WBEZ | design http://www.wbez.org/tags/design Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Real estate and religion: The tale of Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/real-estate-and-religion-tale-seventeenth-church-christ-scientist-110980 <p><div>These days Wacker Drive rivals LaSalle as the epicenter of Chicago&rsquo;s financial district. The drive&rsquo;s high-rise office buildings tower over the Chicago River like walls of a canyon. But a break in the skyline at the intersection of Wabash and Wacker makes way for a building that is only five stories above street level.</div><p>The structure looks nothing like any of its rectilinear neighbors, which favor steel and glass. Instead, it resembles a concrete space ship with a round, white, windowless facade from the second story up. And, the building has nothing to do with financial power. As spelled out in enormous letters spanning its curved wall, it&rsquo;s the home of the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cs church wide.jpg" title="Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist sits on a corner of prime real estate at the intersection of Wabash Ave. and Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago. Monica Schrager asked Curious City how the church has held on to the property for so long. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee)" /></div><p>This distinctive structure caught the eye of Monica Schrager, who works right across the street on the 10th floor of the old Jeweler Building. &ldquo;It has an interesting look,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s this small &lsquo;60s-style building that you never really see anyone coming in and out of in the middle of all these skyscrapers.&rdquo; Here&rsquo;s the question she asked us to look into:</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><em>I&rsquo;m curious about the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist that sits on the corner of Wabash and Wacker: how it came to have that prime real estate and how it&rsquo;s managed to hold on to that prime real estate for so long.</em></div></div><p>It turns out Monica has a nose for a great story. As we look into the church&rsquo;s history, we learn how the tenets of a distinctive faith were translated into concrete and steel by an idealistic, but non-believing architect. And, we follow a devoted congregation as it risked building in a once-abandoned portion of the city ... only to have that neighborhood bloom decades later.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Which faith are we talking about?</span></p><p>Not to be confused with Scientology, Christian Science is a branch of protestant Christianity. It was founded in Massachusetts in the late 19th century by Mary Baker Eddy, who taught that the material world is a temporary illusion, while the only reality is spiritual. This belief informs all aspects of Christian Science practice, including its most famous: devout Christian Scientists don&rsquo;t seek medical treatment. Eddy taught a form of spiritual healing that is inspired by Jesus&rsquo; own healings in the New Testament.</p><p>Mrs. Eddy also taught that God does not communicate by way of a few chosen figures, like preachers or popes. God, she said, communicates directly and equally with all of his followers, so Christian Science is a non-hierarchical, democratic faith. Each church elects readers who serve a short term before passing responsibility to another church member. As the congregation&rsquo;s current First Reader, Lois Carlson, states: &nbsp;&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t have many big cheeses.&rdquo;</p><p>Like Quakers, Christian Scientists also emphasize the importance of individual testimonies; during Wednesday services, church-goers are encouraged to stand and share their personal experiences with Christian Science healing. &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;To uplift a neighborhood&rsquo;</span></p><p>It&rsquo;s notable that the intersection of Wabash and Wacker has any church at all, since there are few standalone churches around downtown. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed many of them, and many more relocated to quieter residential areas. In 1907, an unknown author penned an op-ed piece for the <em>Chicago Daily Tribune </em>which reads: &ldquo;One of the changes most noticeable between old Chicago and new Chicago is the disappearance of the churches which used to surround the courthouse square or line Wabash or Michigan avenue.&rdquo; Later, the author notes &ldquo;Chicago has nothing downtown to express the spiritual life of it&rsquo;s people.&rdquo;</p><p>So, when the Seventeenth Church was established downtown in 1924, it was a bit of an anomaly.</p><p>For decades the congregation rented several downtown venues including, at one point, Orchestra Hall. By the late 1940s, though, the congregation wanted a church of its own. Members were still committed to being downtown, though. In this, they bucked a trend of building Christian Science churches in outer neighborhoods such as Beverly, Uptown and Hyde Park. Current members of the Seventeenth Church don&rsquo;t have records that indicate why the congregation prefered downtown, though member Dave Hohle has a hypothesis. &ldquo;I think a church will uplift a neighborhood,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;And I think that&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s happened here.&rdquo;</p><p>Today, it seems like the corner of Wabash and Wacker might be the perfect candidate. Not so, according to Hohle. &ldquo;It didn&rsquo;t really interest them because it wasn&rsquo;t very central,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;It was just sort of over here on the river.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Carlson points out that Wacker Drive was not always a major thoroughfare. &ldquo;It used to be that Michigan Avenue was it&rsquo;s own entity and the Loop was it&rsquo;s own entity, and there was no sense of connecting the two,&rdquo; she says.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Lot%202%20FOR%20WEB.png" title="" /><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DUO.png" title="Site of Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist before construction in the mid-1950s. (Photos courtesy of Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist) " /></p><p>Obviously the congregation <em>did </em>decide to buy that property, after almost a decade of searching. At the time, the corner contained nothing but a parking lot and a short, rundown building, which they later demolished to make way for their new church. When they finally made the purchase in 1955, Wacker Drive was just starting to develop.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Kindred spirits: A radical faith and a non-believing architect</span></p><p>Say Hohle is right and the Seventeenth Church congregation wished to uplift their future neighborhood. Surely, then, the church would need uplifting architecture. Over two years, the congregation considered 34 architects, including celebrity designers such as Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as an architect with Christian Science roots. In 1963 they settled on a Harry Weese.</p><p>You may not know Weese by name, but there&rsquo;s a chance you&rsquo;ve seen his work in Chicago: the Time Life building, the towering Metropolitan Correctional Center on Van Buren street, and several others. His resume stretches as far as Washington DC, where designed a cavernous metro, famous for it&rsquo;s waffled concrete ceilings. &nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tai%20flickr%20dc%20metro%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="margin: 5px;" title="Harry Weese, the architect who designed Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist building, also designed the Washington, D.C. metro stations. (Flickr/tai)" /></div><p>Weese had an impressive resume, but then again, so did his competitors and, interestingly, he was not a religious man. (In interviews the church asked each candidate about their religious affiliation. Weese responded, &ldquo;My father was Episcopalian, my mother Presbyterian, and I&rsquo;m an architect.