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  #61  
Old Posted Sep 2, 2004, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by pip
As long as the building doesn't look like 55 Wacker. lol.
are you talking about chicago's most handsome building again?

i can only hope that block 37 will live up to the architectural majesty of a masterpiece like 55 w. wacker. in fact if i was mayor of chicago i would destroy the whole fucking city and build ~100,000 idenitical 55 w. wackers all the way to the horizon.

an entire city of nothing but 55 w. wackers. man, that's be sweet.
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  #62  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2004, 12:08 AM
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.... and very unique to say the least.
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  #63  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2004, 1:04 AM
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I'm guardedly optimistic about this. Having Ralph Johnson involved is definately encouraging.

Until they have something more substantial to show, however, I am wary of another Block 37 cocktease.
     
     
  #64  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2004, 1:17 AM
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I like the bag checking before you get to the airport. That's cool. It's tough taking the L with two full large suitcases swaying back and forth.

I wonder how that will work
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  #65  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2004, 2:00 AM
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I think the best attribute is that it will become the gateway for the millions of tourists who come to Chicago annually. First impressions count very highly when you first come into a city, and I think this will fit the bill nicely. It looks like it has potential to have a "wow" factor, if you get what I mean.

I like the idea of having that obelisk displaying current information, that is one of the first things people want when coming to town (especially the business traveler).
     
     
  #66  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2004, 3:17 AM
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I like 55 wacker, nothing wrong with a little brutalism, eh?
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  #67  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2004, 3:58 AM
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Digital art display, express trains in Block 37 design

September 2, 2004

BY DAVID ROEDER AND FRAN SPIELMAN Staff Reporters


The aspiring developer of the empty block in Chicago's Loop promised Wednesday to turn it into a commercialized and digitized public square built around three new high-rises and express train service to the airports.

But the plan contained no hard evidence that it can even be started. The developer, Mills Corp., could point to no deals with stores and other users, even though it has been involved with the site for more than two years.

Steven Jacobsen, executive vice president for development at Mills, said the plan itself is "a milestone'' that reflects his company's enthusiasm for the project. "We wouldn't be submitting it if we hadn't made great progress,'' he said. "Our interest level is high.''

THE BLOCK 37 DESIGN


WHAT'S IN IT


400,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment space.
400,000 square feet of office space in a high-rise.
Additional high-rises for a hotel and 300-unit condominium tower.
CTA hub for express trains to O'Hare and Midway.
Five-story open-air atrium for shows and community events.
Digital art shown on a display that wraps around the complex.
"Giant obelisk'' projecting news and travel information.


WHAT'S NOT IN IT

Confirmed tenants.
Assured financing.
Developers for high-rises.

EARLIEST POSSIBLE COMPLETION: 2007

Source: Mills Corp.

The design was given to City Hall in an application for a "planned development'' zoning designation covering the block between the Daley Center and Marshall Field's. Known as Block 37, the empty site has been cursed with thwarted development plans going back 15 years.

Mindful of past setbacks, Mayor Daley and his planning chief praised the proposal, but in a reserved manner. They emphasized that the application will start a long review process that could lead to changes.

"Planning and development -- everyone will look with regard to the commitments they make,'' Daley said. "Like anything else, you want a good, quality development. That's worth always reviewing and looking at it.''

Denise Casalino, commissioner of planning and development, said she knows the tenants Mills is seeking but declined to name any. "It's not going to be a suburban mall. It's going to be a great urban retail destination,'' she said.

"My goal is and the city's goal is this isn't just another mall for downtown on State Street. But it's a destination for both tourists and residents of Chicago. ... It means getting a retail mix that is new to Chicago."

Mills continues to negotiate with Viacom, parent of WBBM-Channel 2 in Chicago, to anchor an office building near Dearborn and Washington. The condo tower would be near State and Randolph while the hotel would be situated near Randolph and Dearborn.

Jacobsen said he hopes for hearings later this year and City Council approval by yearend. That would give him clearance, once leases and financing arrive, for construction to start next spring. He said he'd like to deliver the project in 2007.

