.,.. Are We Dead Yet John Ronan Perth Amboy John Ronan - Post Office of the Dead Doug Garofalo MCA St. Boniface Competition Carol Ross Barney Oklahoma City Rem Koolhaas confronts Mies van der Rohe on the IIT campus Frank Gehry and Millennium Park Rem Koolhaas Seattle Public Library Helmut Jahn at IIT, State Street Village Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House is saved Glenn Murcutt Chicago Architectural Events Calendar It's not easy being Green - the AIA Green House Rem Koolhaas roars back with his new book, Content Out of the Box, an exhibition on pre-fab housing, at Chicago's Field Museum

Lynn Becker's writings on architecture have appeared in the Chicago Reader, the Harvard Design Magazine, Long Island Newsday, Metropolis Magazine, and on his daily blog. He has appeared on WTTW's Chicago Tonight, and on radio on Edward Lifson's Hello, Beautiful on WBEZ, and Milt Rosenberg's Extension 720 on WGN radio, and lectured at the Illinois Institute of Technology and the Arts Club of Chicago. He is available, and often actually coherent, for talks, as well as tours of Chicago architecture: personal, group or corporate. Please inquire here.


Web lynnbecker.com

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From Robert Venturi on Mies to Mies' Federal Center, Burnham & Root's Lakeview Presbyterian Church, the death of Marshall Fields, the butterflies of Millennium Park, robotic pandas, and much, much more. Dozens of articles on architecture, architects, planning and culture. Check them all out below.

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Weekend Miscelleany - Fruity Pebbles in the Giant Panda walking on two legsWine, Il Mare Chicago-Style, and How I Stopped Worrying About Giant Pandas

All you need to know about three essential issues of global civilization. Read about it here.



From Root to Ritz

Glancing through ads in the Sunday New York Times for pricey real estate I'll never be able to afford, one for the Ritz-Carlton Residences in San Francisco caught my eye. . . . it was 1887 when Burnham & Root were hired by Michael de Young to design a new headquarters for the Chronicle. . . . read the full story and see the pictures here.


It's Like the Matrix - for Cars!
At a "technology theme park" at Wolfsburg, Germany, Volkswagen makes the autopark a piece of urban theater. See more pictures and read about it here

The World's Tallest Buildings - America's latest Outsourcing
In the race to create the world's tallest structures, the United States seems to be having a hard time getting it up. On a Cesar Pelli's Bloomberg Tower in New York Citynew list of the tallest buildings of 2005 from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, only one, Cesar Pelli's Bloomberg Tower in New York, is in America. Is history passing us by, should we be concerned, and does it have anything to do with the sapping of our precious bodily fluids? Read all about it - including which new landmark is Hollywood's latest phallic best supporting player - and see the pictures (no, not those kind of pictures) here

Freedom's Just Another Word For . . . Another New Museum
New York couldn't get its Freedom Museum off the ground. Chicago's McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum is already open. From red-baiting Colonel McCormick, to wardrobe malfunctions, to Mae West and Charlie McCarthy, read all about the exhibits and new design by VOA & Associates and Gallagher & Associates - and see the pictures - here


A Dying Wallflower Reveals a Buried Sun
A scorched earth policy and a missed design opportunity along Chicago's Brown Line "El". Read all about it and see the pictures here

A Restaurant Goes Dark. A Street Goes Dead

The closing of Chicago's century'old Berghoff restaurant is more than a matter of easy sentiment. Read all about it and see the pictures here.


