Loop the Loop pix
On a design tour of Chicago, hometown talents walk, talk, and reflect
Ruth Lopez; Photography by Michelle Litvin -- Interior Design, 3/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
An Alexander Calder in painted steel is flanked by two Ludwig Mies van der Rohe towers.
The Johnson Studio's restaurant interior complements an acrylic on paper by Ed Ruscha and a photograph by Garry Winogrand.
A multimedia work by Ivan Navarro near the stairs to private dining rooms.
An Yves Klein in pigment on plaster and a Hiroshi Sugimoto photograph in the lounge.
For the loft of an outsider-art collector, Studio Gang Architects used unfinished Douglas fir for shelving.
A pair of Harry Bertoia chairs face a vintage cocktail table.
Florian Architects renovated the 1928 bank lobby.
Onyx cladding the reception desk.
The refurbished ceiling, painted with more intense red and honey tones.
The sliding door of a guest room at a residence Krueck + Sexton Architects renovated at Mies van der Rohe's 28-story tower.
Tom Marquardt listening to Mark Sexton talk about this project, one of his first.
A built-in dining table surrounded by Mies van der Rohe chairs.
The living area's banquette, covered in silk velvet, curves beneath windows overlooking Lake Michigan.
Installed in 1967, a Cor-Ten steel sculpture by Pablo Picasso was the city's first significant piece of public art.
The salon of the club's new home, by Vinci/Hamp Architects, displays an oil on canvas by Pierre Soulages and a bronze by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle.
Mies van der Rohe's transplanted travertine staircase.
A Peter Doig in distemper on canvas, flanked by silk drapery that closes off the dining room.
Marquardt, Rampolla, and Frankel on the velvet-covered sofa.
The Steinway & Sons piano used for recitals.
The Chicago River bisecting the city.
Group members arriving at the Goettsch Partners project.
Displayed proof that the building's shell and core are the first to be certified LEED Gold.
Tom Polucci taking a call.
Carlos Martinez faces away from the elevator bank, surfaced in Carrara marble.
Rising above Michigan Avenue, 1970's John Hancock Center by Bruce Graham of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is now the third-tallest building in town.
Constructed of 15-foot-wide panels of tempered laminated glass, an enclosure by Powell/Kleinschmidt now houses a Louise Nevelson sculpture that once stood outside.
The building's lobby, almost doubled in size.
Nevelson's black welded steel.
Members of the public—including our group—welcomed eight hours a day.
Towering 96 feet 8 inches over West Madison Street, the 1977 Batcolumn by Chicago native Claes Oldenburg and his wife, Coosje van Bruggen, is steel and aluminum, painted with polyurethane enamel.
Stainless-steel signage announcing this Garofalo Architects project.
Robert Kleinschmidt taking in the exhibition.
The converted warehouse's two-story 40,000-square-foot interior.
Artwork by Fraser Taylor.
Digital installations, such as this one by Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Mark Herald, and Rick Gribenas, are projected on screens behind the aluminum-framed glazing.
SOM engineer Fazlur Khan's cross bracing is responsible for the Hancock Center's 1,127-foot height.
Besides displaying objects, bookcases act as dividers in this collector's residence by Tigerman McCurry Architects.
Le Corbusier's chaise.
Arts and crafts meeting Mies van der Rohe in the living area.
The apartment's 80-foot depth, which posed a challenge to the architect.
South-facing windows in the living area.
An atrium is at the heart of Rafael Viñoly Architects's 400,000-square-foot building.
The skyline of the Loop along the lake.
Brad Lynch, Polucci, and Sarah Dunn beside Anish Kapoor's mammoth "bean."
Tour participants reflected in Kapoor's highly polished stainless steel.
During the colder months, the 4,000 seats of Gehry Partners's Jay Pritzker Pavilion are closed off, and cabaret performances are held on the stage for smaller audiences.
Federal Center Plaza, 1975
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed two glass-box towers and placed them around a modern-day piazza—everything proportioned and positioned to look larger than it really is. "It's the last of the Mohicans," Skidmore, Owings & Merrill associate partner Nada Andric comments upon arrival. "I doubt whether it could be achieved today by one architect's brain."
This restaurant by the Johnson Studio is a pioneer in the art and science of flavor. Creative genius extends to the walls, which display a collection of blue-chip contemporary artists from Donald Judd to Ed Ruscha. Selected by the Alan Koppel Gallery, the works play off and, at times, break up the symmetry of the space. Carlos Martinez, Gensler's regional design director and principal, calls the effect "minimal opulence." There's humor, too. Presiding over one table is a Vik Muniz photograph from his series made with chocolate.
Susann Craig Apartment, 1998
Tucked away atop an old industrial building on the West Side, this 1,500-square-foot duplex was Studio Gang Architects's first project. Susann Craig cofounded Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, a local nonprofit, and her home's floor-to-ceiling open bookcase of unfinished lumber displays her extensive personal collection. From her loft bed, Craig can survey the living space below. "It's like being inside a memory," she tells the visitors. "Everything I look at has a story."
