New artistic offerings in Chicago’s Millennium Park

Having grown up in Chicago, I always enjoy returning to see the eclectic art and architecture you just won’t find in any other place.

Millennium Park is an amazing place a place to see the the past and future of Chicago. The Bean–really called “Cloud Gate”–is an amazing piece, as are the video tower fountains, and the Pritzker amphiteatre designed by Frank Gehry. The Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago makes a great neighbor to the park, and the overlook onto the park from its rooftop is spectacular. (I certainly hope the Art Institute is able to keep the Modern Wing’s tight corners where glass meets steel clean as nature takes its toll. I already witnessed a tiny bit of weather damage around steel bolts, and the glass was a bit dingy.)

unstudio1Temporary exhibits within the park are equally modern and innovative–the traditionalist blushes happen to be there, too, and the important thing is they actually work.

In my visit in early July, I saw the Burnham Pavilions, a series of temporary exhibits erected in celebration of the the 100th anniversary of Daniel Burnham’s master plan of Chicago. One of the pavilions is by UNStudio from Amsterdam. UNStudio’s chief–Ben van Berkel–says the design was inspired by the cantilevered roofs on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House (also in Chicago). What I thought was cool was the fact it was constructed completely out of wood, and painted white with a glossy finish. You wouldn’t think it’s wood at all until you begin walking on it.

zahaAnother by Zaha Hadid is still under construction. Zaha Hadid is a very talented sculptor masquerading as an architect and, in the City of Chicago, she has found a client to build an extremely complicated form. This tubular structure has been under construction for a long, long time. Its highly complicated skeletal structure requires high tolerance construction, which is a bit silly for an object that is going to make a short stint in the park.

Nevertheless, it’s exciting to go to Chicago to see new pieces making their premiere. I hope Chicago continues as a venue for experimental media, not only for the star architects and sculptors, but also local artists.

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One Response to “New artistic offerings in Chicago’s Millennium Park”

  1. [...] The ceiling appears to float magically, and reminds me of Piano’s lighting design for the new Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago. The wonderful light quality, and excellent spacing of pieces contribute to an excellent interior [...]

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