Monday, November 30, 2015

South Loop Market Opens at NE Corner of Michigan/Cermak;
What's the Ssloop?

A reader writes:
The new South Loop market located at Michigan and Cermak is now open. I popped in and it was the usual friendly atmosphere and well stocked shelves. A good addition to the Ssloop. See what I did there? That's my new name for the Southern end of the South Loop. ;)

This is a good location for the South Loop Market as it would seem like they're getting in "early" on the whole Motor Row development.  It's also good for Motor Row as the South Loop Market guys know what they're doing.

Business Counter is updated!

(Hat tip:  DN!)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Harolds Chicken Shack Moving to 612 S. Wabash?
What's to Come Of Their Old Location at 636 S. Wabash?

A reader sends us the following picture:

So what does that mean about their old location at 636 S. Wabash?

Hmmmmm....anyone have some insight?

(Hat tip: OI!)

Friday, November 27, 2015

It's CTA Holiday Train and Bus Time

We like this (via DNAinfo):
CTA trains are ready for some serious holiday decorations, according to a Friday announcement.  
A six-car train adorned with Christmas lights and painted end-to-end with snowflakes and Santa Claus will run on all eight rail lines, starting on the Red Line Saturday, the announcement said.

Here is the link to the full schedule, but if you're interested in the CTA El lines that go through the Sloop here you go:

Oh and if you're a bus person here is a link to the Holiday bus.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful for Everyone Who Makes the Sloop So Great!

It's Thanksgiving so instead of bringing you some hard hitting South Loop news, we simply wanted to say thanks for reading Sloopin.  Thanks for sending us emails, tips, pictures and words of encouragement.

But most of all - thanks for making our neighborhood so great!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Villain's Gets Some Brunch Love from the Chicagoist

Chicagoist weighs in with "13 of the Best Brunch Spots in Chicago" and one of our favorites gets some love:
Villains If you don't live in the South Loop, you might have missed this spot, which quietly opened earlier this year. They're known for their incredible beer list (and for probably having more edison bulbs than any other restaurant in the city), but their brunch is a secret standout. First off, they've got a custom-brewed beer made just for them that tastes like a bloody mary. No, it's not some mixed gimmick—the beer actually has all the flavors of tomato, celery and spice, in a subtle concoction that we couldn't stop drinking.They've a great oyster po'boy and a perfect pork scrapple (which you don't often see on a menu).  
Villains is at 730 S. Clark St.

We actually haven't been for brunch, but don't doubt it's spectacular.

Oh and if there is any doubt about their food, we recently went back and had the Sirloin steak again.  We weren't sure if they could replicate the amazingness that we tasted on our first visit, but can confirm that was just as delicious the second time.  We had a group of about 8 people and pretty sure every single person had order envy.

(Hat tip:  VM!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Scene Around the Sloop: Laquan McDonald Protests

Regardless about how you feel about the news regarding the death of Laquan McDonald, it's safe to say it's was a tough day and night for everyone around the city.  As of now it seems like the protests happening around the city have been relatively peaceful - let's hope it remains that way.

If you are around the Sloop this evening, you probably have been hearing the constant hum of helicopters monitoring the protests as the South Loop has been at the heart of many of them.

While there are a lot of pictures and videos floating around the web, we wanted to share a couple that people have sent to us:

Feel free to send us your pictures and we will post.

(Hat tip:  AK & JB!)

Corner of Maxwell and Polk Getting a 22-Story Residential Tower?

The Chicago Architecture Blog has news of a new residential development west of the River:
If you wanted to build a new residential tower downtown, but also wanted to be an urban pioneer at the same time, where would you put it? Streeterville’s pretty much full. River North’s a cliché. The South Loop has been done to death or has it? 
What if you put your shiny new residential tower in that quadrant north of Roosevelt Road and south of Congress Parkway sandwiched between the Dan Ryan Expressway and the Chicago River? It’s quiet. Tube socks and used records are readily available at the new Maxwell Street Market a block away. And real estate marketers haven’t given it a silly New York-style abbreviated name yet. It’s a hipster paradise, without having to suffer the indignities of an Orange Line commute from Bridgeport to the West Loop.  
All that and more is the potential of 571 West Polk, a 22-story residential block proposed for the southwest corner of West Polk Street and South Jefferson Street. The tower portion actually sits mid-block in the western half of an existing surface parking lot. A three-story brick building on the corner is incorporated into the design.

