News

10.29.19
Column: Top architecture awards go to riverfront skyscraper, U. of C.’s public policy school and IIT’s innovation center

As seen Chicago Tribune

A 54-story riverfront tower, whose sloping lower walls have led it to be nicknamed “The Tuning Fork,” was among the top winners Friday night as Chicago architects gathered to celebrate their best work and mark the 150th anniversary of the American Institute of Architects’ Chicago chapter.

The tower, 150 N. Riverside, designed by Goettsch Partners, was one of four projects given the highest form of recognition, an honor award, in the distinguished building category. Wedging the high-rise’s foundations between the Chicago River and commuter railroad tracks, the architects transformed a hard-to-develop waterfront site into a modern office tower framed by extensive open space.

Another honor award went to the University of Chicago’s Keller Center, a creative, energy-saving remake of an eccentric mid-20th century building originally designed by Edward Durell Stone. The renovation was led by Farr Associates, which worked with Woodhouse Tinucci Architects.

Two projects by John Ronan Architects won honor awards: the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, whose exterior features pillowlike cushions that emit natural light; and a courtyard house in Saint Joseph, Mich.

Awards were also made in the categories of urban design, interior architecture and divine detail, which recognizes a specific aspect of a project.

The winning designs reflect the continued dominance of modernism in Chicago, but they also reveal how architects are using new forms, technologies and manipulations of interior space to reach beyond the banal steel-and-glass boxes that prevailed in the 1960s.

A total of 32 honors were presented during the ceremonies at Navy Pier. Juries of nationally recognized architects picked the winners from hundreds of entries, the architects’ chapter said in a news release.

In the distinguished building category, eight projects received a citation of merit, the second highest level of recognition.

Among them was the McDonald’s Chicago flagship, by Ross Barney Architects, which replaced the nostalgic Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonald’s in River North with a clean-lined, structurally expressive design.

A special recognition award in the distinguished building category went to the Chicago Transit Authority’s 95th Street terminal, by EXP.

Other notable projects to be recognized were the South Lakefront Framework Plan, by SmithGroup, which won an honor award in urban design; the restoration of Union Station’s Great Hall, by Goettsch Partners, which received special recognition in interior architecture; and the downtown Chicago Riverwalk’s combined stair and ramp, known as the “stramp,” by Ross Barney Architects, which won an honor award in the divine detail category.

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