin Theatre in the South Loop. Additional performances occur throughout the season at various levels of production, housed in The Theatre School’s current facilities in Lincoln Park. (The new Pelli-designed theatre building’s Merle and Harold Reskin Lobby is named for the longtime Theatre School supporter and her late husband.)

DePaul’s new music school complex will be constructed along the west side of North Halsted Street between Fullerton and Belden avenues. A new Music Center building will anchor the complex, housing the 550-seat William E. Hay and Mary Pat Gannon Hay Concert Hall, a large 150-seat recital hall and a smaller 80-seat recital hall. The current music administration building will be substantially renovated and will continue to serve as the school’s administrative hub, housing offices, classrooms and teaching studios on its existing three levels. The chapel, currently used as the concert hall, will be substantially renovated to accommodate an opera hall.







CHICAGO --Feb 23, 2011--L. Darrell Jones :: With the recent announcement of Borders filing for bankruptcy and subsequent closing of 30 Chicago-area locations, I must confess a feeling of loss. Its not that i can't find the books I want. Everyone knows that anything they want can be found and purchased cheaper online (which by the way was part of Borders problem). Although its a lot less interesting and fun trying to browse a magazine or book online rather than thumbing through something in hand. Additionally, its not the architecture particularly which will be missed as the majority of Borders' buildings were not remarkable in design to say the least.

No, what will really be missed and become a detriment to parts of our urban neighborhoods is the community gathering place which it had become. With its coffee shop areas, a typical scene would have a diverse cross-section of students, shoppers, indigents, and business-types crowded together reading, conversating or engaged in a meeting of some sort.  Sure, the seemingly myriad of Starbucks is serving the function, but those are typically smaller venues.

Borders succumbing to the realities of the digital age and their own ill-preparedness for it has contributed to the removal of yet more vibrant public social setting within the urban environment. Added to the shuttering of record stores, video stores and even gaming places like Chicago's former ESPN Zone, more people are opting for at-home social and shopping activities drying up a bit more of the public gathering spaces.

I am not oblivious to the fact that bars, clubs, parks, entertainment and of course brick-and-mortar shopping is arguably thriving. Yet, the loss of these traditional places of casual public commerce represents kind of a slow leak which I hope one day not only gets plugged but maybe even reversed.    







L Darrell Jones (Chicago, IL) Almost every fan of Major League Baseball is familiar with the phrase "hot stove" league. This is a moniker used to designate the winter off-season activity of player movement and team restructuring. News about plans which which will take place during seasons of much nicer weather help to take the edge off of the harsh realities of our current predicament. 


Comparatively, Chicago's winter months presents a continual challenge to locals and tourists alike to be out and about taking in the architectural fare. The cold can make cowards of even the most fearless among us. However, all is not lost. Like the so-called "hot stove" league, the local architectural discussion encompassing exciting proposals, plans and projects have been helpful in directing our thoughts forward.


First among these are a few ongoing projects of note. The redevelopment and reconstruction of Wacker Drive and Congress Pkwy will be a welcome solution to the pedestrian nightmare that has characterized that stretch of roadway for years. Within close proximity to this project is the Roosevelt University Building modernist skyscraper under construction at Van Buren and Wabash designed by VOA Associates. This looks to make a similar splash akin to Jeanne Gang's acclaimed Aqua Tower. Finally, in the area of ongoing work, the National Hellenic Museum designed by RTKL Associateswill anchor the southern end of Greektown upon completion.


Next up in the category of significant large-scale projects, there were a couple of design initiatives recently introduced to the public which have garnered much interest within the architectural community. The redevelopment of Northerly Island is a plan coming into focus which has long been anticipated - at least by our departing mayor. Gang Studio has produced a multi-phased project which will establish a more natural eco-system there. Additionally, plans call for unique public uses for newly-created water spaces and continued space for outdoor concerts.


Undaunted by the current recession, many universities have carried on prolific building campaigns. Among them is the University of Chicago which has a number of new building initiatives in the works sure to have a significant impact on the Hyde Park community upon completion.  Finally, the South Works project designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill on the far southeast side aims to extend the city's grid to form one of the largest new communities (50,000 residents) constructed here in decades and will also extend the lakefront - with all its amenities - to the south and east. Considerable cooking indeed to warm the thoughts toward Spring.








Jennifer K. Gorsche - The Architect's Newspaper (Chicago, IL) – The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is undertaking a yearlong project to reconstruct the Halsted Street Bridge over the Chicago River’s North Branch Canal. Long plagued by traffic congestion and dangerous pedestrian conditions, the two-lane crossing will be rebuilt to accommodate two lanes in each direction and dedicated bicycle lanes and sidewalks.


Built in 1909, the existing movable bridge hasn’t been raised in more than 25 years because large boats no longer navigate the canal. “The bridge is the earlier type of bascule bridge,” said Soliman Khudeira, project director for CDOT’s Division of Engineering, referring to its pivoting design. “It is what we classify as ‘functionally obsolete’ because it carries only one lane in each direction, and additional lanes in each direction are justified because of the traffic.”


The bridge has been closed since last month, when construction began on the new span, a simply supported tied-arch design that will widen the bridge’s deck from 60 to 80 feet, replacing the movable steel grating and truss with a new structural slab and built-up steel box-arch ribs, rib bracings, and structural strands. New reinforcement concrete abutments on steel piles will be built in the canal to support the main span.


“The advantage of a tied-arch bridge is that it allows the girders below the deck to be shallower,” said Khudeira. “In addition, any suspension or cable-stayed bridges add substantially to the aesthetic of the area.”


Designed by Chicago-based architecture firm Muller+Muller and infrastructure and engineering firm H.W. Lochner, the new crossing will dramatically improve conditions for bicyclists, who in the past have used sidewalks or shared driving space with cars. Painted bike lanes will connect with existing lanes to the north and south of the bridge, and sidewalks will be separated by a railing. The design looks ahead to the time when Chicago’s Riverwalk will continue to this portion of the canal, with two 34-foot-wide pedestrian tunnels on either side of the bridge. Though these will be closed upon completion, the city expects they will become part of a newly landscaped area in the coming years.


While similar projects have diverted traffic over a temporary structure parallel to the existing span, Halsted Bridge engineers were limited by Con Ed towers on one side and a FedEx center on the other. The construction will close Halsted from Division to Hooker Street and cars and trucks will be detoured—commercial vehicles to the west and all other traffic to the east—for the project’s duration, a plan that is already causing jams.


Nevertheless, the $27 million project points to progress on the Chicago riverfront. Khudeira’s office is already working on two future Division Street bridges that will complement the Halsted Street Bridge design, not to mention its function. “We think the area will improve dramatically, aesthetically,” he said

Story excerpt from the Architect's Newspaper








(Oak Park, IL) – The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust will establish a new facility with the lease of space in the ground-floor lobby of The Rookery—a National Historic Landmark located at 209 South LaSalle Street, in downtown Chicago. Slated to open in early December 2010, the Preservation Trust’s newest location will feature a public information center, as well as administrative offices for the not-for-profit’s development, membership, events, communications, and guest relations divisions. In early 2011, the Trust will offer free tours of The Rookery and open a “ShopWright” gift store.


The Rookery is an icon of architecture set in the heart of the Midwest’s central financial district. The structure is both quintessentially Chicago, and contains one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most dramatic and significant interior compositions. In 1905 Wright remodeled The Rookery—creating a stunning balance between Burnham and Root’s ironwork and ornamentation with his own Prairie style concepts.


“Expanding into this new facility is the fulfillment of a long-standing dream of our organization to increase regional visibility and leverage Chicago audience participation,” said Preservation Trust Board Chair, Jim Schiefelbein. “We’ve explored many possibilities for a strategic downtown presence over the past several years and when an opportunity at The Rookery opened up late this past spring, our Board voted unanimously to move forward. It’s a perfect fit for us.”


The Preservation Trust currently operates two historic house museums in the Chicago area—Wright’s Oak Park Home and Studio, and the Robie House on the campus of the University of Chicago in Hyde Park. The Rookery’s central location between these two sites will enable the Trust to better unify its organization and enhance operational effectiveness and efficiency, while alleviating severe staff overcrowding in Oak Park. In addition, the expansion will set the stage for improving the Trust’s guest relations, tours and amenities at both its Oak Park and Hyde Park facilities. 


The Rookery location itself also has an added benefit, as it will give the Trust the opportunity to present a third Wright site in Chicagoland, emphasizing an entirely different aspect of Wright’s legacy: his work on behalf of a business client.


Sponsors of the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust downtown location include Wege Foundation, Steelcase Inc., Sidley Foundation, and the Board of Directors of the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust. The Rookery ownership has graciously provided a unique opportunity for the Trust to occupy a space adjacent to Frank Lloyd Wright’s lobby in a Chicago landmark building.  






The memorial for architect Bruce Graham is introduced  


Hundreds Gather at Chicago's Art Institute to Honor a Local Legend

(CHICAGO) Damian Conrad-Davis - A “slam-dunk for architecture” is exactly what Bruce Graham was, according to ­­­­Sir Stuart Lipton (Chelsfield Partners, UK).  He was referring to Graham’s commonly used expression, “[that’s a] slam dunk” when he read Graham’s eulogy to a gathering of friends, family, co-workers and other members of the community at tribute held in his honor recently in Chicago. The SOM organized event took place at the Art Institute’s Rubloff Auditorium amidst recollections of Bruce and his noteworthy body of work.    Architect Bruce Graham died March 25, 2010 after suffering from Alzheimer’s.


The iconic John Hancock Center and the Sears (Willis) Tower are only two of the many artifacts that he left to us. In his journey to improve the human experience, he brought art into the public spaces of Chicago and left his fingerprints all over the world by transforming various cities in it.  It was his belief that “A beautiful building makes a man proud to be a man.”


After SOM Partner Richard F. Tomlinson II commenced the tribute to Bruce Graham’s life and his four decades of service to the firm, a video montage of a ceremony that took place earlier in the day was shown.  The video featured alderman Brendan Reilly who announced that a section of Chestnut Street along the Magnificent Mile, bordering the lot of the John Hancock Center, was dubbed Bruce Graham Honorary Way. He explained that this honor has only been bestowed to six people since he took office.


A retrospective video montage that highlighted Graham’s prolific career and memorable personality was shown, followed by a panel discussion that mimicked Bruce’s 5 o’clock nightly meetings at SOM.  In the discussion, men who worked with Bruce told stories and spoke to Bruce’s characteristics as an architect and friend/father.


Craig Hartman (SOM Partner) said he was a “very, very, extremely optimistic person” and he “cared about people.”   Sir Stuart Lipton characterized Bruce as “absolute know, absolute confidence.” Patrick G. Ryan (Ryan Specialty Group, Chairman & CEO) spoke with admiration, “often you see people with vision” [Bruce had] “the courage to execute on his vision” [and a] “willingness to take risks.”  George Graham, Bruce’s Son, was the last to speak. He thanked everyone for coming and for the tribute to his father.  He concluded the discussion by remarking that “[Bruce] would want everyone to move on and learn from his work.”  

A reception was held in the adjacent Stock Exchange Room where beautiful architecture hugged the congregation as they indulged in drink, food, conversation and memories of the man who said, “In the end, I’m a Chicago architect.” All who knew him would attest that he was that, and much more. 




Renovated Stage 773 lobby and performance space  





Noted Theatre Architect John Morris to Head Massive Renovation of

Belmont Avenue Theater Beginning in July 2011


(CHICAGO) Press Release - Stage773 Artistic Director Brian Posen unveiled plans for a massive renovation to the 33-year old and newly renamed Stage773 building, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., at Stage773’s Sunday, October 10 “10-10-10” benefit celebrating the May acquisition of the building and the upcoming 10th year of the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival (January 6-16). The $1 million renovation, helmed by Architect John Morris of Morris Architect Planners, transforms the exterior and interior of the building into a virtually new space that will be more accommodating for performers and audiences. The project will break ground July 2011 and promises to produce a state-of-the-art home for the numerous itinerant companies in Chicago as well as all of Stage773’s productions.

Posen spoke to a crowd of more than 200 Stage773 supporters at the celebration, saying, “The renovation brings new life to a space that has such an important place in the history of Chicago theater. We know that our audiences are going to be wowed by this new airy and modern theater. ” Posen continued, “The conversion of the West Theater into two new spaces will provide additional opportunities for itinerant companies, a boost in overall space usage and new funding sources for the building. We will continue to offer traditional theater and dance performances in the North and SouthTheaters, while hosting additional events, like improv, stand-up, cabaret, stage readings and sketch comedy, in the two new spaces.“

The renovation plans, currently on display in the theater lobby, include:Redesigning the Belmont Avenue façade;Increasing the amount of lobby light and opening the lobby to street side viewing with the addition of floor to ceiling windows along Belmont Avenue;Modernizing and doubling the number of lavatories;Completely overhauling the South Theater, including relocating the stage and seating to allow for easier load-in, better sound proofing and convenient audienceaccess.Transforming the West Theater into two new flexible spaces: a cabaret and a blackbox.

Stage773 Board Chair Laura Michaud expects the renovations to have a marked positive impact. “This will provide Chicago’s theater community with two new, state-of-the-art venues. The increase in performances and audiences that this renovation brings will also benefit businesses in our Lakeview neighborhood,” she said. Executive Director Megan Flanagan added, “For 33 years, this building has played a vital part in the history of Chicago Theater. Once the renovations are complete, Stage773 begins a new chapter in this history as a brand new building, inside and out. We will provide not only performance spaces but also a home that both audiences and artists will visit again and again for
high-quality entertainment of all kinds.”






Gang accepts Streeterville organization's Vision into Reality Award


Damian Conrad-Davis / CHICAGO (Sept 20, 2010) — The view was breathtaking, the wine was flowing and the live piano and sax provided the perfect mood as the sunset brought beautiful shades of red and orange upon the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center.  The occasion was the 5th annual Blueprints Celebration organized by SOAR (Streeterville Organization of Active Residents).  Every year this event is held to celebrate all that the Streeterville neighborhood has to offer.  This year’s event departed from its past home at the Museum of Contemporary Art and with the help of its primary sponsor, 850 Lake Shore Drive, relocated into the luxurious Signature Room.


As the 95th’s servers diligently offered skewered lamb and bruschetta, members of SOAR and its sponsors took time to study and bid on the many donated pieces of art and memorabilia in the silent auction. Notable among the goods were Chicago Blackhawk Marion Hossa’s autographed jersey and a photograph of the Aqua captured and signed by Chicago photographer Steve Hall. 


Aside from the view, music, auction and food, members of SOAR journeyed to the 95th floor to present awards to this year’s honorees.  Fourth Presbyterian Church was awarded the Pillars of Community Award for its “extensive service and outreach to the benefit of people in the Streeterville community for nearly a century”.  For her “contribution to both local and worldwide architecture,” Chicago Architect Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects was awarded the Vision into Reality Award.  Gang’s Aqua Tower won the prestigious international Emporis 2009 Skyscraper of the Year award and has gained her firm recognition and opportunities across the globe.


Gang graciously accepted the award, exclaiming, “I feel so lucky to receive this award” and stating, “it takes a huge team” [of which] “ I’m only one member” [to build a skyscraper].  She spoke briefly of the design of the tower and how it has gained her firm international recognition.  She says that her practice is going strong and has been asked to do projects in China, India and Canada.  Gang also briefly addressed recent and upcoming projects, which included the newly unveiled South Pond Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo and an upcoming revitalization of Northerly Island.  She concluded by thanking SOAR and fielding a couple questions before inviting the group to “go back to having a good time.”


The good times certainly continued as nightfall invited the city lights to sparkle around the guests of the 95th. The silent auction received its final bids and the wine, its last few sips. It was a successful and charming Blueprints Celebration indeed.









The 50,000 Square-Foot Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center

Will Be First Permanent Home in 34-Year History


CHICAGO (August 26, 2010) — The Black Ensemble Theater will mark the groundbreaking of its new $16 million performance arts and cultural facility, the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, at 4440 N. Clark Street, Sept. 10,  at 2 p.m.  The ceremony, which is open to the public, will feature performances from popular Black Ensemble productions and include remarks from founder and executive director Jackie Taylor. Invited guests include: Governor Pat Quinn, Mayor Richard M. Daley, and Alderman Eugene Schulter. Actor Harry Lennix will chair the ceremony.


“This is an exciting time in our history, as a new building will help to facilitate the resurgence of the theater as an authentic space where a great people can exist and thrive with autonomy while tearing down barriers and building bridges through storytelling,” Taylor said.  “Our Board of Directors and capital campaign committee have been diligent in raising more than 80 percent of the funds needed to build the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center and we look forward to working with our patrons, community leaders and supporters to secure the $3 million needed to complete this important project.”


Chicago native Taylor founded the Black Ensemble Theater in 1976 with a mission to eradicate racism, merging her roles as actress and educator to build awareness and foster greater understanding of the African-American contribution to the cultural fabric of American history through theater. This charge is realized through outstanding, award-winning productions that attract highly diverse racial audiences as well as effective educational outreach programming that reaches more than 10,000 youth each year. 


“For years, the Black Ensemble Theatre has provided artistic programming and educational outreach to help better the lives of African American Youth,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “The new Center will provide yet another source of activities – such as critical afterschool programs – to motivate children and teens in a positive direction.”


For the past 24 years, the Black Ensemble Theater has been headquartered in Chicago’s diverse Uptown community at the Uptown Center Hull House on North Beacon Street. As the theater thrived, receiving increased national acclaim and a growing fan base worldwide, a need for a stand-alone, singularly affiliated space emerged. At its new location, the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center will be positioned to accommodate larger-scale productions, bigger audiences and a wider range of programming, and it is expected to increase the economic growth of the community, attracting more businesses, patrons and institutions to the area. For more continue on to our Design News page under Commercial.  







Andrew Choi and L. Darrell Jones

Special Assignment

August 16, 2010

CHICAGO – What do you get when you combine a seasoned architect with an old friend of means looking to spare no expense for his dream single-family residence? Well, in the case of the contemporary residence at 1959 Howe Street designed for a former University of Illinois classmate and retired marketing giant Leo Burnett executive you get a quite a showstopper.


Amidst the traditional and contemporary-styled mansions of Lincoln Park, Chicago-based architect Thomas Hickey of Thomas Hickey & Associates has put his 45-year experience (including a 22-year association with Harry Weese) to work to push the extremes of creative expression. The result is a uniquely exceptional project which integrates a traditional façade which transitions via an open courtyard to a contemporary dwelling which only begins a discovery of spaces and geometric forms which are visual delights.    



In the design world today, it is a difficult task to find a structure that successfully mixes a historical style with today’s contemporary forms. However, at the Howe Street residence one will see just that. Architect Thomas Hickey in an effort to maintain a bit of the historical architectural character of the neighborhood was able to preserve the original 1890’s English workers cottage style by keeping the existing cottage façade and redesigning it as an entry courtyard, placing his latest contemporary expression behind it. Additionally, a residence on the lot north of the building was torn down in order to create a garden area that reflects a suburban-like front yard. The rear consists of garden space and garage/studio loft that utilizes skylights to maximize natural light. On the interior, Hickey surprises with a mix of materials from wood to glass to steel, a mix of geometry from trapezoids to curvular and a range of color which all lend toward a lively, playful environment



The Howe St. project is a three-story eco-friendly residence comprised of solar panels that heat the water and makes use of an elaborately designed skylight to trap heat and circulate warm air throughout the house in the winter. An atrium stair curves along the wall and a glass bridge allows light to penetrate through from the glass block and skylights above. As for the sense of space, it feels very spacious and free. Upper rooms have walls with square cut-outs, acting as interior windows to open towards the atrium for additional light, ventilation and views of the living area and kitchen. Several of these views result in a telescopic effect providing sightlines from one end of the house to the other. The master bedroom has a two-story high ceiling, a loft, and access to a solarium and the roof deck. The 10’ rooftop cube creates a chimney effect as an effective exhaust system and also allows one to feel and view outside even in nature’s un-permitting weather.



With such limited square footage to work with, Thomas Hickey was able to successfully open up the space to be comprised of everything a single family suburban home can offer and more. With killer views at the rooftop, along with its quiet, friendly neighborhood, there is nothing one can ask for more in the city. The only real challenge is for the residents to compliment this inviting space as they fill it up with personal expressions which make it their own. From all appearances, this seminal project is already well on its way to all-around impressiveness.







PRESS RELEASE // CHICAGO – Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music announces groundbreaking plans to expand its Lincoln Square “campus” with the construction of a new 27,100-square-foot building—its first new construction in a 53-year history—directly across the street from its current home at 4544 N. Lincoln Avenue, creating the School’s third facility in Chicago.  The site, where a former bakery stood vacant for over a decade, was purchased by the Old Town School in 2005. The new building will greatly increase the School’s ability to meet growing class size needs and community demand for expanded programming in the vein of its current offerings, which serve a broad range of ages, styles and talent levels in multi-cultural music and dance.  Ground will be broken on the $18 million project, which is designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification standards, in early August 2010.  The facility expects to open its doors in fall 2011, with a full program of classes, workshops and performances set to begin in January 2012.


The community is invited to celebrate the launch of the construction process at a special outdoor version of its popular First Friday open house event, to be held on the construction site of the new facility, Friday, August 6 from 6 – 8 p.m.  The free celebration will feature a group sing-along with the Old Town School’s guitar faculty, a Brazilian dance lesson, a jam for stringed instruments, and a drum circle.  


“This expansion project has been in the planning stages for five years now, and it’s exciting to see it reaching a point where ground will actually be broken.  The idea will start to become a solid reality,” said Bau Graves, Old Town School of Folk Music Executive Director.  “In the new facility we’ll be able to engineer it from the ground up—literally—to create a more conducive learning environment for everyone. In our state-of-the-art classrooms, the School’s loudest group classes, such as Irish step dancing, Japanese taiko drums and rock ensembles, will have a better suited setting.  Along with upgrades to existing facilities, our new Lincoln Square campus will ensure that acoustic instruments and vocal harmonies no longer have to compete with tap shoes overhead and booming bass sounds bleeding through the walls.”


Plans were undertaken by the School’s Board of Directors and an influential group of honorary civic and artistic leaders to develop a new space close to the main facility that will offer improved amenities and engage new communities with expanded programs.  Within five years of opening, the new facility aims to increase program access by 60%to serve an additional 4,800 students per week.  It will also allow the School to expand outreach programs to public schools and other community partners to serve more children who do not currently have access to quality arts programming.


The new facility is designed by Chicago-based architects VOA Associates Inc., active members of the U.S. Green Builders Council and the same firm whose cultural and educational credits include Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier’s Skyline Stage and the new Roosevelt University Academic, Student Life and Residence Tower.  The total budget for the new facility is $18 million, of which $7.4 million has already been raised from a range of individual and institutional donors. Nonprofit financing has been secured by First Midwest Bank through a tax-exempt bond to enable the project to get underway while fundraising efforts continue.  The general contractor for the new facility is Bulley & Andrews, LLC. The new facility is expected to meet Silver certification standards according to LEED criteria of sustainable design.







PRESS RELEASE // CHICAGO – Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has confirmed a $6 million capital grant to assist with the completion of a museum dedicated to the nation's television and radio history. The new Museum of Broadcast Communications in downtown Chicago is expected to attract more than 250,000 annual visitors from across the country when it is completed in late 2011.

"The tourism industry employs more than 300,000 people and contributes approximately $30 billion to the Illinois economy each year," said Governor Quinn. "Our investments in key cultural attractions like the state-of-the-art Museum of Broadcast Communications help ensure this industry can continue to create jobs and serve as a dynamic growth engine for our state."

The new 62,000-square-foot facility will be located in the heart of Chicago, at State and Kinzie Streets. The museum will be a model of energy-efficiency, built to a Gold LEED environmental standard. It will provide five times as much space as its former location in the Chicago Cultural Center. The MBC, which opened in 1987, will attract a wide range of audiences, allowing for an aggressive student tour program, expanded collections, increased exhibit galleries and working radio and television studios.

"The Museum of Broadcast Communications is grateful that Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly have recognized the important role television and radio plays in our society. This generous leadership grant is the first major state government commitment to broadcast history, since radio was introduced to America in 1920. This public leadership must now energize an even larger national groundswell of media industry support to ensure a truly world class museum," said Bruce DuMont, President & CEO of MBC.

Industry support from Disney Hand, the charitable arm of The Walt Disney Company, Viacom's TV Land, NBC News, Cox Communications, Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Springer, Betty White, radio icon Norman Pattiz and the late Paul and Angel Harvey preceded the massive Illinois state commitment.

The project is funded through Illinois Jobs Now!, a $31 billion capital plan that will revive the state's ailing economy by creating and retaining over 439,000 jobs over the next six years. The Illinois Department of Commerce Economic Opportunity will administer the project. The MBC project will employ 200 workers for 10-12 months during its construction phase. Additional details about the new museum can be found at







June 28, 2010, Chicago, IL – There has been a proposal for a 314-foot residential building tower, for the site of the Crowne Plaza parking lot at the southeast corner of Madison and Halsted streets in the West Loop. The Taxman Corporation’s Gateway development would comprise a 312-foot tower with 228 rental units and 205 hotel rooms, 100,000 square feet of retail space, and 678 garage parking spaces. The Gateway  is being designed by Antunovich Associates, architect for the recently completed Flair Tower apartments in River North.


But the question that arises with this building is: “How tall is too tall”? Many residents in the area oppose this building because they say it does not fit in with the rest of the neighborhood since all the rest of the buildings are usually mid-size warehouse condos. The opponents of the idea of this high-rise building say it violates the New West Side Plan which states, “New Buildings should not be higher than 25 percent of the average buildings on the surrounding blocks”.


After many community objections of the buildings, the developers decided to scale the high-rise down to 95 feet comparing it to the height of the Skybridge that is located around that neighborhood. If developers continue to build high rises in that area, the neighborhood will lose a community feel and it will lose the division that separates the community from the downtown area.  After speaking to the West Loop Community Organization, a member estimates that it will take at least five years or more if the project is approved but nowhere in the near future.


Contributors to this story:

Margaret Morun and Kyle Milburn






Press Release - Chicago, IL – At their recent Greenlight Gathering fundraising event, Bright Endeavors announced the merging of their “green” social enterprise operation with New Moms, Inc., a supportive housing program for youth since 1983. Both organizations work diligently to break the cycle of poverty for young women and their children. As Bright Endeavors and New Moms, Inc. join forces, more young women and their children will have a positive, safe environment to grow and prosper. Through their “New Moms Transformation Project,” the newly expanded organization will construct a new building on city-donated land located at 5327 W. Chicago Avenue within Austin’s 37th Ward community area, and slated for completion in August 2011.


Construction of the $10.7 million, 50,230 sq. ft. building, which stands on nine city lots, will mark the opening of the Chicago’s largest supportive housing center for young homeless women and their children. The building will be comprised of 30 studios, 10 one-bedroom units, program offices and a day care center. The facility will also include a community room, supportive service programs, administrative offices and a training space. This new development will be seeking LEED Silver certification, which focuses on increasing the efficiency of resource use.


The “New Moms Transformation Project” meets an urgent community need for permanent supportive housing for homeless teenage mothers with children, a critical component in Mayor Daley's 10-year plan to end homelessness. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there are between 1,200 and 1,700 births per year in New Moms targeted communities — Humboldt Park, Austin, Logan Square and West Town —with an overwhelming 84% of these births to unwed teens. According to 37th Ward Ald. Emma Mitts, “This project is a tremendous opportunity to serve those in the community. Homeless teenagers are a major societal problem, and with New Moms, Inc. and Bright Endeavors coming together as one voice to support teenage mothers, it is a truly momentous undertaking to meet the needs of this population.”


The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless reports that in 2004, there were nearly 16,500 homeless female youth in Illinois aged 12 to 21 — 68% of whom were pregnant. Yet in 2005, there were only 212 shelter beds in the entire state for homeless youth with children — meeting only 1.8% of the overall need. New Moms is the only Chicago agency exclusively serving pregnant and parenting teens, and one of only two homeless agencies serving this population, representing 70% of beds in the City of Chicago. “We are hopeful of doubling our housing capacity as well as doubling the number of participants we serve in our community outreach,” says President and CEO of New Moms, Inc. Audalee McLoughlin, in announcing the organization’s plans to construct the four-story building.






Harper Theater in Hyde Park


Jonathan Fine, Exec Director: Preservation Chicago -- When I was first contacted about addressing the GCEA [Global Convention and Exposition on Architecture], I have to confess that I was a little disappointed that my seminar was titled Preservation OR Progress, as if there should ever be a question.   I would have hoped that it would have been called something like: Preservation IS Progress or perhaps: Preservation – Duh?    


What is particularly vexing to us is that historic preservation seems to be one of the only social movements in the last century that constantly has to be reaffirmed with each new generation.  You would be hard pressed to find a seminar today called Women’s Suffrage: Friend or Foe or Banning Child Labor: Has it hurt US competitiveness? 


So, Preservation or Progress?  I guess the question comes down to what one’s definition of progress is.  For those of us in the Chicago preservation movement, we do not view the goal of preserving our architectural past as being mutually exclusive with nurturing our architectural future.  The preservation of an historic building does not deny the opportunity for something better to be built, nor does it stifle our ability as architects to realize our own vision.  Rather, it is the totality of a city’s architecture that defines it and sets it apart from all others in the United States.  It is that very juxtaposition of the old and the new that creates a dynamic architectural tension that strengthens and enhances a cityscape, allowing individual works of steel and glass modernism to stand apart from their often soot-stained forefathers.


Unlike Manhattan, Chicago is not by any means starved for developable land.  Outside the central city, acres of land sit vacant, while downtown a multitude of surface parking lots, multi-story concrete parking garages and mediocre post-war office buildings are crying out to be replaced by something better.  The same can be said for the vast majority of other American cities.  Imagine what our cities would look like if we preserved and rehabilitated all of the good buildings, tore down all the bad buildings and then replaced them with great buildings? 


As professional preservationists, we understand that every historically important building cannot... For full text, visit our Featured Friends page






UIC Professor of Architecture Michael Gelick confers with young exhibitors


L. Darrell Jones | Chicago, May 3, 20210 --  Attendees from around the country gathered at the Congress Plaza Hotel on South Michigan to participate in the first Global Convention and Expo in Chicago. The 2-day event sponsored by IMAGINIT Technologies consisted of seminars, a professional expo, final presentations for the Mock Firms International Skyscraper Competition, the Global Impact Awards in Architecture and the 1st annual Amazing Architecture Race.

Event attendees were treated to compelling lectures by notable leaders in their field during the seminar sessions. Jonathan Fine, Executive Director of Preservation Chicago spoke on the subject of "Preservation or Progress" explaining why we shouldn't regard the two as an either or proposition; but that meaningful, thoughtful preservation is in fact progress. An additional seminar enjoyed by patrons was one on "Current  trends in Tall Buildings Worldwide" given by Jan Klerks, Research Director at the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat located on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology.  Finally, "Innovations in Secondary Technical Education" was co-shared by Lee Sappingfield and Barbara Nikoo-Manesh facilitators of the highly successful Environmental Design model in use at Olathe East High School in Olathe, Kansas.

The convention was anchored by the 2nd installment of the Mock Firms Architecture Competition which challenges students to think and organize as professionals in order to collaboratively bring together a design project for judging. Over 30 teams of students or mock firms competed on collegiate and high school levels to produce skyscrapers and single-family homes. The collegiate firms were challenged to design and construct a tower for Mexico City. The winning mock firm came from Cal-Poly at San Luis-Obispo with the runners up coming from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario Canada. The top firm in the high school Skyscraper Division coming from Appleton East high School in Appleton, Wisconsin and the winners in the Regional Home Design Division coming from West suburban Wheaton North High School.

The evening Awards Ceremony opened with the announcement of winners of the Global Impact Award in Architecture. This award sought to recognize collegiate departments of architecture, design firms and non-profit architecture organizations in their ongoing efforts to make a difference internationally through well-designed relevant projects. The Catholic University of America garnered the collegiate honor while Basic Initiative - a collaboration of Portland State University and the University of Texas at Austin took the non-profit prize. BIG of the Netherlands headed by architect Bjarke Ingels won for their innovative and diverse projects around the world. Finally, Brad Pitt and his Make It Right Foundation won a Friend of the Architecture Community Award for their continuing efforts to promote good and practical home design throughout New Orleans Katrina-Ravaged Lower Ninth Ward and beyond.







Rendering of National Hellenic Museum


L. Darrell Jones | Chicago, March 21, 20210 -- Although its been nearly 10 years in the making, the new National Hellenic Museum in the heart of Chicago's Greektown will be a welcome addition to that community. After losing some its businesses to a devastating fire earlier in the year, the area could use a significant shot-in-the-arm. The 40,000-square-foot 3-story facility will be located on the long-vacant lot at the northwest corner of Halsted and Van Buren Streets. It fills a space which was just begging for a project of this magnitude to be targeted there and in a rare moment of purpose meeting practicality, it actually was put together in reality.

This new building to be completed by 2011 replaces the former Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center located at 801 E. Adams on the fourth floor above the Greek Islands restaurant.

The structure will feature visible facades on 3 sides giving an opportunity and challenge to make an architectural statement of significance to the neighborhood and to the city. The design by architect Demetri Stavrianos appears to have chosen a more contemporary route rather than pursue the obvious one-liner of a classical-revival or neo-classical motif. Certainly, those style directions could work if done well, but too often designers embrace a safer retro look then pioneer ground-breaking contemporary innovations. At first glance, this plan does not appear to be aesthetically innovative, but judgment will be reserved upon delivery.







L. Darrell Jones, Chicago, FEBRUARY 15, 2010 The city of Chicago is in the midst of moving forward in determination of the best ways to maximize its portion of the $8 billion federal appropriation for high speed rail production in the city. But one local, yet internationally accomplished architect has already thrown down design concepts for this project's infrastructure which beg consideration. The Daniel Burnham Central Station complex by Chicago-based architect Helmut Jahn features a riverfront high-rise and a glassy, contemporary transportation hub with large windows to bring extensive light into the passenger travel experience currently lacking at Union Station. Extensive use of stairs and escalators bear a prominent role in connecting concourses to track areas. While this proposal does not address every issue like pedestrian access and CTA connections with O'Hare and Midway, it nevertheless represents a good start. 








THADDEUS SMOCZYNSKI, CHICAGO FEBRUARY 15, 2010 The Chicago Spire, designed by world renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, would be among the world’s tallest buildings if the project is ever resurrected. The farther we get from the initial euphoria of the idea and its subsequent ground-breaking, the less of a realistic possibility it becomes. The building was announced in 2005, and has dealt with financial troubles, compounded by the staggering economical troubles of the United States.  Financing of the tower has gone from Christopher Carley of Fordham Company to Garrett Kelleher of the Shelbourne Development Group.  The Shelbourne Development Group is in current talks with labor union groups to help financing of the project, and is hoping to restart construction in the near future.  In a gesture of sarcasm or aesthetic practicality, the Architectural Club of Chicago has recently put forth an ideas competition to generate possible uses for the Spire “hole” which stands as stark reminder of the last decade’s speculative excesses in development and construction.   So the city and skyscraper enthusiasts around the world are holding their collective breaths, hoping another structural wonder can be added to the storied history of Chicago’s architectural innovation.







PRESS RELEASE, CHICAGO JANUARY 24, 2010 A new website opens the doors of the historic Marquette Building, a Chicago landmark and one of the city’s earliest skyscrapers, to visitors from around the world.  The website,, highlights the building’s history, architecture, and recent renovations, drawing on the content contained in a free exhibit located in the building’s arcade.  The building is owned and was restored by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which also constructed the exhibit and website. 


Named a National Historic Landmark in 1976, the Marquette Building is a classic example of the renowned Chicago style of architecture, which is characterized by steel skeletons holding up facades of brick and ornamental terra cotta.  It was designed by Holabird & Roche and built by the George A. Fuller Company in 1894 using steel frame construction.  The building is named for French Jesuit missionary and explorer Jacques Marquette.  The lobby boasts Tiffany mosaic panels and decorative bronze heads of native Americans, early explorers, and animals. 


In 1977, Banker’s Life and Casualty Company acquired the Marquette Building.  The Company was owned by John D. MacArthur, one of the wealthiest men in America.  After John’s death in 1978, the Foundation he endowed chose the Marquette Building as the headquarters for its philanthropic work around the world.  The MacArthur Foundation proudly restored the building to its original glory. 


The MacArthur Foundation worked closely with preservation specialists in architecture and engineering to return the building to its original design. The past century had brought non-historical renovations, removal of the cornice, and damage from pollution and the elements. A team of experts thoroughly researched the building’s history, construction, original details, and alterations made over the decades.  MacArthur recreated the cornice, a massive, ornamental molding that encircles the top perimeter of the structure, restored the building’s façade, and reconstructed the original windows. 


“The story of the Marquette Building is the tale of a landmark preserved,” said MacArthur President Robert Gallucci.  “The MacArthur Foundation is proud to have restored this historic building, returning to Chicago one of its true architectural masterpieces.  Through the exhibit and now the website, we hope countless visitors will enjoy the building’s history and splendor in person and online.”


The free exhibit in the building’s arcade, just west of the lobby, at 140 South Dearborn Street, is open to the public from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekdays and 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekends.  It features –


·         An interactive kiosk with close-ups of some of the building’s key architectural features and its rich décor, including the semi-precious stone and glass Tiffany mosaics in the lobby;


·         A scale model of the building to help visitors understand its shape and construction;


·         Interviews with experts on the building’s historical significance and its recent restoration; and


·         Interactive kiosks that provide information on the MacArthur Foundation’s grant-making.   







L. DARRELL JONES | CHICAGO JAN 11, 2010 -– If you happened to catch the news clips of the celebratory opening of the Burj Khalifa, you probably couldn't have imagined the extent to which the hoopla welcoming the arrival of the latest world's tallest building could rise. The 2,716-foot "super-scraper" official unveiling was accompanied by fanfare which would rival most New Year's Eve's celebrations and perhaps some past Olympic Opening Ceremonies. The worldwide spotlight was indelibly upon Dubai, U.A.E. But Dubai wasn't exclusive as the focus of global attention for this record-breaking engineering and construction achievement. Although Chicago hasn't held the title of the world's tallest building since the Sears Tower lost it to Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers in 1998, Dubai's newest claim to fame has a direct Chicago connection. Designed by the internationally renowned Chicago-based Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and Adrian Smith now of his own firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the Burj Khalifa was born of design concepts and principles founded in the Windy City. The cloverleaf plan was patterned after Chicago's Lake Point Tower and the vertical progression with its varied and offset heights seems to be the logical evolution of a Willis Tower for the next millennium.


So, although Chicago fell embarrassingly short in its bid to land the 2016 Olympic Games last fall, it can bask in the Burj Khalifa's glory due to its involvement in the design. We'll take it. Of course research and travel will arguably reveal that much of the world's innovative contemporary structures are not typically in Chicago or the U.S. for that matter but in Asia, the Middle East and the Netherlands. This isn't due to a greater talent pool as much as its due to an abundance of capital and carte blanche civic cooperation. Yet, the "Chicago school" of design has long been recognized as an incubator of innovation and except for a brief down period is once again measuring up to high expectations. In time, who's to say that Chicagoans will have the privilege to not just be acknowledged by association with the next iconic accomplishment, but will take center stage in showing the world how its done.    







