Move Your Office Outside

POSTED BY , ON October 12, 2012, Comments Off on Move Your Office Outside

On a perfect fall day like this one, it’s more than a little bit sad to be cooped up inside. I think most of us would rather be under natural sunlight than fluorescent light any day of the week. Which is why I think Jonathan Olivares’s exhibition at the Art Institute, The Outdoor Office, is so brilliant.

As you might expect from the name, the exhibition explores the possibility of working out of doors. As a designer, Olivares became interested in this project because he noticed that there isn’t really any office furniture that’s meant to go outdoors. So the exhibition takes a look at historical and present-day examples of people working outside—from Plato’s Academy to a 1930s French classroom to disaster relief in Haiti to Google’s headquarters—for inspiration. Then it considers several conceptual projects (pictured above) that feature designs for new types of offices and furniture. Just think about it…it’s good for the environment since we’d cut down on electricity and HVAC costs and the world we live in becomes more and more mobile all the time anyway.

I guess the only tiny problem is…the average temperature in January in Chicago is 22 degrees. Miami might be a better test market.


The Gang’s All Here

POSTED BY , ON October 05, 2012, Comments Off on The Gang’s All Here

Studio Gang

The latest exhibition from the Department of Architecture and Design offers a rare opportunity to see an award-winning architecture firm at work. Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects takes you behind the scenes of the Chicago-based design group led by MacArthur “genius” Jeanne Gang. Made in collaboration with co-curators Zoë Ryan and Karen Kice, this custom-made installation provides unique insight into SGA’s creative process—from research materials to full-scale mock-ups—demonstrating the firm’s commitment to open-minded experimentation and problem solving. Watch the video above to hear what being an architect means to Jeanne Gang.


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Unfinished Architecture

POSTED BY , ON January 09, 2012, Comments Off on Unfinished Architecture

To me, one of the most interesting components of an architect’s body of work is not the projects that were completed, but the projects that weren’t. The buildings that never got off the ground (pun intended) for any one of a number of reasons: funding, politics, changing times and priorities, etc. And while Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention certainly details the architect’s best-known projects (including Chicago’s own Marina City), the exhibition also explores a number of projects that never came to fruition, including the headquarters for the American Broadcasting Company…

As Goldberg was gaining new prominence for Marina City, he was commissioned to design the new headquarters for ABC in New York. After an extensive study of ABC’s composition and working methods, Goldberg designed a petal-shaped structure (see above) that combined offices, space for support staff, and meeting rooms clustered to correspond to the organizational structure. Adjacent to this building, Goldberg proposed a broadcasting mast that would have eclipsed the Empire State Building in height.

Although a business firm calculated that the design was so cost effective that it provided more square footage than more conventional construction, ABC rejected his proposal due to concerns about adaptability, amidst other financial issues. Ironically, because he situated his design so fully within the client’s organizational structure and workflow, they were concerned about the re-sale potential of the building.

The model and drawing for the ABC office building—along with models and drawings for other unfinished structures like the San Diego Theater and a Mobile Delousing Unit—will be on view through January 15.


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Goldberg Installation

POSTED BY , ON October 14, 2011, Comments Off on Goldberg Installation

Around Chicago, Bertrand Goldberg is best known as the architect of Marina City, the iconic “corncob-shaped” buildings located on the Chicago River. But with the exhibition Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention, the vast scope of his body of work will be explored for the first time.

Check out the images below for a behind-the-scenes look at curators Zoë Ryan and Alison Fisher working with museum conservators and preparators to install architectural drawings, models, and furniture. You may recognize the model for Prentice Women’s Hospital, but I bet you didn’t know that Goldberg also designed tables, chairs, and lamps, as well as a pretty amazing convertible bathroom (not pictured).

Closing Soon: Hyperlinks

POSTED BY , ON July 20, 2011, Comments Off on Closing Soon: Hyperlinks

Today marks the final day of Hyperlinks: Architecture and Design, an exhibition that presents the works of designers who are working across a variety of fields—architecture, material design, furniture design, science, and technology among others—to create pieces that respond to the increasingly “hyper-linked” world we live in. But although the exhibition will close in just a few short hours, you may not have seen the last of some of the pieces in the show…

One crowd favorite, especially among the local contingent, was Evan Gant and Alex Tee’s LightLane. This ingenious design was inspired by the inherent danger of riding bikes on streets with no bike lanes (ahem, Chicago) and the hypothesis that cars and bikes both respect the idea of lanes, but that accidents can happen when one group isn’t sure where their designated space is. After experimenting with a number of rather destructive ideas (including attaching keys to bikes in order to “key” any car that got too close), they landed on the idea of creating their own bike lane with green lasers (see above) projecting from the back of a bike in order to indicate the amount of space that bikers need to coexist with cars. This project is currently being developed for industrial production, so don’t be surprised if you see one on your street soon.

Also featured in the exhibition were maps from San Francisco-based Stamen’s This site was designed as an ever-evolving mapping tool. Users are invited to download a map of a specific place, add features to the map, and post it to the site. Features to the map may include anything: fire hydrants, addresses, gas stations, anything. So whether you’re looking for where trees are located on a specific block in Washington D.C. or one person’s particular points of interest in Johannesburg or wheelchair accessibility in Berlin or (my personal favorite) the best fishing spots in San Francisco, the site provides sometimes detailed, sometimes subjective, but always interesting maps of various places around the globe.