WBEZ | Chicago Architecture Foundation http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-architecture-foundation Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Swinging Times: Why Chicago has so Many Revolving Doors http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swinging-times-why-chicago-has-so-many-revolving-doors-114058 <p><p>Sometimes, it takes a visitor to notice something unusual and special about your city. That was the case for Flora Alderman, a lifelong Chicagoan who, in her retirement, leads walking tours in downtown Chicago. She turned several observations from her tour-goers into a question, and then sent it our way:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Why does Chicago have so many revolving doors?</em></p><p>At first, Flora thought her tour-goers may have been from smaller towns, where revolving doors were less common; but she&rsquo;s even heard the same question from a tourist from New York City, which made Flora start noticing just how many revolving doors we have.</p><p>We quickly learn that she is on to something.</p><p>Angus MacMillan, the national sales manager for <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcGV2_EgNUk" target="_blank">Crane Revolving Doors</a>, says Chicago and New York are the biggest markets for revolving doors, and that Chicago was the No. 1 market for decades. He thinks downtown Chicago may have more revolving doors per block than New York: &ldquo;I get my [sales] reps in from all around the country, and I&rsquo;ll take them to downtown Chicago, and they&rsquo;ll count more revolving doors in one block there than they have in their whole city.&rdquo;</p><p>But the <em>why </em>part of Flora&rsquo;s question &mdash; why the revolving door found such a hospitable home in Chicago &mdash; takes a bit more digging and is even more interesting.</p><p>The bottom line is that revolving doors have been solving several of the city&rsquo;s architectural challenges for about 115 years and, though the basic technology hasn&rsquo;t changed, the reasons people install them have actually expanded.</p><p>If you think these seemingly simple devices aren&rsquo;t worth considering, we have a question for you: Can you think of another century-old invention that works the same way as it did when it was created, but has only become increasingly relevant?</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">When this invention took its first revolution</span></p><p>While there&rsquo;s evidence of revolving doors in Chicago just after the turn of the century, they were actually invented twelve years earlier. In 1888, Theophilus Van Kannel of Philadelphia filed a U.S. patent for his new invention, an improvement on an earlier German invention. In his patent description of what would soon come to be known as a revolving door (most commonly now with four leaves), Van Kannel touted the many benefits over a swing door. For one, crowds of people could easily move in and out of the building in a continuous flow, without anyone having to wait. Beyond that, snug weather stripping around the doors could stop air from directly passing from the outside to the inside. The doors also prevented dirt and noise from getting inside as well.</p><p>Despite the practical benefits, the new contraptions took some getting used to. Revolving doors debuted in New York City in 1899, and early accounts include stories of people (New Yorkers, no less!) afraid of using Van Kannel&rsquo;s invention. Tourists visiting from small towns were even mocked in the newspapers for their revolving door naïveté.</p><p>&ldquo;Laws a-me!,&rdquo; a New York Times essayist claimed to hear from a visiting woman. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s dreadful like a threshing machine. &hellip; These new-fangled things&rsquo;ll kill me yet!&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="600" scrolling="no" src="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1959/08/09/page/238/article/peoples-dizzy-doings-in-a-revolving-door" width="650"></iframe></p><p>Still, the &ldquo;revolving threshing machines&rdquo; caught wind in other cities, particularly Chicago. By 1901, they&rsquo;d become a bit of a local, pop culture curiosity. That year, the first mention of revolving doors in the Chicago Daily Tribune tells a fictional (perhaps?) tale entitled &ldquo;The Romance of the Revolving Door.&rdquo; In it, two young lovers have quarrelled and broken off their engagement, only to be reunited months later in a downtown department store. Of course, when they are suddenly trapped face to face in a stuck revolving door. (Spoiler alert from the young lady: &ldquo;There isn&rsquo;t any use of us trying to quarrel, John, when even these awful revolving doors conspire to keep us together in this way.&rdquo;)</p><p>While we don&rsquo;t know exactly how many revolving doors were installed in Chicago during the early 20th century, brochures from the period suggest the city was the major market in North America.