Less Mies in Chicago is not more

    The other day I posted a TV ad for the Art Institute of Chicago from 1988 - "The All New Art Institute of Chicago - in 1988!"

    It has a goofy 1980's jingle in it and so I asked, "Doesn't anybody want to write a jingle for the opening of Renzo Piano's new Modern Wing at the Art Institute?"

    I received this comment from "CHICAGOandPointsNorth" which is so thoughtful I'll post it here.
    One minute and forty-one seconds and not one mention of the Rice's architect - Hammond Beebe Babka. Instead the "skit" focused on the art and the resources of the AIC and how their project integrated new and old aspects of the museum's collection and its facility. The thought of an Exhibit of the new wing featuring PICTURES OF ITSELF could never have crossed their minds. The view of the new sculpture court was presented as entirely in scale and harmony with the view of the main stair (and, btw, with McKinlock Court). And most important, the Museum's lions and Michigan Avenue entrance remained the symbol of the Institution.

    Things have indeed changed.

    But not so much as we might imagine. It is the rare Architect who is truly respectful of context and precedent. And so, just as Mies tore into Henry Ives Cobb's domed, beaux-arts Federal Building, SOM is ready to demolish Mies IIT Test Cell, just as Renzo Piano........ You get the picture. Maybe we need a little of that 1988 jingly naivity.

    If you build something new and save something old you have two things instead of one. And if one shows contextual respect for the other the two become greater than either alone. That simple. Too late for Henry Ives Cobb. Or Howard Van Doren Shaw. But maybe not too late for Mies' Test Cell. Move SOM's new construction across the street. Like the 1988 AIC clip says -- "past and present" and "old and new." This is not so difficult.

    Let's just do it. This time together. Everyone could win. That's the jingle.

    Thank you dear commenter.

    A few notes: Mies "tore into Henry Ives Cobb's domed, beaux-arts Federal Building" for his Federal Center - which is probably superior than what seems from photos like a very good work from Henry Ives Cobb. (Mies also "tore into" the 1891 Mecca Flats for another pretty good work- Crown Hall.)

    Howard Van Doren Shaw is mentioned for the loss of his Goodman Theater to make way for Renzo Piano's excellent Modern Wing of the Art Institute.
    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2009/05/less-mies-in-chicago-is-not-more.html
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