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Old August 14th, 2006, 07:20 AM   #41
forumly_chgoman
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I always wondered what exactly is a toddlin' town....I mean I have had my share of Jameson's, Macallan's, martini's and wine...I have toddled, waddled, puked, stradled, and fondled but still found my way home somehow...

but I have always wnoderd what Frank meant by tonddlin' town
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Old August 19th, 2006, 08:34 AM   #42
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That may be true, but I'd still rather have large empty lots than dangerous high-rise projects. The people living there, if they're willing to work for a living, should easily be able to find quarters somewhere else.
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Old August 20th, 2006, 04:49 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by FreeRadical
You say that Chicago gave up "clear-cutting" in 1989, and then you include Maxwell Street as an example.

Since Maxwell Street was demo'd in 2000 and 2001, that statement can really only mean one of two things: either it wasn't really "clear-cut", or you are really clueless.

I'm betting on the latter, since apparently you have never heard of the Cabrini Green redevelopment or Roosevelt Square.
If you bothered to read my post, you would have noted that I was referring the clear-cutting of vintage blocks.
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Old August 20th, 2006, 08:36 AM   #44
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You don't see Maxwell St. as a vintage block? I guess by the time it was demo'd, it didn't look too vintage anymore to most people, just old and decrepit. The value of Maxwell Street lay not in its age, but in the sheer lack of corporate and chain presence, the home-grown-ness and history of it all. What has replaced it is a sanitized, corporatized commercial area that feels too clean.
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Old August 20th, 2006, 03:37 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by ardecila
You don't see Maxwell St. as a vintage block? I guess by the time it was demo'd, it didn't look too vintage anymore to most people, just old and decrepit. The value of Maxwell Street lay not in its age, but in the sheer lack of corporate and chain presence, the home-grown-ness and history of it all. What has replaced it is a sanitized, corporatized commercial area that feels too clean.
I agree with you completely about Maxwell Street. My point was that, with the EXCEPTION of Maxwell Street, (and perhaps 63rd & Halsted) the city long ago stopped leveling entire neighborhoods of historic buildings.

Maxwell Street was an historic group of buildings that could have been preserved much better while allowing expansion of UIC and redevelopment of adjacent blocks.

By 1999, when lots of demolition had already occurred, there where still 67 buildings worthy of preservation. Those buildings could have been saved and could have provided a true Chicago atmosphere to the new neighborhood along Halsted and Maxwell Street.

Instead, after a long fight, the Maxwell Street redevelopment saved only six whole buildings. There were another 13 facades that were dismantled and then reconstructed on the front of a parking garage and on the fronts of some new commercial buildings.

The result is better than if they had demolished everything. However, this area could have had so much more character and charm if the planning had been done right.
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Old August 21st, 2006, 04:29 AM   #46
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Chitown keeps on making it N.Y. keeps on taking it

WALKING around the cluster of warehouses in South London where the sculptor Anish Kapoor works, it’s easy to forget that they are an artist’s studio and not the planning division of a multinational corporation. In one room there’s a maquette for a Naples subway entrance, which resembles a massive mock-turtleneck collar made of Cor-Ten steel. Nearby sit sculptures and models of projects planned for Rio de Janeiro, Milan, Munich, rural New Zealand and a handful of other far-flung locations.

One recent steamy morning, dressed in modified work garb — an old polo shirt, paint-smudged shorts, black socks and black dress shoes — Mr. Kapoor emerged energetically from his office to show off a drawing of yet another ambitious project, a sprawling outdoor sculpture, final destination still undetermined, that he described cheerfully as “two huge holes in a field connected by a kind of colostomy bag.”

At 52, Mr. Kapoor has become such a star on the public art circuit that many nations might compete for the privilege of having him embed a giant intestinal prosthetic somewhere in their countryside. “Cloud Gate,” the 125-ton stainless steel mirrored blob he unveiled last year in Millennium Park in Chicago, has been embraced — despite a cost overrun of more than $10 million — with near-rapture by Chicagoans, who flock to see their skyline in its polished surface and have affectionately nicknamed it the Bean. (“Let’s be frank,” The Chicago Tribune wrote recently, “the Bean is hot.”)