</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/VAN%20KANNEL%20FOR%20WEB%202.png" style="height: 345px; width: 620px;" title="A Van Kannel revolving door installed at the Pittsfield Building at 55 East Washington. (WBEZ/Jennifer Masengarb)" /></div><p>You can still see some of the originals today. Just walk through the Loop or Streeterville: Plenty of the buildings date back to the early 20th century with <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/rinses/6069531531/in/photolist-69pnFa-7wwk6b-yYsuV4-wBoaU-8DoMrg-RKMC2-tdz999-s9TPh7-3p1VBD-6rT7Na-n1k52L-ANge1-9a7ew6-7c7sex-4rRJPb-7pdY1J-4dyiS-afkWgn-qC18jU-kjj6uX-5HoksX-9rA9YC-4ayYSv-6cUhgi-9yfFa-JgKA5-vP8Vo-7bgT2r-7YCK22-fjVgM-9fevy4-cxNXrs-9KXbYT-iXHZ3n-brf1Vy-8cFhhD" target="_top">classic revolving doors</a>, including a few from the original Van Kannel Company. But the doors&rsquo; initial appeal and utility to keep coal dust and soot out of buildings soon gave way to other useful applications, particularly as Chicago&rsquo;s skyline grew taller.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Chicago stacks up</span></p><p>Architect Patrick Loughran of <a href="http://www.gpchicago.com/profile/leadership/" target="_blank">Goettsch Partners</a> says Chicago&rsquo;s still got a lot of revolving doors because we have so many tall buildings.</p><p>&ldquo;Any high rise building is going to have to have elevator cores that take people from the bottom all the way up,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Those big open tubes create the stack effect where heat and air rise, and it creates this suction at the base of the building.&rdquo;</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/STACK%20EFFECT%20FOR%20WEB.png" style="height: 624px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>The stack effect, or suction, comes from the air pressure differential between the inside and outside. On very cold days, that differential is extreme. Warm air collecting at the top of the elevator shafts is much lighter than the denser cold air at the base. The low pressure area pulls air into the first floor lobby and actually makes it difficult to pull swing doors open.</p><p>Revolving doors don&rsquo;t have this problem, because they block air that would otherwise rush in from the outside. As such, Loughran says tall buildings either need a revolving door or a vestibule with two sets of doors. The vestibule solution doesn&rsquo;t always effectively counter stack effect.</p><p>Loughran explains that while revolving doors are more common in cooler climates, warm climates have their own version of this problem. &ldquo;In Southern climates, you get the reverse effect, where doors are pushing out,&rdquo; he says. That can make it difficult to close outward swinging doors, allowing cooled air to escape.</p><p>Whether the effect is pushing inward or outwards, as the doors reach the closed position, the air rushing through can be audible.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s almost like a flute,&rdquo; Loughran says. &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">We hate cold air in the North</span></p><p>Concerns about the stack effect in highrise buildings only partially explain why the revolving door is so common in the Chicago landscape. Because, if you take a stroll around the Loop, you&rsquo;ll see contemporary low rise buildings with revolving doors as well: drug stores, restaurants, cafes, and clothing retailers. The likely reason doesn&rsquo;t have to do with countering the stack effect. According to MacMillan, it comes down to comfort and economics &mdash; the need to maximize floor space.</p><p>Consider a restaurant in the winter. If it&rsquo;s got tables right next to a regular swing door, MacMillan says no matter how great the food is &ldquo;those first tables are going to really cold. That&rsquo;s the last thing you want for a dining experience.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Restaurants could solve that problem with a vestibule and two sets of swing doors, but that option takes up valuable space. The revolving door&rsquo;s smaller footprint, on the other hand, keeps cold out while allowing space for two or even three extra tables. MacMillan says that bit of extra profit can help offset revolving doors&rsquo; higher initial costs. The same principle applies to retailers, who want to protect customers from winter chills and maximize floor space at the same time.