&rdquo;)</p><p>According to Robert Bruegmann, the co-author of <em>The Architecture of Harry Weese</em>, the congregation was impressed by the architect&rsquo;s ambitious, post-war vision for American cities.</p><p>&ldquo;The suburbs had sapped a lot of the vitality of the city,&rdquo; Bruegmann says. &ldquo;A lot of the city architecture and infrastructure was old. The city was in a pretty bad state and Chicago was no exception.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Weese wanted to build a new, more humane city, so he sought contracts for large-scale urban works such as the DC Metro. But Weese also believed architects could revitalize cities by designing new, monumental public buildings. &ldquo;So for Harry, a chance to build a church in the center of the city where the churches had been fleeing for a hundred years was a real opportunity, and he really seized it with both hands,&rdquo; Bruegmann says.</p><p>It&rsquo;s simply conjecture (again, the congregation has no records of this), but we do know the Seventeenth Church congregation was impressed with the architect&rsquo;s plans, if not the architect himself. According to Dave Hohle, the church approved Weese&rsquo;s design on the first round, a rare occurrence in architecture circles. &ldquo;There were, like, no adjustments,&rdquo; Hohle says. &ldquo;It was presented and it was unanimously approved.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Faith translated into design</span></p><p>The congregation&rsquo;s first reader, Lois Carlson, says that Weese&rsquo;s radical building, completed in 1968, matches Christian Science&rsquo;s radical theology. &ldquo;I think what&#39;s so beautiful about this building is that it&rsquo;s so clearly an idea that matches the metaphysical substance of the Christian Science faith,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Specifically, Bruegmann says Weese knew that acoustics were critical to a democratic congregation that valued every voice. That led him to fashion the main auditorium of the church as a greek-style amphitheater, which is ideal for projecting sound. There are 800 seats, and each is within 54 feet of the room&rsquo;s center.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/inside%20church%20flickr%20dpyle%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" title="The Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist can hold up to 800 people, but a typical Sunday service is attended by about 40 people. (Flickr/dpyle)" /></div><p>Quite unusual for the time, Weese also worked with an audio engineer who created a system of hidden microphones and speakers so that members&rsquo; testimonies could be amplified. This audio system was so advanced it received a write-up in the Journal for the <a href="http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=1500">Society of Audio Engineers</a> in 1970.</p><p>A year after the church opened, it received a Distinguished Building Award from the American Institute of Architects. The AIA recognized the structure not just for it&rsquo;s democratic design, but also for Weese&rsquo;s expert problem solving. To keep out the noises of a bustling city, the congregation did not want windows in the auditorium but, like most churches, they wanted space and light. So Weese built a tall, domed ceiling with an oculus-like skylight at the very top, which he called a lantern. To make sure the sunday school was equally well-lit, Weese created a moat-like sunken garden around the church so that there could be windows into the basement levels. &nbsp;</p><p>Then of course, there is the building&rsquo;s eye-catching exterior. Bruegmann points out that the facade is modern but still achieves the kind of monumentality that Harry Weese admired in classical buildings. &ldquo;That dome that rounds that corner is one of the grandest urban gestures of virtually any city I know of,&rdquo; Bruegmann says.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">If you build it they (might) come</span></p><p>When the Seventeenth Church triumphantly opened its doors in 1968, the congregation established something few other churches had attempted: a place of worship in Chicago&rsquo;s bustling downtown. The trouble is, membership didn&rsquo;t grow, at least not on the national level. &nbsp;According to sociologist Rodney Stark, the Christian Science movement&rsquo;s membership started to drop in the 1940s and, by the 1960s, was in serious decline.</p><p>So what happened? Stark suggests that early in the 20th century, Christian Science was the fastest-growing faith in the country, but there&rsquo;s a caveat. He believes Christian Science always <em>seemed </em>more successful than it actually was, mostly because members tended to be well off financially. &nbsp;Like the Seventeenth Church, other congregations had resources to establish and build new churches around the country, even after membership began to decline.</p><p>Another theory from Stark: Medical treatment was very crude at the time that Mary Baker Eddy founded Christian Science. &ldquo;We had no antibiotics,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Part of the time they really didn&rsquo;t have any anesthetics. Doctors were pretty untrained and a lot of them were butchers.&rdquo; &nbsp;By comparison, spiritual healing seemed like a strong alternative. Stark argues that interest in Christian Science decreased in the mid-1900s after Western medicine improved.</p><p>Lastly, Stark argues that the first generation of Christian Scientists didn&rsquo;t produce a second generation. From the beginning, Christian Scientists didn&rsquo;t have a lot of children so they had to rely on new converts to expand. Converting new members is often difficult compared to raising children within a faith.</p><p>We can see how this affected the Chicago area by reading <em>The Christian Science Journal</em>, which lists every Christian Science church around the world. The religion was popular in Chicago; over the span of 61 years Christian Scientists opened 23 churches across the city. After the 1950s, Chicago churches began to close. By the new millenium, 13 of the original 23 churches were gone. Today there are only six.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10th%20Church%201%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" title="The former site of Tenth Church of Christ, Scientist." /></div><p>The remains of these closed churches are dotted all around Chicago. Some have been sold to congregations of other faiths. Thirteenth Church in Beverly has been converted into 16 loft condominiums. The abandoned 10th Church in Hyde Park was sold to a developer, but it&rsquo;s now in foreclosure and falling to pieces.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Holding onto your religion ... and property</span></p><p>So how did the Seventeenth Church hang on? This is the second part of Monica Schrager&rsquo;s question, and it&rsquo;s a good one, when you consider two things: The church now sits among prime real estate, and the congregation is modest in size.</p><p>In the 1980s Wacker Drive saw a major boom in office construction. Eventually Wacker replaced LaSalle as the center of Chicago&rsquo;s financial industry, with massive, glassy skyscrapers to show it. In 2013, <a href="http://s1156.photobucket.com/user/ksershon/media/2013USsMostExpensiveStreetsforOfficeSpace.jpg.html">Jones Lang and LaSalle listed Wacker Drive as the 20th-most expensive street for office space </a>in the country. Next door to the church, a hotel developer &nbsp;bought a narrow empty lot for 5 million dollars. (That&rsquo;s over one thousand dollars per square foot. The developer is now in the process of building a Hilton Garden Inn on that site.) Right next door to that, the historic motor club building was auctioned off in 2011 for 9.7 million. Word is, that building will soon be a hotel as well. &nbsp;</p><p>There may be a competitive real estate market raging outside the walls of Seventeenth Church but, believe it or not, the church says it&rsquo;s never gotten a serious offer from any kind of buyer. Still, Seventeenth Church is a big building, while the congregation is likely small.