Hyde Park Bank, 2005
Florian Architects received an AIA National Honor Award for renovating this neoclassical interior—an exceptional take on adaptive reuse. The task involved creating resonance and balance between the 1928 hall's ornamentation and contemporary interventions. For example, Paul Florian restored bronze details while partitioning the space with scrims of brushed stainless-steel mesh. Plaster ceiling medallions were repaired and painted with slightly more red and honey to echo the red onyx of the glamorous reception desk.
2400 Lakeview Avenue Apartments, 1982
Everyone turns up at dusk to view this residence on the 22nd floor of Mies van der Rohe's glass tower, because that's the best time to experience Krueck + Sexton Architects's "painted apartment" with all its shades of violet. Asked to make the clients feel as if they were "living in a work of art," as Design Collaboratives principal Mary Beth Rampolla puts it this evening, Ronald Krueck formulated the design, and Mark Sexton implemented it by hand, painting subtle decorative elements on the walls, floor, and ceiling.
"It's vintage and seminal, an extraordinary experience," Interior Design Hall of Fame member Neil Frankel says of this testament to the 1980's. Then, on a lighter note, he adds, "It's also just to the right of Austin Powers."
Daley Plaza, 1967
Art is a major concern for designers of both public and private spaces in Chicago. Pablo Picasso's Cor-Ten steel sculpture, installed across from City Hall in 1967, set the gold standard for municipal art.
Arts Club of Chicago, 1997
This 91-year-old institution has had several homes, including Mies van der Rohe's only interior in a building not his own. When that space was infamously destroyed to make way for a mall-cinema complex, Vinci/Hamp Architects relocated his suspended stair to a location in the shadow of the John Hancock Center. The club's salon is furnished with vintage pieces, including velvet-covered crescent sofas and shiny black cocktail tables. Andric notes how John Vinci "skillfully manipulated the space with such simple but luxurious devices as gold and silver curtains." She also gives high marks to the stairwell's travertine cladding—laid horizontally, just like it's formed by nature.
111 South Wacker, 2005
Built by Goettsch Partners, this 51-story building boasts a shell and core that are the first anywhere to be certified LEED Gold. Andric is married to James Goettsch, so she acted as guide, pointing out that the foundation was partially existing. The Hyatt Center, up the street, might have had all the pedigree—the top-shelf client and out-of-town architect—but this project, Martinez chimes in, is a sleeper hit.
200 West Madison Street, 2006
For almost 25 years, one short stretch of Madison boasted two major public sculptures, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen's Batcolumn and Louise Nevelson's Dawn Shadows. Then this building's owners hired Powell/Kleinschmidt to build a glass winter garden around the Nevelson—thereby expanding the lobby. Measuring 75 feet square, the transparent box is anchored by Italian white marble flooring. "The simpler it looks, the harder it is to achieve," Interior Design Hall of Famer Robert Kleinschmidt says. Chicago's AIA chapter must have appreciated that: It bestowed its Divine Detail Award on the project.
Hyde Park Art Center, 2006
Garofalo Architects conjured this cultural venue out of a bland brick warehouse—on zero budget, as more than one tour member mentions. "This is about neighborhood," Frankel says. "It has no pretense of architectural achievement." The building has received mixed reviews and a lot of negative reports for being unfinished. Now that it's in use, though, it's finding its voice.
Bettylu Saltzman Apartment, 2006
Part of a new development on the lake end of the Chicago River, this collector's apartment has picture-postcard skyline views. However, the 80-foot depth of the 6,000-square-foot space made it particularly difficult for Tigerman McCurry Architects to shape the interior. Everyone admires Margaret McCurry's solution: a series of foyers to create symmetry—and good walls for art.
University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, 2004
This building by Rafael Viñoly Architects was universally praised for many reasons. Outside, substantial overhangs make a sensitive gesture toward Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House across the street. Inside, Andric says she's impressed by the finishes: "I'm hoping that students coming out of here, as future clients, are going to be asking for the same high quality."
Millennium Park, 2004
The city's most recent grand gesture of urban design was the logical place to end. Our 11 participants gathered at Gehry Partners's Jay Pritzker Pavilion, an outdoor concert stage of brushed stainless steel that blossoms against the canyons of the Loop. "It's one of the few free classical venues left in America," Kleinschmidt says. "And you can picnic." During the years of construction, as the city announced ever more features, Martinez was among those who feared that the project would become a collection of amusement-park attractions rather than a cohesive expression. So he says he couldn't be happier with the result: "It's not a Navy Pier thing." While Anish Kapoor's giant Cloud Gate sculpture reflects the group members, who, in turn, reflect on their experience, Frankel sees the park as the perfect synthesis of the city as a whole: "It's a social effort. It fits the politics. Metaphorically, it's Chicago."