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Old January 9th, 2008, 06:01 AM   #1
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Chicago Architectural Tour

Chicago architecture: The sky's the limit
6 January 2008
The Seattle Times

CHICAGO -- This may be the only city in the world where architecture ranks as a sport.

Bleachers are erected around construction sites so the locals can sit and watch cranes swing steel beams into place.

In fact, Chicagoans are so engaged in the state of their skyline, public opinion in 2001 sounded the death knell for initial renderings of the Chicago Trump Tower. Critics argued that the proposed structure would not look right among its iconic brethren.

Two renderings later, Chicago Trump Tower now edges its way upward. The handsome design will tickle the sky by 2009, along with the its heighty neighbors -- the Sears Tower, the John Hancock Center and other mighty marvels.

The visitor to Chicago doesn't come away without appreciating the sophistication of this town. Architecture, restaurants, museums rank world-class, and then some.

Nor does the visitor fail to remark on the Midwestern friendliness. I got a quick reminder of this as I entered Chicago Place shopping center. A woman on her way out said, "Hello, how are you today?" For one startled moment I thought I should know who she was.

Chicago friendliness is legendary, but so are the city's museums and Michigan Avenue shopping.

My first stop in Chicago is always the Art Institute of Chicago, a splendid neo-classical structure housing one of the world's most important impressionist collections. The spacious rooms and beautifully displayed works make you linger and absorb the art.

Lake Michigan is also a star player. I also always run, walk or ride a bike along the lake during fair-weather visits. But look out for winter in this town -- winds off the lake can feel like knives slicing into your bones.

In summer, though, the lake is a shimmering jewel adorning the long preening neck of this skyscraping queen.

I came late to understanding Chicago as a world architectural gallery -- an accidental museum of design that a hay-eating cow kick- started to glory. In 1871 Mrs. O'Leary's cow, so the story goes, kicked over the lantern that started the fire that leveled this critical railroad hub. Commerce needed to be housed, so architects around the world heard the call of commissions, and a nice flat uncluttered canvas. The architectural playground gave birth to the world's first skyscraper. Other buildings were erected over the ensuing decades, ranging from daredevil to elegant, with styles including beaux-arts, art deco, international and postmodern.

So how does the visitor begin to decode the skyline? The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers bus and walking tours, plus a 90- minute river cruise along the Chicago River. The river cruise is very popular I liked it so much I want to do it again. The enthusiastic, well-trained docent didn't stop to take a breath, there was so much to point out.

Once you get your sea legs with the architecture scene, it's time to visit the newest showstopper, Frank O. Gehry's Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Gehry's trademark curvaceous, superpolished steel design takes on the look of curly silver ribbons unfurling to reveal -- ta da! -- the stage of this outdoor concert hall. Free concerts are offered almost daily in summer, with plenty of grassy seating for everyone.

The pavilion is in the parks-are-for-people Millennium Park, opened in 2004. Gawky adults join the kids kicking off their shoes to splash in Crown Fountain on a hot, humid Chicago summer day.

Another Millennium Park draw is the affectionately named "bean," a sculpture that looks like a shiny giant silver jellybean and draws people like a magnet. "Cloud Gate," its real name, is by British sculptor Anish Kapoor, and has become everyone's favorite photo spot. Get your photo taken with the bean reflecting you in the Chicago skyline.

With Gehry's footprint now in Chicago, next up is Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who will make his mark in 2010 with the 150-story Chicago Spire. The rendering looks like a giant twisted birthday candle, intended to spin its way upward as the tallest building in North America.

Frank Lloyd Wright is the architect most Americans recognize, and Wright also left his imprint on this town. Wright worked in his Oak Park studio from 1889 to 1913, designing 25 structures in Oak Park.

On this trip I visited Wright's Robie House, the 1909 Frank Lloyd Wright prairie-style home on the University of Chicago campus. The tour included as many Europeans as Americans; such is Wright's world- renowned status. Tours of Robie House and in Oak Park are offered by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust.