</p><p>Christian Science branch churches never publish their membership numbers because they don&rsquo;t want to be distracted by material measurements, so we can&rsquo;t know the exact size of the Seventeenth Church congregation. However, when I attend a recent church service, I count approximately 30 people in the 800-seat auditorium. Dave Hohle says that number is likely low, adding that perhaps forty or so attendees arrive for typical Sunday services.</p><p>If you think there&rsquo;s a mismatch between the building&rsquo;s stature and the size of the congregation, Lois Carlson notes the church was paid off in 1978, and members cover maintenance costs.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, even though we&rsquo;re a small congregation, we&rsquo;re an incredibly financially committed group,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>There&rsquo;s likely additional income. On occasion, the church receives a visit from a big movie studio. The Seventeenth Church amphitheater was the set for the &ldquo;choosing ceremony&rdquo; in the blockbuster film <em>Divergent</em>. The church&rsquo;s exterior played a cameo in <em>Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon.</em> (In the film, the church was spared, while robots laid waste to the rest of downtown Chicago.) The church did receive income from those films but does not disclose the amount.</p><p>The congregation, regardless of costs, seems to be just as committed to downtown as it was when it first sought property in the 1940s. First and foremost, Lois Carlson says, the church can be a resource for what she calls &ldquo;hungry hearts that are looking for a deeper understanding for God.&rdquo; The church operates a reading room in the lobby six days a week. Carlson says tourists and curious passersby come into the reading room regularly. A small handful of people have become members this way. &ldquo;We just feel like we belong here because the need is so great,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>In keeping with that, the congregation regularly shares Harry Weese&rsquo;s architectural gem. They lend their auditorium to interfaith groups, and the local alderman conducts community meetings there. A couple times each month the church welcomes tour groups from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. In October, more than 4,000 visitors arrived as part of the Open House Chicago event.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Down the road?</span></p><p>For now, it seems like Seventeenth Church congregation wants to stay put, but what about over the next decade or two? Will it be able to sustain itself? Professor Bruegmann is concerned that the building might not survive if the congregation were to move or dissolve. In fact, many of Harry Weese&rsquo;s buildings have already met the wrecking ball. Bruegmann argues that buildings from the &lsquo;60s and &lsquo;70s are no longer new, but they are not yet considered historic.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s exactly at that moment when they&rsquo;re middle-aged buildings that they&rsquo;re most vulnerable,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Like Monica, he&rsquo;s very aware of the competitive real estate market on Wacker Drive. &ldquo;The economics of having such a small building on such a prominent, very expensive site are going to weigh so heavily in the balance,&rdquo; he worries, &ldquo;If the current congregation moved out, it would be extremely difficult to figure out what to do with a building like that and how you might save it.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Now we have an answer. Who asked the question?</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mschrager.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right;" title="Monica Schrager submitted our question about the Seventeenth Church, Scientist (Photo courtesy of Monica Schrager)" />Monica Schrager was thrilled that our investigation made a connection between her current home &mdash; Chicago&rsquo;s Humboldt Park neighborhood &mdash; and DC area, where she grew up. The relevant detail? Architect Harry Weese designed the Seventeenth Church as well as the DC Metro!</p><p>Monica is a web developer by trade but her interest in architecture is responsible for her question about Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist.</p><p>&ldquo;I love the variety of architecture we have in the city, from Mies Van Der Rohe to Frank Lloyd Wright,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Monica works right across the street from Seventeenth Church in the old Jeweler Building. She sees the church every day outside her office window and she&rsquo;s definitely rooting for the church to survive, especially now that she has seen the inside. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Just the whole combination of the lighting and the acoustics is kind of really neat,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;You almost don&rsquo;t feel like you&rsquo;re in the middle of the city. It&rsquo;s an oasis of sorts.&rdquo;</p><p>Her bottom line? She thinks Wacker Drive needs an oasis more than it needs another skyscraper.</p><p><em>Ellen Mayer is the Curious City intern. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/ellenrebeccam">@ellenrebeccam</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/real-estate-and-religion-tale-seventeenth-church-christ-scientist-110980 Who's behind those eyes? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/whos-behind-those-eyes-108882 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/115479411&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: This presentation and its accompanying interview were published in 2013. The Chicago International Film Festival is set to celebrate its 50th anniversary in October 2014.&nbsp;</em></p><p>The <a href="http://www.chicagofilmfestival.com/">Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF)</a> is fast approaching the mid-century mark.</p><p>This year is the 49th outing of the longest running competitive film festival in North America.</p><p>So what accounts for its longevity? The commitment to showcasing work by new directors? A Midwestern audience starved for non-Hollywood movies?</p><p>Or could it be that alluring logo?</p><p>That&rsquo;s what caught the eye of John Laffler, who founded <a href="http://www.offcolorbrewing.com/home">Off Color Brewing</a>, one of the many craft beer ventures upping Chicago&rsquo;s reputations for great suds.</p><p>Laffler&rsquo;s never even been to CIFF. But he was well aware of the festival&rsquo;s presence when he asked Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Whose ubiquitous eyes are those on the Chicago International Film Festival posters? Is she single?</em></p><p>Now I&rsquo;ll be honest. This wasn&rsquo;t the most challenging Curious City assignment. All it took was a peek at the CIFF&nbsp;website to answer Laffler&rsquo;s question.</p><p>But <a href="http://www.chicagofilmfestival.com/history/">never mind</a> &mdash; there&rsquo;s always more to a good story!</p><p>So I brought Laffler together with Michael Kutza, who founded CIFF (and still runs it). He created the logo in 1967.</p><p>Laffler said a bit more about those &ldquo;ubiquitous&rdquo; eyes.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re so catching, so seductive and nuanced,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s an amazing logo and I just never knew who it was.&rdquo;</p><p>Well, in this <a href="https://soundcloud.com/curiouscity/whos-behind-the-eyes-in-the" target="_blank">interview </a>Kutza explains that it took a while to come up with the logo. In 1965 he had a simpler concept: an image of a globe and a reel of film side by side.