White DE version 2

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

It's Getting Ugly...

New plans were announced today for another super tall tower along Chicago's lakeshore. The "Tall Tower" would be 2,000 feet tall but would not (initially) contain more than a few floors of office or entertainment space. Being billed mainly as an antenna base, it would provide a place for HDTV broadcast signals. It would be comprised of 3 pairs of concrete legs reaching into the sky to form a so-called 'candelabra' of antennas. Every 10-15 floors, concrete beams would brace the tower legs as they taper to their final height.

In my opinion, the Tall Tower (first of all needs a new name) looks a lot like an alien tweezer device. (Plucking the sense out of Chicago developers, perhaps?) It is interesting in one sense. The developer has introduced the idea of 'plug-in architecture'. As needs arise, blocks of office, retail, and residential space could be inserted between the legs of the antenna. It's a very intriguing idea...and a very ugly building.

Chicago's lakeshore has already been home to one of the worst examples of stadium 'architecture' to have been erected in the past, oh - I don't know - ever...

The new Soldier Field is a towering steel and glass extravaganza whose shape is reminiscent of either an alien spacecraft or a giant cruise-ship. I wouldn't normally be averse to this type of architecture, but the very fact that they built this stadium within the Doric collonade of the old Soldier Field is nauseating. The purpose of retaining the old facade was partially in hopes of keeping Soldier Field's historic designation, which it subsequently lost, anyway.

Another bright idea involved McDonald's trying to revamp their image... McDonald's is headquartered near Chicago and has always been a visible resident of the downtown area. A couple years ago, they decided to tear down their Rock n Roll McDonald's and build this horrible, horrible eyesore on the corner of Ontario and Clark. Not only is it far uglier than this picture gives it credit for, it takes up an entire city block. It's this, combined with 'Supersize Me' that has steered me clear of the golden arches for over 2 years now.

Luckily, not all is lost along the lakeshore and riverfront. Millenium Park, near Grant Park, is Chicago's largest outdoor public works project in more than a century. It includes works from world-famous architects and designers and also provides the first new public space on the downtown area in years.

The Donald is still pushing his Trump Tower Chicago to house its first tenants in 2007. It is rising from the remnants of the Chicago Sun-Times building on the north bank of the Chicago River to a height of 1,360 ft. The first plans for this building looked just like a squat chunk of a building. Fortunately, though, with redesigns the building is much better scaled and has a more appealing look. After some studies about what sort of wind forces the original building would create, there were some small design changes that made a HUGE difference. Rather than symmetrical stepbacks that had originally been designed, the new building will have a more abstract look. It also has more curved areas and fewer sharp corners. One study on the aerodynamic impact of the originally designed building said that with a sustained wind of only 15 mph, the building could produce its own tornadoes along the shore of the Chicago River.

With this new building boom in Chicago, some areas of the city are becoming quite squeezed. Streeterville residents moved into a very under-recognized area but have soon felt the pressure of as many as 13 new mid-rise buildings to be completed in the next 4 years. This new building boom in Chicago (if all proposals were to be built) would make Chicago home to the 10 tallest buildings in North America. (Chicago already has 5 of the top 10.) While I am all for Chicago being recognized for it's superiority, let's take a step back and look at what we are building. Just because something CAN be the tallest...should it? And - if it's going to be ugly...shouldn't it be as small as possible?

Well, that's enough ranting for today...well, this post, anyway. Considering I only studied architecture for 4 years and am not 'technically' an expert on the subject, my whining will accomplish nothing, lol...


Blogger purpletwinkie said...

I'm glad you ended this with a "lol". I was beginning to wonder if there was anything good happening in Chicago!

6:39 PM  
Blogger . said...

It sorta reminds me of the new plans for the World Trade Center replacement. I love CHicago however I don't get up there NEARLY enough!

11:41 PM  
Blogger Ariel1980 said...

Only four years? I think it makes you qualified to render an opinion, with which I agree. Somewhat like these proposed "hanging townhouses" I've seen planned for Manhattan: buildings suspended in a cube that would sway with the wind.

I think not.

4:55 PM  

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