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_4217" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/292130274/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Space isn&rsquo;t the only thing saved by revolving doors, according to MacMillan. He says in Chicago and other cold cities, the doors cut heating bills by keeping out so much cold air. He&rsquo;s convinced revolving doors could also save money for building owners in warmer climates, too. He says it&rsquo;s actually cheaper to heat a building during a cold Chicago winter than it is to cool a similar building in the midst of a hot summer in Atlanta or Houston. But, he says, Southern building owners typically don&rsquo;t follow through by installing revolving doors &mdash; mostly because building owners are driven by whether people feel comfortable: &ldquo;People in the South, they don&rsquo;t mind if their cold air is blowing out. Up in the North, we mind if the cold air is blowing in. That&rsquo;s what we hate.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>MacMillan says if you&rsquo;re looking for one last reason to explain why some regions might not install revolving doors, consider that some people might still be a little afraid of them.</p><p>&ldquo;You look at California. They really look at revolving doors like a meat grinder,&rdquo; he says, echoing the woman in 1899 who likened New York&rsquo;s newfangled doors to a thresher.</p><p>MacMillan says builders in warm climates are finally catching on to revolving doors, and he says the industry is selling and installing more than ever. But Chicago remains a city with a very high, if not the highest, density of revolving doors in its downtown.</p><p>When you think about what factors make revolving doors attractive to developers and building owners, Chicago covers all the bases. A history of soot and smoke? Check. Supertall buildings and stack effect? Check. A high density of retail and restaurants? Yep. Temperature extremes? Got that one, too. Minneapolis might be colder and New York may have tall buildings, but Chicago uniquely combines all the important factors.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Still revolving, still evolving</span></p><p>Today&rsquo;s revolving doors look sleek and modern, designed to complement transparent building entrances like the eye catching lobby at the UBS Building at <a href="http://www.conferencecenteratubstower.com/" target="_blank">One North Wacker</a> designed by Goettsch Partners. But if you compare those doors to the sketches in <a href="http://i2.wp.com/99percentinvisible.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/van-kannel-1-1.png" target="_top">Theophilus Van Kannel&rsquo;s 1888 patent</a>, you can see the basic principal is the same.</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/SLEEK%20DOOR%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Light passes through the revolving doors at UBS Building at One North Wacker. (WBEZ/Jennifer Masengarb)" /></div><p>One hundred thirty seven years later, and revolving doors keep on spinning (get it?). That long life cycle (groan) strikes us as neat. That same principle of creating an efficient air lock, first designed to keep out dust and soot, now helps buildings counteract the stack effect, keep customers comfy, and save on heating and cooling costs.</p><p>Angus MacMillan, revolving door salesman, says that&rsquo;s OK by him.</p><p>&ldquo;Every building should have a revolving door,&rdquo; he says.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Our Questioner, Flora Alderman</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FLORA%20ALDERMAN%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" title="Flora Alderman turned over questions she received from Road Scholar tour-goers into a Curious City question. (Photo courtesy of Flora Alderman)" /></p><p>Flora Alderman lives in Chicago&rsquo;s Harbor Point, aka, New East Side. She&rsquo;s a retired Jewish Community Center Director and still leads trips for<a href="http://www.roadscholar.org/" target="_blank"> Road Scholar, a project of Elderhostel</a>. &nbsp;</p><p>She splits her time between Chicago, and Delray Beach, Florida. She&rsquo;s there now, and we asked her to be on the lookout for revolving doors, especially since they could save building owners and businesses in Florida on air conditioning costs.</p><p>She says she hasn&rsquo;t seen a single one.</p><p><em>Jesse Dukes is Curious City&rsquo;s Audio Producer. Jen Masengarb is Director of Interpretation and Research at the<a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank"> Chicago Architecture Foundation</a>. Follow her on Twitter at<a href="https://twitter.com/jmasengarb" target="_blank"> @jmasengarb</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 04 Dec 2015 17:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swinging-times-why-chicago-has-so-many-revolving-doors-114058 Make Plans! Pilsen Sprints Forward http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/make-plans-pilsen-sprints-forward-107182 <p><p>Pilsen is a neighborhood located in the residential Lower West Side community in Chicago. In the late 19th century it was inhabited by Germans, Irish, Czech, Polish and Lithuanian immigrants. Mexican immigrants and Latinos became a majority in 1970 as the neighborhood served as a port of entry. The legacy of uneven development throughout major cities, including Chicago, has left various neighborhoods vulnerable to uneven stabilization. Yet Pilsen sprints forward as a &ldquo;Think and Do&rdquo; community. