WBEZ | design http://www.wbez.org/tags/design Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 'Back To The Future Part 2': designing a future for 30 years ago http://www.wbez.org/news/back-future-part-2-designing-future-30-years-ago-113429 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/9544541664_b43ec6c183_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res450049599" previewtitle="In Back to the Future Part II, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) slips on his Nike sneakers and rides a Mattel hoverboard in front of a Texaco gas station."><p>Oct. 21, 2015, is when the first act of<a href="http://www.backtothefuture.com/" target="_blank">&nbsp;<em>Back to the Future Part II</em></a>&nbsp;is set. In the sequel, Marty McFly goes forth and back in time, and complications ensue. It&#39;s a 2015 that&#39;s different from the one we know now &mdash; but not that different.</p></div><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="In Back to the Future Part II, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) slips on his Nike sneakers and rides a Mattel hoverboard in front of a Texaco gas station." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/19/back-to-the-future-2-27c06f9d271e02b5c17b2b544fa8675b5d626a0d-s700-c85.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 450px; width: 600px;" title="In Back to the Future Part II, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) slips on his Nike sneakers and rides a Mattel hoverboard in front of a Texaco gas station. (Courtesy of The Kobal Collection)" /></p><p><span style="text-align: center;">On one hand, in the movie, electric cars quietly hum around the streets. We&#39;ve got those.</span></p><p><span style="text-align: center;">A hologram for&nbsp;<em>Jaws 19</em>&nbsp;pops out of a theater marquee and freaks Marty out. You can find holograms like that on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.</span></p><p>When bad guy Griff gets arrested for wrecking the clock tower near the lake? A drone takes his picture for <em>USA Today</em>. And the Chicago Cubs, in the<em>&nbsp;Back to the Future</em>&nbsp;universe, win the World Series in 2015. As of right now, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-07/cubs-looking-launch-themselves-playoffs-113217" target="_blank">they can still make that happen</a>.</p><p>Of course, there&#39;s a lot of stuff that&nbsp;<em>Back to the Future Part II&nbsp;</em>doesn&#39;t get right. Our cars don&#39;t fly. Our shoes don&#39;t tie themselves. Our clothes don&#39;t blow dry themselves, either. And what we call &quot;hoverboards&quot; today don&#39;t really hover, if we&#39;re going to be honest.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" scrolling="no" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VrVe7XoeiEk" width="540"></iframe></p><p>So what does a 1980s movie tell us about ourselves today in 2015? Does it say anything about how we got here?</p><p>Not really, according to Rick Carter. He was the production designer on the movie.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s an attempt to stimulate in the time it was made. It wasn&#39;t made for now.&quot;</p><p>Carter&#39;s got strong credits when it comes to time travel. He also worked on&nbsp;<em>A.I. Artificial Intelligence,&nbsp;</em><em>Avatar</em>&nbsp;and the new&nbsp;<em>Star Wars&nbsp;</em>movie.</p><p>Carter says time-travel stories are more about the time in which they were made. And what was big in the late &#39;80s when&nbsp;<em>Back to the Future Part II</em>&nbsp;was made? Buying stuff.</p><p>&quot;Not just product placement, but the branding of our culture,&quot; says Carter. &quot;This was no longer the hippie era where everything that was of corporations was being pushed to the side in terms of being hip or cool. It was a celebration of what the culture and the economy was creating.&quot;</p><p>Like a hologram Ronald Reagan selling fast food.</p><p>It was, at least, a somewhat optimistic view of the future. More optimistic than, say, <em>Blade Runner</em>.&nbsp;To Carter, creating the future wasn&#39;t about predicting. It was about making the present seem better.</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s how we saw the holograms coming out of the movie theaters, or the litter bug that&#39;s running around that&#39;s positive, sweeping things up,&quot; says Carter. &quot;It was about projecting from a very exuberant sense we had at the time being young until now.&quot;</p><p>That exuberance was tempered a bit, though. With some pointed jokes knocking nostalgia, the movie knew that the future wouldn&#39;t be perfect. Or was it the past?</p><p>Whatever. Nothing&#39;s perfect.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/20/450009076/back-to-the-future-part-2-designing-a-future-for-30-years-ago?ft=nprml&amp;f=450009076" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 20 Oct 2015 13:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/back-future-part-2-designing-future-30-years-ago-113429 Painting a brighter future for Chicago’s blighted neighborhoods http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/painting-brighter-future-chicago%E2%80%99s-blighted-neighborhoods-113170 <p><p>The Chicago Cultural Center was a hive of activity as designers and architects set up for the first-ever Chicago Architecture Biennial.</p><p>Amanda Williams exhibit features a series of photos, showing the abandoned houses she&rsquo;s painted in eye-catching colors - monochrome purples, blues, and yellows. She hopes the houses can revitalize a community fatigued by poverty and racism.</p><p>&ldquo;On a very simplistic level, I think it achieves that ability to really do more than lip service to this idea that architecture is not just skyscrapers or what I call architecture with a capital-A,&rdquo; Williams explained. &ldquo;It is questions of space, and race, and density--and all these things that we talk about in abstraction but are very real. And that people in these areas are experts in and don&rsquo;t realize it.&rdquo;</p><p>Williams is something of an expert herself. She grew up on the South Side, in Auburn Gresham - where her parents still live.</p><p>Away from the excited, is a very different scene at 56th and LaSalle, in Washington Park. It&rsquo;s full of empty lots - and one eye-catching feature.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody always wants to know why that house is pink,&rdquo; Glenda Bush said.<br /><br />She&rsquo;s lived in the neighborhood for eight years.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like it at all. Gangs and drug dealers. Killings. Racing up and down the street. There&rsquo;s nothing good over here but a few people,&rdquo; Bush said</p><p>On this block, more than half the lots are empty.</p><p>Bush talks about the block in terms of what&rsquo;s gone, rather than what remains.