WBEZ | Studio Gang http://www.wbez.org/tags/studio-gang Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Critic's vision to preserve Prentice is shaky -- but could have another merit altogether http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-10/critics-vision-preserve-prentice-shaky-could-have-another-merit-altogether <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/18PRENTICE1-popup.jpg" style="float: right; " title="Architect Jeanne Gang's rendering of a possible solution for Prentice. (Courtesy of Studio Gang)" /></div><p>You&#39;ve seen this week&#39;s idea by the <em>New York Times</em>&#39; architecture critic to save the former Prentice Women&#39;s Hospital <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/18/arts/design/adapting-prentice-womens-hospital-for-new-use-in-chicago.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">by building a research tower on top</a> of the iconic cloverleaf shaped structure?</p><p>The notion has been the subject of chatter in architecture and preservation circles, particularly since critic Michael Kimmelman got Chicago architect Jeanne Gang to flesh out his idea and to create pretty snazzy renderings of the proposed complex.&nbsp;</p><p>On first blush, the plan shows above-the-box thinking worthy of some applause. Bertrand Goldberg&#39;s iconic modernist structure would seem to escape the bulldozer, which is what Prentice supporters want. And Northwestern University would get the new research building it wants, without having to demolish Prentice to do it.</p><p>But as a real solution for Prentice the idea falls flat. Under this idea, Goldberg&#39;s building would be visually overpowered by its taller addition. And what would the cloverleaf towers &mdash; now downgraded to being just the midsection of a new complex &mdash; do? What is truly being preserved? I would fear the quatrefoils would become an empty concrete Atlas, with much of its original space taken up by structural and mechanical systems needed to support the new world above it.</p><p>In addition, to elegantly build a 31-story tower on top of a building that wasn&#39;t originally designed to carry the extra load would be frightfully expensive. Yeah, they recently added 25 floors to the city&#39;s Blue Cross/Blue Shield Building, as Kimmelman states, but that skyscraper was designed to be added on &mdash; and the finished result is building that looks and functions as it did before. It&#39;s just taller.</p><p>Plus, does Northwestern even want this as a solution? In his piece, Kimmelman said a spokesman &quot;would not say whether the university would entertain such a notion.&quot; Which says volumes. Particularly since the Save Prentice Coalition, led by preservation group Landmarks Illinois, presented the university with <a href="http://www.landmarks.org/preservation_news_prentice_reuse_study.htm">a reuse study</a> for Prentice a while back, but Northwestern dismissed it as expensive and unworkable. In a<a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20121018/BLOGS08/121019745/jeanne-gang-goes-for-the-win-win-in-prentice-design"> <em>Crain&#39;s</em> story</a> Thursday, the university made their point a little finer:</p><p>&ldquo;It certainly is a very interesting drawing and an interesting concept, but like I said, it doesn&#39;t address the university&#39;s need to have new building connect to the existing building on a floor-by-floor basis and ultimately have a building that&#39;s 1.2 million square feet,&rdquo; a Northwestern spokesman said.</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/untitled%20shoot-030_1.jpg" style="float: left; " title="" /></div><p>This is not intended as a take-down of Kimmelman and Gang&#39;s idea, though. In fact, their vision has a significant, if unintended merit: It undesrcores the mass public interest in Prentice&#39;s fate and demonstrates there is a wider circle of experts who are thinking of ways to preserve the old hospital. And the Commission on Chicago Landmarks should weigh in now and grant preliminary landmark status to Prentice in order to allow time &mdash; and a process &mdash; to bring those people and ideas to the table.</p><p>The preliminary landmark designation would temporarily spare Prentice from demolition for a year. It would give City Hall the ability to examine whether a permanent designation and reuse plan are possible by working with the university, preservationists and experts such as Gang. That process might very well bring the &quot;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-10-15/business/chi-ald-reilly-said-he-supports-nu-plan-to-tear-down-prentice-building-20121015_1_prentice-site-nu-plan-lurie-medical-research-center">eureka moment</a>&quot; that saves Prentice, as Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) spoke of when he seemingly reluctantly came out in favor of demolition last earlier this week. Or it could reveal the building has no future use at all &mdash; which I doubt is true.