Fall Design Preview 2015

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Click to enlarge.Newcity_designpage_FA

Fletcher Martin is founding principal and creative director of branding agency a5. In that role, he’s responsible for many of the graphic identities that surround us. Beyond his role as designer, he is also an illustrator. So for the design section, he took complete control and made his own page. We liked it so much that we commissioned him to make the cover, too.

Keep It Small: Maintaining Effective Public Space at Mariano Park

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Mariano Park/Photo: Andrew Vesselinovitch

Mariano Park/Photo: Andrew Vesselinovitch

By Andrew Vesselinovitch

It is 8:40am on a warm summer Wednesday at Mariano Park on the Near North Side.  Tables and chairs are being set up and it looks like the hardscape (most of the park is paved, with small areas around the trees planted with flowers) has just been washed.  There are about two dozen people in the park.  The fountain is on and Whispers Café, housed in a small Prairie School-style kiosk, is open. Five or so patrons are waiting at the window. At the tables and benches, there are parties of one, two and three people, ages ranging from the twenties into the seventies. People are reading, talking on the phone or speaking with each other.

I understand that the Chicago Park District may be negotiating a new lease for a concession at Mariano Park.  I understand, from the Whispers Café’s Facebook page, that the new lease calls for a much larger commercial presence than today.  Mariano Park works well, and the factors for its success should be maintained.

When I was a kid and my family had just moved to Streeterville in 1977, Mariano Park was not very lively, its kiosk unused. It was, effectively, what it is:  a leftover space formed by the intersection of Rush and State streets. Despite the underused park, the area was, as it is today, still very active, with restaurants and drinking establishments.  What was then called the “Herpes Triangle” has more recently been called the “Viagra Triangle,” in reference to the aging but still ever-so-social population.

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Chicago Looks: Neutrals and Pastels

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IMG_1427Artist Laura English (lauraenglishart.com) was attending the “Don’t Fret: Signs of the Times” exhibit closing at Johalla Projects.

Your collages seem to draw imagery from the fashion world, does that make sense?
Definitely. I create all my collages from contemporary and vintage fashion magazines. How the women in my collages are styled is directly showing what is or was considered fashionable. The clothing and hair style I choose to use has the ability to place these women in a certain era, subculture and class, which starts the narrative with the viewer. Read the rest of this entry »

Narratives of the Vernacular: Emphasizing the Designs of Chicago’s Neighborhoods

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Out+of+the+Loop_Page_01Chicago, like so many transitioning industrial cities, is a patois of buildings, monuments and neighborhood spaces in which preservationist concerns, ethnic conflict and gentrification continually reshape the neighborhoods beyond their Google Maps distinctions.

The study of vernacular architecture concerns the common spaces used by and associated with different cultural groups: the corner churches, fading pool halls, storied theaters, and parks. It moves beyond architectural history or design analysis to the larger social questions of a community’s “settlement patterns and cultural landscapes.” In turn, these discussions pinpoint the value that seemingly ordinary domestic or re-fabricated architecture contributes.

“Out of the Loop: Chicago 2015,” a publication that arose out of this year’s Vernacular Architecture Forum conference, is many things: a compendium of original research and architectural fieldwork, a tour guidebook, an academic reference, and a narrative of Chicago as perhaps rarely seen. Edited by historians D. Bradford Hunt, David A. Spatz and Virginia B. Price, the text seems especially a handbook for the Chicago novitiate, for whom the Loop represents the extent of  both our city’s history and diversity. Read the rest of this entry »

Graham Foundation Announces 2015 Grants to Organizations: Chicago Architecture Biennial Programs Coming into View

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Florian Joy, Bawadi, 2006. Courtesy of the MoCP. From the 2015 Graham Foundation Organizational Grant to Columbia College Chicago-Museum of Contemporary Photography for the exhibition Grace of Intention: Photography, Architecture and the Monument.

Florian Joy, Bawadi, 2006. Courtesy of the MoCP. From the 2015 Graham Foundation Organizational Grant to Columbia College Chicago-Museum of Contemporary Photography for the exhibition Grace of Intention: Photography, Architecture and the Monument.

The Chicago-based Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in Fine Art announced today its second round of 2015 grantees. The organization will award $496,500 to 49 groundbreaking architectural projects that run the gamut programmatically and geographically, running from Chicago to Mexico City, London to Buenos Aires, and Oslo to Kiev.