Very interesting.  While we have expected retail development in the area, we weren't sure if this area would see residential.  Guess it was bound to happen at some point.

As you may or may not know, many feel that the "Roosevelt corridor" is following in the footsteps of the North side's "Clybourn corridor" shopping district (arguably for better or worse).  With that said, maybe you could draw some similarities between the SoNo high-rise that was developed in the area in 2007-2008 which was really the first "major" development in the area.  

Stay tuned - if this happens and finds some success maybe it could pave the way for even more development in this area.

(Hat tip:  WL!)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Riverline Master Plan Announced and Approved; Has Us Dreaming About a Huge Riverwalk

The Chicago Architecture Blog has a big article on a huge plan being dubbed "Riverline".  While all the information isn't new, this is the first comprehensive announcement of the master plan as far as we've seen:
Downtown Chicago’s newest planned community can officially make the transition from paper to reality. Today the Chicago Plan Commission approved the construction of Riverline. 
Riverline is a joint development between CMK and Australian mega-developer Lend Lease south of Harrison Street, north of Roosevelt Road, and sandwiched between South Wells Street and the Chicago River. 
It was designed by Ralph Johnson at Perkins+Will and includes five skyscrapers ranging in height from 380 to 600 feet, three mid-rise buildings, and a number of townhouses. In total the city approved 2,699 residences, about 16,000 square feet of retail space, and lots of public open space and pathways.

To be honest, this announcement is tough to comprehend mostly because the numbers are insane.

While it's fun to dream, it seems unrealistic to think that this will play out as designed.  After all the entire plan wouldn't be expected to be completed until 2023 and 2025 (seems hard to imagine that this cycle of real estate development will continue that long - but what do we know).

Anyway, it does sound like the first part of the plan will be getting underway soon:
The preview sales program for the first phase offering is scheduled to launch in early 2016, with construction anticipated to begin in the first quarter of 2016. Phase 1 is planned to include a 19‐story 278‐unit condominium building and 62 fee‐simple townhomes south of Taylor Street, a 29‐story 452‐unit multi‐ family building north of Polk Street, 31⁄2 acres of open space south of Harrison Street and the entire River Walk from Harrison Street to Roosevelt Road.
While it seems like it will be good to activate this relatively sleepy area of the Sloop, the major jewel in this crown is the announcement of 1/2 mile of river walk being built from Harrison to Roosevelt.

This is a pretty big deal assuming it actually happens.

Why?  Well it seems like it will be paving the way for the Sloop to have a full on river walk.  We know Ping Tom Park has a nice park/river walk.  We assume whatever comes of the Related Midwest plan south of Roosevelt along the river will also have a river walk.

Could we eventually be able to walk along the river (in an intentional manner) from Chinatown all the way to Harrison?

Could our South Loop river walk ever be connected to the Loop's river walk?

We have a long way to go, but we can dream, right?

What do you think?  Will we ever be able to walk from Chinatown along the river, uninterupted to Lake Michigan (via the Loop river walk)?  We're taking bets.  In the year 2040?

(Hat tip:  PO & WL!)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Soil Boring Test Equipment Appears Outside of 1411 S. Michigan

A reader sent us the following picture and suspects some developer might be sniffing out the property at 1411 S. Michigan (just south of the Chicago Firehouse):

This looks like a soil boring test which probably means someone is curious about this property, right?

Does anyone have any insight on this one?

(Hat tip:  BH!)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Natural Girl Salon Opening at 1507 S. State

A reader writes:
Attached is a photo of a new hair boutique on State St.

This has been added to the business counter!