</p><p>But at least a deliberative and public process would have been followed.</p></p> Fri, 19 Oct 2012 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-10/critics-vision-preserve-prentice-shaky-could-have-another-merit-altogether Northwestern rejects Jeanne Gang’s proposal for a compromise on Prentice Women’s Hospital http://www.wbez.org/sections/culture/northwestern-rejects-jeanne-gang%E2%80%99s-proposal-compromise-prentice-women%E2%80%99s-hospital <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/prent-1.jpg" style="height: 443px; width: 620px;" title="Illustration of Studio Gang's proposed compromise on Prentice (Flickr/Trevor Pratt; Studio Gang Architects/Jay Hoffman)" /></div><p>Prominent Chicago architect Jeanne Gang came up with an idea this week to construct a new skyscraper on top of Prentice Women&rsquo;s Hospital.</p><p>Gang&rsquo;s vision could help the cause of preservationists, who have been working for months to save the clover-shaped structure from demolition. Gang was among a group of more than 60 architects and educators who petitioned the mayor in July to ask that the site be protected as a landmark.</p><div>But the building&rsquo;s owner, Northwestern University, says any proposal that keeps the 1975 building intact probably won&rsquo;t work for them. And Jeanne Gang&#39;s idea is out of the question.</div><p>Northwestern wants to build a new biomedical research facility on the site in the Streeterville neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;The existing Prentice building that&rsquo;s there is not suitable for repurposing for research,&rdquo; said Alan Cubbage, spokesman for the university. &ldquo;We really can&rsquo;t give up that much space on the site for a building that does not meet our needs.&rdquo;</p><p>Cubbage added that the university eventually wants a facility with far more square footage than Gang&rsquo;s design would accommodate. And he said the old Prentice building could not be connected on every floor to a Northwestern building already sitting West of it. Connectors on each floor are an essential requirement for the university, which is not up for debate.</p><p>Gang got the idea to propose a research facility on top of the old building when she was driving around the city seeing architectural sites with <em>New York Times</em> architecture critic Michael Kimmelman. She showed Kimmelman the structure, which was designed by renowned Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg. When Kimmelman suggested putting something on top of the building as a way to resolve the preservation problem, Gang went back to Studio Gang and drew it up.</p><p>&ldquo;It didn&rsquo;t ever really occur to me before that that could be done, but I was kind of excited about that notion,&rdquo; Gang said. She thinks her proposal is architecturally feasible, though she isn&rsquo;t proposing that her firm actually take the project on.</p><p>She&rsquo;s just hoping to support a compromise on an issue whose two sides have lately seemed to her to be &ldquo;intractable.&rdquo;</p><hr /><p><strong>Related:</strong></p><ul><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/culture/famous-architects-step-save-prentice-building-101229">Famous architects step in to save Prentice building</a></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-09/architectural-swap-meet-102583">Alison Cuddy: Architectural swap meet?</a></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/culture/alderman-reilly-supports-demolishing-prentice-women%E2%80%99s-hospital-103150">Downtown alderman: Prentice has to go</a></li></ul><hr /><p>&ldquo;We know that this building doesn&rsquo;t serve the purpose of biomedical labs today,&rdquo; said Gang. &ldquo;We want to have a top state-of-the-art research lab &ndash; that&rsquo;s great for the city, that&rsquo;s great for the economy. On the other side of it, you want to preserve the architectural heritage of Chicago. What if we could have both?&rdquo;</p><p>Even if a compromise could be found, it&rsquo;s unclear who the broker would be. The Save Prentice Coalition is putting pressure on the Chicago Landmarks Commission to recommend the site for landmark status this fall, but the commission won&rsquo;t comment on the issue. And Mayor Rahm Emanuel has yet to weigh in.</p><p>Alderman Brendan Reilly (2nd), whose ward includes the Prentice building, said on Monday he&rsquo;s waiting for a &ldquo;Eureka!