CHICAGO DEC 13, 2009 | -– Despite the recent pronouncement that Chicago's architecture community has been devastated, the reports of its death are greatly exaggerated. Yes, the recession has stalled and shelved a number of notable building projects - not the least of which is the Spire, but there was a healthy amount of exhibitions, media, and even high-rises which made their way to the forefront this past year. Here is a list of some of our most noteworthy (and notorious) architectural events in Chicago for 2009: 


Best Completed High-Rise

Aqua Tower designed by Studio Gang Architects


Most Innovative Entertainment Architecture

"The Ledge" at the Skydeck of Sears Tower - SOM


Most Uninspired Opening of an Anticipated Building Project

Block 37 Mall -  Joseph Freed and Associates LLC, developers


Most Exciting Civic Project Initiated

Extension of the Riverwalk along the south bank


Best Restoration Effort

The 1920 Michigan Ave Bridge Railings


Most Disappointing Temporary Exhibition

The Burnham Pavilions


Most Bitter/Sweet Architectural Project that Wasn't

2016 Olympic Architecture (the snub - bitter to some, sweet to others)


Best Temporary Exhibit to Become Permanent

The CAF Model City


Most Popular New Architectural Space

The Rooftop bar of the Wit Hotel


Best Depiction of Chicago in a Video

1,2,3,4 by the Plain White T's


The Best Case for Filing a Missing City Report

Public Enemies (If you blinked you missed anything recognizable)


Most Overrated Completed Building Project

Modern Wing of the Art Institute


The Biggest Elephant in the Room

Trump International Hotel & Tower


Coolest Architectural Archeological Find

Sullivan facades at 18 S. Wabash and 22 S. Wabash


Best 100 Year Celebration

Burnham Plan of Chicago area-wide activities


Greatest Example of Senseless & Stubborn Destruction

Gropius Buildings on the former Michael Reese Hospital campus







CHICAGO NOV 23, 2009 | Press Release -– The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)—the international body that arbitrates on tall building height and determines the title of “The World’s Tallest Building”—has announced a change to its height criteria, as a reflection of recent developments with several super-tall buildings. 

The new criteria wording—“Height is measured from the level of the lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance to…” allows for the recognition of the increasing numbers of multi-use tall buildings with often several different entrances at different levels, whilst also accommodating buildings constructed in non-traditional urban or suburban locations. The CTBUH Height Committee has determined that the previous description of where to measure tall building height from—“Height is measured from the sidewalk outside the main entrance to…” is now no longer sufficient.


This will have an impact on both the height of tall buildings and their relative international height rankings. Burj Dubai, set to open as the world’s tallest building in January 2010, will now be measured from the lowest of its three main entrances (which opens into the entrance lobby for the tower’s corporate suite office function), while the recently completed Trump International Hotel & Towers in Chicago will be measured from the lower, publicly accessible Chicago Riverwalk. In the case of Trump, this additional 27 feet means that it will surpass the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai to occupy the rank of 6th tallest on the current list of completed buildings.


“Beginning in 2007, with the knowledge that Burj Dubai would be significantly taller than any structure ever built, the CTBUH Height Committee met to review the criteria by which we recognize and rank the height of buildings,” said Peter Weismantle, Chair of the CTBUH Height Committee and Director of Supertall Building Technology at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture in Chicago. “As one might guess, with the committee being made up of architects, engineers, contractors, developers, building owners and academics, a variety of opinions and views were expressed. The resulting revisions almost two years later reflect a general consensus of the committee in recognizing the most recent trends in tall building development around the world.”

Also in response to the changing designs and forms of tall buildings, the Height Committee has elected to discard its previous “Height to Roof” category. “The roof category just doesn’t make sense anymore,” said CTBUH Executive Director Antony Wood.  “In the era of the flat-topped modernist tower, a clearly defined roof could usually be identified, but in today’s tall building world—which is increasingly adopting elaborate forms, spires, parapets and other features at the top of the building—it is becoming difficult to determine a ‘roof’ at all, even less so to measure to it.”


The revised CTBUH Height Criteria and diagrams of the tallest 10 buildings in the world as of November 2009 can be found at, ranked according to the three height categories now recognized by CTBUH. These are: (i) Height to Architectural Top, measured to the topmost architectural feature of the building including spires, but not including antennae, signage, flag poles or other functional-technical equipment; (ii) Height to Highest Occupied Floor, measured to the level of the highest, consistently occupied floor in the building (thus not including service or mechanical areas which experience occasional maintenance access); and (iii) Height to Tip, measured to the highest point of the building, irrespective of material or function of the highest element. 







L. DARRELL JONES | CHICAGO NOV 9, 2009 -– In a unique way to enjoy an usually warm Thursday evening for Fall in Chicago, hundreds of architectural enthusiasts turned out to hear A Conversation with the Critics : Imagining the Future of the City at the 50 East Erie Murphy Auditorium.  The event was sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation and was a component of the inaugural American Architecture Organizations conference the weekend of Nov. 5 - 7. A panel of esteemed journalistic critics was brought together from coast-to-coast and  included Christopher Hawthorne, (Los Angeles Times,), Paul Goldberger (The New Yorker), Sarah Williams Goldhagen (The New Republic), and Blair Kamin (Chicago Tribune).  Edward Lifson, cultural critic and creator of Chicago Public Radio’s Hello Beautiful! moderated.


Paul Goldberger introduced the conversations with a synopsis of New York City's Highline adaptive-reuse project which is converting an unused elevated stretch of freight lines into landscaped public space. The New York Times critic evoked widespread laughter as images of the ideas competition for the project which included uses as linear swimming pool and a roller coaster venue were shown to the audience.


Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin was next and began by declaring he "would not be talking about Millennium Park!" but on the contrary would bring to focus one of Chicago's great streets - Wacker Drive. Actually, Wacker Drive was the necessary context to highlight what he referred to as "the [city's] most important infrastructure projects" - the emerging Riverwalk. A connection was drawn to Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago as the historical context for this iconic endeavor which has transformed "what could have been a mere road repair... into an urban amenity - done without star architects."


The Boston Globe's Sara Williams induced probably the loudest gasp when she calculated the total coast of the "Big Dig" and the Rose Kennedy Greenway to be the most expensive public works project in U.S. history at $21 billion. She went on to bemoan the lack of an initial design process or plan which has produced nothing more than miles of uninspired and disjointed green space with few successful stretches in between.


Christopher Hawthorne of the Los Angeles Times bookended the introductions and spoke in a self-effacing manner of the L.A. area's confused and misguided sense of any kind of civic design direction where things seem to center around their many highways. He did give a glimpse of brighter possibilities for the future of the Los Angeles area as they recognize the need to "retrofit the city for a more denser population. commercial districts and green considerations."


Finally, the evening's moderator. Edward Lifson sought to generate a debate about how we in the U.S. could compete with or learn from China's success in taking iconic projects from concept to construction in minimal time. The consensus group response was that we're not a communist dictatorship but a democracy and must succeed within the constraints of the system of government and commerce we have.







NATHALIE RAZO | CHICAGO OCT 25, 2009 -– On October 22 and 23, Chicago welcomed the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat for the second time in the past three years. Three years ago, the organization moved the headquarters to the IIT campus. This past week they brought international delegates to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the organization and to discuss the future of super tall buildings given the economic situation of the past year.

The conference, entitled “Evolution of the Skyscraper: New Challenges in a World of Global Warming and Recession,” featured presentations covering a range of topics such as sustainability, building technologies, the future of the industry, and growing markets in the world.  The presentations brought together multiple speakers on a single topic, creating a forum from which conversations and ideas were provoked. The conference began with the most locally relevant presentation - “Chicago- City of Big Shoulders.”

Eric Trump and Andy Weiss of The Trump Organization spoke about Skyscrapers as Business Strategy during which the recently completed Trump Tower of Chicago was discussed. In this project they implemented a phased occupancy, which allowed financial gains before the project was completed.  William Testa of The Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago talked about the history of Chicago and the need to grow up.  As a result, he suggested that Chicago has a role in the global economy and will continue to grow. This led to Richard Tomasetti of Thornton Tomasetti in New York who spoke primarily about the development of the Chicago Spire. This project features some of the most innovative solutions to structural concerns that have been proposed for tall buildings, once again showing that Chicago is at the forefront of global recognition. Together these presentations represented not only external factors that affect the success of large-scale projects, but the economic and technical conditions that make them relevant. This combination of speakers created buzz about an ever-changing skyline in Chicago that was founded on a scarcity of land.

The conference also presented an award for best tall buildings and the Lynn S Beedle Lifetime Achievement award. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to John C. Portman Jr. from John C. Portman and Associates.  The building winners included Manitoba Hydro Place for the Americas, Linked Hybrid for Asia and Australasia, The Broadgate Tower for Europe, and the Tornado Tower representing the Middle East and Africa.  Congratulations to these projects for creating a precedent to which the world can aspire.  The Council continues to look forward at the changing market of world structures, and is planning next year’s conference in Mumbai, India. The world stage has been set and we can only wait to see how super structures have been influenced by the environmental and economic times.






NATHALIE RAZO | CHICAGO OCT 18, 2009 -– On Wednesday, October 7th, 2009, a group of people got to experience a rare lecture by Calatrava as part of the official opening of the Instituto Cervantes of Chicago.  The event brought together a great mix of people including people from the architecture community and many who were not.


“Beyond the Spire” was a look at some of his well-known and upcoming projects, a sort of reflection on how he feels about his work up until now. He emphasized his desire to gap the bridge between architecture and engineering in his projects, specifically the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Calatrava has also recently focused many projects on infrastructure including high speed rail, bridges, and transport depots across the world. This work he says is a great way to landmark areas while being dedicated to the hundred of thousands of people that use the transportation everyday.  His lecture was entertaining, thought provoking, and inspiring.


However, one of the best parts, by far, was the dialogue between Calatrava and  Blair Kamin, Architecture Critic of the Chicago Tribune. It was an informal discussion that resulted in train of thought tangencies that often led back to a “message of boldness” in his. Calatrava is optimistic that these economic times are turning around, and that he will be able to see the addition of the Spire to the Chicago skyline. We all hope he is correct.







L. DARRELL JONES | CHICAGO OCT 12, 2009 -– So now that we've crashed from our collective Olympic "sugar high," a resulting opportunity to achieve something great beckons for our attention. I'm speaking of the prime southern lakefront property currently occupied by the Michael Reese Hospital campus once targeted for our Olympic Village - now owned by the city which looks to develop it as residential.  I don't doubt that a new mixed-use residential community there would be nice, but is it the best we can conceive for it in light of the former grandiose plans and its significant location?


I believe that just because we've been deemed not Olympic-worthy at this time, is no reason to not make grand plans for our city going forward into the next decade. Opportunities to make a truly great architectural statement due to the opening up of prime land on out southern lakefront only come around in a generation. An example of this is the currently stalled Spire skyscraper. The buzz created by its innovative twisting torso design was heard the world over. Lets hope for brighter days ahead for that undertaking.


Certainly, one of the unique opportunities we have related to the diverted use of the Michael Reese from an Olympic Village is the renewed hope that many more or most of the rare Gropius-designed and influenced buildings could be saved through adaptive-reuse. Often, mid-century modern examples such as these are difficult to garner much public support because they typically are not the most attractive structures comparatively speaking. But if one of the nuances tourists love about Chicago is how the architecturally old is juxtapositioned against the new so commonly throughout our city. We have blown many past opportunities to progress in this area, so here we stand at yet another significant juncture to respect and retain our past or to junk it.


Here's hoping that our impetuous mayor does not stiffen his resolve on going forward with a new residential district without seriously considering the merits of alternate ideas being floated for the use of that campus. Among the ideas put forth by aldermen and others are a casino-entertainment complex, a hospitality-based high school and maybe a future presidential library. Regardless of what eventually is chosen to emerge there, a public competition, public forums and dialogue would appear to best serve our interests in insuring an outcome that we all could eventually be proud of. 








CHICAGO SEPT 28, 2009-– Chicago recently welcomed the largest annual gathering of landscape architects in the world at the McCormick Place Convention Center. More than 5,000 attendees affiliated with the American Society of Landscape Architects enjoyed the the sights and sounds of an early Fall season in the city. In addition to participating in several tours, over 125 educational sessions were available along with an expo of 400 industry-specific exhibits displaying the latest in green roof technology, outdoor turf and furnishings, playground structures, innovations in skatepark design and more.


Mayor Daley was one of the featured speakers and received the ASLA's LaGasse Medal in recognition of his management and conservancy of public landscapes. Other notable dignitaries in attendance were President Obama's senior environmental policy counsel Lisa Heinzerling, Kermit Baker, the chief economist for the the AIA, as well as many more top design and sustainability experts.


"Chicago serves as a model for landscape architecture and sustainability, featuring some of the world's best examples of green roofs, public parks and urban streetscapes," said Angela Dye, FASLA and president of the Society. "Landscaper architecture can address a multitude of economic, environmental and social problems facing large urban environments, and we are delighted to visit a city that puts so many excellent design practices into use - especially on the 100th anniversary of the 1909 Burnham Plan."


Since 2000, ASLA has awarded Chicago nine national awards for landscape architecture, including Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, Chicago City Hall Green Roof, Spider Island Chicago Botanic Garden, Michigan Ave., One North Wacker Drive and the Chicago campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology. 






                                         AP PHOTO/DAVID BANKS


CHICAGO SEPT 13, 2009- Crowds estimated at upwards of 20,000 descended upon Chicago's premier shopping district - The Magnificent Mile - Tuesday, September 8 to "kick-off" Oprah's 24th season anniversary. With the iconic backdrops of the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower, Oprah staged a party featuring Jennifer Hudson, the Black-Eyed Peas, James Taylor and hoards of her adoring throngs for the millions of viewers who watch her show daily. Oprah stated her motivation for shutting down this tourist hub for 2 days was 2-fold. First, she related the need to do something spectacular to garner the level of attention which this would; and second, to help promote Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympic Games of which Oprah is a supporter. Certainly her first objective was accomplished by any standards. As for the second - a correlation to the Olympics not being entirely clear - remains to be seen. Although Oprah's show is broadcast in Chicago at the out-of-way Harpo Studios, precious few tapings occur in the public realm of the city to the extent that the average viewer could easily forget that Chicago is the city of broadcast origin. If Oprah truly believes that this is "the greatest city in the world" and one of the most beautiful global cities - and we believe she does - then we challenge her to make this kick-off event not just an opening to her 24th season, but also the beginning of incorporating more of the city -minus the shut-downs - into her show's broadcast.    







ALEX TSPARIS | SPECIAL PROJECTS | CHICAGO AUG 30, 2009- BLUEPRINTs, an annual event that celebrates the unique Chicago neighborhood of Streeterville was generously hosted by the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) the Museum of Contemporary Art on Monday, August 10th.


This year’s event honored the world-famous architect, Adrian Smith.  A former partner of Skidmore Owings & Merrill and a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Adrian Smith has been responsible for such masterpieces as the NBC Tower, the Trump International Hotel and Tower, and the Burj Dubai – soon to be the world’s tallest structure.  In 2006, Adrian Smith co-founded Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, a prestigious practice with current projects around the world. 


SOAR presented Smith with the Vision Into Reality Award at the BLUEPRINTs event.  This award was inspired by the forward-looking city plans by Daniel Burnham that were conceived one hundred years ago.  Naturally, this award recognizes individuals whose progressive ideas will impact the city of Chicago into the next one hundred years. 


Dubai, once a small fishing village in the United Arab Emirates, is now a globalized megapolis with very high architectural demands for Smith and his firm.  Along with the Burj Dubai, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture currently have other projects planned in that city, but those remain concepts after the stock market crash in 2008.  Aside from the prestigious projects in Dubai, Smith and his practice are currently working on projects in Abu Dhabi, Mumbai, Vancouver, and right here in Chicago. 


The BLUEPRINTs event also involved a live auction selling conceptual drawings by Adrian Smith and a silent auction featuring photographs of Streeterville and Calatrava Buildings along with works by up-and-coming local artist DeMarcus Pulham. 




The Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR), is a volunteer organization that works to see that Streeterville remain “a unique vibrant and beautiful neighborhood.  For over 30 years, SOAR has worked to improve the public transportation in Streeterville, promote a healthy and safe environment, and increase the amount of green and open space.







ALEX TSPARIS | SPECIAL PROJECTS | CHICAGO AUG 16, 2009-This summer, two temporary pavilions were erected in Millennium Park to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago.  The north pavilion, designed by Van Berkel of UN Studio, is formed by two parallel rectangular planes joined by curving scoops covered in white plywood.  The planes are meant represent the city’s orthogonal, grid-like texture while the curving scoops offer unique vistas of the cityscape and represent the diagonal boulevards Burnham had originally planned.  The south pavilion, arriving weeks late due to contractor issues, was conceives by Zaha Hadid and is formed by 24 custom-made canvas pieces zippered together and precisely stretched over an aluminum shell.  Hadid combines various naturalistic forms complete with a video projection to create a unique and inviting fluid space that invites us to contemplate the future as Burnham once did. 


The pavilions work very well symbolically and artistically and both frame vertical the city skyline in an engaging way.  However, both of these spaces are lacking in a single fundamental aspect; the reality of public interaction. 


UN Studio’s Pavilion is white – correction – was white; it is now pretty much gray from all footprints and scuffmarks. [note: currently closed for repairs]  Kids have naturally been climbing in the “scoops” which have caused permanent gouges in the white façade.  Circulation proves to be a bit awkward as the pavilion is elevated a bit too high off the ground.  Additionally, the ADA accessible ramp on the north end is an odd addition that completely detracts from the “floating” effect. 


Hadid’s idea of a fluid transition from the park through the pavilion is sadly clogged up by people habitually standing too far back to watch the projection on the screen and not allowing any space for passage.  Unfortunate as this may be, all these issues should have been designed for when conceiving an outdoor, public space.  If kids want to interact with the artwork by climbing on an accessible and safe part, they should be able to. 


Overall, these logistical flaws in the pavilions sadly detract from their original artistic beauty and intellectual appeal. Lets hope that not only the re-ordering of these two imaginative pieces produce a better outcome for public interaction but that they also serve as a lesson for any such future endeavors.







KYLE THOMAS | SPECIAL PROJECTS | CHICAGO AUG 2, 2009- This unique structure doesn’t just tell its own story but embraces the existing fabric of the city with its eleven-story new steel tower on an existing seven-story old concrete loft. The Belgravia Group took an existing old and extremely structurally-sound building which is not exactly a historic landmark but is architecturally noteworthy and brought it into the 21st century. This unique hybrid design style - merging the old with the new - is an example of how a design can be sustainable all on its own without using fancy technology to give it a “green” label. Although the architect might not have had the intentions of a sustainable design, one may believe the building speaks for it’s self by preserving an existing older building and turning it into new one.


565 Quincy has a lot of offer with eighteen stories of 241 condominiums units. In addition to contemporary-styled condominium units, there are also a selection of lofts which range from “true” lofts to “den-style” two bedroom lofts. Overall, this notable addition to the West Loop has thirty-five different floor plans ranging from 600 square feet to its largest of 1,227 square feet.  On the exterior, a thoughtful design feature was to stagger the private terraces so as not to have the sun blocked by neighboring terraces directly overhead. The roof features a large community sun deck with kitchenette which is on top of the existing older building. For “in-building” recreation, designers fashioned an extremely unique “Q” room located on the bottom floor.  The “Q” room features a private bowling ally, movie screening room, putting green, video arcade, lounge with bar, and fully-equipped fitness center for the exclusive use of 565 Quincy homeowners.


These hip and stylish condos seem to be geared towards the younger professionals of Chicago. Located in downtown Chicago’s West Loop, just a block away from Union Station, this up community offers an array of up-scale restaurants and endless shopping boutiques. The Belgravia Group with more than 50 years of experience and countless award-winning building designs has done it again providing a new and sophisticated addition to Chicago’s condo collection. For inquires about 565 Quincy. contact Dan Katz, Belgravia Group at, or call 312.751.2777 x157.








L. DARRELL JONES | CHICAGO JULY 26, 2009- We really had no idea of the impending demise of one of Chicago's most unique treasures - The Prairie Avenue Bookshop - when we filmed there just last June. But according to a recent Tribune story, Bill Hasbrouck, founder and owner of a collection of literature much beloved by area architects, the store is scheduled to close its doors for good September 1st. Through no fault of its own, Prairie Avenue is falling victim to the modern trend of internet retailing with big volume and deep discounts. This has affected street-level businesses including books, movies, music and T-shirts. Recently even Borders announced its intention to shutter its North Michigan Avenue store. As it is with other like-brick-n-mortar establishments, people more often browse than buy. I must confess, this has been true of me on a few occasions. Certainly, being in the midst of recession hasn't helped matters as people have less disposal income to purchase non-essential items. I can't help but think that having a more prominent market effort and internet presence may have precluded this unfortunate scenario from coming so perilously close this ending. We may never know. But with the history and rare volumes that's tied up in this resource, we're hoping someone sees the value in investing in whatever it takes to save this Chicago icon.   







L. DARRELL JONES | CHICAGO JULY 12, 2009- With the recent opening of the new Modern Wing of The Art Institute of Chicago. has the city filled its quota for iconic cultural additions? Apparently one local visionary doesn't think so. Paul Poloz, principal of Poloz Architects, sees room for one more - a 55,4000-square-foot Museum of Native American Culture and Spirituality to honor the diverse American Indian culture and the millions which perished after foreign contact and conquest. According to The Chicago-based architect is spearheading the effort to erect a $90 million museum and monument in Chicago or perhaps another city. The monument is to be a 15-20-foot statue of a yet-to-be-determined historically-significant figure to stand in the building's courtyard.


Again, according to Indian Country Today, the design includes interior portions housing artifacts, artwork, and indoor and outdoor sculptural gardens. The exterior will include about 120,000 square feet of landscaped space and a courtyard where cultural activities such as pow wows will take place.

The interior will be “designed with structures referencing traditional Native American architecture from tribes around North America to create an intertribal village community,” according to Poloz. The design “is based on the concept of the cosmic circle, a strong symbol of life, with endless forces spinning around the center. The central part of the circle is the Great Tipi surrounded by swirling streams of water.”

Poloz plans to present the project to Chicago mayor Richard Daley and thinks Chicago would be an appropriate place for it. “The project has been designed for a city site, contributing to the urban environment as an oasis of nature to provide people with an escape from the sterility and hectic pace of the city.”


He is currently also involved in setting up a nonprofit foundation for the project, which will include tribal involvement and help raise the money needed. Poloz said it will apply to the federal government for grants and also the private sector. He hopes to have the foundation up and running in the next couple months. While Poloz says “it is difficult to estimate a time of completion with the current economic crisis, we are doing what we can to give exposure to the project.”








L. DARRELL JONES | CHICAGO JULY 7, 2009- Just halfway through 2009 and Chicago has already experienced more momentous architectural coming out parties than most places experience in a decade. We we initially treated to the much anticipated opening of The Art Institute of Chicago's new Modern Wing by Italian architect Renzo Piano. Before we caught our breath from that event. one of two Centennial Celebratory pavilions also premiered in Millennium Park. And now rising up to steal the spotlight from these two showstoppers is unveiling of The Ledge at Skydeck level atop the Sears Tower. The long lines leading up to the remodeled Skydeck and the innovative suspended viewing ledge testify to the excitement generated by this new opportunity to step out a few feet from the tallest building in America.


The architectural firm of Skidmore Owings & Merrill designed the 3 (eventually 4) 10'x10' protruding glass boxes which extend 4' out from the building's west side providing views which glass-pressed foreheads could only hope to obtain. For the nervous crowd, the glass bottom only 1.5" thick has been designed to hold 5 tons - twice the weight capacity required to be safe.


According to the Metal Miner online resource, The “Ledge” is essentially a suspended glass structure with no steel framing. The 8’ x 8’ x ½’ structural ceiling front hangs from high strength steel beams, custom fabricated plate and high strength tube, custom machined pieces, stainless steel connections and a lot of little pieces. The entire box is suspended from bearing rollers, similar to wide flange beam traveling rollers. The system is run by a rigged chain drive overhead motor. Think of it as a “very expensive garage door opener.”


Always a destination for Chicago's many tourists, The Ledge will no doubt renew the interest of locales who have scaled this man-made mountain once in the past and also for those who coyly have to admit they have yet to experience it. Seems like they've waited for the perfect time.






By Darrell Jones




CHICAGO JUN 15, 2009- After observing the child-like twinkle in the eyes of various on-lookers of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Chicago Model City in the atrium of the historic Santa Fe building, I left feeling this surely looks to become one of its most successful exhibitions to date. This perspective is in addition to my own love of finely-crafted scaled models and the difficulty I experienced trying to tear myself away from this giant-sized one. One comment overheard from a college student was, "I was I could grab some "Hot Wheels" miniature-sized cars to roll down the streets of this thing." The 25-foot by 35-foot model is one of the centerpieces of city's celebration of its 1909 Plan of Chicago by architect and visionary Daniel H. Burnham.


Although the Foundation has always featured a similarly-scaled model of Chicago in its visitor's center at 224 S. Michigan, this new  updated offering boasts approximately 400 blocks of over 1000 highly detailed buildings achieved through a laser-cutting process. 


In addition to the large-scaled mono-chromed model city (its Sears Tower stands almost 3-feet tall), kiosks surround its perimeter recounting Chicago's historical emergence as a global city. Some of the themes throughout include Chicago as the Beautiful City, Global City, Connected City, Green City and New City.  Several other smaller models also tell the story of where the city is now and where its going as they highlight current major urban re-development projects.


From the constancy of photography and the ease at which various locales and landmarks were being pointed out within the model's environs, Chicago Model City is off to a rousing start. It appears to be effective in tying together our past, present and future with clarity and visual substance allowing the average patron to make a comfortable approach and eventual connection with it all. The exhibition is free and open to the public until November 20th.




By Erik Munck




CHICAGO MAY 23, 2009-As swarms of people gathered around the Art Institute on Saturday, it was obvious that the opening of the $294 million Modern Wing addition was highly anticipated, as it should be. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Renzo Piano, the 264,000 square foot space creates a memorable experience for observing the modern works of art that it houses. Upon entering, one is bathed in natural light, emanating from the many windows and Piano’s own “flying carpet” skylight, made up of rows of aluminum blades. His clever use of glass diffuses the light and surrounds the works in natural daylight. Not only does this make for ideal gallery viewing conditions, but also cuts down on the building’s electricity demand. The natural daylight, coupled with the white walls, also gives the sense that the viewer is in a studio, taking a first hand tour of the artist’s work. Hardwood floors and railings contribute to the warmness and keep the space from looking too institutional.


As viewers progress through the interior, it seems that the linear space offers a clearer path of travel than the old museum, with a large central atrium and exhibitions branching off from it. However, after turning into an exhibition, I found that the viewer is still subject to the same flaws of minimizing the need for simplicity of navigation which plague most art museums. Winding rooms with multiple entry ways often bring the gallery goers to rooms they have already been in, or unfortunately, as is the case with the architecture/design gallery, a walled off dead-end. Things get especially confusing in the abstract art sections, where there is a strong chance that someone will accidentally step on a floor installation, or mistake an art piece for meaningless wires or wood.


The building does offer clear views of downtown Chicago though, with many vantage points that almost show off the city as an exhibition in its own right. The sense of lightness, which Piano is known for, is carried in a cantilevered bridge that crosses above Monroe Street. Walking across it, I got a great view of the stunning Millennium Park music pavilion, designed by Frank Gehry, whose work I had just seen in the museum. Also in view were the crowds of people enjoying the free concerts, giveaways, and other attractions of the carnival-like atmosphere surrounding opening day. The Modern Wing was not only designed to be open to light, but to the public as well. In many ways, it appears that a concerted effort was made to connect the new wing with its exterior environs, Millennium Park in particular. But a museum designed by a top architect using high-end materials has its price, as does the constant maintenance of light surfaces and hardwood floors. This could be one reason for the increase in ticket prices. Regardless, the Modern Wing does try to show that modern art is not something solely reserved for scholars and critics, but also to be appreciated by the general public.






By Darrell Jones


 Animated walk-around by Ross Barney Architects


CHICAGO APR 27, 2009-The construction of Chicago's Riverwalk is one of the more exciting civic projects taken on by the city since the planning out of the Museum Campus. This ambitious carving out of a new and significant public realm represents perhaps the third leg of a paradigm shift in our relationship to the river. With the cleaning up of this waterway after the historic reversal of its flow in 1900, developers eventually awakened to the realization that a location along this body of water which embraces rather than shunning it can be profitable. Of course it didn't hurt that the city also began to insist on the creation of public access areas and "green space" to be a part of new riverfront developments.  Now, the anticipation of billions of dollars from local, state and federal funds to construct a continuous path from the lake westward on both banks of the Chicago River has given this final piece of its re-adaptation a new sense of certainty.


With New York City's identity closely tied in to the man-made canyons of Manhattan, San Antonio being known for its Riverwalk, and Miami for its beaches, it hardly seems fair that Chicago will soon benefit from the possession of each of these. Of course, the inclusion of the right type of commercial establishments, pedestrian amenities (i.e. lighting, benches, landscaping, etc.), and interactive opportunities will determine the overall success of this endeavor. Our hope is that unlike Navy Pier (which yes is the city's #1 tourist attraction to date), we think through how to maximize the use of each stretch of the Riverwalk without having to revisit its design 5-10 years after its completion in the near future.  





By Darrell Jones


Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil 2009 Driehaus Prize laureate


CHICAGO APR 6, 2009-On the weekend of March 27-28, 2009 The University of Notre Dame School of Architecture honored the 2009 recipients of the the most significant award for classicism in the contemporary built environment. Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil was presented with the 2009 Richard H. Driehaus Prize at a colloquium at the historic John B. Murphy Auditorium in downtown Chicago.  Also present were over 40 5th-year students from the school of architecture along with WTTW which was recording the proceedings for future broadcast.


The $200,000 Driehaus Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding architect whose work applies the principles of classicism in contemporary contexts, including sensitivity to the historic continuum, the fostering of community, and the impact on the built and natural environments.  It is the largest unrestricted prize of its kind. Fabio Grementieri was also honored at the event with the $50,000 Henry Hope Reed Award, presented annually to an individual whose work has supported the cultivation of the traditional city through planning, preservation or promotion.


At the colloquium honoring the 2009 laureates, Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil will discussed his career in a one-on-one interview with New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger.  Fabio Grementieri was featured in a group conversation on public policy and preservation with Adele Chatfield-Taylor, president of the American Academy in Rome, and Russell Keune, former director of international relations for the American Institute of Architects.





By Darrell Jones


OrganiK Revolution modeling a 111 S. Wacker-inspired creation


CHICAGO MAR 30, 2009- Architecture + Fashion. On first glance one would think these two design communities have little if anything in common. Yes, architecture is about artistic beauty as much as the science of construction; and fashion can be distilled down to the simplicity of form and function of what we wear. But can the two share meaningful expression and interplay in design theory with cutting-edge results? Well, apparently a few fashion designers and architects set out to make it happen as they came together with their productions for "van der vogue" - an Illinois Institute of Technology hosted event celebrating the 123rd birthday of architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and his contributions to architecture by featuring the creations of local fashion designers inspired by his buildings and similar modernist examples around the Chicago area. Among the buildings from which inspiration was derived for these one-of-a-kind dress creations were the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, south on Michigan Avenue, the God-Box Mies-designed chapel on the campus of IIT, and 111 South Wacker designed by Goettsch Partners.


Some of local fashion designers participating included Kristin Frieman of Red Shift, Lindsey Boland of Habit Chicago, Cynthia Ryba of Cynthia Ryba, Lara Miller of Lara Miller, Alice Berry of Alice Berry, Kristin Hassan of Organi K Revolution, Lidia Wachowska of Evil Kitty and Laura Lambert of Scarlet Designs present their architecturally-inspired creations. According to Laura Miller of Laura Miller, "we were following through on very simple elements and began with functionality in mind. [Our goal was] not just design for aesthetics, but [design with] purpose." Also on hand for the celebration were architecture firms Goettsch Partners, Dirk Denison Architects, UrbanLab, DePree Bickford Associates and Krueck + Sexton Architects. Dirk Lohan open the evening with a brief introduction to the celebration and its fashion component and commented that "Fashion designers give us new ways of looking at these buildings and structures."  Visit the Architecture + Fashion Page to view photos from the evening's presentation.






By Darrell Jones


Rada Architecture's Clybourn Point


CHICAGO MAR 16, 2009- With the official arrival of Spring just around the corner, Chicagoans will no doubt find it to be a welcome sign that despite no matter how adverse the season, new life is sure to follow. In this context, the current economic downturn has been and continues to be a winter of discontent for many. But in spite of the realities of  tightening of budgets and disposable incomes, recent statistics have shown that Americans are finding the resources to enjoy the escape Hollywood provides and a few other entertainment outlets like it. One thing this shows is that we value the means by which we can put our issues on the back burner for awhile even if they cost us some of our hard-earned income.


Despite this fact, there are many others who still can't afford many of the high-priced entertainment venues or traveling to far-flung corners of the world to take in breath-taking memorable sites. Consequently, not only have we seen a decline in our foreign tourists, but the locals are finding more affordable ways to escape closer to home. As our thoughts begin to turn toward a long-anticipated Spring and Summer and the ways we can enjoy the outdoors without going broke, Perhaps one of the best means to do this is to go out and listen to free outdoor concert, relax at the beach or stroll around town and check out the architecture which brings the world to our doorstep.


Yes there are a myriad of tours available at nominal rates, but the thing about Chicago's museum of architecture is that its open and accessible for free 24/7 year round. You may not hear all about the history of these places of interest from a tour guide, however with the wealth of information made possible through the internet today, we all can be experts on art deco if we choose to be. While its true that more than a few developments have been stopped and many others scrapped, its a good bet that Chicago's neighborhoods hold enough newly built surprises to satisfy any architecture enthusiast. For an added twist, maybe a surveying of the area's halted projects could be someone's idea of fun.  So whatever your tastes, make a point to get out and enjoy all that Chicago has to offer - for free!





By Darrell Jones


University Village, Chicago


CHICAGO JAN 18, 2009- During a recent snowstorm (take your pick), a colleague of mine bemoaned the unfortunate circumstance of having to detour to work through the congested University Village Halsted Street corridor. A section stretching from Roosevelt Rd north to 15th Place to the south. Of course if the planners of this new community had fully envisioned what a successful outcome of their project might look like, perhaps they would have considered requesting a 4-lane or at worst a turn-lane throughway down one of the more heavily trafficked gateways into downtown Chicago.


Of the many notable roadways throughout the city, few can rival the rich history and continued significance of Halsted Street. From its place as the epicenter of the meat-packing stockyards industry at the beginning of the 20th Century through the ethnic outdoor markets of Maxwell Street to emerging university communities today, Halsted Street is indelibly meshed into the warp and woof of the "City of big shoulders."


Although only a small section of the meat-processing business remains there, and Maxwell Street has been neutered into insignificance, University Village seeks to instill a sense of place along a stretch of Halsted which can extend street-level vitality from downtown several blocks southward. With human-scale lighting, public spaces, and curbside parking, the area is beginning to awaken with residential and retail traffic. Still needed are more green spaces, additional parking and better traffic flow to enhance the effort underway there.


The story is reversed several miles south at 63rd and Halsted Street where Kennedy-King College's new 40-acre campus is spearheading a re-vitalization in the heart of economically-distressed Englewood. This is an area which enjoyed the limelight as an intercity retail destination back in 50's and early 60's. The locating of the city college campus there is the first injection of new life into the area as the streets have been re-paved, the CTA station improved, and noticeably more green space has appeared. 


According to, a new Walgreens next to the college is expected to attract more commercial development. New housing, retail centers and a new police station are all opening near the college. A large, stately vacant building sits a block north of the campus and could be a critical piece to changing the personality of the neighborhood. What once was a former temple of worship could with re-investment become a central focal point through re-adaptation as a cultural center, a community center, a jobs center or of course a church again. This restoration, taken with all the others could signal sincerity to this community that hope for change will be more than just political rhetoric but can be in fact a visible reality along that "Great Street." 






By Darrell Jones


The stalled Waterview Tower on Wacker Drive


CHICAGO DEC 29, 2008-In our determination to make it through an early winter onslaught here in the Chicago area, its easy to experience the natural memory fade of all the headlining events in architecture from this past year. But as a new year is already upon us, a compelling question arises from the ruble of all the promise of 2008. What are the top stories which are foundational for what could be future headliners in architecture for 2009? Well, of course there were many candidates from which to choose, such as the impact the new administration will have on the nation's infrastructure and planned re-dos of Grant Park and woeful stretches of North Michigan Ave. But we settled on three which might have the greatest continuing impact on into the new year.


Heading up this list has to be the ongoing crippling effect of the economic recession not only here but globally. Extremely fortunate are some projects of note which were well into construction and secured financing before the downturn hit. Case in point, Trump Tower (which still is challenged to sell out its units), The Legacy, Aqua Tower, and One Museum Place lead this group. Conversely, one of the most anticipated and acclaimed projects in the world - Calatrava's Spire -remains just a gigantic "hole in one." In spite of the liens and shriveling up of needed capital to restart and finish this iconic building, we predict that all parties involved will find a way to overcome extraordinary odds to get this thing done.


Next at the top of this list is the conflict over locating the new Chicago Children's Museum - formerly of Navy Pier, although when the mayor makes his mind up about a project (see Meigs Field), it is all but gift wrapped and delivered. Yet, the jury is still out on the finalities of this project. In the face of editorial alternatives touting better locales, reports slamming subterranean children's museums, and increasing public scrutiny of the project, the pro-Grant Park forces march forward undaunted. We anticipate additional design concessions, but ultimately expect to see another building staking a claim in Chicago's front yard.


What may be regarded as surprise inclusion here are preservation concerns. With each passing decade, the issue of preserving as many of our historical architectural treasures as we can has heightened in the public consciousness. In the spotlight  of late has been efforts to recognize, rescue and restore mid-century modern masterpieces.  Additionally, mainstays such as Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House in Plano, IL continues to be ravaged by the floodwaters in its Fox River Valley locale. On another front, little movement seems to be detected in raising the necessary capital to fund the restoration of Louis Sullivan's fire-decimated Pilgrim Baptist Church on south Prairie Ave. On a more positive note, the discovery of a few Sullivan-designed storefront facades at 18, 22 and 28 S. Wabash Ave are in the process of restoration by Chicago architects T. "Gunny" Harboe and Douglas Gilbert. With numerous other projects due to be unveiled or re-adapted, look for 2009 to yield a few more pleasant surprises in the preservation effort.





Hines Interest development at 444 W. Lake St.


CHICAGO DEC 16, 2008- These days it seems all too frequent that the "best laid plans of mice and men come to naught." So it is with another statement-making downtown structure - 200 N. Riverside Plaza. The 52-story office tower proposed for development along the Chicago River by Hines Interests L P is being crunched by the current credit crisis. According to, Hines needs a $328-million construction loan but has only $200 million committed by a group of four banks thus far. Another $30 million in equity is required from Hines or an outside investor before making any additional loans for the project. Hines has already appropriated $128 million in equity to this point and would be incurring a greater percentage of risk with further personal investment.  The $536-million skyscraper designed by Pickard Chilton Architects Inc. of New Haven, CT was scheduled to begin construction in 2009 and has already secured two high-profile tenants: investment bank William Blair & Co. LLC and law firm Baker & McKenzie LLP.




By Darrell Jones


Residences of Bradley Place II near Addison & Western

CHICAGO NOV 24, 2008- While much has been made of the effect the current economic slowdown has had on Chicago's high-rise boom, the city's low-rise residential projects continue to spring up at various locales around town. This trend exists despite the downward spiral in new housing starts which typically reflect the suburban market more because of its greater availability of buildable space. Several examples of new and soon-to-be-completed low-rise residential tracts in the "windy city" include: Parkside homes at Lakeshore East, Residences at Bradley Place, Hartland Park, The Jazz District, Oakwood Shores, Chicago Haven on West Madison and Park Boulevard at 35th and State. Taken together, these new housing developments comprised of similar exterior elements are indications of movement toward the next generation of distinctive architectural housing.