(Hat tip:  MK!)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Versailes Massage & Bar Coming to 1331 S. Michigan Ave

A reader writes:
My wife snapped this picture 1331 South Michigan Avenue, the sign reads "Versailes Massage & Bar". Certainly an interesting concept.

Ummmm, this is slightly confusing right?  By bar do they mean a drinking bar?  or some other kinda bar?


Business Counter is updated!

(Hat tip:  JM!)

25-Story Rental Tower Coming to the Sloop; Apparently will Block Hebru Brantley Wabash Arts Corridor Mural

And here comes another new development (via Curbed):
Last week, renderings were released for an upcoming project at 1136-40 South Wabash, a property that sits adjacent to the CTA Roosevelt station. The project was recently revealed to the Greater South Loop Association and marks yet one more residential project for the booming South Loop area. The proposal is being developed by a joint venture of Keith Giles and CA Ventures and will be constructed on a city owned surface parking lot which the development team has a contract to purchase from the city for $4.4 million. The proposal's latest version calls for a 25-story rental apartment building, with residences stacked between floors 5 through 24. The first three levels will be reserved for parking and ground level retail space, while the fourth level will feature the building's amenities. Capping the top of the building would be a 25th floor lounge.
Apparently it's moving forward pretty quickly judging by pictures and this blurb:
Before the recession hit, the site was targeted for developing student housing, but this like another planned dorm tower at Van Buren and Wabash never got off the ground before the economic downturn hit. The site has seen soil testing and some potholing to examine the composition of the site's subterranean geology and the locations of buried foundations from previous buildings. Lend Lease, the general contractor who is currently working on CMK's nearby apartment tower 1333 South Wabash has since been hired to build the 1136-40 project, which is expected to begin fairly soon as no zoning change is needed.

DNAinfo had a story on the project and provided some more details on what type of rental units it would be:
Giles unveiled plans last week for the 24-story, 320-unit apartment tower he wants to build at 1136-40 S. Wabash Ave. And he's hopping on a national trend: Half of those units will be studio "quasi-micro" apartments.  
"We’re trying to meet the demands of younger people that would rather live alone and can only afford under $2,000" rent, Giles said.

The DNAinfo story states that the building will also have a rooftop bar which could be a nice addition to the Sloop (since there aren't a ton).

Our Sloopin Development Tracker is updated with this project.

Finally, if you're looking at the picture above you will probably notice that this lot is next to the sweet Hebru Brantley Wabash Arts Corridor mural.  Looks like that's going bye-bye (unfortunately).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dual-Branded Hotel Concept Proposed for SE Corner of Congress/Wells

Another day another proposed development for the Sloop.  This one is a dual-hotel concept (via crains):
...Beitler also wants to tee up a dual-branded 400-room hotel project in the South Loop. A Holiday Inn Express would comprise about half the rooms in the $93 million project, with a Staybridge Suites accounting for the rest. Both chains are run by InterContinental.

In the South Loop, Beitler would build a 27-story tower at the southeast corner of Wells Street and Congress Parkway. Owned by the Cacciatore family, the property includes the Hunter Building, an eight-story structure built in 1903 that would be torn down. 
Designed by Chicago architect James DeStefano, the new high-rise would include a rooftop restaurant and bar with views of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, Beitler said. He expects significant demand for rooms from the University of Illinois at Chicago and nearby hospitals like the Rush University Medical Center.

We shall see...

FYI - our Sloopin development tracker is up-to-date.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Roosevelt Road Bike Lane Painting Appears to Be Done

Well it looks like the painting for the new bike lanes on the north side of Roosevelt are done judging by all the pictures and emails we received:

Maybe this will actually cause walkers/runner to stop using this space as an extended sidewalk?  We shall see, but it does seem like it's a step in the right direction to recognize this space for what it was intended to be.  

(Hat tip:  MK, ER, LK!)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Help Fund Darryll Schiff's Wabash Arts Corridor Mural

Mock-up of "Descending to Heaven" mural planning on coming to 710 S. Wabash
A reader writes:
Darryll Schiff is one of the latest artists given the opportunity to show in Chicago's Wabash Arts Corridor. His piece titled "Descending to Heaven" will be made into a 24x56 foot mural and installed at 710 South Wabash in the renowned Wabash Arts Corridor located in Chicago's South Loop.  
This project has been in the works since May and we now are in the final stages of making it happen.