Kids visiting Chicago will tire of craning their necks, but this town is as kid-friendly as they come. Navy Pier with its Ferris wheel and carnival atmosphere is right on Lake Michigan. Rent bikes or Segways here or in Millennium Park, and take off along paths leading to Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum of Natural History, or just ride along the beautiful lakefront. All are nearby.

The town's allure for little girls, though, is in a red paper bag. Moms, dads and little girls tote goodies from the American Girl Place flagship store.

The young owners of these sweet-faced historic doll characters are smitten with this store. It's chock-a-block with doll furniture, clothing and accessories, but there's more. Dolls can get a new 'do at a dolly beauty parlor, and sit in a place of honor at the lunch table (make those reservations well in advance).

Wherever I looked I saw little girls with red bags -- they were in my hotel lobby at the Sheraton, and when I was shopping in Bloomingdales, I smiled to see a girl flopped on the floor poring over an American Girl catalog as her mom shopped.

All this trotting around town leaves a person hungry.

Not a problem. Chicagoans suffer a hard winter and are familiar with the antidotes.

My best find on this trip was De La Costa, a Latin fusion restaurant recently opened by Douglas Rodriguez, whose Alma de Cuba in Philadelphia has been one of my favorites. De La Costa was just blocks from the hotel (so much is walkable in Chicago).

The Latin-fusion cuisine was inventive and delicious -- we exclaimed over each arrival, but especially over the chocolate cigar and sugar book of matches for desert. Mostly, though, I remember the Caparhinas, a Brazilian cocktail that made the night seem very young at 11 p.m.

That was Chicago fun on the up side. But to dip a little lower, there's always the Billy Goat Tavern, part of Chicago's underground - - literally. The city is designed so that delivery trucks and trains can deliver goods below street level, but you can descend the stairs to find a few dives, including Billy Goat Tavern, whose claim to fame is as the model for the skit with the server who intoned "Cheezborger -- cheezborger, no Coke, Pepsi" on "Saturday Night Live."

Many of the SNL players, including Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi and Gilda Radner, came out of Chicago's famous improvisational theater group, the Second City. The Second City is every bit as funny today. Check it out to catch tomorrow's comedians.

And check out Chicago to see today's architecture.

If you go

Chicago Architecture Foundation offers a variety of tours, including city highlights by bus, both historical and modern skyscraper walking tours, a Frank Lloyd Wright bus tour and a river cruise on the Chicago River from spring through late fall.

The 90-minute river cruise sails several times daily during the summer, but be advised that this very popular tour fills up. Cost is $26-$28; dock is at southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge and Wacker Drive. Buy tickets at the dock -- but arrive early. Or book online at www.architecture.org or through Ticketmaster at 312- 902-1500.

Robie House, 5757 S. Woodlawn Ave., Hyde Park (on the University of Chicago campus). $20 adult, $16 youth. Tours offered between 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Purchase tickets at museum shop; arrive early and try for an early tour; the August day we visited, tours were sold out to earlybirds for the entire afternoon.

Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, http:// www.wrightplus.org . 708-848-1976 offers tours of Frank Lloyd Wright's Oak Park landmarks and Robie House in Hyde Park.

More information

www.gochicago.com , Chicago and Illinois Tourist Office
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Old January 15th, 2008, 10:00 AM   #2
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Rediscovering a Heroine Of Chicago Architecture
1 January 2008
The New York Times

An article in The Arts on Tuesday about Marion Mahony, who worked with Frank Lloyd Wright and was the first woman to obtain an architecture license in Illinois, included an outdated title for Elizabeth Birmingham, a professor at North Dakota State University who has written about Mahony. She is an associate professor of English, not an assistant professor.

CORRECTED BY THE NEW YORK TIMES Thu Jan 03 2008

If women are underrepresented in the architecture profession in 2008, a century ago they were hardly represented at all.