For more than a century, Chicago has quilted together neighborhood patterns of single-family and 2-3-flat homes defined by bungalows, Victorian and European-styles, Prairie-style, ranches, brownstones, Cape Cod interpretations and other eclectic blends. These houses have each featured their own unique mix of layouts, materials and colors. Although today's current projects don't adhere to one identifiable design style, they do appear to share a few common characteristics. Among them are: the use of brick throughout, earthtone colors of browns, reds, and off-whites, front steps leading to a porch on a 1 1/2 to 2-story building many sporting a large arch over an entryway or window. One reason for the consistent look across residences is that only a few developers are responsible for them.

Generally speaking, these new single and multi-family units do project a grit, strength and character expected in urban areas. This is a hopeful trend because of how easy it might be for developers to conceive suburban-style enclaves within city limits if they were so inclined to go in that direction. So while Chicago will maintain its architectural eclecticism beyond any current dominant design trends, don't be surprised to see a slight directional shift in architectural housing styles filling pockets of our urban landscape for some time to come.   




By Darrell Jones


Sullivan Center, 33 S. State St.

CHICAGO OCT 20, 2008-– One of Chicago's most revered architectural mainstays is poised to begin yet another of its seemingly "9 lives." The former Schlesinger & Mayer department store which most us identify as the long time home of Carson Pirie Scott & Co. is now morphing into its latest personality - the Sullivan Center. Though this 1903 national landmark's facade has been under wraps for months at the intersection of State & Madison, vibrant and visible change has continued within its interior.  Over 1 million sq. ft. is being divided up for office, academic and retail use. Among the Sullivan Center's new tenants is the project's developers - Joseph Freed and Associates LLC whose headquarters will occupy the fourth floor.  Additionally, the architecture and engineering firm of PSA-Dewberry has leased almost 11,000 sq. ft. and is consolidating its Naperville and South Loop offices there by Dec.1.  In 2007, the architecture and fashion departments at the School of the Art Institute moved into its new digs at the Center. Recently, the SAIC opened 32,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space on the seventh floor for its new Sullivan Galleries. Utilizing 25,000 sq. ft. of available space opened by the vacated Carson's department store, current plans are to have the high-end retailer Fox & Obel store taking occupancy upon completion of the renovations. Several pictures of what looks to be an elegantly restored lobby and various sections of the facade can be viewed at




By Ross Renjilian


Glen Tower Center, Glenview, IL

CHICAGO SEPT 28, 2008-– Many architecture firms become recognized for creating beautiful, sleek, and innovative buildings. Whether these buildings shoot up into the infinite blue, demonstrate values, or house some of our most prized possessions, they typically stand alone in solemnity. Today's architecture firms take on these "breakout" projects focusing all their energy on this one structure by creating what they hope to be an "icon" from start to finish. Pappageorge and Haymes Ltd. has been a firm with much of their focus in the Chicagoland area via large contributions to housing restorations, townhome communities, and even residential skyscrapers. In Chicago's continually emerging, constantly evolving cityscape, this is a firm that seems to be determined to be front and center in the discussion as to what shape this city's built environment is going to take in the near and distant future. Creating whole "walkable" communities with local restaurants, retail, entertainment, accessible transportation and communal green space has become a primary way in which Pappageorge & Haymes is leading the way in fostering interaction between people and the built environment.

One of their best examples of this firm's community approach is the Glen Tower Center located in Glenview, IL. This project focused on the redevelopment of an abandoned naval air base through providing high-density housing and mixed-use programs. The Glen Tower Center incorporates townhomes, apartments, retail shops, department stores, a movie theater, parking facilities , and of course, restaurants. The area also takes advantage of open park spaces, allowing people to escape from the congestion of main street. Glen Tower Center has been extremely successful in its objective to create an environment in which people can comfortably interact with each other and their surroundings.





New mezzanine at Grand & State substation

CHICAGO SEPT 8, 2008-– If you had an opportunity to see any of China's iconic contemporary architecture during the 2008 summer games, you no doubt couldn't help but be impressed. While Chicago doesn't have an upcoming season of anticipated projects which would quite measure up to any of that, we do have a number of exciting developments to look forward to this season and beyond. Some of these new design/build projects will potentially have an immediate and lasting impact upon our urban environment, visually and functionally. Several are as follows:

  • The Grand/State CTA - Red Line Station. Work continues to progress on this vital transportation hub which services an estimated 8,000 patrons daily. The renovation will add over 2,000 sq. ft. of mezzanine space along with new granite floors and stairs, glazed wall tiles, new elevators & escalators, kiosks and more.

  • The Roosevelt Rd. Metra Station. Truly an overdue renovation  project if their ever was one. This station is one the city's more strategic portals near Soldier Field and the Museum Campus. The old platforms have all but been replaced along with new heated shelters . Elevators are currently being installed with the rickety wooded pedestrian walkway to be made kindling next.

  • The Residences at Lakeshore East. Chicago's newest major neighborhood is in the midst of its final phase as it adds a number of single-family residences and retail spaces to ring the perimeter of its ventrally-positioned iconic park area. Additionally, Jeanne Gang's Aqua Tower sits to the west of this development and is sure to be an attention-grabbing part of the entire area.

  • Roosevelt Square. Driving through the circle one can see a noticeable section of construction framework and scaffolding rising from among the glut of structures in the south Loop. This new urban plan promises to bring new life and vitality to this section of Chicago's South Loop through the development of a "walkable" community of residences, retail, restaurants, entertainment and public space.

  • Carson Pirie Scott Store. As frustrating as it has been to have Sullivan's historic landmark work under wraps all year for restoration, its good to hear that interior spaces are being re-adapted and utilized for School of the Art Institute classes and a public gallery. Its ultimate success will no doubt be measured by the installation of a proposed food market in the lobby space.

  • Additional Projects of Note. Several other projects with high expectations moving toward conclusion which will command our attention are: Block 37 and 22 W. Washington CBS2 Studios, One Museum Park and the Blue Cross Blue Shield building vertical addition.





By Darrell Jones


National Center for the Performing Arts - Beijing

CHICAGO AUG 25, 2008-– Wow would probably be an apt exclamation for the effort and outcome resulting from the XXIX Olympiad held in Beijing China. As exciting as the summer Olympics can be and Michael Phelps doing a fine impression as Aquaman, much of the buzz this year was generated from the cutting-edge Chinese architecture both old and new. Along with the CCTV irregularly-shaped building, the Bird's Nest stadium and the Water Cube have presented worldwide-watchers with stunning backdrops, night shots, and aerial images of these structures. Total costs for these games have been reported at over $44 billion.

So where does Chicago fit in the game of 'one-upsmanship" in its hopes of impressing a good part of world still ignorant of Chicago's emerging presence of the world stage in the vein of New York, Paris, London and Rome? Well, for one, we certainly aren't expected to spend with the fanatical abandon of the Chinese government. Second, China is seeking to show its positioning itself as a 21st century player in economics, culture and architecture. Chicago, I believe is that already as its markets, politics, cuisine, and of course architecture has put it on the map in subjects of global opinion.

With Chicago's present world-class mix of classic and contemporary architecture, we don't need to blow anyone with new Olympic structures. However, we do need to design to a standard of excellence and innovation we've already set for more than a century. The hope is that if we land the 2016 games, we would proudly improve the design/build environment and transport infrastructure which currently exists. Landing these games should be see as an opportunity to show the world how and why we defined progressive architecture.





By Darrell Jones


View from Washington St.

CHICAGO AUG 3, 2008-– Forget the "curse of the Billy goat;" the "curse of Block 37" yet lives!  No, its not that the 17-story office building at 22 West Washington is not going to be completed-on the contrary; its due to be finished this summer with what looks to be a well-designed and well-placed shinny new broadcast studio. Although its retail neighbors hit a snag with the axing of the super transit station project, it is otherwise on track as well. No, my beef is with the past week's revelation of what its new outdoor broadcast screen will look like. Too many times when given a seminal moment to make an architectural statement which is worthy of our reputation and could move us forward, corporate or civic heads go brain dead and we're left with a legacy of less. Several notable examples ever with us are the River North McDonald's on steroids and landmark-stripped re-fitted Soldier Field to name a couple (see Chicago's Not So Magnificent Seven in local archives).

Unfortunately, Chicagoans are left once again with second-tier design results as WBBM-Ch 2 president and general manger, Joe Ahern and other suits chose to overrule their architect's opinions for the size and location of this screen fronting Daley Plaza at Dearborn and Washington Streets. Ralph Johnson of Perkins + Will planned for a screen, I believe, that was much anticipated in the playful energy it would add to an enlivening State Street theater district.  Johnson's designs called for a unit which would be larger and stretch horizontally 80' to the corner or at least would've had the smaller unit asymmetrically placed. We got neither. Instead of contributing to a mini-Times Square-like feel emerging in the area, the little screen (30' x 19') they settled for seems more like an afterthought or typical video billboard found on many buildings today. Worse yet, the exposed framework behind it looks as though its unfinished. If CBS 2's goal is to step into the arena with the broadcast news big boys (ABC 7 and NBC 5), it just embarrassingly tripped on the way up to center stage. 

Public sentiment at least in the blogesphere seems to be revealing a general angst at the broadcast screen's size and placement. I hope that CBS 2 reconsiders this design in consideration for Chicago's architectural reputation and the wishes of the community it purports to serve. Our hope and our appeal is that they will give is something to readily embrace and be proud to show-off for years to come.





By Darrell Jones


Bridge to Millennium from New Modern Wing

CHICAGO JULY 27, 2008-– Somehow I imagined the bridge leading from the Art Institute's New Modern Wing to Millennium Park would be thin, flat and somewhat transparent. Seeing it now for the view-obstructing "half-pipe" structure that it is, my impressions are--not cool.

In light of the stalled construction at the future home of Chicago's Museum of Broadcast Communications and the recent radio ad appeals for contributions, its unbelievable and shameful that this project is not more widely supported or sufficiently funded.

Speaking of stalled projects, I hope the Waterview Tower on Wacker is able to resume construction soon. Looks to be a nice riverfront addition.

Funny how the idea of a Public Housing Museum here in Chicago always seems to draw chuckles and sarcasm from whomever I mention it to.

Along that line, unsolicited suggestions for possible rides included an elevator which stalls, drops and breaks for several days and a courtyard obstacle course complete with a hot asphalt barefoot walk and sniper- evasion run. 

Since green roofs are all the rage, how long before we start to see actual "green" buildings covered with Wrigley Field-type ivy on all sides?

No matter what they do, they'll unfortunately never be able to make a continuous Riverwalk along the Chicago River. 

Did anyone hear about the Palm trees purported to be brought in for this summer's AVP tournament at North Ave. Beach? What next, faux mountains placed as a backdrop for the next PGA Tour event in here?

Has anyone noticed the textbook-like layout of the city's skyscrapers in view as you drive into the Loop on the Dan Ryan Expressway?

Isn't the silence deafening now that the mayor has appeared to come through victorious in placing his new subterranean Children's Museum in Grant Park?

Are plans in the works or deals on the table bringing Chicago its first major movie studio lot yet?   






Press Release


Evanston, IL – Cyrus Homes has partnered with Indie Energy to provide affordable year round heating and cooling from geo exchange systems provided by Indie Energy at their newest development, Church Street Village.  Church Street Village, a Townhouse Green located at 1613-1691, offers 40 brand-new, all-brick two and three bedroom town homes from $389,900. The development is 50 percent sold as of this month.

The town homes at Church Street Village will be built to LEED certified standards in order to ensure that it is a truly “green” community.  It is one of the first residential communities in the country to offer geo thermal energy systems which, in addition to Energy Star appliances and double insulated windows cut energy usage.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the geo exchange system is the most efficient HVAC system on the market.  Not only does the use of the geo exchange system reduce wasted energy but it also reduces the cost.  As a result of the over all efficient system a homeowner can expect to see up to 70% energy savings on annual operating costs. 

The developers have recycled over 6,000 tons of material that was on site that would normally be taken away to landfills and re-used it for the community’s construction.  In addition, they are offering non-V.O.C. (Volatile Organic Compound) paint and the option for non-V.O.C. carpeting, as well as exploring environmentally safe alternatives to insulation which includes made from recycled blue jeans! 

In addition to their mission of providing eco-friendly option in Evanston, Cyrus Homes and Indie Energy teamed up with Community Builders to offer guidance and jobs to local residents.  Community Builders, overall goal is to provide workforce development and life skills acquisition opportunities for young people in a wide variety of fields.  Many of the people that come to their program are high school dropouts who had been unemployed or working dead-end, low-wage jobs before starting the program. Some had also been involved in illegal activities.  These individuals are trained in a skill and then work on projects within the community, such as Church Street Village.

“We are pleased to see such a great response to this unique living opportunity that Church Street Village brings to Evanston”, notes Walter Kihm, Jr., Chairman of Cyrus Homes and a life long resident of Evanston.  “As native Evanstonians, we want to give back to the community not only by bringing an attractive and high-quality development to its west side but also by contributing to this forward thinking community with an energy conscious neighborhood”

Indie Energy, located at 1020 Church Street in Evanston is a clean-technology energy services company.  They design, finance, install and maintain energy systems based on an innovative combination of new technologies and renewable energy sources: geothermal and solar.  Visit for more information on Indie Energy and geo thermal energy systems.

Church Street Village is located at Church Street and Florence Avenue within walking distance to parks, the CTA, Metra and downtown Evanston.  The Sales Center is now open Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 PM or by appointment.  To schedule your visit to Church Street Village, please call 877-879-5900 x 101 or visit to request more information on this new community.  




A Wee Bit of Scottish Flair in Chicago Design

By Ross Renjilian


The Scottish Manor in Deerfield, IL


Orren Pickell is one of Chicago’s leading residential home designers which specialize in grand homes, classy styles, and luxurious details finished with the industry’s finest materials. This summer Pickell is at it again with not just one house, but with an entire development. “Tarns of the Moor” is located in the Deerfield, IL and is the setting for one of Orren Pickell’s newest masterpieces-the aptly named “Scottish Manor.” This grand, super-sized, European-styled mansion has set the tone for what we can expect from this housing development in terms of scale and style with its castle-like feel.

After visiting the “Scottish Manor”, I left with a desire to pack up all of my belongings and move in the next day. The truth is all of my stuff would fit into a small corner of this estate home as it is “nearly” 9,000 square feet boasting 6 bedrooms, 5.3 baths, 7 fireplaces, and to top it off- a pub in the basement!  Unfortunately, upon learning that the price tag was but a “mere” $4.8 million, my desire was quickly demoted to dreaming.

The house has several interesting layout features from a design standpoint. Yet, despite its size, the “Scottish Manor” actually possesses a very quaint feel.  It’s worth noting that the entrance was not overdone or extremely dramatic as many are apt to be for this type of high-end residence. To create a more old-style feel, the front windows were leaded which also adds privacy, but also sets a tone for anticipation of what’s inside.  The dining room is located right in the center of the house, visible upon entry. This was a bold move because the foyer was toned down in order to put a hierarchy on the center table.

The house is split up into two different sections; one side is for formal entertaining whereas the other side has a more rustic-home feel and is designated as the living area. In order to create this contrast, different materials and languages were used to create these divergent spaces. The formal section used many curves, to give it a smooth flowing feel. These curves were used in the arched doorways, the barrel vaulted corridor, an oval shaped dining room, and a cylindrical foyer accompanied by a spiral staircase. The area used much cooler colors and shades of light gray and creams in the walls and furnishings. The floors were a combination of acacia wood and travertine stone. The rustic side, although not devoid of any luxury does carry a much warmer feel. It does so through its use of materials such as hand scraped oak floors, granite countertops, slate stove back drop, cherry cabinetry, and limestone. The house is suited with top of the line appliances which are masked in order to keep the rustic feel.

A new and unique design decision was to create, not one, but two master suites in strategic locations. While the primary master suite is located on the first floor, Orren Pickell has placed another essentially versatile suite on the second floor. The idea behind this is to make the house more flexible to the eventual owner who would be able to exercise a preference of locating their sleeping quarters on the first floor, second floor or maybe even both.

My overall impressions were that the “Scottish Manor’s” interior is very well-organized with ample space for living and storage. Within the context of high-end residential design, this house makes a definite statement with its grand size, intricate details, and lavish use of materials. It is this skillful approach the “Scottish Manor” masters in creating an elegantly cohesive living space which make this type of luxury a dream destination not just for this writer but for many.









                  Green is the New Pink

Inside of one Chicago’s more trendy residential complexes

By Ross Renjilian


Interior of the newly opened Emerald


CHICAGO, IL, JUNE 16, 2008-Styles and trends come and go. At one time bellbottoms were the must haves, the yoyo was one of the most popular toys, and everyone had, yes, a pet rock. The truth is that the realm of architecture also goes through many cycles of different styles and trends, and right now that trend is “going green”.

The Emerald is a recently completed residential building that is ironically and perhaps intentionally located on “Green” Street. Chicago-based architects Pappageorge/Haymes, Ltd.  designed The Emerald and have ownership of numerous other projects throughout Chicago. The residential building is a twin tower set-up, which is connected by an 8,000 square-foot foyer and lobby space. What makes the Emerald truly unique is its substantial effort to bring green, recycled and sustainable materials into the built environment. These materials were demonstrated in their $4 million lobby, which included: LED/ Fluorescent lighting, Bamboo veneers, recycled glass terrazzo/ quartz floors, recycled glass countertops, and even green furniture made from sustainable materials. Beyond the Lobby, The Emerald also gives residents the option of putting green features into their residences including recycled counter tops and bamboo flooring. With this idea in mind, the Emerald’s selling point is a green lifestyle, in which they create an image for themselves, and that is making green design trendy and fashionable.

On the surface the Emerald demonstrates many innovative uses of green materials, but unfortunately missed the mark by not being a LEED certified building. The building has been in planning for the last three years, and three years ago green technology was still under development. Therefore architecturally the building does not demonstrate innovative technologies, or design efforts, which cater to a more sustainable or green design. With the new trend being “green”, even though the LEEDS criteria was not established when the building was originally conceived, Pappageorge/Haymes, Ltd made a good effort to incorporate sustainable finishes into the completed building in order to minimize its environmental impact. Overall, The Emerald is a nice residential building, with beautiful panoramic views of the city, and inviting spaces that create a fun and trendy atmosphere. The use of sustainable and green materials is also a ever-widening sphere of innovation in today’s residential design program. It was a great idea to think about sustainable and green solutions into the final finishes to keep pace with current green trends. The Emerald demonstrates that even though a building was not originally designed to fulfill LEED’s standard, it can incorporate aspects of sustainable design prior to its final completion and thus reducing its carbon footprint on the earth.  




Chicago Firms Show Their "CAN-Do" Attitude


Canstruction of Chicago Skyscrapers


Chicago, IL, June 10, 2008-If you didn't have the good fortune to have grown up using LEGO's, viewing the 2nd Annual Chicago Canstruction at the Merchandise Mart might bring back memories of your of your innovative childhood improvisations. In conjunction with the Greater Chicago Food Depository (CFD), 20 top local architectural and engineering design firms unleashed their precocious inner-child as they utilized over 86,000 full cans of food ranging from Spam to Campbell's Soup to construct scaled-models of notable figures. These food items will be donated to the CFD at the conclusion of the exhibition. Among the obvious favorites on display were Booth Hansen's "paCmAN," RJN Group, Inc.'s A SOUPer Bowl of Nutrition and 4240 Architecture's "Tuna City."  Maybe this exhibit represents the next step in renewable and sustainable building resources for environmentally-conscious design or maybe its just cool and fun way to contribute to a good and noteworthy cause. Canstruction Chicago 2008 will be on display to the public now thru June 22 at 350 W. Mart Center Drive (Apparel Center). The AIA-Chicago, SEAOI, SMPS and other were sponsors.



Local Awards:

"People's Choice" - Will be determined June 16 and announced June 17

"Most Cans Used" - Booth Hansen, "paCmAN"

"In Demand" (Greater Chicago Food Depository) - RJN Group, Inc., "A SOUPer Bowl of Nutrition"

"Make No Small Cans" - 4240 Architecture / Charter Sills, "Tuna City"




Awards to go to National:

Honorable Mention - Eckenhoff Saunders Architects / KJWW Engineering Consultants / Executive Construction, Inc., "Chicago Keeps Hunger in Check"

Honorable Mention - RJN Group, Inc., "A SOUPer Bowl of Nutrition"

Best Use of Labels - 4240 Architecture / Charter Sills, "Tuna City"

Best Meal - Booth Hansen, "paCmAN"

Structural Ingenuity - Halvorson & Partners / HOK, "Hungry, Hungry Hippo"

Jurors' Favorite - Nagle Hartray Danker Kagan McKay Penney Architects, Ltd., "CANtastic Voyage"



Chicago's Not So Magnificent Seven

By Darrell Jones


Museum of Contemporary Art


Chicago, IL, May 26, 2008-Over the last 20 years, Chicago has seen the construction of more architecturally significant projects than most cities around the nation could ever imagine for themselves. While these projects represent signs of economic health and growth in our city, they also represent additional pieces to the overall mosaic which defines the character of our built environment. For better or for worse, once these structures are thrust upon us they become new "in-laws" among our family of buildings.


Chicago over recent decades has grown increasingly more conscious and more proud of its architectural heritage and place in the world. When great architecture which is innovative or an aesthetic-knockout is produced, we share a collective pride and joy-not unlike a proud proud parent or child. So, it stands to reason, we feel diminished, perhaps more so than other municipalities, when an opportunity for greatness is lost or squandered by the new construction of a bland, unattractive, or backward-reaching structure.


Recognizing the long term negative impact these underachieving buildings have on our visual environment, Chicago Architecture Today has compiled a list of what we believe to be seven of the city's greatest missed architectural design opportunities. Perhaps you agree with our list, have others which should be on it or some which you think shouldn't have made it. Feel free to let us know what you think.


The Museum of Contemporary Art - 1996, designed by Berlin architect Josef Paul Kleihues: An above ground bunker or handball walls extreme.


Soldier Field -2003, designed by Wood + Zapata, Inc: The resulting renovation brought about a delisting of the stadium as a national historic landmark. This marriage of old and new (which doesn't pass muster as good contemporary design) may be the most hideous I've ever seen.


Rock n' Roll McDonald's - 2005, designed by McDonald's corporate in-house group: Great forward-looking designs submitted by Helmut Jahn et. al rejected for this giant happy meal box.


Harold Washington Library - 1991, designed by Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge, Inc.: This oversized retro-styled behemoth eclipses all light and life in the south loop.


U.S. Cellular Field -1991, designed by HOK Sport, Kansas City, HKS, Inc,: Parked resides in the no-man's land of mediocrity between the great neo-classic designs and the exciting contemporary facilities.


Navy Pier - 1992, Renovated: 1992 by Benjamin Thompson and Vickery/Ovresat/Awsumb: Despite its popularity everyone knows it needs another major redo.


Trump Tower - scheduled completion 2008, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Honestly, the building isn't half bad, but the footprint somewhat overwhelms the site, the glass used for the curtain wall is not the the first and best choice, and the shape once again seeks to evoke the designs of past local icons instead of stimulating new architectural dialogue for contemporary construction as is occurring today in Asia and the Middle East.   




Looptopia + Architecture = ?

By Darrell Jones


A Looptopia musical performance at Federal Plaza


Chicago, IL, May 12, 2008-So another Looptopia has come and gone and with it the renewed expectations of a better showing than last year's offerings of Chicago's now annual Spring all-nighter. The multi-venued artistic event been auspiciously with another mid-Spring date which in the minds of most Chicagoans is just asking for trouble with our extended winters. Yet, despite the torrential rains at the outset, mother nature relented and brought clear skies and acceptable temperatures to the delight of in-coming suburban and city crowds anxious to find a good time" hanging-out" downtown till dawn (Although many of the "late-nite" wristbands were already out from the designated pick-up stations by 6 p.m.). 


From an architectural perspective, the idea of staging free concert events throughout the loop (Daley Center, Federal Plaza, etc.) under the stars amidst the backdrop of Chicago's urban cliffs is a great experience. Also. the utilization of the city's cultural, academic and retail interior spaces is a nice opportunity to enjoy those venues by people who may not normally have reason to patronize those places. There were a couple of specific architectural goings-on at the Santa Fe building. Nestled among the current exhibition on preservation in the buildings atrium was a number of human-scaled Lego-like model buildings of Chicago giants being constructed by a gentleman seated at a table. Later in the evening an improvisation troupe performed architecture-inspired themes at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.


Apart from the afore-mentioned architecturally-related events, there wasn't much more to be experienced in this area at this year's Looptopia. Some suggestions for next year which could make for a more memorable night architecturally-speaking are: first, line-up a number of our river-worthy vessels and ferry people down the south branch for a taste of one of Chicago's most popular vistas; second, open up the offices of Chicago's largest architecture firm-Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM), the mayor's office and Aon Center to rarely scene Loop interior spaces; and three, recruit local architects to lead public sketching and/or modeling sessions using simple materials. These kind of offerings along with free looks into some nearby historical landmarks and luxury Loop residential spaces we believe would make this night on the town a truly much talked about and anticipated event.



Observations, Opinions & Rants about Architecture

By Darrell Jones


The South Loop's Emerging One Museum Park Skyscraper


Chicago, IL, April 28, 2008-The Chicago Tribune's editorial alternatives for re-locating the Children's Museum away from Grant Park and to either Northerly Island, Lincoln Park, and the near West side are 3 great ideas which will be totally ignored by city hall.


Does anybody else think Calatrava's original Spire design looked more elegant than the current chubby one? Does anyone even remember?


I think an antenna or something would make the Spire look a bit more complete; don't you?


Every summer since the cows "paraded" around town, the city has tried to re-capture that glory with as much success as the Bulls current playoff run... Oh wait...nevermind.


Come on, admit it. You dislike the look of Trump Tower just because of Donald Trump. That works for me.


If you've never been on one of those river boat tours or its been a few years, shame on you!


With the exception of the Spire, is there any more highly anticipated building than Jeanne Gang's Aqua Tower?


Will the new home of the Museum of Broadcast Communications ever get the funding for construction to become the amazing resource that its ready to be?


Is it me or has the latest behemoth-One Museum Park-in the south Loop snuck up on you too?


One of the coolest things will be the opening of the Nickerson House at 25 East Erie Street as a public museum preserving its exterior and interior furnishings. 





The Power of a Place

By Darrell Jones


Chicago, IL, April 6, 2008-As America's pastime heralds the arrival of Spring, the faithful are religiously populating the temples of the athletic idols of their affection. Most of these "temples" or

stadiums though loaded with fan-friendly and high-tech amenities, tend only to hold the attention and allegiance of their patrons as long as their team is playing well. Fair enough. Notably, there are a few venues which stand out because of their place in the history of the sport i.e. Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, Wimbledon, Augusta National, etc. Yet, one place stands out in defiance of continuous championship moments because of its inherit power in the psyche of its visitors--Chicago's iconic Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs. As the Chicago National League Ball club plays out the century mark since its last World Series championship, its 94-year-old facility is notoriously cramped, crumbling and out-dated in its infrastructure. Nevertheless, Wrigley Field has been filled to capacity and is almost as sought a ticket as when Jordan's Bulls graced the United Center. In a recent AIA survey of the nation's most beloved architectural spaces, Wrigley Field led the list among Chicago's nominees.


In spite of this iconic popularity, Wrigley Field has been named this past week to the list of Illinois' top 11 most endangered landmarks by Landmark Illinois due to its impending sell and talk of possible renovations. Needless to say, concern for the historical integrity of this ballpark has been loudly voiced by its passionate patrons. Make no mistake, the passion for this place is real and intense. Although we may rarely vocalize it, we do care deeply about many of our significant spaces. For you it may be an iconic place or a place on a smaller scale like the local bar, a favorite club or workout facility, a park, bedroom or rec room area.  Regardless of the preferred venue, the time spent, experiences shared and emotions invested, cherished spaces often reveal the power an endearing built environment can have in all of our lives. Perhaps this fall Wrigley Field can will finally reward the Championship-weary Sun worshippers with memories so positive as to solidify the power of that place in the consciousness of its faithful forever?  




Re-Making  the "Un"-Magnificent Mile

By Darrell Jones


Chicago, IL, March 4, 2008-In an article reported last week by Crain's Chicago Business, the less magnificent portions of Michigan Avenue may be receiving an extreme makeover. Anyone who has traveled the length of Michigan Avenue from Randolph Street to the south, and as far as Wacker Street to the north, knows that there is little reason in between  to slow one's pace. With a hodgepodge of cheap retail, dark cavity-like spaces, and uninspired plazas, this strip has long been the architectural and retail pimple on the princess that is North Michigan Avenue and its newer sister - the southern end dubbed the "Cultural Mile."  According to Crain's, the Chicago Loop Alliance and the city's department of planning and Development along with 42nd Ward alderman Brendan Reilly have brought on a group of architects, retail experts and urban planners to submit a plan to elevate the the profile of the section in scrutiny.


On the table for consideration are the construction of two sets of "landscaped, ornamental steps leading from Michigan Avenue to the Illinois Center Office complex" not unlike the Spanish steps in Rome. The stairs would be designated for the southeast corner of Michigan and South Water Street and at 321-325 N. Michigan Ave. where a low-rise currently sets. Additionally, plans are to extend Lake Street to Columbus Avenue and add new lighting at street level in concert with the modernistic tones of Millennium Park. The planning department has indicated that they will most likely not be accepting all the proposals. Nonetheless, we assume that they are aware of the chance for a bold and forward-thinking solution to truly make a lasting, indeed world class statement here. We trust that they will sign on to the ideas which will not only be the most feasible financially but also architecturally innovative and functionally sensible.  



Environmental Facility Set to "Nest" in the Calumet Region

By Darrell Jones



Chicago, IL, February 11, 2008-Beijing isn't the only place that knows how to put together an imaginative, oversized bird's nest. Looks like Chicago is going to put together its version of one of nature's most basic living arrangements. The Chicago Plan Commission has recently approved the development of the 27,000 square-foot Ford Calumet Environmental Center. Located in the far southeastern community of Hegewisch, the "Best Nest Building" so-named by its designers - the Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects - is scheduled to begin construction this June.  Studio Gang was awarded the commission after winning a 2004 city-sponsored national design competition for a "green building" project.  According the firm's website, the new center will serve to "educate visitors on the past and the present of the Calumet region's unique patchwork of industrial and natural areas."


Although the site selected is most associated with the nearby Ford Chicago Assembly Plant, the area is also home to the 4,000-acre Calumet Open Space Reserve of marshes, wetlands and prairies. The project, funded by the Ford Motor Company, the city of Chicago, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources was delayed due to land-acquisition issues.


The building's nest-like design incorporates indigenous materials which are abundant and even discarded. The structural composition of the building utilizes "salvaged steel from the Calumet industrial region and other recyclable materials such as slag. Studio Gang's website also reveals that the south facing porch is enclosed within a basket-like mesh of salvaged steel which protects the migrating bird population from collisions with the glass they cannot see.  Additionally, an outdoor classroom will be the result for visitors and becomes a window for observing wildlife.


Jorge Perez, executive director of the Calumet Area Industrial Commission, in statements to has stated his excitement for the project. "We're excited that it passed the Plan Commission and building will proceed." Perez said. "It feeds off the Calumet land use plan that looks at opportunities for industrial projects and open space, and what can be preserved and reclaimed. It will be a great gem for the area."  



The Making of Convention City-Chicago style

By Darrell Jones


Chicago, IL, January 14, 2008-Plans have been announced for new 21-story hotel towers to be constructed across from the recently completed McCormick Place West building on 2.7 acres of land on east 22nd street. When built, the 1,500-room facility will also include restaurants, retail shops, 100,000 square feet of meeting space, and possibly a casino if the approved by the Illinois General Assembly. The Alter Group Ltd. which may have beaten McPier to the acquisition of this parcel of land has chosen architect Lucien Lagrange to design the hotel.  Lagrange has several current projects in various stages of development around the city ranging from the traditionally-designed Elysian Hotel at 11 East Walton to the distinctly contemporary and publicly-contested X/O Condominium also in the south loop. 


Alter Group's hotel complex would be the 4th largest hotel in the city. If they land the casino they covet for this prime venue near McCormick Place and key expressway interchanges, this somewhat stark, uninviting outdoor local could be transformed into another major tourist destination within the city. In some cases, this emerging convention complex-especially with casino-if realized, will be the first prolonged experience these tourists will have with Chicago. The design of this hotel is a choice opportunity to not only put our best foot forward aesthetically but to also thoughtfully shape the architectural character of an emerging streetscape. The no-nonsense clean, contemporary lines of the new McCormick Place West has set the standard. The placement of another separate high-profile hotel across the way form it will most likely enliven outdoor areas with pedestrian traffic between facilities.


In the context of this unique opportunity, we're hoping that Lucien Lagrange will seize it to smartly and pleasingly integrate the now dormant landscape into a vibrant theme which ties all parts into a cohesive whole. This entails the design of "green space," human-scaled building entrances, lighting, public seating, walkways, and casino marquee's (if applicable). We see this as a chance to define a singularly specialized "neighborhood" with an architectural flair and functionality while not sacrificing a new modernity which proudly proclaims "Chicago!"         



Area Architectural innovation Goes Back to the Future

By Darrell Jones


Chicago, IL, December 31, 2007-Worldwide, Chicago is known to be, among other things, the birthplace of the modern skyscraper. It is an urban center which boasts world class cultural institutions like The Art Institute if Chicago. Yet, there is no need for this city to memorialize its architectural treasures through the confines of four walls. On the contrary, what remains among our past structural masterpieces which have not thoughtlessly been destroyed comprise exhibits of a living, functional museum of design innovation on a grand scale. Although Chicago has had its moments of breakthrough with cutting-edge architectural design, recent history has given us more noteworthy projects in Europe, Asia, and as of late, the Middle East. In some ways, we seem to be only reflecting the glories of our past. But, the city which has been challenged "to make no little plans." has re-awakened to discover the freshness, fearlessness and fun of edgy design as it once again embraces this creed through the work of several bright, young members of our architectural community. Projects completed this year such as 340 on the Park, the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, and Optima Old Orchard Woods along the Edens Expressway are a few of the shining stars which appear to lead Chicago back to its former status as leader in modernistic design.


Yet, the new year brings with it the threat of slowing or even sidetracking some of the city's latest architectural forays into the future. The economic downturn in the housing market with its ripple effects throughout the lending community have jeopardized the viability of such projects as the Waterview Tower, X/O condominiums, and even the Spire itself. Since most of these on-the-board projects have a greater residential component to them than other uses, they find themselves at a greater risk of stalling. With the optimism that any year brings. lets hope that we've seen the worst of our housing woes but just the beginning of a future re-establishing Chicago as the place to experience the next wave of architectural innovations.    



Downtown Edifices Shine as Stars during the Holiday Season

By Darrell Jones

Dec 17, 2007


Who says only single-family homes can have all the fun during Christmas time getting decked out in lights, holly and reindeer? Well, certainly not some downtown edifices in Chicago. In what has become an annual installment during the holiday season, a fair number of our old mainstays like the Merchandise Mart and the Hancock Center, and a few of our new arrivals on the block i.e. 191 N LaSalle and 311 S. Wacker dress-up in their Yule tide best for locals and tourists alike to enjoy. Many of these office buildings flood their upper floors with alternating red and green lights in either vertical or horizontal patterns. In addition to this, the placing of large wreaths over entryways and the stringing of lights through the trees along their fairways have become staples to our streetscape during this time of year. It has been pleasing to observe-at least in a few cases-how our buildings tend to mimic us as they aspire to wardrobe changes befitting the various celebrations of life. Office towers such as the AON Center, the Blue Cross Blue Shield buildings even utilize their facades year-round by arranging their interior lights to announce certain events or causes like local professional athletic team playoffs, breast cancer awareness or Chicago's Olympic bid. So here's to our big shouldered neighbors in the loop and beyond and their desire to shake off the doldrums and step out into the night wearing their holiday best. Party on!  




New Spertus Facade Flashes onto Historic Michigan Ave. 

By Darrell Jones

Nov 26, 2007


While vacationing in Chicago this summer from France, a tourist cited one of the things he liked best about the city was how the older buildings where everywhere in juxtaposition with the new.  Nowhere is that more evident than at 610 S. Michigan Avenue where the new home of the contemporary-styled Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies sits wedged between its more traditionally-designed neighbors. The $55 million multi-purpose center which includes galleries, a library, a 400-seat theater, high-tech classrooms, a Wolfgang Puck cafe and a gift shop will be officially unveiled to the public Friday, November 30. The jewel-like 10-story designed by the Chicago-based architectural firm of Krueck + Sexton, also lauded for their innovative work in Millennium Park which includes the Harris Theater and Crown Fountain, stands out along the historic Michigan Avenue streetwall in many ways. The multiple angles of the 161-foot-tall, 80-foot-wide glass facade turns a corner from the norm of flat-surfaced curtain walls of typical post-modern skyscrapers. The structure boasts an exterior composition of 726 individual pieces of glass of which there are 556 diverse shapes. To further add to the gem-like appearance of the facade, the size of these pieces vary in size though most typically are 4'x 7' with a lower section extending out as a canopy over the entrance approximately 4 feet. The glass facade has a light smoky-gray tint to the passerby owing to the interior and exterior lamination for solar glare reduction.


As one would expect judging from the building's exterior composition, the interior utilizes transparent walls, skylights and clean open spaces to promote the entry of natural light throughout. Although some of these interiors areas can be publicly viewed at no cost such as the gift shop and lobby, the galleries will require a fee to enter. 


The newly-remodeled facility represents another radical step toward out-of-the-box post-modern design framing Chicago's front yard. With the recent approval of Lucien Lagrange's XO Condominiums, Jeanne Gang's Aqua tower in Lakeshore East, and other similar proposed projects, the Chicago architectural design community is showing an increasing comfort level in flexing its innovative-muscle moving the city once again toward the forefront of cutting-edge architectural design.     




Final Identity of Block 37 Could Define a Revamped State Street 

By Darrell Jones

Nov 5, 2007


As construction continues at pace as brisk as Chicago's pre-winter weather on the once thought-to-be accursed Block 37, rumors about possible future high-profile tenants are also moving at a similar pace.  While the attention-grabbing development bounding State, Washington, Dearborn and Randolph Streets already claims CBS2 News and a David Barton Gym, plans are in the works for an 800-seat, seven screen movie complex.  In addition, the multi-use project to be completed in phases by Joseph Freed and Associates of Palatine has been mentioned in conversations as a possible location of the city's first casino. Now that this key tract of property in Chicago's central core is off and running, it is naturally attracting interest from parties and projects looking to capitalize on the opportunity of partnering with an exciting development at a high profile site. With the embracing of the street and public by the re-designed WLS7 State Street studios, the refurbished Chicago Theater, and the relocation of the Joffrey Ballet in Smithfield's soon to be completed MoMo mixed-use construction, State Street may be auditioning to become (forgive the comparison) Times Square-lite. 


The type of tenants and how those tenants within the Block 37 development architecturally herald their presence to the surrounding streetscape will most likely significantly influence the character of that section of the Loop for years to come.  Let's hope that the final architectural statements made by Block 37's streetscape serve to lift what was once known as "that great street" to not just a glitzy exclamation but to a renewed vibrant urban space which contributes to the elevation of the spirit.  



A Dilapidated Building Awaits Rebirth As a Place of History 

By Darrell Jones

Oct 8, 2007


By all accounts, Chicago seems to take its museums seriously. With the Chicago Children's Museum currently the focus of a passionate debate as to its future location and a modern wing for the Art Institute currently under construction, these civic facilities don't figure to be playing second fiddle any time soon. With so much of our storied past well represented in various receptacles of history around the region, one omission is conspicuous by its absence. At the corner of Halsted and Exchange in the Southwest side communities of Canaryville and Back of the Yards sits an old, neglected building-the former Stock Yards National Bank-which was once a part of Chicago's reputation as "Hog Butcher to the World."


The city has given a nice nod to the famed Union Stock Yards by its creation of Stockyards Industrial Park incorporating with it the preservation of the limestone gate (designated a National Landmark in 1981) which served as the entrance to the Union Stock Yards originally designed by John Wellboorn Root of Burnham and Root around 1875.


