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Old April 14th, 2006, 04:43 AM   #121
Chi_Coruscant
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^That witch! Maybe she thinks it is funny and cool in making her constituents stay poor.
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Old April 18th, 2006, 04:28 PM   #122
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Here are some pics I took at the Spertus Institute's construction site yesterday while at school.






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Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will themselves not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die. - Daniel Burnham
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Old May 5th, 2006, 02:52 AM   #123
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Art Institute Update

Tower Crane going up at the Modern Wing of the Art Institute

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Old May 9th, 2006, 01:03 AM   #124
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Ugh...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...-newslocal-hed

Children's museum faces fight over move
Grant Park neighbors fear added traffic

By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah

Tribune staff reporter
Published May 8, 2006

When Peggy Figiel moved into a high-rise next to Grant Park nearly 11 years ago, it seemed the perfect place for her and her husband to raise their two children.

It was close to the beach and the Magnificent Mile, and across the street was a quiet playground, a Chicago Park District fieldhouse and a little-known skating rink.

"It was just this wonderful little hidden gem of a neighborhood," Figiel said.

But for Figiel and a group of other residents in the high-rises just north of Grant Park, their gem is now at risk of being overexposed. The Chicago Children's Museum hopes to move across the street into Daley Bicentennial Plaza--the northeast part of Grant Park--bringing with it hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.

The residents' group, called Friends of Daley Bicentennial Park, is gearing up for a fight against the museum's proposed move.

Nearly 300 signatures have been collected by the residents--mostly parents of young children--in their "Save the Park" campaign. They will hold a public meeting Wednesday to marshal support for the campaign and have invited Ald. Burton Natarus (42nd).

In what the residents consider a pre-emptive strike, museum officials will hold their own public meeting Monday to update the community about their plans. "A coincidence? I think not," said Figiel, 44. "They just decided to have this meeting two days before ours."

Museum officials denied any such motive. They said they were invited by the Grant Park Advisory Council to update the community with results of a traffic study and plans for hiring an architect.

"Once we have selected an architect, we will have a series of meetings where a select group of people from the community can come and sit with the architects and be part of the process, give us their input," said Breelyn Pete, museum spokeswoman. "We see this as a collaborative community partnership."

Too big for Navy Pier

The museum has outgrown its location in Navy Pier and is looking to expand. Earlier this year, museum officials presented a conceptual plan for the Grant Park site that called for a subterranean three-story museum where the Daley Bicentennial Fieldhouse now sits. On top would be an atrium at street level.

The leaky fieldhouse would be rebuilt next door to the museum. Under the museum's plan, the one-story fieldhouse would double in size.

The residents say they want the new fieldhouse--just not the museum.

They are concerned that with 500,000 visitors a year to the museum, their already high-traffic neighborhood would be flooded.

As it is, drivers speed down Randolph Street and blow through stop signs, said Kerri Johnson, 32, who has three young children.

East of Michigan Avenue, "Randolph is not a through street," Johnson said. "We have a lot of traffic turning around. So with the increase in Children's Museum traffic, it'll be more dangerous for children, [the] elderly, pets and anyone who is visiting the neighborhood."

Many residents also worry about what will happen to an outdoor skating rink where their children have learned to skate in the winter and bike in the summer. Museum officials said they are committed to rebuilding the ice rink somewhere in the plaza. Park officials estimate the cost of replacement at about $1.5 million.

Besides the residents' group, Friends of Downtown has also come out against the proposal.

The group cites retail magnate Aaron Montgomery Ward and his long legal battle to keep Grant Park open space. Allowing the Children's Museum to build in the park would set a dangerous precedent, the group says.

"Because of all the successes the mayor has had with downtown, that pressure will continue," said Tom Wolf, vice president of Friends of Downtown. "If they get to do something in Daley Bicentennial Plaza, there will be other institutions, cultural and otherwise, that will want to build on the south end or the north end. And we don't think that's a road that we want to go down."

Park District backing plan

The Park District has said it supports the museum's proposal but is waiting for the museum to gather comments from the community.

Bob O'Neill, president of the Grant Park Advisory Council, worries that if critics stop the museum's proposed move, the community will lose its chance to have a new fieldhouse.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get it done," he said, adding that rebuilding the fieldhouse is not a priority for the Park District at this time.

But that urgency is not shared by many area residents. For them, the museum's deal comes attached with aggravation.

"This is turning our residential neighborhood into a tourist attraction," Johnson said.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 01:06 AM   #125
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I also can't believe I forgot the South Shore Drill Team Center by John Ronan


There was an article recently about it, I'll try and find it if I can
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Old May 9th, 2006, 01:36 AM   #126
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I just don't get why people move downtown and then fear traffic...
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Old May 9th, 2006, 02:23 AM   #127
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanSophist
I just don't get why people move downtown and then fear traffic...
^I'm not so against the NIMBY's on this one. They have a legitimate claim. Grant Park really is a park--lets not forget that.