But Mr. Kapoor has never had a public-art presence in New York, despite his following and his longtime representation by the Gladstone Gallery in Chelsea. “Over the years,” he said, “there have been many opportunities to do things in the city that, for whatever reason, just haven’t worked out.”

That is about to change. Next month he will join a procession of artists that has included Jeff Koons, Louise Bourgeois and Nam June Paik, to be enshrined in the city’s center stage for public art, Rockefeller Center. “Sky Mirror,” Mr. Kapoor’s dish of highly reflective stainless steel almost three stories tall, is being welded and polished in Oakland, Calif.; it will make its way by truck across the country and be on view from Sept. 19 to Oct. 27. Its concave side will face 30 Rockefeller Plaza and invert the skyscraper in its reflection.
Sometime next year another work, this one permanent, will be installed at Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan, the site of the British Memorial Garden now being built to honor the 67 Britons who died in the Sept. 11 attacks. The sculpture, which was selected in a juried competition, is a 20-foot-tall funereal block of black granite into which a vertical opening, again highly polished, will be carved. The chamber will reflect light in such a way to create the illusion of a column floating in the void of the stone, with a flamelike apparition hovering inside the column.

Both works are extensions of Mr. Kapoor’s almost career-long interest in sculptural incorporeality. Borrowing ideas from Minimalist and post-Minimalist predecessors like Donald Judd, Bruce Nauman and Eva Hesse but using deep matte colors, reflectiveness and other illusions, he makes boundaries seem to disappear with an effect that is often overtly sensual and spiritual. Mr. Kapoor, who first rose to prominence in the mid-1980’s and won the Turner Prize in Britain in 1991, calls them nonobjects.

HIS obsession with the paradoxes of this kind of work can seem at times almost schoolboyish. In his studio he showed off a model of “Sky Mirror” about the size of a large round conference table that had been made when an earlier, smaller version of the sculpture was installed five years ago in Nottingham, England. The model was dust coated and crammed in a corner of the studio, but Mr. Kapoor threaded his way through scraps of other sculptures and demonstrated how, looking at the concave side of the mirror, it appears as if there is a solid surface plane where there is none, only air and illusion.
“It’s a space filled with mirror,” he said, grinning and adding that he sees the work partly as an “oculus in the space,” reminiscent of the oculus that lets in light at the top of the Pantheon in Rome, except that this one has no dome attached, a hole without the doughnut.



“What happens with public art or any art is that people are going to read things into it that are part of the contextual environment,” said Rochelle Steiner, the director of the Public Art Fund, which is working on the project with Tumi, the luggage company, which is sponsoring it. “I think you can’t do anything in this city that involves a big building and it not make a reference to 9/11.”

But she added that mostly she thought tourists and New Yorkers alike would receive “Sky Mirror” in the same way that Chicago has received “Cloud Gate,” as a kind of populist gift. “You can’t help but sort of marvel around this piece,” she said. “It’s like a big metal magnet drawing you toward it.”
Because Mr. Kapoor was born and raised in Bombay, the son of a Hindu father and an Iraqi mother, there is also a chance that the work could be seen as a sly riff on Western power and hubris, with the Rockefellers’ triumphal architecture as its target. Mr. Kapoor did not discount such interpretations but said that they were not part of his conscious intention, and that, like much of his work, this one is fundamentally about the space it will occupy, in the dense heart of a dense city.

“One of the things that ‘Sky Mirror’ tries to take on is that there’s so much monumentality, enmeshed, pushing up there,” he said, calling the mirror “a kind of phenomenological approach to the city as a concrete fact.”

But, he added: “Any kind of communication, any language, necessarily leads to meaning, and the job of abstract art today is to work with those residual meanings. A narrative arises. And I think it’s what you do with it that makes the work successful or not.”

He said he also thinks of the piece, and of all his outdoor reflective work, as not simply sculpture but as a conceptual variation on landscape painting: a kind of living, self-creating landscape painting that literally holds up a mirror to nature, as Stendhal said of the landscapes of Constable, whose cloud studies inspired Mr. Kapoor.