<br /><br />&ldquo;I think this house that was on the corner came down, if I&rsquo;m not mistaken, last year. That one burned,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Each of these homes was abandoned, fell into disrepair and was demolished. So Williams&rsquo; paint jobs are quite the change.</p><p>And Bush thinks, Williams&rsquo; plan is working.<br /><br />&ldquo;We need to address tearing down abandoned houses, and if people make a statement with paint, just maybe, that&rsquo;ll happen. I don&rsquo;t know,&rdquo; Bush said.</p><p>Not everybody likes it - Williams said some neighbors have complained that the houses are an eyesore and draw too much attention.</p><p>But, she added, that&rsquo;s good: at least they&rsquo;re talking.</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/Paintedhouses2.jpg" title="(WBEZ/Sean Kennedy)" /></div></p> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 08:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/painting-brighter-future-chicago%E2%80%99s-blighted-neighborhoods-113170 A design team tries to create a new symbol for the American South http://www.wbez.org/news/design-team-tries-create-new-symbol-american-south-113176 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/NPR2207_photo3_S6QmOeZ.png" alt="" /><p><div><p style="text-align: justify;">South Carolina removed the Confederate Battle Flag from its Capitol grounds earlier this year, and much of the rest of the South is following suit.&nbsp;</p></div><p style="text-align: justify;">In light of these changes, Studio 360 asked Dallas design firm&nbsp;<a href="http://70kft.com/" target="_blank">70&nbsp;KFT</a>&nbsp;has spent the summer coming up with ideas for a new icon to replace the flag.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not so much about redesigning a flag, but reintroducing a new idea,&rdquo; says design director Alexander Flores.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The designers came up with two big ideas they wanted to pursue, so they split into two smaller groups: One working on a design inspired by quilting as the main concept, and another team designing a treatment around the word &ldquo;rebel.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Designer Michael Feavel started the discussion about the word &#39;rebel.&#39; He was thinking about stereotypes of the South: &ldquo;We can be labelled very negatively &mdash; slow, or simple.&rdquo; He says. &ldquo;And the word &lsquo;rebel&rsquo; came to mind. And that&rsquo;s not something that can just be labelled as negative.&rdquo; The word&rsquo;s ambiguity appealed to Feavel: it can be positive or negative, noun or verb.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The team has&nbsp;been working with an image of the word &lsquo;rebel&rsquo; in Martin Luther King&rsquo;s handwriting.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&ldquo;[We have] these other southern rebels that we, you know, have falling into this category. We&#39;ve got Truman Capote, we&rsquo;ve got Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Mark Twain,&rdquo; says Gus Granger, the co-founder and head designer of the firm.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The second team was attracted to the layered aspects of quilting.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&ldquo;We are starting to explore what the togetherness aspect means. I mean we started exploring tapestries, we started exploring stained glass &mdash; different elements that have been deconstructed in some way and reconstructed in some way,&rdquo; says creative director Stefan Reddick.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&ldquo;We&#39;re kind of getting away from a flag in general and we&#39;re looking for a symbol that embodies&nbsp;the modern South. Flags are for battles and quilts are for homes and so this quilt concept, it&#39;s pretty powerful because it&rsquo;s used in all types of cultures and also just the symbolism of multiple pieces all brought together, taking pieces of the past and pieces of the present,&rdquo; says Billy Parkerson, a team member from Birmingham, Alabama.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The team is enthusiastic about their work, but Alexander Flores who&#39;s from south Texas, knows that trying to impose a symbol from the top down is a not going to be easy.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&ldquo;I think it&#39;s something that should be more organic,&rdquo; Flores says, &ldquo;If we can start a dialogue, we&rsquo;ll be happy that we&#39;ve contributed something more than just a logo.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The design firm&#39;s proposal will be revealed on PRI.org next&nbsp;week.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&mdash;<a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-10-03/design-team-tries-create-new-symbol-american-south" target="_blank"><em> via Studio 360</em></a></p></p> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 11:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/design-team-tries-create-new-symbol-american-south-113176 Lucas Museum team unveils new design with more park space http://www.wbez.org/news/lucas-museum-team-unveils-new-design-more-park-space-112973 <p><div>The team behind George Lucas&#39; art and movie museum released revised renderings showing more green space at the Chicago site but no radical changes to the undulating, futuristic building stoking passions in a city that guards its Lake Michigan shoreline with religious-like devotion.</div><div><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/AP_179440988171.jpg" style="margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px;" title="This artist rendering released by the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art shows the museum in Chicago. The team behind George Lucas’ art and movie museum released revised renderings Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, showing more green space at the Chicago site. (Lucas Museum of Narrative Art via AP)" /></div></div><div>Images that will be presented to City Council next week show designers have significantly shrunk the lakefront building while preserving a smooth, tapering, dune-like form topped with an observation deck resembling a floating disc &mdash; a shape that critics have compared to Jabba the Hutt. Defenders of what will be known as the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, have said the design is loyal to Chicago&#39;s history of making bold architectural statements and its devotion to keeping the lakefront open, accessible and green.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Currently, it&#39;s a vast asphalt parking lot that is not welcoming; it&#39;s not very green,&quot; museum President Don Bacigalupi said of the site to the south of Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. &quot;And so replacing that with both a museum that&#39;s an amenity, that&#39;s an attraction and an educational inspiration, plus this very new green space park ... that&#39;s really our goal.