As you might have guessed, there is no funding available for this project but Darryll and I have been donating extraordinary amounts of time and our own resources in order to make it a success! Please consider covering this story to help expand the internationally recognized Wabash Arts Corridor.  
As of Friday, November 13th, they are almost 90% funded with 5 days to go! Your help and corporation is greatly appreciated! Please help us fund this incredible public art project!  
If you are interested and have additional questions on the project, please don't hesitate to ask!
There are some pretty cool "rewards" you can get from funding the project such as signed posters, artist talk, lunch, etc.

Here is a video if you're curious about the artist as well as some more background/perspective on the Wabash Arts Corridor:
(Hat tip:  LI!)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Outdoor Ping Pong Table Installed at 1135 S. Michigan Ave. in Grant Park

As a self proclaimed ping pong aficionado this is interesting (via DNAinfo):
Parks officials hope to court more visitors to Grant Park Skate Park with a ping pong table that doubles as a skateboarding prop.  
The table was installed Monday just south of the new skate park, 1135 S. Michigan Ave. Made by New York-based Henge, the steel-and-concrete table weighs 2,600 pounds, a heavy lift for the crews that put it in place.  
"The park is an amazing achievement already because of skate designs," said Alan Good, CEO of Henge. "Trying to get strangers to meet each other and talk is the goal of the table."  
The table was donated to the Chicago Park District by the Grant Park Conservancy, which also received it for free from Henge. There are similar tables throughout the country, but Bob O'Neill, president of the conservancy, said it was attractive for the park because skaters can also use it.

While we like the idea, we're slightly curious how practical it is.  Outdoor ping-pong + Chicago Wind = not sure how that would work.

(Hat tip:  MK!)

The Sloopin Open House:
The Best View from a Kitchen We've Seen

We're in a luxury mood today and figured we would show you a unit in one museum park that has one of the best "kitchen views" we've ever seen:

Views like this ain't cheap!  This one is $1.25 million and includes 3 beds, 3 baths and 2 parking spots.  The address is 1211 S. Prairie Ave. #2506 and if it looks interesting to you head on over tomorrow, 11/14 from 2-4pm.

Oh and there is also this view - not bad:

Friday, November 13, 2015

So About Those Words in the Crosswalk...

We've had a couple people send us emails and pictures about this and honestly it seems pretty bad to us.  When we snapped the picture below, the white type was already dirty.  It seems like it's just a matter of time before it deteriorates and looks bad:

CBS2 actually had a segment on the "puzzling art".  The priceless quote comes at 0:52:
I see flip. Flip.  Watch. Watch.  Hear. Hear. It just looks stupid. Stupid to me.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Soloman Cordwell Buenz Chairman "Bullish on the South Loop"

John Lahey - Chairman & Principal Design at SCB
If real estate and architecture is your thing, we highly highly highly suggest a click over to the Chicago Architecture Blog to read an interview with John Lahey at Soloman Cordwell Buenz (one of the larger architecture firms in Chicago).

While they touch on a wide range of topics locally and nationally, they spend a good amount of space on the Sloop (specifically talking about their designs for 1326 S. Michigan and 1001 S. State).