That deadline seems aggressive, even at this distance. But the project could be phased in to allow construction of the retail base and transit station, with the high-rise elements coming later.

Mills' plan was the handiwork of Chicago architect Ralph Johnson, design director at Perkins & Will. It calls for a five-story base with a glass facade to show off the merchandise and restaurants within. A main attraction would be an open atrium connecting public exhibition space to underground Chicago Transit Authority service.

Also, Johnson would wrap the complex in a digital display of changing art similar to a sculpture in the new Millennium Park. Johnson said the modern friezes would show the creations of leading artists.

The State Street side will look like a "glass jewel box'' that will take design cues from classic Chicago architecture, Jacobsen said.

He said Mills is fielding strong interest from retailers and other users and that deals should be signed once the design is finalized.

Key parts of the plan are unfinished. The design for much of the Dearborn frontage, which currently houses a Commonwealth Edison substation and an entrance to the CTA, is still being worked on. The CTA has agreed to modify its rail system to offer nonstop trains serving O'Hare and Midway airports from Block 37.

The plan included the high-rises, but only as concepts Jacobsen called "placeholders.'' Their look and height will depend on market demand.

Mills, an Arlington, Va.-based mall developer of Gurnee Mills and other retail complexes, is expected to bring in other developers for work on the taller buildings. Jacobsen said no such agreements are in place.

As part of the planning process, Mills has to complete an agreement with the city on a land price and any subsidies. In 2002, the city paid a previous developer $32.5 million for the property.
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  #68  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2004, 4:00 AM
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I think its important to know that what has been revealed is very vague. The city doesn't want to put so much hype into something and then have it collapse. It's better to play it safe. The architecture also is in its infant stages. This is definitely not the final project. Remember how the first trump building looked like? I mean look at it now. Also, do you remember the humble beginnings of the first millenium park drafts? Now its an architectural and urban wonder. Let's wait.
BTW Ralph Johnson is the architect- I think its great that the city has chosen a CHICAGO ARCHITECT. We can breed our own starchitects damn it.
     
     
  #69  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2004, 4:44 AM
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We all have to wait till late 2004;early 2005 for final approval
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  #70  
Old Posted Sep 4, 2004, 9:12 PM
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"WHAT'S NOT IN IT
Confirmed tenants.
Assured financing.
Developers for high-rises."


Just a few pesky details left to iron out.
     
     
  #71  
Old Posted Sep 5, 2004, 12:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dancethingy
I think its important to know that what has been revealed is very vague. The city doesn't want to put so much hype into something and then have it collapse. It's better to play it safe. The architecture also is in its infant stages. This is definitely not the final project. Remember how the first trump building looked like? I mean look at it now. Also, do you remember the humble beginnings of the first millenium park drafts? Now its an architectural and urban wonder. Let's wait.
BTW Ralph Johnson is the architect- I think its great that the city has chosen a CHICAGO ARCHITECT. We can breed our own starchitects damn it.
^ totally agree. All we have now are conceptual renderings.
And I am in LOVE with the concepts. But even in the end, if it serves its FUNCTION well, then I am willing to sacrifice some degree of architectural ingenuity or greatness. In other words, if Block 37 serves as a world class transit hub, shopping center, and entertainment venue that brings people and visitors south of the river and puts State Street back on the map, then the development can look like a pile of shit for all I care (even though it won't!)
     
     
  #72  
Old Posted Sep 5, 2004, 12:07 PM
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Kamin in Trib::
/
The new plan for long-vacant Block 37, designed by Chicago architect Ralph Johnson and quietly unveiled Wednesday, is just that -- a plan, not a finished scheme. Even so, its broad outlines are some of the best yet conceived for this crucial North Loop plot. They call for a mega-building of interconnected structures that would dazzle with digital decoration and provide a canyonlike atrium that would be a genuine civic space, not just another vertical mall.