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The 17-acre site will erase the parking lot and add 4.5 acres of new parkland.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A group committed to preserving open space, especially along the Lake Michigan shoreline, has fought the museum&#39;s location out of concern it opens the way for more construction on the valuable ribbon of public, open land. In a lawsuit currently in federal court, it says the city has no authority to hand over the land, citing a legal principle known as the public trust doctrine, which requires the state to ensure open spaces are preserved and accessible to the public.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The design revisions unveiled Thursday were not an attempt to appease critics. Rather, as more planning went into the interior space, the exterior changed, Bacigalupi said. The original building was scaled back from 400,000 to 300,000 square feet, allowing for more park space.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That space will include an &quot;event prairie&quot; and expanses of trees and native plantings to attract birds and other wildlife, as well as layers of pools designed to filter storm runoff.</div><div><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/AP_212440099910.jpg" style="margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px;" title="A birds-eye view of the revised museum renderings of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. (Lucas Museum of Narrative Art via AP)" /></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Its designers, architects Jeanne Gang and Kate Orff, said they wanted the space to function as educational &quot;green infrastructure,&quot; while providing an inspiring gateway to the museum rising in the distance.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The design is essentially final, although there could be minor adjustments. Construction is expected to begin in March and last until 2018.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It features an open-air observation deck on the rooftop, accessible for free by a ramp winding up the building&#39;s interior cone shape.</div><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_377903710269.jpg" style="float: right; height: 172px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="This artist rendering released by the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art shows the museum in Chicago. The team behind George Lucas’ art and movie museum released revised renderings Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, showing more green space at the Chicago site but no radical changes to the undulating, futuristic building stoking passions in a city that guards its Lake Michigan shoreline. (Lucas Museum of Narrative Art via AP)" /></p><div>An outdoor plaza in front gently rolls upward into the sloping face of the building.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It reminds you of the sand dune landscape that had been there on the lakefront a long time ago,&quot; said architect Ma Yansong. &quot;So it&#39;s very organic architecture.&quot;</div><div>The museum will showcase popular art Lucas has collected since college, including illustrations by Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and N.C. Wyeth, as well as works by Lucas&#39;s visual effects company, Industrial Light and Magic.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It also will feature digital media arts and film industry art, including props, costumes, set pieces and story boards. Three auditoriums will host films, lectures and workshops. And there&#39;s an educational library.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The vision is to highlight art that tells a story. The collection will have &quot;Star Wars&quot; and &quot;Indiana Jones&quot; fans mingling with art connoisseurs, Bacigalupi said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&mdash; <em>The Associated Press</em></div></p> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 09:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/lucas-museum-team-unveils-new-design-more-park-space-112973 The design of the Wrigley Scoreboard: Revolutionary, retro or both? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/design-wrigley-scoreboard-revolutionary-retro-or-both-112916 <p><p>Wrigley Field got a lot of press last spring when it debuted the much-anticipated (or much-dreaded) mammoth-sized video board. On opening day, Cubs fans &mdash; some grinning, some grunting &mdash; feasted their eyes on 39,000 square-feet of instant replays, player stats, and pitch speeds. In other words, the works.</p><p>But if you do the math, this Jumbotron and its right-field counterpart (a smaller screen that lists each team&#39;s batting lineup) didn&rsquo;t add up to two ways to track games at Wrigley Field. It made three.</p><p>Because, tucked in the back of the center field bleachers, sits the same, rinkydink hand-operated scoreboard that&rsquo;s sat there for 78 years. And, amid Wrigley&rsquo;s newfound displays of digital data, that old, middle board still makes an impression.</p><p>&ldquo;I was more struck by the scoreboard than the action on the field, to be honest with you,&rdquo; says Tom Foust, whose Curious City question was inspired by his first and only Chicago Cubs game last season.</p><p>Tom says he found himself lost in a daygame daydream, imagining what impressions that board must have left on Cubs fans in 1937, the year it debuted. And he asked us this:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Was the Wrigley Field scoreboard a revolution in information design for 193</em>7?</p><p>Assessing whether a new technology amounts to a revolution is tricky. The cotton gin revolutionized agriculture, and television forever changed the way we consume entertainment.</p><p>But what&rsquo;s a <em>scoreboard</em> ever done? Or, as Tom wants to know, should <em>this </em>scoreboard join the ranks of the pie chart and the emoticon as a revolutionary piece of visual communication.</p><p>For an answer, we delve into how the board was shaped, and we evaluate whether the design holds up today. And we get some extra-inning goodness: Regardless of its innovations (or lack thereof), the board tests the idea that everything old can indeed become new again.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The crafting and cobbling together of &lsquo;beautiful&rsquo; Wrigley Field</span></p><p>The story of the Wrigley Field scoreboard starts with a vision for the entire stadium.</p><p>Philip Knight Wrigley inherited the Cubs from his father, the chewing gum magnate who ran the team as a hobby. PK Wrigley promised to keep the Cubs in the family business, though, and was intrigued with the idea of filling seats more than actually running the team.