The most interesting exchange in our opinion is the discussion about Lahey discussing his predictions on which "super tall" proposals in Chicago will actually get built (via Chicago Architecture Blog):
Editor: Chicago has several skyscraper proposals pushing 900 or 1,000 feet. Do you ever end up wishing for just a few more feet and asking a developer for just a little more money to reach a certain height? 
Lahey: Numbers are not important. A tall, slender building is usually a very good looking building. It’s neat to do tall, slender buildings, and the opportunity doesn’t come around all the time. But they’re hard to get built. They’re fun to draw, and they’re really good looking, and in some ways they’re easier to design because you’d really have to blow it to make them not good good. Technically, they’re not simple, but if you know what you’re doing, you can do one. But they’re hard to get built because they’re expensive. And how much of a premium do you pay to live on the 34th floor of that building versus another building? But it costs more to build the tall one. 
Editor: The three biggest towers on the drawing boards these days are Jeanne Gang’s Wanda Vista Tower (1,144 feet), the Raphael Viñoly towers at 113 East Roosevelt Road (829 feet), and Helmut Jahn’s 1000 South Michigan Avenue (1,030 feet). Those are some pretty big names for some big buildings. 
Lahey: One of those three will get built. I don’t know if two will. I would be shocked if all three get built. 
Editor: Because of the economics? 
Lahey: Yes. If I had to handicap it, I’d say that Wanda has a team that’s more experienced, and has a better track record of getting things done; which would be the Magellan group. The others just haven’t pulled it off as many times. But Crescent Heights is a big company, and very successful. They’re good businessmen.
It’s very neat, and it’s very exciting.

So there you have it, maybe those big buildings that have been proposed for the neighborhood won't get built.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Yummy Yummy Donuts in My Tummy - Stan's Donuts Coming to Former Jersey Mike's Space (26 E. Roosevelt)

Mmmmmmmm - donuts:

Well we heard this was going to be a 7-11....but a Stan's Donuts seems like a better option (via Eater Chicago):
Stan's is bringing its uber-popular doughnuts to two more storefronts soon. Fresh off of its opening at Clark and Diversey last month, owner and bread guru Rich Labriola is planning to open two more Stan's Donuts & Coffees: one in the former Jersey Mike's next to the Roosevelt Red Line stop at 28 E. Roosevelt, and another in a former Caribou Coffee in East Lakeview at 3300 N. Broadway. Look for the 20-seat South Loop location to open next month, while the second Lakeview spot, which holds around 40 seats, should open in the spring, Labriola says. Both will have similar menus to the three existing Stan's.

Well this is pretty rad and honestly it's a pretty big upgrade for this stretch of Roosevelt.  While obviously you'll be able to get donuts, coffee and other beverages, it appears that they also have gelato (which will be another nice thing for the neighborhood).

The big question is whether or not this business will thrive in the location.  Our guess is yes, but others may disagree since there tends to be a lot of loitering.  Any thoughts?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Anyone Have Info on Demolition Just South of 16th Street on Wabash?

A reader writes:
Sloopin, any news on what may happen on Wabash, across from Acadia and Fred Anderson Dog Park? The old Trucks Parts and Wheels building is currently being demolished. Just wondering if you heard anything yet....didn't see anything on your blog. Thanks!
Unfortunately we haven't heard much on this.  We did notice that scaffolding has been up for awhile, but weren't sure if this was for renovation or demolition.

Maybe some new retail could come in.  Would be nice to have some other action on this stretch of Wabash across from a top 5 restaurant in the city!

Does anyone have any info?

(Hat tip:  PS!)

Monday, November 9, 2015

An Open Letter Regarding Schools in the Sloop

A reader writes:
Dear Alderman Dowell, 
As multi-year residents and now new homeowners in the area known as the South Loop (roughly Congress to Cermak and the lakefront to the river), we’ve noted with interest the huge new wave of residential construction now underway all around us. At least 2,000 new residential units have recently been completed or are about to be, with close to another 5,000 on the drawing boards, all within a half-mile of our home. While there are certainly challenges inherent in such a burst of new development we view it as on balance another positive step for the neighborhood and indeed the entire city.  
There is however one particular issue which is both a great opportunity for the city and, if not addressed soon, a serious threat to the growth and development of the South Loop. We are now among many parents of young children in the neighborhood who would very much like to have our pre-schooler join the Chicago Public School system.  
I’m sure you’ll agree that it would be great for the health of CPS, and in turn of the city as a whole, to have a fresh influx of public-school enrollment from a diverse and rapidly-growing middle-class neighborhood. And it’s important to note that while much of the newest South Loop development is being designed for singles and childless couples, some of those folks (and we are again an example) will fall in love with the area and become highly interested in staying here to raise children.  
The huge overcrowding at the South Loop School is obvious evidence of both the need and the potential benefit to CPS of responding to that need. And the nearest CPS neighborhood high school is several miles away, so we are surrounded by CPS parents who once their child reaches 9th grade are reluctantly deciding on either a private school or the suburbs for high school. What an opportunity the city is losing! There are two key things the city needs to do in order to retain and nurture the South Loop’s growing and diverse base of middle-class taxpayers:  
• Build a second K-8 public school in the area.
• Convert the old Jones school at Harrison/State into a neighborhood public high school.  
Each of these steps is critical. Your making this issue an urgent priority would be hugely beneficial for the South Loop, for the Chicago Public School system, and indeed for the entire city that we love.    
cc: Alderman Pat Dowell; Alderman Danny Solis; Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Forrest Claypool, Chairman, Chicago Public Schools;; Letters to the Editor, Chicago Tribune