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>Patricia Saldana Natke</strong>, Principal of Urbanworks, &nbsp;presents an inspiring master plan and recent lasting changes made through Transit Oriented Development, a new student dormitory at the Pink Line Stop, planning visions for a &nbsp;Green Trail &ldquo; Paseo&rdquo;, &nbsp;proposed cultural &nbsp;anchors, and connectivity to the Chicago River.</p><div>This program is part of Lunch Talks @ CAF, a weekly lecture series that takes place every Wednesday at 12:15pm at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Further information and resources on this topic are available on our website at <a href="http://www.architecture.org/lunch">www.architecture.org/LunchTalksOnline.</a></div><div>&nbsp;</div><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/CAF-webstory_6.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><br />Recorded live Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at the&nbsp;Chicago Architecture Foundation Lecture Hall.</div></p> Wed, 17 Apr 2013 11:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/make-plans-pilsen-sprints-forward-107182 Mod Squad Chicago - Chicago at Midcentury: Images by Lee Bey http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/mod-squad-chicago-chicago-midcentury-images-lee-bey-106961 <p><p><strong>Lee Bey</strong> has had a distinguished career in the built environment as an architecture critic, mayoral advisor, adjunct professor and civic leader. But he is also a published and exhibited architectural photographer who has documented the city&#39;s mid-century modernist architecture. Bey shared his photography of the city&#39;s modernist architecture and discussed the importance of documenting this unique architectural style. The program was part of Lunch Talks @ CAF, a weekly lecture series that takes place every Wednesday at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CAF-webstory_5.jpg" title="" /></p><p>Recorded live March 20, 2013 at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.</p></p> Wed, 20 Mar 2013 17:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/mod-squad-chicago-chicago-midcentury-images-lee-bey-106961 Historic Preservation, Design, and Cultural Programming for Neighborhood Change http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/historic-preservation-design-and-cultural-programming-neighborhood-change <p><p><strong>Charles Leeks</strong> and <strong>Matt Cole</strong> from Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, explain how NHS is continuing to incorporate historic preservation, design, and cultural programming into its community development efforts on the West &amp; South Sides of Chicago. Charles and Matt provide an update on NHS&#39; Historic Chicago Greystone Initiative, as well as NHS&#39; recent Cornerstones of Community collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.</p><p>This program is part of Lunch Talks @ CAF, a weekly lecture series that takes place every Wednesday at 12:15pm at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Further information and resources on this topic are available on our website at www.architecture.org/LunchTalksOnline.</p><p>&nbsp;</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/CAF-webstory_2.jpg" title="" /></div><p>Recorded live Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at the Chicago Architecture Foundation Lecture Hall.</p></p> Wed, 09 Jan 2013 10:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/historic-preservation-design-and-cultural-programming-neighborhood-change Small World Big Projects - Perkins + Will http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/small-world-big-projects-perkins-will-105865 <p><p><strong>Ralph Johnson</strong>, Director of Design for Perkins + Will, discusses two large projects in Africa that Perkins + Will has designed, the new campus for the Universidad Agostinho Neto in Luanda, Angola (completed in 2011) and recipient of the Chicago Athenaeum, American Architecture Award in 2009 and a Women and Children&rsquo;s Wellness Centre in Nairobi, Kenya (to be completed in 2013) and recipient of the AIA National Healthcare Design Award 2012 and World Architecture News Awards (Unbuilt) Healthcare Sector, 2011.</p><p>This program is part of Lunch Talks @ CAF, a weekly lecture series that takes place every Wednesday at 12:15pm at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Further information and resources on this topic are available on our website at www.architecture.org/LunchTalksOnline.</p><p>&nbsp;</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/CAF-webstory_3.jpg" title="" /></div><p>Recorded live Wednesday, December 19, 2013 at the&nbsp;Chicago Architecture Foundation Lecture Hall.