</p><p>In fact, PK Wrigley didn&rsquo;t even like baseball.</p><p>&ldquo;He loved art. He loved flowers,&rdquo; says Stuart Shea, who wrote a book about Wrigley Field&rsquo;s history. &ldquo;He was a tinkerer, an idea guy. Not a great people person. A strange bird.&rdquo;</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/AP_770412037.jpg" style="height: 241px; width: 320px; float: right;" title="Philip K. Wrigley, left, poses with Charles Grimm at the Chicago Cubs training camp on Catalina Island, California in 1934. (AP Photo)" /></div><p>But being a man of marketing and aesthetics, Wrigley set out to expand Wrigley Field&rsquo;s audience. In a redesign he first considered for the 1937 season, he wanted to attract new fans: women, children, and men more like himself. And the way to do it, he thought, was to make the place irresistible.</p><p>&ldquo;One of PK Wrigley&rsquo;s most brilliant thoughts was this idea of you can&rsquo;t guarantee whether a team will win or lose, but you can guarantee whether the park is going to be clean, and the food is going to be good and the facilities are going to be adequate,&rdquo; Shea says. &ldquo;He said, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m going to pour my money into making this a place where people want to spend the day.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Wrigley branded the place &lsquo;Beautiful Wrigley Field.&rsquo; He advertised it all over radio stations and newspapers well before anyone ever set foot in the place before the 1937 opening day.</p><p>He hired Otis Shepard, the famous corporate artist behind the success of Wrigley Gum, to reimagine the place with a soft, Art Deco flair. Together, they established the forest green and off-white color palette you see today, which was inspired by Wrigley Gum products and the baseball diamond itself.</p><p>The outside marquee, the ticket booths, the concession stands were designed with noticeable intention. The scoreboard was to be the crown jewel that tied it all together.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="300" scrolling="no" src="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1937/09/12/page/39/article/new-wrigley-field-blooms-in-scenic-beauty-and-scoffers-rush-to-apologize" width="620"></iframe></p><p>(Interestingly, the board was one of the last things to come together, and it barely met the opening day deadline. For details see <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZQRb1eh9lE&amp;feature=youtu.be">here&rsquo;s Bill Veeck&rsquo;s account</a>. <em>Know though, that this man was known to exaggerate!</em>) &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Putting the scoreboard to the 1937 (beta) test</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/today.jpg" style="height: 433px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/Antonio Delgado)" /></p><p>Remember that Tom Foust wants to know whether the board was revolutionary, not majestic. With the backstory in hand, here&rsquo;s the board, followed by an inventory of the information fans were confronted with on opening day:</p><ul><li><strong>The left and right sides:</strong> The board displays scores from concurrent games running across the National and American leagues. While today it&rsquo;s expected to be able to access the scores of games across the country (there are even dozens of baseball apps to choose from), Tom wondered if having all of that information accessible and displayed in 1937 was particularly revolutionary. Shea says &hellip; nope. Most big-league baseball scoreboards did have that information. Why? Baseball fans or not, people liked to gamble, and scoreboards that showed simultaneous games not only offered more options for where to place your bets, but also drew more people into ballparks.&nbsp;<em>Verdict: This content was expected. Not revolutionary.</em></li></ul><ul dir="ltr"><li><em>​</em><strong>The middle:</strong> The number of balls, scores, and outs (as well as other other doodads like the uniform number of the batters and umpires) are all displayed in the middle of the scoreboard. It&rsquo;s run on a system of electromagnetic relays that control grids of small, painted eyelets (think of them as physical, manual pixels), that flip to form the numbers you see on the board. Relay technology was nothing new in 1937, but it hadn&rsquo;t been applied to scoreboards before. As a result, though, the middle numbers are actually bigger than the manually-operated numbers displayed on the left or right, because the simpler technology worked with the push of a lever &mdash; not the work of, say, three men updating scores by hand. The larger numbers made the game easier to follow for new baseball fans. <em>Verdict: The mechanisms are neat, but were actually common. Larger numbers are an improvement in user-experience, but not enough to make it revolutionary.</em></li></ul><ul dir="ltr"><li><strong>Overall layout:</strong> Wrigley and Veeck were on to something when they decided to rethink the board&#39;s layout for the 1937 season. Most scoreboards at the time were either narrow and vertical, or narrow and horizontal. Veeck&rsquo;s design arranged all of the scores in a large, rectangular shape and placed it above eye-level in the centerfield bleachers. Most other scoreboards were located at ground level near the infield, where not everyone could see it. <em>Verdict: The new format was an improvement in designing a point of entry. At least it was at eye level and graspable at a quick glance.</em></li></ul><p>​What to make of it all? Here&rsquo;s where we come down on it: In 1937, the Wrigley Field scoreboard was a hands-down improvement of the user experience, but, even with all of its improvements considered together, the board fell short of being revolutionary.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">But if it&rsquo;s not revolutionary, what is it?</span></p><p>The board&rsquo;s survived several rounds of technological progress, including the streamlining of all-electric scoreboards during the 1950s. For that, it deserves some applause. But how does it hold up by today&rsquo;s standards of technological interfaces?</p><p>Marie Hicks, who teaches the history of technology at the Illinois Institute of Technology, is willingto provide her first impression: the classic Wrigley Field scoreboard is a mess.</p><p>There&rsquo;s just too much information, she says. It&rsquo;s not user-friendly. There&rsquo;s not a single point of entry.</p><p>She&rsquo;s confident that board wasn&rsquo;t revolutionary, but not for the reasons you might think.