Which makes Marion Mahony, the first woman to obtain an architecture license in Illinois, seem all the more remarkable. By 1908, she had been working for Frank Lloyd Wright for a decade.

Mahony (pronounced MAH-nee) had developed a fluid style of rendering derived partly from Japanese woodblock prints, with lush vegetation flowing in and around floor plans and elevations. Her masterly compositions also made the buildings appear irresistibly romantic.

Mahony's drawings, retraced in ink, formed much of what came to be known as the Wasmuth Portfolio, a compendium of Wright's designs published in Germany in 1910. The portfolio not only established him as America's reigning architectural genius but also influenced European Modernists like Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier.

''She did the drawings people think of when they think of Frank Lloyd Wright,'' said Debora Wood, who organized a show of Mahony's work at Northwestern University in 2005.

If Mahony -- often known by her married name, Marion Mahony Griffin -- has remained a relative unknown, scholars are hoping to change that as part of a larger process of raising the profile of women in the profession retrospectively.

Until a few months ago, anyone longing to read Mahony's memoir, ''The Magic of America,'' had to visit the Art Institute of Chicago or the New-York Historical Society, where Mahony, unable to find a publisher, deposited copies of the manuscript before her death in 1961. Each consists of 1,400 typed pages and nearly 700 illustrations, making the book at once too unwieldy -- and too precious -- for general distribution.

But in August the Art Institute made a facsimile of the manuscript available at artic.edu/magicofamerica. The work is now as easy to navigate as a blog, and it shares some of a blog's characteristics, including enthusiastic attention to personal grievances.

The broader effort to devote more attention to female architects has also focused attention on Lilly Reich, who worked in Germany with Mies; Aino Aalto, who worked in Finland with her husband, Alvar; and more recently, Denise Scott Brown, the Philadelphia architect who many say was cheated when her husband and partner, Robert Venturi, was awarded the Pritzker Prize on his own in 1991.

Among Mahony's champions is Elizabeth Birmingham, an assistant professor of English at North Dakota State University in Fargo. ''The specifics of Marion's life fell victim to the primary scholarly effort to establish and fix the canon of 'great men' whose genius-personalities, buildings and texts would become central to the story of architecture,'' she wrote in a dissertation.

Ms. Birmingham points out that architectural historians who acknowledge Mahony have tended to focus on her relationships with men and on her physical appearance, often in unflattering terms. (She was frequently described as homely, though Brendan Gill, in ''Many Masks,'' his 1987 biography of Wright, called her a ''gaunt, beaky beauty.'')

That Mahony spent her most productive years in Australia, where she and her husband designed a plan for the new city of Canberra in 1911, has also lowered her profile in the United States. But ''the Australians take Mahony as seriously as we take Frank Lloyd Wright,'' said David Van Zanten, a professor of art history at Northwestern University.

One of those Australians, Christopher Vernon of the University of Western Australia, has written extensively of Mahony's talent as a designer. Mr. Van Zanten goes so far as to say that Mahony, after Wright and Louis Sullivan, was ''the third great progressive designer of turn-of-the-century Chicago.''

But in determining her contribution to American architecture, there is no more confounding figure than Mahony herself. In 1911 she married Walter Burley Griffin, a Prairie School architect five years her junior, and began devoting the bulk of her efforts toward furthering his career.

That required both beautiful renderings and -- any time his talent was questioned -- self-effacement. That self-effacement may also have served the purposes of Wright, who more than most architects cultivated the image of the lone genius; he never acknowledged Mahony's contributions and dismissed her and her husband as imitators.

Still, said Paul Kruty, an architectural historian at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, ''It is generally accepted that the rendering style through which Frank Lloyd Wright became known was Marion Mahony's.''

