Archive for the 'Art Institute Chicago' Category


Renzo Piano

Renzo Piano (born 14 September, 1937) is a world renowned Italian architect and recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, AIA Gold Medal, Kyoto Prize and the Sonning Prize. One admirer said the “serenity of his best buildings can almost make you believe that we live in a civilized world”. His work also has its strong critics, to the point of infamously being called “a hodgepodge of tents, greenhouses and scaffolding.”

Piano was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1937 and maintains a home and office (Building Workshop) in the area. He was educated and subsequently taught at the Politecnico di Milano. He graduated from the University in 1964 and began working with experimental lightweight structures and basic shelters. From 1965 to 1970 he worked with Louis Kahn and with Makowsky. He worked together with Richard Rogers from 1971 to 1978; their most famous joint project is the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1977). He also had a long collaboration with the engineer Peter Rice.

In 1981, Piano founded the “Renzo Piano Building Workshop”, employing a hundred people with offices in Paris, Genoa, and New York.

On 18 March, 2008, he became an honorary citizen of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Piano’s recent expansion of the Art Institute of Chicago includes a 264,000 square foot wing with 60,000 square feet of gallery space called the Modern Wing, which opens May 16, 2009. It includes a “flying carpet”, a sunscreen that hovers above the roof and a 620-foot steel bridge connecting Millennium Park to a sculpture terrace that leads into a restaurant on the wing’s third floor.

Select projects
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, Athens (2009-)
City Gate, Royal Opera House, Parliament of Malta, and Freedom Square, Valletta, Malta (2009/10-)
Renzo Piano Tower I & II, San Francisco, California (2006-)
Trans National Place, Boston, Massachusetts (2006-)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, New York (2005-)
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, Massachusetts (2005-)
Sesto San Giovanni Masterplan, Milan (2004-)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2003-)
Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, expansion project (May 2009-)
Shard London Bridge, London

Nichols Bridgeway, Chicago, Illinois (2009)
California Academy of Sciences rebuilding, San Francisco, California (2008)
Vulcano Buono shopping mall, Nola, Italy (2007)
The New York Times Building on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan, New York City (2003-2007)
Rocca di Frassinello Winery, Gavorrano, Italy (2002-2007)
Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland (2006)
Morgan Library Expansion, New York, New York (2003-2006)
Cité Internationale, Lyon, France (1995-2006)
High Museum of Art Expansion, Atlanta, Georgia (2005)
Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas,Texas (opened 2003)
Parco della Musica auditorium, Rome, Italy (2002)
Auditorium Paganini, Parma, Italy (2001)
Aurora Place, Sydney, Australia (1996-2000)
Swatch ‘Jelly Piano’ wristwatch, 1999 Summer Collection model. “My most proud work” (Piano, 2001)
Stadio San Nicola, Bari, Italy (1988-1989)
Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center, Nouméa, New Caledonia (1991-98)
Beyeler Foundation Museum, Basel, Switzerland (1997)
NEMO science museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (1997)
Kansai International Airport, Osaka (Japan) (1987-1990)
Menil Collection, Houston, Texas (opened 1987)
Banca CIS building, Cagliari, Sardinia (1985)
IBM Travelling Pavilion
IRCAM & the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (1972-1977)

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Inland Steel Building

This is one of the defining commercial high-rises of the post-World War II era of modern architecture. The use of stainless steel cladding is an eloquent testimony to the corporation that commissioned the building as its headquarters. The placement of all structural columns on the building’s perimeter — and the consolidation of elevators and other service functions in a separate tower — allowed for a highly flexible interior floor layout. It was the first skyscraper to be built in the Loop following the Great Depression of the 1930s. Its principal designers were Bruce Graham and Walter Netsch of the SOM architecture firm.



Auditorium Building

The Auditorium Building in Chicago, Illinois is one of the best-known designs of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. Completed in 1889, the building is located on South Michigan Avenue, at the northwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1975. It was designated a Chicago Landmark on September 15, 1976. In addition, it is a historic district contributing property for the Chicago Landmark Historic Michigan Boulevard District.

Since 1947, the Auditorium Building has been the home of Roosevelt University.

Adler and Sullivan designed a tall structure with load-bearing outer walls, and based the exterior appearance partly on the design of H.H. Richardson’s Marshall Field Warehouse, another Chicago landmark. The Auditorium is a heavy, impressive structure externally, and was more striking in its day when buildings of its scale were less common. When completed, it was the tallest building in the city and largest building in the United States.

One of the most innovative features of the building was its massive raft foundation, designed by Adler in conjunction with engineer Paul Mueller. The soil beneath the Auditorium consists of soft blue clay to a depth of over 100 feet, which made conventional foundations impossible. Adler and Mueller designed a floating mat of crisscrossed railroad ties, topped with a double layer of steel rails embedded in concrete, the whole assemblage coated with pitch.

The resulting raft distributed the weight of the massive outer walls over a large area. However, the weight of the masonry outer walls in relation to the relatively lightweight interior deformed the raft during the course of a century, and today portions of the building have settled as much as 29 inches. This deflection is clearly visible in the theater lobby, where the mosaic floor takes on a distinct slope as it nears the outer walls. This settlement is not because of poor engineering but the fact the design was changed during construction. The original plan had the exterior covered in lightweight terra-cotta, but this was changed to stone after the foundations were under construction. Most of the settlement occurred within a decade after construction, and at one time a plan existed to shorten the interior supports to level the floors but this was never carried out.

In the center of the building was a 4,300 seat auditorium, originally intended primarily for production of Grand Opera. In keeping with Peck’s democratic ideals, the auditorium was designed so that all seats would have good views and acoustics. The original plans had no box seats and when these were added to the plans they did not receive prime locations.

Housed in the building around the central space were an 1890 addition of 136 offices and a 400-room hotel, whose purpose was to generate much of the revenue to support the opera. While the Auditorium Building was not intended as a commercial building, Peck wanted it to be self-sufficient. Revenue from the offices and hotel was meant to allow ticket prices to remain reasonable. In reality, both the hotel and office block became unprofitable within a few years.

July 2019
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