</p><p>Hicks says that for something to be revolutionary, it&rsquo;s got to make a fundamental change in the way people do things from that point on. If it were revolutionary, the Wrigley scoreboard would have inspired copycats across the country. And in a broad movement towards mainstream replication, Hicks says, the original (the one at Wrigley) would lose value. It just wouldn&rsquo;t be that special anymore.</p><p>&ldquo;If it were revolutionary then everything after it would have been just like it and there would have been less of a reason to keep it around,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>That&rsquo;s not the case with Wrigley Field&rsquo;s old scoreboard. In fact, the thing was special enough to receive landmark status from the City of Chicago in 2014. Which means, not only was the scoreboard decidedly worth historic preservation, it was also worth keeping up and running. Why? People love it.</p><p>&ldquo;In a strange way the love that a lot of people have for the scoreboard is another hint that it wasn&rsquo;t really revolutionary,&rdquo; Hicks says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s both foreign and completely familiar. It&rsquo;s representing all the stuff you expect to see in a modern scoreboard but in a sort of janky, simpler way that makes us nostalgic.&rdquo;</p><p>Even though the scoreboard was built in an era very different from our own, it&rsquo;s still relatable. And Hicks says that relatability is key to understanding why the board was not so much revolutionary as it was a harbinger of an increasingly data-driven and information-rich society. One in which numbers pervade daily life and even entertainment.</p><p>&ldquo;The technology that for a while was developed for business or defense are now seeping into our lives in all sorts of ways,&rdquo; Hicks says, citing the popularity of fitbits and algorithm-driven entertainment like Netflix or Spotify. &ldquo;The way that technology has changed our view of how to entertain ourselves and be in the world in off hours has so much more to do with quantification.&rdquo;</p><p>The Wrigley Field scoreboard, Hicks says, is one beautiful example of an early shift towards an world more like our own. That part where we see ourselves in the past ... That&rsquo;s what nostalgia&rsquo;s made of.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">In with the new, but make it look old</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Wrigley_Field_Panorama.png" style="height: 351px; width: 620px;" title="A panorama of Wrigley Field taken August 8, 2015, shows the three boards Cubs fan can use to follow the game. (Photo By TaylorSteiner (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons) " /></p><p>Nostalgia, it turns out, can be quite the utility. Today, as Wrigley Field&rsquo;s newly-installed Jumbotron hovers over left field, it could be flashing animated letters that tell you when to cheer, when to do the wave or when to kiss the stranger next to you.</p><p>Instead, between the instant replays and inning wrap-ups, you see digitized films of Harry Caray at Wrigley Field singing &ldquo;Take me out to the ball game,&rdquo; or bits of Cubs history trivia &mdash; all digitally designed with the same, deep-forest green and off-white art deco details Cubs fans have enjoyed for decades. It&rsquo;s as if the new video boards had the same art director as the old scoreboard.</p><p>Although that old scoreboard ages by the day, it stays trapped in a twisted time warp, somewhere between old and new. A radical, retroactive anti-revolution.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">About our questioner</span></p><p>Tom Foust says when he sat in the Wrigley Field bleachers for the first time, his level of nerd-dom became utterly clear to him.</p><p>&ldquo;I am decidedly not a baseball guy, but I am a bit of an information nerd,&rdquo; he says, adding that the Cubs game itself became kind of secondary.</p><p>He says he had even ventured an answer to his own question about the board&rsquo;s status as revolutionary: &ldquo;I would probably guess, Yes, this was something that was really unique and encouraged the growth of even more.&rdquo;</p><p>Tom has been spot-on when it comes to one observation: Yes, the Wrigley Field scoreboard is unique. But he was spot-wrong in the part about the Wrigley scoreboard encouraging the growth of more like it. In fact, learned that the Wrigley scoreboard is one of a kind, and that&rsquo;s exactly what makes it decidedly non-revolutionary. &nbsp;</p><p>But as a middle school music and technology teacher, he&rsquo;s come up a follow-up question: How would a modern professional of information design create the same scoreboard using the technology of 1930?</p><p>Well, Tom, we&rsquo;ll leave that to your students to take up!</p><p><em>Logan Jaffe is Curious City&#39;s web producer. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe">@loganjaffe</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 11 Sep 2015 17:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/design-wrigley-scoreboard-revolutionary-retro-or-both-112916 Morning Shift: Information age, climate change affecting architectural trends http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-06-26/morning-shift-information-age-climate-change-affecting <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/clarkmaxwell.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/212098804&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Information age, climate change affecting architectural trends</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">As work and learning environments become increasingly collaborative, architecture is shifting to reflect the change. John Ronan, the founding principal and lead designer at <a href="http://www.jrarch.com/">John Ronan Architects</a> in Chicago, is here with us to talk about this, and other trends.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/johnjronan">John Ronan</a> is the founding principal and lead designer at <a href="http://www.jrarch.com/#/contact">John Ronan Architects</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 26 Jun 2015 12:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-06-26/morning-shift-information-age-climate-change-affecting The art and science behind the glow of Chicago's skyline http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/art-and-science-behind-glow-chicagos-skyline-111928 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/202093663&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>On a clear night in the summer of 2014, Mike Mesterharm hopped in his car and hit a southbound expressway toward downtown Chicago. He was happy to be back home; he&rsquo;d left the city at 18, for college and some other shenanigans. During that drive, eight years later, he was gazing at the Chicago skyline &mdash; his skyline. And he was thinking it looked different somehow. Brighter.