A Lot You Got to Holler is a Newcity Design podcast. Hosted by Newcity design editor Ben Schulman and Chicago architectural journalist Zach Mortice, the podcast explores Chicago’s singular history of architecture, design and urbanism, with an emphasis on pop culture. Schulman and Mortice will invite artists, designers, and architects into the studio for conversations about Chicago’s past and ongoing role as a proving ground for American culture.
From the eighties to the nineties, movies set and filmed in Chicago showed a city cleaving itself in half. From John Hughes suburban-kid-in-the-city hijinks to the near apocalyptic urban horror of Candyman and Child’s Play, these twenty years of film reflected the straining inequalities of the city that produced them. Our hosts will recount Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines as sociopath cops and that time Kentucky hillbillies took on the Chicago Outfit. With special guest Bill Hogan (dude was in Home Alone).
Depending on who’s telling the tale, the Cabrini-Green housing projects on Chicago’s Near North Side are either patient-zero for urban dysfunction and decay, or a humble high-rise utopia, Corbusier’s Radiant City with soul. But at the end of the day it was home to 15,000 people. Cabrini-Green was mostly demolished by 2011, but its legacy both haunts, or enriches, the city, depending on who you ask.
Co-hosts Zach Mortice and Newcity Design Editor Ben Schulman asked two Chicagoans: Chicago filmmaker Ronit Bezalel, whose film “70 Acres in Chicago” spent 20 years tracing the decline of of this community; and artist, designer, and educator Andres Hernandez, whose exhibit “Vacancy: Urban Interruption and (Re)Generation” at the Glass Curtain Gallery explored how the ghosts of Cabrini-Green still settle over our pop-culture landscape. Special thanks to recording studio engineer Tim Joyce.
Chicago’s most valuable natural asset is its lakefront, forever free, public, and protected by law. This lakefront is so valuable, argues the architects at Port Urbanism, that we need more of it to pay off the city’s massive debts. Or (if you ask the designers at UrbanLab) newly built islands in the lake must be drafted into relieving pressure from an overstressed storm drain system by filtering and cleaning the city’s water.
Featured at the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial, Port Urbanism and UrbanLab’s lakefront proposals offer infrastructural fixes to some of Chicago’s most dire emergencies. They also colonize a near-sacred urban vista with varying degrees of public and private space; not the type of thing you can do without getting through some pretty contentious community town hall meetings.
Architecture requires massive amounts of money, time, and effort to come together. It’s serious business. Most of the time. But here in Chicago there are a handful of designers that work humor into their architecture whenever they can, as a way to satirize the practice of architecture and the cultures that surround it, or as a way to invite new people into the conversation. For A Lot You Got to Holler’s fourth episode, we’re joined by Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer of Design with Company, as well as Ania Jaworska and artist/musician/designer Beverly Fresh. Free with each download: Design with Company’s theme park ride of Midwestern folkways, Ania Jaworska’s peerless knowledge of Polish interior design folk tales, and Beverly Fresh’s proposal for the Graham Foundation bookstore that’s truly, truly ahead of its time. Special thanks to recording studio engineer Tim Joyce and Nick Cage’s pores.
The neighborhood of Pullman on Chicago’s far South Side is a crucible of architectural, labor, industrial and civil rights history. It’s also a national monument, with big plans for renovation and redevelopment on the horizon. Commissioned by railroad magnate George Pullman in 1880 and designed by Solon Beman, Pullman was an idyllic workers utopia… for a few years, until a strike sparked what became the modern labor movement. Pullman and his architect looked to design and city planning to raise his bottom line and banish labor unrest from his company. It didn’t work, but the result is one of Chicago’s most singular neighborhoods.
On hand to take hosts Zach Mortice and Newcity design editor Ben Schulman through the next chapter of Pullman’s history is Mike Shymanski, president of the Historic Pullman Foundation, and Richard Wilson, City Design Director for Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture and project lead for the Positioning Pullman campaign. Special thanks to recording studio engineer Tim Joyce.
Architecture is concert halls, museums, theaters, and all of our temples of high culture. But it’s also train stations, sewer drains, and the seemingly anonymous infrastructure that makes the city work. Few architects understand how to elevate this everyday machinery of urbanism as well as Chicago’s own Carol Ross Barney. She chats with Newcity design editor Ben Schulman and architectural journalist Zach Mortice about the Chicago Riverwalk, the 606, the CTA, and the future of Chicago.
For A Lot You Got to Holler’s first-ever live podcast, we shined a light on the most hidden and obscured element of urbanism that’s changing how we interact with cities in every way: data. Invisible streams of 1’s and 0’s pour out of our transit systems, buildings, and utility infrastructure, and into our smartphones, giving us a more dynamic look at what’s happening in our environment second-by-second.