Of course, in Mr. Kapoor’s case, the mirror is curved and warped, a postmodern funhouse version of verisimilitude, one that, on its convex side facing Fifth Avenue, will stretch the images of passers-by into exaggerated El Greco elongations and, on the other, will turn them upside down, along with the rest of the world.

“Upside-down clouds really do look upside down,” he observed. “They’re not the same.

“I don’t think New York will look quite the same either.”

Last edited by gocity1979; August 21st, 2006 at 04:31 AM. Reason: add title
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Old August 21st, 2006, 02:57 PM   #47
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I agree with you completely about Maxwell Street. My point was that, with the EXCEPTION of Maxwell Street, (and perhaps 63rd & Halsted) the city long ago stopped leveling entire neighborhoods of historic buildings.

Maxwell Street was an historic group of buildings that could have been preserved much better while allowing expansion of UIC and redevelopment of adjacent blocks.

By 1999, when lots of demolition had already occurred, there where still 67 buildings worthy of preservation. Those buildings could have been saved and could have provided a true Chicago atmosphere to the new neighborhood along Halsted and Maxwell Street.

Instead, after a long fight, the Maxwell Street redevelopment saved only six whole buildings. There were another 13 facades that were dismantled and then reconstructed on the front of a parking garage and on the fronts of some new commercial buildings.

The result is better than if they had demolished everything. However, this area could have had so much more character and charm if the planning had been done right.
VOID

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Old August 21st, 2006, 05:13 PM   #48
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Hopefully, in the future, you will avoid being manipulated by screwballs like Steve Balkin, who seek to use "historic preservation" to cloak a racial agenda. "Preservation" does NOT mean keeping white people out of the west side, nor does it mean leaving buildings to rot, and if you can't get those simple facts straight, you will continue to lose.
^ While you have many fine points, I think your argument is just way too lopsided. There are wins and losses, and not all preservationalists are those manipulative screwballs like that fellow above.

Many preservationalists, like myself (at heart), just think it is in Chicago's interest to not demolish everything that has been built at a whim. We also value renovation over demolition if possible. Not all preservation efforts have a hidden social agenda--most preservationalists, I would say, simply love the beautiful streetscapes earlier generations built.

Now regarding Maxwell St, I wasn't around for its heyday or most of its decline. All I know that what replaced it is vibrant, walkable, and generates tax dollars, all while preserving at least some vestiges (even if minute) of what was there before. I think that's a sign of success.
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Old August 22nd, 2006, 05:57 AM   #49
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I have never understood the ridiculous obsession with Maxwell Street that a lot of people seem to feel in this city.

The fact of the matter is, there was no neighborhood anymore. All that was left from the 1970's on was a bunch of storefronts with abandoned upstairs.

There was absolutely NOTHING beautiful or charming about the architecture of that neighborhood. Most of the storefronts had been redone over the years, mostly with 1950'and 1960' scholck, so few had any historic charm or authenticity. Butt-ugly. Hideous and mean. Rats everywhere.

So what exactly would you have been preserving? A monument to what slumlords can do to neighborhoods?

Realistically, most of the people opposing South Campus were neither sane nor concerned with the truth.

The whole "historic preservation" thing was a red herring, phony as a three dollar bill, and everyone knew it. That's why you lost, and, unfortunately, the credibility of "preservationists" went down with the storefronts on Maxwell.

Hopefully, in the future, you will avoid being manipulated by screwballs like Steve Balkin, who seek to use "historic preservation" to cloak a racial agenda. "Preservation" does NOT mean keeping white people out of the west side, nor does it mean leaving buildings to rot, and if you can't get those simple facts straight, you will continue to lose.
I have looked through your disgusted-with-Maxwell-Street post and have tried to find some common ground with you. I'll give it a shot by saying that many preservationists who worked to save some of the 67 remaining buildings that stood as of 1996 never opposed the bulk of the South Campus Expansion. Futhermore, those preservationists never opposed allowing the free market to determine the use any preserved buildings in the area.