</p><p>After careful consideration of whether something in him had changed, Mike decided, No, it&rsquo;s not just that he had been looking on the bright side lately &mdash; it must be something with the lights. So he sent Curious City this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>How has energy efficient lighting affected the view of the Chicago skyline?</em></p><p>We found an answer for Mike, but the &ldquo;green energy angle&rdquo; is just a part of it. Expert after expert suggested that that story would not do justice to the big picture: Chicago&rsquo;s skyline&rsquo;s evolved over the years, and that Mike&rsquo;s question is born from a short snippet of that fascinating history, one that has affected how we see &mdash; and feel &mdash; one evening to the next. We&rsquo;ll run through the highlights of how that&rsquo;s been captured in art, of all places, and deal with Mike&rsquo;s question in the most recent timeframe.</p><p>And at the end of it all, we arrive at a crossroads that illuminates a big decision we&rsquo;ll soon have to make: What does Chicago <em>want </em>its skyline to look like?</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A brief history of Chicago&rsquo;s skyline palette</span></p><p>The impact of city lights on city dwellers has affected Chicago&rsquo;s culture, too; to get the broad picture of change in the skyline, you can survey the city&rsquo;s literature and visual art.</p><p>Note the skyline&rsquo;s yellow tinge in this excerpt from &lsquo;<a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.poetryfoundation.org%2Fpoem%2F239566&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHiSA3B9-DNGydvoEkEKVs8tK-62g" target="_blank">The Windy City</a>&rsquo; [sections 1 and 6], penned by Chicago poet Carl Sandburg in 1916.</p><blockquote><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">So between the Great Lakes, &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">The Grand De Tour, and the Grand Prairie, &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">The living lighted skyscrapers stand,</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Spotting the blue dusk with checkers of yellow,</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;streamers of smoke and silver, &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;parallelograms of night-gray watchmen, &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Singing a soft moaning song: I am a child, a belonging. &nbsp;</span></p></blockquote><div><span style="line-height: 1.38;">Compare that to the light-polluted sky found in this excerpt from &lsquo;<a href="http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/239566" target="_blank">The Waste Land&rsquo;</a> (2010) by John Beer.</span></div><blockquote><p><span style="font-size:12px;">Orpheus walked down Milwaukee Avenue toward the Flatiron Building. He passed bodegas, taquerias, vintage stores. He met a hustler with a gas can. He walked past the anarchist kids. And he walked, and he walked, and he walked past the cabdrivers trading insults in Urdu, and he walked past convenience stores, and he walked past Latin Kings, and he walked past waitresses getting off night shifts, and he walked past jazz stars that nobody recognized, he walked past the students, the teachers, the cops. And the sky was the color of eggplant and tire fires, the sky was the field that resisted exhaustion.</span></p></blockquote><p>Lynne Warren, a curator at Chicago&rsquo;s Museum of Contemporary Art, says you can track Chicago&rsquo;s changing city lights in paintings, too.</p><p>In<em> Bronzeville At Night</em> (1949), Chicago artist Archibald Motley depicted the yellow incandescent street lights used across the city at the time. The lamps were sparse and dim enough that on clear nights, you could make out stars across the skyline.</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/bronzeville%20at%20night%20archibald%20motley.png" style="height: 494px; width: 620px;" title="A painting by Archibald J. Motley Jr. of Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood lit by moonlight and incandescent street lights." /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Warren notes, too, that the warmth of incandescent light enhanced the &ldquo;natural&rdquo; colors of Chicago&rsquo;s nightscapes. For example, the red of the classic, Chicago brick on the building in the background is actually drawn out by the light. The tops of the cars on the left also reflect the &ldquo;truer blue&rdquo; of the Chicago night sky.</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/richard-florsheim-jet-landings.jpg" style="float: right; height: 262px; width: 350px;" title="Richard Florsheim's 'Jet Landings' pictures the blue-green glow of Chicago street lights in the 1960s (Courtesy artnet.com)" />A decade or so after Motley&rsquo;s Bronzeville painting was complete, though, the city swapped out incandescents for brighter bulbs that gave off a green cast. The 1960s were the era of mercury vapor lights, and, <a href="https://chicagohistorytoday.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/old-street-lights/" target="_blank">by some accounts</a>, they cast a sci-fi feel across the city.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">By the end of the 1970s, just about all of Chicago&rsquo;s streetlights were replaced yet again, but this time with sodium vapor lights, which glow with a deep orange. Or, like orbs the color of tire fires, if you will.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Chicago&rsquo;s still got a lot of these lamps, and they dominated the city during the &#39;90s, when our question-asker, Mike Mesterharm, was a kid.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Warren says that gold glow repeats over and over in depictions of Chicago&rsquo;s skyline by Roger Brown, an influential painter during the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Imagists" target="_blank">Chicago Imagists movement</a>. His piece <em>Entry of Christ into Chicago in 1976</em> (1976) depicts the Hancock Tower, the Aon Center and the Sears Tower (today&rsquo;s Willis Tower) being set against a light-polluted, sodium vapor sky.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Brown-jesus.jpg" style="height: 347px; width: 620px;" title="Chicago Imagists painter Roger Brown's depiction of the Chicago skyline, titled 'The Entry of Christ into Chicago in 1976.' (Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>All that&rsquo;s to say, Mike Mesterharm&rsquo;s question comes at a bit of a well-lit crossroads; recent changes to Chicago&rsquo;s lit environment are again affecting its color palette. Warren says she&rsquo;s beginning to consider Brown&rsquo;s work as historical &mdash; like she would <a href="http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/111628" target="_blank">Edward Hopper&rsquo;s <em>Nighthawks</em></a> or Motley&rsquo;s <em>Bronzeville At Night</em> &mdash; because, like Mike, she&rsquo;s noticed the gradual visual exodus of the sodium vapor light.