Hosts Zach Mortice and Newcity Design Editor Ben Schulman are joined by Chicago’s own data czar, John Tolva, former City of Chicago Chief Technology Officer and President of Postive Energy Practice, on his last night in town before he moves to Denver with his family. With a crowd of design-lovers at The Chicago Design Museum, Tolva gives his pitch for why we need sensors clipped onto Divvy bikes, and why the snowplow tracker is the city’s most popular website, all before he absconds to the Rockies in a U-Haul full of Chicago’s data!
Sponsored by The Chicago Design Museum and MAS Context. Special thanks to recording engineer Tim Joyce.
The A Lot You Got to Holler Cavalcade of Firsts continues, when co-hosts Zach Mortice and Ben Schulman sit down with Ernie Wong of Site Design Group–the show’s first ever landscape architect guest!
On the agenda: shared streets in Uptown, Chicago’s many, many basket-case ruins and slag pits, and an oft-overlooked question: Is shutting down the Dan Ryan and setting prairie grasses in its median on fire a good idea, or the greatest idea? The answer will shock you!
Special thanks to recording engineer Tim Joyce.
For A Lot You Got to Holler’s first election season special, co-hosts Zach Mortice and Newcity Design Editor Ben Schulman visit the totalitarian and poorly described world of Agenda 21, a book written by Glenn Beck, a conservative commentator known for his full heart, clear eyes, and tear-streaked cheeks; and Harriet Parke, a nurse of some literary renown. This dystopian artifact from 2012 describes a world in which an all-seeing authority uses clipboards and squirrel worship to manage every aspect of the population’s life, forcing them to march on energy boards, recycle, ride around in pedicabs, and eat lots of soy. (It’s basically a Silicon Valley spa retreat.)
Zach and Ben are joined by returning guest and experienced discourser Bill Hogan to evaluate where this historical document of right wing anti-statism falls in the ascendent Age of Trump, how thousands of rural conspiracy theorists got really into obscure United Nations bylaws and non-binding resolutions, and how [solemn pause] a home-schooled girl is going to change the world.
Special thanks to recording engineer Tim Joyce.
Now that a native New Yorker real estate agent is our president-elect, cities finally have the pro-urbanism voice in the White House they need! Right? NO EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE. How terrible? We ask Chicago urban policy ace Daniel Kay Hertz (@danielkayhertz) to explain how far the toilet we’ve flushed. Special thanks to recording engineer Tim Joyce.
On the latest A Lot You Got to Holler, we peek through the bars of a type of architecture that’s largely invisible to the wider world, yet remains critical to our legal system. We sit down with Roula Alakiotou of Roula Associates Architects, who specializes in justice and corrections facilities, including several projects for the Cook County Jail. Roula talks us through how design can demarcate the line between rehabilitation and the purely punitive, the types of spaces she’ll never design, and how true architecture is impossible in certain species of incarceration environments.
Special thanks to recording engineer Tim Joyce.
Edgar Miller is perhaps the most overlooked artist in the Chicago canon. Art was everywhere and everything to Miller, who used the city as his canvas through painting, woodworking, stained glass, sculpture, printmaking, iron working, industrial design and whatever materials fell his way. His expressionist, bespoke approach to design, art and architecture enlivens some of Chicago’s (quietly) iconic spaces, from his Carl Street Studios to collaborations with Andrew Rebori on the Gold Coast’s Frank Fisher Apartments. Miller’s story embodies the movement of 20th century bohemia gliding across Chicago’s landscape, from his early works in “Tower Town,” adjacent to Bughouse Square, to his imprint on the nascent artistic enclave of Old Town, and to the rediscovery of his work – and his own personal artistic resurgence – in the 1980s and 1990s.
For this episode of “A Lot You Got to Holler,” co-hosts Ben Schulman and Zach Mortice look at the life and legacy of Edgar Miller with Zac Bleicher, the director of the Edgar Miller Legacy. You’ll want to break out your phone as you listen and follow along with @edgarmillerart on Instagram. Special thanks to producer Tim Joyce.
Katherine Darnstadt’s architecture firm Latent Design creates objects and urban systems, but it’s biggest victories have come from pulling the upstream policy levers that set the context for what architecture can achieve. In her chat with Ben and Zach, Katherine comes out in favor of “extreme vetting” for architects, and how to structure your firm for equity and diversity.
And hark! A new segment! A Lot You Got to Holler introduces “Qs for As,” a series of rapid-fire questions that gets Katherine riffing on her favorite cities of the world and her least favorite architectural jargon. Special thanks to recording engineer Tim Joyce.