</p><p>The next year he turned to photographer <a href="http://skrebneskiphotographs.com/home.html">Victor Skrebneski</a> to &ldquo;sexy&rdquo; things up. That&rsquo;s where the image of this sixties <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_girl">&ldquo;it girl&rdquo;</a>, all shaggy bangs and mysterious shades, comes from.<a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/CIF/01+Colleen+Moore+INSPIRATION+CIFF.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CROPPED Colleen Moore INSPIRATION CIFF.jpg" style="height: 228px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Colleen Moore, silent film star and inspiration for the CIFF logo. Click to enlarge. (Image courtesy of Michael Kutza)" /></a></p><p>But it was an &quot;it girl&quot; from a much earlier generation who inspired the final design: <a href="http://www.colleenmoore.org/">Colleen Moore.</a></p><p>&ldquo;She was in the &#39;20s the most successful comedian in silent film,&rdquo; said Kutza. &ldquo;She was part of the D. W. Griffith and Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford era of film.&rdquo;</p><p>Moore, famous for personifying the flapper, saw her career flounder in the transition to sound.</p><p>After retiring she married Homer Hargrave and <a href="http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1955&amp;dat=19690320&amp;id=b5AjAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=s6AFAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=4832,3716722">made Chicago a home for over 30 years.</a></p><p>Kutza says he met Moore through legendary<em> Chicago Sun-Times</em> gossip columnist <a href="http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/June-2004/The-Lost-World-of-Kup/">Irv &ldquo;Kup&rdquo; Kupcinet</a>.</p><p><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/CIF/01+cif+large.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/01 cif.jpg" style="height: 181px; width: 140px; float: left;" title="The Chicago International Film Festival Program, 1965. The original logo. Click to enlarge. (Image courtesy of Michael Kutza)" /></a>After Moore&rsquo;s husband died in 1964, Kup thought she needed someone to pull her out of her &ldquo;widow role&rdquo; and predicted she and Kutza would be a good team. And he was right.</p><p>&ldquo;She helped me with the first film festival and introduced me to some amazing people who were her buddies in the old days,&rdquo; recalled Kutza. &ldquo;Lillian Gish came through. Myrna Loy, Joan Crawford, they&rsquo;re all hanging out with this lady Colleen Moore, at the Pump Room.&rdquo;</p><p>Kutza says it was the iconic look of the silent era that inspired the final logo.</p><p>&ldquo;<a href="http://thehairpin.com/2013/01/scandals-of-classic-hollywood-the-most-wicked-face-of-theda-bara">Theda Bara</a>, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Murray">Mae Murray</a>, they all had the same look!&rdquo; said Kutza. &ldquo;But you put them together, and take the eyes, the hair and &lsquo;the this.&rsquo; You come up with the symbol.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/CIF/02+cif+large.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/02 cif.jpg" style="height: 192px; width: 150px; float: right;" title="The Chicago International Film Festival Program, 1966. A sexier version. Click to enlarge. (Image courtesy of Michael Kutza)" /></a>Kutza says the logo doesn&rsquo;t refer to a real person; instead, it distills the general power of film.</p><p>Still, Moore lent her very real star power to jump starting CIFF.</p><p>&ldquo;From the very first film festival here in Chicago, we had Betty Davis and King Vidor, you name it,&rdquo; Kutza recalled. &ldquo;We didn&rsquo;t have an audience but we had movie stars.&rdquo;</p><p>The audience did grow. But save for minor tweaks, the logo has remained the same.</p><p><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/CIF/03+cif+large.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/03 cif.jpg" style="float: left; height: 196px; width: 150px;" title="The Chicago International Film Festival Program, 1967. Those ubiquitous eyes finally appear for the festival’s third outing. Click to enlarge. (Image courtesy of Michael Kutza)" /></a>Sadly, not many of Colleen Moore&rsquo;s films have survived, though here&rsquo;s a snippet from her most famous role <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88PMhS1oYjs">Flaming Youth</a>.</p><p>She does leave another legacy in Chicago: Her fantastical, fabulous &ldquo;Fairy Castle,&rdquo; a dollhouse she had built over seven years. It now resides in the Museum of Science and Industry: Take a tour <a href="http://www.msichicago.org/whats-here/exhibits/fairycastle/history-of-the-fairy-castle/">here.</a></p><p><em>The 49th Chicago International Film Festival runs October 10-24.</em></p><p><em><a href=" http://www.wbez.org/users/acuddy-0" rel="author">Alison Cuddy </a> is the Arts and Culture reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on <a href=" https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter</a>, <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison"> Facebook </a> and <a href=" http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 09 Oct 2013 16:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/whos-behind-those-eyes-108882 Chicago’s Union Station will get indoor park and giant blob http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago%E2%80%99s-union-station-will-get-indoor-park-and-giant-blob-108435 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Union Station 130815 AY.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Commuters going to Chicago&rsquo;s Union Station on August 24 will be greeted by <a href="http://www.metroplanning.org/uploads/cms/documents/trainyard_visualplan.pdf">an indoor park</a> and <a href="https://www.metroplanning.org/uploads/cms/documents/blahblahblob_visualplan.pdf">a giant blob</a>.</p><p>The Great Hall will hold an indoor park with an artificial lawn. It will have seats made from recycled newspapers, picnic tables and tetherball. Graham Grilli, an architect at <a href="http://www.spacearchplan.com/">SPACE architects and planners</a>, the team behind the park, says city commuters travel to the suburbs to enjoy outdoor space and he wanted this park to bring the outdoors to them.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-5c71b554-8441-6b59-47f1-32c2df7bba5d">&ldquo;Union Station is one of those in-between places where you&rsquo;re in a rush the whole day, and you end up in Union Station with nothing to do for a few minutes,&rdquo; Grilli said. &ldquo;People are often using Union Station to go out to the suburbs, where there&rsquo;s a lot more open space, but the reality is they spend almost all their time commuting in a train or working in an office and they almost never get to enjoy it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Outside Union Station, the plaza will have something that looks like a giant bouncy castle. Architect Katherine Darnstadt worked on the team behind the Blah Blah Blob!, a creation of <a href="http://latentdesign.net/">Latent Design</a> and the <a href="http://www.cudc.kent.edu/">Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;Lots of things will be happening inside the blob,&quot; Darnstadt said. &quot;The blob will be surrounding tables and chairs that are on the plaza so people could walk inside, have a cup of coffee, eat their lunch inside of it.&rdquo;</p><p>The blob will be lined with artificial grass and will house fitness classes. Darnstadt says several organizations in Chicago have contacted her about wanting to host the blob at future events, so residents may still see the blob around the city after it leaves Union Station.The Metropolitan Planning Council, a local nonprofit development group, organized Active Union Station, a competition for designs that would help make it a gathering place instead of just a train station. The council picked these two designs as<a href="http://www.metroplanning.org/news-events/media-release/6760"> the winners</a>, and each team will receive $5,000.