1. For AIA Conventioneers
McCormick Place is the largest convention center in North America. It’s also one of the most epic sagas in convention history. Chicago’s Alfred Shaw designed the first McCormick Place, completed in 1960 but conceived as early as the 1920s. Seven years later, it was a smoldering husk, ignited by some flammable expo swag (even in spite of its so-called fireproof steel-and-concrete shell). Chicago’s Gene Summers (a former Mies employee) designed its replacement in 1971. The North Building (1986) and the South Building (1997) more than doubled McCormick Place’s footprint—and propelled it past New York City’s Javits Center for largest in the nation. Finally, tvsdesign’s 2007 West Building boosted it to its final size. And, you thought this was just another convention center.
Learn more at convention.aia.org.
2. Loose Change
In 1992, about when computer-aided design changed the way architects talked about architecture, Sylvia Lavin published Quatremère de Quincy and the Invention of a Modern Language of Architecture (MIT Press). For some, it begged the question “Quatremère who?” For others, Lavin’s timing seemed shrewd: Antoine-Chrysostome Quatremère de Quincy chronicled the French Revolution’s republican ideals and changed the way architects understood Classical forms—not as a fixed design language but as an adaptable framework imbued with what Lavin called a “social contract.” Lavin’s most recent project, “Everything Loose Will Land” (at the Graham Foundation May 1–July 26), looks at another language shift in 1970s Los Angeles, blurring boundaries between art and architecture.
Learn more at grahamfoundation.org.
3. In the Loop
In a Jan. 12, 1974, memo regarding a possible coalition, Chicago architect Gertrude Lempp Kerbis, FAIA, invited other area women to her office to “come and meet other female architects.” Out of that evening, Kerbis and seven others founded Chicago Women in Architecture (CWA), a nonprofit dedicated to raising the visibility of and advocating on behalf of women in design—through scholarships, a job network, events, and opportunities. CWA celebrates 40 years with an exhibit opening this month at the Chicago Architecture Foundation at 224 S. Michigan Ave.
Learn more at architecture.org and cwarch.org.
Suffix-addicts who are fond of dropping –ism like hot Chicago pierogi are really trying to help the rest of us. When describing a style or an attitude or a design movement like Classicism, Modernism, or (pitiably) Parametricism, invoking –ism simplifies things. Architectural theorist Alexander Eisenschmidt, art historian Jonathan Mekinda, and designer Matt Wizinsky have a new one for you: Chicagoisms. An exhibition of the same name at the Art Institute of Chicago outlines five key principles that define the city, its evolution, and where it may be headed. “Chicagoisms,” April 5–Jan. 4, 2015, features custom architectural models by MVRDV, Dogma, and UrbanLab.
Learn more at artic.edu.
The Art Institute of Chicago’s exhibition “Architecture To Scale” juxtaposes the work of two groundbreaking architects—scale models by Stanley Tigerman, FAIA, and a series of films called “XYT: Detroit Streets,” by Andrew Zago. You may see the preciousness of models against the backdrop of an 80-foot video wall as a synecdoche for the urban experience—perfect little buildings that stand in for the idea of the city. Or you may see the moving images from Detroit and static models from Chicago as the perfect art-world juxtaposition that confounds and engages. Either way, when you walk back out onto Michigan Avenue, you’ll see the city a little differently.
Learn more at artic.edu.
6. Pop Smarts
From livestock or grain arriving at Union Stock Yards to the deep dish pizza arriving at your table, Chicago has always been a nexus for food. It’s no surprise, then, that the eight-fold resurgence of American farmers markets over the last decade has been strongly felt in the Chicago metro area. It’s also no surprise that the AIA Small Project Practitioners (SPP) would launch an ideas competition to design and build a better farmers market pop-up canopy. Entrants took up lightness, portability, durability, and appeal in their proposals, and winners are on display at the SPP Pop-Up Space at 29 W. Randolph St., June 23–30.
Learn more at aia.org/spp.