Posted by: union03g | May 25, 2009

A Tour of Chicago’s Modern Wing at The Art Institute.

On a perfect May Saturday, my girlfriend and I walked up the Nichols Bridgway to the newly minted modern wing at the Chicago Art 20090520_36Institute. Standing at the the precipice of the spectacular Terzo Piano restaurant atop the museum  – what is now the most ridiculous rooftop in the city – I panned over Chicago’s skyline where there has been some very recent milestones. I was proud for Chicago, the progress we have made in a relatively short time and I think it’s worth a bit of reflection…

The Trump Tower just finished erecting the spire and although I am not a huge fan of the spire’s design (looks like a boring pencil), it was finally finished despite the controversy over the design/Trump himself/outlandish prices. Now Trump can quietly leave the city and let his agents battle the condo flippers over sales.

The elusive Aqua building just topped off the concrete and all the windows are up. In my judgment, this is the most architecturally beautiful building in the country. It looks like a waterfall from top to bottom and must look insane from out on the lake. Each balcony 20090520_31is offset slightly from the next to create this look and the design also allows each condo to be unique. The Aqua is the new anchor of LakeShore East and it looks to be surviving the onslaught of lawsuits from the owners under contract – the adjacent Blue Cross Blue Shield building decided to build up 30 floors on their current Randolph site and it now blocks the Aqua view of millennium park. The owners at the top of the Aqua are suing (welcome to buying a condo downtown).

The Legacy at Millenium Park has resumed putting up the windows again after a long hiatus during the credit squeeze. While fighting upside-down owners, dried up credit facilities and the glut of new condos, the windows are rising again, with one valiant final effort. Only 5 floors to completion! I think this tower will be a success because it’s connected to the University Club and the historic landmark buildings on Michigan could never build up to block views. Some say this is going to be the “Central Park West” of Chicago, overlooking Grant Park.

Where 1 year ago there would have been many holes in the skyline, today there are modern cutting edge developments. The leaders of the International Olympic Committee just made their way through the city with no major issues, outside of a couple hundred protesters, and they seemed to be impressed. Millennium Park is maturing, Cancer Survivor Park blooms with dogwoods and the Lurie Garden with flowering cherry trees. People are drinking wine at Terzo Piano, listening to the symphony practice at the Pritzker pavilion, watching sailboats chum the lake in the distance. All around us Chicago’s great harmony between architectural modernization and green beautification is in full display.

Once inside, I took some pictures (no flash) of the cool things I found. One gallery you might find the nightmarish and in the next you’ll see the classics like Picasso and Warhol. These galleries and this new modern wing seem to relate vividly to the greater composition of an incredible city.

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