But, of course, this is Block 37, which over the last 15 years has devoured and spit up grand architectural schemes like some fire-breathing medieval monster. So there's a catch -- actually several catches -- that could hinder the plan for the parcel bounded by State, Randolph, Dearborn and Washington Streets.

So far, not a single commercial tenant is signed up. And despite assurances offered by the developer and city officials, the atrium and other civic aspects of the plan are almost certain to be subject to powerful commercial pressures that could deeply compromise them.

What Johnson, of the firm Perkins & Will, and the developer, the Arlington, Va.-based Mills Corp., propose is nonetheless intriguing because it correctly confronts the urban design challenge of Block 37's 2.7-acre void: This block, which once buzzed with shops, movie theaters, fancy grocery stores and restaurants where corrupt Chicago pols hung out, should be re-urbanized rather than suburbanized.

On that score, Johnson delivers, but not by nostalgically re-creating Block 37, whose potpourri of buildings (except for a Commonwealth Edison substation) was cleared starting in 1989 for a Helmut Jahn-designed office and retail complex that never materialized. Instead, he wisely proposes to rebuild the block to meet today's needs -- and tomorrow's.

An aid for travelers

Underground would be a state-of-the-art Chicago Transit Authority Station where travelers headed for O'Hare International and Midway Airports could check their bags before boarding express trains. An electronic obelisk, flashing information from stock market updates to weather forecasts, would rise into an irregularly shaped atrium hollowed out of a five-story podium. The podium would house shops, restaurants, nightclubs and other entertainment.

The Loop's pedway tunnels would feed directly into the project's lower levels. The atrium would culminate in an enormous skylight, which would be surrounded by a "green roof" of grass and trees.

Three high-rises would pinwheel around the block, the first of them a 17-story office building at Dearborn and Washington that city officials say is likely to be built in the project's first phase. The other two high-rises -- a 10- to 13-story hotel at Dearborn and Randolph and a 20- to 23-story residential tower at State and Randolph -- would rise in later phases atop the podium.

If the city grants approval, the developers want to start construction next year and finish the project's first phase by 2007. Given the block's history, that sounds wildly optimistic, but it would be foolish to dismiss this plan, if only because it is so full of good ideas.

Among them: Dispensing with the idea that Block 37 needs an anchor store, like a suburban mall. In effect, Marshall Field's State Street store is its anchor, and so, in a way, is Millennium Park, which is drawing hordes of people south of the Chicago River.

One of the best features of the plan is that it promises shops of various sizes, an intricate mix of activities rather than a few big things jammed together. That's the kind of variety that makes cities hum.

The plan's fundamental strength, however, rests in its civic qualities: Instead of the fortresslike retail, hotel and residential complex proposed in 2000 for Block 37 by Chicago-based JMB Realty Corp. and New York architects Kohn Pedersen Fox, Johnson creates a far more city-friendly design.

Along State, for example, he invites pedestrians into the stores with glassy, showroom architecture (think Crate & Barrel on North Michigan Avenue) and into the atrium with grandly scaled, highly transparent corner entrances.

Tall but narrow passages would cut a diagonal path into the atrium. These mini-canyons would burst open to reveal the spatial surprise of the canyonlike atrium, which would become wider as it rises.

Overcoming the banal

This classic "press and release" move elevates the project above the banal, spatially mundane interiors of suburban malls and vertical malls. The civic gesture would extend to the green roof, which would be accessible to the public, unlike the one atop City Hall, and would have different levels, providing Chicago flatlanders some much-needed topography.

All this almost sounds too good to be true -- and it could be if Mills takes a bait-and-switch route, shrinking the skylight to save money, filling in the grand entrances with income-producing floor area, and plastering the now-crisp exterior with signs.

Steve Jacobsen, the company's executive vice president, assures that Mills is devoted to quality, and Denise Casalino, the city's commissioner of planning and development, says she will hold the company to its promises. But Chicago has a way of giving developers lots of rope with which to hang themselves.

Mills still deserves credit for releasing a design that suitably responds to the different character of different streets. It is appropriately retail-oriented along State, brassy along the Randolph Street theater district and civic along Dearborn, where the planned office building would create a much-needed "wall" for Daley Plaza's "urban room."