In her manuscript Mahony depicts herself as indissolubly fused with her husband. The memoir is divided into four sections, each casting the couple as champions of a cause. ''The Emperial Battle'' describes Griffin's final project, a library for the Indian city of Lucknow; ''The Federal Battle'' focuses on their largely failed efforts to see Canberra built as they envisioned it; and ''The Civic Battle'' describes Castlecrag, a planned community near Sydney that the couple designed.

The final section is ''The Individual Battle,'' which describes the couple's struggles within American society. Mahony rails against class structure, imperialism, environmental degradation and of course Wright, whom she never names but refers to as ''a cancer sore'' who ''originated very little but spent most of his time claiming everything and swiping everything.''

Marion Lucy Mahony was born in Chicago in 1871 and grew up in nearby Winnetka, where her family moved after the great Chicago fire. She became fascinated by landscape as the area surrounding her family's home was carved up into suburbs.

She received her architecture training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Back in Chicago, she went to work for her cousin Dwight Perkins in a studio designed by Perkins and shared by several architects, including Wright. In 1895 Mahony became Wright's first employee.

Barry Byrne, who came to work in the studio in 1902, reminisced in several articles after Wright's death about the informal design competitions among that architect's employees. He recalled that Mahony won most of them and that Wright filed away her drawings for future use, chastising anyone who referred to them as ''Miss Mahony's designs.''

In 1909 Wright left his wife for a client's wife, Mamah Borthwick Cheney, with whom he fled to Europe. Mahony worked with several other Wright employees to complete the firm's commissions, but soon focused her attention on her husband-to-be, whom she had met in Wright's studio.

Around the time they married, in 1911, Mahony persuaded Griffin to enter the competition to design Canberra, and she created 14 huge presentation drawings in ink on satin in which the rugged Australian landscape seemingly embraced her husband's buildings. The drawings, which seemed to capture the essence of Australia -- a place she had never been -- were instrumental in the judges' choice of Griffin.

They moved to Australia in 1914. Only small parts of the plan for Canberra were executed, but the Griffins won acclaim for several other buildings there. Mahony also became renowned for her ravishing paintings of local flora, many of which were published in 2005 in ''Marion Mahony Griffin: Drawing the Form of Nature.''

In 1936 she joined her husband in Lucknow, where he was designing a university library. After he died there in 1937, she returned to Australia, settled her affairs and moved home to Chicago.

Although she lived another 24 years, she took on few commissionsand did virtually nothing to enhance her reputation. The one time she addressed the Illinois Society of Architects, she made no mention of her work, instead lecturing the crowd on anthroposophy, a philosophy of spiritual knowledge developed by Rudolf Steiner.

In the United States a few works attributed solely to Mahony survive, including a mural in the George B. Armstrong elementary school in Chicago, and several private homes in Decatur, Ill. (The Decatur houses are the subject of a new book, ''Marion Mahony and Millikin Place: Creating a Prairie School Masterpiece,'' published by the Walter Burley Griffin Society of America as part of its continuing effort to assess her contribution.)

There is no doubt that Wright would have been an important architect with or without Mahony. It's harder to say how Walter Burley Griffin would have been received without his wife.

Harder still is knowing how Mahony would have fared without either of them.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 02:20 PM   #3
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Chicago's rich architectural history
21 May 2008





CHICAGO (AP) - The boat glides under the Michigan Avenue bridge and heads into the heart of the city, as the shimmering white Wrigley Building and neo-Gothic Tribune Tower rise to the north.

It passes the corncob-like Marina Towers, the sprawling Merchandise Mart and glass-and-steel skyscrapers -- a tapestry of new and old that draws architecture enthusiasts from around the world to the city that famed architect Daniel Burnham once called his "Paris on the Prairie."

"I knew I was going to be coming to Chicago and the one thing that I wanted to do was the river cruise," said Kristen Moore, 35, of Phoenix, snapping photos on the tour, sponsored by the nonprofit Chicago Architecture Foundation.

"There's so much history in the buildings here."