(Hat tip:  PB!)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Don't Forget to Get Your Sloopin "Hat Tip" T-Shirt

We've been spending our Saturday here on Sloopin devoting some space to our Open House feature.  Real estate season is slowing down and frankly nothing is tickling our fancy today.

With that said (and since it's way over due) we're posting a friendly reminder that the Sloopin "Hat Tip" T-shirts are available for those of you who have submitted tips on published posts over the past couple of months.   You're now officially eligible to get your t-shirt. If you see your initials below, please send an email to to let us know you're going to go to Well Future Pharmacy (1442 S. Michigan) to redeem your shirts:
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If this post doesn't mean anything to you and you're like "Wha?!?!? click here for some background on the Sloopin Hat Tip program. 

Thanks again for all the tips, photos, suggestions and whatnot. Without you Sloopin wouldn't exist!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

"Framing" the South End of Grant Park

An opinion piece on the Chicago Architectural Journal (a ChicagoNow blog) has a pro-building post on the recent announced plans for gigantic high-rises in the Sloop.  While there isn't much new information, we did appreciate a paragraph that equates these developments to ones in NYC that helped "frame" central park:
It is true that One Museum Park (Pappageorge Haymes Partners, 2009), a 62-story, 726-foot tall skyscraper, and its neighbor to the west, The Grant (Pappageorge Haymes Partners, 2010), a 54-story, 595-foot tall tower, are more recent exceptions. These two condominium buildings were indeed controversial in their very beginnings due to their designs, heights, and expected increase in density. But today, these towers seem to have acclimated to their locations quite nicely, and it would be difficult to imagine the south edge of Grant Park without them; they provide not only housing, but a needed termination wall that helps to define the south edge of Grant Park. These skyscrapers were just a start and were valiant attempts at reinvigorating the South Loop and giving a sorely-needed edge condition—visual termination or containment wall—to Grant Park’s southern expanse. More height and additional urban/park-edge-defining is needed. Hopefully, more intelligent planning will surface to competently complete the south—visual termination—wall for Grant Park; this giant green expanse deserves better than frittering itself away into the architecturally ragtag neighborhoods that currently gird its southwestern edge. Walls of tall buildings can do this, and do this very well; after all, a number of empty lots will be infilled! Recall Manhattan’s Central Park, and for a closer example, look to the manner in which Chicago’s Grant Park is defined to its north and northwestern boundaries. Grant is an urban park, it is not a primeval forest.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Spike Lee's New Movie, Chi-Raq, Releases Its Trailer

We were curious, but then intrigued when we read about Spike Lee's new movie called Chi-Raq.  It's drummed up quite the controversy given it's perceived negative title.  However, it seemed silly given that people were reacting to a title even though they didn't have much information on the movie.

Well the trailer came out and we will let you make your own conclusions:
We're still intrigued by the premise and given the cast (they have Samuel L. Jackson in a lead role after all) our expectations have been raised.  However, the trailer had a weird feel to it.  It's hard to put our finger on what exactly was uneasy, but something was.  Maybe it was the tone of some of the "jokes"?  Not sure.

