Building Beauties: AIA Chicago Publishes Third Edition of Venerable Guide to Architecture

Architecture, News Etc., Urban Design No Comments »
Studio Gang's Aqua tower graces the cover of the updated architectural guide

Studio Gang’s Aqua tower graces the cover of the updated architectural guide

By Seth Unger

Aside from seeing every significant structure in Chicago in person, the best way to get to know Chicago’s architecture is an oddly-sized, encyclopedic tome, the “AIA Guide to Chicago.” A recently-released third edition of the venerable guidebook served as an occasion for Newcity to sit down with executive vice president of AIA Chicago, Zurich Esposito, and one of the book’s editors, Laurie McGovern Petersen, to discuss the expectations, trepidations and many joys of the four-year process.

What goes into the process of revising and amending a guidebook?

Laurie McGovern Petersen: The first thing I started to do for this edition is get in the car, drive and look at every single thing over again. I started four years—before we had a contract. That was just taking a leap of faith.

Zurich Esposito: We didn’t have a publisher but we knew it would happen.

LMP: Each time you have to see absolutely everything that was in the book again to make sure that it hasn’t been demolished or altered. And then there might be something that catches your eye that’s right on the route that you wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. We made a huge spreadsheet; I sat down with Zurich to confirm what would make the cut. Still, there were too many things to put in the book so we had an advisory committee that met and reviewed everything. It was interesting because there was total consensus on ninety percent of [the buildings]. Read the rest of this entry »

Selling Larry Laske: The Designer Auctions the Work of His Strange and Prolific Life for a New Adventure in Philanthropy

Designed Objects, Events, Furniture, Graphic Design, Interior Architecture No Comments »
Newcity cover designed by Larry Laske

Newcity cover designed by Larry Laske

By Krisann Rehbein

Lawrence Laske’s hand made the motion of a winding river, cutting through the air to illustrate the meandering flow of his conversation. Just like Tarantino, he said, he’d “bring the story back around eventually.” We are sitting in an office of the auction house Wright to talk about an upcoming auction of Laske’s entire body of work. The output of his strange and prolific twenty-year-long adventure in industrial design will be up for sale to the highest bidder on October 24. Nearly 300 lots comprise an auction titled “Lawrence Laske: Design Studio and Collected Works,” which represents work dating from the years before a cancerous tumor was removed from his brain. Now, Laske is moving on by giving it all up. And giving a lot of it back.

Read the rest of this entry »

Honoring Tradition: A Line of Handbags at Ikram Draws on Maasai Beadwork

Fashion No Comments »
Traditional Maasai beads embellish a collection of bags at Ikram

Traditional Maasai beads embellish a collection of bags at Ikram

In high school, New York-based Michael Nelson gravitated to a group of girls from Kenya, who stood up for him when he was bullied. His line of handbags and clutches, which are all fabricated in a fair-trade cooperative and launch at Ikram on October 15, pay homage to this childhood friendship. Nelson’s handbags and clutches are always adorned with Maasai traditional beadwork, in which intricately woven tiny beads are layered flat with bright shapes and bold lines. Nelson blends the Maasai culture’s traditional colors such as red, green and black with a contemporary aesthetic.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Experiments in Environment: The Halprin Workshops, 1966-1971/Graham Foundation

Architecture, Reviews, Urban Design No Comments »
The Halprins hosted freewheeling, interdisciplinary gatherings at their West Coast homes

The Halprins hosted freewheeling, interdisciplinary gatherings at their West Coast homes


In the late 1960s, a prominent landscape architect and an avant-garde dancer came together to lead cross-disciplinary workshops near San Francisco. The series of experimental creative exercises are chronicled in videos, photographs, artifacts and ephemera in an original exhibition at the Graham Foundation, on view through mid-December.

“Experiments in Environment: The Halprin Workshops, 1966-1971″ documents Lawrence and Anna Halprin’s efforts to challenge traditional ideas of aesthetics, creating generative spaces for open-ended operations rather than finished artworks. The Halprin Workshops emphasized experiential creative enrichment over application. A set of instructions for one workshop includes, for instance, “Buy yourself a present in a place of fantasies and act accordingly.” Environmental designers, architects and dancers from around the world attended the workshops, learning completely new approaches to artistic practice that presaged much of today’s experience-based art. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Looks: Matching the Bean

Chicago Looks, Fashion No Comments »


Eugene Delmundo and Janine Supnet were visiting from New York City.

So far what have you enjoyed the most here?
Janine: Chicago is a beautiful city and very clean. Catching the views of historic skyscrapers from the First Lady architectural boat tour down the Chicago River was pretty amazing! Also, the locals here are super friendly and the food and drink scene are great. Violet Hour in Wicker Park was my fave!

Eugene: Love Chicago. Like Janine says, it is a beautiful city. Just taking in the scenery of the skyline and catching the cool stuff along Millennium Park was pretty rad. I really enjoyed visiting the Art Institute too.

What do you think of the fashion you’ve seen in our streets?
I think the Wicker Park/Bucktown area is really cool. Sort of similar to the Brooklyn scene, very grungy, hippy and vintage all done in a tasteful way. Read the rest of this entry »

The Plot Thickens: Architecture Biennial Appoints Ty Tabing as Executive Director

Architecture, Events, News Etc. No Comments »
The Chicago Architecture Biennial is staffing up.  Logo forms courtesy of Plural.

The Chicago Architecture Biennial is staffing up. Logo forms courtesy of Plural.

