Chicago


I wrote this right after GreenBuild 2007- but life got in the way of me adding pictures and posting sooner. Hopefully I can post more regularly. Check out my summary of the events I attended-

I will leave the Expo summary to Amanda. I was able to attend the opening plenary session with speeches by Rick Fedrizzi, President and CEO of USGBC and former President Bill Clinton amongst others. The choir was large and preaching was vibrant. In order to keep the energy up for the other 364 days a website was launched: GreenBuild365 I also attended six education sessions… (more…)

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With recent flooding in cities across the country,there has been increasing concerns about the state of our water treatment infrastructure. How can cities keep growing when many sewer systems are already at the breaking point?

First, we have to understand what’s already in place.

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Simple diagram of typical water treatment plant from the EPA.

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I feel like I’ve been a little out of the loop lately, so I’m going to hit a few high points today.

Chicago has won the U.S. bid for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games. April 22nd Chicago Tribune Arts & Entertainment section has a number of brief opinion pieces regarding the Olympic Arts Festival portion of the bid. On the architecture side of it, Blair Kamin advocates for the city to be a living museum, and by incorporating current/future technologies (podcasts, for example) to highlight our architecture and history through actual interaction with it.

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Chicago skyline
Luke Tozer, partner at British architecture firm Pitman Tozer architects, is working on his own little (8′ wide) eco house. Great article at The Independent. Great info on ground source heating.

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Geothermal diagram
Read about the progress on Kreuck and Sexton’s Spertus Institute over here. I wrote about this back in October. I’ve been by it in person recently, and it is delightful!

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View of Spertus facade, courtesy Lynn Becker.

My career recently took a detour, and for the moment I’m working at a Landscape Architecture firm. The work is pretty interesting and it jogged my memory to a lecture I attended this fall by Dutch landscape architect Piet Oudolf, and thought I’d share some of my notes and thoughts here.

In his lecture here in Chicago last fall, Piet did a brief overview of a couple of his local projects, and discussed his design process in general terms. The majority of the lecture was essentially a primer on the elements of plants he considers when he is designing, primarily the significance of each type of plant form. I’ve listed a few examples below, but I would definitely check out his books for further information.

Spires are a dominant form and reach toward the heavens.

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Umbels are the counter balance of spires (above), and keep the eye at a certain level

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Daisies remind us of the sun

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This fantastic slide show exhibits Oudolf’s birth-life-death design principles supporting the overarching theme of year-round interest in the garden. I am enamored with his one-ness with plants. His delightful concepts result in rich, interesting, beautiful, natural and unique gardens.
Recent large scale projects employing his principles include:
Along with Kathryn Gustafson, the Lurie Garden in Chicago’s Millenium Park (A fantastic gardener’s take here)

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Battery Park, NYC

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High Line Team, competition winner

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With so much talk and importance of all things green, it was becoming increasingly difficult to judge what green really meant. So, a number of years ago, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) was formed and developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System to quantify ‘green’. Now LEED is the “nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings.” Today, a number of project specific LEED certifications are available, including New Commercial Construction and Major Renovations, Commercial Interiors, Homes and Neighborhood Development. You can search the USGBC Registered Projects directory here for projects in your area.

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111 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL – Gold LEED Core & Shell

Numerous government agencies are requiring LEED ratings for major projects to be allowed to go forward. The United States General Services Administration (GSA) Public Building Service (the government body that oversees federal buildings in design, construction and maintenance) requires LEED certification (at a minimum) for new and major renovation projects and encourages the pursuit of LEED Silver rating. One current LEED Gold rated federal building is the Byron G. Rogers U.S. Courthouse in Denver, Colorado, shown below.
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Each version of LEED assigns points in a variety of areas, with minimum thresholds set for each rating level to be achieved (registered, certified, silver, gold, and platinum). Let’s take the New Construction and Major Renovations (LEED_NC) as an example. The project checklist identifies the following areas: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality and Innovation & Design Process. Each of those areas have anywhere from 2 to 25 opportunities to earn credits towards any given rating. For further reading, I suggest exploring the extensive USGBC website.

A number of high profile projects are pursuing LEED ratings.

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Atlantic Yards is pursuing LEED certification for all residential buildings and LEED Silver rating for the stadium.
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Federal Building in San Francisco is pursuing a Silver rating

American architect Frank Gehry has become what so many young architects dream of – well known in the field as well as to the general public (rare – the only other really being Frank Lloyd Wright), successfully and repeatedly carrying out his own vision of architecture, as well as ample opportunities to design beyond buildings.
In 1978 Gehry completed his own Santa Monica House. Early on in his career, he worked in more common materials, on a few occasions even incorporating chain link fence into the design. “Personally, I hate chain link. I got involved with it because it was invevitably being used around my buildings. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”, Gehry has stated on numerous occasions
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Gehry Santa Monica residence
1989 Pritzker Prize Laureate, Frank Gehry has since continued his pursuit of sculptural form in architecture. Working in what many call postmodern architecture, he is constantly pursuing his vision, which in many ways transcends a particular style. This pursuit is actually very modern – Gehry is working in his own language, developing it, testing it in every work that gets built. He is not inventing a new architecture every morning. He his committed to developing his vision of creating joyful architecture.
In 1997, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain was completed. Almost overnight, it became THE destination. This work secured Gehry in the annals of architectural and cultural history.
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Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain
So significant was this work of architecture, the Bilbao effect began to occur. Many cities clamored for a Gehry. The Simpsons even featured Gehry in an episode.
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Gehry, on The Simpsons
In the decade since Bilbao, Gehry has been busy. Some furniture,

jewelry

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Selection of Gehry-designed pieces at Tiffany and Co.
and more and more architecture…

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Chicago Millenium Park Pritzker Pavillion

One of the major projects he and his office has on the boards, Atlantic Yards.

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Atlantic Yards, model of “Miss Brooklyn”

Still working at full force at 78, Frank Gehry is an icon of our age. His body of work is unlike anything that came before. His passion for joyful architecture is inspiration for young architects. Though it is at this time unclear the effect Gehry’s sculptural forms will have on the future of architecture, it has surely made its impact on architectural and cultural history.

Laurie Olin, FASLA, established the first incarnation of his firm, Olin Partnership, in 1976. More than thirty years later, Mr. Olin has developed landscapes and master plans for universities, international companies, government bodies and numerous other clients.

“The firm takes a long term view of design, believing that strong, clear schemes supported by innovative detailing and fine, lasting materials are essential to melding social needs with physical resources. Design that provides functional accommodation, symbolic meaning, and aesthetic richness can make timeless human environments.” From Olin Partnership “Philosophy.”

Past projects include University of Pensylvania master plan, Art Institute of Chicago gardens, and Battery Park City master plan. Current projects include…
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Atlantic Yards,

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and Washington Monument modifications.

Olin has long collaborated with Peter Eisenmann. “During their twenty-five years of collaboration, Olin and Eisenman have developed a unique approach to site development where neither the building nor the surrounding environment is given priority,” from Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania.
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From ICA:Fertilizers: Olin / Eisenman

In addition to these large and highly visible projects, Olin continues to teach and write, influencing future generations of Landscape architects.

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