Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cool New Architecture in Chicago

Like I mentioned, I've been in Chicago this weekend for my sister's engagement party and as a bonus I got to see some amazing new architectural gems: The Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago designed by Renzo Piano and the Burnham Pavillions designed by Ben van Berkel of UN Studio and Zaha Hadid.

The Burnham Pavillions
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Burnham master plan for Chicago and as a way of celebrating the event, major international architects Hadid and Van Berkel were asked to design temporary pavilions (similar in spirit to London's yearly Serpentine Gallery pavilions). The photo above is a picture of Ben Van Berkel's pavilion. It has these great undulating forms which blend from roof into walls into floor. In fact it resembles Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House but twisted and pulled like a piece of taffy. The holes in the roof offer surprising views of bits of the Chicago skyline and the delight on kids and adults faces as they slip and slide down it's undulating parabolas is pretty exciting.

I am disappointed however that the Zaha Hadid pavilion is not finished. Apparently it is because of the insane rain that has been hitting the city. I mean, to be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of Zaha's work (especially after the big toilet seat that was the Chanel pavilion) but I still would have liked to have seen it completed. Above are images of what the frame looks like now, unfinished, and a rendering of what it's supposed to look like finished.

The Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago
Renzo Piano has become most famous for his museum work: the Pompidou in Paris, the Menil collection in Houston, the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, the High Museum extension in Atlanta, and the proposed downtown Whitney Museum in New York. Also a couple years ago his new New York Times building became the joy and bane of my working life, as I have a desk there for my job at the Times (joy because we have a great cafeteria and have natural sunlight and I no longer work in a windowless closet, bane because there are a lot of details that drive me crazy i.e. bright marigold yellow walls and light wood floors that get really dirty). However his new giant extension to the Art Institute of Chicago trumps all his previous projects that I have seen (at least in person). I think this building is truly elegant. With its filtered light and delicate columns that support a louvered roof the extension has more than doubled (I think) the space of the museum and has really put the Art Institute among the leading art museums in the country if not the world. I really like it. I could go on and on about the art (because they really have fantastic collection of post 1900 work and a totally respectable architecture and design collection) but you can also read Nicolai Ouroussoff's glowing review in the Times here. And here are some more of my photos.

I say, if you have a chance, get to Chicago and check it all out. And while you're there you can eat some hot dogs from tomorrow's post...

No comments:

Post a Comment