Although nearly all of the architectural structures have been destroyed to make way for the modern facilities which now populate the area, the building at 4150 S. Halsted which mimics Philadelphia's Independence Hall has sat vacant for more than 20 years still remains. Already proposed as a move which would undoubtedly be an economic and cultural asset to the city and the local community, the Community Design Workshop Department of the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign and neighborhood organizations have envisioned this as an opportunity to contribute to a greater renaissance of an area striving to refine and re-assert itself as significant in the fabric of this city.  This facility and surrounding industrial park would become not only a top destination for historically-minded tourists but would be a boon to Chicago's educational community as well. Re-adapting this building into what would be a museum of Chicago's stockyard history complete with images, artifacts, and even the sounds and smells of that period would be a long overdue and invaluable addition to Chicago's museum community.




Is Grant Park the Best Location for New Children's Museum?

By Darrell Jones

Sept 23, 2007


Who could have ever foreseen that when it came time for the highly successful Chicago Children's Museum to re-located to accommodate its success that that move would engender so much angst and controversy. As the mayor went public with not only his support for the move from Navy Pier to Richard J. Daley Bicentennial Plaza in Grant Park, but his charges of racism toward those residents opposing the use of this location, the ghosts of Daniel Burnham and Montgomery Ward have been drudged up to witness for one side or the other. Its obvious that the intent of those civic pioneers to keep Chicago's front yard clear and free of buildings and obstructions has not been honored since the first building to erected, the Art Institute of Chicago, was allowed to "fudge" on that stated intention in 1891 along with other subsequent "structures." Yet, that doesn't justify throwing the flood gates wide open to every "worthy" new project coming down the pike to fill what remains as open space in Grant Park.


In a recent conversion with one of the city's many international visitor's, Sebastian, from Santiago, Chile remarked that compared to New York's Central Park, our lakefront parks lacks the "feel of being away from the urban environment as you still hear and see the roar of traffic around you along with the proliferation of buildings placed throughout." Additionally, he commented that there was no easy access to the lakefront from the park due to having to ford Lake Shore Drive. Although there is some ease of access with the museum campus re-design, much remains to be improved upon. Sebastian does make perceptive observations. We need to be careful to preserve our parks as green space first, everything else second. In lieu of all the focus upon our South Loop area, both because of the recent construction boom and its consideration as a possible 2016 Olympic venue should the Chicago receive the bid as host city, locating such a popular cultural institution there as an "anchor" of sorts in the midst of new developments would seem to make more sense. Hopefully, museum officials, the park district and the mayor will put aside the politics and be open-minded to an alternative location for the Children's Museum which would "spread the wealth" of significant developments and not just seek to cram everything into an already greatly populated central core. 




Are We Again the Epicenter of 21st Century Design?

By Darrell Jones

August 20, 2007


In its September 2007 addition of Chicago Magazine, Jay Pridmore listed and commented on what the magazine dubbed as 10 buildings which best "illustrate" Chicago's re-established leadership in innovative contemporary architectural design. These buildings according to the magazine are a testament to the fact of Chicago being "once again, the global epicenter of architecture". While we enthusiastically assent to our city's awakening out of what could be described as a 20-year innovation slumber-ending with the cutting-edged design evident over the last two decades-we hardly think we have arrived yet. The design dialogue has certainly been elevated as referenced by such works as John Ronan's Gary Comer Youth Center, Jeanne Gang's under construction Aqua Tower and Santiago Calatrava's Spire also presently under construction.  But with the free flow of funds and unbridled freedom to express their ideas given by attention-happy local governments to architects, Asia, the Middle East and even Europe have emerged as probably the most fertile soil for avant-guard design in the world today.  Nevertheless, even as Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin noted in a recent story, many of the newest concepts in skyscraper construction are taking place right here which are revolutionizing and pushing the boundaries of design to greater heights physically and aesthetically.


We feel the publicizing of a list of ten masterpieces of modern design in the city of Chicago is a good thing.  It fosters recognition, conversation and debate in the public arena about issues and structures which may not have brought to the attention of many. As for most of the list, we are on common ground although we are in greater agreement with the alternate list of ten garnered from a survey of AIA members. They included Skybridge, 111 South Wacker, the Peggy Norbert Nature Museum and the Hyatt Center. The only one we were surprised to see there was the soul-less concrete bunker that is the Museum of Contemporary Art.  Overall, as these recent buildings are taken together in evaluation, it bodes well for the future of 21st Century architectural innovation finding an enduring home in Chicago. 



Millennium Park: Fun Follows Function

By Darrell Jones

August 12, 2007


A hot summer day in Millennium Park finds your typical "Bean-gawkers" and Crown Fountain "splashers," but wait, what's taking place over there in Wrigley Square? Looks like a wedding!  Yes, indeed a wedding, but not the type of high-society affair one would tend to expect in commandeering a space such as this-but a small, simple common matrimonial celebration shared with the hundreds who stopped in wonder at the sight of this venue's unusual spectacle, and to see the bride of course. When the over $400 million symbol of the millennium celebration was finally completed about 4 years after the event for which it was named, not a few people consigned the park as a Daley pet project for the well-heeled and tourists. Although the park has been inaccessible to the public on a couple of occasions for private functions to schmooze its corporate donors, the wildly popular space is growing increasingly ulitarian in its function.


This past weekend saw the 2nd annual Great Performers of Illinois invade the every vestige of the park as sounds of from different musicians could be heard within a few hundred feet of wherever you might have been. In addition to the showcasing of local bands, midway performers, dancers, poetry readers, storytellers could also be found throughout the area. Even the little-used Wrigley Square came alive with the sounds from various alternative and rock bands vying for a chance at "making it." Utilizing all areas of Chicago's new front yard to showcase local talent brought this venue to life in a way the park planners may not have ever envisioned. Here's hoping that this kind of free and full-use coverage would not only continue, but in fact grow in diversity and frequency, which would make Millennium Park worth more than its weight in time and money giving us a consistent model in teaching us how fun can follow function.




Edgy Design May Be Cut Short

By Darrell Jones

July 30, 2007


When Lucien LaGrange laid out the plans for the construction of his unconventional X/O Condominiums, one of his least concerns had to be any future challenges to the height, especially in the city which boast several of the world's tallest buildings. Yet, that is exactly what he and Kargil Development are facing in the Prairie District of Chicago's South Loop. As reported by the Chicago Journal, Prairie Avenue District residents and their new alderman-Bob Fioretti are raising objections to the radical contemporary design and the height of the two towers. Their concern is that the building  conflicts with the dominate architectural style of the area and would awkwardly tower above its neighbors. According to the Journal, Tina Feldstein board president of the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance-a community organization formed to fight the X/O development-stated, "We're not against the design or developer. It's not in keeping with the character and scale of the neighborhood. It just doesn't make sense." Currently, an ordinance has been introduced to re-zone the area for a height ceiling of 225 feet. The 490-unit condominiums to be developed at 1712 S. Prairie, will have two towers-one at 310 feet and the other to be 450 feet tall. The X/O complex would be situated across from the historic Glessner House, a landmark. Kargil principal Keith Giles stated in the Journal that "being a historic district doesn't mean you have to duplicate historic buildings; we are building a unique, architecturally significant building."  Along with Jeanne Gang's Aqua Tower, Calatrava's Spire, and the emerging new Spertus facade on the south Michigan Ave. street wall, X/O looks to be another bold step toward forward-thinking architecture in a city whose recent skyscraper designs have either been wandering in the past or just plain lackluster too often with too few exceptions. Lets hope a solution is found that is workable and profitable for the community and the city to move this project along.



Green Spaces Are Needed Spaces

By Darrell Jones

July 16, 2007


On the weekend of June 22-24, the so-named "Pritzker Park" at the northwest corner of State and Van Buren Streets was all abuzz with some unusual activity. No. not a police raid, which might not be all that unusual considering its daily patrons. Hosted by Close Up 2-a local jazz club in the midst of the Financial District-sounds of their first Smooth Jazz Festival filled the corridors of the South Loop. Passer-bys paused to take in the take in rhythmic tunes with a look of discovery and amazement that said. "Whoa, what's a concert doing here!" While its true that typically concerts on this order are held in Grant Park or Millennium Park, public utilization of dormant but prime open space such as this and the proliferation of such can only significantly enhance our enjoyment of downtown Chicago. Of course in an urban concrete jungle, spaces like these are rare and when they're found they are routinely embraced. Yes, our lakefront parks are amazing; and yes, our system of expansive park district areas are community gems, but whenever there is an opportunity to carve out "green spaces" in isolated corners of overbuilt areas like the Loop, we should capitalize on it. Thankfully, to this end, the City of Chicago has established its Chicago Central Area Plan, which sets as a goal open spaces within a five minute walk of everyone living and working within the Central Area. One such current application of this plan is the park planned for the intersection at Franklin and Randolph Streets as a result from the agreement to construct the 48-story office building being developed by John Buck at Randolph and Wacker Drive. But like the long notoriously delayed "Block 37" now finally under construction, Pritzker Park has languished over the past few years as a home for the indigent while being handed back and forth between civic institutions. Once under the ownership of the Chicago Public Library immediately south of the park, it was taken over by the Chicago Park District under one project director who was involved with its imminent development, but upon leaving, the park project was passed to the next director. According to Laura Jones, an Associate Director of the Chicago Loop Alliance, "with the permit process and everything that has to happen before a final decision is made on a project of this nature, we're probably looking at being a year away from re-development."  "Certainly with all the students populating the Loop now, we could see Pritzker park as a great place to hang out."  A well-thought-out green space within a stone's throw from many of those new student residences would a convincing step toward making the Loop the 24-hour "livable" district many are envisioning it to be. 


Grand/State Subway's Time Has Come

July 16, 2007


So the Grand/State station's turn has finally arrived in "grand style" so-to-speak. The city of Chicago has announced its intentions to begin a $67.2 million renovation of one of the Loop's busiest commuter facilities to begin in September and conclude two years later. After numerous delays (since 1982), the subway portal serving the River North and Streeterville sections of the city, is ready to step up next in line for long overdue attention after the recent completion of the Blue Line's Jackson station $33.8 million project. Although this is arguably not the worst of the transit terminals in need of rehabilitation, it certainly ranks high on the list. The walls, floors and ceilings all reveal the signs of years of wear and neglect fating back from its opening in 1943. The project awarded to Walsh Construction will keep the station open as it expands the mezzanine by 2000 square feet and adds granite floors, glazed tile walls and vaulted ceilings which will feature a representation of the Chicago skyline. Also included in what looks to be a space-age contemporary-styled re-design from released concept renderings are improved lighting, wider stairwells, street-level escalators, additional turnstiles, security cameras, video information screens and a more user-friendly vending areas.



36-Year Old Vacant Riverfront Site Targeted for Development

June 25, 2007


Crain's Chicago Business is reporting a proposed $1.6 billion residential development on the western edge of the south loop along the Chicago River. Developers Rokas International Inc. and Frankel & Giles have secured a parcel of land once the site of Grand Central Station but which has since been vacant since its 1971 demolition.  The property is bounded by Harrison St. to the north, Polk St. to the south, Wells St. to the east and the river on its west side.  Designed by the firm of Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture, the project is to include over 3000 residential units consisting of a combination of condos, apartments and senior housing. A 500-room hotel is also apart of the picture, but the distant south loop location makes that aspect more of a question in terms of its attractiveness and viability. The retail portion of what is referred to as Franklin Point is planned for about 125,000-square feet of this space. The entirety of the project would encompass 3.5-million-square-feet and feature a building at least 80 stories high.  Previous proposals have been floated for this stretch of land often called another "Block 37" but never made it off the drawing board. This project's developers are hoping to gain the approval and re-zoning authorizations from the city and the nearby community to go forward.



Forward Progress on Chicago's Security Barriers?

By Darrell Jones

June 18, 2007


At In case you haven't notice, several locations around the loop have seen the unveiling of new concrete planters in front of buildings no-doubt deemed to be security concerns.  Of course since the Morrow Federal building truck bombing in Oklahoma and 9/11, building security has become a legitimate point of focus.  Many of the make-shift barriers thrown up adjacent to potential target buildings around the country have been great on function but leave much to be desired on form. Washington D.C. with all its major governmental structures which are also some of the nation's most popular tourist sites is a case in point. Chicago unfortunately has not been an exception in the "uglying up" of some of our public spaces because to the need to restrict access for our safety.  But it is heartening to observe that evidence of some aesthetic thought is beginning to shape around the loop in the form of these new barrier/planters popping up here and there. This is so obviously in step with Mayor Daley's continuing crusade in "greening" the city and its hard to argue against powerful visual impact trees, shrubs and flowers have on any environment, especially one as stark and hard-edged as an major urban landscape. Another positive observation is that it appears that they all aren't "cookie cutter" products, but designs are being fitted to some degree with the building or streetscape itself. The city would do well to follow the lead of such bold and innovative efforts as that which was produced by PWP Landscape Architecture for the UBS Tower at One North Wacker Drive. Of course, the city's efforts don't quite approach the level of the previous example, but at least it seems to be moving in the right direction.



Sweet Home-of the Gospel & the Blues-Chicago?

By Darrell Jones

June 6, 2007


At this juncture, wedged between Chicago's recently concluded 23rd annual Gospel Fest held in Millennium Park this year and the upcoming Chicago Blues Fest to take place in Grant Park, I can't help but reflect on the opportunity being squandered by the city of Chicago by not memorializing these local traditions with each having a facility designated as its own "Hall of Fame."  Regardless of plans which call for such a facility to be built to honor gospel music in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida by Dr. Bobby Jones, Chicago is acknowledged to be the birthplace of gospel music as it was once home to such greats as Mahalia Jackson, Thomas A. Dorsey, and the Rev. James Cleveland to name a few. Many in our community would agree its high time to unthaw this slow-moving glacier of resolve and bring the nation to Chicago for yet another historically significant experience.


What better place for this to happen than the recently burned-out Louis Sullivan masterpiece- Pilgrim Baptist Church at 33red and Indiana? Although the state of Illinois through governor Blagojevich has promised to kick in a million, and money has come in from other donors, it will require millions more and a total community effort to not only restore this structure but re-adapt it to be partially available to the public as "the New Home of Gospel Music." Another possibility is to negotiate space in the soon-to-be-developed old Main Post Office over the Kennedy Expressway. Considering the current difficulties of even bringing the Museum of Broadcast Communications new digs to completion after financial challenges which has the project starting and stopping, this may appear to be a daunting task. Chicago is known as the birthplace of many renown areas such as the skyscraper, but lets hope we are proactive enough to secure the desire, the will, the funding and of course the appropriate venues to truly make this "Sweet Home, Chicago," when it comes to honoring our rich blues heritage and our unparalled tradition in gospel music.



Finding Its Place: State Street


By Darrell Jones

May 27, 2007

Like a once popular rock band trying to re-invent itself to gain contemporary relevancy in its genre, State Street is finding itself in a similar predicament. Know as "State Street, that Great Street," in times past-with State and Madison claiming the title as the busiest intersection in the world-it has in recent years had to acknowledge the comeuppance of its younger sister "The Magnificent Mile" as the place to be. This past Saturday saw the conclusion of another colorful Memorial Day Parade down this fabled thoroughfare. Although many of the city's most celebrated parades have marched down this historic location, including the St. Patrick's Day and the Christmas season parades, State Street has no exclusive claims to these as part of its major identity as several other ethnic routes are conducted on Columbus Drive and in other various ethnic enclaves around the city.


So what is State poised to become in the next 20 years? With the disintegration of its dinosaur department stores and the hodgepodge mix of low-end and mid-level merchandising, a "must-do" shopping destination doesn't appear to be in its immediate future. Besides, the Mag Mile has snagged that prize, with Lincoln Park catering to the trendy boutique crowd and Wabash Street corralling the bargain hunters. Certainly, State Street's renown architectural masterpieces and the city's efforts to accent and compliment those structures with its period signage, street-level lighting, transit coverings and so forth have carved out what could be its greatest place of standing among other competing streetscapes. But even here, State must do more to command the public's attention in declaring some exclusivity in this area of Chicago's world class reputation.


Upon the completion of "block 37's" state-of-the-art transportation hub, mixed-use facility and the new WBBM TV news studios, maybe this will contribute to a re-direction of how the area is viewed and utilized. It is arguable that the greatest transformative factor for State Street at this time is the recent infusion of student academic and residential spaces. Perhaps as the developers, commercial and civic powers that be recognize the unique and valuable asset it has in this specific population, maybe an innovative plan can be developed to not make it "college street" but a venue which uniquely accommodates and celebrates the the energy, style and edginess of its new urban neighbors.  The recent all-night fest of Looptopia was a step in the right direction. Its time to see more of that along with convenience venues, later retail hours, entertainment facilities, et al to once again make State Street a great place to be.    




Working Hard at Fun at GameWorks 

Second in a Series on Chicago's Gaming Venues

 By Ryan Ornberg

May 14, 2007


Located at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, GameWorks is the perfect place to drop off the kids and let them enjoy a day of video-gaming. The games available are directed towards any age group but more so to younger kids and teenagers. While the kids are playing though, you can hang out in the sports bar on the main floor and watch the game with a drink and a great meal. The second floor also has a bar with many pool tables, but if you want to go shopping or eat at a fancy restaurant, there are plenty near by. Focusing on the main feature, GameWorks offers 2 full floors of video gaming entertainment. From the classics of Pacman to the latest shooter games, anything you are looking for is here.  The first floor is devoted to racing, with plenty of stations for different games experiences.  An added bonus is that there is always at least two of the same game so you can go head to head against your friends in a heated race. For one racing game, you are in a seat that rotates on its sides to give the affects of being in a real car. However, the favorite feature of these games is the Indy 500. Six F1 cars are lined up and ready for the 4 minute race that is broadcasted on a big screen for the people in line. An announcer lets you know what place you are in and how many laps are left; these races get very intense so get in line early.


For the younger kids, there is a section of ticket winning games so they can eventually cash it all in for a prize. Other games include virtual and simulator games. The second floor is home to the action games. Every version of the popular Time Crisis is available along with many other shooting games. A DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) competition is usually happening in this area along with Guitar Hero. A bowling simulator is displayed on a big screen as if you were there in person. The classics from the birth of video games are also upstairs and are a fun taste of the past, but once you beat Pacman, move on to House of Dead 4 and kill some zombies in the latest release of this game. GameWorks is also the ideal place to hold a child’s birthday party; they have a private room available for rent along with game packages.  


So if you’re looking for a fun filled evening away from the city, try out GameWorks and enjoy some competitive racing or shooting games with your friends, or relax at the bar and let your kids go wild. 


Location: 601 N. Martingale Rd., Schaumburg, IL 

Phone: 847-330-9675



A look Inside Chicago’s ESPN Zone 

By Ryan Ornberg

May 06, 2007


As most Chicagoans anticipate a non-too-hasty escape from cabin fever with the onset of spring, ESPN Zone seeks to make it difficult to leave the great indoors entirely behind. If you enjoy simulated sports, this gaming Mecca on East Ohio Street is beckoning all faithful followers to make their pilgrimages there. Typically sports are the exact opposite of video games, but at ESPN Zone, that’s what they’re all about. The 35,000-square foot facility is dedicated to entertaining you with all types of sports, be it through over 100 video games or the countless TV’s. Upon entering, you are greeted by an employee who will point you towards the action you’re looking for. The main floor features an ESPN sports shop and Studio Grill-a sports-themed restaurant serving American grill food. Making your way up the staircase you pass a great display of televisions which opens into the frenetic activity of the Sports Arena. All of the latest video games are located here in every genre. The difference between these games and those of an arcade are that each is a simulation of a sport and is increasingly offers the latest craze of hands-on play. Newly added is the Madden NFL Football game which is displayed on a 15’ screen in the middle of the arena. The hands-on games take you away from the buttons and joy sticks, they include: golf, baseball, basketball, bowling, skeet shooting, football, fishing, skiing, boxing, hockey, and racing. These games use motion-capture technology which senses you swinging a club or making a punch and presents the action onto screen. It is the perfect way to test out your skills in any area of interest.

The second floor is also where the serious sports fans gather. The Screening Room broadcasts almost every sporting event on a dozen 36” televisions surrounding the 16’ big screen which shows the most popular game of each day. There are plenty of tables and lounge chairs to relax and enjoy your favorite sports. This area is also contains one of three available bars. Chicago’s ESPN Zone is perfect for any outing day or night. It is the ideal place for kids to play the games while their parents dine to the site of their favorite teams in action. Private events can also be hosted on the second floor and is often the venue for many large public events put on by ESPN. Overall, the atmosphere is upbeat and the people are kind, combine this with the awesome video games and an amazing amount of TVs, and you have one great night.    

Location: 43 E. Ohio St.

Phone: 312-644-3776      




Seven Wonders of Illinois Announced


Once again after the tally of a popular vote, Wrigley Field stands alone in representing Chicago as our greatest places of note. In march balloting conducted by the Illinois Bureau of Tourism, the beloved baseball shrine was chosen as one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois. A structure which seems to be gaining more and more notoriety-and deservedly so-the Baha'i Temple in the northern suburb of Wilmette was also selected to the list. Rounding out the rest of the Seven are as follows: Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Allerton Park and Retreat Center in Monticello, Rock Island, Rend Lake in Benton and Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway in Alton.

"The Seven Wonders of Illinois program was not only an exciting contest for our communities to rally around their favorite destinations, but it's going to continue spreading the word about all our unique offerings across the state. These innovative tourism programs are bringing visitors from near and far, expanding our economy and helping create more good jobs," Gov. Blagojevich said. More information can be accessed at


Old Main Post Office Targeted for Re-development

By Darrell Jones

 April 30, 2007


Now that all the excitement of the filming of Batman: The Dark Knight and the non-related fire in the old main post office has died down, we can get on to some real business. The Chicago Plan Commission has recently approved the redevelopment of the 2.5-million-square-foot structure at 401 W Van Buren by Chicago developer Walton Street Capital LLC. The property which has remained vacant for over a decade is to be converted into a multi-use facility consisting of a 340-room hotel, 300 residential units and nearly 500,000-squsre feet of office space. To make this happen, approximately 800,000 square feet would have to be demolished. But don't look for any construction to be visibly identifiable any time soon. Interior work such as asbestos removal must precede any significant construction. Also, the cost of financing the project has yet to be determined by the developer who is currently seeking tax-increment financing (TIF) money for this project. Walton Street is reported to be in talks with banks for construction financing and presently has a letter of commitment from one of those banks.

The massive 1921 Art Deco building (expanded in 1933) has been considered for a host of uses during its dormancy including a water park, an auto mall, a casino and even a mausoleum. With the current glut of downtown office and residential space, some question the viability of the use of this structure as planned. In many ways the facility seems an ideal space for a Smithsonian-type museum-making the West Loop another tourist-centered destination in the city. That may well yet be an option someday as time determines the success of this current proposal.


"Chicago Spire" Advances Past Another Hurdle

By Darrell Jones

 April 20, 2007


Okay. that was the easy part. Now comes the real test. The Chicago Plan Commission in a unanimous vote approved the zoning for the so-called "Chicago Spire" designed by Santiago Calatrava and promoted by Dublin-based developer Garrett Kelleher. The 150 story and 1,200-unit condominium structure would not only be the tallest building in Chicago, but in the United States as well. While the city's zoning approval was expected to be a foregone conclusion, most analysts seem to agree that the main issue in the realization of the construction of this project will be the financial viability of what could approach a $2 billion price tag.


Finally! Metra Announces Extreme Makeover for Eyesore Stop

By Darrell Jones

 April 27, 2007


Can it be? Is this embarrassment of a major public transit location about to receive a long overdue facelift? The Daily Southtown is reporting that an extensive renovation has been approved for the Metra Line's Roosevelt Station by the Chicago Department of Transportation.  The work is set to begin upon the issuance of the necessary building permit. Statements from the CDOT indicate that the work could commence within the next few weeks. The projected completion date is summer 2008. The station currently consists of rickety wooden stairs, rusted structural members and an antiquated passenger shelter facility. The irony has been that this stop stands in negative contrast to the recent development of the South Loop and the redesign of the Museum Campus with its elegance and ease of access to Soldier Field.  According to the Southtown, plans call for tearing down the old facility, rebuilding the platform and stairs, adding two new station houses with elevators, canopies and warming areas. The project awarded to Blinderman Construction Co. is estimated to cost $10 million.




Architecture Week in Chicago


PRNewswire/ -- As the birthplace of modern
architecture, Chicago is a city where buildings matter. Perhaps more than
residents of any other American city, Chicagoans know their architecture.
Home to masterpieces by such visionaries as Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis
Sullivan, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Chicago is a place where
architecture is talked about, admired and appreciated.
    And what better time to celebrate Chicago's stunning architecture than
during the first-ever "Architecture Week," which kicks off today? The
Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects offers up the
following five ideas for Chicagoans looking for a way to honor their city's
incredible tradition of architectural excellence:
    -- By attending internationally recognized architect Edward Mazria's
       lecture on how buildings are more to blame for global warming than are
       cars ("Resuscitating a Dying World," a public lecture on Wednesday,
       April 11 at the Art Institute)
    -- By visiting , a newly launched
       website that showcases "150 Illinois Great Places" as selected by
       Illinois architects, historians, and preservationists
    -- By registering for a free "Working With an Architect" seminar to learn
       more about how homeowners can work with residential architects to
       achieve the house of their dreams
    -- By picking up a one-of-a-kind treasure at the Chicago Modernism Show
       and Gala, which runs April 13-15
    -- By stopping for a moment to enjoy the breathtaking architecture that
       helps define our city.
    Architecture Week in Chicago begins Monday, April 9 and is part of a
nationwide celebration of 150 years of the American Institute of
Architects. For 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects
have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable,
healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. For more
information about Architecture Week events in Chicago this week, visit



Latest (and Final?) Twist in Spire Design

by Darrell Jones

 March 28, 2007

Haven't we been here before?. So now we have version 4 of the perpetually spiraling designs of Santiago Calatrava's and developer Garrett Kellerher's Chicago Spire.  Although this promises to be the final major re-design, I was hoping for a few more to make a complete set to trade or sell at a future date. I don't know about you, but the latest look recently unveiled to the public this week doesn't quite have that "Yo" factor as Randy Jackson of American Idol would put it. The iconic 2000-ft twisting tower has lost a few pounds from its previous big-boned frame for sure. It also has recovered some of its "verve" now that the rotation has been brought back to 360 degrees from the uninspired, scaled down 270 degrees offered up as a previous sacrifice.  Yet, this current shape which tapers toward the top in a conical fashion fails to elicit the anticipation of pride which the first design scheme engendered. In some ways, the building's finishing apex as is (and of course there's sure to be deign tweaks and alterations done the road, if this venture comes off) kind of mimics a few of the more recent Asian skyscrapers erected. That in itself is not really a problem. As with every design concept floated thus far, the public and critics assign the name of the first descriptive thought that comes to mind-drill bit, candle, tree trunk-well, you get the idea. So, the question now is "what image does our latest version conjure up? Many of our nations monuments and skyscrapers of like fashion are often accused of phallic subtleties-some arguably stretched to fit that implication-but in this case, it doesn't appear to be a stretch. Anyway, Calatrava rightly implies that this skyscraper will re-define Chicago for decades to come. With a building sure to become a signature edifice of this city, I for one wouldn't mind just one more re-design. Chicago deserves no less and I still hoping to put together that trading card set.




State AIA Lists Its 150 Illinois Great Places

by Darrell Jones

March 23, 2007


Now this is more like it. Having recently had foisted upon us the national AIA's interpretation of what was supposedly the nation's favorite architecture (with a Chicago structure not breaking the top twenty), its refreshing to see the deserved prominence given to many of our beloved buildings and spaces. This is an excellent way to launch the celebration of the Illinois AIA 150 Year anniversary. Quoting from their website, "these places are recognized for how they enrich our quality of life. We celebrate the great variety of places that make up the fabric of the Illinois community." Not only are your typical landmarks structures present in this listing but such diversity of treatments as our state's college quadrangles, the lakefront, housing styles i.e. the Chicago bungalow, and significant intersections such as State and Madison. You can view and read a brief description of each selection and why it was chosen at  One of the obvious benefits of an exercise of this nature is that it fosters discussions about our built environment and directs our attention to magnificent places and spaces we may otherwise have not been previously cognitive of. Absent from the list are some of the more recently completed projects by a number of Chicagoland's up and coming design innovators like John Ronan's Gary Comer Youth Center on the Southside, Skybridge, and Douglas Garofalo's Hyde Park Youth Center. Submissions were taken from the public around the state with the finalists being chosen by AIA members in consultation with various local officials.






Farwell Building's Faux-Fate


I'm sure not a few people are wondering or perhaps don't even know or care what all the fuss is over the now certain to be re-constitution of the landmarked Farwell building on Michigan Avenue. The  Commission on Chicago Landmarks recently approved Prism Development Co.'s plan to gut the crumbling interior of this structure while preserving its limestone facade. This was done over the objections of Landmark organizations, architectural bloggers, et al. The move appears to be an unprecedented one. Although one can understand the practicality of the economics of the situation-the enormous cost it take to save this dilapidated building in its entirety, a slippery slope has been obviously been opened.  As with the Supreme Court's decision on eminent domain, the citing of a municipality's or developer's greater economic good in reference to circumventing the intended protections instituted by a landmark designation may become a grievous loophole to persevering our city's historically significant structures. When this type of situation arises again in the near future undoubtedly, let's hope that we'll have engaged in more purposeful and thoughtful dialogue to find better solutions in order to protect some of our most valued resources without sacrificing economically progressive proposals.


 by Darrell Jones


 Carson's Ready For Reincarnation


I have to admit walking down State Street and peering into the window of a trashed Carson Pirie Scott was a bit of a jolt. This was like going to see your sophisticated aunt and finding a once prim and proper lady all disheveled and somewhat threadbare. Fortunately, that disorientation didn't last as I considered that this was just a temporary re-staging, a re-arranging of props so-to-speak, leaving the venue itself intact. This kind of reassurance is one of the major benefits which come with knowing that the famed Louis Sullivan structure in transition is designated a National Historic Landmark. Sure, when this beloved space takes on a brand new function and interior look, its going to be a bit startling initially, especially when the talk is that new building owners Joseph Freed and Associates are thinking of anchoring a grocery store there. But rare is the space that's been around as long as this structure has which doesn't change names, function, and even form several times over the course of its public life. Certainly with the thousands of new residents in the loop (students & condo owners), a grocery store would be a welcome sight. Let's hope that whatever it is or however its done, it's done in a manner worthy of this sophisticated lady.

 by Darrell Jones


 Wrigley Field- Chicago's Best Architecture?


Its early February, the Bears are history, and Chicago is doing its best imitation as a freeze pop. You see Wrigley Field in the news and you think and catchers must be reporting.. Well, if that was your first reaction, you undoubtedly discovered by now that's not quite the crux of this story. In a nicely crafted marketing move this past week, the American Institute of Architects and Harris Interactive released the results of its poll on the nation's 150 best works of architecture. Survey respondents were asked to select their favorites from a portfolio of 248 structures nominated by AIA members.  The results seemed to be skewed decidedly East Coast and Classical-revival. The Empire State Building led the list with the White House second (along with many other Washington-area structures), and the National Cathedral third. Overall, New York garnered 32 of the 150 spots of this poll making one wonder if the respondents were primarily East Coasters.

But Chicago, which many consider an architecture Mecca managed to achieve its first mention at the 31st slot. That 31st place is held down by none other than the masterpiece of renown architect Zachary Taylor Davis-Wrigley Field!. Now admittedly, the nation's second oldest ballpark- a national landmark, is a classic among sports venues even with the various additions and renovations through the years. But Wrigley Field before the John Hancock (which didn't make it at all)? or Wright's Robie House? And not one of Mies van der Rohe's buildings wad to be found. Hardly. Following Wrigley, the Tribune Tower, the Sears Tower, and the Field Museum come in at 38, 42, and 53 respectively.

So what conclusions can be drawn from these selections? Well, first, that these choices were made with limited architectural understanding at best. Second, that most were probably made fro a tourist's mentality as picks such as the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and the Sears Tower would indicate. Nevertheless, the poll makes for interesting analysis and discussion. At least one of our most favored made it-333 Wacker Drive-at #62.


 By Darrell Jones



Bears Get A Different Look in Miami


Its now Miami or bust for our Monsters of the Midway-Chicago Bears. In some ways South Beach has undergone a bit of a renaissance over the past decade or so, especially since Hurricane Andrew's devastating impact leveled much of the area back in 1992. New construction has and continues to spring up around Miami and its nearby suburbs. Nevertheless, Miami is still expressly Miami. If any Bears are engaging the South Beach environs for the first time they'll find it quite distinct in its appearance from say, on I don't know...Chicago maybe?

Probably the first thing that strikes you upon approach to the Magic City (besides the weather and the palm trees) is the proliferation of color generously found in much of the architecture throughout. Containing the largest concentrations of 1920's and 1930's resort architecture in the world, these periods with their defining Art Deco, Moderne, Post War Modern, and Mediterranean styles make for a truly identifiable regional locale. When you are arrive, there's no mistaking where you are generally speaking which is in fact, a good thing.

What is easily in agreement as one of the worst mantra's heard in media-speak in reference to players coming to South Beach is that "somehow they must overcome the distractions and play well." For sure, this area can have all the feel of an adult amusement park-especially to first-timers-but I'm sure the professionalism of the players and paternal oversight of each teams coaches will be on top of that issue. Hopefully, observant and appreciative Bears will take note of the vibrant and rich culture and architecture of Miami-worthy of a vacation mentality- as a fresh change from the norm and then focus on the business at hand-handing the Colts their heads in the Super Bowl.


By Darrell Jones


2016 Olympic Facilities Unveiled


On Tuesday, the city of Chicago and its Olympic Planning Committee unveiled their designs for what would be a temporary Olympic stadium in Washington Park and Olympic village near McCormick Place should it receive the bid to represent the U.S. and ultimately gain the bid internationally.    

Although, the concepts for the Olympic village aren't widely publicized yet, the stadium in plan view and perspective have been released. The stadium's principal design team included architect Ben Wood of Shanghai-who by the way had a hand in the design of the renovated Soldier Field and Goettsch Partners of Chicago.

Instead of seating to hold 95,000, the facility has been scaled back to seat a smaller 80,000. Additionally, the amphitheater that will remain once the majority of the stadium is removed had been taken from 10,000 seats to 5,000 as to minimize its obtrusiveness to the open vistas of the historic landmark park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Regardless of these changes, some area residents and civic groups remain opposed to what they see as "marring" this landscape architect's masterwork in any way.

The stadium will sport an asymmetrical design with a visual play on the letter "C" (possibly for Chicago?) as the defining form when viewed from above. Despite being temporary, there will be skyboxes and priority seating areas. Some of those areas will be covered by the roof extending over them in an otherwise open-air structure. The roof and exterior walls would be constructed of a fabric or vinyl skin obviously intended to save on costs which were announced at an economical $316 million. The outer walls would have massive-sized images of Olympians past & present either projected or printed onto them. An opening in the front would serve as the athlete entrance. 

To alleviate the vast amount of space needed for a typical concourse in large public facilities such as this, the design team made a decision to place all the restrooms and restaurant areas outside-modeling it after the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. This alone could be an area of concern for members of the USOC and IOC in consideration of pedestrian convenience.

Both the stadium and the Olympic village-coming in a $1.1 Billion, are subject to approval by the Chicago Park District which is seen as a formality in this process.


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Looking Toward A Final Design

Chicago Can Be Proud Of


So now we've been shown the third attempt at getting right what's certain to become Chicago's signature structure and the country's tallest building this past week. I don't know about you but I'm still a bit unsettled about this latest revision of architect Santiago Calatrava's so-called "Chicago Spire," a definite improvement over the bloated, twizzler-like" second re-design. That notwithstanding, in my mind, it doesn't quite rise to level of the first design- when the priority was not to "super-size" it in order to jam as many condo units into it as possible.

Even though there is a definite possibility that this proposal from developer Garrett Kelleher of Dublin, Ireland may not be able to secure the necessary financing to be built, its not a stretch to envision its presence among the icons of this city's fabled skyline. The concern here is that I've yet to get a sense of that "wow-factor" that this will be a skyscraper Chicagoans will be proud of- a commanding presence all-the-while exuding an unmatched gracefulness. I recall holding similar misgivings toward the up and coming Sears Tower, recognizing that it would probably not set a pace for avant-guard design to lead Chicago through the non-descript 70's and 80's. Surveying the landscape of current Asian and Middle Eastern skyscrapers by industry giants such as SOM, Murphy-Jahn, and Teng Associates, it's evident that they have carte-blanche to push the edge of contemporary expression. Thankfully though, in recent years, Chicago-the birth place of modern architecture-has seen greater movement toward fresh, ground-breaking statements from Skybridge to the Hyatt Center to the UBS building. Contextually, Calatrava's "birthday candle" arguably qualifies for out-of-the-box architecture with its 360 degree twisting torso. Now, here's hoping the promised additional revisions and touches throughout the final design process will elevate the level of positive architectural conversation throughout the city and throughout the world to heights worthy of our reputation.


By Darrell Jones


A Solution in Michigan Avenue's Best Interest?


One of the topics of concern appearing in the editorial section of the Chicago Tribune this past week was entitled "Facadism on Michigan Ave". At first glance, one would assume they were about to embark on a scathing rebuke pertaining to the dangers of walking too near the precipice of "facadism" as it relates to one of the great streets of the world-Michigan Ave. Yet upon further perusal of this opinion piece revealed an entirely different mindset.

The editorial begins in praise of the grandeur of Michigan Ave. This leads into the crux of the conversation at hand and that is the Prism Development Company's planned dismantling and re-construction of the 80-year old landmark Farwell building designed by Phillip Maher at the corner of Erie St and Michigan Ave. 

Under the proposed project submitted to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks a couple of weeks ago, the Farwell would be taken down leaving only it's facade which would become a part of a new 40-story Ritz-Carlton. This would purportedly give us the "best of both worlds"-a viable representation of a crumbling historic landmark structure affixed to a new luxury complex of offices and retail space. The Chicago Tribune-seemingly a perennial proponent of this city's architectural prodigy-then makes sure we understand that the proposal worked out by the city and Prism was not haphazardly arrived at, but was forged after a year of much thought and is currently the best practical solution. Their support of this plan seems to be founded on the extraordinary deterioration of the building and the lack of a" better plan."

While the affirmation of this proposal is obviously rooted in the pragmatism of economics, it appears to completely ignore the slippery slope such a precedent would inevitably put future landmark structures on in the face of practical economic measures.  This situation obviously presents a challenge to all parties involved, nevertheless, something better than what we've been given must be found if we are to avoid the slow erosion and Disney-izing of that which has become a major tourist destination and source of pride for Chicagoans. Looks like this might  be a unique opportunity for the Trib's Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic to set the record straight for his paper.           


By Darrell Jones 

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U.S. Olympic Committee Keeps Chicago in the Race


Chicago's hope for hosting the 2016 Olympic games became a bit more realistic Tuesday as the U.S. Olympic committee decided to put forth a city. The next step step in this process will be to best it's only competition-Los Angeles- as the USOC's choice sometime in April. Chicago also helped its cause by announcing it had raised $25 million in private donations required for the bid. The city's Olympic committee made public several venue revisions for some athletic activities although the majority of them will still be retained close to the loop and lakefront. Beach volleyball moves form North Ave Beach to Northerly Island while some soccer venues could be located as far as Minneapolis, Minnesota. Field hockey will shift to Jackson Park from Washington Park and equestrian events are planned to move from Palos Hills to Lake County. 

The Chicago Tribune reports Mayor Daley's demeanor as being "heartened by the committee's decision," quoting him, "I am very pleased the USOC has decided to support a bid," he said. "They could have said they were not going to go forward. … It gives us excitement because it is LA and us in regards to bidding. "What we see is great opportunities to rebuild communities, schools, infrastructure, mass transit in preparation for the Olympics, as well as it gives you a global identification," Daley said. "From my viewpoint, there are so many pluses here for us."

