Page N3.2 . 16 February 2005                     
ArchitectureWeek - News Department
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Chicago Does Stars


In deference to the industrial-residential context, the living space is stark, with a steel frame suspended from the old masonry walls and with expanses of concrete, metal, and glass.

Perkins & Will designed a mixed-used, medium-rise tower, called the "Contemporaine" in the River North neighborhood of Chicago. The first four stories are retail and garage space, and they form a pedestal to an 11-story residential volume of concrete and glass.

Balconies of the Contemporaine extend outward, and multistory reveals are carved into the main form. "The whole program is expressed in the building's different facades," said a juror. The building can be clearly read as a series of combined parts of varying scales, addressing the neighborhood's mix of converted warehouses, low-rise retail, and newer residential towers.

Receiving special recognition from the Chicago AIA jury was a "Marble Curtain" by Studio Gang Architects for the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The architects collaborated with a stone mason to explore new possibilities of stone as a building material.

The museum's low floor load capacity made it difficult to support stone from below, so they used tension rather than compression and created a suspended curtain of thin stone pieces. Interlocking jigsaw-puzzle shapes were cut with a water jet and backed with fiber resin to provide redundancy. The mason worked from the top down to create an 18-foot- (5.5-meter-) tall, one-ton (900-kilogram) curtain of marble that hangs from the ceiling without any supporting frame.

Receiving a sustainability award was the Racine (Wisconsin) Art Museum, designed by Brininstool + Lynch. The architects reused an existing building in a pedestrian-friendly downtown, adding to its anti-sprawl revitalization. Interior finishes include recycled rubber flooring and wood from rapidly renewable sources, while the exterior features recyclable materials such as acrylic and aluminum.

The jury for the Chicago AIA awards program included Lawrence Scarpa, AIA, Pugh + Scarpa; Cheryl McAfee-Mitchell, FAIA, Charles F. McAfee Architects, Planners and Program Managers; Stanley Boles, FAIA, BOORA Architects; Kendall Wilson, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP, Envision Design; Arthur Smith, FAIA, HarleyEllis; Miguel Rivera, AIA, Miró Rivera Architects Inc.; Douglas Farr, AIA, Farr Associates; Michelle Halle Stern, AIA, PE, Delta Institute; and Leonard Sciarra, AIA, Serena Sturm Architects Ltd.


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Allsteel Resource Center in Dallas, Texas, designed by Gensler received an honor award for commercial interiors from AIA Chicago. The furniture showroom recalls the region's rustic ranch vernacular.
Photo: Christopher Barrett/ Hedrich Blessing

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Chicago Architecture Foundation's "ArchiCenter" by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is an interpretive center with scale models of the city, interactive exhibits, and a sinuous timeline display.
Photo: Hedrich Blessing

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Antron Resource Center by Perkins & Will is a showroom and conference center in Chicago's Merchandise Mart. Fiber samples of 360 colors were featured in a hands-on display.
Photo: Steve Hall/ Hedrich Blessing

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Gardner-James Residence in New York, by Valerio Dewalt Train Associates is conversion of an industrial loft, demonstrating elegant use of a usually mundane material, sheet metal.
Photo: Steve Hall/ Hedrich Blessing

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The Vermeer Science Center Renovation and Addition designed by Holabird & Root for Central College in Pella, Iowa, received a sustainability award for its energy-efficient mechanical and heat recovery systems. Daylight and photovoltaic panels contributed to the expectation of 60 percent less energy use than a traditional laboratory building.
Photo: Dale Van Donselaar, Dale Photographics

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In Barcelona, Spain, the "Rural Studio Exhibit," by Xavier Vendrell Studio with Andrew Freear and Jennifer Bonner, shows the work of the late Samuel Mockbee and his students, in a medium that is the message. "They have made ordinary materials extraordinary and brought them to where visitors can touch and even smell them," said a juror.
Photo: Monica Rosello


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