</p><p>The organizers were inspired by the <a href="http://www.unionstationdc.com/">Union Station in Washington, DC</a>, which is a tourist destination in itself; and 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, which has an urban space called <a href="http://universitycity.org/the-porch">the Porch</a> for art, group exercise and food trucks, says Marisa Novara, a program director at the Metropolitan Planning Council.&ldquo;There are a lot of people passing through, what we&rsquo;d like to do is give them more of a reason to stay,&rdquo; Novara said.</p><p>Novara also points out the contest &nbsp;to expand Union Station started from <a href="http://www.unionstationmp.com/">an ongoing collaboration</a> between the Metropolitan Planning Council, Amtrak, Metra, the Chicago Department of Transportation and other groups.Both installations will arrive next Saturday and stay till September 2.</p><p><em>Alan Yu is a WBEZ metro desk intern. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/Alan_Yu039">@Alan_Yu039</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 15 Aug 2013 18:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago%E2%80%99s-union-station-will-get-indoor-park-and-giant-blob-108435 Morning Shift: Fear, excitement and uncertainty face the college bound http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-09/morning-shift-fear-excitement-and-uncertainty-face <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Dorm-Flickr- Robert Boscacci.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Are you or one of your kids heading off to college? We discuss some of the trepidation both students and parents face as they make the jump to college co-ed.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-40.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-40" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Fear, excitement and uncertainty face the college bound" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Fri, 09 Aug 2013 08:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-09/morning-shift-fear-excitement-and-uncertainty-face Morning Shift: Open office space can threaten more than your privacy http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-26/morning-shift-open-office-space-can-threaten-more <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Office-Flickr- Phillie Casablanca.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Do offices need walls? One study shows that more privacy could mean more productivity at work. And, is it fair to blame Huma Abedin for supporting her husband Anthony Weiner during his latest scandal? Our panel and you weigh in.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-anthony-weiner-scandal-moves-blame-t.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-anthony-weiner-scandal-moves-blame-t" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Open office space can threaten more than your privacy" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Fri, 26 Jul 2013 08:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-26/morning-shift-open-office-space-can-threaten-more Marina City: Ideals in concrete http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/marina-city-ideals-concrete-108072 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marina%20City%20topper.jpg" title="A detail of the iconic tower as seen from below. (Flickr/Dan Cioffi)" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F101439739&amp;color=00deff&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>If you&rsquo;ve made your way around downtown Chicago, it&rsquo;s likely you&rsquo;ve spied a set of towers that look like nothing else around: Marina City. The set of ruffled high rises is also referred to as &ldquo;the corncobs&rdquo; or &ldquo;<a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/chicago-the-wilco-towers,57336/">the Wilco towers</a>&rdquo; because they figure prominently on the cover of the well-known band&rsquo;s <em>Yankee Hotel Foxtrot</em> <a href="http://wilco.kungfustore.com/category/249-cds/product/344-yankee-hotel-foxtrot-cd-wil12">album</a>.</p><p>From the moment these towers appeared on the landscape in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Marina City has been the subject of much curiosity. University of Chicago student Colin Griffin had some very specific questions about it, including:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Does present-day Marina City align with the designers&rsquo; intentions?</em></p><p>Colin was part of a University of Chicago class called &ldquo;Buildings as Evidence,&rdquo; which looked into architecture, its environment and implications. And as part of a special collaboration, Colin got to answer his <em>own </em>question &mdash; along with us (his classmates) and a little help from Curious City Senior Producer Jennifer Brandel. &nbsp;&nbsp;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WEB%20Flickr%20Buildings%20as%20Evidence%20group.jpg" style="height: 202px; width: 270px; float: right;" title="Our researchers and reporters are, from left to right: Angela Lee, Gus Springmann, Dan Cioffi and Colin Griffin. (WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)" /></p><p>Collectively we tackled Colin&rsquo;s question by scouring historical archives, the Internet and the towers themselves. (For that play-by-play, check out our <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/archive/question/721">reporters&rsquo; notebook</a>). &nbsp;</p><p><strong>Back to the future</strong></p><p>Despite its futuristic design and the best intentions of its designers and financiers, the Marina City of today occupies a very different position in its environment than it did when the first tower was completed in 1962. Built as a directed project with a specific goal in mind (namely, stemming urban flight), the evolution of Marina City in Chicago&rsquo;s skyline begs a pointed question: Did it work?</p><p><strong>The foundations and ideals</strong></p><p>Chicago-born architect <a href="http://bertrandgoldberg.org/">Bertrand Goldberg</a> saw structures as having power far beyond his novel designs. He believed architecture could influence behavior, improve our quality of life and even enhance democracy; that is, if only we would create structures that naturally foster a sense of community.</p><p>To meet his lofty ambitions for Marina City, Goldberg found a worthy partner: the project&#39;s principal financier, <a href="http://www.marinacityonline.com/history/who_built.htm">William L. McFetridge</a>, who had a dovetailing interest in reducing economic and social corrosion in post-WWII downtown Chicago. According to <a href="http://www.marinacity.org/history/light_reading.htm">a paperback book for prospective tenants</a>, McFetridge wanted to prevent the seemingly imminent demise of the inner city, so he devised a plan &ldquo;designed to return to the essential activities of modern man &ndash; <strong>work, home, recreation</strong> &ndash; to a closer, more natural association.&rdquo; The solution was Marina City, which the <a href="http://www.marinacity.org/history/light_reading.htm">paperback touted</a> would &ldquo;reverse the exodus of Chicago&rsquo;s central population towards the suburbs by bringing 900 families to live within two blocks of the Loop.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bertrand_goldberg_1952%20photo%20by%20torkel%20korling.jpg" style="height: 247px; width: 200px; float: left;" title="Bertrand Goldberg as a young architect in 1952. (MarinaCityOnline/Torkel Korling)" /></p><p><strong>Designing for interaction</strong></p><p>The intention of the first plan was to remove people from the city without actually placing them outside the borders. This was to be accomplished through verticality, by building residential life up rather than out. Essential to this was a <a href="http://www.marinacity.org/history/light_reading.htm">&ldquo;plan for relaxation and pleasure.