Happy Arbor Day

    Saplings with my shadow.
    Chicago, April 2010

    Planting a tree, the second most optimistic act I know. It means a lot when the city leaders do it.

    Remember Richard J. Daley's "What trees do they plant?" He would ask that of his critics.

    His son, the current Mayor, born on the local Arbor Day of April 24 (today is national Arbor Day) has planted thousands of trees across the city.

    Make a note to come back to this site, I'll show you how these two look in twenty-five years.

    Happy Arbor Day.

    I think that I shall never see a building lovely as a tree.
    -Edward
    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2010/04/
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Video of unveiling Chicago's Picasso - 1967



    August 15, 1967

    Short clip by Tom Palazzolo of the unveiling of the Picasso sculpture in Chicago's then Civic now Daley Plaza (Chicago Filmmakers).

    I love to hear the voice of the original Hizzoner. "The rewarding values in urban living." "What is strange to us today, will be familiar tomorrow."

    Posted after this on how we treat the sculpture today.

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    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2010/04/
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"Skateboarding on the Picasso is fun!"

    One fine Spring day
    I made my way
    over to Daley Plaza.

    We know folks play on Chicago's Picasso.



    And we know that when Chicago's sport teams do well
    we embarrass the poor thing.




    "Go Blackhawks!" she sheepishly mutters, like any humanized pet, feeling ridiculous, knowing she has her own value, greater than the message she is made to send, and just wishing to be herself.

    I saw a kid wait for the tourists to leave the baboon's inclined base.
    Then he ran up one side as high as he could easily go,



    threw down his skateboard, and jumped on to ride it down.




    Over and over and over again.



    Is this the best place in the city to skateboard? It is sunny; and open, and modernist plazas can resonate with youth angst and alienation.


    He and his friend rode the wave of art.


    I asked him what it's like to skateboard on the Picasso.
    "Skateboarding is art too!" he said.





    Yes, they left marks.


    They were glad to. "Sentimental value" one kid pretended.

    In the end I was convinced. Let people enjoy it, touch it, be one with it. It's good for them to be around Picasso's imagination. When necessary, we'll make a copy to put in the plaza, like the Florentines did with David. (Don't skateboard on him.) Or we can just remember how much people at one time loved this one.


    She remains proud. And as much a mystery to us as we must be to her. She looks at you and asks you questions. Ask any baboon, she's asking you about your essence. About primal urges too. Such a piece would be either pondered or destroyed.

    We too often tend to distrust and destroy what is greater than us, rather than use it to improve our individual and collective selves.

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    What do you think, should skateboarding be allowed on the Picasso?
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    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2010/04/
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A foggy day and night in the Windy City




    Chicago hurls weather at you. Slapping, biting air through wool or down. Wind, rain, snow, hail, heat. Fog, floods, steam, storms, fingers freeze. There's no preparation for this and there will be no clemency. In a week here you weather more than in months in those sunny cities. You turn to the man next to you in the elevator, also soaking wet, and exchange smiles of why you stay. Your friend calls from L.A., what can you say? Weather's overrated?


    .Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2010/04/
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The best new corner in Chicago? Happy Earth Day!

    It's Earth Day and you're on Kinzie in Chicago, looking for a place to park.  What's the answer?  The new Greenway Self Park.


    We're proud to be Chicago’s first Earth-Friendly parking facility.
    Our array of sustainable practices includes:
    energy-generating wind turbines
    local and sustainable building materials
    a green roof and rainwater cisterns for irrigation
    high-efficiency glass
    recycling programs
    energy-efficient lighting
    programs to encourage the use of energy efficient vehicles
    electric car charging stations
    air quality initiatives
    tips for Greener Living in the lobbies
    Zipcar and I-Go car sharing vehicles


    The turbines are supposed to provide enough electricity for all of the building’s exterior lighting and contribute excess power to the grid. Manufacturer Aerotecture says these vertical-axis turbines will operate regardless of wind direction, harvesting power in winds as low as one to two mph and operating safely and silently in high wind speeds and extreme weather conditions. The southwest location of the turbines will capitalize on Chicago’s northwest winter and southwest summer winds; they are estimated to generate 10,000-15,000 kWh per year.


    A bike room on the first floor will provide shelter and safe storage for two dozen bicycles. Six plug-in stations for electric vehicles will be available on the first few floors, and more may be added should demand increase.

