Cobbler Square Lofts by Serhii Chrucky

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Cobbler Square Lofts in Old Town is a renovation of a Dr. Scholl's shoe factory, completed in 1985 by Kenneth Schroeder & Associates. The factory had consisted of twenty buildings within two square blocks, built between 1880 and 1965. A few of these buildings were demolished during renovation, but the overall character of a multi-generational factory complex was retained. There are three internal courtyards designed by POD, Inc. (a California-based landscape architecture firm) set off-axis 45 degrees to the street grid.

The main entrance on Wells street is a cutaway into the facade of the 1959 factory building, with a glazed atrium in red and blue steel providing a sense of grandiosity as one enters. I believe that in the near future this atrium will be of particular interest from a preservation standpoint. It is an example of Hi-Tech, a sub-style of Post-Modernism, that was uncommon in Chicago during this time period.

Architect Kenneth Schroeder described the design aesthetic as "layering the new against the old," and that was certainly achieved. Thirty five years since the renovation, there isn't a feeling of rupture. Rather, the additions made in 1985 fit seamlessly into the exisiting fabric. If disused factory buildings had any hope of surviving the changing economic and social conditions in large American cities, some kind of modification was necessary. Here, it was done in a manner that added to the richness of the pre-existing built environment. When it soon comes time to reassess Cobbler Square Lofts, it is this point that should be at the forefront of our considerations.

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McDonalds Chicago Global Flagship by Serhii Chrucky

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In 2014, McDonalds announced a series of sustainability goals, called the McDonalds Global Sustainability Framework. Aspects of this plan included changes in the sourcing of beef and coffee, an emphasis on recycling, increased energy efficiency, and the introduction of more fruits and vegetables to the menu. McDonalds' new flagship location, unveiled earlier this month, is a three-dimensional representation of these initiatives.

Located in River North, the new structure is built on the site of the previous flagship, which in turn was built on the site of the old Rock N' Roll McDonalds. Designed by Ross Barney Architects, the new flagship is a three-story modernist glass jewel box situated within a white steel frame supporting a canopy of solar panels. Further enclosed within the building is a floating garden, which is flanked by a vertical canopy of live plants. There is a landscaped public plaza, parking lot, and drive through, all laid with gray permeable pavers.

Each design decision (solar panels, permeable pavement, living walls) carries a strong implication of environmental friendliness (the building is LEED certified, of course), reifying McDonalds' corporate ethos of sustainability. Situated in a busy tourist district, this building will serve as a convincing advertisement for the values McDonalds is trying to project moving ever forward into the 21st Century.

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Unity Church in Chicago by Serhii Chrucky

WBEZ Chicago recently reported the sale of the former Chicago Town and Tennis club,  located at 1925 W. Thome and currently owned and occupied by Unity Church in Chicago, to Misericordia Heart of Mercy. The Tudor style clubhouse, built in 1925, was designed by George W. Maher, a contemporary of Louis Sullivan known primarily for his residential work. There is a high likelihood that the building is going to be demolished to make way for additional housing on the Misericordia campus, so I stopped by to document it. For further details, read the feature by Dennis Rodkin on WBEZ.

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Vista Tower Construction in Progress by Serhii Chrucky

The construction of Vista Tower is well underway, but nowhere near its final height of 1,198 feet. When will be completed in 2020, it will become the third-tallest tower in Chicago. A collaboration between Studio Gang, bKL Architecture and Magellan Development, it is primarily comprised of three undulating green glass towers sited in a stair step arrangement, each tower successively taller from east to west. Although it's still early, the elevating wavy design of the towers is evident and striking.

I took some photos of the site last summer when only the foundation was in place. I will continue periodically documenting the building as it progresses. In a few years, I think it will be valuable to have a solid set of architectural photographs tracking the progress of what will undoubtedly be an iconic piece of the Chicago skyline.

CTA Flyover Demolitions Update #1 by Serhii Chrucky

I went back to Clark and Roscoe yesterday to check on the progress of 14 buildings that are being demolished for a new flyover for the Brown Line. (If you haven't yet take a look at my documentation of the area prior to the start of demolition.) So far, the two and three flat buildings on Wilton are gone and the newer multi-unit building on the corner of Wilton and School is half demolished. I assume it will be entirely gone by tomorrow (Monday 4/9/18).

The two triangular commercial buildings at Clark and Roscoe are also gone. The removal of the building on the northeast side of that intersection revealed a large ghost ad for "Banke's Coffee" as well as a poster advertising Riverview amusement park (the latter is not pictured here). 

I will be documenting the remainder of the demolition work as well as the construction of the flyover over the next few years, so stay tuned for more as this progresses.