&rdquo;</a> Goldberg wanted the towers to offer enough leisure to create a &ldquo;two-shift city&rdquo; so the downtown would retain vitality once the working day was over.</p><p>The book <em>The Apartment House in Urban America</em> by John Hancock (not to be confused with <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hancock">this John Hancock</a>), offers early descriptions of Marina City&rsquo;s early innards. The first two floors contain the &ldquo;building machinery, shops, restaurants, bars, offices, a TV studio, a skating rink, a plaza and a sculpture garden next to a 700 boat marina.&rdquo; The 18 floors atop the first two commercial stories contain a &ldquo;helical ramp parking garage for 900 cars for the 896 apartments.&rdquo; The residential space begins on the 21st floor, &ldquo;high enough for unobstructed views and just above the greatest concentration of downtown air pollution.&rdquo; The amenities combined with the buildings&rsquo; structural ingenuity created a new living dynamic.</p><p><strong>Selling the selling points</strong></p><p>Looking through the Goldberg Archives at the <a href="http://www.artic.edu/research">Ryerson and Burnham Library</a> of the Art Institute, we discovered <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/95360819@N04/8811490295/">publicity materials </a>for Marina City dating from the early 1960s. One of the main <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-11/video-marina-city-its-youth-103807">selling points</a> was the buildings&rsquo; height. The twin sixty-story multi-use towers were billed as the tallest concrete buildings in the world and as the first all-electric city.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/95360819@N04/8821821710/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Figure%203-1.png" style="height: 278px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="An early brochure of Marina City's conceptual elements. (Source: Ryerson and Burnham Archives)" /></a></p><p>Comparisons of Marina City to nature (first used by architect Bertrand Goldberg) were common in newspaper articles. An article written by Ruth Moore of the <em>Sun Times </em>describes apartments that &ldquo;open out from the buildings&rsquo; cores like the petals on a flower.&rdquo; Chicago Tribune journalist Thomas Buck wrote the two towers were &ldquo;two trees, each 585 feet high, with 900 &lsquo;tree houses&rsquo; featuring special psychological benefits for tenants.&rdquo; The official brochure, titled &ldquo;City Within a City,&rdquo; emphasized the fireproof core structure, the view, the leisure complexes, living above the noise of the city and the fact that all-electric appliances and utilities allowed residents total control over the temperature.</p><p><strong>The early adopters</strong></p><p>The marketing campaign enticed 2,500 rental applicants for a total of 896 available units, requiring a screening committee to pick residents. A diverse set of folks moved in; the list of residents for November 1964 contains mostly German, Scandinavian, British, and Jewish surnames, with a total of six African-Americans living in the buildings. Many of the residents were from Chicago, the Chicago suburbs, and New York City. Some were wealthy, leaving contact addresses in exclusive residential strips, suburbs and neighborhoods (Lake Shore Drive, Oak Street, Lake Forest, and the Upper East Side). Residents were approximately one-third single women, one-third single men, and one-third married couples.</p><p>A 1967 article by resident Edward Gilbreth gives a glimpse into life in Marina City. He mentions differences in the prices of apartments &mdash; the higher the floor, the more expensive the <a href="http://www.marina-city.com/sales/rent-marina-city.html">rent</a>. Gilbreth apparently enjoyed living in Marina City for the location and the conveniences. He eagerly mentions, for example, a cocktail lounge and a &ldquo;mammoth&rdquo; drug and liquor store.</p><p><strong>Remodeling the riverfront</strong></p><p>Before judging Marina City&rsquo;s mighty charge to create a new way of life while stemming urban flight, its location deserves a look, too. After all, it&rsquo;s challenging to create buzz for a neighborhood when there aren&rsquo;t many neighbors. &nbsp;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Chicago_Marina_City_foundation_1961%20wikimedia%20commons%20Peter%20M.%20Spizziri%20%26%20Associates.JPG" style="height: 371px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="The foundation of Marina City in 1961. (Wikimedia Commons/Peter M. Spizziri &amp; Associates)" /></p><p>Historic <a href="http://sanborn.umi.com/">Sanborn Maps</a> (originally used for fire insurance purposes) are full of useful construction details. The maps indicated that in 1951 the riverfront north of the Loop hadn&rsquo;t yet been platted, and it was home to nothing but industrial railways and cold storage facilities. Aside from the Wrigley Building, there was no large-scale construction. Mid-century photographs of State Street reveal an industrial wasteland, separated from the Loop by a heavily polluted Chicago River flowing freely with garbage.</p><p>But as construction on Marina City began in November 1960, this scene rapidly transformed. In some sense Marina City was at the forefront of a new wave of development &mdash; one that expanded the density of downtown Chicago and spurred new high-rise construction across the river. Plans reveal architect Bertrand Goldberg even imagined a <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/95360819@N04/8775252736/lightbox/">&ldquo;forest&rdquo; of Marina Cities</a> populating the riverfront and providing the &ldquo;city within a city&rdquo; experience to thousands of Chicagoans. We can only imagine what that would have looked like.</p><p>While the vision was never realized in practice, the sentiment is visible in the development boom that began in the latter half of the 20th century and continues today. Though Marina City doesn&rsquo;t dominate the Chicago skyline like it did in 1964, it paved the way for the transition of the north riverfront from an industrial no man&rsquo;s land to a high-density metropolis. Today, the area is home to some of the world&rsquo;s most formidable supertall buildings, including the <a href="http://www.trumphotelcollection.com/chicago/">Trump International Hotel and Tower</a> and esteemed architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.330northwabashavenue.com/toc.cfm">330 North Wabash</a>.</p><p><strong>Shucking the corncobs</strong></p><p>In 1977, Marina City Sales, Inc. led a <a href="http://www.marinacityonline.com/history/goes_condo.htm">partition of the towers into condos</a>, a physical and ideological shift that didn&rsquo;t sit well with Goldberg. From the beginning, Goldberg made clear that each structural entity was interdependent. Clearly, he had envisioned a sense of community shared by a group of residents who would be able to live efficiently and economically, freeing them from many financial pressures and thus promoting leisure time and social interaction &mdash; all within the confines of Marina City. With these price increases, many residents were forced to leave Marina City, giving way to deep-pocketed real estate investors who purchased large numbers of the repartitioned condominiums.</p><p>Investors included Charles Swibel and Chicago Alderman Edward &lsquo;Fast Eddie&rsquo; Vrdolyak, who was sold &ldquo;50 condo units &hellip; at <a href="http://www.marinacityonline.com/history/goes_condo.htm">&lsquo;bargain basement&rsquo; prices.</a>&rdquo; Over the next 12 years, finances collapsed. From the late 1970s through the early 1990s, Marina City changed hands until the non-residential components of Marina City were reapportioned to private business and independent investors through various means, <a href="http://www.marinacityonline.com/history/bankrupt_owners_sell.htm">including bankruptcy and loan defaults</a>. What remained was a skeleton of a once healthy and flourishing community.