</p></p> Wed, 19 Dec 2012 11:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/small-world-big-projects-perkins-will-105865 Architectural sketches of South Shore http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2011-05-16/architectural-sketches-south-shore-86632 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-May/2011-05-17/South Shore blgd_Lee Bey.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-17/P5073342.jpg" style="width: 497px; height: 323px;" title=""></p><p>I took a photostroll recently through a section of South Shore.</p><p>The neighborhood has a wealth of fine residential and pre-war commercial architecture that goes largely unsung--at least by many of those who aren't from the area. The folks who live there know what they've got, but more on that later.</p><p>Let's begin at the top of the post with a two-story retail building--with second story apartments--on 71st Street.It is a handsome brick-and-terra-cotta structure. The rounded first floor store entrance is a welcoming presence on the wide intersection. The Metra Electric travels on the rails in the foreground.&nbsp;</p><p>The home below is in South Shore's Jackson Highlands subsection, where the broad lawns and larger homes resemble the stuff you'd see in Oak Park, Beverly or other largely middle-to-upper middle class areas built before World War II.&nbsp;</p><p>I'm digging that Dutch gambrel roof and the well-cut shrubbery (although depending on your monitor, you might be getting unfortunate <em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moir%C3%A9_pattern">moire</a></em> lines across the brickwork):</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-17/P5073351.jpg" style="width: 472px; height: 420px;" title=""></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Look at this Florentine beauty at 70th and Constance, also in the Jackson Highlands. The 84-year-old home boasts a Mediterranean tile roof and some traffic-stopping exterior brickwork.</p><p>Louis Richardson, vice president of the Rock Island Railroad, built the house in 1927, but died four years later. His widow, Mahala, died in 1934 at the age of 56:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-17/P5073356.jpg" style="width: 507px; height: 592px;" title=""></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The home is the work of architects Betts, Holcomb &amp; Baron. Holcomb &amp; Baron is a firm that also designed movie theaters.&nbsp; Looks like the house suffered some interior fire damage. Workers were their either cleaning it or fixing it when I walked by.</p><p>Meawhile, gaze (because mere "looking" hardly suffices) at the home's main entrance:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-17/P5073359.jpg" style="width: 439px; height: 658px;" title=""></p><p>I took the photostroll with South Shore residents who are newly-trained as neighborhood docents by the <a href="http://caf.architecture.org/">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a>.</p><p>It's a <a href="http://www.southshorechamberinc.org/blog/?p=361">new program</a> in which the organization partners with community leaders to raise up local experts--the folks who already know what they've got--and give them the docent skills to lead tours, identify and talk about the buildings and important places in their neighborhoods. In their own voice. And with their own stories.</p><p>The program soon will expand to include Chatham and other neighborhoods.</p></p> Tue, 17 May 2011 04:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2011-05-16/architectural-sketches-south-shore-86632 Dear Chicago: Rebuild our historic commercial streets http://www.wbez.org/story/andersonville/dear-chicago-rebuild-our-historic-commercial-streets <p><p><iframe height="338" frameborder="0" width="601" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/20530142?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=b30000"></iframe></p><p>If the Loop is Chicago&rsquo;s economic engine, architect David Walker wants to make sure there&rsquo;s a miniature version of the bustling commercial and retail hub in every city neighborhood. Walker works on planning projects that are rooted in community development and thinks deeply about the best ways to sustain Chicago&rsquo;s neighborhoods. He&rsquo;s especially concerned with the well-being of Woodlawn, the South Side neighborhood where he lives and owns a home.</p><p>Some city neighborhoods have economic engines roaring full speed ahead. Lincoln Park has Armitage Avenue and Halsted Street; Pilsen has 18th St. and Little Village has 26th St. On these stretches shoppers find the kinds of stores, services and restaurants that sustain a neighborhood and make it possible to shop without leaving the community. But in Woodlawn, as in many parts of the city&rsquo;s South and West Sides, historic commercial corridors have fallen into disrepair or they are shadows of their former selves.</p><p>Here, Walker explains why he wants Chicago&rsquo;s new mayor and city council to make rebuilding the city&rsquo;s historic commercial streets a priority.