This past month, The National Trust for Historic Preservation has celebrated Preservation Month with This Place Matters - a national campaign that encourages people to celebrate the places that are meaningful to them and to their communities. The organization is a privately funded nonprofit that works to save America’s historic places and promote the importance of adaptive reuse of our nation's older buildings. In fact, their commitment to the reuse, reinvestment, and revitalization of cities—which they describe as ReUrbanism—seeks nothing less than to transform both the perception and practice of preservation, responding to the issues cities face today.

To mark Preservation Month, and participate in #ThisPlaceMatters, I posted images on Twitter from my portfolio of a few of the buildings we've helped bring back to life:

Pictured from left to right: The Library Lofts* at 619 S. LaSalle, The Powhatan*, The Old Colony Building* and The Farnsworth House (photos marked with an asterisk (*) taken by Lee Bey).

Earlier this month, AJ Latrace wrote an article for Chicago Magazine asking the question: "Is Chicago Experiencing a Historic Preservation Crisis?" He noted that lots of buildings flagged by preservationists for their importance have come down in recent years...and 2018 could be just as bad. Let's hope that efforts like #ThisPlaceMatters continues to encourage and inspire an ongoing dialogue about the importance of place and preservation in all of our lives that lasts far beyond the month of May.


Architecture Week 2018


Architecture Week is held every April as part of the American Institute of Architect's nationwide celebration of our built environment. While there has been some confusion about the actual 2018 dates, a tweet from AIA confirmed that the week of April 22-28, 2018 has been designated for the national annual observance. AIA chapters all over the country will offer a variety of lectures, tours and activities geared towards architects and the public alike during the week.

AIA Chicago has a very active calendar of events throughout the year, and several activities have been set during Architecture Week:

TUESDAY / APRIL 24, 2018 / 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Heitman Architects, 180 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 001, Chicago

Join the Illinois Green Alliance, IIDA Illinois, and AIA Chicago for a four-part series addressing health and wellness in our buildings and spaces. This third-part will focus on how lighting can improve the health and performance of occupants.

TUESDAY / APRIL 24, 2018 / 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

The Devon&Devon showroom in the Merchandise Mart will play host to a reception celebrating the 2018 Small Project Awards which will be announced on Thursday, May 17 at the annual SPA Exhibit.

WEDNESDAY / APRIL 25, 2018 / 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
906 S. Homan Ave., Chicago, IL

The 2018 Community Interface Committee theme is Neighborhood Diversity. CIC will kick off the year with a tour of the Nichols Tower at Homan Square in Lawndale which was home to the Original Sears Tower since 1906. The 14-story Neo-Classical tower was part of the sprawling Sears, Roebuck & Co complex until they moved downtown in 1973.

THURSDAY / APRIL 26, 2018 / 8:30 AM - 11:45 AM
AIA Chicago, 35 East Wacker Drive #250, Chicago, IL

Sexual harassment in the workplace is an important topic, and AIA Chicago wants to ensure that members have accurate information on this subject. Professional Affiliate member Debra Gervase, Area Vice President for Arthur J. Gallagher, has organized a program that will help architects from firms of all sizes understand the issues that they and their business may face.

* * *

Architecture Week will also be used to raise awareness about the AIA's Blueprint for Better Communities initiative - a program intended to increase architects’ engagement with their communities around pressing issues like climate change, housing, and public health.

An Emphasis on Sustainability

 (Source: Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago)

(Source: Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago)

Earlier this year, Chicago's iconic Rock 'N' Roll McDonald's, complete with its signature oversized golden arches, was demolished in preparation for construction of a sleek, eco-friendly “store of the future.” Since it first opened as a tourist attraction in 1983, the site has been one of the most famous McDonald's locations in the world and was once the busiest in the United States.

 Rendering of McDonald's new River North location designed by Carol Ross Barney. (Source: McDonald's)

Rendering of McDonald's new River North location designed by Carol Ross Barney. (Source: McDonald's)

The original building was torn down and replaced in 2005; and the newly updated restaurant will abandon the rock ‘n’ roll theme, reuse the old building's kitchen and deploy design elements (such as solar panels) to improve energy efficiency. Curbed Chicago reports that "the theme of sustainability continues with living fern walls, a cross laminated timber structural system, and a mini-orchard of harvestable apple trees visible though a clerestory window." McDonald’s evolving design philosophy is said to be the company's latest measure to remain fresh and relevant.

In an interview with Chicago Magazine, Chris Kempczinski, president of McDonald's U.S. operations said “With all of the moves we make, whether with our new headquarters or with the Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s, we’re making a statement about our company and our brand and the culture we’re trying to create." The old flagship’s Rock 'N' Roll theme looked back to celebrate McDonald’s heritage, he says: “The statement we’re making with the new restaurant is much more forward-looking.”

Elements of the new River North flagship will eventually be rolled out across the country.

Legendary Landmarks

Landmarks Illinois will host its 13th annual Legendary Landmarks Celebration next month. Each year, the event honors civic and cultural leaders who are making an impact on Chicago and Illinois - and this year's honorees are:

  • Berglund Construction
  • Daniel Levin, Founder and Chairman of The Habitat Company
  • Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board President

“These exceptional leaders have devoted their careers to investing in the people and places that make Chicago one of the world’s great cities,” said Bonnie McDonald, Landmarks Illinois President & CEO. “Thanks to the ongoing work of our 2018 Legendary Landmarks Honorees, Chicagoans have attractive, safe and authentic places to live and work and distinct places to enjoy together.

Click here to learn more about this event or the important work of the honorees and Landmarks Illinois.

The Illusion of Architectural Permanence


Earlier this month, The Chicago Tribune's Blair Kamin wrote a thoughtful column about the newspaper's upcoming move from the iconic building bearing its name: The Tribune Tower. He reminds readers about a quote by 19th-century English architecture critic John Ruskin that is featured in the building's lobby floor:

“Therefore when we build let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for and let us think as we lay stone on stone that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred.”

But as Kamin points out, buildings are commodities and the companies that create them rarely stay in them - and he raises the question if the building's new owners can "Change the use but maintain the character."

I often talk about my belief that every building has a story to tell. The Tribune Tower, completed in 1925, speaks volumes. As an example, the tower features carved images of Robin Hood and a howling dog near the main entrance to commemorate the architects, John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood. The top of the tower is designed after the Tour de beurre (″butter tower″) of the Rouen Cathedral in France. But perhaps more fittingly, the historical fragments embedded in the building's facade (collected from sites like The Parthenon and the Berlin Wall) remind us that nothing, in fact, lasts forever.

The newspaper's relocation and the Tribune Tower's conversion to a mixed used development seems to underscore the impermanence of a seemingly permanent structure. But with care and attention, the neo-Gothic structure at 435 N. Michigan will grace the Chicago cityscape for years to come. Like many of Chicago's landmarks, we hope the Tribune Tower has another durable, sustainable chapter in its ongoing story.