|J. Bartholomew Photo|
April 29, 2001 – The Chicago Tribune reports that the Art Institute of Chicago has announced plans for a $200 million addition that will “create a major new entrance to the museum facing Lakefront Millennium Park and its parking garage, supply much-needed gallery and education space, and set the stage for one of the most dramatic internal reorganizations since the museum opened its doors in 1893.” [Chicago Tribune, April 29, 2001] In order to make room for the new wing, the Goodman Theatre, sited mostly underground on the northeast corner of the museum, will be demolished. The new building’s architect, Renzo Piano, says, “If you leave that building [the Goodman] there, you can’t do anything.” The addition will add close to 300,000 square feet to the existing building’s 950,000 square feet of space. Piano will also design a steel bridge that will connect the addition to Millennium Park to the north across Monroe Street. The design for the new building, the first addition to the museum since the completion of the Rice Building in 1988, will feature a five-level structure with “three stories above ground and two below. The top two floors will be for galleries. The bottom two floors, both below ground, will be devoted to art storage and other ‘back of the house’ functions, such as a new loading dock that will replace the one along Monroe. The ground floor, meanwhile, will house a visitors’ lobby, museum shop, resource facility for teachers and orientation areas for school children.” Most striking, perhaps, will be the roof of the addition which Piano says represents his attempt “to strike up a dialogue with the football-field-size steel trellis" that [architect Frank] Gehry has designed just to the south of his band shell. “Poetically speaking, it’s like a flying sculpture, a flying carpet,” Piano says. Although optimistic projections called for the Modern Wing to be open by 2005, it actually opened in mid-2009, making the Art Institute of Chicago the second-largest art museum in the United States. The Art Institute describes the Modern Wing in this way, “The building houses the museum’s world-renowned collections of modern European painting and sculpture, contemporary art, architecture and design, and photography. The extraordinary scope and quality of these collections are a revelation, each displayed more comprehensively than ever before. The Modern Wing allows the Art Institute to take its rightful place as one of the world’s great collections of modern and contemporary art.” [archive.artic.edu/modernwing/overview/] The above photo shows Renzo Piano's "flying carpet," the roof atop the Modern Wing with the entry arch from Louis Sullivan's Chicago Stock Exchange building in the foreground.
April 29, 1963 – Mayor Richard J. Daley announces plans to build an 80-story apartment building west of the Merchandise Mart on Wolf Point. The building will be the tallest building in the Midwest and the fourth tallest in the world, rising 782 feet with a 571-foot antenna at its top. It is projected to hold 1,300 apartments and a 320-room hotel with a plaza that rises two floors above the bridge at Orleans Street. The cost of the project, which will occupy 5.76 acres of land, is $45 million. Studio apartments will rent from $120 to $200 a month; the 512 one-bedroom units will go for between $180 and $280 a month; 256 two-bedroom units will rent for between $270 and $370; and 128 three-bedroom units will top out at $420. Each apartment will have glass from floor to ceiling with seven-foot balconies extending the width of the unit. The first tier of apartments will not begin until the building reaches the 120-foot mark with four restaurants and a theater, along with shops making up the first floors. There will be two levels of parking below ground that will hold 800 cars. The architect for the project is Chalres Booher Gunther, who founded PACE Associates, an engineering firm that worked on early drawings of Marina City. One can see the similarities to the two Marina City towers on the river six blocks to the east. The project actually got a permit from the Federal Aeronautics Administration for the antenna, but that is as far as it ever went. The top photo gives some idea of the look of the colossus. Below that is a Chicago Tribune rendering of the space that it was projected to fill at Wolf Point. The bottom photo shows what Wolf Point will look like when the last of the three towers is topped out in the next few years. Probably a good thing the original plan got shelved, right?