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><em>Dear Chicago</em> is a project of WBEZ&rsquo;s <a href="http://chicagopublicmedia.org/partnerships/our-partners">Partnerships Program</a>. David Walker was nominated for the series by the <a href="http://caf.architecture.org/">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a>.</div></p> Tue, 15 Mar 2011 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/andersonville/dear-chicago-rebuild-our-historic-commercial-streets Dear Chicago: Rebuild our historic commercial streets http://www.wbez.org/story/andersonville/dear-chicago-rebuild-our-historic-commercial-streets-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//David Walker screen shot 1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If the Loop is Chicago&rsquo;s economic engine, architect David Walker wants to make sure there&rsquo;s a miniature version of the bustling commercial and retail hub in every city neighborhood. Walker works on planning projects that are rooted in community development and thinks deeply about the best ways to sustain Chicago&rsquo;s neighborhoods. He&rsquo;s especially concerned with the well-being of Woodlawn, the South Side neighborhood where he lives and owns a home.</p></p> Tue, 15 Mar 2011 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/andersonville/dear-chicago-rebuild-our-historic-commercial-streets-0 Dear Chicago: Fill empty lots http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-architecture-foundation/dear-chicago-fill-empty-lots <p><br> <div id="PictoBrowser120123142208">&nbsp;</div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "530", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Dear Chicago: From empty space to space where we come together"); so.addVariable("userName", "Chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157628999236987"); so.addVariable("titles", "off"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "always"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "top"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "68"); so.write("PictoBrowser120123142208"); </script><div>When 23-year-old Darmika Ford looks out her home window, she imagines a community garden brimming with flowers, produce and community cooperation, but what she actually sees is nothing like that vision. Instead, she sees a vacant lot. Ford estimates there are at least 40 such lots in her West Garfield Park neighborhood, but her community is not alone; the City of Chicago website lists over 13,000 city-owned vacant land properties for sale. Ford has created sketches of how some of these places could be transformed into community gardens.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A graduate of Illinois State University, Ford was born and raised in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood and lives there today. She works for an organization called Public Allies, an apprenticeship program that sends young adults to work as community service leaders at non profit institutions. Public Allies placed Ford at the Gary Comer Youth Center, which is well known for its striking community rooftop garden. That garden sets a high standard that Ford admires and hopes to see repeated with Chicago’s vacant lots.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Dear Chicago,</em></div><div><em>I would like the new mayor to address the excessive vacancies in overlooked communities in the City of Chicago.This issue has an effect on what comes into this community and what goes out of it. If the lots are not being kept, it makes it appear as if the community is not being kept. I believe that turning these vacant lots over to the communities would increase community pride and cooperation, and you would see more positives because things are getting done. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>For example, one day I was in a car, and we were riding past Madison and Pulaski. I saw residents creating their own Christmas tree inside a vacant lot with little decorations. It was so cute! They had a table with bags and it looked like they had hot chocolate. And that just represents the people that live here, because it’s some great people that live here. And I said: “See? We make small use of what we got.”</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>Residents could use these vacant lots as outlets for things like neighborhood artwork, murals, decorative colorful benches, and outdoor sculptures. These types of activities would be valuable in uplifting neighborhoods’ cultural existence and increasing the growth and service of these neighborhoods.</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>Residents could use these lots for creating community-driven gardens that plant seeds of community pride and demonstrate what each of these communities represents.