Thursday, April 29, 2010

330 North Wabash Renovation Complete

Got a press release today stating that the major renovations at 330 North Wabash are now complete.  You may remember 330 as the old IBM Building or One IBM Plaza, Mies Van Der Rohe's massive black slab along the Chicago river that used to loom so menacingly over the Sun-Times building before it was neutered by Donald Trump.

There have been complaints on the internet from people who think the treatment of the lobby has been rather ruthless, but for the 99% of Chicagoand who only see this building from afar, no damage has been done.

The building is interesting to watch at night because the top dozen floors form a black hole in the city's skyline while office lights tinkle and burn in other buildings around them.  It's because that section of the building is being redeveloped as a luxury hotel.  There is no opening date for that hotel yet.  At a public event about six months ago, the developer said he was in no hurry to complete the project, especially considering the state of the economy.

The full press release about the redevelopment of 330 North Wabash follows:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Video and pix: Block37 LED Displays

Earlier this year we mentioned the new LED displays now adorning the atrium of Block37 (1 West Randolph Street), and posted a few pictures and a video.  Now we've been sent a press release from the company that engineered the displays, along with some much better pictures than we had:

Writers/Photographers Wanted

A couple of days ago I noticed that Chicagoist has openings for new writers.  These are volunteer positions.  Chicagoist calls them  merely"unpaid," presumably to avoid the "volunteer" stigma.

I figured, if people want to write for Chicagoist for free, maybe there are people out there who would be interested in writing for the Chicago Architecture Blog for free, too.

You don't need any special skills or talent; just an interest in your neighborhood, or Chicago in general.  You can write about things you see, developments across the city, or even what you think of Hizzonor.  Don't worry about spelling and grammar and such things, we'll clean it all up on our end.

Even better -- If you can't write, we're also opening positions for photographers.  You don't need any fancy equipment.  In fact, most of the photos on this blog were taken with a cameraphone.  All we ask is that you send in at least one photo a week, along with a caption.  It can be a building in your neighborhood that you like, or a street scene, or something else from Chicagoland.

Now, here's the best part -- while these positions are officially "unpaid" like at Chicagoist, you WILL get something.  Maybe it's a coupon for a free Stabrucks or two.  Or a gift card to  Or some other small trinket to show our appreciation for your contributions.  How many you get and how often will depend on the number of submissions.

If you're interested, just shoot a note to and we'll work from there.

Monday, April 12, 2010

South Loop/Prairie District Events

I got an e-mail today from the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance that has a couple of items in it worth passing along:

Frank Lloyd Wright and the Fine Art Interior

Friends of Historic Second Church is pleased to announce the second lecture of the 2010 Evening Lecture Series: 

Date:   Thursday, May 6, 2010
Time:   6:00pm reception / 7:00pm lecture
Place:  Second Presbyterian Church, 1936 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60616
Cost:    $5
For more into email or call 800-657-0687.

In 1898, Frank Lloyd Wright opened his Oak Park studio with the intent of revolutionizing American architecture. His furniture designs and interior compositions were vital to the unified environments he created for each commission. He hired artists, sculptors, and skilled craftsmen, such as Richard Bock, Orlando Giannini, and George Mann Niedecken, to assist in achieving his vision. As a result of these collaborations, living rooms were filled with Wright's straightforward furniture mingling effortlessly with reproduction Hellenistic sculptures and vibrant contemporary murals; sunlight streamed through elaborate art glass windows to light entryways; and color and pattern could be found not only on the walls but in custom-designed rugs and fabrics. Together the overall effect led to a new era of progressive residential design. 

Brian Reis, Assistant Curator at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, will present the second lecture of Friends of Historic Second Church's 2010 Evening Lecture Series.  The 2010 Evening Lecture Series has been generously funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Reminder - New Docent Training to begin in April

Tours of the stunning art and architecture of Second Presbyterian Church are vital to the mission of Friends of Historic Second Church, which is to educate a worldwide audience about the building's historical and cultural significance. The backbone of the tour program is the well-informed corps of docents who graciously share their time and knowledge with thousands of tour guests.

Schedule: Four 1-1/2 hour sessions beginning at 6:30pm will be held on the following Wednesday evenings: April 28, May 5, May 12, and May 19.

Enrollment: Friends invites your participation in the docent training and requests that trainees commit to attend all four training sessions, as make-up sessions will not be offered. Those interested in learning about the art and architecture but who do not wish to become docents are also invited to enroll. There is a $10 materials fee payable on the first night of training. If you wish to sign up, please send an email to and an enrollment form will be emailed back to you. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

More Acorns Fall From Oak Street

It's been a painful couple of years documenting the long series of closures that have turned Chicago's Oak Street into a shadow of its former self.  The economic crisis has hurt boutiques along the street, and the hit keep on coming.

The latest bit of bad news -- Crain's Chicago Business notes this week that Liz Claiborne is trying to sublease it's Lucky Jeans space at 47 East Oak Street.  Liz has been very active on Oak Street over the last year.  It recently renovated its Kate Spade store at 56 East Oak Street after moving across the street from 101.  Liz then moved Juicy Couture into the 101 East Oak Street location.

The news at number 47 is only worsened by another note from Crain's that we tweeted about earlier this week -- that the space next door at 45 East Oak Street is for sale.  Loro Piana is in there now, but its lease expires this autumn and the building's owner wants to unload the property.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Follow-up: Roosevelt University's New Skyscraper

Over the last three weeks or so, several readers have asked if the new Roosevelt University skyscraper (421 South Wabash Street) we wrote about is going to be LEED certified.

Today I heard back from a PR person at Roosevelt, and yes the building is going for LEED certification.  I don't know what level yet; she's supposed to get back to me with specifics.

You can read more about the new building here: More Details About the New Roosevelt University Skyscraper.

Columbia College Gets a New Dorm

The colleges in Chicago's Loop just keep expanding.  The latest is Columbia College.

It's leasing a 16-story building at 626 South Clark Street, formerly known as the Dwight Lofts.  Sorry I can't post a photo of the building right now.  I have one, but can't access it right now since I'm writing this on a train.

Columbia is giving up its dorm at Two East 8th Street.

Here's Columbia's press release:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Slice of Life: Skyscraper Sunrise

The sun peeks out over Lake Michigan and illuminates the skyscraper forest of Chicago on an early morning.  From this vantage point, several buildings clearly stand head and shoulders above the rest:

Why no 100-story John Hancock Center (875 North Michigan Avenue) in the photograph?  Because it was taken from the John Hancock Center.