&rdquo; moment that would give both sides what they want, but that for now he doesn&rsquo;t see an alternative to tearing down the building. He could not be reached for comment on Thursday.</p></p> Thu, 18 Oct 2012 16:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/culture/northwestern-rejects-jeanne-gang%E2%80%99s-proposal-compromise-prentice-women%E2%80%99s-hospital Can cultural resources help spur a different future for the Chicago River? http://www.wbez.org/blog/alison-cuddy/2012-03-21/can-cultural-resources-help-spur-different-future-chicago-river-97515 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-21/Lost Panoramas Big Boats.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-21/Lost Panoramas Big Boats.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 324px;" title="Big Boats (Rich Cahan/Lost Panoramas)"></p><p>A couple of days ago, I was inspired by a string of sultry summery days to do one of my favorite things: take a water taxi along the Chicago River.</p><p>My trip was a short jaunt to the DuSable Bridge – at this stage they’re only running full routes on weekends. And it's no surprise why – at 2 p.m. on a weekday, I was the only passenger, along with the captain and one deck hand, who extolled the many virtues of his summer job. Otherwise, all was quiet along the water, which still carried a slight hint of its annual turn to green.</p><p>Back on dry land we’ve seen a big flurry of activity around our waterways. Just shy of a year ago, <a href="http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/d25839bbae91c1388525788e0036da49?OpenDocument">the Federal Environmental Protection Agency made it official</a>: We need to make the Chicago River clean enough to recreate on and <em>in</em>, activities still considered hazardous to our health.</p><p>This month the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, which after years of costly balking <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-06-07/news/ct-met-chicago-river-vote-20110607_1_cleaner-river-chicago-river-water-district-backs">finally agreed to the new regime</a> last June, <a href="http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=203321">laid out a plan to disinfect wastewater going into the river</a>, which they claim will make it safe for swimming by 2016.</p><p>That’s quite the sea change for the river – from Chicago’s backyard outhouse to its backyard pool in just a few short years – ah, the miracles of chlorine! And while change is driven by a concern for the overall habitat of the river, it also reflects our continuing people-centric view of how to make use of this (once) natural resource.</p><p>Our evolving relationship with the river isn’t just a matter of legislative and policy shifts. There’s been a spate of cultural interest as well. In <a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/M/bo13291307.html"><em>MidStream: The Chicago River, 1999-2010</em></a>, native Chicagoan and photographer Richard Wasserman explores the entire length of the Chicago River and documents our changing perception of the water, from place for poop to site of pleasure.</p><p>Most of his photographs are devoid of actual humans, but he finds our leavings all over the place, from the crumbling remnants of once active factories, to graffiti on bridge braces, to that remarkable man-made endeavor known as the <a href="http://www.chicagobarproject.com/Memoriam/SlowDown/SlowDown.htm"><em>Slow Down Life’s Too Short </em>bar</a> (an all-too-ironic title now that it’s closed). By getting up close and personal with the Chicago River, Wasserman has managed to open up an imaginative space, one that captures both the industrial age of the river and its emerging recreational future.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-21/reverse-effect-jeanne-gang-537x342.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 191px; float: left; margin: 10px;" title="Bubbly Creek, Reverse Effect (Studio Gang)">That future is also the subject of Jeanne Gang’s utopian <a href="http://www.studiogang.net/news/updates/2011/10/reverseeffect"><em>Reverse Effect: Renewing Chicago's Waterways</em></a>, a project inspired by the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) move to <em>re-reverse</em> the river by installing a dam (proper name: hydrological barrier) at the notorious Bubbly Creek (speaking of cultural resources check out local Andrew Malo’s ode to the notorious stew, the<a href="http://andrewmalo.bandcamp.com/"> 2012 EP </a><em><a href="http://andrewmalo.bandcamp.com/">Songs from Bubbly Creek</a>).