When the Chicago Architecture Biennial was first announced, skeptics were quick to point out that there wasn’t a whole lot of there there. At the summer ceremony, a processional was led by the mayor, who was flanked at the dais by brand-name designers. But the ubiquitous pair of Jeanne Gang and Theaster Gates didn’t mask the absence of a plot. Nor did a check for $2.5 million, underwritten by BP. Nor did the repertoire of stock expressions about Chicago’s status as “design capital” and its “world-class architecture.”

You didn’t have to be a scholar of hermeneutics to wonder what was behind the dais and the donation, the rhetoric and the ambition. Around town, conversations have since been drifting into questions of content and execution: what will the Biennial show? And how will it show it?

Read the rest of this entry »

Down With Signs, Long Live Signs: the Pragmatic Politics Behind Chicago’s New Signage Ordinance

Architecture, News Etc., Urban Design No Comments »
The new signage ordinance is anti-RUMP. Image courtesy of Gina Ford.

The new signage ordinance is anti-RUMP/Photo: Gina Ford.

By Ben Schulman

Last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he would propose an ordinance creating the Chicago River Corridor Special Sign District. The intention behind the district is to limit the ability of future signs to visually pollute the landscape located along the city’s emerging riverfront playground, as Donald Trump’s massive 2,891 square foot sign did when it was unveiled this past summer on his eponymous building.

The district will encompass the whole of the Chicago River’s downtown expanse, running from Roosevelt Road on the south to Kinzie on the north and Lake Shore Drive to the east. In a prepared statement, Emanuel said, “As we move to transform the Chicago River into Chicago’s next great waterfront, we want to ensure that the riverfront is protected from signage that negatively impacts the visual environment.”

Built into the ordinance are stipulations that require signs to be placed directly below the highest roof line of the building, adhere to a maximum size of 550 square feet with a height of 500 feet or more (Trump’s sign looms just 200 feet above ground) and employ, according to the City’s press release, “only ‘halo-lit’ lettering, back-lit letters that create a glow of light around the letter by illuminating the wall surface from within.”

In other words, everything the Donald’s sign is not. Read the rest of this entry »

Design Roundup: Men, Myths, Meh, MAS

Architecture, Designed Objects, Events, Fashion, News Etc., Urban Design No Comments »
UIC's proposal for the Obama Presidential Library emphasizes connectivity

UIC’s proposal for the Obama Presidential Library emphasizes connectivity

By Brook Rosini

You remind me of a man, through January 4, 2015
Perhaps the true measure of fame in the twenty-first century is to become the subject of a retrospective exhibition that tours international museums of contemporary art. “David Bowie Is” opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago this month, bringing the Starman down to earth in the down-to-earthiest of places at the tour’s only US stop. Beyond his prolific musical catalog, Bowie has continually reinvented himself to remain relevant and influential in art, design, theater and culture more broadly—what child of the eighties could forget his turn as the Goblin King in “Labyrinth”? That hair! Those meggings! That bulge! Plumb the depths of the man who fell to earth’s creative impulse at the MCA, where you can view more than 400 objects including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material through January 4, 2015. Fifteen minutes? More like five decades. Andy Warhol, eat your heart out. Find out more and get tix on the MCA’s website.

What man, October 2, 6pm
If you don’t know landscape architect James Corner’s name by now, you must have been living under a rock under the High Line for the past decade. The Corner-designed urban park has been credited with reinvigorating the neighborhoods it runs through in New York City, bringing new development and impacting quality of life on the scale of Central Park. The High Line has even opened the doors for other cities to rethink potential uses for aging and abandoned infrastructure—including our own Bloomingdale Trail aka the 606. Commissioned to redevelop Chicago’s Navy Pier for its 100th anniversary in 2016, Corner is now hard at work on our shores. Corner shares his vision for livable cities at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts on October 2, when he presents “The Ecological Imagination: Life and the Design of Urban Public Space.” The talk marks the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust’s fourth annual Thinking into the Future: The Robie House Series on Architecture, Design and Ideas. Admission prices range from $5 for students to $25, with a cocktail reception at 5pm. Hit up the website for more info. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Looks: Can’t Hyde That Style

Chicago Looks No Comments »


Haena Lee, Medical Sociology PhD student

What’s an ideal back-to-school outfit for you?
I sit at a desk for most of the day analyzing data and writing a paper, so I love to be as comfy as possible. As the temperatures drop, I love to wear skinny jeans with a vintage chunky top (sweater or blouse), leather jacket and sneakers. And I usually team them with jewelry. For some people, their favorite fashion items are shoes or bags but for me it’s jewelry. I think it definitely completes your outfit in a way that adds wow-factor in a subtle way. Most of my jewelry is from vintage stores except rings from my mom.

Where do the stylish people of the UofC usually hang out? Do you know of any fashion blogs run by UofC students?
I usually spotted cute, stylish UofC people at Harper Library on 59th street during the day and at Woodlawn Tap (Jimmy’s) later in the day. I don’t know any UofC people doing fashion blogs but I do know there’s a fashion magazine MODA, University of Chicago’s student-run fashion magazine. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Looks: Fashion Imitates Art

Chicago Looks, Events, Fashion 1 Comment »


What’s better than dressing to the nines? Dressing to the nines in the company of some of the world’s best galleries and most creative artwork. These EXPO 2014 Vernissage guests managed to stand out while blending in with seriously cool art.

Read the rest of this entry »