Wabash Lights

The Wabash Lights,” rendered above, is about to change the way we see Wabash Ave. and hopefully on a greater scale: the Chicago Loop. Local designers Jack Newell and Seth Unger envision an LED lit El Track, underneath the actual tracks to be experienced by the pedestrians and automobiles below. The lights themselves will be controlled by the user through an app that can change the colors, settings, and patterns.

And this isn’t all talk. The Wabash Lights just surpassed its $55,000 Kickstarter goal this week and a beta version for one block of tracks between Adams and Monroe will be implemented this September, according to the Chicago Tribune.

I just caught wind of the project today on CityLab so while it’s too late to donate, we can still get excited about the possibility and support the project this fall. Additional funding is estimated to be $5 million for a 5 year period and will be acquired through private and corporate investors. I’m sure the response to the beta will be strong enough to attract that and achieve the designers vision to “bridge the gap between Michigan and State.”

Watch their Kickstarter video below for more on the project, including just how cool these LED lights are.

Beyonce’s curves inspire Melbourne tower

Architecture is great, not solely because of this, but definitely because the inspirations sometimes are amazing.

News, renderings, and official permission came out today for Melbourne’s newest skyscraper, dubbed the ‘Premier Tower,’ by Elenberg Fraser that is inspired by none other than Beyonce, namely her video for “Ghost”.

According to the architects, the mixed-use project’s “complex form” was shaped by climatic restraints and after Beyonce’s moving body seen in her recent music video Ghost. It is set to rise 68-stories on a stepped podium in the city’s central business district. Once complete, it will house 660 apartments, a 160-room hotel, and retail space.

Is there anything the Queen can’t inspire?!

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Naturally, the tower looks beautiful.

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Wanda Vista renderings revealed

Photos via Studio Gang
Photos via Studio Gang

Last night, Chicago starchitect firm Studio Gang Architects revealed the new renderings for the Wanda Vista — a 93-story complex to feature 405 luxury condominiums and 169 hotel rooms in the Lakeshore East development right on Lake Michigan. The Wanda would top out at 1,144 feet, making it the third tallest building in Chicago.

View the four new images in the gallery above, with the Wanda Vista hoping to transform the Chicago skyline by 2019.

I am always intrigued by the architect’s inspiration, and at the reveal event last night, principal Jeanne Gang said her latest project is inspired by the frustum shape seen in ice cubes or Toblerone chocolate, via DNAinfo. The article continues:

Together, the three frustums will create eight corners at street level, but the tallest part of the building will be the skinniest among its super tall peers in Chicago. Gang said the thinness of the tower will enhance exposure to natural light and cast less shade below. 

“Tall buildings, oftentimes, they’re just a reflecting box and singular,” Gang said. “Here, we’re trying to work with texture at various scales so that from a human standpoint, you can see this variation.”

Moreover, Gang said Monday the design is meant to mimic the reflection of light off Lake Michigan, via ArchPaper. This sparked the light bulb for me even more, imagining the wonderful, cinematic relationship of the Wanda near the waters of Lake Michigan itself.

It’s important to note that the project, though expected to be completed by 2019, still a number of city approvals like a zoning change. Pending approval, Magellan hopes to start construction next year with a 3+ year estimated timetable of completion.

Wanda Vista 8 (c) Studio Gang Architects

Wanda Vista 10 (c) Studio Gang Architects

Many times projects don’t make it beyond computer screens, but irregardless in this case, I admire Gang’s design for the Wanda and how it would incorporate into the Chicago skyline as a whole. I believe it would be a beautiful addition and ultimately bring other benefits aside from aesthetic. Early reports say the Wanda would create 420 permanent jobs and generate $19 million in new real estate tax revenue for the city. Plus, the tower would connect to the city’s underground pedway system, and Upper Wacker Drive would run through the bottom of Wanda, connecting to Waterside Drive and the rest of Lakeshore East, again via DNAinfo.

Let’s hope this clears all the hurdles for construction!

In the meantime, for more of my commentary and coverage on Jeanne Gang’s keynote speech at the 2014 AIA Convention, click here (see: Purpose is the process.)

For more info on the Wanda, see Studio Gang’s website here.

Wanda Vista 9 (c) Studio Gang Architects

1940s Chicago — A Short Film #TBT

Chicago, you have come a long way.

This week, a new short film has made a viral appearance to us Chicagoans — an unearthed illustration of Chicago in the 1940s.

The film, a thorough 30 minute look at Chicago landmarks, industries, schools, hospitals, and other amenities that served at the time as a recruiting video for students and businesses alike to relocate to the growing city (the 4th largest in the world at the time.)

Today, this is about as cool of a documentary as you can find of the city in the 1940s. We get a tour of all the standing landmarks of today — the Wrigley Building, the Tribune Tower, Wrigley Field, and Merchandise Mart to name a few. Plus, a look at the people and culture along State St., Randolph St., and Michigan Boulevard (now Avenue, of course) where 55,000 automobiles traveled per day. Things haven’t changed too much on that end.

The icing on the cake is the old school vibe from the narrator. Fellow 20 somethings or older generations will nod approvingly at his voice… feels like we’re back in grammar school.

Any design or architecture buffs like myself will also likely enjoy the various panoramic views via United Airlines. You can see the early formations of the depth of the city today. Just compare some of these views (and screenshots below) to that of a #chitecture on Instagram. Pretty cool, huh?

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The Broad unveils Honeycomb “Veil”

As I previously established in my marveling of the new Charlotte Hornets honeycomb floor, I pretty much like all things honeycomb.

This also includes Honeycomb the cereal, honeycombs themselves, and now, L.A.’s new contemporary art museum The Broad opening this fall.

Today, The Broad unveiled its honeycomb “veil” (see what I did there?) removing the last of its scaffolding for onlookers to experience its white exterior form in full. Architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and The Broad created a magnificent, eye-catching piece that stands next to Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in DTLA. Gawk at the details and timelapse video with me below and find out more about the upcoming 120,000 sq. foot gallery space, The Broad, via ArchDaily here.

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Grotto Sauna, Ontario

Can we appreciate the curves for a little bit, fellas?

This magnificent healthcare architecture project by Partisans caught my eye today — a sauna located in the grottos of Ontario, Canada. Would love to relax here sometime this winter, even if it’s cold in Canada too.

More info/pics via ArchDaily:

Located within the Georgian Bay, the site is a prehistoric large-scale rock formation. Contemplated research was conducted, and through the process a Grotto was set as an inspiration that would inform the design. Grottos, historically, have been known as natural or artificial caves that are embedded deep behind the curvature of streams, and thus discovered by those who would take the time to explore.

Understanding the age-old rock, intimately, was the first step toward architecture. As a cascading granite cliff shaped by glaciers into a peninsula, the rock offered both new possibilities and an unobstructed view of the horizon. National Geographic has ranked the sunsets on this site as one of the best in the world. And we were determined to preserve and enhance the experience of it.

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Cove 3 in South Africa

SAOTA is one of my favorite architecture firms and specialize in breathtaking luxury residences across the globe. The latest that caught my eye is Cove 3 in South Africa above. It features SAOTA’s characteristic infinity pool with an infinity view and is unique to their other projects given the location and the beautiful wood and stone-laden materials on the interior. Every space inside looks clean and spacious, in fact. Just browse through the gallery for looks at the bed, bath, living area and the gorgeous outdoor photos as well.

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More info/pics via ArchDaily.