Their concern seems to be that too much traffic will make it a dangerous place for children to cross streets to go to the park, etc.

I still would like to see the museum there, but I can't say they don't have a legitimate point
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Old May 9th, 2006, 02:40 AM   #128
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No, the people who say that the Gehry bridge leads to disappointing nothingness have a legitimate point. These people want to stop a project that is only in its infant steps, thus ending another *potential* landmark if the right architect is chosen as well as a boost to Chicago's museums/culture and upgraded facilities for all to enjoy, including their kids.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 02:14 AM   #129
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http://www.chicagotribune.com/entert...,7918237.story

THE BUILDING ISN'T FINISHED, BUT AT LEAST THE ART IS READY

By Blair Kamin

Tribune architecture critic
Published May 16, 2006

Attention, readers: The new Hyde Park Art Center is officially open, but the building may not be finished for at least a month. So this is a limited preview, not a full-scale review, of a building that, despite its lack of completion, has at least one dazzling thing to see: a striking work of computerized art that unfurls across its facade like a giant blue-and-white bar code.

Elsewhere, the $6 million center looks very much like a work in progress.

As of last Friday, big panes of exterior glass had not been installed. The main entrance was sheathed in white-painted plywood. More than $100,000 still had to be raised for the perforated metal

Ask the center's executive director, Chuck Thurow, when the center is going to be finished, and he laughs. "You've seen the movie 'Money Pit'?" he says, referring to the film about a young couple that tries to repair a hopelessly dilapidated house. Repeating what contractors keep telling the couple, Thurow exclaims (knowing he's not telling the truth): "Two weeks! Two weeks!"

The center has long been an adventurous place, having mounted legendary shows in the 1960s that launched artists such as Jim Nutt and Ed Paschke to international renown. In keeping with that freewheeling identity, it brought on Garofalo, who has built a national reputation as one of the so-called "design digerati." That's shorthand for the adventurous group of architects, including Frank Gehry, who excel at using digital tools to shape buildings in highly unconventional ways.

Garofalo, who will be featured in an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago that starts June 17, has employed the computer to realize fluid, biomorphic shapes called "blobs." One of his most memorable efforts so far wraps an undulating wall and roof clad in silvery titanium around a brightly colored southeast Wisconsin farmhouse that is a getaway for the noted Chicago art collectors Lew and Susan Manilow.

In truth, however, there aren't any blobs in the art center, a recycled printing plant at 5020 S. Cornell Ave. While the renovation gives the center roughly four times as much space as its old home, which was inside the former Del Prado Hotel at 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd., the budget was relatively tight. So Garofalo couldn't float a titanium roof over the low-slung box, as he'd hoped to do. Besides, Thurow didn't want the building to look like a Gehry wannabe.

So Garofalo did something different: He sliced projecting, diorama-like openings of glass into the brick exterior. One reveals the interior of a ground-level cafe that isn't open yet. The second opens onto the center's second-floor offices. The third, an 80-foot-long expanse of glass, sprawls across the facade's second story, exposing a long, corridor-like space known as a catwalk. The catwalk overlooks the art center's main display space, a two-story room where, Thurow says, the University of Chicago Press used to store course catalogs and other material.

The big stretch of glass is much more than a window, however. When motorized shades drop behind it, it becomes an enormous projection screen, visible from inside and outside. Ten projectors hanging from the ceiling of the gallery can shoot an endless variety of computer-controlled images onto the screens.

For the opening, Chicago artist Inigo Manglano-Ovalle designed a computer-driven piece called "Random Sky" that consists of blue and white horizontal bars that move from left to right or vice versa. The width, height and movement of the bars change subtly according to weather data (wind speed, humidity, etc.) fed to six computers from a weather vane attached to the building's exterior.

The display is mesmerizing. And it packs added visual punch because, when people stand on the catwalk as the projectors run, their shadows are cast as strikingly graphic silhouettes on the facade. People on the catwalk, though not those outside, can hear an equally intoxicating soundscape by Rick Gribenas. "Random Sky" appears every night from 7:30 to 10 p.m.

When the center held its opening weekend festivities on April 29 and 30, it got 10 calls from people in the neighborhood who complained about the noise from the party, but not a single complaint about "Random Sky," Thurow says. No one, in short, seems to think that the work of computerized art is the equivalent of an oversize TV screen that keeps them up at night.

On the other hand, there's still the knotty matter of getting the building finished by mid-June.

"If it's not done by then, I'll slit my wrists," jokes Thurow, the former director of the city's landmarks commission. "You'll find a story: `Former governmental official found dead on Cornell Avenue.'"

