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Looking Ahead...Two Big Events This Fall

Summers in Chicago always seem too short. Thankfully, every season has its own beauty - and this fall will be no exception. Two big events occur this fall that celebrate the splendor of Chicago’s architectural treasures and promote emerging talent in architecture, design, and the arts.

'Make New History', 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Image: Chicago Biennial/Twitter.

The first, is the return of the Chicago Architectural Biennial on September 19, 2019. This year’s event (the third) will consider architecture as a field that shapes community and memory. Chicago-based curator and writer Yesomi Umolu is serving as the Artistic Director of the Biennial’s 2019 edition. More than 100 programs will take place at upwards of 50 venues over the course of the Biennial through January 5, 2020.

“Chicago is at its best when a diverse range of communities, organizations, and individuals come together to learn from one another, collaborate, and explore our shared histories and hopes for the future. The comprehensive range of programing taking place during the Biennial is an exciting example of the exchange that makes our city so dynamic,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.

The second major event is the Chicago Architecture Center's Open House Chicago, which returns on October 19-20, 2019. The event is a free public festival that offers behind-the-scenes access to more than 250 buildings across Chicago. Sites reflect the cultural diversity and history of Chicago, as well as the unique character of each community. Locations include private clubs, residential spaces, offices, hotels, theaters, design/architecture studios, schools and places of worship as well as manufacturing, cultural and government facilities.

I hope to share news and images from both events on Twitter.

Legendary Landmarks Celebration

Since 2006, Landmarks Illinois has honored individuals, families and corporations at its annual fundraiser, the Legendary Landmarks Celebration. This year’s event will be held Thursday, March 7, 2019 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave.

Landmarks Illinois is honoring Wintrust and Murphy Development Group as 2019 Corporate Legendary Landmarks and civic leaders Judith & Raymond McCaskey as 2019 Legendary Landmarks.

"Landmarks Illinois carefully curates honorees named Legendary Landmarks based on the significance and longevity of the designee's cultural, philanthropic and corporate contributions to Chicago and beyond," said Bonnie McDonald, Landmarks Illinois President & CEO. "Our 2019 Legendary Landmarks have personal and meaningful connections to historic preservation among their many stellar achievements, and we are proud to illuminate these individuals and corporations as Legendary Landmarks."

Landmarks Illinois is a membership-based nonprofit organization advocating for the preservation and reuse of historic and architecturally significant properties throughout the state.

Celebrating Chicago Architecture Center

The Chicago Architecture Center, formerly the Chicago Architecture Foundation, has had a very busy month. Just before Labor Day, doors opened on its new location at 111 East Wacker Drive, a building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. As reported by The Architects Newspaper the Center’s spaces are designed to expand and contract with current and future exhibits.

“Exhibits are readable and tangible, but are also adaptable and future-forward, with enough variety in content to appeal both to visitors who know everything about architecture and those who know nothing at all.”

Shortly after the opening, they announced the neighborhoods and sites for next month’s Open House Chicago - a free public festival on October 13/14, 2018 that offers behind-the-scenes access to more than 250 buildings across Chicago. Now in its eighth year, the event will include the Chicago neighborhoods of Beverly, Morgan Park and Austin for the first time.

The Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin offered his list of the 10 must-see buildings including Lake Point Tower, the Wintrust Bank Building at 231 S. LaSalle, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio in Oak Park. Open House Chicago is a great opportunity to learn the stories of Chicago’s buildings and experience the rich and diverse cultures of our community.

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.

An Overlooked Legacy

February is Black History Month, an annual observance in the United States and Canada to honor the important accomplishments of black individuals in every area of endeavor. As the month gets underway, I wanted to share a story that was featured in FastCoDesign about the life and legacy of architect Paul Revere Williams (1894-1980).

He practiced largely in Southern California and designed the homes of numerous celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Barbara Stanwyck and others. He also designed many public and private buildings - including the famous Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport.

The articles says that Williams designed over 2,000 buildings during his career. While he was known for his Hollywood mansions, he also designed affordable housing, conceptual transportation systems, experimental structural systems, and more. "Expensive homes are my business and social housing is my hobby," Williams once said

This year, Williams was posthumously honored with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Gold Medal. “Our profession desperately needs more architects like Paul Williams,” wrote William J. Bates, FAIA, in his support of William’s nomination for the AIA Gold Medal. “His pioneering career has encouraged others to cross a chasm of historic biases. I can’t think of another architect whose work embodies the spirit of the Gold Medal better. His recognition demonstrates a significant shift in the equity for the profession and the institute.” The article by Diana Budds is worth your time and may be found here.