The Nickerson Mansion Comes Clean
Turning back the hands of time at Burling and White's gracious 1883 residence. Is a century of grime a rich patina or just a lot of crud? Read all about it and see the pictures here
  Sidewalk Superintendants Delight - Curtain Wall Goes Up at MBC
Is there anything more lazily satisfied than watching others do interesting work? River North architecture buffs had a grand show put before them as the curtain wall for Chicago's new Museum of Broadcast Communications was assembled over this past Saturday and Sunday. One by one, nine twenty-seven-foot-high, 2,000 pound panels were gingerly lifted . . read the story and see all the pictures here.
  Kaddish for a Legendary Church .
Pilgrim Baptist - Kaddish for a Legendary Church
A raging fire guts Adler & Sullivan's 1891 K.A.M./Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood and, in silencing the rich echoes of over a century of human aspiration, offers a potent reminder of how architecture channels urban memory. Read about it and see the images here.
An Emerald Carpet for Mies and Wrigley
The IBM and Wrigley Buildings along a Chicago River dyed green for St. Patrick's dayEvery year since 1962, the Chicago River green is dyed green to celebrate St. Patrick's day. It's a uniquely Chicago tradition that tips its hat to the central role the Irish have played in the city's history. For a few hours every year, the architectural landmarks that line the Chicago River acquire an aquatic front yard that's as vibrant as the neon green relish of a genuine Chicago hot dog. Read about it and see the pictures here
  God vs. Mammon on East Wacker
Can the congregation of Harry Weese's Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist withstand a developer's temptations? Read about it and see the pictures here
  What Becomes a Garage Most?
Chicago's The Streeter provides still another twist on one of the two schools of thought on parking garage design. Read about and see the pictures here.

OMA Cooks Up Stack of Mies for Louisville.r.
$380,000,000 Museum Plaza project includes series of stacked boxes drawn together by one-acre museum 22 stories in the air. Read about it here .

Founding Father Rescued from the Wax Worksr.
It's perplexing how the American Revolution, one of greatest dramas of human history, descends on film into a sort of Waiting for Guffman theatrics. Tony award winner Simon Russell Beale's performance as John Adams takes the genre to another level. Read about it here


  Becker discusses blogs, the internet, and the arts on Edward Lifson's Hello Beautiful Sunday morning.In cyberspace, even Max Reger has his own website. How have blogs and internet affected the arts? That's the question under discussion on this Sunday (February 26) morning's Hello, Beautiful, Edward Lifson's show on WBEZ 91.5 FM. Lifson has just started up his own blog, Teatro Lifson, and, still under the spell of the heady mania we all experience when we first realize we can be our own publishers, he's assembled a panel to discuss how blogging and the internet are - or aren't - changing the arts. It's scheduled to include Terry Teachout, drama critic of the Wall Street Journal, music critic for Commentary, and, with Chicago's Laura Demanski, creator of the About Last Night blog, Barbara Koenen, creator of the Chicago Artists Resource website, and myself. Will culture ever be the same? The show runs from 10:00 to 11:00 A.M., CST. If you're not in Chicago, you can hear the program over WBEZ's streaming audio by going to their home page, and clicking on the Live Webcast in RealAudio link at the top of the page. Later in the week, the broadcast should also be available on the Hello, Beautiful audio library page.  

There Goes the Neighborhood.
After 47 years in business, the Uptown Snack Shop, a neighborhood gem, was given 30 days notice to vacate, and will close this Saturday, February 25th. With a brand-new Borders, once-posh Uptown is struggling to cast off its long held status as a refuge for the city's poor, and the museum-quality Snack Shop has found itself in the way. Read all about it and see the photo's here.

New ABC 7 State Street Studio Nears Completionr.
Setting up shop in historic theater building as Chicago's TV outlets rush to create sidewalk studios. See the pictures and read about it here





Another Miniature Modernist Gem Bites the Dustr.
The loss of the Episcopal Church Center helps speed the Manhattanization of Chicago's off-Michigan Avenue. Read all about it and see the pictures here.




Scandal Becomes Herr.
Pimps, prostitutes and a dentist create a media frenzy that may change how people think about Bertrand Goldberg's Marina City. Read it here.




AIA Award for Millennium Park Slights Uhlir, Plumps for SOM r.
Blair Kamin reports in the Tribune on AIA slight. Frank Gehry sets the record straight, and news of SOM's proposal for a Guangzhou skyscraper that produces more energy that it consumers. Read it here.


  Small Victories Matter - a rehab of Harold Washington College helps rescue a distressed Chicago Loop corner.a distressed Chicago Loop corner.
Mies van der Rohe's Federal Center in Chicago undergoing $20,000,000 rehab
Chicago's Harold Washington college was built in the style of bomb shelter modern, a relentless mass of concrete relieved only by a strips of clerestory windows on each floor. Now, a rehab by architects Holabird and Root has opened up the building in a way that helps heal a distressed urban fabric. Read all about it - and see the photographs - here.