--------
Renderings:

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Old May 18th, 2006, 01:01 AM   #130
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A Daily Dose of Architecture recently had a little "dose" on the new Little Black Pearl designed by K2 Architects.

You can find some good photos here:
http://www.archidose.org/May06/051506.html
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Old June 4th, 2006, 09:56 PM   #131
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http://www.chicagotribune.com/entert...l=chi-news-hed

New youth center in Grand Crossing a beacon of optimism
Lands' End founder Gary Comer taps architect John Ronan to craft an innovative new space

By Blair Kamin

Tribune architecture critic
Published June 4, 2006

If only every inner-city neighborhood had an angel like Lands' End founder Gary Comer. In his old Grand Crossing neighborhood on the South Side, the 78-year-old casual clothing magnate has funded a new $30 million youth center that, despite a sometimes-garish exterior winningly stitches together social conscience and striking aesthetics.

The center's architect is John Ronan, one of the young talents who has infused Chicago's design scene with fresh energy. Two years ago, Ronan beat such international stars as Thom Mayne of Santa Monica, Calif., last year's Pritzker Architecture Prize winner, in a competition for a public high school in Perth Amboy, N.J. His out-of-the-box design, now on hold for lack of funds, calls for a school with five towers, each housing communal facilities such as a gym and set off with vibrant graphics.

His youth center, located near the Chicago Skyway at 7200 S. Ingleside Ave. and topped by an 80-foot-tall tower with an LED sign, is cut from the same cloth as the planned New Jersey high school -- a beacon of hope for an area that needs it. At the May 25 dedication for the building, Comer joked that the 42-year-old Ronan got the job because he was the only one of three potential architects who answered his own phone.

Genlass was verbot

The center offered Ronan challenges that are unheard of in the expensive private homes he's designed since he opened his practice in 1997. "The building users didn't want any glass in the building. I was really struck dumb," Ronan says. But "that's the reality they live with. The question was how do I keep this building from being a bunker?"

Lots of bulletproof glass along the outside walls, for starters. And plenty of skylights that bring in light from above.

Those are two elements in the building that demonstrate why Ronan deserves a spot on the design map -- and how his approach to architecture differs from those of other Chicago up-and-comers, such as Doug Garofalo, who uses the computer to create fluid, biomorphic shapes called blobs.

"I'm interested in more of a spatial complexity than a formal complexity," Ronan replies when asked why he clings to seemingly old-fashioned right angles and rectangles.

Formally known as the Gary Comer Youth Center and providing a permanent home for the previously itinerant South Shore Drill Team (as well as programs for children at the nearby Paul Revere School), the building illustrates the fundamental soundness of Ronan's approach.

The center's context is urban decay -- a variety of modest homes (some well-kept, others ramshackle), vacant lots, storefront churches and heavily trafficked roads. Ronan wisely sees no need to imitate these surroundings, as postmodern architects might have done 20 years ago. That's the past. His building aggressively asserts the future.

Convertibility a core value

At its heart is a gymnasium that can be converted into a 600-seat theater with movable tiers of seats, motorized theater curtains and motorized stage doors that reveal an 80-foot-wide, 30-foot-deep stage. The handsomely proportioned, light-filled room serves as the drill team's main practice and performance area.

Wrapping around it, like a series of long, evenly spaced bars, are a variety of facilities, including a cafeteria, a recreation room, a dance room, an arts and crafts room and an exhibition/lecture hall. Outside, a parking lot also serves as the drill team's practice parade ground, one of numerous flexible spaces both inside and outside.

In a typical youth center, interior walls would segregate this rich assortment of uses from each other and the activities would not be expressed on the building's exterior. The excitement within the building would dissipate.

In a far more creative unity of form and function, Ronan uses large expanses of glass to open views from one room into the other. He puts areas such as the dance room and the exhibition room on vivid display, using cantilevers to thrust their glass walls beyond the building's perimeter. Seeking to express the youthful energy of the inhabitants and the optimism of the community, he clads the steel-framed building in brightly colored cement panels (which come in seemingly random patterns of red and blue). If one of the panels is damaged, workers can take out the rivets that hold them in place and easily install a replacement.

It is, on the whole, an effective exterior, with a strong civic presence despite its lack of outlandish, look-at-me shapes.

The cantilevered rooms and their vast expanses of bulletproof glass endow the building with sculptural force. The steel-framed tower leavens their dominant horizontality, suggesting a modern version of an old-fashioned church steeple with its ghostly steel mesh cladding and an LED sign that advertises events at the center. The building effectively echoes the monumentality of the nearby Revere School, with its castlelike top, rather than imitating it.

There are subtle pleasures, too, such as the way Ronan bridges the second floor over sheltered outdoor foyers to create a graceful path inside. Most important, the action on the inside is communicated to the outside. The building does far more to express its activities than its structure. That showcases the center far more effectively than any sign.