So, you see, not all preservationists were urging perpetual decrepitude on Maxwell Street. We wanted to save what could give the area a genuine Chicago feel, while allowing plenty of new construction along Halsted, Maxwell, OBrien, Newberry, and Roosevelt.

The result could have been a Chicago neighborhood that attracts visitors rather than a brand new neighborhood that could have been built in the middle of a desert. With Maxwell Street, they threw out the baby with the bathwater. Citywide preservationists whom I knew did not oppose the South Campus Expansion. Rather, they just wanted the Expansion done right.

The citywide preservation movement thus differed from the bulk of local Maxwell Street stalwarts who felt that the South Campus expansion should be blocked.

Those local hardcore Maxwell Streeters felt that local low-rent-paying vendors and storeowners should be permitted to stay. Citywide preservationists never took that extreme stand.

By the way, "nothing charming?" I don't think you looked very closely at those buildings. By the way, you can some of their facades on the new parking garage. There were plenty of charming buildings among those 67 structures. Now most are gone forever.

How many should have been saved? Forty? Thirty? I am not sure, but it should have been more than six.

You disparage Steve Balkin, who would be in the "extreme" category, and whose hard-line stance was not shared by citywide preservationists. However, if it was not for Steve Balkin and his colleagues you would not have the six whole buildings and thirteen facades. That tiny amount of buildings at least gives a marker of the heart of the old area, and is the nexus of the reborn commercial center. Mr. Balkin deserves our thanks for that.

Last edited by NearNorthGuy; August 22nd, 2006 at 06:31 AM.
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Old August 23rd, 2006, 03:23 PM   #50
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[snip]
So, you see, not all preservationists were urging perpetual decrepitude on Maxwell Street. We wanted to save what could give the area a genuine Chicago feel, while allowing plenty of new construction along Halsted, Maxwell, OBrien, Newberry, and Roosevelt.

The result could have been a Chicago neighborhood that attracts visitors rather than a brand new neighborhood that could have been built in the middle of a desert. With Maxwell Street, they threw out the baby with the bathwater. Citywide preservationists whom I knew did not oppose the South Campus Expansion. Rather, they just wanted the Expansion done right.

[snip]
VOID

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Old August 23rd, 2006, 03:48 PM   #51
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I am sure that many of the people involved in opposing South Campus were well-intentioned. A lot of people (including myself) thought old Maxwell was funky but cool. But NOBODY who spent any time around there would have called it beautiful or historic. It was hideously ugly, and that was part of the charm. You can see it in all its glory in the John Lee Hooker scene in front of Nate's Deli in the Blues Brothers. Yes, it was cool but it is gone. Let it rest in peace. Let it go.

And don't kid yourself about the difficulty associated with the kind of renovation you say you would have like to have seen. Say, for example, you wanted to preserve one entire block of 75% 25x125 buildings, the rest vacant lots, making it a dormitory. It sounds easy until you find that all of the second and third floor elevations are different for every building. So what do you do? Put ramps on a 25 foot wide footprint? What about fire safety? You can't use wood floors, so what do you do? It simply does not work. And that was precisely the point.

The game plan was to landmark enough of the neighborhood to make it impossible for UIC to go forward with any semblance of their original plan. The fact that you don't know the "right number" shows how naive you are. The correct answer to "How Many to Save?" was "As many as it takes to kill South Campus".

And what exactly would you have had South Campus have become? A blues museum? An immigrant museum? Beal Street North? The correct answer to THAT question was (unfortunately) "anything that anybody wants to hear as long as it convinces them to oppose South Campus".

In the end, the city and university did the right thing, called the "preservationists" bluff, and the result is the mini downtown centered on Maxwell Street that you see today. Which is actually quite nice, and (ironically), an improvement over the original plan, which would have simply mirrored the two dorms on Halsted. It also involves considerably more than six facades. Count 'em. It could also serve as a model for other neighborhoods that have suffered the kind of blight that Maxwell Street did yet want to maintain some semblance of history.