The plan has additional appeal because of its intelligent architectural response to the reality that the block can't all be rebuilt at once.

It's better to go with the podium now than to keep the block empty forever. But Johnson's design is far superior to the typical Chicago condo development -- the "plop architecture" combination of a slab tower dropped atop a massive parking garage podium.

Integrating podium, towers

Not only is his podium remarkably permeable. He uses interlocking masses to integrate the podium and the towers. He also joins them with the proposed digital decoration, which would zip across the podium's facade -- and straight up the residential and hotel towers.

But because those towers will be built in later phases of the project, they are sure to look different from the present model. The actual look of the digital decoration, which would mark the first time that digital design has been used at such a massive scale in a Chicago skyscraper, is equally undetermined.

Johnson's architecture is also coming into focus, though it already suggests a contemporary reinterpretation of classic Chicago School skyscrapers: Simple rectilinear shapes would give way to more assertively sculptural forms toward the project's core.

The gossamer-light exterior would work in effective counterpoint with such massive surrounding structures as the Field's State Street store. And the digital decoration would be a 21st Century version of the organic ornament that wraps the base of Louis Sullivan's nearby Carson Pirie Scott store.

There are trouble spots. Johnson, for example, should rework the repetitious rhythms of his State Street facade. In addition, it is essential that the developers bring in entertainment and other uses that give life to the project throughout the day. It can't just be a shopping mall.

Still, those are quibbles: This is a very impressive beginning. With its bold blend of contemporary art and architecture, Johnson's design promises to build on the triumph of Millennium Park. But it is one thing to create grand civic space on the lakefront and quite another to do it in the harsh commercial confines of the Loop.
     
     
  #73  
Old Posted Sep 5, 2004, 12:30 PM
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damn you jcchii, you beat me to it. Whatever. I find it fascinating how Mr. Kamin can extract such vivid details out of vague renderings. Maybe he was at the city council and was able to view better and more detailed models. Anywho, I like what he is describing. Like i said, Its great that they have chosen a Chicago architect for this project- We can breed our own damn starchitects.
     
     
  #74  
Old Posted Sep 5, 2004, 1:05 PM
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I didn't realize the light display would move up the hotel. that could be pretty dramatic
     
     
  #75  
Old Posted Sep 6, 2004, 10:59 PM
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well, kamin's article just confirmed all of my cautious optimism with this project. there's is indeed a long road ahead, but at the very least, the journey is starting in a very good place this time around. let's hope this is the B37 scheme that can develop into a successful enough design and format to finally cross the finish line.
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  #76  
Old Posted Sep 24, 2004, 7:11 PM
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According to Crain's Rosebud's has made a verbal agreement to lease at B37 and Mills Corp. is in discussions with Gibson's to lease at B37 as well.
     
     
  #77  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2004, 1:33 AM
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I like the idea of a Chicago-version of Times Square with Chicago-style architecture. A huge TV outside or two would also be cool along any of the streets provided it's tastefully done. Every world class city has an intersection or block like this. Chicago is deserving of one that can draw all kinds of crowds with some eclectic atmosphere to boot!
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  #78  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2004, 2:28 PM
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that's good news. this is obviously a very important one in the goal of continuing to bring round-the-clock activity to the Loop itself
     
     
  #79  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2004, 6:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Rail Claimore
I like the idea of a Chicago-version of Times Square with Chicago-style architecture. A huge TV outside or two would also be cool along any of the streets provided it's tastefully done. Every world class city has an intersection or block like this. Chicago is deserving of one that can draw all kinds of crowds with some eclectic atmosphere to boot!
Facing Daley Plaza would make sense.


Fingers crossed that this thing will work out well, but I don't have an immense amount of confidence at this point.
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Last edited by Chi-town; Sep 25, 2004 at 6:36 PM.
     
     
  #80  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2004, 11:13 PM
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Gibsons and Rosebuds? what type of companies are these?
     
     
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