The Chicago planner-turned-artist’s transformation of Stony Island bank is the latest high-profile example of how the arts can drive a city’s redevelopment. But is this always a good thing?
A pair of octogenarian siblings were two of the first visitors to the recent opening of the former Stony Island State Savings Bank on Chicago’s South Side. They were last inside the building nearly 70 years ago, when their Greek father ran a small food stand in one of its alcoves, back when it was still a bank. Today, the building has awoken from a decades-long slumber of dereliction and abandonment as the Stony Island Arts Bank, an art gallery, community arts space and archival library.
Creating a 100-year plan for the Great Lakes region.
There’s a shirt you’ll see people wearing every once in a while in Detroit, or Chicago, or Milwaukee. It’s a local pride sort of thing, but less touristy than those “I Heart NY” shirts and not quite as macho as “Don’t Mess with Texas." It’s simple and speaks more directly to Detroit and Chicago and Milwaukee and all their neighbors. It’s just the outline of the Great Lakes. No cities, no states, no nations, no borders. Just the lakes.
The Windy City’s first net-zero-energy home employs a butterfly roof and other smart design ideas to help it unplug from the grid.
Homes are responsible for 23 percent of the energy used in the US and 18 percent of carbon emissions. In cities like Chicago, where the temperature can vary by 100 degrees, heating and cooling bills can be bank-breakers. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Five years ago, local architecture and urban-design firm Farr Associates was asked to solve the problem. The company built a 2,600-square-foot house that is now “very, very close” to generating all of its own power, architect Jonathan Boyer says.
Cars dominate cities, especially in America. But as many cities in other countries have found, removing cars can turn busy streets into lively public places. Now the U.S. is starting to catch on.
Public space has a loose definition. It can be sidewalks, government buildings, or even streets, which account for nearly a third of the land area in an average city. But in people's minds, "public space" is a park or a forest or a beach – places associated with recreation, the out-of-doors and that "nature" thing we tend to divorce ourselves from. Making a connection between the idea of public space and the mundane reality of potholes and rush hour can be difficult.
Can cities get back in touch with nature? Planners, developers, architects, and policy makers convened in Los Angeles June 7 to face the challenge and develop a plan of action to help bring life onto the rooftops of L.A.'s downtown.
"Nature" is increasingly represented in the urban world as an incidental garnish -- a potted shrub at the door of a towering high-rise; a bush inside the loop of a freeway onramp.
These greening gestures calmly try to suggest a connection between the urban environment and the natural one. Yet other than providing window dressing, they contribute little to counter the harm that cities inflict on the natural ecology.
So what is a densely developed and thoroughly paved American downtown to do? ...