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Fall 2018: Chicago's Art Deco riches, a new West Loop tower and a new home for architecture

August 31, 2018
By: Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune


The apartment building at 727 W. Madison St. is expected to open in November or December. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)

One of the big design events this fall in Chicago is an exhibition, but it’s not the Chicago Architecture Biennial, that sprawling, every-other-year plunge into architecture’s cutting edge.

STREAMLINING: Instead, “Modern by Design: Chicago Streamlines America,” opening at the Chicago History Museum on Oct. 27, will explore how Chicago’s industries, advertising firms and mail-order companies defined and disseminated modern graphics, products and interiors on a mass scale from the 1930s through the 1950s. The city’s Century of Progress World’s Fair of 1933-34 will play a major role in the exhibit.

Organized by senior museum curator Olivia Mahoney and scheduled to run through Dec. 2, 2019, the show will display nearly 300 objects, photographs and documents, including Radio Flyer wagons, streamlined Sears appliances and a farm tractor designed by the industrial designer Raymond Loewy.

Accompanying the exhibition, yet worthy of consideration in its own right, is a new book, “Art Deco Chicago: Designing Modern America.”

University of Illinois at Chicago architectural historian Robert Bruegmann edited the handsomely illustrated collection of essays, which includes a broad range of objects — skyscrapers, appliances, advertisements, automobiles, trains, theaters, microphones, even the Hostess Twinkie.

Covering the years 1910-1950, the book is published by the Chicago Art Deco Society in collaboration with the Chicago History Museum.

NEW HIGH-RISE: Chicago’s high-rise building boom will assume fresh prominence when the tallest high-rise west of downtown’s expressways opens, probably in November or December.

The 45-story, 492-unit apartment tower, which has a distinctive oval shape and spiraling expression in its glass wall, was designed by FitzGerald Associates Architects of Chicago. Located near Greektown, just east of the fast-growing Fulton Market District, it is known by its address of 727 West Madison.

The developers are Fifield Realty Corp. and F&F Realty.

IIT CAMPUS: An innovative building with a long name — the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship — is scheduled to be dedicated Oct. 25 at the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Designed by Chicago architect John Ronan, who teaches at IIT, the Kaplan building will be the new home of the university’s Institute of Design, a graduate design program.

The building is clad in a lightweight material that can adjust the amount of sunlight entering the facade, according to the university. It’s at 3137 S. Federal St.

HOTEL JULIAN: A long-dilapidated high-rise near Millennium Park, originally designed by the noted architect Benjamin Marshall, is expected to reopen in early October as the Hotel Julian Chicago.

Located at 168 N. Michigan Ave., the 12-story, terra cotta-clad structure began its life in 1916 as the Atlantic Bank Building. In recent years, it was a vacant, decaying eyesore. Redeveloped by Chicago-based Oxford Capital Group and London-based Quadrum Global, it now has a restored exterior and a five-story, pleated glass addition designed by Chicago’s Hirsch Associates.

NEW BRIDGE: A curving pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive at 41st Street is on track to be finished before year’s end, according to Michael Claffey, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Designed by Cordogan Clark & Associates, which has an office in Chicago, the bridge is one of three projects that seek to improve access to the lakefront for pedestrians and cyclists on the South Side.

NEWBERRY RENOVATIONS: The Newberry Library, located at 60 W. Walton St. and originally designed by Henry Ives Cobb, will mark the completion of a major renovation that has added new features including a welcome center and redesigned gallery space for thematic shows.

The first major exhibit in those galleries, opening Sept. 28, is titled “Pictures from an Exposition: Visualizing the 1893 World’s Fair.” The renovations to the Cobb building, which opened in 1893, were designed by Ann Beha Architects of Boston.

OPEN HOUSE: Open House Chicago, the popular two-day event that offers free tours of building interiors throughout the city, returns Oct. 13-14 with a new attraction: the new home of the Chicago Architecture Center (formerly the Chicago Architecture Foundation), which runs Open House.

Self-promotion? Perhaps. But a lot of architecture buffs will want to see the 20,000-square-foot facility at 111 E. Wacker Drive. It includes an exhibition that showcases large-scale models of skyscrapers from Chicago and around the world. The architecture center plans to announce this year’s Open House sites, more than 250 of them, in early September at openhousechicago.org.

EXHIBIT SPACE: An exhibition space designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando will open to the public Oct. 12 with a show that explores the influence of the Swiss-born modernist Le Corbusier on Ando.

The 35,000-square-foot space, at 659 W. Wrightwood Ave., is next to a concrete house Ando designed for media mogul Fred Eychaner. It occupies the shell of a brick-faced 1920s building.

Titled “Ando and Le Corbusier: Masters of Architecture,” the show will display works of both architects. In addition, Ando will lecture at the Art Institute of Chicago on Oct. 11.

ELSEWHERE: Highlights include the Nov. 3 opening of the Menil Drawing Institute in Houston, an addition to the arts neighborhood developed by the renowned collectors John and Dominique de Menil.

Designed by Los Angeles architects Mark Lee and Sharon Johnston, who curated the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, the drawing institute is dedicated to acquiring and displaying modern and contemporary drawings. Its opening show will be “The Condition of Being Here: Drawings by Jasper Johns.”

Blair Kamin is a Tribune critic.


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