Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Motor Row Update: DePaul Arena Design Approved, Renderings and Eminent Domain Lawsuits

Rendering of the new (and approved) DePaul Basketball Arena - via Chicago Tribune
Never a dull moment with all that's going on with Motor Row.  The big news recently was (via Chicago Tribune):
Pelli Clarke Pelli, the architecture firm that proposed a glass-walled DePaul University basketball arena topped with an undulating roof, was awarded the design contract Monday by McCormick Place officials. 
The board of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority voted unanimously to approve a $7.2 million contract with the New Haven, Conn.-based firm, whose Petronas Towers in Malaysia is one of the world's tallest. The firm was selected over five other finalists in a design competition.
The renderings (more pictures here) are pretty nice.  It's not quite as interesting as we would have hoped, but much better than we expected.  Blair Kamin, the Tribune architecture writer, isn't as impressed but sees this as a good first step, but hopes the design improves (behind Chicago Tribune paywall):
The big move, the humpback roof, is meant to give the arena a sculptural "fifth facade," visible from surrounding hotel rooms or blimps (assuming DePaul basketball would again warrant such television coverage). Supported by gently curving steel trusses, the roof could look dazzling, both from above and from within, creating a great interior space whose robust curves would be accentuated with skylights by day and artificial lighting by night.  
And yet, renderings of views at street-level reveal a disappointing disconnect between the roof's curvilinear drama and the building's pervasive right-angled geometry. It's as though this were two buildings — or, perhaps, a conventional, flat-roofed one with a big mountain stuck on top for effect. Compared to the masterful "Yale Whale," the result is an architectural hybrid, not a persuasive synthesis that gives us architecture with a capital A. Competition-winning designs are often revised for the better; that should happen in this case.
This isn't the end of the process.  The building will go throw numerous public meetings and most definitely will evolve.  Regardless, it seems to be full steam ahead on this project.

In other Motor Row news, the city is trying to cease some land for the Marriott Marquis that they plan to bring to the area:
In a related development Monday, Chicago's push for a 1,200-room Marriott Marquis convention hotel on a block that is kitty-corner to the arena site moved into court.  
The city filed an eminent domain lawsuit aimed at acquiring the property. The lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court seeks land on Cermak Road, between Michigan and Indiana Avenues, now owned by 121 E. Cermak LLC, an entity managed by construction executive James McHugh.  
McHugh officials declined to comment.  
The action comes a week after McHugh interests sued the city, alleging it did not have the right to block their plans for a six-story electronic data center on the site.

(Hat tip: MC, DT, TE!)

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