</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>I’ve been doing community gardening since 2009, when I finished college. And what I remember about that experience is that it taught the residents responsibility and accountability. I saw a change in their attitude towards working together. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>I believe that communities as a whole will change. A lot of people will take more initiative in trying to work together to keep their neighborhoods clean and healthy. Community gardens don’t always have to be a place for producing food. They could just be community beautification spaces, where people can go to read and relax and not have to go outside their community. Everyone that was employed at the community gardens I have worked at were from that particular community. There are people in these areas that love their communities and are willing to improve it. </em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Dear Chicago</em> is a project of WBEZ’s Partnership Program. Darmika Ford was nominated for the series by <a href="http://caf.architecture.org/">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a>.</div></p> Fri, 14 Jan 2011 18:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-architecture-foundation/dear-chicago-fill-empty-lots Redeveloping Wacker Drive, and Chicago’s riverfront http://www.wbez.org/story/architecture/redeveloping-wacker-drive-and-chicago%E2%80%99s-riverfront <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//riverwalk dan perry.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="../../../../../../blog/justin-kaufmann/video-sarah-jindra-gives-birds-eye-view-wacker-drive-traffic">Traffic has been snarled</a> in the Loop this week thanks to the second phase of <a href="http://www.wackerdrive.org/projects.cfm">Revive Wacker Drive</a>, a major reconstruction of the famous double-decker street. This three year, $366 million endeavor will shore up the stability of the north-south portion of the roadway and will rebuild the Congress Parkway interchange that leads to I-90/94 and I-290.</p> <div>The first phase of Wacker&rsquo;s redevelopment started in 1999 with improvements to the east-west portion of the street. And although it was not the project&rsquo;s primary goal, a second set of redevelopment opportunities arose along the Chicago River. Wacker Drive is just one part of the complex built environment along the river, and Mayor Daley encouraged the project managers to reclaim some of the area in front of the river for public use. You can see the results in the form of the Chicago Riverwalk, which runs along the east-west portion of Wacker near the Michigan Ave. bridge.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Riverwalk was the first part of a patchwork of plans past and future to improve public access to the downtown portion of the Chicago River. The city&rsquo;s vision for the riverfront was laid out in a 2009 plan developed by Chicago firm <a href="http://www.som.com/content.cfm/www_home">Skidmore, Owings &amp; Merrill</a> and includes wide pathways for walking and biking, a new market district, and theater space. If completed, the project would transform the face of Chicago&rsquo;s downtown. (You can see the entire Skidmore, Owings &amp; Merrill proposal in the extras section below.)</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>One key player in drafting plans for future improvements to the riverfront was Michelle Woods. Woods describes herself as a &ldquo;bridge builder,&rdquo; and in this case her meaning is literal. She is a bridge engineer for the Chicago Department of Transportation and was so heavily involved with the development of the under-bridge connections at Michigan and Wabash Avenues in 2009 that she joked they should rename the bridge &ldquo;Michelligan Ave.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the audio excerpt posted above, Woods explains what it took to transform the riverfront area along East and West Wacker. (Among other things it took creating new land in the middle of the river and securing an act of Congress.) It&rsquo;s a good reminder of how much work would be involved in developing the north-south portion of the river along Wacker, too. But if you&rsquo;ve been stuck in traffic this week you probably already knew that.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="../../../../../../series/dynamic-range"><em>Dynamic Range</em></a><em> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Michelle Woods spoke to an audience at the </em><a href="http://caf.architecture.org/"><em>Chicago Architecture Foundation</em></a><em> in May of 2010. Click </em><a href="../../../../../../episode-segments/chicago-riverwalk"><em>here</em></a><em> to hear her talk in its entirety, and click </em><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wbez/id364380278"><em>here</em></a><em> to subscribe to the Dynamic Range podcast. </em></div></p> Fri, 07 Jan 2011 17:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/architecture/redeveloping-wacker-drive-and-chicago%E2%80%99s-riverfront