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WEB%20Fig%204.%20-%20Graphic%20National%20Geographic%2C%20June%2C1967%20.jpg" style="height: 224px; width: 220px; float: right;" title="One of the project's best-known and most-loved characteristics are the porches. Here, a swinging porch soiree from 1976. (National Geographic)" /></p><p>As new business moved into Marina City&rsquo;s commercial and retail spaces, the city-within-a-city began to look more and more like a central entertainment district that catered to <em>visitors </em>rather than permanent residents. Hotels sprouted nearby and the project&rsquo;s ice rink was converted to an expensive Smith &amp; Wollensky steakhouse. Goldberg&rsquo;s city had been spliced up and then infiltrated from all directions.</p><p><strong>A current view</strong></p><p>Today it&rsquo;s unclear how much of a true community remains at Marina City. <a href="http://www.stevendahlman.com/">Steven Dahlman</a> is the &nbsp;resident Marina City historian and a photographer. We owe a great deal of our research to the news, history, real estate listings, and an extensive blog he&rsquo;s collected on his site: <a href="http://www.marinacityonline.com/">Marina City Online</a>.</p><p>Dahlman &mdash; who lives in one tower and has his photo studio in another &mdash; says residents can run into each other in many locations, including the ground-level retail outlets and restaurants, the laundry facilities, the roof-top observatories, and a gym on the 20th floor. Though residents continue to move in and out, Dahlman says a sense of community springs from a low turnover rate. He also says it&rsquo;s common for one generation of owners to pass units down to the next generation. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;You have a lot of people here who have been here for a long time and plan to be here for a long time. Certainly more than any other place I&rsquo;ve lived there&rsquo;s a heightened sense of community. It&rsquo;s kind of a neighborhood in itself,&rdquo; Dahlman says. &ldquo;In fact Marina City is its own precinct: the 27th precinct in the 42nd ward.&rdquo; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>And while the rent and mortgages at Marina City are not necessarily as expensive as many neighboring River North addresses, Goldberg did not want residents of Marina City to spend large sums of money on anything, including activities and entertainment. Today, the towers are surrounded by dozens of high-end restaurants and clubs where locals and visitors alike can part with their cash.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WEB%20Dan%20Ciofi%20photo.jpg" style="height: 159px; width: 220px; float: left;" title="It took a few decades before Marina City had neighboring buildings. Here a view of modern day Marina City in context. (Flickr/Dan Cioffi)" /></p><p><strong>But did it work?</strong></p><p>Marina City&rsquo;s bizarre corncob-esque forms have remained essentially unaltered over the course of their nearly half-century existence, but what of the rest? The buildings have greatly deviated from Bertrand Goldberg&rsquo;s initial vision. Today they&rsquo;re more a residential stack sitting atop a mixed-use building than a vertically complete neighborhood. And Marina&rsquo;s status as a &ldquo;city within a city&rdquo; is tenuous at best.</p><p>But in another way Goldberg&rsquo;s expectations were met. As noted, the towers now stand amid a cluster of high-density, mixed-use and residential skyscrapers. It would seem that the project did in fact help repopulate Chicago&rsquo;s urban core. While there&rsquo;s insufficient data to make a broad claim about the building&rsquo;s role in post-WWII white flight, some of the aspirations of Marina City&rsquo;s financiers and designers came to fruition.</p><p>Though Goldberg&rsquo;s vision of a concrete forest of self-contained cities in central Chicago was never actualized, his plan for a high-density urban core was not far from the mark. And what&rsquo;s more, the building&rsquo;s peculiar, pseudo-organic forms still elicit as much curiosity from tourists and Chicagoans as they did when they were first erected. Still inhabited, still towering above the river, and still downright odd, the Marina City towers are poised to stay.</p><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City is on Twitter! Follow the series<a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZCuriousCity"> @WBEZCuriousCity</a>.</em></p><p><em>Correction: This story originally misnamed an investor. That investor&#39;s correct name is&nbsp;Charles Swibel.</em></p></p> Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/marina-city-ideals-concrete-108072 Chicago's municipal device: The city's symbol lurking in plain sight http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-municipal-device-citys-symbol-lurking-plain-sight-107637 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="466" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/munidevice7.jpg" title="A municipal device ornaments a building at 2259 S. Damen Ave. (Flickr/Brian Boyer)" width="621" /></div><p>Though many Chicagoans have forgotten it, the city&rsquo;s municipal device may be on its way back to prominence.</p><p>A few years ago my colleague Elliott Ramos took <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/chicago-city-flag-everything-everyone">an extensive look at Chicago&rsquo;s love affair with its flag</a>. And while the Chicago flag is a wonderful example of meaningful design and a potent sign of civic pride, the municipal device is both older and more versatile. And ready to make a comeback.</p><p>What is the municipal device, you ask? Chicago municipal code <a href="http://www.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/Illinois/chicago_il/title1generalprovisions/chapter1-8corporatesealandemblems?f=templates$fn=default.htm$3.0$vid=amlegal:chicago_il$anc=JD_1-8-070">defines it</a> thusly:</p><p>&ldquo;The municipal device, for use by the varied unofficial interests of the city and its people, shall show a Y-shaped figure in a circle, colored and designed to suit individual tastes and needs.&rdquo; It symbolizes the Chicago River&rsquo;s three branches, created in 1892 for a Chicago Tribune contest. In 1917 the City Council made the flag, seal and municipal device official city symbols.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/munidevice6.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="(Flickr/Rolando Cervantes)" />The marquee of the Chicago Theater is probably the most famous example of the municipal device, but there are hundreds of examples hidden in plain sight around the city. Chicago public libraries, traffic control boxes and lamp posts are common places to find them (check out <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/chicagoy/pool/">this Flickr group</a> for more examples).</div><p>Though there are new instances of the municipal device, it&rsquo;s become less and less popular throughout the later half of the twentieth century. In 1999 Chicago&rsquo;s cultural historian Tim Samuelson <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1999-11-09/features/9911090045_1_symbol-chicago-river-millennium">told the Chicago Tribune</a>,</p><p>&quot;I heard that the city hesitated to use it later because in the 1960s it looked like the peace symbol with the Y upside down.&quot; (In some uses, the Y is upside down to celebrate the reversing of the Chicago River.)</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/munidevice2.jpg" style="float: right; height: 300px; width: 300px;" title="(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>David Reynolds, Commissioner of Fleet and Facility Management, thinks city vehicles stopped bearing the municipal device, opting instead for the city seal, when vinyl stickers made details easy to replicate. He&rsquo;s not sure when exactly that happened.