The city's rise in the world of architecture began after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed swaths of buildings, and the late 19th century saw the city's architects become world leaders -- designing everything from the employee-packed skyscrapers to quaint homes that now make up the so-called Bungalow Belt.

Isolated from the East Coast's European influences, Chicago's historic architects were known for putting aside common ideas about design, creating a unique and different way of building.

So innovative were their ideas that Chicago is considered the home of the modern skyscraper. Among the most famous are the 110-story Sears Tower -- the tallest building in the U.S. -- and the Hancock Tower, along Lake Michigan.

"We have always thought big," says Charles Stanford, a docent and architecture expert with the Architecture Foundation. "Chicago was always bold about the way we built. We sort of really do believe that the sky is the limit. That if engineering will take us there, we'll go."

The Foundation tries to put modern marvels and the city's classic buildings in context for visitors. The group hosts a museum on Michigan Avenue and offers more than 80 different boat, bicycle, bus and walking tours.

Moore said she hoped to catch glimpses of the neoclassical and French classical building styles she loves. Chicago's Tribune Tower, built in 1925, and under-construction Trump Tower, were on her list.

There soon will be more to see, with three more skyscrapers under construction.

The Chicago Spire, designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, will twist skyward for 150 stories and become the tallest building in North America. The Trump Tower will be 92 stories and Waterview Tower 90 stories.

Interest in Chicago architects increased after the 2004 publication of Erik Larson's "Devil in the White City," a story of Chicago's 1893 World's Fair that tells of architect Daniel Burnham and serial killer H.H. Holmes. Along with Burnham, Stanford says interest piqued in Chicago architects Frank Lloyd Wright and his Prairie Style, Louis Sullivan and his ornate facades, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, known for a sleek, modern design.

"People like to see something by these people," Stanford says. He gets questions about what the architects were like as people during his tours, he adds. "It sort of connects them to them. They were all great characters."

More than a century later, Chicago architecture continues to welcome groundbreaking designs, said Mark Sexton, whose Chicago firm Krueck and Sexton designed Millenium Park's Crown Fountain and the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies.

He says today's architects look to the city's historic buildings to inspire the future.

"Here's a great opportunity not to be timid," Sexton said. "Because Burnham and Sullivan and Wright were not timid. They were pushing the limits of technology and thinking. We thought we should do the same thing."

He said Chicago is special because classic and modern buildings complement each other.

"The two can coexist, each one making the other better," he said. "That's what architecture leaves. It leaves an indelible print."

----

If You Go...

BOAT: Chicago River cruises take tourists on open-air boats with enclosed lower decks, and sometimes, bars. Cruises sail by Chicago standbys, the Merchandise Mart, Tribune Tower, Sears Tower and the corn cob Marina Towers, led by knowledgeable docents.

--Chicago Architecture Foundation: Several boats daily on the hour, May 4-Nov. 23; $28 (euro18) during the week, $30 (euro19) Saturday, Sunday, holidays.

--Shoreline Sightseeing: Boats daily, April 1-Nov. 30. Adults, $24 (euro16) weekdays, $26 (euro17) weekends; seniors, $21 (euro14) weekdays, $23 (euro15) weekends; children, $12 (euro8) weekdays, $13 (euro8) weekends.

--Wendella: Six boats daily. Adults $22 (euro14); age 65 and over, $20 (euro13); age 11 and under, $11 (euro7); under age 3, no charge.

BICYCLE: The Architecture Foundation offers three-hour bicycle tours from Millennium Park along Lake Michigan, and covers the museum campus, Soldier Field and Northerly Island. Bring your own bike or rent one. Adults, $10 (euro6); students and seniors, $5 (euro3).

BUS: The Architecture Foundation offers a dozen different bus tours covering the city. The most popular is "Highlights by Bus" takings tourists 30 miles (48 kilometers) through the Loop, Hyde Park and Gold Coast. Daily tours, adults, $40 (euro26); seniors and students, $35 (euro23).