Exterior panels a problem The innovative exterior panels, however, turn out to be a mixed blessing. True, the panels animate what otherwise would have been an enormous windowless mass. The blue panels even have a cool sophistication that joins with the smokestacklike form of the tower to suggest a sleek steamship. But the red ones are simply garish, resembling an oversize version of the pinkish and reddish asphalt shingles once attached to aging wood frame houses around Chicago. One wonders how they'll look in 10 years. For now, the cladding is more exuberant than elegant.

Inside, despite the need for the protective exterior, the center manages to be light and open.

The interior spaces work not simply as individual rooms but as interlocking zones that simultaneously create a sense of openness, enhance the center's sense of community and offer a form of security because people can be watched. A good example is the view from the cafeteria to the gymnasium. Shared maple flooring makes the two rooms seem like one. The glass between them is less a wall than a screen. The fact that the gym is sunken below ground level only adds to the spatial drama.

"The idea was to feed off the energy of the drill team and let that permeate the building," Ronan says.

The gym is an apt demonstration of what he calls "programmatic sustainability." Translation:

By combining two normally separated uses, a gym and a theater, into one, you save both money and energy. Of course, multipurpose buildings, such as the combined football and baseball stadiums of the 1960s, have failed before. In that regard, the acid test is going to be how the gym works as a theater -- whether its acoustics are effective, whether sound from inside the room doesn't disturb quiet spaces elsewhere in the building, whether its seats are comfortable and the machinery that moves them doesn't break down.

Flexible interior design

But there are no such caveats for the rest of the interior, which is both tailored to its occupants (the dance room, for example, is twice the normal height to let the drill team practice rifle and flag throwing) and flexible enough to accommodate future unanticipated uses.

Among the finest spaces are an exhibition/lecture hall (another flexible space) and the arts and crafts room, both of which allow children to rise above the everyday and look back down on their neighborhood -- its churches, its schools, its housing. The best space, however, is the roof garden, which is flanked by offices for the center and a corridor leading to the exhibition/lecture hall.

Like a conventional green roof, this one works against the urban heat-island effect by replacing heat-generating asphalt with heat-reducing plants. But it offers the advantage of being habitable, a place where kids growing up amid gangs and drugs can instead plant flowers and vegetables and watch them grow.

You can feel a sense of possibility here that you can't on real ground. Good architecture can do that. It doesn't just create new possibilities for how we use the world. It opens up new ways of seeing the world. That's what happens when an angel such as Gary Comer remembers from whence he came.

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Old June 7th, 2006, 06:29 PM   #132
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http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...l=chi-news-hed

House on the river bridges 8 decades
Hidden world will soon become museum

The fascinating and long-hidden world inside one of Chicago's stylish bridge-tender towers soon will be opened to visitors

By William Mullen

Tribune staff reporter
Published June 7, 2006

Elegant and slightly mysterious, the bridge-tender towers that have stood sentinel alongside the Chicago River's drawbridges for nearly a century often tickle the fancy of Chicagoans and tourists who wonder what it's like inside.

Beginning Saturday, one of the most beautiful and celebrated of them all will open permanently to the public as a vest-pocket history museum that tells the story of Chicago's relationship with the river.

Officially known as the McCormick Tribune Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum, the $950,000 facility will be housed inside the striking, 86-year-old Beaux Arts-styled bridgehouse on the southwest corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge.

Because the museum's content is modest, the real draw may be the chance to see the bridgehouse itself. Looking out from bridgehouse windows, visitors will be treated to dramatic scenes of the river, the city and the bridge that few but bridge tenders have seen before.

With five tiny floors accessed by a single, narrow metal staircase akin to those in lighthouses, the building has only 1,613 square feet of usable floor space, including an entryway and a viewing platform.

For that reason, the museum may have trouble accommodating all the people who want to get in, as the Chicago Fire Department has ordered that only 34 visitors may be inside it at a time. Projecting that people will stay about a half an hour, officials believe the museum can handle roughly 510 visitors a day.

If admission lines repeatedly grow long, administrators will consider selling timed tickets, said Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River, an environmental group operating the museum. Because of the stairs used throughout the small building, the museum will not be accessible to the handicapped.

The viewing platform overlooks the giant gears that raise the bridge for ships and sailboats too tall to pass under the bridge when it's closed. The system is a mechanical marvel, so delicately balanced that it uses only a small, 140-horsepower electric motor to lift the 4,000-ton roadway.

"Bascule is the French word for `teeter-totter,' and that is what this bridge is, essentially," said Brian Steele, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation. "The bridge leaves that carry traffic are balanced on the other side of a trunnion--an axle--with giant counterweights, and it takes only a small horsepower motor to turn it up or lower it down.