The lessons I would have hoped you and others of similar mind took away from your defeat on Maxwell Street is that any attempt to marry building preservation to a social justice or racial agenda will take building preservation down to defeat. You must frame your efforts in a rational, non-partisan, non-ideological framework and concentrate exclusively on preserving the physical environment within the context of its proposed use. If you don't, you will lose.

Have these lessons been learned?

Apparently not by preservationchicago.org, when they declared the ENTIRE neighborhood of Pilsen endangered. How much credibility do you think this organization will now carry into any future discussions of historic preservation in Pilsen?
Your misquoting of my earlier comments suggest that you did not read my earlier posts. I did not say "six buildings." I said six whole buildings and thirteen facades.

It is clear that it is you, not me, who lacks facts.

Also, the racial and social agenda of the hard-liners on Maxwell Street was something with which I and others did not agree. So I am with you on that note.

As for the listing of Pilsen by Preservation Chicago, that was a perfect choice for them. They have saved many buildings in this city of which you will never learn. They have gone into neighborhoods, leafleted, held meetings, organized local groups, and saved corner gems, schools, and churches, often starting permanent neighborhood groups after a mission has been accomplished.

With Pilsen, the demolitions and facade destructions have already occurred. Just look at the hundreds of demolitions that occurred in East Village and you will see the future for Pilsen.

I suggest that you join Preservation Chicago to see more of what they are about. As a disclaimer, I should mention that I am a member of that organization.
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Old August 23rd, 2006, 04:01 PM   #52
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Is it just me or do you guys find yourselvs reading more and more articles about cities and towns that want to emulate Chicago about one thing or the other? It seems like every day I find myself reading an article about a city that wants to create, for example, vibrancy downtown "like Chicago" or they want to add more green roofes or green spaces "like Chicago" .lure people to live downown.."like Chicago"!
I take this all as a huge compliment and I'm sertainly proud of Chicagos leadership qualities.
I hate to sound boastfull about Chicago but the fact of the matter is that i havent read anything about other cities beeing emulated like Chicago is.
Whats your thoughts on the matter? Have you noticed this also?
never noticed that. although I can't say the same about New York, or Los Angeles...that I have noticed
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Old August 23rd, 2006, 04:55 PM   #53
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thanks for your thoughts. Its entirely pos. that I’m more in tune to it because I subconsciously look for it but again that why I and others have posted the actual articles which seem to be adding up. That’s not to say this isn’t the case for other cities.
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Old August 24th, 2006, 03:07 PM   #54
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[snip]

As for the listing of Pilsen by Preservation Chicago, that was a perfect choice for them. They have saved many buildings in this city of which you will never learn.

[snip]

With Pilsen, the demolitions and facade destructions have already occurred. Just look at the hundreds of demolitions that occurred in East Village and you will see the future for Pilsen.

I suggest that you join Preservation Chicago to see more of what they are about. As a disclaimer, I should mention that I am a member of that organization.
VOID

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Old August 28th, 2006, 09:40 AM   #55
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To the Moderator:

This writer, FreeRadical, begins his series of anger-filled posts with misstatements of fact.

Preservation Chicago likely would not bother to address this person's silly comments. Why not? Because they are busy in neighborhoods throughout the city working with residents who want to preserve neighborhood buildings.

At this point, FreeRadical has degenerated into charges of racism and other inflammatory language.

I am going to withdraw from this thread and request that you keep an eye on him. Thanks.
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Old August 28th, 2006, 03:56 PM   #56
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Voelz Chandler: Chicago style inspires Denver
Millennium Park a model for revitalizing city's Civic Center ... and procedural path

August 28, 2006
A short history lesson's in order before you head down to the Colorado Convention Center on Wednesday to hear architect Daniel Libeskind talk about his ideas for Civic Center's revitalization.
Not about Civic Center; we've been down that road. What's missing from the current Civic Center equation is knowing what Libeskind, the designer of the Denver Art Museum's new Frederic C. Hamilton Building, believes might improve the core of the city.