Mies van der Rohe's Federal Center in Chicago undergoing $20,000,000 rehab
Mies van der Rohe's Federal Center in Chicago undergoing $20,000,000 rehabA $20,000,000 renovation is underway on the facade of the Dirksen Building, one of three structures designed by Mies van der Rohe for Chicago's Federal Center "The facades are really not a curtain wall," said architect Paul Steinbrecher" . . . read the full story and see the photos here.



Sweeter than Chocolat, Casanova offers up a visually stunning tour of 18th century Venice Sweeter than Chocolate, Lasse Hallstrom's film Casanova offers up a visually stunning tour of 18th Century VeniceKing Kong and Narnia may be the big guns, but for architecture buffs, the new sly sleeper of a comedy Casanova may be the biggest delight of the holiday season. The film's biggest star however, is the city of Venice itself, CGI'ed back into the 18th century. Read the full article here.




A little-known 1887 Chicago church by Daniel Burnham and John Wellborn Root is rescued and rediscovered in all its original warm beauty..(Originally published in abbreviated and far better edited form under the title, Landmark This! in the December 16th Chicago Reader. Read about it here.



Robert Venturi at IIT

Robert Venturi comes to modernist shrine Crown Hall to out Bobbing for Mies - Robert Venturi at IIT's Crown Hall outs Mies van der Rohe as a closet symbolistMies van der Rohe as a closet symbolist and attempt to define the architecture of our time. (Originally published in abbreviated and far better edited form under the title, Live by the I Beam, Die by the I Beam in the December 16th Chicago Reader. Read about it here.





Mayor Richard M. Daley jump-starts a Chicago architectural competition that seeks to locate the city's soul in its historic water tanks. A new exhibition displays 167 of the entries and examines the water tank's water tank's history and future possibilities in a high-tech age. Read all about it here.


A Bureaucrat Triumphs and a
Little Bit of Chicago Dies

The smell of chocolate runs afoul of federal regulators - what a now outlawed Chicago tradition has to do with Marcel Proust - read about it here.





Archi-Tourist goes beyond Gehry to
guide travelers to new Chicago architecture

John Hill, the Chicago architect behind the popular Archidose blog, has launched a noble experiment, The Archi-Tourist, that aims to provide travelers with a guide to architecture that goes beyond the usual iconic stararchitect buildings. Initially, the guide offers information on 50 projects in twelve cities across three continents.

The Chicago section currently includes nine buildings, including John Ronan's Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School, Tadao Ando's little known Eychaner/Lee House, Jeanne Gang's Kam Liu Building in Chinatown, and Jean-Paul Viguier's Sofitel Hotel. Each entry follows a standardized format, with architect name, completion date, image, map and location . . . read the complete story.


Seeing MacStars - Is a Hollywood-style Walk of Fame just the ticket for Chicago's Grant Park?
Is a franchised Hollywood-style Walk of Fame just the ticket for an underutilized portion of Chicago's Grant Park? Read about it here. (This article originally appeared in slightly different and far better edited version under the title Chicago Needs More Cheese in the Chicago Reader, November 18, 2005)




Planning and its Disconnects

Chicago is experiencing its biggest building boom since the 1920's - some splendid, a lot not. Millennium Park - a big plus; the condo towers in River Repeat - Writings on Architecture in Chicago and the World - Planning and its DisconnectsNorth - a festival of banality. Nothing gets built in Chicago without city oversight and support. What makes the difference between triumph and disgrace, and what's planning - and the leering bug picture to the right - got to do with it?

(Originally published under the title "Can Planning be a means to better architecture?" in the Harvard Design Magazine, Spring/Summer, 2005 as part of a special issue on Urban Planning Now - What Works, What Doesn't?)

Join a discussion on this topic.