"It is so sensitive that it has to be rebalanced each time that it gets a new coat of paint and in the winter with accumulation of salt or snow during a storm."

The story of the river begins at the lowest level of the tower, starting with the days when it was just a prairie stream dribbling into Lake Michigan before the first European explorers came through.

As soon as he saw the site in 1673, explorer Louis Jolliet saw the potential of cutting a canal between the Chicago and Des Plaines Rivers, enabling boats to travel from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico.

The next four floors tell how Jolliet's vision was prophetic. Chicago saw explosive growth after the U.S. built Ft. Dearborn in 1803, less than 2 feet from where the bridgehouse now stands. By 1890, more than a million people lived here, thanks to the strategic location.

"The museum is designed to celebrate the natural river and the commercial development of the stream, which became the central feature to Chicago's phenomenal growth as a city," Frisbie said.

Before the bridge was built in 1920, Michigan Avenue ran only as far north as the river. An old swing bridge linked it to Rush Street on the north bank, and what is now North Michigan Avenue was then Pine Street. Both banks of the river were lined with wharves, warehouses and industrial plants.

Daniel H. Burnham, as part of his 1909 "Plan of Chicago," co-authored with architect Edward H. Bennett, wanted to extend the grandeur of the Loop and South Michigan Avenue north of the river by building a magnificent bridge to Pine Street.

Bennett himself designed the magnificent, neo-classical limestone bridgehouses, each adorned with a bas-relief historical sculpture. Only two were needed to operate the bridge, but the city built four as a matter of aesthetic balance.

"Decorative features and sculpture must be provided to make the Chicago River attractive like European watercourses, and an object of beauty instead of ugliness," said Charles Wacker, chairman of the Chicago Plan Commission in 1921.

"This treatment of public thoroughfares will ... have a decisive influence on the character of the buildings along Michigan Avenue from Randolph Street to Chicago Avenue."

In the days when great office towers like the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower began rising as North Michigan Avenue opened up, the bridge spans were raised more than 3,000 times a year for shipping.

Until the 1970s, tenders staffed the bridges 24 hours a day. Now, the bridges are opened only a few dozen times a year to let recreational sailboats with soaring masts pass between their summer and winter berths. Those openings are tightly scheduled, and three tender crews leapfrog one another to operate the bridges ahead of the boat procession.

The tower the museum occupies was purely a decorative structure from the first, as is the bridge's northeast tower. The controls for running the bridge are in the northwest and southeast towers; the others were used occasionally for storage.

The Michigan Avenue bridge towers weren't the first, as several others went up even earlier, including more Beaux-Arts beauties on LaSalle Street.

In the late 1990s, the city for a couple of years used the southeast bridgehouse at State Street to house a gallery, though only in the lower part of the structure. There was no public access above the sidewalk level.

The McCormick Tribune Foundation, the major donor behind the formation of the new museum, is named for longtime Tribune publisher Col. Robert R. McCormick, a great supporter of the Chicago River. As president of the Chicago Sanitary District and alderman in the early part of the 20th Century, McCormick participated in early efforts to clean up the river.

"The River Museum has a great tie to the history of our foundation," said Don Cooke, the foundation's executive vice president. "It tells a very important Chicago story, so it is important for the foundation to be a part of it."

- - -

If you go

What: McCormick Tribune Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum.

Where: 376 N. Michigan Ave., at the Chicago River. The entrance is at the bottom of stairs leading to the river from Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive.

When: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, through autumn.

Admission: $3 suggested.

Information: 312-977-0227 or www.bridgehousemuseum.org.





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Old June 7th, 2006, 06:35 PM   #133
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http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/...endance07.html

Chicago arts attendance holding its own
June 7, 2006
BY KEVIN NANCE AND MIKE THOMAS Staff Reporters


There's a suspicion in the land -- and specifically in Chicago -- that these are dark days for the arts. We live in the digital age, so surely television, movies, iPods and especially the Internet are kicking the stuffing out of live theater, classical music, opera, dance and art museums. It's all about "Desperate Housewives," not "I Am My Own Wife," right? Britney, not Britten, right?

Not exactly. Pop culture remains mass culture, of course, and people who consume entertainment with the help of electronics continue to outnumber those who prefer the real thing. But the doomsayers who expected the arts to be swept away in the "digital tsunami" of the past decade, as it's been called, turn out to have been gratifyingly off the mark.

Attendance at Chicago's largest arts institutions has actually held steady or grown over the past 10 years, with several groups recently bouncing back from a post-9/11 downturn.

The decade was especially kind to theater, with many groups -- including the Goodman, Steppenwolf and Chicago Shakespeare Theater -- capitalizing on the excitement of a move to impressive new facilities. Steppenwolf's audience grew by 46 percent over the period -- impressive but not unique. "Everybody's audiences grew," says the company's executive director, David Hawkanson. "This has always been a great theater town, and it continues to be one of the strongest parts of the entertainment fabric."

