This project was a finalist in the Chicago Architecture Biennial Lakefront Kiosk Competition.
Project DescriptionFROM THE ARCHITECTS:
In terms of function, the existing kiosks efficiently meet the needs of the various vendors that supply goods and services to the millions of visitors to Chicago’s lakefront each year. All summer long these modest huts are alive with energy, but for nine months of the year these once-active spaces are shuttered to form a ghost town—a constant reminder that the magic that is summer in Chicago is long gone. This proposal for a new lakefront kiosk doesn’t seek to reinvent the wheel in terms of supplying the millions of visitors to Chicago’s lakefront with goods and services. It functions as easily and as efficiently as do the existing kiosks. The difference lies in its reinvention of the way the public interacts with it, and the way it remains an active element along the lakefront year-round.
On Intention, or the Occult Monument
Like a small child’s not-so-inconspicuous hiding spot, this project is intent on concealing itself poorly. This is not to say that the project aims to present itself poorly; rather, it aims to present itself in a manner that tries to conceal or mute, as opposed to embellish, its inherent qualities of monumentality, iconicity, and symbolism. To begin: look closely and you will see that our disguise is fairly superficial (i.e., skin-deep). A thinly meshed veil conceals, but also attracts, an attenuated figure held within its loose-fitting cylindrical body. Only after peeling back this veil, now a curtain, does the project reveal its function. Alas, it is simply a kiosk. Nothing more, nothing less. It is still grand, however. Pull up a seat and transact your business.
On History, or the Economy of Spectacle
The Exposition Universelle of 1889 unveiled the Eiffel Tower, a glorified entrance arch. The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 was saved from bankruptcy by George Ferris’ Wheel, essentially a vertical carousel. In 1939, the New York World’s Fair hoisted its visitors to a height of 250 feet to simulate the effects of falling with a parachute. It goes without saying that grandiosity and spectacle are often the main attractions of a public event. Fast-forward to 2015, the year of the first Chicago Architecture Biennial. Is spectacle still a desirable pursuit? Perhaps a more economical position is more favorable for the times we currently inhabit. That a kiosk speak as spectacle is a potentially futile request to make of such a modest architectural type. That said, given Chicago’s climate, the charge of spectacle lends itself to life-span. If you look closely at function, the existing kiosks efficiently meet the needs of the various vendors that supply goods and services to the millions of visitors to Chicago’s lakefront each year. All summer long these modest huts are alive with energy, but for nine months of the year these once-active spaces are shuttered to form a ghost town—a constant reminder that the magic of summer in Chicago has disappeared. This proposal for a new kiosk does not seek to reinvent the type. In fact, it functions as easily and efficiently as do the existing kiosks, but it does so while providing alternative readings of what constitutes a spectacular yearlong interaction. A veil dangles, casting its shadows on any ground it occupies. The kiosk invites the casual passersby to join in its dance. Overall, the structure is more than just a place of commerce; it is a shy icon that tempts its audience to stare into and beyond.
On Features, or an Act in Three Parts
The kiosk assembly system is intentionally simple. The features are organized into three parts: (a) base, (b) frame, and (c) veil. All parts are mechanically fastened to one another on site so the kiosk can be assembled and disassembled multiple times for easy transportation or storage.
The base is made of two component parts: base structure, and cabinetry. The structure of the base is a 12-foot diameter steel ring made of bent 8-foot C-channel with four column anchors attached to it. Diamond plate is welded to the steel frame as a finished surface. The cabinetry is a simple assembly of a formed steel wall attached to the outer diameter of the base. The formed steel walls will have grommets located within each reveal, to allow for flexibility in attaching banners and signage of various sizes to it. A steel counter is attached to the wall, making a space for storage carts. When sited in a sandy location, the base can be stabilized using sand augers.
The frame structure is made of three components: the primary, secondary, and Vail structures. The primary structure is made of four (4-foot by 6-foot by 35-foot) steel tubes bent into the same profile. The four tubes are set into the four column anchors of the base. The secondary structure is made of two collar rings that lock the four columns together and stabilize the structure. The two collar rings are located at the midpoint and top of the structure. In addition to stabilizing the structure, these two collar rings act as anchor points for the (2-foot by 2-foot) bent steel tube that forms the conical silhouette of the structure. A light is attached to the upper collar ring, and the lower collar ring provides anchor points for a glass canopy for shade and cover. The Vail structure is an 18-foot-diameter steel ring made from bent (3-foot by 6-foot) steel tube anchored to the ends of the four steel columns.
Stainless steel coil mesh is attached to an equally spaced set of grommets that securely attaches the steel mesh to the structure and produces the pleated-curtain quality of the kiosk. While having a visual delicacy, the steel mesh of the veil will have a rigidity that will allow the curtain to serve as a means to secure the kiosk in off hours and the off-season.