Restoring Unity: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Temple Gets Updated for Eternity

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Photo: Unity Temple Restoration Foundation

Photo: Unity Temple Restoration Foundation

By Aaron Rose

Among the iconic buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright that grace urban, suburban and rural landscapes throughout North America and Japan, Unity Temple in Oak Park—his first major public building—is a modern masterpiece designed for the Unitarian Universalist congregation in 1905. This month, 110 years later, a major restoration of Unity Temple will begin.

Directed by Unity Temple Restoration Foundation, planned and guided by the local firm of Harboe Architects, the restoration will encompass the building’s exterior and interior: its concrete façade, interior paints and finishes, clerestory windows, art glass laylights, skylights and landscaping. A new geothermal system will also be installed to heat—and for the first time in its history, cool—the building.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I currently work with Unity Temple Restoration Foundation as a consultant. My fascination with this architectural icon, however, predates the relationship. So I have a confluence of interests.
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Preview: Sensing and Sensibility: Politics and Technology in the Contemporary City

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Iker Gil

Iker Gil/Photo: Joe Mazza-BraveLux


We have been told that, like our minds and memories, our computers’ hard drives are palimpsests—that even when we delete files, traces of our activities remain as encoded fragments of personal data digitally persisting unto posterity. The Internet is similarly awash in the ripples created by our surfing, with search history, purchase history and various personal histories all entwined in the comet-like trails of our virtual movements. These data, which we are continually producing, are mined by government entities and private corporations for a variety of purposes, ranging from law enforcement to marketing.

And what of our physical movements, from home to work to play? Of course, they, too, are tracked, monitored and archived, by surveillance video in the public realm and our own smartphones glowing benignly in our pockets—making the built environment a social palimpsest writ large. Individuals’ movements become mass motion, whittling dirt pathways into park greenery and carving underground transit tunnels beneath our cities. Infrastructure, hardscape and greenscape change with the tides of human movement, and buildings reflect generational shifts in taste, fashion, and technology. Meanwhile, data is constantly being generated and collected. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Bernard Khoury Lecture/IIT School of Architecture

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Khoury, born in Beirut, attended Rhode Island School of Design, then Harvard, before returning home following the conclusion of the Lebanese Civil War in 1993. His work engages with the scars left by this traumatic period, amplifying discontinuities in the urban grid and adapting damaged buildings. An experimental and interventionist focus coupled with a surfeit of temporary and unbuilt projects during his early career gained him a reputation as an architectural demagogue. His work through the turn of the millennium to today has become more accessible to large clients seeking unique projects, but his sense of rebellion is often lurking just beneath the surface of these more recent commissions. It is impossible not to draw parallels between the work of Khoury and that of Lebbeus Woods, that great scion of experimental architecture and representation. In many ways, we may see in Khoury the logical extension of a radical theoretical architecture to real, built scenarios, a place Woods never chose to go with his work.

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Maker Beat: Taking the Wolfbait

Maker Beat No Comments »
Elise Robison with her wares at Wolfbait

Elise Robison with her wares at Wolfbait

By Michael Workman

Aspects of maker culture have shared roots with art and activist communitarian models which, in turn, can have as much to do with real activism as the GOP has with social services; they’re more lifestyle accoutrements than they are actual expressions of fellow-feeling, or the like. Logan Square is in that kind of demographic toss-up state right now, with the truly cosmopolitan maintaining a canny distance from the clear increase lately in the “cool tax” on overpriced rentals and etc. Out on a Situationist “dérive” around the ‘hood with artist Lesley Jenkins, awash in its current demographic mixture of artists, students and hungry buyers, Jenkins beelines me to the nine-year old Wolfbait & B-Girls shop down from her block when I ask her take on handmade in the area. “You’ve got to see this place,” she says. Read the rest of this entry »

Emerging Design: Mr. Teague goes to Milan

Designed Objects, Furniture No Comments »
A model and a Teague

A model and a Teague

By Krisann Rehbein

This month, a collection of furniture and objects by Chicago design students will be on display at the world’s largest design industry trade show, the Milan Furniture Fair or Milano Salone. This is the eighth year that select students from the Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects (AIADO) program at the School of the Art Institute will have this opportunity. It is this kind of international exposure and direct interface with large design houses that brought forty-six-year-old designer Norman Teague to graduate school at SAIC.