</p><p>Nevermind that municipal code states:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;All automobiles and other vehicles which are owned by the city, except those used by the commissioner of police, and the detective bureau of the department of police, shall be distinctly marked as the property of the city by painting or placing thereon in a conspicuous place, in such a manner that the same cannot be removed, the municipal device, together with the words &ldquo;City of Chicago&rdquo;, and the name of the department operating the said automobile or other vehicle.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/munidevice1.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>I guess the seal is considered close enough to the device to count, but I&rsquo;d love to see Streets and Sanitation trucks with the Chicago Y on them.</p><p>For that matter I&rsquo;d also love to see posters, T-shirts, tattoos and more bearing the municipal device.</p><p>One local company is banking on the municipal device&rsquo;s enduring design appeal. Ale Syndicate is a new Chicago-themed brewery that uses the symbol as their secondary logo. Marketing manager Abby Kempf said the municipal device helped establish their Chicago bona-fides.</p><p>&ldquo;We wanted something that someone who really loves the city would be really excited about,&rdquo; Kempf said.</p><p>She added, &ldquo;You kind of forget about how important the river was to the success of the city.&rdquo;</p><p>Here&rsquo;s a promotional video featuring the fim they collaborated with, Design Scout:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/gFg7BErNTtQ?rel=0&amp;start=108" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Do you like the municipal device? Do you think it&rsquo;s due for a comeback?</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/munidevice5.jpg" style="height: 600px; width: 600px;" title="(Photo by Tim Carnahan)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><p><em>Andrew Gill is a web producer for WBEZ. Follow him on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/andrewgill">Twitter</a> or <a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/108371235914028306960/?rel=author">Google</a>+.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 11 Jun 2013 12:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-municipal-device-citys-symbol-lurking-plain-sight-107637 Roman Mars: Stories About the Built World http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/roman-mars-stories-about-built-world-107129 <p><p>He&#39;s been called &quot;the Ira Glass of design.&quot; His radio show, <em>99% Invisible</em> &ndash; &quot;a tiny show about architecture and design&quot; &ndash; focuses on the invisible activity that shapes our world. In August 2012, <em>99% Invisible</em> became the highest-funded journalism project in Kickstarter history, raising over $170,000 from 5,661 backers. In 2012, with over 4 million downloads online, <em>99% Invisible</em> peaked at #2 in iTunes ranking for all podcasts in the US.</p><div>As host and producer of <em>99% Invisible</em>, <strong>Roman Mars</strong> has explored everything from the Purple Hotel &ndash; Lincolnwood, IL&#39;s most famous building &ndash; to poetically-named structures in Santiago, Chile.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Here Mars brings his eye for design, his talent for storytelling, and his rich layers of music and sound effects to Unity Temple, where he performs an extended version of <em>99% Invisible</em>.</div><p>Roman Mars presentation, &quot;Stories about the Built World,&quot; is a part of Unity Temple Restoration Foundation&#39;s Break the Box program series. Break the Box is made possible by generous grants from the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council, an Agency of the State of Illinois.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/UTRF-webstory.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br />Recorded live Thursday, May 10, 2013 at Frank Lloyd Wright&#39;s Unity Temple.</p></p> Thu, 09 May 2013 12:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/roman-mars-stories-about-built-world-107129 Culture Catalyst: Martin Kastner of Alinea http://www.wbez.org/amplified/about/culture-catalyst-martin-kastner-alinea-106878 <p><p>Learn about sculptor <strong>Martin Kastner</strong>&rsquo;s serviceware concepts that helped put Alinea and Chef <strong>Grant Achatz</strong> at the pinnacle of contemporary cuisine.</p><div>Martin Kastner is the founder and principal of Crucial Detail. Kastner, born in the Czech Republic, trained as a blacksmith and spent some time restoring historical metalworks at a castle in Western Bohemia before moving onto natural materials design and sculpture. He founded Crucial Detail in 1998 shortly after his arrival in the U.S. He is best known for his Alinea serviceware concepts, which landed him on The Future Laboratory&rsquo;s list of 100 most influential individuals in contemporary design. Alinea book, which he designed in collaboration with Naissance Inc., was one of the winners in</div><div>2009 Communication Arts Design Annual for Best Book Design and is included in Altitude&rsquo;s <em>The Best of Cover Design</em>. His work has been featured in numerous publications running the gamut from Gourmet to Fast Company.</div><div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MCA-webstory_19.gif" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><div>Recorded live on March 12, 2013 at the Museum of Contemporary Art.</div></p> Tue, 12 Mar 2013 11:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/amplified/about/culture-catalyst-martin-kastner-alinea-106878 New college dorm in Pilsen is gaining attention--and accolades http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-02/new-college-dorm-pilsen-gaining-attention-and-accolades-105573 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P2167337.jpg" title="" />Much too often, Chicago neighborhoods get stuck with a bad pieces of architecture.<p>So it is worth celebrating when good design occurs in the community, as is the case with La Casa Student Housing and Resource Center, a college dorm that opened last fall in the Pilsen neighborhood.</p><p>The six-story building at 18<sup>th</sup> and Paulina cuts a tall, graceful figure along 18<sup>th</sup>,&nbsp; with masonry exterior walls that pull back&mdash;and up&mdash;to reveal glassy corners and a base.The building hits the right note in the historic neighborhood by using heft and masonry of its older neighbors, then reworking the elements into a contemporary form.</p><p>Designed for Chicago college students who want to stay close to home, the $12 million building is the brainchild of <a href="http://resurrectionproject.org/">The Resurrection Project</a>.&nbsp; La Casa has 25 four-bedroom suites and amenities such as a fitness center, tutors and on-site counseling.</p><p>The building&rsquo;s purpose and program have garnered it early acclaim, including a New York Times profile. And now its design is getting notice. La Casa&rsquo;s architecture earned the Richard Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design at the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards held at the Chicago Hilton &amp; Towers last Wednesday.</p></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P2167404.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P2167341.jpg" title="" />La Casa was designed by UrbanWorks, a Chicago architecture firm that&rsquo;s been on a pretty good tear lately, particularly with an <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-09/architecture-design-unos-newest-charter-school-deserves-praise-102764">UNO school</a> in Galewood and Roseland&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.urbanworksarchitecture.com/projects/residential_10.html">All Saints Residence </a>home for seniors.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 21 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-02/new-college-dorm-pilsen-gaining-attention-and-accolades-105573