Milwaukee's 1965 Amtrak Station is an object lesson in bad design. Eppstein Uhen Architects has a plan to fix it. Read it here


The Bernardin Condo Tower in ChicagoBoth classicist architects and their more pragmatic Chicago counterparts have a weakness for returning to the past, but the way they choose to do it couldn't be more different. Read it here. (originally published in a slightly different, and far-better edited version in the Chicago Reader, October 7, 2005


The Chicago Symphony at Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion - There Is a Difference - A concert conducted by Daniel Barenboim unmasks today's market economy's fallacy of "good enough." Read it here.


Rethink/Redesign/Recycle - AIA Chicago competition for the design of recycling receptables seeks to boost Chicago's recycling rate Could engaging and innovative designs for recycling bins boost Chicago's flagging recycling rate? Read about the Rethink/ Redesign/ Recycle competition and see the entries. (August 30th, 2005)



The Death of Marshall Fields and the Dissolution of the Sense of Place.. Read it here.


Smash the Birdie - how glass curtain walls endanger migratory birds
A symposium looks at the frequently fatal effect transparent glass architecture has on the migratory bird population. Read it here.
(From the vault: April 2004, with revisions from September 2005)



Fall Season of Architectural Events Starts Off Next Week with a Trifecta Bang


New! A long, hot summer overheats one of the Crown Jewels of Chicago's Millennium Park. Click here to read. (Originally published in the Chicago Reader, August 5, 2005)
Join a discussion on this topic.

Other Millennium Park news:

Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate Sculpture "The Bean" is again on display at  Chicago's Millennium Park Monarch Butterflies make a home in Chicago's Millennium Park

Slicing and Dicing the Past to Get to the Future

Plans to slip a sparkling new condo tower behind vintage facades A proposed 72 story condo tower on Chicago's Wabash avenue brings out preservationists to protest its scale and the facadectomies it would requirespurs debate on the nature of architectural preservation. (click on photo to read article)

(If you've ever wondered what goes on at a Landmarks hearing, we also give you excerpts from the May 5th Chicago Landmarks Commission Permit Review Hearing on the demolition of all but the facades of four loft buildings in Chicago's landmark Jeweler's Row District to allow for the construction of a new 72 story condo tower.)

Originally published in the Chicago Reader, May 13, 2005


Schlock Corridor

A new McDonald's with a glandular problem ups the ante for kitsch architecture on Chicago's Avenue of the Absurd (click on photo to read article) Originally published in the Chicago Reader, April, 2005

Do Not Delete - How will museums conserve architecture in a digital age?
The Art Institute of Chicago has just completed an exhaustive survey on how its Department of Architecture, whose current 150,000 individual artifacts are almost entirely traditional drawings, will have to evolve in a time where the primary architectural document is a digital file. Art Institute curator Martha Thorne and computer consultant Peter Urban recently offered a discussion at the Chicago Architectural Club on the challenges they face and how they expect to meet them - read Noah Luken's account of the event here.

December 29th Web Exclusive - Not With a Bang, but a Whimper -

Photoessay - the old Chicago Sun-Times building tries to burn itself away - and fails


Too Hip For the Room?
Chicago Architecture Ten Visions opens at the Art Institute of Chicago

What good is an architect's vision when it's trapped in a 21-foot square box?

Originally published in the Chicago Reader, December 17, 2004

  Listening to Louis Sullivan
A Chicago improvisational music ensemble draws on the legacy of photographer Richard Nickel to translate Louis Sullivan's intricate architectural ornament into music.

Sins of Demolition- A competition tries to
find to way to save historic churches.

Originally published in the Chicago Reader
August 22, 2003



Vehicular Visions- Architect Shigeru Ban talks of his paper architecture and chairs a competition on taming the toxic by-products of our obsession with the automobile.

Orginally published in the Chicago Reader
June 27, 2003



© Copyright 2003-2007 Lynn Becker All rights reserved.


Brigitte Shim at MCA Zoka Zola - Building a Zero Energy House Miller Hull 156 West Superior Fire Station No. 3 - Design Evanston 2005 Design Awards update on Block 37 at CAF lunchtime lecture David Brown lectures on Failure as an Option at Archeworks tour of One South Dearborn for AIA Young architects Mies Memory Box - reconstructing the Landhaus Wolf house at IIT Universal Design panel at MCA