That is, what elements and connections could "activate" the park, using a public and private partnership (Denver Parks and Recreation, and the Civic Center Conservancy) before finding generous donors for whatever plans eventually materialize from this week's presentation and the public input to follow.

So far it's been a thorny path. After all, how is it that in Denver, where public process is a byword, could an architect be hired by a private entity to offer design ideas for a public space without a thought to a request for other proposals?

But people confused about how we got to this place can take solace in one thing: We are not alone. And though the increase in private support for public places, especially parks, is a nationwide trend, much of what is fueling this current effort to remake Civic Center comes from one place. In fact, it comes from a city Denver has looked to for more than a century for design inspiration.

That would be Chicago. And now it is Millennium Park, and a mayor, Richard M. Daley, whose administration has been characterized as long on results and short on public process.

That's a thread through the new book Millennium Park: Creating a Chicago Landmark (University of Chicago Press, 442 pages, $45), in which Loyola University Chicago history professor Timothy J. Gilfoyle writes a fond biography of the much-hailed attraction that replaced an old rail yard near Grant Park in downtown Chicago. And he begins at the beginning, with planning in the 1830s that pushed to keep the lakefront public.

It is this paragraph, the first one in the first chapter, that strikes a chord:

"By the end of the twentieth century, Grant Park was Chicago's 'front yard.' More than any other piece of Chicago real estate, the park's 319 acres along Lake Michigan immediately east of the city's Loop embodied the city's civic heart. Here Chicagoans came to witness the public appearances of famous people, celebrate special events, attend major festivals, and patronize leading museums . . . The completion of Grant Park's final 24 acres - Millennium Park - in 2004 reinforced the centrality of the site in the cultural life of the metropolis."

Take out the lake and reduce the acreage, and it's Civic Center. After all, Grant Park was the subject of multiple plans, and rests on the work of Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett (yes, the same Edward Bennett who worked on Civic Center). Their 1909 Plan of Chicago addressed future development.

That included the site that is now Millennium Park, which for years was controlled by the Illinois Central Railroad.

Millennium Park may have begun life as something simple to stick on top of a new parking garage near the Art Institute, but venerable philanthropists and the city's long, blue-chip list of corporations headquartered there soon churned civic pride and naming opportunities into a site agog with bells and whistles.

That includes a bandstand designed by Frank Gehry, a stunning silver "bean" sculpture by Anish Kapoor, Gehry's slithery BP Bridge over Columbus Drive, and the miniaturized peristyle, the Millennium Monument, that recalls a similar structure at the 1893 Columbian Exposition. And there's a garden, and an ice rink, and a dual-totem fountain on which faces are projected, sometimes spitting water.

As the book points out, no one worried about RFQs or RFPs in a project that was a mayoral baby. After all, it kicked off with a $6 million no-bid contract for the initial work of what was estimated to be a $150 million project.

The first design, by Adrian Smith of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, was a simple one, costing $23 million with a $7 million endowment. That was soon lost in the push by the mayor's appointed fundraiser, Sara Lee head John Bryan, for bigger and better. Along the way architects clashed, and Daley and Gehry had a falling out, when the former blamed the latter for the lateness of the project. They did make up.

Six years and $475 million later, the place opened late on July 16, 2004, but to immediate acclaim. Gilfoyle addresses lingering questions, not only about aesthetic decisions but also about the role of private interests in the civic realm.

And in this, Millennium Park - place and book - can offer a lesson to Denver about the meaning of public space. After all, Conservancy members and city officials have made the pilgrimage there with an eye toward putting more flash in Civic Center.

Then there is the issue of right hand not knowing what left hand was doing. As the Millennium Park fundraisers signed on donors (he calls them modern-day Medicis) who often chose their own designers, it tested the strength (literally) of the parking garage and the project budget. Design by committee was the order of the day. There were no public hearings and no appearance before the city's Plan Commission. It's was more like an informal drive-by of the city's Public Art Committee, which bought the idea that Gehry's bandshell was a sculpture, not a building. Really; it's the funniest story in the book.