Whichever U.S. city is chosen will then be pitted against what is expected to be a tough international field of competing venues likely consisting of Rome, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, Qatar and Doha.



Helmut Jahn's Homeless Facility Scheduled for 2007 Unveiling


The 96-unit homeless facility dubbed Near North SRO is under construction at the intersection of Clybourn Ave and Division St near the famed Cabrini Green housing project. The forward-thinking design by Helmut Jahn seeks to help establish a much more positive attitude and discourse on the problem of providing more than adequate care for the city's homeless population. "If you want to talk about a city with a comprehensive approach to housing and ending homelessness, Chicago kind of sets the pace right now," according former housing secretary Henry Cisneros in an article by Robert Sharoff. The facility will not just house the homeless, but provide services such as counseling, employment, skills training, and case management. The building will be apart of a larger plan to create a mixed-income community with affordable rental units, single-family homes and commercial space.

The building looks to challenge tradition in the way a municipality approaches such a complex. Typically, a city would seek to expend minimal capital and prime property area to resolve the placement of the indigent. Jahn's $18 million design will sport his customary contemporary flair even calling to mind his recently completed, similarly-shaped stainless steel-clad student dormitory at IIT. "I always looked at the IIT building as kind of a prototype for low-rise urban housing," Jahn said in a recent New York Times interview. The average-sized unit will be 300 sq ft and have a private kitchen, bath, central air and heat. The building is expected to incorporate the latest innovations of "green design" and sustainable elements to meet LEED's certification. Additionally, Near North SRO residents will enjoy great views of downtown Chicago which condo dwellers typically pay thousands of dollars to have.


Oak Park Seeks to Make a Mark

in Contemporary Architecture as Well


Holiday lights shine bright on Volvo of Oak Park's newest architectural landmark, visible from the Eisenhower Expressway. Spotlights lit up Chicago's first-ever tower of cars, a vertical showcase displaying seven Volvos in glass cases stacked on top of one another. The view from the glass tower will change and stay fresh as new Volvo models are displayed and lighting reflects the changes in the season.

Last week, Chicago VIPs gathered at Volvo of Oak Park for a dazzling celebration to introduce the area's newest architectural landmark, visible from the Eisenhower Expressway. Spotlights lit up Chicago's first-ever tower of cars, a vertical showcase displaying seven Volvos in glass cases stacked on top of one another. One year ago, when faced with a growing business and shrinking amount of car display space, Volvo of Oak Park needed an innovative parking solution. Out of this challenge came Volvo's first-ever glass tower of cars. Inspiration for the innovative architectural landmark came from collaboration between Van Stokes, Sr. of Shanghai, China, who created a similar structure in Berlin, Germany and Errol Jay Kirsch's architecture firm in Oak Park.

"Not only does our new tower serve a functional, space-saving role for our dealership, it also brings a visually unique element to the Chicago suburbs," said Antonio Scalzo, Volvo of Oak Park president. "This tower solidifies Volvo of Oak Park as a cutting edge, standout car dealership in the area."

"The tower is a first in the nation, adding another level of differentiation from Volvo of Oak Park's innovative organization and enhancing the dealership's premier qualities," said Jeff Pugliese, vice president of Volvo's Midwestern region.

The view from the glass tower will change and stay fresh as new Volvo models are displayed and lighting reflects the changes in the season.

Source: Volvo Cars of North America



Major Re-design submitted for the Chicago Spire


So we've swapped the "drill bit" for a birthday candle. The developer for what easily will be Chicago's most significant addition to its storied skyline submitted a re-design to city hall of their 2000 ft, now less-twisting tower. In an effort to address financial concerns with the project, Garrett Kelleher (developer based in Dublin), and architect Santiago Calatrava have eliminated the hotel portion of the building and converted 3 million sq ft. to 1,300 condominium units exclusively, adding 35 more floors, bringing the overall total to 150 floors. Instead of the 400 ft. broadcast antenna, the now flatter top is accentuated by fin-like protrusions at roof level resulting from the structure's spiraling design . Additionally, the 6-story parking garage has been scrapped for underground parking consisting of 7-levels.  The base has an increased rotation with none at the top according to a quote from Calatrava in the Chicago Tribune. The "twist" is now 270 degrees instead of the original 360.  According to news outlets, Calatrava expressed a desire to "learn from Chicago" as he referenced Sears Tower and Hancock Center as to how his building recalls the "simple silhouettes" of these two icons.  To date the project has been estimated at around $1.2 billion and is scheduled to break ground mid-2007pending political approval and market conditions.


Millennium Station at Randolph Street

Comes to Life with the Color of Retail Shops


So the cavalry has finally arrived! After a few years of waiting for the arrival of retailers to fill the sheet-covered store space in the sleekly modernized Millennium Station, Starbucks is one of the first to break the ice (or glacier). Even though Starbucks is becoming more common around the loop than newsstands, they are a welcome sight to the newly renovated transit hub. The floor-to-ceiling glass walls which dramatically curve around the passenger terminal now reflect the domestic ambiance of Starbucks "homey" interior adding all the sights, sounds, and yes, smells that go with it.  Along with a just-opened flower shop (Cityscents), much needed color has brought this chrome-challenged space to life.  Metra patrons have already begun to settle in to the coffee shops comfy environs to take the edge off their commute wait.  Even though this station is much smaller than its counterparts in the loop, Millennium Station at Randolph Street with its thematic-design, brighter concourse and visual panache created by the large window-wall decor could turn out to be an important first step toward making a good first impression to travelers and tourists alike entering the city through this emerging gateway.


Major Mixed-Use Development Planned for South Loop


Centrum Properties is set to initiate a 12-acre, $1-billion project near Roosevelt road and 9th street beginning early 2007 adding to the surge of recent development in the South Loop. The community named The Roosevelt Collection is to include a 40-story condominium high-rise and a 45-story condominium high-rise on its northern end with 1,800-car parking garage, a 2.5 acre park and 400,000 square feet of retail space. The retail space is to be comprised of restaurants, a health club and a 20-screen theater. The condominiums will range from $290,000 to $600,000 in price.


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Hoffman Estates Enters the  Entertainment Venue Arena


This week the new Sears Centre will open in Hoffman Estates with the Thursday night performance of Duran Duran, Bob Dylan the following night and Lionel Ritchie with Chaka Khan Sunday Oct 29th.  The $62 million dollar 11,000 seat multi-purpose facility will not only vie for a piece of the Chicago area concert pie, but will be the home of the AA hockey franchise Chicago Hounds, the Major Indoor Soccer League's Chicago Storm as well as the Chicago Shamrox of the National Lacrosse League.  Although the entertainment complex replaces the once Popular Creek outdoor concert venue, Jam Productions has announced its intentions to construct an 8,900-seat outdoor facility next to the Sears Centre called Prairie Creek Amphitheater with a scheduled opening of May 2007.


Historical Society Gets an Extreme Makeover


The Chicago Historical Society has undergone what it hopes is seen as an extreme makeover.  Now known as the Chicago History Museum, this 150 year old institution hopes to raise its profile as well as its foot traffic for the next hundred years to come.  The 27.5 million renovation includes 16,000 sq. ft. of new exhibition and gallery space, the focal point of which is the spacious atrium area where you will immediately encounter a vintage "low-rider" illustrating a cultural expression of Chicago's many Hispanic communities.  This is just one of several new permanent exhibits accompanied also by all of the old favorites in revamped spaces.  The Chicago History Museum is located at 1600 N Clark on the edge of the Lincoln Park Neighborhood. Admission is $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students with free admission on Mondays. For more visit



Olympic-sized Opportunity


Certainly, over the past couple of years, Mayor Richard M. Daley has brought Chicago onto the national spotlight with increasing frequency-for better or worse.  From his “green initiatives” to his now renowned Millennium Park and from recent corruption probes to the announcement of the city’s intentions to make a serious bid toward hosting the 2016 Olympic Games, Chicago has gotten its fair share of national attention. 

Of course few things would command the measure of world-wide focus than that of hosting an Olympic competition. Make no bones about it, Chicago is presently a world class city; yet, if we would be honest with ourselves, there is still a civic self-consciousness about our status on the world stage-especially when compared to New York City (which few if any would ever admit).  We yearn to “strut our stuff” whenever the occasion permits to those out there still ignorant of all we have achieved and are achieving culturally, innovatively, and even athletically. 

Consequently, there are those who feel we have nothing to prove and nothing to gain from inviting “the world” here to experience Chicago for a couple of weeks.  Yet, others see an Olympic-sized opportunity to not only showcase our growth and progress to the world but also a unique moment in time to perhaps move two steps forward with bold, fresh and inventive plans to improve transportation, infra-structure and the architectural cityscape.   Whichever side you fall in this argument, take the time to voice your opinions in whatever arenas you can-work, school, social venues and through our message board, featured friends and web poll.  Chicagoland will be best served as we hash out our differences as a “family.”  We look forward to hearing your responses

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Pictured is Mrdeza’s proposal for a new interdisciplinary building to house graduate programs in Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts






Architect Jason Mrdeza has won Washington University in St. Louis’ 2012 Steedman Fellowship in Architecture International Design Competition.

Sponsored by the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, the biennial competition is open to young architects from around the world and carries a $50,000 first place award to support study and research abroad — making it one of the largest competition prizes in the United States. Mrdeza's winning design was chosen from among 120 entrants representing more than 20 nations.





The unique Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge has become a source of Dallas pride since opening in March.




DALLAS — World-class cities have erected world-class bridges: San Francisco has its Golden Gate, and New York City boasts at least five landmarks, including the Brooklyn and Queensboro. Now Dallas has joined the club with its Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, designed by famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

Full Article available at:







By Lidia Dinkova | | Pull over into the designated space. Turn off the engine. And enjoy the oceanfront view as you escalate in a glass elevator that takes you, while you are sitting in your car, to the front door of your apartment.


No, this is not the latest Disney ride.


The $560 million Jetsonesque tower will rise in Sunny Isles Beach as part of a collaboration between Germany-based Porsche Design Group and a local developer, Gil Dezer. It likely will be the world’s first condominium complex with elevators that will take residents directly to their units while they are sitting in their cars






Anthony Pagliuco | Chicago Arch Today | Oct 30, 2011 (NEW YORK) A few weeks ago, construction on Steve Holl Architects’ Campbell Sports Complex began. This new five story complex is an additional space for New York’s Columbia College, as it is connected with their previous indoor sports center, the Baker Athletic Complex. Their previous facility hosts Columbia’s outdoor sports, as the new building will accommodate various indoor sports related programs including an a student/athlete study center, strength and conditioning spaces, an auditorium, a hospitality suite and offices.



Along with these tangible functions, the project aims to “serve the mind, the body and the mind/body,” says Steve Holl Architects. “The design concept ‘points on the ground, lines in space’ - like field play diagrams used for football, soccer and baseball - develops from point foundations on the sloping site. Just as points and lines in diagrams yield the physical push and pull on the field, the building’s elevations push and pull in space.” Exterior stairs represent the lines in space as the terraces extend the planes of the athletic field onto the building.


The interior volumes are composed of a series of interlocking boxes, which allow for extensive city view, including spaces in the upper levels that allow views of the Chrysler Building as well as the Empire State Building. At night, the building becomes a focal point itself. Standing at the prominent corner of Broadway and W. 218th Street, the exterior lighting highlights the aluminum soffits which take on the school’s colors. The building is planned to be open in the fall of 2012.


Architect: Steve Holl Architects

Completion Date: Under Construction

Size: 48,000 square feet









Anthony Pagliuco | Chicago Arch Today | Oct 16, 2011 (NEW YORK) The Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York was having trouble attracting customers. Their biggest problem was that their previous theater was dull and unwelcoming. In this case, like many others, architecture was the solution. They hired The Rockwell Group to create an environment that was attention grabbing, for a younger audience, as well as the established film enthusiast, allowing them to be taken seriously as a major player in the film industry.



     The facility was moved to an existing building, which was previously a parking garage. The property was plagued with the burden of housing the entire facility’s mechanical room underground. Being a theater, this creates a problem with noise. The lobby was strategically placed over the mechanical room, while the two screening rooms and amphitheater were placed as far away as possible. The amphitheater and screening rooms are lined with perforated sheets of metal, which are non-reflective for light and wrinkled for acoustics. These panels extend into the lobby to help dampen the noise of the mechanical room, as well as people. There are also wood panels in the amphitheater that create perfect acoustics for chats with directors, or after screening discussions. The theater uses a visually quiet color pallet of dark topes.



     The lobby creates an opposing force. The polished concrete floor is brightly colored. The entrance welcomes visitors with a carpet of LED lights, a vibrant orange entrance and a 90’ glass wall. The wall runs a series of over a thousand film names in LED lights, which had previously been screened there. When the amphitheater is not being used, a giant garage door style wall is lifted, the lobby is extended, and a public gathering place is created. The lobby also hosts a 60 seat café, and an interactive media wall with 12 touch screen monitors. The monitors show screen times, as well as sold out movies, and run movie advertisements.



    While the flashy screens and lights, and visually vibrant materials and colors set a lively and desirable mood, the problem was deeper than just creating a more visually attractive setting. The Rockwell Group also wanted to create a place that was more than just somewhere to view movies. They wanted to create a community for film viewers. This affect was achieved by leading the screening rooms to the amphitheater. This allows viewers to sit down and converse about the movie, talk to the director, and watch previews for future screenings. The interactive wall in the lobby also allows the viewers to become more involved. The transparent entrance welcomes people directly from the street. So far, the theater has been successful, as it has been constantly screening movies in all three theaters, and has been creating a buzz among movie goers everywhere.


Architect:                       Rockwell Group

Completion Date:           June 2011

Size:                            17,518 square feet

Cost:                            42 Million Dollars

Address:                       144 West 66th Street, NYC




Lentz, Linda C., “Ready for Its Close-Up.” Architectural Record. October, 2011.







Anthony Pagliuco | Chicago Arch Today | Oct 3, 2011 (NEW YORK) Frank  Gehry’s new luxury residential tower, located in Lowwer Manhattan, is the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere. This is also Gehry’s first skyscraper, reaching a height of 870 feet, with 76 stories. While most of the building is residential, it also hosts a five story school, which takes the form of the building’s podium. The school, made of brick, contrasts the high rise which is clad in stainless steel. The steel exterior creates a wave like affect, giving Chicago’s Aqua Tower a run for its money.


Though the tower’s wave-like design may seem random, Gehry says that it comes from a lifelong study of the emotion of movement. He cites his sources as being Greek Sculptures, Michelangelo and Bernini. Gehry takes a primitive fold, and stretches it across the entire high rise to create the dynamic façade and express movement. As the day progresses, the building plays with light in different ways.




The immense cost of this building almost forced developer Forest City Ratner to cut the building’s height in half. This move would have likely diminished the buildings affect. Forest City Ratner decided that in times of economic hardship, especially considering the stunted rate of construction in New York, it would be better to keep hundreds of workers employed. They then decided to cut back on material costs, and decided to make the southern wall of the building flat. This decision also diminishes the affect of the building, by giving the building an obvious front and back, and not allowing the movement to be read all the way through the building.



The undulating façade yields 200 unique floor plans throughout the building. A series of these units, on the ninth floor, were completely customized by Gehry. They are referred to as the “Frank Units.” He designed most of the furniture, and specifically picked the lighting and the furniture that he did not design, including an Alvar Aalto zebra print chair.



Architect:                                    Gehry and Partners

Completion Date:                        Full completion by Summer 2012

Size:                                          1.1 million square feet

Cost:                                          825 Million Dollars










Anthony Pagliuco | Chicago Arch Today | Sept 19, 2011 (NEW YORK) Walking through Time Square after hours starring past a cage to view the conglomeration of products dressing store walls, one wouldn't expect to be starring past an architectural medium of function and aesthetic used in a multimillion dollar condominium. However, Shigeru Ban designed the entire facade of his 35,000 sq ft West Chelsea condo with the same metal security shutters used to protect shops from intruders. Ban is known for using standard materials in innovative and creative ways. In this case, the security shutters do not only create an interesting facade, but also achieve a quality not usually found in New York apartments - complete openness to light, air and outstanding views.

     "I wanted to open the living room to the cityscape because most apartments in New York are very closed." - Shigeru Ban

     The shutters act as a removable wall, which when raised, remove the boundary between interior and exterior. The apartment becomes completely open to the outside air. In the winter or on a rainy day, the light is still allowed in by closing the floor to ceiling windows, which are normally used in industrial buildings and airport hangars.

     This project was financed by Klemens Gasser, a New York gallery owner. It began as a renovation to an already existing two story residential and gallery space, but in light of the High Line, the zoning laws were changed. Local property owners were granted "special development rights." The renovation then turned into an 11 story condominium. Zoning restricted the buildings height to 120 feet, which normally allows for a ten story building. However, Ban wanted to maintain double height space in every unit for maximum air and light flow throughout the apartment. This required an even number of floors, in addition to the first floor lobby, gallery and retail space. Ban used 8 inch thick floor slabs, allowing him to fit an extra floor in the allotted space.

     The Metal Shutter Houses were inspired by the simplicity of Japanese tradition. Ban took this simplicity and added modern materials to create a truly fresh imprint on architecture in New York. The rattling of the security chains can be heard throughout the day, making the Metal Shutter Houses an architectural experience that can be seen, felt and heard.



Pollock, Naomi R., "A Shut-And-Open Case," Architectural Record. Sept 2011







Aug 15, 2011 (ATLANTA) The last time Coca-Cola Co. undertook a major renovation project at its North Avenue headquarters, Ronald Reagan was president.

It was 1985. "I Want to Know What Love Is" was a hit song and "Back to the Future" was the biggest movie release.

Now, Coca-Cola is planning a construction and redesign project to update a campus that has sprung up piecemeal, and some of which is looking dated.

One of the first steps will be creating a first-floor Main Street corridor throughout the campus. The ground level will show off the company's brands and history and contain amenities such as a technology store and a personal shipping center.

It's a major commercial real estate project at a time when that sector is slow in Atlanta. Coca-Cola estimates that 350-400 construction jobs will be created in the project's first phase, which is expected to take about two years. Coca-Cola wouldn’t disclose the project’s likely total cost.

Demolition and construction are scheduled to start in the late spring and early summer of next year. Designs are not finalized yet, and Coca-Cola is asking employees for ideas. More at

Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution






Proposed new campus for Apple, Inc.

Joe Pavilonis | Chicago Arch Today \\ Cupertino, CA \\ As we all know, whenever Steve Jobs makes a presentation, it is generally in accordance with the release of a new technology.  Yet when Jobs made a presentation in front of the Cupertino City Council on Tuesday, June 6, he was not showcasing a new phone or computer.  Instead he highlighted the interests of Apple Inc. in building a new central campus.


As of last year, Apple began acquiring land in Cupertino, CA in attempts to bring together a fragmented network of office buildings.  Today, as Jobs states in his presentation, Apple plans to place a large “spaceship” type structure on the acquired property.  Currently the land is occupied by parking lots. Apple hopes to transform the campus into a natural landscape that will host up to 13,000 employees. 

However, with this presentation, little information about the center has been released.  Jobs and Apple, in normal fashion, are keeping everything quiet.  Even the name of the architect is left out of the presentation, although there has been speculation that Norman Foster was the lead designer.  While many details have been excluded, Jobs does show that the new campus will become not only a high tech, sleek facility, but also an environmental statement.  Plans currently call for a 90% reduction in surface parking, 30% reduction in building footprint, and a 350% increase in landscapes which include native plants and multiple orchards

While there are still many questions still unanswered, Jobs has once again shown that Apple hopes to lead the way in design, whether it be through computers or their hopes for a new campus.  Hopefully, more details will be produced in the coming months, but for now we can only wait and see what Apple plans to do with this futuristic design.







The Brody Learning Commons at Johns Hopkins Univ. is a 45,000-sq-ft addition

to the Milton Eisenhower Library. (Colby Ware / Special to The Baltimore Sun)

BALTIMORE, MD \\ Johns Hopkins is building a 45,000-square-foot addition to its centerpiece Milton S. Eisenhower Library.

Loyola University Maryland is putting the finishing touches on new teaching and research laboratories at the Donnelly Science Center.

And at the University of Baltimore, a private developer is designing a student apartment building as a new law center takes shape.

While new commercial construction in and around Baltimore remains moribund, big projects are sprouting on the region's university campuses.

The hundreds of millions of dollars worth of projects at public and private institutions in the Baltimore area highlights the financial strength of higher education when conditions for other sectors are difficult.

"Higher education tends to be countercyclical," said Richard Clinch, director of economic research at the University of Baltimore's Jacob France Institute. "When the economy turns bad, people stay in school longer pursuing advanced degrees, and people who lose their jobs go back to get retrained."

The campus building boom stands in stark contrast to the commercial market. Construction of offices, mixed-use developments and other projects has yet to pick up in the recovering economy. The amount of office space built in the Baltimore area has been declining each year since 2008, a trend that is expected to continue this year, according to commercial brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield.

 Excerpt from Lorraine Mirabella in the Baltimore Sun






Rendering of JMB Realty Corp's Century City Center in Los Angeles

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA-Longtime Century City landlord JMB Realty Corp. wants to build the neighborhood's first office skyscraper in nearly a decade on a site once planned for a cluster of high-rise condominiums.

The Chicago developer, through local affiliate Century City Realty, is seeking city approval for a 37-story tower on Avenue of the Stars at Constellation Boulevard that would be called Century City Center. JMB also will need to address homeowners concerned about growing density and traffic in their neighborhoods around Century City.

JMB officials say the $350-million high-rise would be one of the most environmentally friendly tall buildings in the country, with a lush rooftop garden over the garage and a portal to a proposed subway station. It is being designed by Los Angeles architecture firm Johnson Fain, which designed other well-known Century City offices including Fox Plaza, SunAmerica Center and the former MGM Tower. Follow link below for full story.

Source: Excerpt from Roger Vincent and Martha Groves, LA Times





Red Building at the Pacific Design Center, West Hollywood, Calif.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA-CEO Charles Cohen of Cohen Brothers Realty Corp. and architect Cesar Pelli presided over the topping out Monday evening of a project that was 40 years in the making. The project is the 400,000-square-foot "Red Building," an office building that was first envisioned 40 years ago as the third and final building of the Pacific Design Center.


Cohen, Pelli and a host of others associated with the project attended a cocktail reception to celebrate the topping out of the Red Building, which is scheduled to be completed later this year. Pelli and Cohen installed a piece of red glass on the western façade of the building to mark the occasion.


In addition to the topping out, Monday evening's event also marked the reunion of “The L.A. 12 Architects,” a project first conceived in 1976 that brought together 12 top Los Angeles architects to display their work at the Pacific Design Center in conjunction with the grand opening of the Blue Building. The architects who exhibited their work were Roland Coate, Raymond Kappe, Daniel Dworsky, Craig Ellwood, Frank Gehry, John Lautner, Jerrold Lomax, Anthony Lumsden, Leroy Miller, Cesar Pelli, James Pulliam and Bernard Zimmerman. Follow link below for full story.






Gehry's New World Center, Miami Fla.


The New World Center, part of the New World Symphony America’s Orchestral Academy, opened its doors this week. Located in the heart of Beach, the music education and performance facility is the first purpose-built home for the New World Symphony founded by artistic director Michael Tilson Thomas.


In terms of design the building’s exterior portrays a quiet, almost tamed . The rectangle shaped white building expresses Gehry’s well known bends and folds within its interior – glimpses of which are visible through the main entrance east facade 80 foot high glass curtain wall.


The New World Center joins a wave of new architecture and design in . Playing host to the most important art show in the United States, Art Basel | Miami Beach, and the 2010 National AIA Convention, has been focusing its efforts on developing a new vibrant city center. Just down the street from the New World Center resides 1111 Lincoln Road designed by Herzog & de Meuron, completed last year. Currently Herzog & de Meuron are also working on the expansion for the Art Museum.






Robert A.M. Stern


At a time when contemporary architecture tends to get most of the attention, at least one award recognizes classicism. Robert A. M. Stern, the dean of the Yale School of Architecture, has been named the 2011 recipient of the Richard H. Driehaus Prize for Classical Architecture. Established in 2003 through the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, the prize honors the practitioners of traditional, classical, sustainable architecture and urbanism. Mr. Stern will receive $200,000 and a model of the Choregic Monument of Lysikrates at a March 26 ceremony in Chicago.


“It embodies a recognition of the continuity of the classical principles, the values of the public realm and town planning which I have tried embody in my career,” Mr. Stern said in an interview. He added that it was good to be recognized “not just for a set of pretty buildings, but for a set of values and principles and ideals.”


“Bob Stern has brought classicism into the public realm and the mainstream of the profession, reinvigorating it for generations to come,” said Michael Lykoudis, Notre Dame’s dean for architecture and chairman of the prize, in a statement.

Source: ROBIN POGREBIN NY Times blog






535 West End Avenue


Steven Litt //The Plain Dealer // - CLEVELAND, OH // It's too soon to declare the rapidly evolving designs for the new Cleveland medical mart a success. But the latest renderings of the project, unveiled Thursday by MMPI Inc. of Chicago, are intriguing, even encouraging. Among other things, they showed for the first time that the medical mart could have facades of glass and pre-cast concrete panels arranged in lyrical geometric patterns that uncannily -- and unintentionally -- evoke similar ideas in the Op Art paintings of the internationally renowned Cleveland artist Julian Stanczak.


The spirited facades, which create a pixilated pattern inspired and made possible by computer technology, would mark the building as something special and unique in Cleveland.


Still, a great deal of work lies ahead on critical details that will determine the success of the building, which is part of a $465 million project that includes replacing the city's old convention center below the downtown Mall with a new one.


The deadline pressure to complete a design and break ground for the convention center and medical mart together before Jan. 1 is fierce.

Cuyahoga County, which has partnered with MMPI to build the new facilities, needs to take advantage of historically low interest rates, the limited availability of federal recovery bonds and the current low cost of labor and materials.

The 230,000-square-foot building, which will rise west of the downtown Mall and north of St. Clair Avenue, will include 95,000 square feet of permanent showroom space for advanced medical devices. Several existing buildings and a parking garage will be demolished to make way for it.

Inside the mart, four levels of showrooms will wrap around the south, west and north sides of a large, east-facing atrium oriented toward the Mall and Public Auditorium on the opposite side.

The Mall, conceived in 1903 by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and colleagues on the city's original Group Plan Commission, is a grand, formal civic space whose form and spirit echo that of the Mall in Washington, D.C., also heavily influenced by Burnham.


The challenge in adding to such a large-scale urban composition is how to do something fresh and contemporary that also fits in.

LMN is clearly trying to do this. The firm's design calls for a building whose shoebox shape would fit among the early 20th-century neoclassical buildings around the Mall, including Public Auditorium, the library and the Howard Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse.

Source: Excerpt from






535 West End Avenue


James Gardner - NEW YORK CITY, NY // Lucien Lagrange, the respected Chicago architect, has just completed his first project in New York, at 535 West End Avenue -- and by the look of things, it will also be his last.

The French-born architect filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this summer and declared his intention to retire, according to Crain's.

This is a remarkable turn of events. Lagrange is a mere 69 years old; for architects, whose careers are typically just getting started around 55, that is scarcely even adolescence. However, the Chicago real estate market appears to have been hit even harder by the recession than the New York market, and that -- combined with a rather public divorce written up in the Chicago Sun-Times -- may explain Lagrange's disenchantment with the profession.

In Chicago, where he opened his firm 25 years ago, Lagrange has become identified with the historicist and contextual style most often associated with postmodernists like Robert A.M. Stern. Among Lagrange's better-known works in Chicago are the Elysian Hotel and Residences; the Park Tower Hotel, which also contains condos; and 840 Lake Shore Drive, a condo building.

His newly completed project at 535 West End, built by Extell Development Company, is a good example of his skills. Lagrange is not interested in originality, but rather in elegance, and the ability to set a building harmoniously into its context.

In fact, in New York no less than in Chicago, he is acutely respectful of architectural context.

For example, it is hard to imagine a structure more typical of Chicago architecture than the.. Please follow source link for complete article

Sources: The Real Deal Online





Portzamparc Skyscraper


NEW YORK CITY, NY // Charles V. Bagli of the New York Times is reporting that Christian de Portzamparc has designed a new skyscraper for developer Gary Barnett in New York City.  Portzamparc was the first French recipient of the Pritzker Prize when he received the honor in 1994.  His $1.3 billion project will contain 136 of the most expensive apartments in the city as well as a 210-room Park Hyatt hotel located on the first 20 floors.  The tower will soar 1,005 feet over 57th Street east of Seventh Avenue featuring great views of Central Park.  Barnett was intent upon getting the building to beat the Trump World Tower as the tallest residential building in the city.

Sources: ArchDaily; New York Times





New Terminal B at Mineta Int'l Airport San Jose, Calif.


SAN JOSE, Calif. — Gensler, the global architecture, design, and planning firm, today celebrates the opening of the first six gates of the Terminal B Concourse at Mineta San Jose International Airport. With a bold architectural design that expresses the innovative spirit of the Silicon Valley region, the 380,000-square-foot, $342 million concourse is the first element of the airport’s extensive $1.3 billion modernization program, and will ultimately integrate with the [recently completed] new Terminal B.

Gensler, in collaboration with Steinberg Architects, served as master design architect for the airport, and created a striking design that evokes the high-tech landscape of the Silicon Valley while celebrating the area’s sunny climate and agrarian roots. Inside, the concourse has the feel of a sunlit paseo, with a dramatic curved translucent roof featuring fabric panels to filter the direct sunlight and absorb sound. On the exterior, the long and cable-like outer layer expresses the area’s technological design heritage while shading the inner core of the building.

Follow link to continue story at








Kyle Milburn -- Chicago Arch Today | Miami, Florida, June. 20 2010 -- Miapolis is not just another proposal for the tallest skyscraper in the world; it is a great push towards an increased economy and an architectural phenomenon to the world, the United States and the state of Florida.


Miapolis is still in a proposed project phase currently, but if built will be a LEED Platinum Green certified metropolis built on Miami’s Watson Island in Biscayne Bay.  The project, designed by KOBI KARP Architects and engineered by Thornton Tomasetti, draws its inspiration from natural forms in Florida’s landscape and reflects its multicultural background.

The $22 billion project will be a major boost to Florida’s economy in short and long term circumstances.  Financed with private resources through a bond offering and underwritten by global financial groups, eliminating the need for public funding, Miapolis will create over 46,000 construction type jobs, 35,000 new career opportunities and over $952 million annually in tax revenue.


To become the world’s tallest building at 3,200 feet a height approval by MIA/FAA is required.  This would require a no fly zone over South Beach, the Port of Miami and Downtown Miami.  The worlds tallest building will have 160 stories including more than 1,000 apartments, 792 hotel rooms, office space, a theme park, observatory, rotating sky lounge, marketplace, children’s park, children’s museum, mega marina, bicentennial park, AA arena and a freedom tower, just to name a few of the many proposed ideas.  Miapolis will increase Miami’s tourism and world wide trade services dramatically, increasing its world wide exposure and bringing in more revenue annually.


Miapolis will be a totally self sufficient metrapolis that is environmentally friendly and sustainable with an outstanding economic impact on Miami and its surrounding neighbors.  It will redefine Miami as a major cosmopolitan city, a world wide major tourist attraction and financial center.






Portzamparc Tower


Brian Kaufman -- Chicago Arch Today | New York City, June. 7 2010 -- Charles V. Bagli of the New York Times is reporting that Christian de Portzamparc has designed a new skyscraper for developer Gary Barnett in New York City.  Portzamparc was the first French recipient of the Pritzker Prize when he received the honor in 1994.  His $1.3 billion project will contain 136 of the most expensive apartments in the city as well as a 210-room Park Hyatt hotel located on the first 20 floors.  The tower will soar 1,005 feet over 57th Street east of Seventh Avenue featuring great views of Central Park.  Barnett was intent upon getting the building to beat the Trump World Tower as the tallest residential building in the city.


Sources: ArchDaily; New York Times






Walter Reed Army Medical Center Site


Washington D.C., May. 3 2010 -- The Chicago-based architecture firm Perkins and Will has been selected to re-develop 62 acres of land which is soon to be vacated by the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. According to the Washington Post, Perkins and Will was chosen by D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty from among 15 others which competed for the work. Walter Reed will be relocating its hospital facilities next year. The Post is reporting that the planning work to re-develop this site will be partly funded by a $1.4 million department of Defense grant. Perkins and Will's success with another similar project - the Presidio in San Francisco which was also a military re-use situation - weighed heavily in their selection for this opportunity.






Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey


By Neil deMause, Village Voice blog, Mar. 28 2010 -- The metro area's soccer team named after an energy drink (the franchise is Red Bull New York, the team is the New York Red Bulls — if you think this is confusing, don't even try to wrap your brain around the two competing Manchester Uniteds) held their first official league game at their brand-new stadium in Harrison, New Jersey, drawing a capacity crowd to the souffle by the Passaic. Your intrepid Voice reporter was on the scene, braving the frigid temperatures and a near-complete absence of familiarity with live soccer to see how the tri-state's latest new sports facility stacks up.


The first impression — after arriving on the PATH train and making your way past the vacant lots that are supposed to signify redevelopment in some unspecified future — is of a place that feels a bit chintzy for a $200 million sports palace: While the partial roof is impressive and attractive (and helped shield fans from the worst of last night's arctic gales), the seats are thin plastic, and the seating bowl itself is aluminum. Once the match started, however, the brilliance of that design decision became clear: 25,000 crazed soccer supporters (soccer lingo for "fans") all stamping their feet at once on metal flooring creates a sound unlike anything else, including that of 57,000 crazed Yankee fans at the late, lamented ball yard in the Bronx.


Compared to the Mets' and Yanks' new pleasure palaces, in fact, Red Bull Arena (it's really a stadium, but in Europe they call stadiums "arenas" — again, don't ask) is a populist paradise, its requisite wall of luxury boxes notwithstanding. We were seated in the top deck in a corner, but still had a good view of all the action on the field. The real action, meanwhile, was... Complete article found at the Village Voice blog







LMN Architects rendering for a renovated Cleveland Convention Center


By Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer CLEVELAND, OHIO, MARCH 1, 2010 -

Patience has paid off for LMN Architects. Today, the Seattle-based architecture firm has been named conceptual designer of what Cleveland hopes will be the nation's first medical mart, plus a rebuilt Cleveland convention center. The firm has sought on and off for 11 years to design a new convention center in Cleveland.

Jeffrey Appelbaum, the attorney hired by Cuyahoga County to help guide the project, announced at a meeting of the Cuyahoga County commissioners that the county and MMPI Inc. of Chicago made the choice to go with LMN over two other finalists for the project.

MMPI is the county's private partner in the project to build the medical mart, a year-round showroom for medical devices, and to rebuild the outmoded, substandard convention center.


The decision marks a major milestone for the long-delayed project. The medical mart has been under discussion in Cleveland since 2005. The Cleveland facility, scheduled to open in 2013, is in a race with facilities proposed in New York and Nashville, scheduled to open in 2013 and in about 18 months, respectively. More at The Plain Dealer online.







Gehry-designed Cleveland Clinic


LAS VEGAS, NV| DEC 7 ,2009--What the hell is happening to Las Vegas architecture? There’s not a stitch of kitsch to be found in the resort town’s latest iteration of destination buildings. Ignoring Disney-fied theme concepts, the new structures include a shard-shaped shopping mall by World Tower master planner Daniel Libeskind, a pair of pumpkin-toned condos skewed at a five-degree angle and crisscrossed with gleaming blue monorail trams that summon Blade Runner vistas by way of The Jetsons, and a grid-melting exercise in fractal geometry from Frank Gehry, who makes his first Las Vegas appearance with a complex devoted to Alzheimer’s patients. Select link to continue with story


Excerpt from Las Vegas Grows Up: Architecture Review in LA Weekly







DALLAS, TX| OCT 18 , 2009--Upon completion of his acclaimed Modern Wing of the Art  Institute in Chicago. Dutch-architect Rem Koolhaas is not resting on his laurels. His jointly-designed theater is part of a $354 million performing arts center in Dallas, Texas. And Koolhaas isn't the only name of note involved with this project. Architect Norman Foster collaborated in the design of the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House which according to Entertainment Daily is a 2,200-seat venue for opera, ballet and Broadway touring productions. The facility features a red drum-like core which protrudes from the glass building surrounding it.


The performances in the 575-seat Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre are visible to the public due to the transparent glass. Additionally, the 12-story structure according the article features a "stacked design as opposed to the typical theater design where support spaces surround the stage. Additional outdoor phases are planned for the performing arts complex to be completed in 2011. For more information, visit the AT&T Performing Arts Center site at







NEW YORK, NEW YORK | SEPT 27 , 2009--When establishing their new home at 58 Prospect Ave., Princeton University's Fields Center and Community House staff decided to make it a beacon for multicultural education and social opportunities within the University campus and local community.


While physically located just across the street from their old building at 86 Olden St., the new facility is miles away in offering larger, more visible and dynamic space for the work supported by the two organizations. The new building was designed to enhance and expand the Fields Center and Community House and to help make their programs more accessible.


After more than a year of construction and renovation work, the opening of the facility was marked Thursday, Sept. 17, at a public celebration


Designed by Ann Beha Architects of Boston, the 18,800-square-foot facility pairs the restored Elm Club building with a contemporary 5,000-square-foot addition. The architectural integration of old and new, coupled with new amenities and the pulse of activities inside the building, will bring vitality to the historic corner of Prospect Avenue and Olden Street, according to University leaders.


"The goal is to have a vibrant, inclusive space that is hospitable and welcoming to all," Dickerson said. "The elegant architecture of the building will be a distinctive and inviting addition to Prospect Avenue. I expect that students will be drawn in, both to investigate the interior spaces and also to participate in the programming offered by the Fields Center and Community House."


Updated seminar rooms, intimate social spaces, additional dedicated student organization offices and areas wired for new media are some of the building's new amenities.


Excerpts from an article by Emily Aronson,






ITHACA, NEW YORK | AUG 31, 2009--Construction is currently underway for Paul Milstein Hall, the newest addition to Cornell University’s Architecture School. Designed by Rem Koolhaas and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), this 46,000 square foot building couldn’t come sooner. The National Architecture Accreditation Board has warned Cornell for over a decade that new facilities were needed in order for their Architecture program to stay accredited. If these concerns are not addressed, the school will lose their Bachelors of Architecture and Masters of Architecture 1 programs, two losses which would be catastrophic to the university. Milstein hall will be the first building for the college of Art, Architecture and Urban Planning in 90 years, and will physically unite the three departments. This expansion of the AAP facilities was initially funded in 2000 by a gift from the family of real estate developer Paul Milstein.


            Milstein Hall will provide 22,000 square feet of open studio space, a 275 person lecture hall and 6,900 square feet for critique space, and in the words of Dean Kent Kleinman, “will make it possible to radically reconfigure the way design is taught.” However, despite these accommodations, the project has drawn strong opposition primarily from non-architectural faculty members, citing the building’s disjointed style from its traditional neighbors, high budget (52 million dollars) and standard LEED rating instead of LEED Gold rating.


The design includes an elevated second floor that cantilevers in the north side and southeast corner. This leaves space underneath for a pedestrian plaza and outdoor exhibition space protected from Ithaca’s harsh natural elements. A concrete dome in the center allows for auditorium seating, and the studio and circulation spaces are very open. Milstein Hall’s materials and finishes are economic and honest and help express its form. The upper level is mainly exposed steel and floor-to-ceiling glass facades, while the first floor is made of exposed concrete. Construction is expected to be completed in 2011.