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Out with the gold, in with the blue</span></p><p>George Malek, director of ComEd&rsquo;s energy efficiency program, confirms sodium vapor lighting &mdash; and its tell-tale gold glow &mdash; is on its way out. And, he says, the transformation is driven by a city-wide movement toward efficient lighting, something that Mike had suspected when he pitched us his question.</p><p>Malek says during the &lsquo;90s, manufacturers and engineers developed ways to wring the same amount of light (if not more of it) from the same amount of power. The improvements, he says, came with indoor fluorescent lights used in office buildings and commercial businesses. Previously, fluorescents ran on magnetic ballasts (the things that make a lamp turn on), but newer, electronic ballasts could run on 60 percent of the energy previously needed. Over time, Malek says, the standard width of fluorescent tubes got thinner and thinner, but they emitted more and more light.</p><p>With these successes in hand, Malek says, companies like ComEd saw potential for energy efficiency on a larger scale.</p><p>In 2008 ComEd launched <a href="https://www.comed.com/business-savings/programs-incentives/Pages/lighting.aspx" target="_blank">a series of initiatives</a> to help businesses and residents cut their energy consumption &mdash; and costs &mdash; across the board. Malek says the vast majority of requests from commercial businesses were for replacing lighting systems. He says that&rsquo;s still the case.</p><p>Malek thinks our question-asker, Mike Mesterharm, is on to something when it comes to the Chicago skyline getting brighter.</p><p>&ldquo;I bet you there&rsquo;s more lumens at this point in the skyline,&rdquo; Malek says. &ldquo;I would think it&rsquo;s brighter.&rdquo;</p><p>Malek points out, though, that while the skyline&rsquo;s getting brighter in terms of lumens (a measurement of visible light), it&rsquo;s also getting brighter where you actually <em>need</em> it to be bright. That&rsquo;s because of the increasing accessibility of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), a lighting technology that&rsquo;s more directional and brighter than their sodium vapor predecessors.</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/19ejvmq0elq8gjpg%20led%20lights%20hoover%20street%20courtesy.jpg" style="height: 352px; width: 620px;" title="An example of the color differences in sodium vapor lighting, left, versus LED lighting, right, on a residential street in Los Angeles. (Courtesy Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting) " /></div><p>LEDs are also &ldquo;cooler&rdquo; on the color spectrum &nbsp;than sodium vapor lights, so they give off a bluer hue, unless they&rsquo;re somehow manipulated. <a href="http://www.popsci.com/article/technology/why-blue-led-worth-nobel-prize" target="_blank">Advancements in LED color rendering</a> are happening quickly, though, Malek points out. So while the skyline may be brighter overall because of them, it&rsquo;s hard to predict long-term changes in the skyline&rsquo;s color.</p><p>Malek says ComEd&rsquo;s already experimenting with 800 LED streetlights in the Chicago suburbs of Lombard and Bensenville. The lights are not only more energy efficient, he says, but they&rsquo;re also equipped with &ldquo;smart technology.&rdquo; Applications could include dimming lights in sync with sunrise and sunset, or turning them off completely when people want to better appreciate Fourth of July fireworks displays. In emergency situations, they could be isolated to flash in areas that need attention by police or medics. (For better or for worse, it&rsquo;s possible that in the near future, your alderman or other local rep could control your neighborhood&rsquo;s street lights from an iPad.)</p><p>Malek can&rsquo;t say for sure whether Chicago will adopt the same fixture technology, but he predicts it will arrive someday, regardless of energy savings.</p><p>And if you think that&rsquo;s going to change the view of a skyline, we&rsquo;ve only scratched the surface.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">New creative powers</span></p><p>Light as a utility is one thing, but light as an aesthetic or artistic choice is another. And as LED technology swarms the light market, Chicago, like other cities, will have more choices about what kind of lights to buy and how to use them. That&rsquo;s true for your home, your neighborhood, and the entire Chicago skyline.</p><p>Changes in the skyline could be hard to ignore.</p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" mozallowfullscreen="" src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/62936054?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="620"></iframe><p>Take what&rsquo;s happened at the Intercontinental Miami. In 2013 the hotel installed a 19-story LED installation of a silhouetted woman dancing on the side of its building (and then offered <a href="http://miami.curbed.com/archives/2013/01/11/intercontinental-hotel.php" target="_blank">this explanation</a>). The 47-floor iconic Miami Tower in the heart of downtown is now also a <a href="http://www.ledsource.com/project/miami-tower/" target="_blank">slate for light displays that look like neon fish</a> &mdash; with the capability of 16 million color combinations.</p><p>In 2014 Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/dps/ContractAdministration/Specs/2014/Spec124831Exhibit1_Part1.pdf" target="_blank"> launched an international call for proposals</a> to have designers rethink the city&rsquo;s &ldquo;Lighting Framework Plan.&rdquo; According to the invitation, the city wants &ldquo;unique and revolutionary&rdquo; lighting concepts to decorate some of the most &ldquo;important and visible public places in Chicago.&rdquo; An invitation for proposals provides designers with suggestions, including photo displays cast onto the Merchandise Mart:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/dps/ContractAdministration/Specs/2014/Spec124831Exhibit1_Part1.pdf" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/proposal screenshot.PNG" style="height: 401px; width: 620px;" title="(Source: City of Chicago.)" /></a></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.schulershook.com/" target="_blank">Schuler Shook</a> lighting designer Jim Baney points out that LEDs can be used in subtle ways, but he&rsquo;s seen projects get carried away, too. From his vantage, lighting in Chicago should accompany presentation of architecture.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;Just because we have the ability with LEDs to select from any number of different colors and to mix those colors to make other colors, doesn&rsquo;t necessarily mean that we should all the time do that,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I think with control comes responsibility and comes the need for somebody to really have knowledge.