There was some concern from the press about high costs and busted deadlines, but Gilfoyle poohs poohs that until his conclusion, where he recounts jabs at the project for its design overload, a la theme park, and for its reliance on private decision-making.

"Such criticisms were no surprise to architect Adrian Smith. Early on, he warned that Grant Park was being transformed into 'a sort of sculpture gallery and extravaganza.'"

Others called it "Logo Land."

Gilfoyle counters that "these criticisms ignore a more complex history and urban reality," including long-standing philanthropy, and naming rights, in city parks.

Interestingly enough, backers did not create a conservancy, but a corporation. "Private gifts exceeding $200 million built the park, but the space remains under city or park district supervision. Indeed John Bryan was openly reluctant to create a private, nonprofit conservancy to operate and maintain Millennium Park. 'We don't know how to run parks, and the city's very good at it,' he admitted on behalf of the donor's group."

I'm not so sure I would necessarily say that about Denver, where parks planning and maintenance seem to be on an odd course in terms of how our parks operate and look.

But as Libeskind takes the stage Wednesdayto reveal what has only been rumors, I know I'll be thinking about Millennium Park, private control, and public process. And what road Denver will take.


Voelz Chandler: Chicago style inspires Denver
Millennium Park a model for revitalizing city's Civic Center ... and procedural path

August 28, 2006
A short history lesson's in order before you head down to the Colorado Convention Center on Wednesday to hear architect Daniel Libeskind talk about his ideas for Civic Center's revitalization.
Not about Civic Center; we've been down that road. What's missing from the current Civic Center equation is knowing what Libeskind, the designer of the Denver Art Museum's new Frederic C. Hamilton Building, believes might improve the core of the city.

That is, what elements and connections could "activate" the park, using a public and private partnership (Denver Parks and Recreation, and the Civic Center Conservancy) before finding generous donors for whatever plans eventually materialize from this week's presentation and the public input to follow.

So far it's been a thorny path. After all, how is it that in Denver, where public process is a byword, could an architect be hired by a private entity to offer design ideas for a public space without a thought to a request for other proposals?

But people confused about how we got to this place can take solace in one thing: We are not alone. And though the increase in private support for public places, especially parks, is a nationwide trend, much of what is fueling this current effort to remake Civic Center comes from one place. In fact, it comes from a city Denver has looked to for more than a century for design inspiration.

That would be Chicago. And now it is Millennium Park, and a mayor, Richard M. Daley, whose administration has been characterized as long on results and short on public process.

That's a thread through the new book Millennium Park: Creating a Chicago Landmark (University of Chicago Press, 442 pages, $45), in which Loyola University Chicago history professor Timothy J. Gilfoyle writes a fond biography of the much-hailed attraction that replaced an old rail yard near Grant Park in downtown Chicago. And he begins at the beginning, with planning in the 1830s that pushed to keep the lakefront public.

It is this paragraph, the first one in the first chapter, that strikes a chord:

"By the end of the twentieth century, Grant Park was Chicago's 'front yard.' More than any other piece of Chicago real estate, the park's 319 acres along Lake Michigan immediately east of the city's Loop embodied the city's civic heart. Here Chicagoans came to witness the public appearances of famous people, celebrate special events, attend major festivals, and patronize leading museums . . . The completion of Grant Park's final 24 acres - Millennium Park - in 2004 reinforced the centrality of the site in the cultural life of the metropolis."

Take out the lake and reduce the acreage, and it's Civic Center. After all, Grant Park was the subject of multiple plans, and rests on the work of Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett (yes, the same Edward Bennett who worked on Civic Center). Their 1909 Plan of Chicago addressed future development.

That included the site that is now Millennium Park, which for years was controlled by the Illinois Central Railroad.

Millennium Park may have begun life as something simple to stick on top of a new parking garage near the Art Institute, but venerable philanthropists and the city's long, blue-chip list of corporations headquartered there soon churned civic pride and naming opportunities into a site agog with bells and whistles.