ON FOOT: The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers more than 60 different walking tours of the city's buildings, featuring tours by specific architect, neighborhood, cemetery, street or skyscraper. Tours priced $20-$5 (euro13-euro3).

ASSORTED: The foundation also offers happy hour tours, lunchtime lectures and tours in foreign languages. It also has a museum with permanent and rotating exhibitions and a lecture hall. Details from Chicago Architecture Foundation, 224 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
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Old May 27th, 2008, 10:11 PM   #4
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great Article hkskyline
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Old June 4th, 2009, 06:51 PM   #5
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Raising the roof
Chicago already has some of North America's greatest buildings.
But recent additions to the skyline – including Renzo Piano's grand wing at the Art Institute of Chicago – are giving architecture fans new reasons to visit

27 May 2009
The Globe and Mail

On a spring day in lakefront Grant Park, Chicagoans are out jogging and cycling, lounging by a mammoth fountain and taking in lake breezes before returning to the towers steps away.

Nearby, the Art Institute of Chicago is putting the final touches on its new Modern Wing, designed by Italian master Renzo Piano – officially opened earlier this month. It's just one of the stunning new landmarks in a city known for the quality of its architecture.

Which is fitting at the 100th anniversary of the Chicago Plan, architect Daniel Burnham's grand scheme for the city. Burnham is famous for saying “Make no little plans,” and this spring, “Paris on the Prairie” celebrates his legacy with several events and exhibitions. It's also welcoming stunning new buildings by international – and local – architects.

Burnham's 1909 Chicago Plan remade the dirty, crowded city of industry on a scale and vision that helped define the City Beautiful movement. Chief among his groundbreaking ideas was making the Lake Michigan waterfront accessible to all. He designed a network of parks, piers, beaches and public space that a century later is a hallmark of the city's pride.

Today, not many cities devote themselves like Chicago does to showing off their built environment. “People say that some locations have mountains or an ocean; Chicago has architecture,” says Susan Ross of the Chicago Architecture Foundation, which runs 85 tours of the city's built form – from 19th-century skyscrapers by Louis Sullivan through modernist works by Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe, 20th-century greats who did some of their best work here. (Seventeen tours touch on Burnham's influence.)

Right now, fans of contemporary architecture will want to check out two birthday pavilions in honour of Burnham's plan. World-renowned architect Zaha Hadid and the Amsterdam-based UNStudio have fashioned sculpted spaces in Millennium Park to reflect Burnham's audacious dream.

Hadid's is an aluminum-ribbed shell clad in tent fabric that invites visitors to enter a conch-like entrance where a film on the city's transformation will be projected. UNStudio's is a wall-free structure of steel and plywood with openings cut into the flat roof that frame views of the skyline.

Both works will be unveiled on June 19 and be on display free of charge through the end of October. An exhibit outlining Burnham's contribution to the city – and the chance through touch-screen terminals to voice your own ideas for the future – will complement the tribute.

Millennium Park – which is an extension of Burnham's Grant Park– has become a focal point for the city's cultural life since it opened five years ago. The Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion hosts free concerts all summer long, and British artist Anish Kapoor's sculpture Cloud Gate (known locally as “the bean”) is an instant icon.

Next door to the park is this year's main architectural event: The Art Institute (which was also part of Burnham's plan) unveiled its new $300-million Modern Wing this month. The 264,000-square-foot addition makes Chicago's principal art gallery the second largest in the United States.

The new three-storey wing is a showcase of 20th-century masters: Matisse, Picasso, Modigliani, Chagall, Mondrian and Klee among them, and the building is a work of art in itself. Above the glass ceiling is a perforated “flying carpet” steel roof that allows only indirect northern light into the top-floor galleries.

There's a rooftop sculpture garden with superb views of the skyline and clear sightlines to the Pritzker stage during concerts. Piano's cantilevered pedestrian bridge leads from Millennium Park directly onto the roof garden, which is accessible without entering the gallery. The new space gives pride of place to works by Stella, Serra, Jasper Johns and the Surrealists in spacious, light-filled rooms.