IRVING, TEXAS| AUG 9, 2009-- The new US Citizenship and Immigration Services building opened earlier this year in Irving Texas. Designed by the Chicago-based 4240 Architecture, the new  facility is a part of the USCIS' initiative to "Build an Immigration Service for the 21st Century."   The initiative is built around a foundation of three pillars designed to enhance and sustain a secure and efficient immigration system. These pillars include: "Improving Service Delivery," "Enhancing the Security and Integrity of the Immigration System," and "Modernizing Business Infrastructure." The design is striving for LEED silver certification. According to Las Colinas Online, the design team paid particular attention to providing protection from the hot Texas sun with roof overhangs, a brise soleil, and protective glass.






ARLINGTON, Texas | Jun 8, 2009--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Dallas Cowboys Stadium officially opens on June 6 as George Strait takes the stage at the venue’s first public event. The new sports and entertainment venue in Arlington, Texas, between Dallas and Fort Worth, is the home of the Dallas Cowboys, the country’s most-watched NFL team. Designed by the HKS Sports & Entertainment Group, the venue enhances the international Cowboys brand with its modern, progressive architecture while incorporating elements of Texas Stadium’s heritage such as the shape of the roof’s opening and the Ring of Honor.

The 3 million-square-foot stadium has an approximate capacity of 80,000 fans. As the largest NFL venue ever built, the new stadium boasts the most spectacular column-free room in the world, stretching a quarter-mile in length. “In recognition of the time-honored traditions and timeless dynamic nature of the Dallas Cowboys, we chose a modern palette of simple forms and materials that creates a fittingly progressive architectural expression for the new stadium,” said Bryan Trubey, AIA, principal designer, HKS Sports & Entertainment Group.

  • Designed to be open or closed, depending on weather conditions, the expansive retractable roof is the largest of its kind in the world and measures approximately 660,800 square feet.
  • The stadium features two monumental arches, soaring 292 feet above the playing field, which support a retractable roof.
  • The stadium features the largest retractable end zone doors in the world.
  • One of the most compelling architectural features of the stadium design is the canted glass exterior wall.
  • Within the seating bowl, Cowboys fans will be provided with a one-of-a-kind feature, a center-hung video board.




ATLANTA, GA | MAY 24, 2009 | Prudential Real Estate Investors along with Cousins Properties, Inc. has partnered to develop one of the Atlanta area's largest building projects. Terminus 200 or the Buckhead Tower at 565.000 square-feet will be a 25-story office building in Atlanta's Buckhead submarket. Terminus 200 is the latest phase of the 10-acre Terminus development which presently contains a residential tower called Terminus Place and the 656,000 square-foot Terminus 100 office building.   






NEW YORK, NY | APR 19, 2009 | The New York Times Jay Schreiber highlights the new home of the New York Mets, Citi Field, while tracing the historical connection of the new stadium’s inspiration - Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers almost 50 years ago. The rotunda is the most notable architectural feature modeled after Ebbets Field. This new facility is far from the sterile, impersonal Shea Stadium of yesteryear, which means it’s already a winner.




WASHINGTON D.C.| FEB 15, 2009 | The designers of Millennium Park's Crown Fountain and the contemporary addition to the historic Michigan Avenue Streetwall with is prism-like Spertus Institute is putting its signature stamp on the nation's capital. Chicago-based Krueck + Sexton, is the impetus behind one of two 12-story, glass office buildings under construction in the North of Massachusetts neighborhood. According to Architectural Record, "the building will feature a diagonal refracted crease in its north-facing glass curtain wall." In addition, "the entrances to both buildings are pulled back under a slight cantilever, giving visitors the experience of the overhanging glass wall." The first tower is due for completion in 2009. Murphy/Jahn also is currently constructing a contemporary office building in D.C.




NADA | JAN 5, 2009 | Architects Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample are the architects behind the design of a floating house near an island on Lake Huron. According to "The location on the Great Lakes imposed complexities to the house’s fabrication and construction, as well as its relationship to site. Annual cyclical change related to the change of seasons, compounded with escalating global environmental trends, cause Lake Huron’s water levels to vary drastically from month-to-month, year-to-year. To adapt to this constant, dynamic change, the house floats atop a structure of steel pontoons, allowing it to fluctuate along with the lake." The complete details along with more photography is available at




WASHINGTON D.C. | OCT 5, 2008 | MICHAEL PAULSON - BOSTON GLOBE It was disorienting to visit the memorial before any particular public rituals have emerged, like making a pencil rubbing of a name at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, following the chronological utterances etched into the stones at the FDR Memorial, or leaving notes or a picture at Ground Zero. We felt uncertain how to interact with the park. On some benches, there were flowers, perhaps left over from the dedication. In the dirt around a seedling, someone had stuck a tiny American flag. But in the dimness, the experience was almost entirely sensory. It was hard to make out the paths or read the victims' names, so we wandered along the gravel, stones crunching underfoot. We crouched at the benches, letting our fingers feel the engraved names, listening to the flowing water. In the air hung a faint scent from the baby paperbark maples planted to provide shade for grieving families, destined to ... To continue article, follow the link to site - The best time to take in the new Pentagon Memorial? 1 am



NEW YORK, NY, SEPT 23, 2008-This past Thursday, Portland-based Allied Works and principal Brad Cloepfil gave New Yorkers their first look at their re-interpretation of one of the city's most well-worn landmarks. The new home of the Museum of Arts and Design at 2 Columbus Circle which was originally designed by Edward Durrell Stone has a distinctively contemporary edge. According to, the skin of the building is comprised of 22,000 handcrafted terra cotta tiles which feature an iridescent glaze which took two years to perfect. Additionally, depending on the time of day or year, the tiles react to the light in different ways. In a recent press conference with national journalists, Cloepfil talked about respecting the building's initial design by preserving its original size, shape and color. He also referenced his efforts to infuse the interior with more natural light by slicing "ribbons of concrete" from its exterior walls and filling those carved out voids with glass. Brad Cloepfil has also done an addition to the Seattle Art Museum, an expansion to the University of Michigan Museum of Art and the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver. 



 Approval Being Sought for 1,500-ft Tower in Philly

PHILADELPHIA, PA, JULY 22, 2008-Walnut Street Capital partnered with Washington-based Multi-Employer Property Trust are in the initial stages of developing what will be-at least for a little while-the tallest building in the U.S. The so-named American Commerce Center will rise 525 feet higher than Philadelphia's tallest building-Robert Stern's Comcast Center just completed this year. The American Commerce Center planned for the intersection of 18th and Arch Streets was designed by New York-based architects Kohn Petersen Fox and is estimated at costing nearly $1 billion. The mixed-use building will have a 1,200-ft base and a 300-ft tall spire and facilitate offices, hotel and retail space.







Architect Dream Team Assembled for New Resort Casino

ARIA Resort & Casino, Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS, NV, JUNE 17, 2008-CityCenter has revealed that its stunning resort casino, scheduled to open in late 2009, will be named ARIA. With an unprecedented combination of striking architecture, sustainable design, high-end service and spectacular amenities, ARIA Resort & Casino will immediately become the focal point not only of the Las Vegas skyline but of the hospitality industry.

Designed by the world-renowned firm Pelli Clarke Pelli, ARIA’s architectural expression will reveal itself at every turn, from its two breathtaking curvilinear glass towers to the clean use of natural elements including lush foliage, wood and stone. Soaring open spaces, ranging from ARIA’s three-story lobby and casino to its guest rooms, will fill with natural light and evoke breadth and freedom. Art and interior design will envelop guests in warm, comforting surroundings and provide a sense of human scale.

The contemporary architecture of the ARIA tower will be complemented by the resort’s lavish accommodations. ARIA’s 4,004 guest rooms, including 568 suites, will incorporate integrated technologies never before used in the hospitality industry. Guest room corridors streaming with natural light will open to areas of enclosed glass, delivering spectacular city or mountain views. Guests also can enjoy these breathtaking panoramas from the privacy of their rooms; all will feature expansive floor-to-ceiling windows. ARIA’s modern tower is uniquely designed to deliver corner-window views from every guest room.

The project began with a master plan developed by New York’s Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut and Kuhn Architects (EEK) for a high-density destination with interesting places and experiences, smooth public circulation and regard for its surroundings.

To realize this plan, MGM MIRAGE executives traveled the world and met with numerous architects to review their work and understand their approach. When the search concluded, MGM MIRAGE had assembled a dream team of the world’s foremost architects and two of the country’s foremost builders, Perini Building Company and Tishman Construction, to begin the ambitious 20-month design phase.

Gensler, the world’s largest architectural firm, was chosen to lead the design process, managing seven “star-chitects,” 90 interior designers and hundreds of consultants to take CityCenter from merely an idea, to a reality.

For Veer Towers, Chicago-based architect Helmut Jahn was a natural choice: an artist whose buildings were certain to look unlike any other. Jahn’s signature projects include the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels, Munich’s Kempinski Hotel and Sony Center Berlin.

Helmut Jahn’s design for the two residential high rises known as Veer Towers will be a masterful translation of energy and excitement into physical form; its two 37-story glass towers will shimmer day and night. With approximately 337 modern condominium residences in each tower, Veer will soar above the city and put residents close to The Crystals, CityCenter’s retail and entertainment district. Inclined at five-degree angles – a feature celebrated by the development’s name – the towers will seem to dance with each other. Lobbies and public spaces will be developed by notable designer Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido1 to showcase impressive works of glass and metal with plenty of natural light. In the residences, the renowned team of Dianna Wong Architecture & Interior Design, Inc.2 will create modern spaces that impart a sense of openness. Atop each striking tower, residents will enjoy an amenities floor featuring an unequaled view of Las Vegas complemented by an infinity edge pool, cabanas, hot tubs, a sun deck and a patio for outdoor entertaining. Within, Veer will feature recreation rooms for special events or casual celebrations, private media rooms with panoramic windows, a fitness center with men’s and women’s steam rooms, and business centers. Upscale dining, lavish shopping and electric nightlife – with entertainment as only Las Vegas can offer – will be only steps away.

For Vdara Condo Hotel, MGM MIRAGE felt RV Architecture, LLC, led by principal Rafael Viñoly, was ideally suited to design a building that would complement the nearby resort casino properties. Viñoly also designed the Cleveland Museum of Art, Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Carrasco International Airport in Montevideo, Uruguay.

In creating this soaring 57-story condo hotel deep within CityCenter, RV Architecture used a disciplined design approach to remarkable effect. Vdara’s distinctive crescent shape and unique skin of patterned glass will create one of the most provocative design statements in Las Vegas. Located between two of the world’s finest casinos, Bellagio and CityCenter’s gaming resort, Vdara’s approximately 1,495 residences will feature open floor plans and horizontal windows delivering expansive views of the city and mountains. Acclaimed designers BBG-BBGM3 will create stylish, contemporary environments infused with comfort. At Vdara, residents and guests will enjoy amenities commensurate with the world’s most elite resorts. From early morning to late evening, its full-service wellness spa will soothe, relax and rejuvenate. Vdara’s luxurious pool will feature fully appointed retreat and spa cabanas with semi-private plunge pools, and a high-energy bar and lounge open day and evening. Martin Heierling, the internationally acclaimed innovator behind Bellagio’s AAA Four Diamond restaurant Sensi, will serve as executive chef for Vdara Condo Hotel. Vdara’s destination restaurant will transform as the day evolves, from fresh, vibrant and energetic at daybreak; to hip, intimate and sexy at nightfall. Additional amenities will include an advanced fitness facility, 24-hour concierge service, state-of-the-art conference and meeting facilities for groups of 10 to 400, in-room dining, a gourmet grocery, housekeeping and valet parking. When a unit isn’t in use, owners will have the option to rent out their units on a nightly basis.

For The Harmon Hotel, Spa & Residences, MGM MIRAGE selected London’s Foster + Partners, a firm noted for the thought-provoking modernity of its work and its beautifully engineered, intelligent and efficient structures. Foster + Partners’ strikingly wide range of work includes the Beijing Airport and Hearst Tower in New York.

Recently accepted as a distinguished member of The Leading Hotels of the World, The Harmon Hotel, Spa & Residences is designed for those who can appreciate the precise collision of privacy and profile. Operated by The Light Group – one of the nation’s leading hospitality, development and management companies – The Harmon Residences will define hip, exclusive living on The Strip and deliver luxurious services and amenities to its A-list residents and guests. The tower’s top 20 floors will be dedicated to its approximately 207 luxury residences, which will encapsulate The Harmon’s highly distilled atmosphere and deliver phenomenal views of the Las Vegas Strip. Munge Leung Design Associates2 will craft living spaces adorned with comfort and stunning modernity, with thoughtful layouts and beautiful color schemes to create exotic, private retreats that reflect privileged living. Residential suites will be finished with patterned surfaces of granites, marbles and onyx stones that bring color, movement and depth to the spaces. Walnut, oak or maple hardwood floors will add rich texture and warmth. Gourmet kitchens adorned with designer fixtures and spa-inspired bathrooms will complete the sensuous luxury residences. Residents will have full access to all hotel amenities including the newest creation of international cultural icon Michael Chow with his first and only MR CHOW restaurant in Las Vegas, a hair salon by world-renowned hair stylist Frédéric Fekkai, a private lobby lounge, other dining offerings, the most elite retail offerings in Las Vegas, a indulgent spa (with in-room services available), valet parking and much more. The hotel’s pool deck will be perched 100 feet above The Strip providing full views of the world’s most dynamic street below.

For the design of Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, MGM MIRAGE turned to Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. The New York-based firm is recognized for the excellence and innovation of its buildings in cities around the world.

The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas will set the new standard of style with state-of-the-art suites, amenities and architectural design, and become the most esteemed address in Las Vegas. Situated above the bright lights of the Boulevard on the highest floors of the 400-room boutique hotel, its approximately 227 residences will be a true limited edition. Through the provision of bespoke benefits, residents will be treated as permanent guests of Mandarin Oriental and enjoy privileged access to the exceptional services provided by the hotel.

This will include a spectacular elevated pool and accompanying cabanas; top-of-the-line fitness center; distinguished salon; internationally recognized spa; destination dining and retail; owner’s private boardroom and lounges; exclusive residential entrance, lobby, recreation quarters and elevators; advanced conference facilities and business center; and an array of concierge, doorman, housekeeping and valet services. Residential interiors will be crafted with studied, meticulous care by the distinguished design and architecture firms of Kay Lang & Associates and Page & Steele Interior Architects. Living spaces will be characterized by an artful, eastern approach, married with contemporary aesthetic splendor, in a decadent selection of color palettes, materials and finishes.

New York’s Studio Daniel Libeskind is the exterior architect of The Crystals, a faceted-roof retail and entertainment district at the heart of CityCenter. The Crystals will be an international gathering place and premier shopping destination combining art, design and experience. Libeskind became a household name in 2003 when he won the World Trade Center competition and was named master plan architect for the site. Other celebrated works include the Jewish Museum Berlin and the Denver Art Museum’s Hamilton Building.

For The Crystals interior architecture, New York’s Rockwell Group will introduce a series of striking environments designed to invite and engage, intrigue and relax. Noted for designs of cultural, hospitality and retail projects, Rockwell’s celebrated work includes the Elinor Bunin Film Center at Lincoln Center, the Kodak Theatre, sets for Broadway’s Hairspray and the W New York.

Soaring to 61 stories, ARIA was designed by the New Haven, Connecticut firm of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. Pelli Clarke Pelli has created four of the world’s largest private developments: World Financial Center, New York; Kuala Lumpur City Centre, Malaysia; Canary Wharf, London; International Finance Center, Hong Kong.




 Landmark Modernist Kahn House Not Moving

Margaret Esherick House, Chestnut Hill Pennsylvania.

CHESTNUT HILL, PA, MAY 26, 2008-The Chicago-based auction house Wright which specializes in modern art and architecture hoped to make a significant sale from the landmarked Louis Kahn-designed Esherick House near Philadelphia. Alas, it was not to be as last week the 2,500-square-foot 1961 home did not move for the $2-3 million price tag the auction house and homeowners expected to see. According to Architectural Record,

The one-bedroom dwelling is a monumental composition of two rectilinear volumes finished in beige concrete and Apitong, a Malaysian hardwood. Exterior features include a chimney offset from the facade, asymmetrically placed keyhole windows along the front elevation, and a rear double-height wall of wood and glass. Appropriately, the living room is lined with built-in bookcases that nearly reach the ceiling. The interior also features a fireplace in a bathroom, and a custom kitchen designed by Esherick’s uncle, Philadelphia-based sculptor Wharton Esherick. In 1992, the house received a Landmark Building Award from the Philadelphia chapter of the American Institute of Architects. 

Recently, a Richard Neutra house in Palm Springs, California sold at auction by Christies for $16.8 million.


New Baseball Facility in D.C. a Big Hit

Nationals Park, Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON, DC. APRIL 13, 2008-By all accounts, the sports facility experts HOK Sport of Kansas City and Devrouax & Purnell Architects-Planners of Washington have possibly laid the groundwork for a change of direction for new baseball stadium construction.  Instead of continuing with the dominant theme of retro-facilities, the D.C. Sports Commission has led the development of a state-pf-the-art concrete and steel structure clad in brick and limestone which has a distinctly contemporary look and feel about it. The over $610 million dollar stadium has a 41,888-seat capacity and is positioned for an enviable view of the U.S. Capital building in the foreground. Nationals Park is also aiming to be the first major league ballpark in the country to be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Green Building Rating System. In an excerpt from, The ballpark promises to play the major role in the Anacostia River waterfront entertainment district. In addition to government plans for the area, major development is anticipated from investors who have bought up property near the ballpark. Nationals Park replaces the former RFK Stadium which formerly housed the professional sports teams from the D.C. area.



Iconic California Home to be Saved by the Highest Bidder

1946 Kaufmann House designed by Richard Neutra Palm Springs, CA


PALM SPRINGS, CA. March 10, 2008-A seminal structure of American architecture is poised to take on new life as a piece of very expensive iconic art. Christie's International is hoping a house designed for Edgar J. Kaufmann in 1946 by architect Richard Neutra which became symbolic of the California lifestyle will fetch upwards of $25 million at auction. The 3,200 square foot ranch was renown for its strong multi-directional horizontal planes, unusually thin steel supports, and deft use of plaster, glass, concrete and wood in a theme which unified the indoors with the outdoors. The house had fallen into disrepair for years and was threatened with becoming a teardown. But the house and property were purchased by Brent and Beth Harris and restored by the architectural firm of Marmol Radziner & Associates over a five year period to its original condition as closely as possible. 



 Light Rail System Project an AIA Winner for UA


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. Jan 21, 2008-An award-winning regional-planning project offers Northwest Arkansas a mass transit model that supports economic development and environmental sustainability. The University of Arkansas Community Design Center with Washington University in St. Louis has won an American Institute of Architects Education Honor Award for taking on a thorny regional planning issue: light rail. Studios at both universities explored how light rail and associated transit-oriented development could ease traffic gridlock, spur downtown revitalization and check sprawl in Northwest Arkansas.

The project launched last spring with three UA studios involving 40 School of Architecture students and four professors: Luoni, Aaron Gabriel, Gregory Herman and Tahar Messadi. Visiting professors Eric Kahn, a Los Angeles architect with expertise in scenario planning, and William Conway, a Minneapolis-based architect and urban planner, partnered on the project, as well. The UA students did not design the light rail system per se. Instead, they focused on regional development and transit-oriented district schemes that would support light rail.

Work continued last fall with an urban design studio at Washington University in St. Louis, where Stephen Luoni was the Ruth and Norman Moore Visiting Professor. Nine graduate students built on the theoretical foundation erected by UA students, developing transit-oriented neighborhoods anchored by mixed-use train stations at three key sites in Fayetteville: Drake Field, Dickson Street and the Northwest Arkansas Mall.

This marks the third year in a row that the community design center, an outreach of the UA School of Architecture, has won education honors from the AIA. Award jurors noted that "this is an effective use of scenario planning with legible, impactful graphics that can be shown to the community."



 Historical Context with a Local Flavor for New Mosque


BOSTON, MASS. December 31, 2008-One of the largest Mosques to be constructed since September 11, 2001 is near completion in historic Boston, Mass. The new Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center designed by the Boston firm of Steffian Bradley and Saudi Arabian architect Sami Angawi will be 60,000 square foot and accommodate 1600 worshipers when completed. The facility will include prayer rooms, an Islamic school for children, an Islamic library, a morgue with burial preparation facilities, administrative offices, a media center, store, a women's gymnasium, a kitchen, a hall for events, and an underground parking garage. The design of this unique religious edifice stays true to traditional Middle Eastern Islamic-style architecture with its street-level row of pointed peak arches and its 140-foot tall minaret. Yet, the $15 million building gives a nod to its New England location in that its exterior is clad in indigenous  red brick. The project, adjoined to the campus of Roxbury Community College, has been subject to a couple of lawsuits challenging the source of its funding but has settled both to continue construction.   



Innovative Retail Collaboration between CBS & N E Patriots


BOSTON, MASS. Dec 10, 2007-Aiming to be a distinctive centerpiece of the on-going $350 million Patriot Place retail complex under development in Foxborough, Mass., New England Patriot's owner Robert Kraft and CBS chief executive Les Moonves have teamed up to locate their new themed-restaurant concept near the entrance to Gillette stadium. Slated to open fall 2008, CBS Scene designed by architect Cambridge Seven Associates will be a 15,000 sq. ft. studio-themed eatery offering an upscale menu and will also include meeting space, a retail store, a second-floor dining area and a bar on the top floor. Among the highlights are lighting grids and 130 High-Definition televisions with state-of-the-art monitors, many of which will be table-side allowing patrons to view 20-minutes segments of past and current CBS programming. The restaurant also will feature satellites and broadcasts of live radio and television events promoting celebrities, CBS-sponsored sporting, music, and reality shows. According to the Boston Globe, other major facilities planned for the Patriot Place complex are a Patriots museum, a sports medicine and healthcare clinic, a 500-seat jazz club, and a high-end movie theater.



New Downtown Kansas City Has the "Wright" Stuff

Dec 3, 2007


Kansas City, MO (PRWEB) What does Frank Lloyd Wright and a Bahamas-inspired penthouse pool have in common: The Metropolitan, a new luxury high-rise condominium located in downtown Kansas City.

It's no mistake that one of the most luxurious urban condos in Kansas City emulates the famous architectural design of Frank Lloyd Wright. His trademark horizontal lines and use of indigenous Midwest materials such as slate and limestone are reflected in the lobby and residences of the building. The building's warm palette of colors capture guests with an inviting coziness. The Metropolitan's style has the level of sophistication of a New York City or Chicago high-rise - tasteful and timeless - but it is also unique in its context. You can only get this particular blend of style here in Kansas City.

Phillip Gesue, director of acquisitions and development of Time Equities, the company that developed the Metropolitan, was actively involved in the interior design process. "The building's modernist lines attracted us to it and its location in a great Midwest city made us think of Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright was famous for his use of local materials and horizontal lines. A lot of the color, shapes, rooflines and window lines really reflect what Wright would have done if he were alive today," Gesue said.



D.C. District is Slated for a Contemporary Upgrade

  Nov 5, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Is our nation's capital ready for the architectural flash of the internationally renown Helmut Jahn?  Apparently so. The firm of Murphy/Jahn is making its inaugural entry onto the D.C. landscape. A 12-story high-end office building is under construction on the corner of K and 20th streets NW. The new building is to be the home for one of the nation's largest law firms-Mayer Brown. In addition, the building will also consolidate all its satellite practices i.e. its Chicago office into its new Washington-based headquarters.  Jahn is noted for his European Union Headquarters in Brussels, and several works in the Chicago area including a new housing facilities for the homeless and previously one completed for students on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology.

In a quote in the Washington Post, Martin Moeller, senior vice president and curator of the National Building Museum said the building reflects an overall shift in the architecture on K Street, long associated with law firms and lobbyists. "The buildings are reflecting broader trends in architecture. The initial K Street buildings tended to be sedate and very similar in style. It will raise the bar [for office design in Washington].  The building's design is to feature a "minimalist see-through" facade which features decorative glass engineered to be ultra-clear instead of the more typical green hue found in most office building projects.  The nearly 250,000 square feet facility is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2009.


Connecticut Library Expansion Garners Athenaeum Award

  Oct 22, 2007

WILTON, CT– The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design has awarded the recently completed Wilton library expansion project by the local architectural firm of Tai Soo Kim Partners.  A press release regarding the award said, “The awards identify the new cutting-edge design direction, urban philosophy, design approach, style, and intellectual substance in American architecture today.” According to the Wilton Bulletin, The library’s expansion project began in June 2004 and was completed in June 2006. The project added approximately 33,000 square feet of space to the existing 17,000-square-foot structure which was designed by Eliot Noyes in the modernist tradition. Among the new architectural elements are an expanded courtyard and the Brubeck Room, which has been used for community events. The design solution, according to the firm's website, builds upon the original 1974 design by Eliot Noyes, a colleague of Marcel Breuer and Walter Gropius, by honoring the vocabulary of the simple opaque planes of wall and transparent planes of glass that frame both interior and exterior spaces.



Headquarters a Model For Stability and Sustainability




CHICAGO, Oct 1, 2007 – When the Washington office of architecture, planning and interior design firm VOA Associates took on the assignment of designing the build-out of the new headquarters for the International Code Council (Code Council), it was clear that the client’s expectations would be high. After all, the staff directing the project and occupying the new space would represent the building and fire communities, and the Code Council wanted to ensure that its new office would send a good message on using sustainable practices, in addition to raising the organization’s profile.

Michele Vernon, the lead project manager from VOA’s Washington office, said the client relationship was a dream come true. The new headquarters spans the sixth floor of the 500 New Jersey Avenue building, one of the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver certified buildings in the nation’s capital. Part of VOA’s assignment was to build out the space to maintain the building’s rigorous certification.

The new headquarters helps elevate the Code Council’s profile and enhance its relationships with the federal government, as well as national and international organizations. The space conveys that it is a solid organization that represents safety and stability.

The lobby welcomes visitors with the very important vision, mission and values of the safety organization featured in a prominent display. Warm, inviting colors are used throughout the space, and the tile and reception desk were selected to reinforce the solid nature of the organization.

The space showcases a variety of environmentally friendly, recycled content materials. Wood used for the doors and millwork was sustainably harvested and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. VOA worked with the Code Council to provide high efficiency lighting and recycled carpeting.

Having its offices in a “green” building reinforces the Code Council’s commitment to respect the environment. “This move fit in perfectly with the Code Council’s mission of safeguarding the public, and it demonstrates its commitment to good corporate citizenship,” Vernon said.

As the unusual building is shaped like a long, narrow boat, the entire space features floor to ceiling glass windows. Taking advantage of the daylight that saturates the space, VOA designed a conference room that could serve multiple purposes. The new conference room table seats 24 and can be configured in various ways for classes and meetings.

Ideally situated near Capitol Hill and Union Station, the building has an enviable view of the Capitol, making it attractive to numerous government affairs operations. The building, opened in 2004, is owned by the National Association of Realtors, which recommended VOA to the Code Council after VOA designed the association’s expansion space and several other government affairs offices in the building.

“This is a significant building, and it’s been exciting to work with the Code Council on bringing its mission to life in the space,” Vernon said. “We knew we’d have to be on our toes as those overseeing the project have such an in-depth understanding of construction issues, but we didn’t know until we started working together how well we could collaborate to develop a space that would engender such pride among all of us involved.”

The VOA Design Team for the ICC consisted of:

John Jessen, Principal-in-Charge
Michele Vernon, Interior Designer/Lead Project Manager
Alyssa Jahera, Designer
Justin Do, Graphics/Designer

About VOA

VOA Associates Incorporated, founded in 1969, is a leading national architecture firm organized around Areas-of-Excellence practice groups strategically located in Chicago, Washington, DC, Orlando, Columbus, Highland, IN, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The firm offers comprehensive services embracing the disciplines of architecture, interior design, landscape and master planning. VOA’s designs have received over 160 local, national and international design excellence awards from clients, peers and publications. For more information, visit 

About the International Code Council

The International Code Council, a membership association dedicated to building safety and fire prevention, develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools. Most U.S. cities, counties and states that adopt codes choose the International Codes developed by the International Code Council. The mission of the International Code Council is to provide the highest quality codes, standards, products, and services for all concerned with the safety and performance of the built environment. For more information, visit


Iconic Contemporary Project Begins in Roanoke


Sept. 23, 2207-Roanoke, Virginia is poised to receive its first truly contemporary building. Designed by Los Angeles architect Randall Stout, the $40.5 million Art Museum of Western Virginia is several months into a two-year completion schedule which will ready it for opening to the public in the spring of 2008. Located on a prominent northwest corner of Roanoke’s downtown, the new Art Museum of Western Virginia creates a physical and iconographic gateway into the city. As the city’s most contemporary structure, it represents Roanoke’s metaphorical gateway to the future for a city transforming its industrial and manufacturing based economy to one driven by technology information and services. The building’s forms and materials interpret the renowned beauty and drama of the surrounding Shenandoah Valley landscape framed by the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains.

Stratified over three levels, the building program occupies 82,000 square feet. Primary public spaces are located on the ground level, including the museum lobby, large screen theater, café, gift shop, auditorium and education spaces, along with additional support areas associated with the loading dock and art receiving activities. All permanent collection galleries, as well as the temporary exhibit galleries and art storage, are located on the second level. The third and uppermost floor holds the boardroom, director’s suite and all staff offices.

Light defines the primary circulation, fracturing the building at the second floor galleries to emerge into dynamic glass volumes at each end. Representing the hub for the entire facility, the volume of the lobby atrium connects the two floors and rises to a peak of 75 feet. The top floor splits again, causing the roofs to part for clerestory light as it, along with the events terrace, projects outward and over the street below.

The lobby atrium’s translucent, layered polycarbonate roof fills the space with softly diffused light. Undulating roofs and curving walls for other building areas are clad in stainless steel with a spectacular finish that allows the building coloration to reflect the rich variety of color in the sky and from the seasonally dramatic landscape. The many angular exterior walls, which rise to support the stainless steel roof, are surfaced in shingled cement fiber panels, while interior walls at public spaces feature a local gray dolomite limestone application. These forms and textures emphasize the striations, clefts and eroded rock surfaces found in the region’s famous caverns, cliffs and river gorges.

The Museum’s collection focuses on 18th and 19th Century American Art, Contemporary Art, Southern Decorative Art, Prints and Photographs and Non-Western Art. Through a cooperative program with the neighboring Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), the facility will house advanced state-of-the-art technology for distance learning to serve the entire region of western Virginia. In addition, the museum will feature fiber optic cable links with Network Virginia in order to enhance secondary education access to the arts. The museum will also link with Virginia Tech to provide artistic endeavors via the University’s Computer Automated Virtual Environment (CAVE).

Sustainable design components such as daylighting, passive solar, thermal conserving envelope, and computerized building management systems are incorporated into the building design. The south-facing glass façade of the lobby atrium contains light-shelves for control of sunlight and solar heat gain. Along with the two major atria, clerestories at the upper office level provide generous daylighting throughout the building.

Significant portions of the content above are from



 Phoenix Looks Forward to First Office Tower in 8 Years

  Sept 17, 2007


As reported by the Arizona Republic. Chicago-based financial services firm Mesirow Financial Real Estate is planning to build the first high-rise in downtown Phoenix in nearly eight years. The project-entitled One Central Park East-will be a 26-wtory office tower at the northwest corner of First and Van Buren streets and will cost an estimated $175 million. In partnership with A&L Investments and National Benefits Electrical Fund, the so-named Central Park East Associates LLC is hoping to break ground for construction about mid-October. The building design is being created in conjunction with the architectural firm SmithGroup Inc. According to Michael Szkatulski, senior managing director of Mesirow Financial Real Estate. their goal for this central business district in Phoenix was to ascertain how they could use "the current technology to deliver a building [in that environment]." In an interview with the Arizona Republic, Szatulski said that "we kind of challenged the Smith Group in how you look forward in terms of tall buildings. The result is to do a building that is floor-to-ceiling glass, using the technology of glass and shading devices so that the building really fits into the desert climate but affords the dramatic views that you get with full height glass." Completion is scheduled for November 2009. 




 25-Story Iconic Tower  Envisioned for Indy

  Sept 10, 2007

Downtown Indianapolis has undergone an indisputable renaissance in recent years, but 24-year old developer Jaron Garrett had visions of taking the city's progress to the next level. According to the Indianapolis Business Journal Garrett is proposing the development of a 25-story iconic apartment tower to-be-named The Marquis Tower. Designed by WDI Architecture Inc, of Indianapolis, the twisting glass and steel structure calls to mind similar designs by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. The building would feature about 120 apartment units with rents ranging from $800 to $ 2,500 with retail and restaurant space. Targeted for the intersection of Pennsylvania and Washington streets in downtown Indianapolis, Garrett's re-development project would revitalize one of the few remaining "blighted" areas left in the central core. Yet, the linchpin in Garrett's ambitious plans looks to be the garnering the financing necessary to get the project off the ground. Estimated overall costs are currently placed near $50 million.  Garrett has indicated he has only $2 or $3 million which he plans to invest in it but is presently seeking out major investors and development companies. Garrett is a 2005 graduate of Indiana State University.





Des Moines Receives a Jewel of a Building

  July 16, 2007


New Haven, Conn. architect Jon Pickard of Pickard Chilton who has on his resume the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, once the world's tallest building has come home to flex his design muscle. Wells Fargo Financial's North new 9-story  NorthStar building in downtown Des Moines, Iowa is the architect's latest completed project on the heels of 50 and 60-story buildings in Atlanta and Chicago. The 360,000-square foot steel-and-glass building at 801 Walnut Street was envisioned as a "jewel box" that sparkles and showcases modern workspace. To realize this, Pickard wrapped extensive windows around three sides of the building "creating a more open-air feeling. He then employed a light-emitting diode lighting system with lights spaced a half-inch apart, making the building glow at night, even when the interior lights are off.  Also according to the Des Moines Register, Pickard made the columns less imposing moving them from the outside on lower floors to inside and then back outside again at the top, contributing to a feeling that everything is exposed. But, according to this review, only the north face of Pickard's building is enclosed in a white fire-retardant skin. The NorthStar building also features a 30-foot atrium north if the center of the building with flooring designed to resemble Iowa farm landscapes which the architect saw while flying over the state.



Change is in the Air for Memphis Skyline

     July 9, 2007


The intersection of historic Beale Street and Riverside Drive has been approved for the location of what promises to be a defining structure in the Memphis skyline.  Carlisle Corporation has announced its plans to construct a two-tower project consisting of a 30-story luxury high-rise and a 240-room Hyatt Regency hotel. The $175 million project will sit along the Mississippi River and offer views of it and downtown Memphis. The building will also have 29,000 square feet of office space and 500 on-site parking spaces. The $55 million Hyatt Regency will have amenities available to condo residents such as a spa and treatment facility, fitness facilities and a 10th floor swimming pool and sundeck. The project is scheduled to break ground spring 2008 and be completed 2010.



Carmel Anticipates New Development as Eventual "Shopping Mecca"

   July 1, 2007

Fast-growing Carmel Indiana has entered the downtown renewal sweepstakes, but with not your typical start at the end of the line mentality.  The city has announced that Pedcor Cos. is planning an ambitious $200 million 15-acre mixed-use project to completely re-make their central district at the corner of Range Line Road and City Center Drive.  Referred to as Carmel City Center, the city and the developers are anticipating the construction of luxury condominiums, apartments, office space, shopping and high-end dining which will make Carmel, Indiana a "shopping mecca."  Renderings released by the project's artist reveal extensive landscaping in the form of fountains, courtyards, sculpture gardens, and an outdoor amphitheater laid out to resemble an "old European village." According to the Indianapolis Star, in addition to Pedcor's $200 million investment, the city will spend at least $90 million to build a 1,600-seat concert hall and 500-seat community theater on the site. The project also entails the  widening of the Monon Greenway to provide additional bicycle lanes and greater pedestrian leisure. The city of Carmel and Pedcor "hope the completed project will draw national attention and praise" by 2010.



Planned San Francisco Towers to Alter Skyline

  June 24, 2007



San Francisco is constructing what will eventually become the tallest all-residential tower in California.  San Diego developer Urban Bay Properties and the Chicago-based architectural firm of Solomon, Cordwell, Buenz and Associates have put forth a design consisting of two "slender" concrete and steel towers: one, referred to as the South Tower, will be 55 stories featuring 368 homes slated for completion in 2008; the other-the North Tower-will be 45 stories in height and will consist of 327 condominiums and completed in 2009. Located at the western end of the Bay Bridge at the intersection of First and Harrison on top of 100-ft Rincon Hill, these buildings at 641 feet will rival the 853-ft tall iconic Transamerica Pyramid redefining the San Franciscan skyline. According to Urban Bay's website, "engineers have assured the city that construction will be two times stronger than required by the building code. The interior of the building is built around a concrete and reinforced steel core anchored in a foundation 12 feet thick. This is the first building in the United States, according to, to have a liquid tuned mass damper designed to reduce sway from earthquakes and powerful Pacific winds.





Southeast Michigan Plans Their Own Downtown Makeover

  June 24, 2007


The "downtown makeover" fever continues to hit southeast Michigan.  Plans have been announced for a $300,000 million retail and residential development to emerge out of the wastelands of the former 43-acre Kmart Corp. headquarters off Big Beaver Road in Troy, Michigan. Dubbed the Pavilions of Troy, the design principles incorporated into this project will follow the contemporary concept of so-called "New Urbanism."  These principles strive to create an urban environment towards a more "human scale" where building height is restricted and opportunities to live, work and play can all be had within a walkable radius. The new core community would include a long central courtyard serving as a "town square" where events such as skating and concerts are held. The lead developer, Richardson Development Group of Reston, Virginia plans to construct the project in phases.

Of the typical obstacles facing a project of this magnitude, the harsh climate economically and meteorogically may prove major challenges. In a quote form the Detroit Free Press, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson expressed his outlook on this. "I think this is great news for Troy, great news for Oakland County and for that matte great news for southeast Michigan." Also, developer Hunter Richardson acknowledged that an outdoor-oriented development faces challenges in Michigan, which typically experiences three or four months a year of wintry weather. He said his team believed that high winds and rain were bigger problems than snow, and that his planners were taking that into account as they designed the Pavilions. The anticipated date for groundbreaking if approved is 2008 with completion of the first phrase slated for 2010.



Chicago-inspired San Diego High-rise Planned

   June 17, 2007


A 34-story high-rise office building is being planned for downtown San Diego. The 480-foot tower will not be the tallest in the city because One America Plaza stands about 20 feet higher. The 650,000-foot structure named 700 West Broadway is being developed by the Irvine Co. and designed by Henry N. Cobb, co-founder of the renown New York firm Pei Cobb Fred & Partners. The tower's architecture was inspired by Chicago's 1893 Monadnock building in a statement by Cobb. “I believe that 700 West Broadway will be elegant, characterized by calm, timeless and classic architecture that will be fresh and functional in 100 years,” he said. “It will stand with quiet authority, and be a pause in the visual landscape, a cornerstone.” 700 West Broadway, once approved by the city's redevelopment agency, will stand at the corner of Broadway and Pacific Highway on a 1 1/2-acre site and according to will include architectural features on the ground level that seek to tie in with the Santa Fe Depot next door. In a departure from the typical usage of steel or concrete, Irvine Co. went with travertine stone in a building that will be 50 percent glass and 50 percent stone. Although the cost of the project has not been revealed as of yet, it is being estimated at exceeding $300,000 million based on other similar projects. Construction is scheduled to commence mid-2008 and conclude 2 1/2 years later.