Regardless, we're pretty excited to check this one out.  Looks like it's coming to theaters on December 4th.

Oh and if you're realizing what this has to do with the Sloop, much of the movie was shot in our hood (and in the trailer we're pretty sure you get a shot on the El at 18th street heading north).

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Chicago Architecture Biennial Brings "Chicago Horizon" to Museum Campus

If you live in Chicago, it's pretty much a mandatory that you appreciate architecture.  If you don't admit it, by living here you pretty much have to default to that characteristic.  Anyway, with the city trying to find unique and iconic events to build up the city's profile, Chicago is in the midst of the first annual Chicago Architecture Biennial (click here for more info on the 3+ month events).

As part of this event, Chicago has created a contest challenging designers to create interesting lakefront kiosks.  The Chicago Tribune architecture critic, Blair Kamin, recently visited and weighed in:
So it goes with the four lakefront kiosks designed for the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the sprawling, captivating survey of contemporary design that is making its inaugural run here. Only two are completed; none has a vendor yet. Despite such problems, these little buildings, which the biennial erected in concert with the Chicago Park District, are cause for celebration, or at least guarded optimism. 
They serve up delicious eye candy, explore new uses of materials, create a showcase for up-and-coming architects and promise to create a family of architecturally significant structures that will replace the lakefront's modest food-and-drink shacks. They remind us of the value of architectural experimentation, a key biennial theme. And they raise fascinating issues about small park structures:

What exactly is their purpose? Are they meant to be iconic objects or form spaces that invite people to gather? How can they be artful contributions to the cityscape and stand up to vagaries of the weather and human behavior? Which should take precedence — their identity in the summer, when they're supposed to be used by vendors and visitors, or in the winter, when the vendors shut down?

Such questions have been popping up with increasing frequency on architectural radar screens since 2000. That's when London's Serpentine Galleries began sponsoring the construction of temporary summer pavilions by revered architects like Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry.
As you can see by the picture above, one of the Kiosks is in our hood by museum campus and called "Chicago Horizon":
Set at the base of a hill near the Shedd Aquarium and titled "Chicago Horizon," this small structure poses a big question: How to build a flat wood roof that can span great distances without sagging like a wet noodle? 
The answer, designed by Ultramoderne, a team of Rhode Island designers (Yasmin Vobis, Aaron Forrest and Brett Schneider), comes in an enticing package. A thin roof, 56 feet square, spreads far beyond 13 asymmetrically arranged interior columns. It shelters a large gathering area and small rectangular zones for a vendor as well as those trouble-inducing stairs and viewing platform. 
The kiosks' imagery and the views it frames are lovely. It's Ludwig Mies van der Rohe meets Ikea: handsomely proportioned, carefully detailed, a poetic essay in wood that vividly contrasts the natural with the man-made. I hope it stays in its lush Museum Campus setting rather than being moved, as originally planned, to the concrete desert of Queen's Landing, the lakefront promenade that sits to the east of Buckingham Fountain.
But the jury is still out on how this $75,000 pavilion, which was the winning entry in a global architecture competition that drew more than 400 entries, will work. 
Its abstract architectural language makes it inscrutable to some passers-by. But once touches for the vendor, like LED signs and menu displays, are in place, they should better signal that the kiosk is a spot for hanging out. 
"To solve the climbing problem, the architects are exploring options like a glass guardrail around the roof slot. Let's hope they get it right: This will be a lesser project if parkgoers can't ascend its stair to the viewing platform, stick their heads above the roof and look out over the namesake horizon.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Renderings Revealed for 4 Story Residential Building at 837 S. Wells?

A reader writes:
I was able to get my hands on a rendering for 837-39 S Wells. It was done by SPACE Architects + Planners, but I couldn't find anything additional on their site. It is being developed by Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group and built by Vivify Construction. It looks like the concrete foundation work is near complete for the north side of the development. It will be rental at first and will likely convert to condos in a few years. It will be 84, mostly 2BDR, units with 2 small commercial bays on the first floor. Garage entry will be on Financial street.

(Hat tip:  BS!)