Classical music hasn't been quite as fortunate, but on balance, it's holding its own. Attendance at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has declined slightly, from 94.7 percent capacity in 1994-95 to about 82 percent capacity last season, but that number has been stable for three years, with the current season's numbers expected to top 83 percent. Best of all for the CSO, single-ticket sales are 10 percent ahead of last season's. And memberships to the summer classical concerts at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park have sold out three years running -- this year in record time.

Despite the death of its legendary general manager, Ardis Krainik, in 1997, Lyric Opera of Chicago has stayed remarkably stable, never selling less than 96 percent of its available tickets. Last season, the Lyric sold 98 percent of capacity, making it by far the best-attended opera company in the nation in terms of percentage of seats sold.

Dance groups have also begun to stabilize their attendance numbers, thanks in part to greater consistency in their performance venues -- the Joffrey at the Auditorium Theatre, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at Millennium Park's Harris Theater.

To combat the attendance downturn of the 2001-02 season, for example, Hubbard Street successfully combined its move to the Harris with sharper marketing and advertising. The result: an uptick from 19,728 patrons to almost 30,000. "We went through a positioning process, a branding statement and put more money behind it," executive director Gail Kalver says. "Lo and behold, our numbers picked up."

'Peaks and valleys'

Of all of the major arts institutions, museums in Chicago have experienced the greatest volatility at the box office, primarily because of its direct relationship to programming. This has been especially true at the Art Institute of Chicago, where attendance has seesawed over the decade -- from a high of 2.3 million in the 1996 fiscal year to 1.2 million in 2002, then back up to 1.6 million in 2004 and down again to 1.3 million in 2005.

The Art Institute has lived and died, in short, on "blockbuster" temporary exhibitions, which -- the touring King Tut show currently at the Field Museum notwithstanding -- appear to be losing steam. (A Monet retrospective drew 964,000 people in 1995, compared with a Manet show that attracted 204,000 in 2004 and a Toulouse-Lautrec show that had about 268,000 visitors last year.)

"If I were seeing general attendance drop precipitously, I'd be very, very worried, but it's been pretty consistent at between 1.3 million and 1.5 million," museum director James Cuno says. "What's dropped precipitously over the last 10 years has been attendance at special exhibitions, which is why I want to reduce our dependence on them. I would rather there be consistently high attendance than the peaks and valleys that come with the episodic blockbuster exhibition."

The Museum of Contemporary Art has also experienced a jumping around of attendance figures, but the volatility is less troubling because it's within a narrower range and on a smaller scale. It helps, too, that the numbers for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, promise a significant bump up from last season's 223,577.

"We feel very comfortable that we have a steady, committed group of people who are coming -- and besides, we have a huge buzz in the museum right now," associate director Greg Cameron says. "We have the Andy Warhol exhibit [which continues through June 18 and has already been seen by more than 50,000 people], which has been very well received critically and by the public, exceeding our attendance projections."

'We're running harder'

Chicago's interest in and support of the arts mirror the national trends, which generally find arts attendance going strong. According to the most recent survey of arts participation by the National Endowment for the Arts, almost 40 percent of American adults (about 81 million people) attended at least one jazz, classical music, opera, theater or dance performance in 2002, up from 76 million in a poll conducted a decade earlier.

Classical music continues to thrive nationally, both in terms of live performance and sales of recordings. Billboard magazine did report that classical album sales dropped 15 percent in 2005, but at the same time, there was a 94 percent rise in digital downloads of classical music on Internet services such as iTunes (where classical music now makes up an impressive 12 percent of sales).

A handful of U.S. cities, including Miami and Nashville, Tenn., are preparing to open new symphony halls, and most of the nation's orchestras are in stable financial shape, with 64 percent having a zero balance or surplus in 2003-04, up from 46 percent the season before.

Theater is also continuing to grow. American regional theaters have sustained a gradually upward attendance trend -- as has Broadway, which sold a record 12 million tickets in the just-concluded season, an increase of just over 4 percent from 2004-05. The success of the commercial theater is reflected in Chicago, where "Wicked" has been enjoying a lengthy open-ended run, to be joined next year in the Loop by "The Color Purple."

On the other hand, several signs point to mounting challenges for the arts in the next few years. One is the much-noted "graying" of the audience, a phenomenon confirmed by the 2002 NEA study, which noted that arts attendees grew older between 1992 and 2002. The median age of art museum patrons increased from 40 to 45 during that period, while the average operagoer aged from 45 to 48. Classical music lovers were the oldest, with a median age of 49.