    Natural ventilation, made possible by variable glass channel spacing on the building’s façade, will eliminate the need for energy intensive forced-air ventilation systems. Low-E glass will further reduce energy demand in the retail areas on the ground floor.

    The garage will also feature a green roof to combat urban heat island effects and rain cisterns to collect grey water for irrigation and maintenance.

    All construction materials for the building were obtained from within a 500 mile radius.

    60 W. Kinzie, Chicago, IL
    Developer - Friedman Properties, Ltd
    Architects - HOK/Cubellis

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    It's a nice update of Louis Sullivan's nature-based, organic corner entrance to the department store Schlesinger and Mayer in Chicago - aka Carson Pirie Scott.



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    Has anyone reading this parked in the Greenway?  Does parking there feel virtuous?  

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    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2010/04/
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Modern Views - A project to benefit Mies's Farnsworth House and Philip Johnson's Glass House

     Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Farnsworth House Plano, Illinois

    From the release:   On January 1, 2010, Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House came under the management of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP). Within its portfolio of twenty-nine historic sites, the NTHP now owns and manages two of America’s greatest Modernist residences – the Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois and Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. This transition allows an even closer collaboration between the two properties resulting in the launch of Modern Views: A Project to Benefit Farnsworth House and the Glass House. Spearheaded by the Glass House, the project represents a year-long initiative to raise funds for critical site preservation efforts at both homes. The venture is set to raise $1M to preserve our country’s most inspirational Modernist icons.
    Modern Views asks contemporary artists, architects and designers to continue one of the 20th century’s great cultural dialogues – the historic exchange reflected in Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and Philip Johnson’s Glass House. It is a dialogue about vision and precedent, influence and inspiration, theory and practice, intellect and passion.
    Modern Views project leadership invited a global slate of participants to create and donate a drawing, model or other work of art, accompanied by a short statement that captures how these two iconic buildings inspire their work. One hundred architects, artists and designers have contributed work representing some of the greatest thinkers in their respective fields.  The donated work will be published in a book by Assouline and will be exhibited in both Chicago and New York.  Events will be held in both cities to raise money to benefit the sites’ preservation.

     Philip Johnson Glass House New Canaan, Connecticut
    The project will be officially announced in early June 2010 at the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York during a preview reception for the media, project leaders, donors and participants. In fall 2010, contributed works will be exhibited in Chicago and New York, culminating in an event and auction in each city.  Additional programming will occur during the exhibitions to capture the artistic views and inspirations from both iconic homes as well as to discuss broader Modern preservation topics and challenges.
    This project is generously underwritten by Sotheby’s. Funds generated by Modern Views: A Project to Benefit Farnsworth House and the Glass House are specifically earmarked for the preservation and restoration of the Brick House at the Philip Johnson Glass House and are targeted for damage remediation from the flood of 2008 at the Farnsworth House.
    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2010/04/
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A day in the life of the new river plaza at Trump International Hotel and Tower - Chicago

Preparing the Pritzker Garden for Spring

    A rainy afternoon
    took me to the Art Institute.
    Through the mist my memory
    pulled up treasures that are there.

    This weather had to recall in me Caillebotte's Paris Street, Rainy Day.

    When I saw this fellow


    Preparing the Pritzker Garden for Spring;
    my mind brought to life another Caillebotte.



    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2010/04/
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More lively museums

    It's too rare to see the blinds raised at the Art Institute of Chicago. Today, rather gray, for a while you could look out.  You see the transparency of and the reflections in Renzo Piano's Modern Wing.  The life of the art is connected to the life of the city, as it should be.   Hallelujah.










    Gorgeous reflections in the Ellsworth Kelly in the garden in Spring.  With the blinds up, I think I'll stay and have a drink which they sell now in the main court on Thursday and Friday evenings. 


    But then,


    Click to play the video, click any image above to enlarge.
    .Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2010/04/
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Life in a Bauhaus fishbowl

Kengo Kuma speaks

    My interview with Kengo Kuma at Metropolis.com.

    We spoke in Mies van der Rohe's "East meets West" Crown Hall, of Asia rising, working in China, the essences of materials, how to teach architecture, his biggest influence - Frank Lloyd Wright, how to design a transition from city life to museum, the roles of museums in the new century, and sustainability.

    Read Mr. Kuma's answers here.












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