On a preview tour of the glass and limestone building, I asked whether the Modern Wing is the biggest story in Chicago this year. “Second biggest,” said Erin Hogan of the Art Institute. “Obama is first.” (Fittingly, Tony Mantuano, executive chef of Obama's favourite restaurant in Chicago, Spiaggia, is also directing the menu at the Art Institute's new restaurant.)

The original wing of this famous gallery is now able to hang some of its better-known works more prominently before the 1.5 million annual visitors. Georges Seurat's pointillist masterpiece, A Sunday on la Grande Jatte, is one of the first paintings you see on entering. Edward Hopper's Nighthawks and Grant Wood's American Gothic are also easier to find among the 300,000 works on display.

For a more intimate introduction to the city, get a ground-level perspective from one of the boat tours that ply the Chicago River. This year it's where you'll also learn about an impressive crop of buildings rising on the skyline.

The new 92-storey Trump International Hotel and Tower (designed by local architect Adrian Smith) is now the second tallest in the city, after the 110-storey Sears Tower. (The latter was officially renamed the Willis Tower this year, though the name has yet to catch on.)

Despite the growth, the recession has put on hold another stab at world-beating design. Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava's residential Chicago Spire, if completed, will soar an astonishing 610 metres skyward.

Size is not always the measure of a building's importance – even in Chicago. At just 10 storeys and set amid Michigan Avenue's wall of historic skyscrapers, the new Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies by Chicago architects Krueck + Sexton makes a subtle statement through a glass façade cut to resemble a gemstone. The light-filled lobby leads to a gift shop, kosher café and a theatre. The museum, with views across Grant Park to the lake, houses exhibits on Jewish themes.

One other fascinating building near the waterfront is almost finished. A mixed-use tower called Aqua is 82 storeys of undulating concrete ribbons – with a mesmerizing, shifting pattern of balconies of varying depths that look like ripples in water. It's the largest project ever awarded to an American firm headed by a woman, the young Chicago architect Jeanne Gang.

Critics are citing Studio Gang and other maverick designers for carving out a new Chicago school of architecture, by treating the façade of a sculpted skyscraper as terrain worthy of exploration. This new direction and the grand scale of these buildings would make Daniel Burnham proud.

***

Pack your bags

GETTING THERE

Air Canada, United and American all fly direct from Canadian airports to Chicago O'Hare. Porter Airlines flies direct from the Toronto Island Airport to the downtown Midway International Airport.

WHERE TO STAY

The Ritz-CarltonChicago

312-266-1000; www.fourseasons.com/chicagorc. From $376; suites from $668. Run by Four Seasons and recently renovated.

WHAT TO SEE

Art Institute of Chicago

111 South Michigan Ave.; 312-443-3600; www.artic.edu. Admission $18 (U.S.); children under 14 free.

Chicago Architecture

Foundation 224 South Michigan Ave.; 312-922-3432; www.architecture.org. Tours from $5 (U.S.)

Millennium Park Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street; www.millenniumpark.org. Open daily 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Admission free.

Spertus Museum Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, 610 South Michigan Ave.; 312-322-1700; www.spertus.edu/museum.
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Old April 14th, 2011, 07:09 AM   #6
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Chicago Architecture Foundation adds 5 new tours, including 'Synagogues by Bus'
9 April 2011

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago tourists may know the Chicago Architecture Foundation for its architecture river cruise. Now five new outings have been added to the nonprofit organization's list of tours.

A tour called "Vice to Nice" will focus on the transformation of the city's south Loop. A "Synagogues by Bus" tour explores Jewish history, traditions and architecture. It's an offshoot of the foundation's popular "Churches by Bus" tour.

Three other tours focus on "Preservation and Pubs." Each features an exploration of the reasons behind preservation and ends at one of the city's pubs.
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