The same survey also found that a lack of audience diversity continues to plague the arts. Women participate at higher rates than men, as do non-Hispanic whites compared to all other ethnic groups. Those trends reflect the findings of a recent University of Chicago study, which confirmed that museum audiences here are disproportionately Caucasian, educated and wealthy.

Moreover, many Chicago arts institutions are finding that they have to work harder -- and spend more on advertising and other forms of marketing -- to maintain their audience share.

"We're running harder to stay in the same place," says Susan Mathieson Mayer, marketing and communications director at the Lyric Opera. "With 9/11, I think there was a significant change, a permanent change. There's just less money out there for people who attend events like ours. That's important, because it's a myth that people going to the opera are all well-to-do. They're not. And because things cost more, people are more careful about how they spend their money."

Beyond economics, Mayer says, is the question of whether younger generations will embrace the arts at the same level as their parents and grandparents. "We're holding our own, but one wonders what's going to happen as a new generation that isn't so interested in reading comes up. What's that saying about the future?"

Courting new audiences

f the future looks dicey, some Chicago arts institutions aren't sitting on their hands waiting for the apocalypse. Instead, they're working imaginatively and aggressively to court young and more diverse audiences.

The CSO has added new series to its traditional subscription packages. These include series that offer added educational context for the music, that collaborate with theater and dance groups, and that (in the case of the "Classical Tapestry" series) reach out to African-American audiences.

Two seasons ago, the orchestra lowered ticket prices to as little as $35 for 40 percent of the seats on the main floor, and to as little as $24 for a main-floor ticket to some of the new series performances. Best of all, the CSO recently introduced an online purchase program for students (which allows them to buy tickets for $10 up to two weeks prior to the event) that has proved a major hit. "Since the online program started," says the orchestra's Synneve Carlino, "we have tripled the number of students purchasing CSO tickets."

For its part, the Art Institute is working to stabilize attendance by focusing its marketing efforts on the permanent collection and temporary exhibits generated by the museum's curators, rather than on touring shows.

"We have a consistent hum of activity around our permanent collection, and we just have to build on that," Cuno says. "I see this next fiscal year as highlighting how we see ourselves as we approach the new building opening two years later."

That would be the scheduled 2009 opening of the new Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing, which will increase the museum's exhibit space by a third and throw a fresh spotlight on its long-overshadowed modern and contemporary collections.

The potentially lasting value of a highly visible new building continues to be demonstrated by Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which is still going gangbusters six years after moving into its Navy Pier digs.

"We're lit from morning to night," says executive director Criss Henderson, noting that Chicago Shakespeare now gives 630 performances over 50 weeks each year. "So many people said when we were talking about coming out here that this wasn't the place for serious art. But that 65-foot marquee with Shakespeare's name in fiber-optics and Tivoli lights says to the 10 million people who visit Navy Pier every year that Chicago takes its arts and culture seriously."

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Old June 14th, 2006, 07:09 PM   #134
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http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...alnearwest-hed

Children's Museum may move farther south into Grant Park

By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah

Tribune staff reporter
Published June 14, 2006

The Chicago Children's Museum may be backing away from its plan to relocate to the northernmost end of Grant Park, Ald. Burton Natarus (42nd) said Tuesday.

The museum, a major attraction on Navy Pier, had proposed tearing down a fieldhouse in the Daley Bicentennial Plaza and replacing it with a three-story structure near Randolph Street. A museum spokeswoman said Tuesday that was still one option under consideration.

But with neighbors becoming more vocal in opposition to the Randolph Street site, Natarus said museum president Peter England told him last week of interest in a location farther south in Grant Park, near Monroe and Columbus Drives.

England was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

"They listened to me and the neighbors," Natarus said. "I was relieved to know they were not going on Randolph."

He said he was told museum officials would show him architectural renderings for the new site in a couple of weeks.

The museum's earlier bid to move to the site of the fieldhouse drew fire from residents living in high-rises north of Grant Park. They collected about 2,100 signatures opposing the proposal.

In a public meeting they organized last month, Natarus, who sits on the powerful Chicago Plan Commission, said he would not support the museum's plans because traffic problems would be exacerbated by a new residential development to the north. Natarus said he would support the Monroe plan.

The museum, which attracts 500,000 visitors a year, has outgrown its current location at Navy Pier. Last fall, museum officials announced they were interested in moving to Grant Part.

Earlier this year, they unveiled plans for a building that, like the fieldhouse, would be subterranean. It would occupy some of the Monroe Street garage below it.

Bob O'Neill, Grant Park Advisory Council president, said a museum official told him Tuesday that executives are exploring the south end of Daley Bicentennial Plaza upon the alderman's suggestion, but have not dropped the previous proposal.

Museum spokeswoman Breelyn Pete said Tuesday officials were still excited about moving to the north end of Daley Bicentennial Plaza.

"We took the alderman's recommendation and are continuing to explore many options," she said.

