Chicago Exhibition Space Celebrates Architecture and Socially Engaged Art

Le Corbusier and Ando

Le Corbusier and Ando

Wrightwood 659, a new exhibition space in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, opened earlier this month. Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando transformed a 1920s building with his signature concrete forms and poetic treatment of natural light. According to their website, Wrightwood 659 will be devoted to exhibitions of architecture and socially engaged art. Lisa Cavanaugh, Director of Wrightwood 659, states

“We are delighted to be opening a new space for art in Chicago, one conducive to quiet reflection and thoughtful engagement, while also provoking activism on behalf of a more just society. We look forward to welcoming visitors to Wrightwood 659.”

The inaugural exhibition, Ando and Le Corbusier: Masters of Architecture, on view October 12–December 15, 2018, will explore French architect Le Corbusier’s important influence on Ando. Curbed Chicago covered the opening of the new space and their story includes several wonderful photographs by Esto Photography’s Jeff Goldberg.

In a city filled with many internationally regarded art institutions, Wrightwood 659 aims for more “intimate experiences of art and architecture,” the venue said in a statement. Wrightwood won’t own a collection, but it plans to host exhibitions that focus on socially engaged art and explorations in architecture and design. 

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.

The Impact of Chicago's Weather


As the summer winds down, I thought I’d share a few images from the work we’re doing on Jefferson Tower at 200 N. Jefferson in the Fulton River District. The project is a reminder of weather's cumulative impact on urban buildings.

As the AIA shares on their website: "Designing and building resilient buildings is not a choice, it’s an imperative." As temperatures and weather become more extreme, regular building envelope evaluation, repair and preservation become key to maintaining that resiliance.

Original construction of the high-rise condominium began in 2004 and was completed in 2006. After a dozen years of exposure to atmospheric carbon dioxide and Chicago’s climate – with its extreme temperatures and wind-driven rain, sleet and snow – the exterior today requires comprehensive repair and maintenance.


While concrete is highly durable, it still has properties that make the development of cracks inevitable - even in the best weather conditions. The structure has 24 stories and 198 separate units. The scope of the Jefferson Tower project includes: concrete repairs, crack repairs, sealant replacement, exterior coating, and balcony waterproofing replacement. Watch my Twitter feed for project updates.

Let's Talk About Sustainability


Tomorrow is #EarthOvershootDay - a designation which marks the moment our demand for natural resources exceeds what the planet can renew.  According to the Global Footprint Network (GFN), we reach that day this year on August 1 - the earliest it has ever been.

The group has been assessing just how much of the Earth’s resources we use, from water to clean air, and the day each year when our species overshoots the planet’s ability to annually regenerate itself. To calculate the date, GFN divides the planet’s biocapacity (ecological resources generated each year) by the totality of humanity’s demand on those resources. While pointing to this disturbing trend, they also promote solutions:

"While our planet is finite, human possibilities are not. The transformation to a sustainable, carbon-neutral world will succeed if we apply humanity’s greatest strengths: foresight, innovation, and care for each other. The good news is that this transformation is not only technologically possible, it is also economically beneficial and our best chance for a prosperous future."

Sustainability is a complex concept that is gaining importance in many sectors. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) actively promotes sustainability and empowers architects to design a world that allows people, communities, and our planet to thrive. They understand that a community's sustainability goals are fulfilled in large part by an architect’s ability to create practical solutions to the challenges posed by climate change, population growth and the pursuit of more connected, healthier communities. Earlier this year, they offered a progress report on their Sustainability Leadership Opportunity Scan project and their efforts to provide architects with the tools needed to meet the sustainability challenges of today.

Let's use tomorrow to stimulate conversations about sustainability. You can learn more about #EarthOvershootDay here.

Healthy Buildings

Source: Harvard's Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment

Source: Harvard's Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment

The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) was officially launched last month at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. At the opening event, the Center's Director Gina McCarthy said “C-CHANGE will ensure that cutting-edge science produced by Harvard Chan School is actionable—that the public understands it, and that it gets into the hands of decision-makers so that science drives decisions.” Such science includes research on healthier buildings.

ArchDaily reported that C-CHANGE's Healthy Buildings team have released a list that "details the simple foundations of making a building healthy." The 9 foundations for healthy buildings include ventilation, air quality, thermal health, moisture, dust/pests, safety/security, water quality, noise and lighting/views. The team created these foundations as a standardized, holistic approach to understanding how buildings impact the people inside them. In their report, the team explains that these nine factors can be assessed using performance metrics to show how a building’s health functions can be improved or optimized. Such assessments are among our expertise.

The Center's full 36-page report is available here.