</em></p><p>The dam would literally de-couple the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. But Gang takes the NRDC’s vision, combines it with the river’s “continually reinvented” history and runs wild. She imagines a river freed from its natural and artificial constraints, spilling into the cityscape via a series of freshwater inland lagoons. In these public watery spaces, we could loll about watching movies or listening to music while wetland habitats clean up our … mess.</p><p>Gang also led a group of Harvard students to design creative community-based uses of the barrier. One I particularly like imagines an art space that would combine the character of two Chicago neighborhoods: Pilsen (art, muralists) and Bridgeport (politics, speechifying). The low-lying structure's (think futuristic Frank Lloyd Wright) spine is a giant mural wall, that both bisects the space and leads to an outdoor performance theater. With one elegant journey, two communities historically separated by a variety of barriers, from cultural to geographic, might come together.</p><p>How Gang’s truly 21<sup>st</sup> century river will come to pass remains to be seen. But she's not alone in rethinking our water ecosystem. I've long been a fan of <a href="http://www.urbanlab.com/h2o/">Growing Water</a>, a project by the local architect/urban design firm Urban Lab. And hey, if Chicago can take a dirty, seemingly intractable train yard and turn it into a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Park">gorgeous park full of music, dance and public art</a>, then anything is&nbsp; possible, right?</p><p>Ok, the money for projects like these doesn't grow on trees. But a great way to figure out how to get to the future is by exploring how we arrived at our own current moment. Thanks to Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, we can do a little river time traveling. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Panoramas-Chicago-Changed-Beyond/dp/0978545001"><em>The Lost Panoramas: When Chicago Changed its River and the Land Beyond </em></a>is a collection of long-lost photographs documenting the original reversal of the river – the digging of a 28-mile canal between the Chicago and DesPlaines Rivers, and the impact of this feat (folly?) of engineering.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-21/Lost Panoramas State Street.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 192px; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="State Street (Rich Cahan/Lost Panoramas)">The glass negatives span the years 1894-1928 and were taken for the Sanitary District of Chicago. Like Wasserman’s photos, the images capture the energy of man (the emerging industrial behemoth Chicago) and the energy of nature (the gorgeous flow of a river with its own agenda and logic). And to learn more about Isham Randolph, the man whose energy was instrumental in reversing the flow of the river, check out Chris McAvoy's <a href="http://weblog.lonelylion.com/2011/07/14/isham-has-a-wikipedia-entry/">wonderful work on the subject.</a></p><p>Cahan (and maybe Williams) will talk about this history Thursday night, at the <a href="http://www.unitytemple.org/">Unity Temple</a> in Oak Park. Admission is 10 bucks, and their event is part of the Break the Box series presented by the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation. The Temple could use your support as well – <a href="http://triblocal.com/oak-park-river-forest/2011/10/11/stolen-unity-letters-expected-to-be-replaced-by-spring/">they’re still working to restore the bronze letters stolen from the façade a few years ago.</a></p><p><em>The Lost Panoramas, </em><em>March 22, 7:30 p.m., </em><em>Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street, Oak Park. </em></p></p> Wed, 21 Mar 2012 20:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/alison-cuddy/2012-03-21/can-cultural-resources-help-spur-different-future-chicago-river-97515 Video: Jeanne Gang talks about her first skyscraper http://www.wbez.org/blog/mark-bazer/2011-09-20/video-jeanne-gang-talks-about-her-first-skyscraper-92209 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-20/jeanne gang.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Jeanne Gang, who just won a MacArthur Genius Grant, talked the Aqua Tower, mushrooms and more when she appeared on <em>The Interview Show</em> last year. Proof that the quickest way to get a Genius Grant is to appear on the show!</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/8cHU38BBLSg" width="560"></iframe></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/EuJH7qhGlH8" width="560"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 20 Sep 2011 14:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/mark-bazer/2011-09-20/video-jeanne-gang-talks-about-her-first-skyscraper-92209