Twelve programs that are a part of the upcoming Chicago Architecture Biennial were awarded Graham Foundation grants. They include: the first major career survey of architect David Adjaye at the Art Institute of Chicago; new site-specific works by artists Mary Ellen Childs and Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle that are inspired by the Mies van der Rohe-designed Farnsworth House; and a sound installation in Chicago’s Millennium Park, composed by artist Olivia Block and commissioned by Experimental Sound Studio, that amplifies “sonambient” sound sculptures designed by Harry Bertoia (1915-1978).

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Chicago Looks: Never Bored

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IMG_0553Pamela Ambrose, the director of Cultural Affairs at the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), was on her way to a mani/pedi in Printers Row. “Toenail color is important. Toenails often hint at the interior you,” she says.

What is your fashion motto?
Never get bored.

You are wearing color, print and fabulous accessories, such as your fruit earrings. Do you always incorporate fun elements in your look?
I have very little fine jewelry any more. My most interesting jewelry is either made by my husband, Peter Ambrose, a modernist sculptor, or found as vintage in thrift stores. I never wear gold, only silver and aluminum. Read the rest of this entry »

The Nature Inside: Chicago’s Sprout Home Releases Horticultural Home Guide

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sprout-home-book-text-removedFour translucent filaments dangling in a test tube of water signal my successful plant-rooting experiment. Inspired by “Rooted in Design: Sprout Home’s Guide to Creative Indoor Planting,” by Tara Heibel and Tassy de Give, I snipped sedum and echeveria from sidewalk gardens to grow on my kitchen wall.  It’s one of many ingenious ideas the authors suggest for creating a calm connection to nature within the home. And now, I feel like the parent of a newborn, checking the water daily to look for roots. Eventually, the propagated babies will be sturdy enough to plant in soil.

Greening an urban space can include plants grown on walls, ledges, the floor, in the air, and in the kitchen. The book suggests plants that are low-care or high-maintenance, for appearance, cuisine or medicine. Decorating styles range from industrial, midcentury modern, naturalist to neoclassical. Read the rest of this entry »

A Forgotten Tragedy: Commemorating the One-Hundredth Anniversary of the Eastland Disaster

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The S.S. Eastland. All photos courtesy of Eastland Disaster Historical Society.

The S.S. Eastland. All photos courtesy of Eastland Disaster Historical Society.

By Aaron Rose

The year was 1915.

Western Electric Company was one of the largest single manufacturing works in the United States. Its 2.5 million square foot facility produced equipment for a rapidly growing technology: the telephone.

More than 18,000 men and women entered its massive Hawthorne Works complex at the corner of 22nd Street and Cicero Avenue, six days a week in round-the-clock shifts. It was a distinctly modern enterprise, claiming its own factory town. So thoroughly did the company embrace its ethic that employees, in all positions, in all weathers, were required to dress in formal attire for work. Suits and ties for the gents; corsets for the ladies.

Like all good corporations, Western Electric organized an array of social and educational societies for the recreation and edification of its workforce—the majority of whom were Eastern European immigrants, Poles and Czechs—who were becoming acculturated to a new world, a new society. Read the rest of this entry »

Saving the City in Old Town: The Proposed Demolition of 159 West Burton

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159 and the Carl Street Studios share comfortable courtyard setbacks which could soon be a thing of the past

159 and the Carl Street Studios share comfortable courtyard setbacks which could soon be a thing of the past

By Matthew Messner

On July 28, the city’s Department of Buildings approved a demolition permit for a small building on a quiet street in Old Town. Like so many buildings which come down in this city, its fate has little to do with what the building is or its condition, as much as it has to do with what the building is not and the land it sits on.

The building in question is a late-nineteenth-century Victorian home at 159 West Burton Place, nestled between LaSalle and Wells Streets. What this building is not is a contemporary multi-unit condominium building. Unfortunately, in the bustling housing market of the Gold Coast, that is a problem. But the plot thickens. Not only is this home historic in its own right, it sits on one of the most unique blocks in the city, and its demolition is now threatening this block in more than one way. Read the rest of this entry »

News: A Center in the City: Chicago Architecture Foundation Launches Design Competition

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With the approach of the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s (CAF) fiftieth anniversary next year, the organization has launched their first-ever ideas competition for a new Center for Architecture, Design and Education.

In the open-submission call, CAF requests that entrants propose a facility that will house the group’s new headquarters, visitor center and exhibition spaces; a new headquarters for the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat; a design and allied arts high school; and flexible learning spaces for “out-of-school-time” youth programs.

“As the world’s top incubator for design, the city of Chicago encourages architects and designers to contribute cutting-edge ideas for the future of learning spaces that will foster meaningful and functional learning environments to the next generation of students,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a news release from CAF. Read the rest of this entry »