Los Angeles Constructing Tallest Residential Building West of Chicago

   June 10, 2007


The Los Angeles skyline is about to take a significant step upward. Africa Israel and Namco Capital Group along with Houk Development Company are leaving their mark on downtown LA with their plans to construct a $1 billion luxury high-rise due to break ground the first quarter of 2008 according to The project will consist of two towers, the largest rising at 76 stories and the smaller one at 43 stories which will be connected by a 15-story residential bridge. Located at the corner of Fifth and Olive Streets, Park Fifth will include 732 residential units ranging from $400,000 to $3 billion. Several notable amenities include two rooftop pools and gardens, an observation deck on the 76-story tower, 20-seat theater viewing rooms with music and video libraries in each tower and a five-star hotel. The project design was done by architect Eugene Kohn of the New York-based firm Kohn Pedersen and Fox. The interior design has been assigned to the renown international firm of Hirsch Bedner Associates.



New Art Museum Debuts in Downtown Seattle

 By Ryan Ornberg

May 21, 2007


Seattle, which is no stepchild when it comes to "starchitects" making  statements in their city has decided to make a bold statement of its own. Designed by Portland's own Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) located at the the intersection of Union and First Avenue is an expansion which will bring a contemporary edge while adding an additional 118,000 of new space to its previously "star-designed" museum. The building to which this new project was joined was the original five-story Robert Venturi/Denise Brown museum building, completed in 1991.

According the museum's website, the structure features a striking vertical design and continuous ribbon of space which allows for the expression of natural light with transparent public spaces to "engage the life of the city with an immediacy that joins street and lobby, sidewalk and gallery." The building skin is a steel-and-glass curtain wall system designed to capture and refract Seattle’s ever-changing weather and daylight. It is conceived as four articulated L-shaped “shells,” which rise uninterrupted from street level to parapet, pin-wheel around the corners of the building’s floor plates and bind the building together while allowing continual visual connections to the surrounding city of Seattle, Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. Each shell segment engages natural light in a different way.  The galleries have generally been reviewed as integrating "seamlessly" with the old Venturi spaces while being a bit non-descript which would serve the necessary focus of being on the art alone well.



Conservation via Architecture

 By Ryan Ornberg

May 14, 2007


Architecture is often the antithesis of nature and wildlife, but FXFOWLE’s unveiling of their latest design for the Wildlife Conservation Society suggests otherwise. The José E. Serrano Center for Global Conservation will stand as the organization’s world headquarters. With the current trends in architecture, there is no way they would settle for any ordinary building. WCS’s headquarters had to represent their values and put them into practice. Designed to be a part of nature, water management, solar energy, and use of recycled or reused products are incorporated into the three-story structure which will be at level with the tree tops. A green roof makes the building appear as though the ground still continues and cuts down on the “heat island” affect. The headquarters is situated on the Bronx Zoo’s campus in New York, and will give a face to the organization which is currently scattered about the area’s zoo. The maximum exploitation of daylight and incorporation of outside spaces make this office appear to be an enjoyable place to carry out WCS’s goals. The center will be open to the public to display information on the organization, the wildlife, and the architecture which provided an epicenter for this movement. The project is LEED Gold certified due to its global efforts in communicating conservation with the public. The headquarters is integrated into the landscape to plainly show the buildings caring relationship with the environment.



Twins Unveil New 42,000 Retractable-Roof Stadium

 By Ryan Ornberg

May 9, 2007


Minnesota state lawmakers gave final approval to a financing plan for an open-air stadium for the Minnesota Twins. The $522 million ballpark is expected to be ready in time for the 2010 season. The conceptual Twins ballpark design is a product of HOK Sport + Venue + Event, the same group that designed Saint Paul's Xcel Energy Center, Baltimore's Camden Yards and San Francisco's SBC Park. Featuring just 40,000 seats on four levels (Lower Deck, Suite Level, Club Level and Upper Deck), Minnesota's new ballpark would be among the most intimate facilities in all of Major League Baseball (MLB). Highlights of the seating configuration include only 12,000 seats in the Upper Deck, which would represent the fewest number of upper-level seats in all of MLB. Minnesota's new ballpark would also feature more than 17,000 seats between first and third base; 60 private suites; 12 group party suites; 4,000 Club seats and disabled seating for more than 800.

In addition to showcasing great baseball, Minnesota's new ballpark is designed to be a family-oriented entertainment destination. Inside the ballpark, fans would enjoy the comfort of expansive, heated concourses providing open views of the playing field on all seating levels. The new Twins ballpark would also feature a Minnesota Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, a retail store, a baseball-themed Sports Bar and Restaurant, an interactive area for kids.

The exterior of the Twins new ballpark would reflect the natural beauty of Minnesota. Wrapped in native Minnesotan Mankota-Kasota limestone, it would echo the look of the state's natural stone formations. The ballpark's exterior would be complimented by Fenway green steel and seating.



Akron Jumps into the "Museum as Groundbreaking Art" Trend

 By Ryan Ornberg

April 24, 2007


Akron Ohio’s existing 1899 art museum is getting a new addition that appears to be straight out of the future. A unique and unpredictable glass structure dominates the lot and for that matter, Akron’s cityscape. The addition looks anything but normal in context of the existing structure. Viennese-based architecture firm Coop Himmelb(l)au’s approach to blending the new and old structures is peculiar yet creative and is sure to make people talk. The world-renowned firm’s 20,000 square foot gallery will be their first public building in the United States. After three reviews of 125 other submissions for the design, the firm was picked to sculpt this work of contemporary art which is set to open this summer. 

The original building that still stands was built as a post office and fully rebuilt and renovated in 1980 and currently contains 8,000 square feet of gallery space. The new structure is 64,000 square feet and in addition to the gallery, will have a grand lobby, dinning facilities, classrooms, library, and an auditorium for lectures. It is said to contain three parts: the crystal, the gallery box, and the roof cloud. The first acts as the grand atrium and is an adaptable space for any type of public gathering. The gallery box is described as an “Urban Sculpture Park”, where visitors can move above the space and enjoy art from an elevated perspective. The roof cloud is the signature covering of the building and creates a horizontal landmark in the skyline. Akron’s Art Museum is certain to be defining architecture especially on a region of the country not known for forays into innovative architectural design. It is another example of this present time in history when each new museum tries to bend in unfathomable shapes, stick out in skylines, and stir up controversial opinions. Time will no doubt tell whether this one has the staying power to be an endearing symbol of a city seeking to make its cultural mark on the world.  




The Big "Difficult": Reflections on New Orleans' Reconstruction

by Irina Papuc

“It’s overwhelming. I went and got my Kleenex to wipe my eyes,” said Gwendolyn Guice, a resident of New Orleans’s Ninth Ward, after finally receiving a home last month. For the first time in over a year, these tears were of joy and not sorrow, but the aftermath of Katrina is still bittersweet. More then eighteen months since the tragedy struck, New Orleans is still coping with painstakingly slow rebuilding, a result of money problems, insurance issues, and infrastructure setbacks, among other things.  Guice’s new home, a replica of typical New Orleans shotgun houses, combines the old with new, replacing traditional cypress walls with mold and termite-resistant siding. When Guice was asked about the modern design of the house, she found it “kind of strange” but all right. For a city renowned for its rich historical architecture, the architect’s greatest challenge will be revitalizing the spirit of New Orleans with the perfect blend of the traditional and cutting edge. 

The New Orleans Flood, now widely considered the worst civil engineering disaster in American history, was the result of erosion of floodwalls called levees built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the turn of the century. Consequently, eighty percent of the city flooded and over fifteen hundred died. While tourism hotspots like the French Quarter and the Garden District were mostly spared, the city’s poorer areas such as the Lower Ninth Ward and many other residential neighborhoods were hit hard. If the architect’s challenge is bringing back New Orleans’ spirit, then the heart and soul of the City, the people, must be brought back. As of late summer 2006, the U.S. Census estimated that the current population is roughly two hundred fifty thousand, about half the original. More will probably return in the upcoming years as financial difficulties are tackled. Meanwhile, many residents still wait for monetary assistance from institutions such as the “Road Home” Program. The lack of proper funding has created great tension between the Federal government and the people of New Orleans, resulting in the City filing damage claims against the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers last January totaling seventy-seven billion dollars. After prolonged federal funding debates, Congress recently demanded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development formulate a solid plan for housing developments, otherwise restoration will occur on a wider scale by August 2007.

                If the process has been bittersweet, so has the cultural revival. November 2006 saw the re-scheduling of the Bayou Classic, a traditional football game between Southern University and Grambling State, displaced to Houston the previous year. Despite many streets still doing without streetlights, the Essence Music Festival will be held in New Orleans July 2007. The New Orleans Saints are back this year, while Mardi Gras and the Jazz and Heritage Festival never left the city. Even the National Association of Realtors held their annual convention in New Orleans as planned pre-Katrina.

                In an effort to jumpstart cityscape growth, major companies headquartered in New Orleans such as AT&T, IBM, Popeye’s, and Zatarain’s have returned post-Katrina, and over ninety-five percent of businesses with over twenty-five million annual income have pledged to or have returned. This economic move is crucial for a city teeter tottering on destruction, where many streets still lay littered with abandoned cars and piles of debris. One major investor, Donald Trump, recently gave the go-ahead for building the Trump Tower after the New Orleans City Council officially approved the tower for construction on March 15th 8. Another venture, the seven hundred million dollar “Downtown Revitalization Plan” assigned to Pritzker- winning architect Thom Mayne, was unveiled June 2006, encompassing a new Hyatt Hotel (the old one had over six hundred windows shattered and had flooded), the National Jazz Center, new City Hall, Civic Courthouse, amphitheater, and residential buildings. After some of the plans were pulled, Mayne’s redesigns are almost finished 9.  “Before Katrina…this project might have encountered a lot more resistance. We have the opportunity to re-envision ourselves, and try to create a catalytic project that will help move the city forward,” stated Ray Manning, AIA, the lead local architect in the district’s design 10.

Great skyscrapers aside, however, the majority of construction in New Orleans is on a more intimate level, focusing on residential neighborhoods and schools, the buildings necessary to bring the people back. Fear has sprung about losing New Orleans’s unique leisure lifestyle. Because families and not contractors built the majority of original Gulf Coast homes, seldom addressing building codes in the process, these homes were cheap to build and thus freed the residents from debt11. It is this freedom from financial burdens that allowed New Orleans to maintain its leisurely culture, a spirit that draws most tourists. “Professionalism eliminates self-building,” states Andrés Duany, Businessweek writer, upon recently visiting New Orleans, “Somehow there must be a process whereupon people can build simple, functional houses by themselves, either by themselves or by barter with professionals.”

                Such a proposal is still a far cry from current conditions. While thousands of homes have already been gutted or demolished, thousands of residents are still living in upper stories of damaged buildings with roof holes or in trailers. Groups such as Habitat for Humanity, Catholic charities, and the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans have gathered hundreds of volunteers eager to repair damaged homes and construct new ones.


The Big "Difficult": Reflections on New Orleans' Reconstruction

The Search to Recover "Cajun-style" Housing

By Irina Papuc

In an effort to encourage collaboration in unique housing solutions, Architectural Record Magazine, partnered with the American Architectural Foundation, sponsored two idea competitions, the “New Orleans Prototype House” competition for architecture students and the “High Density on High Ground” contest for practicing firms. For the Prototype competition, universities across the country were asked to submit ideas for a three-bedroom home that could withstand a variety of environmental stresses. The High Density contest sought ideas for how to house many people in a compact space in the case that decisions are made to completely abandon below sea level living housing. Emphasizing practical solutions over visionary ideas, the combined five hundred fort-four entries range from the traditional to the downright bizarre.

            Notable entries include the futuristic “Bungalette” designed by a Columbia University architecture student. Its bright orange metallic exterior, apart from flashiness, also adds durability against future Katrina’s, while the entire unit rests on a raised platform. Described by its designer as possessing “forward-looking individuality,” the Bungalette is to many a far cry from reality and a complete abandonment of the traditional New Orleans approach. James Russell of Bloomberg News stated shortly after the disaster, “Its [New Orleans’] great spirit and the architecture that enabled it, is what will lead to revival.”

            Due to critics such as Russell, many entries took careful notice of historical building styles such as Creole cottages, which are characterized by a single, ground level story with a steep roof, or the shotgun house, a one-story rectangular structure raised on brick or cement blocks.  Historical architecture, under heavy, mid-eighteenth century Spanish influence, “harnessed, not defied” nature, stated Russell. Contrary to the “fake traditionals” currently on the market with purely ornamental shutters, the original buildings made New Orleans unique by “reconciling themselves to local conditions.”  Students from Lawrence Technological University created a home in the same manner as the shotgun, thus adapting to the local climate, with a predominately wooden exterior and the entire structure lifted on cement piers. Shotgun homes, due to their straight placement, allow for maximum ventilation and shading since before air condition days. MIT’s Louisiana Lift House project, based on traditional raised bayou cottages, consists of a wooden “tree house” with the steep roof typical of Creole cottages raised ten to twenty feet above ground. Construction has begun last December, utilizing the manpower of local volunteers who can easily put together the structure because of the affordability of the materials. "The less skilled the volunteers, the more supervision they need. We have to come to grips with the reality, learned in previous hurricanes like Andrew, that the quality of construction matters: You have to use nails, not staples, for example. You have to do what works, not what seems to work," Reinhard Goethert, the endeavor’s leader and MIT professor. The structures are built on the ground and then hoisted up onto pilings. The versatile design also allows for more expansion later.

            The general trend seems to be lifting the home on piers, as is the case with the Floating House, a Columbia University entry. Building on a floating dock system that can rise and fall with changing water levels, the house is mainly rectangular and strengthened with an ornamental yet sturdy outer metallic “web” that guards against storm projectiles. More contemporary than the Lift House or House Prototype, the Floating House is a balance between technological and classic touches.



The Big "Difficult": Reflections on New Orleans' Reconstruction

Environmental and Engineering Initiatives for the Crescent City

By Irina Papuc

Despite ambitious conceptual projects, there is still uncertainty as to whether homes will be rebuilt in the areas below sea level. To address ways to prevent rebuilding while providing housing for many people in a small space, the “High Density on High Ground” contest involved dozens of entries. Winners include firm Eight, Inc. from San Francisco, whose building includes one hundred sixty units, all with room for customization due to less cost when units are pre-fabricated 22. The units, created in a shotgun style, jut out of the building in varying lengths, depending on the space need of the family. Multi-colored, the units transport one to the nostalgic days of cheerful, brightly colored Creole cottages, but without the old world charm that pre-fabrication and density take away. The other winning entries carried a common goal and design principle:  a large, rectangular building capable of housing many small units for homes.

            On the other end of the spectrum, there have been many proposals for improving the livability of the Ninth Ward by raising it. A University of Michigan proposal consists of raising the entire plane using land berms with a concrete modular system. The area below these shelves would collect drainage from future weather. Future homes could be built on twelve foot steel beams 23. 

            While many still ponder what direction to take New Orleans construction, the issue of ecologically sound architecture has been raised. “In a historic city like New Orleans, where the majority of construction is decades or even centuries old, there is an opportunity to rebuild many of the city’s structures in a sustainable, efficient and environmentally friendly way that is unprecedented in this country,” stated Stephen Verderber, professor of Architecture at Tulane University 24. Possibilities include suggestions such as Columbia University’s “Ecological Crossings” housing, a series of prefabricated homes with green roofs and pathways adjoining them 25. More radical are the ideas of biologist Janine Benyus, who in the immediate aftermath of Katrina suggested architects look to nature for solutions. “[After the hurricane] notice how many trees stood among buildings that fell. When we go back to build, we have to ask those trees: How are you still standing?” 26

            As many students and architects continue to brainstorm design solutions, organized efforts are starting to take shape. An example is the “New Orleans Neighborhood Rebuilding Plan,” (NOLANRP) informally known as the Lambert Plan for Paul Lambert, the chief architect, originally Miami-based. The Plan consists of several teams of architects, each assigned to a specific district of forty-six Orleans Parish neighborhoods that were heavily flooded 27. Each team has sovereignty of design while maintaining common goals of safety and building codes. Unfortunately, the assignments of architects were not made with public input and many of the district borders, while official, do not coincide with unofficial cultural borders that contain different architectural atmospheres 28.  However, according to Lambert, approximately seventy-five hundred local volunteers have thus far helped in rebuilding.

            In an effort to bring back residents, the Lambert Plan also instituted the “Lot Next Door program” which offers homeowners that are determined to remain in New Orleans the option of purchasing a publicly owned lot next to their property which they can then use to expand their home or build another property that they can rent out for other future residents 29. The Plan hopes this program will provide a monetary incentive for those uncertain about returning and also increase affordability for renting. Over the next years, thousands of lots will be government-owned to prevent building by inexperienced owners. While cons of the program include the possibility of fewer homes as some lots could remain unbuilt and management issues since so much freedom is placed in the hands of local residents, this method is truest to the spirit of New Orleans, echoing its predecessors who built their simple homes by hand and without government interference. Meanwhile, current building codes are honored. The Lambert Plan has remained purposely vague because there is still much confusion due to insurance issues as to which homes will be demolished and which will be renovated 30. 

            After months of bureaucratic and financial hurdles, New Orleans is still not in the clear, but with consistent architectural brainstorming and increased collaboration with local and national groups, the Big Easy may shine once more.



Sacramento Adopts High-Rise Living

 by Ryan Ornberg

March 25, 2007


Sacramento, California’s skyline is drastically changing as the new Towers on Capitol Mall start to take shape. At 53 stories high, the two towers will climb into history as being Sacramento’s tallest structures. The overall building consists of an 11 stories of retail space, gym, and spa; tower one contains a 4-star luxury hotel along with 343 condominium units. Tower two also includes 467 condominium units which range in price from $300,000 to $6 million. The architecture firm MulvannyG2 created a building that combines a classic stone façade with a modern steel structure. The towers are similar in design but are both oriented in different directions to provide maximum vantage points for each unit. This clever idea makes for a unique building as its stylish rooftops add to an extraordinary design. Residents and guests will be able to enjoy this stunning architecture while dining in the building’s gourmet restaurants, swimming in the rooftop pools, or by shopping in the designer boutiques. MulavannyG2 is a Seattle based firm but holds designs from all over the world. They have been recipients of many awards, including 5th largest retail design firm, and in the top 20 for most influential designers in China. Towers on Capitol Mall is set for completion by 2008 and will redefine high class in Sacramento, and high-rise living.




Hearst Tower Wins “Best New Skyscraper of the Year”

 by Ryan Ornberg


Atop the 1928 6-story Hearst office building is their new 40 story tower, which has just received the award for the best new skyscraper of 2006. Lord Norman Foster’s Hearst Tower won due to its extraordinary method of combining the existing building with the new. After completely gutting it in 2004, nearly all the materials were recycled, comprised of 90% recycled steel. The building was also awarded a Gold LEED certification upon completion because it is one of the most successful skyscrapers in energy conservation, a first for New York City. The diamond structure incorporated “low-e” glass designed to block heat radiation but permit maximum sunlight.

The floor plan allows this sunlight to access the core of the building which has light sensors to control the interior lights. In addition to that, motion sensors were installed in every office which shut down lights and electronics when the person leaves. By far, the most spectacular feature of Hearst Tower is “icefall”, a three story stair step waterfall which is supplied with recycled rainwater. The water is collected on the roof and stored in the basement; it then goes to the waterfall and landscape irrigation system. The waterfall, which is located in the buildings grand atrium, works to humidify the lobby, reducing the need for electrical appliances. Hearst Tower is being called the “Pioneer of Environmental Sustainability” and has won great praise in the design-build community. Hearst’s award was given out by Emporis, and faced competition from 467 other worldwide skyscrapers. 




Home Depot Avoids “Big Box” Design

by Ryan Ornberg


Residents of Carbondale, Colorado are in a dispute with Home Depot over their willingness to build a store in the small mountain town which is just 30 miles from Aspen. They fear that a big name store will crush local businesses and take away from the small town atmosphere. Many mountain towns in Colorado are notable for this type of stance, as it is rare to find chain stores and fast food restaurants. However, Home Depot is promising a unique store design that will blend into its surroundings and even be LEED certified. Ideas such as high pitched roofs, planters, and trellises will make the building similar to the region’s architecture.

The company has had trouble pushing into the Rocky Mountains before when they tried a similar approach in the town of Frisco, near Breckenridge. There, residents voted against the store’s development, but Home Depot later won over Vail and constructed there. Home Depot is beginning to think outside of the box and develop attractive environmentally sound stores; the company has also been making great strides in improving the environment through providing energy efficient supplies.  Currently, two stores exist which blend into their environment and another 11 are on the way, one happens to be in Chicago. The multilevel Lincoln Park Home Depot is LEED certified for its energy efficiency, and looks appropriate in Chicago’s urban environment. The Residents of Carbondale plan to meet with Home Depot next month to discuss the store’s plans and vote on an action.




The Times They Are A-Changin’

by Ryan Ornberg


March 3, 2007-A new design is emerging in the heart of New York City; known as 11 Times Square, it is a 40 story masterpiece of modern American architecture which was designed by the New York architecture firm, FXFOWLE. The 1 million-square-foot building is sitting on one of the last available lots in that area, which sold for $306 million. The building will offer 3 stories of retail and the remaining as commercial offices. Covered in nearly all glazed curtain walls, natural light will easily permeate into offices; providing spectacular city views and sustainable design awareness. 

In classic Times Square style, large electronic signs will decorate the sides, emitting trendy advertisements and current news. Visitors will also gain easy access to the building due to the planed subway station underneath. Atop the retail floors is the 5th story atrium where tourists can experience a breathtaking view of one of New York’s top tourist areas, and the site of the New Year’s Eve party.

11 Times Square is a prime example of the direction that modern architecture is taking. The old stone buildings of Times Square have been replaced by sleek new steel towers coated in glass and environmental consciousness. The angled and corrugated structure is attractive to the eye, and is a common type of design expected from FXFOWLE. The firm is a leader in sustainable design in New York and has recently designed many notable and inspiring structures, but 11 Times Square is expected to become an icon in Manhattans illustrious skyline.




LA's Memorial Coliseum Olympic Makeover



So Los Angeles is throwing down the gauntlet in this race for representing the U.S. for host of the 2016 Olympics.  In a bid to remain relevant with its facilities and more financially attractive to the United States Olympic Committee,  LA has unveiled a $112 million makeover to its 84-year old Memorial Coliseum. Although the National Historic Landmark can't be permanently altered, significant additions have been designed to make it more Olympic-friendly.

According to the Associated Press, this new proposal "calls for for erecting a latticed steel 'space frame' around the stadium.  The frame with its soaring pillars would be shrouded in high-tech vinyl fabric printed with stylized athletes in motion, Olympic wreaths and the games linked-rings logo. The frame would also support huge fabric sunshades, cantilevered over the stadium rim to shield about 70 rows of seats. A temporary top level would hold 204 luxury boxes with room for about 2,400 seats. In addition, the stadium floor would be raised 10 feet to build a track around the field. All the additions would be removed after the games."



Seattle's New Waterfront Sculpture Park



The Seattle Times has called their city's new and honor-garnering Olympic Sculpture Park an "image-changing landmark" on par with Chicago's Millennium Park.  Constructed at a portion of what Millennium Park cost Chicago-85 million to be exact,  this public project also has enlisted the aid of a number of notable contemporary artist to populate this new urban "green-space" with conversational pieces.  Also, like Chicago's green transformation of unused and railway space, Seattle's park takes blighted industrial land and makes it a public playground, incorporating a new beach, paths, and gardens situated or wedged between the city and the seaside.

The park was the result of a design competition won by the New York-based firm of Weiss/Manifredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism from a pool of 32 applicants.  Their conceptualization of the problem and solution of converted this area into a multi-use space was to design a Z-shaped configuration connecting three parcels of land into a series of four distinct landscapes. As reported by the Seattle Art Museum's website, "this design afforded a wide range of environmental restoration processes, including brownfield redevelopment, salmon habitat restoration, native plantings, and sustainable design strategies."



Dallas Cowboys Unveil Their $1Billion 'Futuristic' Stadium



The Dallas Morning News is reporting the planned construction of a new 80,000-seat contemporary facility to be home to the NFL Dallas Cowboys. On track to be the most expensive stadium in the nation to date, it will boast a retractable roof and playing surface, a 60-yard long video scoreboard, a theater and soundstage. "It says technology, media, strength and football," owner Jerry Jones told the press last week. Designed by HKS Architects of Dallas, the exterior facade will consists of "4 x 6 ft glass panels which become more transparent as they rise toward the upper levels of the structure. The side walls will curve 14 degrees in response to the seating bowl, while at the two ends massive glass doors open onto plazas for pre-game festivities." "The only nostalgic touches will be some Texas limestone around the base and a hole in the roof to evoke memories of Texas Stadium in Irving. Otherwise, in its materials, construction, transparency and structural expressiveness, the new stadium is a rigorously modern building, with considerably more architectural pop than its newest competitors" according to David Dillion special contributor to the Dallas Morning News. Certainly Soldier Field would have done well to have taken a similar path to go either wholly contemporary or fully nostalgic-not the schizophrenic mess left behind as a legacy to non-sensical compromise.



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New Air Force Memorial Dedicated in D.C.


On Saturday, President Bush dedicated a new memorial to the last unrepresented branch of the Armed Forces-the Air Force.  The 30 million dollar memorial has been over 15 years in the making consists of 3 flaring 17,000-ton steel spires which rise 270 feet skyward. The memorial is on a ridge near Arlington Cemetery and overlooks the Pentagon. The memorial was designed by architect James Ingo Freed who also designed the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.  Greed died in December of 2005.





New Denver Art Museum Rises to the Occasion


On Saturday, Denver unveiled to the public a defining and singular work of architecture with its 90.5 million Denver Art museum addition.  This facility will mark the first project to be completed here in the states by “starchitect” Daniel Libeskind- initial designer and current planner of ground zero and it’s Freedom Tower.  The titanium-clad Gehry-like building seeks to interplay with the Rocky Mountain landscape with its sharp, jutting angles and forms.  Most likely, this radically contemporary, deconstructionist example of “architecture as art” and as the focal point of a “container of art” is sure to become the focus of civic conversation in Denver for years to come.



9/11 Focuses Spotlight on Designs for Ground Zero


As the nation commemorated the events of September 11, 2001, national attention is once again drawn to ground zero-specifically the buildings proposed for the re-development of the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.  Enlisting the services of several “starchitects”- Lord Norman Foster, Fumihiko Maki, Lord Richard Rogers, Daniel Libeskind and others, the design for towers 2, 3, and 4 have been released.  Each being unique and striving to make a pointed statement in its own right.  Also, construction of David Childs’ of SOM Freedom Tower has begun after 5 years of wrangling about the final design.


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Doha Tower, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel




CHICAGO, Oct. 18—The distinctive and innovative Doha Tower, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, was named Best Tall Building Worldwide by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat tonight in a ceremony in the Illinois Institute of Technology’s seminal Crown Hall.

Doha Tower, which was first named the Best Tall Building in the Middle East and Africa, took the overall award out of the four regional winners. The building was honored for incorporating elements of traditional regional design with modern technologies to create an environmentally-sensitive icon for Qatar’s capital  

The eye-catching cylindrical facade is constructed of multi-layered patterns invoking ancient Islamic screens designed to shade buildings from the sun.

“The skin of the building is a beautiful expression of the local culture, connecting this very modern tower with ancient Islamic designs,” said Richard Cook, awards chairman and partner in Cook + Fox Architects.” It also provides a fantastic pattern of light within the building, while efficiently dampening the heat gains internally of the sun’s rays.”

Doha Tower is the first tall building to use reinforced concrete dia-grid columns internally. There is also no central core, maximizing the interior space available for tenants.

“Doha Tower is an excellent example of an efficient modern tower that is inspired by its local culture and setting,” said Antony Wood, executive director of the CTBUH. “In an age of homogenized slick towers globally, Doha Tower is rooted to its place. This is not a non-specific icon which you could drop into any city of the world”

In addition to naming the Worldwide Winner, Thursday night’s ceremony honored the other regional winners--the Absolute Towers in Mississauga, Canada (Americas); 1 Bligh Street, Sydney (Asia and Australia); and Palazzo Lombardia, Milan (Europe).

The Al Bahar Towers in Abu Dhabi won the CTBUH’s first Innovation Award for the project’s computer-controlled opening-closing sun-screen.

This year the CTBUH Board of Trustees also awarded the Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award to Helmut Jahn, the architect known for his simple and elegant designs.

The Fazlur R. Khan Lifetime Achievement Medal went jointly to Charles Thornton & Richard Tomasetti, founders of Thornton & Tomasetti, the structural engineers who helped design many of the most innovative and advanced tall buildings around the world.

The CTBUH Best Tall Building Awards are an independent review of new projects, judged by a panel of industry experts. Projects are recognized for making an extraordinary contribution to the advancement of tall buildings and the urban environment, and for achieving sustainability at the broadest level.






The Real Madrid soccer team plans to build a $1 billion luxury resort complex in the United Arab Emirates that will include condos, a theme park, a museum and a stadium open to the sea on one side, its president, Florentino Perez, announced Thursday.


Planned to open its gilded gates in January 2015 on more than 123 acres on the tiny emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, the complex will “seduce millions of people in search of quality leisurely activities,” Perez said. Excerpt from









ALINA HSIEH | CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE TODAY | JUNE 18, 2012 Surrounded by a plethora of trees in an Australian rainforest, the Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitors Centre blends in seamlessly with its surrounding environment located in Far North Queensland.   The facility’s reflective façade echoes the surrounding trees and bright blue sky, creating a breathtaking sight.  With its stunning aesthetics, as well as its admirable sustainable additions, it is no shock that the Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitors Centre was awarded the 2012 Eddie Oribin Award for Building of the Year by the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). 


This project was first presented in summer of 2009 when the Cairns Regional Council sought out a design for a Visitor Center in their Cairns Botanical Gardens.  The Council was searching for a design that introduced a fresh and challenging new idea, and would fit in with the surrounding environment.   Charles Wright Architects (CWA) was one of the firms invited to participate in this limited competition, and with their innovative design was later selected as the winner.  Their design composed of a flowing form clad with a mirrored façade that literally reflects the surrounding gardens, blending harmoniously with the environment.  Inside, the building houses a café terrace, information and exhibition space, and offices for the council staff.  The infrastructure also acts as a connection between the gardens and the Art Centre, linking the two spaces together and providing a cool and dry area for tourists to rest from the hot and humid tropical gardens



Another appealing aspect of CWA’s proposal was their partnership with mechanical, hydraulic, structural, and landscape consultants to incorporate sustainable design within the building.  Solar panels that feedback into an energy grid were added to the mirrored canopy to help generate and preserve energy.  Additionally, energy was also being conserved through the mixed air-conditioning systems, naturally ventilated circulation corridors, low energy light fittings, and solar treatment on windows.  Water conservation was also improved with the addition of storm water harvesting tanks and low water usage fittings.


Two years after the competition was held, the Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre was finally completed in 2011.  The project cost a total of 4.2 million dollars and spans approximately 15,230 square feet.  Needless to say, the Cairn Botanical Garden Visitor Centre is definitely an exceptional piece of work, and is deserving of the 2012 Building of the Year award.







February 7, 2012 – Chicago, IL - The Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) proudly announces that it has won an international competition to design the Greenland Group Suzhou Center, in Wujiang, China.  The 358-meter supertall tower will become the defining visual landmark for both the new Wujiang lakefront development and for the city as a whole.  


Ross Wimer, SOM Design Director states, “This design is the result of a serious interdisciplinary collaboration in our Chicago office.  Like a high performance car, the digital modeling of aerodynamics was critical to the shaping of the building. The design team included structural and mechanical engineers from the very beginning and their input helped to define all aspects of the tower.” 


The 75-level building is designed to accommodate a complex mixed-use program including office, service apartments, hotel and retail on a 37,000 sm site.  Sited prominently along Taihu Lake in the Jiangsu Province of China, the building’s curved, tapered form unifies the office, hotel and residential uses within a single volume.  The tower features a 30-story tall operable window corresponding to the hotel and residential floors, that helps drive the environmental performance of the development.

The tower’s form is optimized to harness natural forces in and around the site to maximize its performance.  High performance design engineering has been integrated into its design.


Bill Baker, SOM Structural Engineering Partner, comments, “This unique tower expresses the strength of the building in a way that is both interesting and structurally functional.”


The Wujiang Greenland Tower’s composite core and outrigger structural system use proven cost-effective construction techniques, while its unique split-core configuration of the upper floors increases the efficiency of the building structure.  By placing half of the building core program on each side of the lobby and interconnecting them with structural steel braces, the combined core becomes more effective than a typical center core system while also creating a dramatic tall lobby space within.

The atrium is a key design feature of the building.  It maximizes daylight penetration, facilitates mixed mode ventilation in the lobbies and public spaces, and acts as a fresh air supply source for the tower. The building is oriented to harness both the stack effect and prevailing winds via the east and west façades of the atrium.


Major high performance energy saving strategies include a high performance façade, utilizing cooler outside air at higher levels for natural ventilation of the atrium, natural light harvesting using daylight responsive controls, lighting energy optimization using efficient fixtures and occupant controls, energy recovery systems, demand controlled ventilation, and an onsite energy center with combined heat and power plant to capitalize on the overall load diversity of the development.

Luke Leung, SOM Director of Sustainable and MEP Engineering, adds, “The design of the Greenland Group Suzhou Center utilizes an atrium as the ‘lung’ of the building to provide ventilation and will incorporate a series of high efficiency measures with the objective to achieve a 60% savings in energy consumption compared to a conventional US high rise and a 60% reduction in potable water use.”  
SOM Managing Partner Jeffrey McCarthy states, “This exciting new commission embodies SOM’s interdisciplinary commitment to elegant high performance design.  The Greenland Group Suzhou Center is designed not only for efficiency of construction and operation, but to make a strong skyline statement about Wujiang and its bright future.”
The Greenland Group Suzhou Center is SOM Chicago’s sixth project with the Greenland Group.  The firm’s work began with Zifeng Tower, formerly Nanjing Greenland Financial Center, in Nanjing, China and was completed in 2009.  Five additional supertall projects designed by Wimer for the Greenland Group are the 56-story Zhengzhou Greenland Plaza in Zhengzhou, China, the 59-story Jiangxi Nanchang Greenland Central Plaza, Parcel A in Nanchang, China, the 56-story Nanchang Zifeng Tower in Nanchang, China and the 55-story Greenland Dawangjing Supertall Project in Dawangjing, China.  






LONDON — Passengers stepping out of London Bridge tube station cannot help but crane their necks to gaze at the jagged tower under construction: The Shard is the tallest building in the European Union and looks like a slice of glass balanced on the edge of the financial district.

When the tower opens next year, visitors to the observation deck will see helicopters fly by at eye level and take in the metropolis all the way to the distant north Downs Hills. The structure designed by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano dwarfs nearby landmarks like Tower Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral across the Thames.

The ambitious project speaks of now faded boom times: 1.5 billion pound ($2.34 billion) price tag, fancy restaurants, corporate office space, posh hotel. But it is being completed as Britain and Europe totter on the brink of recession — and the Shard will loom over a city in decline.

Neighbors are hoping the dramatic tower, visible from most parts of London, will bring big spenders to its south-of-the-river location, for centuries the less prosperous side of the Thames.

Article continues at the Washington Post






BRUCE MILLAR \\ Construction is scheduled to begin early next year on what its developers are billing as Europe’s tallest tower. The plans highlight the scope of Istanbul’s ambitions as Turkey’s commercial capital and as a growing power within the region. However, the exact height of the mixed-use building, including super-high-rise apartments, is not yet clear, and the tower will not stand in Europe. Please visit for complete story. 





Badacsonytomaj,Hungary, October 30, 2011 – At the bottom of a volcanic hill in Badacsonytomaj, Hungary lies the Laposa Winery. As their unique wine’s customer base has been growing, Bazaltbor-Badacsony Kft. needed to expand their facility. They called upon Hungarian firm Leaf to design their new building.

The first thing that Leaf needed to address was the formal strategy of the project. The building is relatively large in scale compared to its surrounding architectural context. The relation to nature was thus taken very strongly, and the building was sunk into the ground; only about a quarter of the facility sits above ground. The project is composed of very basic geometries. There is a symmetric gable, and a hexagonal shaped cross. These elements are able to go in whichever direction that the designer desired, because there are no obstacles. Sometimes they join, sometimes they separate.


The building is made up of monolithic concrete panels with imprints of grape vines cast into the exterior. The panels read as monolithic from the inside and outside. Parts of the interior are lite with natural lighting, through bands which were cut out of the panels and filled with glass. The interior is organized by the wine making process, structurally and spatially taking a linear path.


Architect:  Atelier Peter Kis/ Bea Molnar

Location:  Badacsonytomaj, Hungary

Size:  74,800 square feet





SOM©MIR renderings

Chicago, IL, USA, October 23, 2011 – Press Release \\ Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) has been selected by Beijing-based MCC Real Estate Co. LTD to design a multi-district redevelopment of Nanjing’s Yangtze riverfront that will bring modern urban living, commerce and tourism to a long-forgotten two-kilometer central waterfront area between the river levee and the old city wall of the historic Chinese city. The winning plan will give Nanjing a dynamic new riverfront park and a dramatic new face to the world.


SOM’s city design concept master plan and its global-landmark architecture were selected in the MCC’s international collection of schemes to create a Nanjing Xiaguan Riverfront area of new neighborhoods, shopping districts and corporate skyscrapers that will embody a striking new identity for Nanjing and create a world-class mixed-use cityscape for its people.


The SOM plan is designed to begin the ambitious, riverfront redevelopment with a compact and walkable Phase One development strategy that will revitalize the Dama Road and Tianbaoli area and establish a new framework of well-scaled streets, urban development blocks, tree-lined streetscapes and public plazas that will reconnect the city and its people to the Yangtze River.  The Dama Road District will be the hub of New Nanjing’s nightlife, and its renovated colonial-era buildings will house galleries and boutique retail.


SOM©MIR renderings


The chairman of MCC Real Estate, a subsidiary of state-owned Metallurgical Corporation of China Ltd., Hou Baoxu said, “The competition presented many good ideas from all the firms. In addition to their exciting concepts, we chose SOM because of its history of getting large and complex projects like Nanjing Xiaguan built.”


SOM global city design partner Philip Enquist said, “We are delighted to be working with MCC Real Estate and the city officials of Nanjing to help move this great historic city to the forefront as an important business, tourism and quality-of- life leader in the New China.  We are flattered that they have accepted our concepts for a dramatic new signature riverfront.”


Harmonizing heritage and future is a design principle of Nanjing Xiaguan. Preserved plane trees shade bustling sidewalks at the base of the global landmark Finance Plaza, while the towers of its sleek corporate headquarters are joined by the Cloud Walk sky bridge, a unique international tourist attraction.  The old power plant and railway buildings are renovated into hip, high-energy venues for fashion, lifestyle retail and restaurants. The old South Slip off the Yangtze will become a mixed-use loft residence, boutique hotel and amenity strip along the renovated shipping canal.

SOM Director Douglas Voigt said, “The core concept of the SOM plan for Nanjing Xiaguan is making connections. Connecting the city to the river. Connecting the best of urban living to nature. Connecting under–utilized land to value creation that will increase growth, tourism and prosperity. Connecting Nanjing’s rich heritage with China’s rising economy. “

SOM©MIR renderings

Xiaguan Riverfront will be a collection of new neighborhoods. The SOM plan advocates a mix of uses at a variety of scales including an overall development strategy for the site, commercial hubs within each neighborhood, and a mix of uses within individual blocks and buildings. Eventually an enclosed walking street will weave through many of these neighborhoods, offering four seasons of convenient indoor-outdoor living in addition to views of the ever-changing Yangtze River.

The plan to transform the riverfront is based on dense, compact, mixed and sustainable neighborhoods and centered on the area’s most important resource – water. Throughout the plan, water is used in innovative and interactive ways: along a series of unique, inter-connected canals and public open spaces, offering places to play in cleaned river water, as well as areas of increased habitat and ecological diversity.

As with all SOM urban plans, Nanjing Xiaguan is based on convenient access to transit, aiding bicycle-friendly design and walkability.

