No Waiting Until Next Year

bill utter

BY Bill Utter

September 13, 2019

Grisko Culture

The days are shorter, schools are open again, and fall is in the air. Just the right time to take stock of Chicago’s #1 spectator sport – architecture.

Hold on there, what are you talking about? What about Da Bears and 100 years of football? What about October baseball in the Friendly Confines? Yes, I mean architecture and Chicago. As a city we’ve owned it for more than a century, we’ve drawn millions of spectators and there is plenty of competition between cities and the architects themselves.

This fall is an especially good time for Chicagoans to take a step back and appreciate one of our most valuable assets. It could be we take it for granted, but that’s certainly not the case for the tourists who flock to the river boat cruises. I’ve had an up-close perspective, taking the Chicago Water Taxi every day to Grisko’s home at the Wrigley Building. I see the looks of wonderment and delight from people of all ages and all nationalities. Our buildings are a language everyone speaks.

Here are some of ways this fall is special:

  • The third edition of The Chicago Architecture Biennial opens at the Cultural Center on Sept. 19 and runs through the end of the year. It’s North America’s largest exhibition of contemporary architecture and design. You won’t see anything like it elsewhere and it’s well worth your time. Partner exhibits will also be in place across the city.
  • The Vista Tower is taking final shape along the Chicago River. That’s the latest from Chicago’s own Jeanne Gang, one of the world’s leading architects. She designed the nearby Aqua building, with its unique curved balconies. The engineering behind Vista is amazing, including its open-air design near the top. Blair Kamin has a good explanation in Tribune.
  • The City of Chicago will have a new Planning Commissioner who comes from Detroit and has special focus on good design. Maurice Cox was a key part of Detroit’s recent revival and is expected to push for those same high standards of architecture and design in Chicago’s neighborhoods. To learn what’s out there, he should pick up a copy of Lee Bey’s new book Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side.
  • It has been one year since the Chicago Architecture Center opened its doors in new space at 111 E. Wacker Drive, home base to the famous tours. And their upcoming Open House Chicago opens the doors to Chicago’s signature buildings, from the quirky to the spectacular – for free.

These are just a few reasons why this fall we should celebrate what is arguably our top spectator sport. We have serious challenges facing our city, but our architecture remains a testament to Chicago’s resilience and world class innovation. If nothing else, walk along the beautiful Riverwalk on the south bank or take a river cruise even if you don’t have visitors from out of town. Get out there before the weather turns colder. Unlike fans of other sports, you don’t have to wait until next year.

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bill utter

BY Bill Utter

September 13, 2019

Grisko Culture