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size:22px;">Another choice: The case to be made for stars</span></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/audrey.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Audrey Fischer, President of Chicago's Astronomical Society. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">With this much power in our hands to light &nbsp;the world as much as we want (and however we want), there is a case to made for a different strategy for Chicago&rsquo;s future skyline: restraint.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Audrey Fischer, President of Chicago&rsquo;s Astronomical Society and an advocate for dark skies, wants the city to invest in light fixtures that only shine downward, and bulbs that don&rsquo;t burn quite so bright, or so blue.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;In my mind a &lsquo;green&rsquo; city like Chicago ... ought to have a midnight blue sky, star-studded with the milky way,&rdquo; she says.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">If the case for starlight&rsquo;s natural beauty doesn&rsquo;t move you, Fischer points to a litany of problems associated with irresponsible lighting (aka, light pollution). For starters, it <a href="http://www.birdmonitors.net/LightsOut.php" target="_blank">screws up bird migratory paths</a> and <a href="http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/bats_and_lighting.html" target="_blank">disrupts roosting by local bat populations</a>. Even the eco-friendliest of lights can <a href="http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side" target="_blank">screw up our own internal clocks</a> as well. And that&rsquo;s apart from evidence that the wrong lighting can <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002207/" target="_blank">increase the risk of breast cancer</a>, <a href="http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/05/29/aje.kwu117.short" target="_blank">obesity</a>, and <a href="http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/melatonin-and-sleep" target="_blank">sleep disorders</a>. (For an extensive look on issues regarding blue-rich, white outdoor lighting, see <a href="http://www.darksky.org/assets/documents/Reports/IDA-Blue-Rich-Light-White-Paper.pdf" target="_blank">this report by the International Dark-Sky Association</a>).</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Fischer says Chicago is the most light-polluted city in the world, referencing <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/ngeo_1300_NOV11_auproof2.pdf" target="_blank">a study by researcher Harald Stark at the University of Colorado</a>. This is kind of ironic, given that in the early 20th century Edwin Hubble (of Hubble telescope fame) made some of <a href="https://cosmology.carnegiescience.edu/timeline/1929" target="_blank">his most important scientific discoveries</a> (like the fact that the universe is expanding) with a degree in mathematics and astronomy from the University of Chicago. Now, you can hardly even see starlight if you&#39;re gazing within the city limits.</div><div><p><a href="http://www.nps.gov/grba/learn/nature/lightscape.htm" target="_blank">A study by the National Park Service estimates</a> that by 2025, dark skies will be an &ldquo;extinct phenomena&rdquo; in the continental United States due to light pollution.</p><p>To people like Fischer, that&rsquo;s a pretty high cost.</p><p>&ldquo;Starlight is the one thing that connects all nationalities across this planet,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Theres a chance that we&rsquo;re going to lose that forever.&rdquo;</p><p>Here&rsquo;s a taste of what we&rsquo;re missing.</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/Chi1h5.jpg" style="height: 207px; width: 620px;" title="The Chicago sky as it could be without light pollution showing the Milky Way and numerous stars. (Composite image by Adler photographer, Craig Stillwell, and Adler astronomer, Larry Ciupik, based on images by Craig Stillwell and Wei-Hao Wang)" /></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/mike_0.jpg" style="float: right; height: 213px; width: 300px;" title="(WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">About our question-asker</span></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Mike Mesterharm is from Chicago, but he left the city at 18 to attend college. He says he didn&rsquo;t pay much attention to things like street lights or skyline changes. But come to think of it, he says, he didn&rsquo;t pay much attention to <em>anything</em> at 18.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Now, at 28, Mike says he&rsquo;s a bit more observant about his environment. In fact, he says his whole concept of the environment has expanded.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;Our environment isn&rsquo;t simply the hard matter,&rdquo; Mike says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the things that exist around that. It&rsquo;s the light, it&rsquo;s the sound.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;You know, I wouldn&rsquo;t have asked this question at 18. If anything, I find it reassuring that maybe if the skyline&rsquo;s changed and I&rsquo;m noticing it, that&rsquo;s a good thing. And if it hasn&rsquo;t changed &hellip; now I&rsquo;m paying attention.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Logan Jaffe is Curious City&rsquo;s multimedia producer. Follow her on twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a>.</em></div></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 17:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/art-and-science-behind-glow-chicagos-skyline-111928 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><div>&nbsp;</div><div>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.</div><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 its 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 remained committed to being downtown. 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 its own entity and the Loop was its 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="" /></p><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/duo3.png" title="Site of the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist before construction in the mid-1950s. (Photos courtesy Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist and Chuckman's Chicago Nostalgia) " /></div></div><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, D.C., where he designed a cavernous metro, famous for its 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 its 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. (Flickr/Jamie Bernstein)" /></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 of Christ, 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 Washington, D.C., 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