The community might lose the opportunity to rebuild the fieldhouse with outside funding, O'Neill said. Chicago Park District officials estimate that rebuilding the current fieldhouse would cost $9 million. The project is not high on the district's list of capital improvements, officials have said.

"That's a very serious issue," O'Neill said.

And if the museum were to move to the south end of Daley Bicentennial Plaza, that would also put it diagonally across from a new addition under construction by the Chicago Art Institute and directly across the street from Millennium Park.

"So you would have on one corner three major buildings," O'Neill said.

Peggy Figiel, one of the residents who has organized opposition to the museum, said she was told by the alderman last week of the new site plan for the museum.

"We're very happy," she said.
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Old June 16th, 2006, 05:09 PM   #135
Chicago3rd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spyguy
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...alnearwest-hed

Children's Museum may move farther south into Grant Park

By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah

Tribune staff reporter
Published June 14, 2006

The Chicago Children's Museum may be backing away from its plan to relocate to the northernmost end of Grant Park, Ald. Burton Natarus (42nd) said Tuesday.

The museum, a major attraction on Navy Pier, had proposed tearing down a fieldhouse in the Daley Bicentennial Plaza and replacing it with a three-story structure near Randolph Street. A museum spokeswoman said Tuesday that was still one option under consideration.......
I STILL SAY HELL NO! No more building on Open Space in any of our lake front parks!

Build the damn thing over the railroad tracks along Michigan Avenue for Christ's Sake! Cover that hole...don't cover the grass!
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Old June 17th, 2006, 05:13 AM   #136
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicago3rd
I STILL SAY HELL NO! No more building on Open Space in any of our lake front parks!

Build the damn thing over the railroad tracks along Michigan Avenue for Christ's Sake! Cover that hole...don't cover the grass!
That's a brilliant idea!
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Old June 28th, 2006, 01:37 AM   #137
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Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center
Skokie

http://www.hmfi.org/

Groundbreaking
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Area Holocaust Survivors Lead Groundbreaking for World-Class
Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center

History was made when ground was broken on the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, fulfilling the dream of local Holocaust survivors to create an institution where visitors can reflect upon the lessons of history and apply them to the challenges of hate, intolerance, and genocide in our world today.

The day focused on hope for the future, with a joyous musical opening from the Soul Children of Chicago and speeches looking forward to the opening of the new institution. However, the ceremony was also commemorative, concentrating on remembering the past and creating a legacy of memory. With this in mind, over 30 Chicago-area Holocaust survivors sealed their stories, photographs and other keepsakes in a special time capsule. Led by Holocaust Memorial Foundation Board Vice Presidents Fritzie Fritzshall and Aaron Elster, the time capsule ceremony detailed the importance of creating a record for the future.

Project and Executive Director, Richard S. Hirschhaut began the ceremony by saying, “The ground that we break today will become sacred, for it will form the foundation of a powerful monument for remembering, conveying and preserving the legacy of the Holocaust. And from this ground will emerge a sacred obligation – the responsibility to create an institution that will serve as a bulwark against hate and indifference.”

Holocaust Memorial Foundation Board President, Samuel Harris addressed the significance of the day that signifies years of dreaming. He said, “This is a day long in the making. It not only represents nearly 7 years of planning, or the 25 years since the founding of the Foundation, but more than 60 years since the horrors of the Holocaust invaded our lives. This day assures that our stories, and those of our loved ones who are not here with us today, will be preserved for generations to come.”

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen, Consul General of Israel Barukh Binah, and Museum Campaign Chair J.B. Pritzker, also spoke about the importance of the day and the necessity of remembering the Holocaust in a way that teaches future generations how to stand up to hate.

“It is with great joy that we invite the entire Chicago community into our museum family,” said J.B. Pritzker, Museum Campaign Chair. “I encourage everyone to become part of our campaign to create an institution that has the power to transform our world, not just for us, but for our children and our grandchildren.”

project of the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois, the new Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center is slated to open in 2008. The new Center will be a 65,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility and will be the largest center in the Midwest dedicated to teaching the universal lessons of the Holocaust.

The new Museum will reach students throughout Illinois and across the Midwest, educating them about this period in history and alerting them to the dangers of unchallenged bigotry. It will personalize the stories of the Holocaust to students in Illinois who are required, by the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Education Mandate, to learn about the Holocaust and other genocides.

---------
Designed by Stanley Tigerman

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Old June 28th, 2006, 02:46 AM   #138
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Old June 28th, 2006, 03:16 AM   #139
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^ It could be a lot worse. I'd rather have this than the ridiculous parking garage he designed at Lake and Wabash.
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Old June 28th, 2006, 04:09 AM   #140
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..

Last edited by Loopy; June 17th, 2010 at 12:23 AM.
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