Chicago-based and Shanghai-based SOM urban planners have already begun work on the next round of detailed master planning, and they have started meeting with various Nanjing City government agencies to build a collaborative relationship that will get Phase One construction started quickly and the massive transformation project completed.





Anthony Pagliuco | Chicago Arch Today | Oct 16, 2011 (PORTUGAL) Archetypal buildings are usually defined by their strength in commitment to a specific building type, which comes in retrospect. However, Manuel and Francisco Aires Mateus have determined the archetypal house and then designed it. With a pitched roof, solid volume and green lawn, “House in Leiria” located in Leiria, Portugal just outside Lisbon, reaches an abstract quality. It is the idealization of a house.

The exterior walls are coated in white plaster. The solid, unified volume is achieved through a state of the art waterproofing system. The mass is cut into in several places, one being an opening spanning only a few inches, allow light to reach the perimeter of the building. Another cut is made for a large entrance, which replaces a conventional door. A void is created by the most powerful cut, which is on the roof of the building. The interior spaces were planned around this void, allowing the penetration of light to be read as a volume.


The house was designed using the simple principle of public vs. private. The public spaces are put above ground, located around the central void. The private spaces were put below ground and placed around an intimate courtyard. In the yard, there are several more cuts, placed at the four corners of the house, which let light into the bedrooms.

The site’s context was less than desirable. The surroundings described as chaotic. This is why the architects turned the project inward, using solid exterior walls, underground bedrooms, and focal points that point within the project itself. The one desirable object in the context is the medieval castle to the west. This landmark is visible from the living room, and is the only focal point that directs the viewer outward.

While taking the archetypal model for a house, the Aires Mateus brothers have made a project that is aesthetically powerful and spatially interesting. This project shows its strength in its simplicity and powerful balance between mass and void. 

Architect:                          Manuel and Francisco Aires Mateus

Completion Date:             2010

Size:                                 32,000 square feet







Anthony Pagliuco | Chicago Arch Today | Oct 3, 2011 (DUBAI) The desert is a climate that requires an opportunity to cool off, for people as well as buildings.  New York architects Reiser and Umemoto have taken this need into account.  The design of their 0-14 Tower has done something unique and especially innovative for Dubai, one of the hottest climates in the world. The structure for the tower, an exoskeleton made up of intricate concrete formwork, acts as a shade for an otherwise glass and metal structure. Between the glass curtain wall of the office building and the concrete structure is a gap (about 3 feet) which create a "chimney effect". The space allows hot air to rise and cool. This passive system lowers the cooling cost of the building by 30%. 0-14 Tower is likely to lead by example, and create a prototype for extremely hot climates, though it will probably appear in a much simpler form.


    The 30% saved on cooling cost is made up for and surpassed by the buildings complex construction process. The shell contains over 1300 openings in five varieties. To create the openings, foam forms were inserted into these openings, as a tightly weaved rebar system was placed around them. The form that resulted was an obscure and very different structure, something definitely intended by the architects. Dubai has recently experienced a building boom, which has created many very plain, generic office buildings. It's hard to deny 0-14 Tower's ability to inspire the viewers’ awe, and awakening of modern architecture in Dubai

    Reiser and Umemoto originally entered this design into a competition in which it lost. It did, however, gain recognition, and was brought to the attention of the Creekside Development Corporation. They decided to built Reiser and Umemoto's design on its current site (site number 0-14, which is how the tower got its name). The original design placed the glass within the concrete exoskeleton. Complexities during the planning process occurred while considering how to attach the gaskets for the windows as well as the floors to the exoskeleton. The architects decided to create a double layered system. The original master plan required all buildings to be built upon a podium, with an arcade to serve retail spaces as well as office lobbies. Reiser and Umemoto also altered this by creating an innovative plan to put parking underground, and extending the arcade to three sides of the buildings, allowing restaurants and retail to have even more covered spaces. They also shifted the entrance to backside of the building, the side which faces the Dubai Business Bay. This tweak also allowed the front of the building to read as a monolithic structure, which did not compromise the buildings concept. 0-14 Tower pushes many boundaries which all result in progressive innovations, whether it be within local master plans, or potentially global sustainable design ideas, each push surely defines progressive architecture.

Architect:                                     Reiser + Umemoto

Completion Date:                        March 2011

Size:                                            398,655 square feet

Site Area:                                    34,390 square feet




Stephans, Suzanne. "0-14 Tower," Architectural Record. August 2011.





Anthony Pagliuco | Chicago Arch Today | Sept 19, 2011 (FINLAND) The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design has named Finnish architect Väinö Nikkilä as one of this year’s 40 Architects Under 40.  This award brings to mind Nikkilä's firm Verstas Architects, and their recent project Kirkkojärvi Comprehensive School, which won another award from European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies - The International Architecture Award 2011.

     Verstas Architects won an open competition held in 2006 to design a school. The school was just recently completed. The school’s design aims to combine functionality, comfort, efficiency and ecology. The concept for the layout of the school was "Veljet" (Finnish for brother). The secondary school and common spaces create a large curved volume, which symbolizes the “big brother”. The “little brother” is symbolized by a smaller volume, which is filled with more intimate spaces, like classrooms. The curved masses divide the yards into recreational spaces according to age of the students, while the interior allows for the opportunity of interaction among the entire learning community.

     The exterior yards were designed to respond to the rich landscape. The primary grades, which have earlier school days, are oriented toward the morning sun. The secondary grades are oriented toward the evening sun.

     The school acts as a small, lively city, during the school day and during after hours. The gymnasium as well as other multi-purpose rooms is able to be used by local residents. The design exemplifies environmental responsibility in the community by using geothermal and solar energy as well. This academic facility is as an active example of a green building, and teaches kids about a sustainable environment. The Finnish educational system is recognized for its investment in architecture which contributes to the creation of great learning environments. In this, the Kirkkojärvi Comprehensive School is a lesson in successful architecture as well as quality education.







Two new residential high rises in Tel Aviv have been nominated for the Best Tall Building Award, presented annually by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, based in Chicago, Illinois.

This is the first time buildings in Israel have been nominated for this award.

The buildings are the 120-meter, 32-story tower at 1 Rothschild Boulevard, and W-Tower, in the city's Park Tzameret neighborhood. Both were designed by architect Avner Yashar.

The 168-meter, 46-story W-Tower is Israel's tallest residential building.

The two towers will be competing against other high-rises around the Middle East, including projects in Dubai, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

"This is a huge achievement for me and an honor for Israeli architecture," Yashar said, adding that Israeli high-rise planning was in its infancy.

Yashar is now planning additional high-rises in Ramat Gan, Petah Tikva and Bat Yam.

Excerpt from:






The insightful designer has now shared details of his most recent scheme, ‘Containers of Hope’, which seamlessly transforms two disused shipping containers into an aesthetically pleasing private home.


Located in San Jose, Costa Rica this residential project was the result of a close collaboration between Saxe and clients Gabriela Calvo and Marco Peralta, who went on to construct the building themselves. By situating the two containers side by side and using sections of recycled metal to make an adjoining roof, Saxe has created a sense of openness within the internal volume whilst providing a cross ventilation which is said to have eliminated the need for air conditioning.


The architect ponders: “Perhaps this project begins to expose the importance of design as a tool to provide beauty and comfort with a very low budget ($40,000) in the 21st century, whilst using creativity to not only redefine a scrap material such a disused shipping container, but perhaps to even show that there are viable, low cost, passive alternatives of temperature control to adapt to a very intense tropical climate.”


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WUHAN China // Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture has won an international competition to design the Wuhan Greenland Centre in China, which is tipped to be the fourth tallest building in the world.


The other finalists in the design competition were fellow Chicago outfit SOM, HOK, German practice GMP, and Hong Kong-based P&T Architects.


Construction of the 606m-high building – likely to be China’s third tallest, though there is lots of competition – is due to begin this summer.


It should take five years to complete. The 119-storey building, in the central city of Wuhan, is for Shanghai-based Greenland Group.


The Chicago-based practice designed the 450m Nanjing Greenland Financial Center for the client when its principals worked for SOM, where Smith was also responsible for Dubai’s Burj Khalifa tower.


For the full story, please follow link to:






PARIS, France // First unveiled in 2008, Herzog & de Meuron's Le Project Triangle has just received approval from the cross-party council of Paris for its construction. An incredible structure that will rise 200 meters from the Porte de Versailles in Paris, the stunning skyscraper will feature a profile so slim that it casts virtually no shadow and its orientation will be optimized to take advantage of both solar and wind power. Paris' new pyramid will be the first high-rise to be approved for construction is the city's center since 1977, thanks to the recent lifting of a 31-year-old ban established by the previous Mayor of paris, Jacques Chirac. If the ‘Triangle Tower’ is able to make it through all of the red-tape it will face over the coming years, it is estimated that the building will be completed by 2017. Read more: Herzog & de Meuron’s Towering Triangular Skyscraper Receives Green Light for Construction in Paris projet triangle, herzog and de meuron


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HANOI, Vietnam // Property developer Kinh Bac Corp will soon start building a 400-meter-high skyscraper in Hanoi which is expected to be the world’s 11th tallest.

It has submitted 24 designs for the US$1-billion, 100-story Lotus tower in Tu Liem District to city authorities for approval. Construction is scheduled to begin this quarter.


The building, to come up on a four-hectare site, will have separate residential, commercial, and entertainment areas, office space for lease, luxury shopping mall, and a six-star hotel.


Kinh Bac chairman Dang Thanh Tam said among the designs provided by London-based architect Foster and Partners, his company prefers an energy-efficient one with hanging gardens. The construction schedule will be known once the approval is received.


Source: tuoitrenews





TINAJIN, China //Commissioned by developer Guangzhou R&F Properties Co. Ltd to design a 294,570 sq m, mixed use facility in Tianjin, China, Chicago-based architecture practice Goettsch Partners now present the first renderings of this glittering high-rise tower. Once completed, the Tianjin R&F Guangdong Tower will stand at 439 m in height, making it one of the tallest buildings in China.

The immense tower comprises 134,000 sq m of Class A office space, a 400-key five star hotel, 55 condominiums and 8,500 sq m of retail facilities, structured around a swirling central core. In a reflection of the location’s history as a point of sea trade, ‘the tower unwraps around its vertical axis as it ascends, similar in nature to a shell or ancient scroll’. This approach provides ideal access for multi-floor tenants with various open social meeting points encouraging close communication and collaboration.

High performance glass and metal has been incorporated into the outer shell of the building, with floor-to-ceiling glass panes affording maximum natural daylighting and panoramic views. Goettsch Partners explain: “The design promotes material and façade approaches that are integral to the performance of the building systems, not decorative.”






ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia // A 58 floor high, five star hotel in Addis Ababa will become the tallest building in Ethiopia as well as arguably the tallest in the whole African continent. Presently, the tallest building in Africa is the 54 floors high Carlton Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The China-based Guangdong Chuanhui Group, which is currently building the biggest cement factory in Ethiopia, will construct the hotel skyscraper. Addis Ababa mayor Kuma Demeksa told the company's President Mr. Yanlin Liu the hotel project would "provide jobs and promote the local economic development" and it would become an African landmark in the highest city in Africa. Ethiopian Trade and Industry Minister Girma Birru said his country welcomes more Chinese and Asian companies to invest in the growing tourism sector and to build more skyscrapers, particularly as Addis Ababa is behind only New York and London as the world's diplomatic center.

The second tallest building in Ethiopia will be the 42-storey tower of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) headquarters that is under construction.


The tallest building in Ethiopia is on its way following a land agreement between Chinese based, Guangdong Chuanhui Group and the Addis Ababa City Administration. The 58 floor, five star, Chuan Hui International Hotel, one of five proposed luxury hotel projects, will take up 50,000 square meters of land and will cost 2.4 billion birr.

“We requested the land in the area from Meskel Square to Bole,” Alem Desta, an official of the company told Capital.

Plans are for construction to begin right away and finish in 18 months, according to officials.
Currently, the government wants to increase the number of deluxe hotels in the town. “The City Administration is facilitating the plot, but we don’t know where the exact location is,” Alem added.








CAIRO, Egypt // Stone Towers development is part of the wider Stone Park Rooya Group development designed by Zaha Hadid which derives its name from an ancient petrified tree at the heart of the development. The New Cairo City site optimally positions the Stone Towers to offer state of the art office facilities to a rapidly expanding Cairo. The programmatic variety of the Stone Towers creates a rich mixed use environment for office tenants. The 525,000 m² development also includes a five star business hotel with serviced apartments, retail with food and beverage facilities and a central feature landscape referred to as the ‘Delta’.


The design mediates the two distinct edges of the site – the high-speed ring road to the north, and the Stone Park residential component to the south. With such a large scale project, care must be taken to balance a necessary requirement for repetitive elements while avoiding an uncompromising, repetitive line of static building masses. The architecture of the two bounding edge conditions pursues a rhythm of interlocking, yet individually differentiated building forms. This is complemented in the plan and section where the building edges visually interlock and merge with the landscape, creating a cohesive composition. Egyptian stonework, both ancient and more recent displays a vast array of patterns and textures that, when illuminated by the intense sunlight of the region creates animated displays of light and shadow.


The effect is powerful, direct and inspiring. The Pre-cast façades on the north and south elevations of each building edge emulate the effect using a vocabulary of alternating protrusions, recesses and voids. The richness observed in the intricate patterns carved into minarets and Egyptian Hieroglyphic patterns, with their variations in repetition and density have contributed to the abstract pattern specific to Zaha Hadid Architects’ design for Stone Towers. Deep shadow lines reveal and accentuate the form of the north and south façades which reference the elegant curvatures seen in Egypt’s ancient relief carvings.


The North Edge buildings are taller and more vertical than the South Edge in response to the ring road at its north border. The South Edge buildings are located adjacent to the residential development to the south, the South Edge is lower in height and angles away from the drop-off edge. The buildings seem to emerge from the landscape as a series of ribbons forming a different condition facing the delta from the condition mentioned above facing the residential. To the delta side, a dramatic cantilever emerges becoming progressively more pronounced moving from the west to the east. When all South Edge buildings are viewed together, the entire edge has a strong visual coherence. The cantilevers project into the landscape offering fantastic views out for the office occupants. Additionally, the narrow office floor plate ensures generous amounts of daylight will reach all areas of the office interior.







MANCHESTER, England //Manchester City Council has granted planning permission for a 33-storey residential tower in the city centre.

Developer Student Castle and its contractor partner Shepherd Construction will build the 520-bed high rise on Great Marlborough Street, which will be used for student accommodation.

The 33-storey tower, measuring 109 metres, is expected to cost around £45m and will be among the city’s tallest buildings. It has been designed by Manchester-based Hodder and Partners.

The rooms will be a mix of self-contained studio apartments and cluster-style communal accommodation.

Edward Cade, chief executive of Student Castle, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded planning permission for this landmark scheme in Manchester.

“As a new, expert developer within the sector we are pleased to have this opportunity to make a positive contribution to the regional economy and higher education sector in one of the UK’s most vibrant cities.”

The development is due for completion in 2012.

Student Castle will become the third or fourth tallest tower in Manchester depending whether you count radio antennae.







COPENHAGEN, Denmark // BIG has designed a 62,000 sqm mixed-use project in Copenhagen that has elevated the concept of mixed urban life.  Their design started with how to plan a city block into a mixed use residential and commercial building with an adjacent free-standing tower.  The tower was designed as representative of the monolith church tower in Venice surrounded by its urban context.  The block was twisted into its “8” shape In order to allow for a passage point through the center from either side on the commercial street level.  Construction is well underway on the project

Source: ArchDaily






Milan, Italy -- The City Life project is a proposed project by famous architect Daniel Libeskind located in Milan Italy.  Libeskind won the commission of master planner for this urban development project in 2004 and is now collaborating with Zaha Hadid, Arata Isozaki and Pier Paolo Maggiora on the design of three individual high rise buidings and a series of residential buildings centered on a city park.

            The three separate towers Il Dritto (Isozaki), Lo Storto (Hadid), and Il Curvo (Libeskind) stand out for their innovative design and creative uses of materials and construction methods.  All three towers are environmentally efficient using plant and water power and highly sustainable.

            The tallest tower is the Isozaki Tower designed by Arata Isozaki, built mainly for commercial use, at 51 stories and 220 meters becoming the tallest building in Italy.  It is designed to incorporate the new MM5 underground station below giving commuters and residents direct access to the building and its restaurants and shops along the ground level.  There will also be an underground level for parking that can hold 350 cars.  Above the parking will be two stories for the buildings archives and plant rooms for generating power.  Both are accessible to the tenants.  Isozaki also maximized the space of each floor by building a single elevator that will land at each floor. 

            The Hadid Tower designed by Zaha Hadid, built for residential and office use is 45 stories and 190 meters high.  It is also connected to the underground station giving commuters and residents direct access to different retail shops under a covered walkway.  Hadid’s tower will also have underground parking for about 200 cars and an undergroung archives and plant power generating floor as well.  The tenant and office spaces take full advantage of the views of the city and the buildings efficiency.  Its unique twisting style offers the tenants a three hundred and sixty degree view of the city while maximizing comfort and efficiency. 

            The Libeskind Tower is a curved tower designed by Daniel Libeskind proposed to cover the main square in the center of the three towers.  This main square connects the towers in a unique way.  The tower has been designed for residential or office use.  If it were used for hotel purposes, the hotel will be on the first 20 floors, and the remaining floors will be dedicated to more luxurious resident living. 

            The uniqueness and efficiency of the City Life Project offers a new method of city planning and design.  And in the development of the project it will bring a new city and a new life to Milan.               





Excerpt from by Bridgette Meinhold -- Although not particularly known for its skyscrapers, Latin America will soon have their very own eco tower to add to the growing mix of green skyscrapers all over the world. Torre Reforma, designed by Mexico-based LBR&A Arquitectos, will be Latin America’s tallest building coming in at 244 meters (800 feet), which will put it in somewhere around 180 on the list of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. Even more noteworthy than its height though is that the building is aiming for LEED Platinum certification and will hopefully encourage a wave of green building in Mexico City and the surrounding regions.

Located in downtown Mexico City, Torre Reforma, a 46 story mixed-used development, will sit across the street from Torre Mayor. A historic gothic-style building, which currently exists on the site will be dismantled and rebuilt on the corner of the site and underneath the tower. Inside, the tower will have... Read more: Torre Reforma to be Latin America's Tallest Building & LEED Certified







Excerpt from NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF New York Times, NEW YORK CITY- During the past few years Chelsea became a one-stop-shopping destination for high-style contemporary architecture as well as high-end art, and the results can be depressing. For every significant building that went up, the neighborhood seemed to produce a half-dozen or so inferior knockoffs. The feeling on the streets now is the same as it is in most of the galleries: the sheer amount of work, and the mediocrity of most of it, can make the effort of sorting out the good from the bad too painful to contemplate.

So Jean Nouvel’s new residential tower — at the western end of 19th Street, unveiled at an event this month — is a relief of sorts. It is a luxury building, and who would argue that we need more of those? But its mix of grit and glamour — embodied in a glittering facade that seems to have been wrapped around the curved front of a black brick tower like a tight-fitting sequined dress — is apt to temper whatever you may feel about the Wall Streeters and art-world insiders who are likely to move into its apartments. For the complete article, follow this link to the New York Times







Excerpt from the Globe and Mail | February 22, 2010 (Alberta, Canada) – The new 85,000-square-foot, five-level Gehryesque building (architect Randall Stout was a protégé of Frank Gehry) features steel and zinc on the outside, and a circular stainless-steel ribbon running through the interior and exterior. The jaw-dropping feature inside, gallery officials hope, is a 5,000-square-foot glass atrium, connected on the main level to what's being called the Great Hall, and rising four stories. Described by the gallery as a work of art itself, the building, Crowston says, needs to be seen from the inside to be appreciated.


“On the outside it looks more like a three-dimensional sculpture, like an object, and once you're in the building you get a sense of the volume and the space and kind of the vastness of some of the public spaces and the atrium,” she says. “ ...It would be like the equivalent to looking at a conch shell from the inside versus the outside.” Stout's design – inspired, he has said by the Northern Lights, the North Saskatchewan River and inukshuks – was a controversial choice. Some strongly preferred the short-listed submission by renowned London-based architect Zaha Hadid (who upset local officials by not making her pitch in person).


But executive director Gilles Hébert, who joined the gallery last fall, says the board made a good decision. “The vindication comes when you walk through the building. It's easy to be dismissive if you take a look at the exterior and … you say well it's a little gimmicky or maybe the architectural gesture is just a little bit too much,” he says. “But when you get into the place and you see the flow, and you see what I think is probably the most remarkable contemporary gallery in the country; it's amazing.”  For complete story, go to the globe and mail online








February 12, 2010 (Beijing, China) – The Chicago and China offices of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) have designed an urban model showcasing integrated solutions for energy, water conservation and transit systems in Beijing’s Dawangjing District. The SOM Plan introduces a sustainable “engine” in the form of a Central Park that would passively heat and cool the district. The plan won an international competition to guide Wangjing’s redevelopment. The Beijing Chaoyang District Planning Bureau is the client.  Philip Enquist, FAIA, Partner-in-Charge of Urban Design and Planning and Peter Ruggiero, AIA, Design Partner, led the SOM team.  The team collaboration was led by Beijing R&F Properties Development Co. Ltd., E-House (China) Holdings Limited and MVA Transport Consultants. 


Philip Enquist, FAIA, SOM Partner in Charge of Urban Design and Planning commented, “Our client is very interested in a strong cultural and commercial gateway to the City, which our plan clearly demonstrates.” 


Strategically positioned just over 11 kilometers from the Beijing Capital International Airport, the proposed district of public parks, cultural venues, and landmark high-rises would be a new global gateway for the City. In response to the pressing demand to reduce carbon emissions and protect natural resources, SOM’s plan calls for a new Central Park as a resource for geo-thermal exchange.  The plan proposes to passively heat and cool many district buildings, reducing the need for water-consuming cooling towers. The park would anchor the surrounding high-density, mixed-use development, including a cluster of landmark office and residential towers.


Peter Ruggiero, AIA, SOM Design Partner added, “We saw this project as a demonstration.  It offered us the opportunity to present new ways of thinking about reduced carbon footprints in cities.  Our solution is an integrated comprehensive approach to urban design, architecture and the environment.”


The plan sets a goal for 80 percent of resident and worker journeys to be made by public transit, bicycle, or walking. Transit stations are proposed on the M15 subway line to enable quick and convenient access to the airport, while a comprehensive network of bicycle lanes would reduce automobile traffic and congestion. Additionally, a streetcar network is proposed to eventually link all districts together.


Designed to support up to 1,500,000 square meters of potential future development, SOM’s Dawangjing District master plan would be built in phases and provide a vibrant, mixed-use hub for the Wangjing District that is currently composed of high-density residential projects with little commercial support.








JANUARY 29, 2010 (CHICAGO, IL) PRESS RELEASE– Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is pleased to announce that the King Abdul Aziz International Airport - Hajj Terminal received the 2010 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Twenty-Five Year award. 


The award jury commented, “This project exemplifies the power of a clear idea.  With a very simple bay repeated quite beautifully, they set the standard for many airports since….The architects created a highly sustainable project well ahead of the green movement….The terminal presents a sense of place, ecology, economy of means, and culture – not imposing on but learning from the local culture and environment.”


Designed by SOM’s Chicago and New York offices and completed in 1981, the Hajj Terminal in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia becomes a temporary city for Muslims who decamp from planes and await transportation to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina during the six weeks of the Islamic faith known as Hajj.  SOM created a series of tent-like structures which shelter up to 80,000 pilgrims at a time.  The 120-acre terminal consists of two identical roofed halves separated by a landscaped central mall.  The first half of the terminal contains air conditioned buildings; the second half is a vast, open-sided temperate waiting and support area.  The visually arresting Teflon-coated fiberglass roof structure consists of 10 modules of 21 semi-conical fabric roof units.  Each module is supported by 147-foot tall steel cables along the rooftop.  Nearly 40 million travelers have passed through the Hajj Terminal since its completion. 


Jeffrey J. McCarthy, AIA, Partner in SOM’s Chicago office commented, “On behalf of all of the SOM partners, we are honored to receive this prestigious award from the AIA.  It is an award that we value above all others.  However, it is a gift of legacy that we inherit from those that worked before us.  We graciously accept this in their honor.” The original team included Gordon Bunshaft, FAIA, Gordon Wildermuth, FAIA, and structural engineer Fazlur Khan. 





| NOV 2, 2009 - The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has named Linked Hybrid by Steven Holl Architects as the “Best Tall Building Overall” for 2009.

With its rich pallet, appropriate scale and consistency in architectural language, Linked Hybrid adds a level of high quality architecture to the city of Beijing. Working well above the level of purely sculptural architecture, the project embodies, on an urbanistic scale, where the future of tall buildings and urban cities is heading, creating architecture that does not isolate, but rather connects both on the ground level and in the sky. This creates both a unique ground floor that acts as an oasis in the density of Beijing, and a real multi-use zone of connected urbanism in the sky.

The project incorporates numerous sustainable design features, but really goes far beyond its geo-thermal and  water recycling, to take on the much broader issue of social-urban sustainability itself. Its mix of residential and retail, cinemas and kindergartens, hotels and art galleries, swimming pools and parks—all within a single complex—is remarkable. The idea to weave these facilities into the complex not only at the ground level but throughout the section of the building, is fantastic. As described by CTBUH Executive Director and 2009 Jury panel member, Antony Wood, “It is only in the intensification of our cities and the inclusion of mixed urban-public facilities in the sky that the true vibrant, dense cities of the future can be realized. The Linked Hybrid building, perhaps more than any other built project, really does point the way to that future.”

Accepting the award on behalf of the Linked Hybrid project team was design architect Steven Holl. Joining Mr. Holl on stage was Li Hu, project manager in Beijing from Steven Holl Architects, Congzhen Xiao, from structural engineer on the project, China Academy of Building Research, and Stefan Holst, from environmental consultants, Transsolar ClimageEngineering.

The Council issues Best Tall Building Awards annually to give recognition to projects that have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of tall buildings and the urban environment, and that achieve sustainability at the highest and broadest level. It issues four regional awards each year (Americas, Asia & Australasia, Europe and Middle East & Africa). In addition, from the four regional awards, one project is awarded the honor of Best Tall Building Overall.

The Council announced its four 2009 regional winners earlier this year: Manitoba Hydro Place for Americas, Linked Hybrid for Asia & Australasia, The Broadgate Tower for Europe, and Tornado Tower for Middle East & Africa. Linked Hybrid was chosen from these four regional winners and announced as the Best Tall Building Overall for 2009.

The Award was bestowed at the 8th Annual Awards Dinner and Ceremony held October 22nd at the Illinois Institute of Technology campus in Chicago, USA.   Following brief presentations by each of the regional winners, the CTBUH Awards Committee Chairman, Gordon Gill of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, announced the overall winner to be Linked Hybrid, describing the project as, “rich in thought, both programmatically and architecturally, presenting an advanced typology for dense urban living.”

Excerpt from CTBUH Release



| OCT 18, 2009 - The Taubman Museum of Art, designed by Los Angeles architect Randall Stout, has been awarded the 2009 International Architecture Award.

The US museum competed with hundreds of submissions from Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas, designed as of January 1, 2006.

Co-presented by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design, Metropolitan Arts Press Ltd., and The European Center for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, the award, which recognizes the best built and unbuilt architecture from around the world, was granted to the museum.

"We are thrilled that the museum has once again been recognized as an example of cutting-edge design and has been awarded this incredibly prestigious international award,” said president of the museum's Board of Trustees Dr. Paul T. Frantz.



| SEPT 27, 2009 - The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design have designated two contemporary buildings in Ireland as recipients of the 2009 International Architecture Awards. The Alto Vetro - a  16-story residential tower - and the Elmpark - a mixed-use complex - were included among "the most important barometer[s] for the future direction of new architectural design and thinking today." Seen above, the Alto Vetro was designed by Shay Cleary Architects and the Elmpark was designed by Bucholz McEvoy Architects.




CALGARY, CANADA | AUG 23, 2009 | Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava is certainly one designer who is as famous for his bridges as he is for his buildings - if not more so. His latest offering is a $24.5 million enclosed tubular bridge which stretches 425-feet across Calgary's Bow River. The Peace Bridge will be covered for year-round use and will also be lit at night. Designed for pedestrian and cyclists to access, it will lie west of Prince's Island Park and connect Eau Claire to Sunnyside. Its traffic use is projected to be about 5,000 people daily. Calatrava had received international acclaim for the now stalled Chicago Spire which was in line to be the tallest building in the U.S. Scheduled completion of the bridge is late 2010.




ISTANBUL, TURKEY | AUG 9, 2009 | The new contemporary-styled worship facility for the Muslims of Istanbul, Turkey appears to have assimilated within this uniquely historical culture quite nicely. Designed by architect Hüsrev Tayla, the Şakirin Mosque is a bit of a departure from typical expectations of buildings of this nature. The overall shape projects a shell-like appearance with a series of low arches ringing the the top of multiple entry points along the exterior. Minarets which are a staple of mosques are "rocket-like" in form.  According to the a report in the Christian Science Monitor, the interior décor is similarly radical. The mihrab, or niche to indicate the direction of prayers, is not only bright turquoise, it's shaped like a shell. The minbar, or stepped pulpit – instead of the usual carved stone or wood – is acrylic. Most radical is the fact that the interior design was created by a woman, a first in mosque architecture.




WINNIPEG, MANITOBA CANADA | JUL 12, 2009 | The Chicago-based Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat named Manitoba Hydro Place in Winnipeg, Canada the "Best Tall Building in the Americas" for 2009. The CTBUH annually recognizes outstanding tall building projects in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.  The 23-story skyscraper was designed by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects of Toronto and Smith Carter Architects and Engineers Inc. of Winnipeg. According to, the building uses geothermal heating and radiant cooling that makes it one of the most energy-efficient office towers in the world.

According to its jury award statement on, Manitoba Hydro Place "was designed to be completely site specific. The design could not be transplanted to another city and still work, thus making it the perfect response to the seeming homogenization of the world's skylines." The project will be formally recognized at the October Global Conference of the CTBUH at the Illinois Institute of Technology.




RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA | JUN 16, 2009 | The Chicago architecture firm of Goettsch Partners have been selected to design a 5-star, 17-story business hotel complex in the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The $130 million project will be a LEED certified Wyndham development featuring multiple sustainable strategies. According to Hospitality Design Magazine, Goettsch is planning a prism-shaped tower with a nine-story opening that separates programmatic functions and allows for views and light to penetrate the mass of the building. The podium structure houses the hotel amenities and conference facilities and links the building to its surroundings at the pedestrian level. The podium incorporates a multipurpose hall, restaurants, a spa, outdoor gardens and a rooftop terrace. The building's semi-transparent aluminum and glass curtain north facade will be an undulating faceted design constructed with two layers of concrete frits which creates a moiré' effect. The project is scheduled for completion in 2011.



KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA | APR 19, 2009 | The Chicago firm of Zoka Zola Architecture + Urban Design has been declared one of the winning design teams in an international competition in Malaysia. The challenge was to submit a couple of designs for a Zero Energy House which would sit on one of six sites in Sentul Park in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  The houses were to be made from renewable materials, recycle water, create their own energy and work in concert with nature in addition to contributing to the legacy of contemporary architecture. The winning design called the Rafflesia House is named for what is said to be largest flower in the world native to the rainforests of Malaysia. Rafflesia used to be Malaysian national symbol, but it is now replaced by Petronas Towers.




REGGIO CALABRIA, ITALY | MAR 2, 2009 | Zaha Hadid Architects have introduced a shapely, organic-styled designed museum for the Mediterranean region. The project aims to define the role of Reggio Calabria as Mediterranean cultural capital through the realization of two characteristic buildings: a museum and a multifunctional block. The location offers a unique opportunity to create two peculiar constructions: along the narrow sea strait separating continental Italy from Sicily, the two buildings will be visible from the sea as well as from the Sicily coast.  The shape of the Museum is vaguely inspired by a sea star: coherent continuation of Zaha Hadid’s exploration of organic morphology. The radial symmetry of the shape consents to organize a clear and exhaustive path linking the different sections and the other facilities. Movement and openness follow the fluid geometries of natural systems and distortions. It continues the investigations of dynamic space making, creating a new open aesthetic that plays with the user’s interaction with the structure. The museum comprehends restoration facilities, an archive, an aquarium and a library.




| FEB 9, 2009 | Among the many existing and planned architectural projects in Singapore, the recently begun 54,000 sq ft Civic and Cultural Center is eliciting increasing conversation. The international architecture firm Aedas has put together an asymmetrical, angularly-layered facility for exhibition, events and retail uses. The center divided into a civic and cultural zone contains a 5,000 seat auditorium and a 40m high grand foyer. The project is due for completion in 2011.




| JAN 19, 2009 | Accepting the challenge of designing a residential building which aesthetically integrates with a park setting was a job FARO architecten of the Netherlands couldn't refuse. Good thing they didn't because they won. has reported on the selection of FARO as the winner of a competition to design an urban villa and residential tower for the Cascade Park at Almere. To integrate the 57-unit building with the park, green balconies which will be irrigated by collected rain water were utilized. The tower is also designed to be energy neutral and will utilize roof sun collectors, gardens, restaurants, and DIY shops. Behind the powerful visual of the green balconies will be a glass facade with PV & PCM panels.



SHANGHAI, CHINA DEC 11, 2008 - The present economic climate has chilled some very high-profile projects around the globe including Santiago Calatrava's Chicago Spire and Norman Foster's Moscow Tower. But China's master plan for the area of Pudong - to have three iconic skyscrapers rising in immediate proximity to one another is still on track for construction. Scheduled for completion in 2014, the 128-story Shanghai Tower designed by Gensler Architects is a sleek and twisting tubular-like double-skinned structure which will taper toward its apex. The project is headed by the Shanghai Tower Construction and Development Corporation consisting of a development, construction and commercial entities.  According to spokesman from developers, the necessary funding has already been secured for this project.




Jordan Rises: Dual Towers Set Skyline 


AMMAN, JORDAN, OCT 12, 2008-Some residents in Jordan are about to experience the high-rise living so common in prosperous urban centers around the world. According to , Limitless, a global real estate division of Dubai World has begun construction on the Sanaya Ammon, a $3oo million twin tower residential project designed by Chicago-based Murphy/Jahn. The 50-story buildings when completed will be the tallest in the region and contain over 500 apartments along with retail space, green space and an outdoor plaza.  



 Vertical City Rises in the Netherlands


ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS, JULY 22, 2008-According to the digital urban blog site, Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) has designed one of several new high-rise buildings to be constructed over the next several years on the river Maas on the Wilhelminapier in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Referred to as a "vertical city," the towers will be comprised of house apartments, hotel rooms, offices, health club, restaurants, retail and parking space. This structure will top out at 135 meters. The other buildings have been named for American cities with one named "The Chicago." Construction is to begin this year and is scheduled for completion in 2011



Iconic Tower Aims to Refine Columbia's Reputation


MEDELLIN, COLUMBIA, JULY 7, 2008-Over the years, whenever the Central American nation of Columbian arose in conversation, the subjects typically entailed coffee at best and drug cartels at worst. But, Stephen Yas, AIA of Yas Architecture LLC has his owns designs about changing the future topic of conversation in Columbia. Soon to be Latin America's tallest building, Faro Monarca Tower designed by Chicago-based Yas Architecture working along side Grupo Monarca will stand 275 meters tall with 80 floors and an 850-car parking structure located 5 levels below grade. The mixed-use building will have 400 condominiums, 200 hotel rooms, offices, and a convention center. Located in the foothills of Sabaneta, a suburb of Medellin-a city experiencing marked economic growth in its own right-the new tower will connect with a nearby religious sanctuary and chapel as a step-like landscaped grade provides an area for prayer and meditation. "Columbia has advanced beyond what the average American may have heard or understood about it in times past," said Stephen Yas. " This building captures the spirit of that culture and locale. We designed the top of the building to symbolize the fruit of the coffee bean blossoming after 40 years." 



Adrian Smith to Rival SOM in Dubai


DUBAI, UAE, JUNE 15, 2008-Former Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP "star-chitect-in-residence" Adrian Smith is not shying away from making his firm's presence known in sandlots frequented by his old playmates. The principal designer of Chicago's emerging Trump International Tower and Hotel has landed a commission in the playground of the world's new wealth-Dubai of the United Arab Emirates to construct a $7-billion, 11-building mixed-use development. The 2-year-old firm of Smith & Gill Architecture will have to bring on an additional 30 staffers for a new Dubai office and according to Crain's Chicago Business about 150 employees in Chicago to handle the load of high-profile projects coming on line. The 25-million square-foot development is scheduled for completion in 2013.



Warsaw Undergoing Skyline Growing Pains


WARSAW, POLAND, June 1, 2008-Renown architect Zaha Hadid has unveiled her designs for an iconic modernistic skyscraper boldly pushing the Warsaw skyline toward European architectural prominence. The so-called "Lilium" Tower, tall, transparent and fleur de lys based design motif and form, will stand 240m in height and house apartment units, a condominium hotel and retail space. The Daily Star-Lebanon reported that Lilium Tower will face Warsaw's landmark Palace of Culture, a Stalinist-era specimen of socialist-realist architecture. Investor Lilium Polska aims to complete the project by 2012, but has as yet to receive all the necessary planning permits. Lilium Tower is scheduled for completion in 2012. Hadid was a Pritzker Prize award winner in 2004 becoming the first woman and youngest recipient to receive this prestigious honor. Warsaw also is looking forward to an additional defining structure underway by notable international architect Daniel Libeskind.



World's First Positive Energy Building in Abu Dhabi


Masdar, Abu Dhabi February 23, 2008-Masdar announced that it has chosen Chicago architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) to design its headquarters in Abu Dhabi's Masdar City, the world's first zero-carbon, zero-waste city fully powered by renewable energy. The headquarters will be the world's first large-scale, mixed-use 'positive energy' building, producing more energy than it consumes. In addition to being the location of Masdar Headquarters, the building will accommodate private residences and 'early bird' businesses starting up in the city.


AS+GG teamed with Chicago-based MEP engineers Environmental Systems Design and structural engineers Thornton Tomasetti on the design, which includes numerous systems that will generate a surplus of the building's energy, eliminate carbon emissions and reduce liquid and solid waste. The complex will utilize sustainable materials and feature integrated wind turbines, outdoor air quality monitors and one of the world's largest building-integrated solar energy arrays. Compared with typical mixed-use buildings of the same size, the Headquarters will consume 70% less water. 'We're thrilled to be working on a project of this importance and magnitude. Masdar Headquarters is one of the most significant developments of our time,' said Adrian Smith, partner, AS+GG.



$Billion House Under Construction in India



Mumbai, India February 11, 2008-Mukesh Ambani, who is being touted as the richest man in the world is constructing - naturally - the most expensive house in the world in Mumbai, India. Designed by the Chicago-based architecture firm of Perkins + Will. the $1 billion residence will resemble a glass tower in form, standing 570 feet tall.


According to the Mumbai Mirror, the 27-story "house" will contain a health club, multiple "safe" rooms, 3 helipads, 168 parking spaces and require 600 servants to maintain. The tower will also utilize a floor for car maintenance called an in-house service centre to be located on the seventh floor. The eighth floor will will have an entertainment centre comprising a mini-theater with a seating capacity of 50. While the ninth floor is to be set aside for "rescue in emergencies" - two floors above that will be set aside for 'health.' One of these will have facilities for athletics and a swimming pool, while the other will have a health club complete with the latest gym equipment. Finally, the four floors at the top will provide a view of the Arabian Sea and a superb view of the city's skyline.







City of Lights Thinks Green




Paris, France January 14, 2008-The Chicago-based architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP can get used to the idea of of being first in its global pursuits. In an article found on, SOM is planning to construct what they are touting as one of the "greenest" office blocks in the world just outside of Paris, France.  Named "Energy Plus," the 70,000-square foot office complex in Gennevilliers to be the world's most environmentally friendl