That includes a bandstand designed by Frank Gehry, a stunning silver "bean" sculpture by Anish Kapoor, Gehry's slithery BP Bridge over Columbus Drive, and the miniaturized peristyle, the Millennium Monument, that recalls a similar structure at the 1893 Columbian Exposition. And there's a garden, and an ice rink, and a dual-totem fountain on which faces are projected, sometimes spitting water.

As the book points out, no one worried about RFQs or RFPs in a project that was a mayoral baby. After all, it kicked off with a $6 million no-bid contract for the initial work of what was estimated to be a $150 million project.

The first design, by Adrian Smith of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, was a simple one, costing $23 million with a $7 million endowment. That was soon lost in the push by the mayor's appointed fundraiser, Sara Lee head John Bryan, for bigger and better. Along the way architects clashed, and Daley and Gehry had a falling out, when the former blamed the latter for the lateness of the project. They did make up.

Six years and $475 million later, the place opened late on July 16, 2004, but to immediate acclaim. Gilfoyle addresses lingering questions, not only about aesthetic decisions but also about the role of private interests in the civic realm.

And in this, Millennium Park - place and book - can offer a lesson to Denver about the meaning of public space. After all, Conservancy members and city officials have made the pilgrimage there with an eye toward putting more flash in Civic Center.

Then there is the issue of right hand not knowing what left hand was doing. As the Millennium Park fundraisers signed on donors (he calls them modern-day Medicis) who often chose their own designers, it tested the strength (literally) of the parking garage and the project budget. Design by committee was the order of the day. There were no public hearings and no appearance before the city's Plan Commission. It's was more like an informal drive-by of the city's Public Art Committee, which bought the idea that Gehry's bandshell was a sculpture, not a building. Really; it's the funniest story in the book.

There was some concern from the press about high costs and busted deadlines, but Gilfoyle poohs poohs that until his conclusion, where he recounts jabs at the project for its design overload, a la theme park, and for its reliance on private decision-making.

"Such criticisms were no surprise to architect Adrian Smith. Early on, he warned that Grant Park was being transformed into 'a sort of sculpture gallery and extravaganza.'"

Others called it "Logo Land."

Gilfoyle counters that "these criticisms ignore a more complex history and urban reality," including long-standing philanthropy, and naming rights, in city parks.

Interestingly enough, backers did not create a conservancy, but a corporation. "Private gifts exceeding $200 million built the park, but the space remains under city or park district supervision. Indeed John Bryan was openly reluctant to create a private, nonprofit conservancy to operate and maintain Millennium Park. 'We don't know how to run parks, and the city's very good at it,' he admitted on behalf of the donor's group."

I'm not so sure I would necessarily say that about Denver, where parks planning and maintenance seem to be on an odd course in terms of how our parks operate and look.

But as Libeskind takes the stage Wednesdayto reveal what has only been rumors, I know I'll be thinking about Millennium Park, private control, and public process. And what road Denver will take.




Scott Olson © Getty Images

Much of what is fueling the current effort to remake Civic Center comes from one place - Chicago. Activity was a goal in developing Chicago's Millennium Park, which opened in summer 2004. Above, children play in Crown Fountain, sculpted by Jaume Plensa to reflect the faces of 1,000 Chicagoans.

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drm...949355,00.html
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Old December 31st, 2007, 08:15 AM   #57
i_am_hydrogen
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In Chicago's revival, a model for Miami?
With his package of downtown development projects, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz hopes to emulate Chicago's pattern of resurgence.

BY ANDRES VIGLUCCI
aviglucci@MiamiHerald.com

CHICAGO -- Not long ago, this great Midwestern city's downtown -- the place where the American skyscraper was perfected and first proliferated, no less -- found itself staggering on its once sturdy legs, like some punch-drunk boxer.

The splendid architecture was worn, the Loop a dark ghost town after 6, when thousands of daytime workers decamped for the suburbs. Desolation spread: tumbledown warehouses, industrial carcasses, panhandlers, sagging neighborhoods. Some big projects -- office towers, a massive new public library -- did little to arrest the swoon.

Then something remarkable happened. Chicago squared its Broad Shoulders and got back its swagger.

http://www.miamiherald.com/519/story/361164.html
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