Teague has a vision for how design can elevate communities on the South Side and drive economic growth. He wants a storefront to make the process accessible for young people to create things that are empowering, beautiful and useful. His career to date includes collaborations with some of the city’s most talented artists and designers from Theaster Gates to John Preus, and Eric Williams of the Silver Room. Norman’s design for a stool that facilitates fleeting but meaningful conversations will be at the Spazio Rossana Orlandi during Design Week, along with work of eleven of his classmates. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Looks: Something Unexpected

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Stefani Sorenson was taking a break from work in Bucktown.

What are you looking forward to wearing this spring? What trends are you loving right now?
I’m really into the “borrowed from the boys” trend. I’m liking strong classic pieces paired with a statement heel or a bold lipstick. Masculine splashed with femininity.

What made you become interested in fashion? 
My grandma and mom were my biggest fashion influences growing up. My grandma was a true lady and never left the house without lipstick. My mom was always doing something cool with scarfs or accessories to make what she was wearing an “outfit.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: JNL Studio Visit

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Jason Pickelman, white shirted in the center, holds court/Photo: Brook Rosini

Jason Pickelman, white shirted in the center, holds court/Photo: Brook Rosini

JNL graphic design and its founder, Jason Pickleman, have achieved a certain level of notoriety in the Chicago design community, though Pickleman insists “people don’t know us north of Addison.” Whether or not that’s true, the people who do know JNL are many and varied, as evidenced at a recent studio visit organized by Mas Context. JNL’s prolific output over its twenty-three-year history has included branding, logos, books, brochures, newsletters and other collateral for practically every cultural institution in Chicago—and then some. JNL has branded small nonprofits like Hyde Park Art Center, international cultural events like EXPO Chicago, many of Chicago’s finest restaurants and major venues like Millennium Park, whose tenth anniversary mark Pickleman designed last year, as profiled in the pages of this magazine. The studio also designed the logo and packaging for national snacking sensation Skinny Pop. No big deal. Read the rest of this entry »

The New (Old) Sears Tower: Reclaiming a Structural Icon in North Lawndale

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Sears Tower

Photo: Aaron Rose

By Aaron Rose

Before the Sears Tower most of us know was the Sears Tower—or the Serious Tower, as a very young friend used to call it—and way before it became the Willis Tower, there was another Sears Tower.

The original Sears Tower was the frontispiece of the massive three-million square-foot Merchandise Building, constructed in 1905-06 on nearly forty-two acres of land acquired by the eponymous corporate giant Sears Roebuck and Co.’s CEO, Julius Rosenwald. Also known as the Catalogue Facility, the Merchandise Building, two city blocks long and nine stories high, encased three sides of the fourteen-story tower, which faces east at the intersection of Homan and Arthington in North Lawndale. With its four elevators, the tower was a stationary people mover, circulating 22,000 employees in and out of the building each day. In addition to five restaurants, this mini-metropolis of dark red brick with terra-cotta trim, designed by the architecture firm of Nimmons and Fellows, boasted its own post office, hospital, an in-house medical staff, a recreation room and a room that circulated books from the Chicago Public Library. The top floor of the tower served as an observation deck—yes, then, too—and the eleventh floor housed WLS radio station. WLS stands for World’s Largest Store. Read the rest of this entry »

Super Money: Alma Wieser Channels Halston and Warhol in Renovar’s Spring Collection

Fashion No Comments »

cream cape sleeve dress slide

By Ana Sekler

Alma Wieser began her clothing line, Renovar (Spanish for renovate) in 2005. Each collection is inspired by and pays homage to a different artist, artistic movement or fashion designer. Wieser researches before beginning the process of designing a collection, which are full of references to fashion and art history. Her studio space is at Heaven Gallery in Wicker Park, where she also works as art director. I had the chance to visit with Wieser a few weeks ago in her studio and to chat with her about her recent collection for spring/summer ’15: Halston and Warhol: American Celebrity.

How do you choose a theme for a collection? 
It’s a feeling; fashion is so much a part of the moment. There’s the comparison of a fashion designer being a fortuneteller, that designers can see the future. I knew the seventies were coming so it had to be Halston. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Minsuk Cho, MASS Studies/School of the Art Institute

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½ºÅ¸ÀÏ: "70's look"


Minsuk Cho, the Seoul, South Korea-based architect behind MASS Studies, is speaking in Chicago as part of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s ongoing lecture series. Cho has the career and connections of a fast-rising star not yet at the apogee of his career, and the work to back it up. At the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennial, his one-time employer, Rem Koolhaas, presented him with the Golden Lion for his work on the Korean Pavilion, which presented a history of the two Koreas without bias or politics, only investigating and exploring the divergent architectural history. Read the rest of this entry »