Archive for the ‘Larry Booth’ Category


30 West Oak

Ran into architect Larry Booth the other night at the opera, Dialogues of the Carmelites*. The bell was ringing for the start of the act two so Larry Booth and I didn’t have much time to talk. I told him that his firm’s 30 West Oak (still under construction) was looking really good. He said, “talk a lot about it, tell everybody.” So I will. Mostly with pix for now.

That of course, on the left, is the Newberry Library

and its solidity contrasts beautifully with the transparency of the new kid on the block. The Newberry has just a little glass. 30 West Oak is glass. The Newberry’s masonry holds the glass securely. At ’30,’ the glass has burst out and the window is the building. And the Newberry’s squareness nicely sets off 30 West Oak’s graceful curve.

Ah, that curve! Almost like a Baroque push and pull it seems to take the receding curve of the sky, and bend it back towards us. This gives us a dose of extra space and because our vision no longer goes only in one direction but is reflected back in many directions, it’s as if we are given extra time.

It’s only too bad this new gem on Oak street is such pricey condos.

For the rest of us, well, we get this fine sculptural object. And – as I drove away, (in my car, nicely polished for springtime!) I noticed that 30 West Oak’s glass and curve cast lovely light on the ground nearby.

With spring here, and daylight savings time (yes!) we’ll have plenty of chances to see this.

*But you have ony two chances left to see the Dialogues of the Carmelites which also offers ravishing lighting!

Lyric Opera of Chicago has atoned for its nearly half-century of ignoring Francis Poulenc’s masterpiece, “Dialogues des Carmelites,” by mounting an extraordinarily powerful and gripping production.
John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

It’s very spare and modernist, which maybe I prefer in buildings rather than opera, which I tend to like lush and lust-y. But get thee to this nunnery. The end alone is worth it. I wonder if Larry Booth liked it?



Best New Building in Chicago

We talked earlier on this blog about the best new buildings in Chicagoland. Here’s my candidate – one that’s gotten no press.

See how its green glass just dissolves into the sky?
—Especially on beautiful blue sky days.

And all proportions, inside and out on the street, are human proportions.

Fine detailing too, without and within. In addition to this staircase and glass wall is nice warm woodwork.

We’re talking 800 W. Madison, Madison and Halsted – in the west loop. On the west side of Halsted, just across the street from Skybridge.
It’s an MB bank. Who do you think designed it? I’ll tell you tomorrow, when I find out !

UPDATE: And the architect is: Booth Hansen

And maybe we’ll talk about the other buildings at this intersection of Halsted and Madison – three very different styles, heights and materials but since all are buildings of high quality, the ensemble is united. Like three children of very different ages, but from one good family.


On last Sunday’s show Larry Booth said he was just back from that dynamic city, and that he was impressed with their design quality. Look at this list, which includes the new Agbar Tower there, the colorful gherkin in the photo above. (Like Foster’s gherkin in London, seen in the fine new Woody Allen flick Matchpoint.) Click on that gorgeous photo to see the blues, reds, greens, greys and forty other colors mixed in with whites. Reminds you of Gaudi, no? But done in 60,000 sheets of clear and frosted glass. What do you think? And how would something like that look here? Or is it a more Mediterranean-style building? Could look nice along the Chicago River? Certainly lighting is being taken to new highs, in Europe and Asia particularly, and Agbar is a good example.

Renzo Piano, who is designing the new wing of the Art Institute is represented too on this best-of list, with his museum addition in Atlanta.

And if you’re just joining us via the great GAPERS **** BLOCK, welcome!



Hardly a moment to blog. Perhaps lost a little momentum too, because after yesterday’s show I wrote a fine entry, only to have it devoured by computerland, never to be read by you. Such a shame. So now I offer this far more prosaic recap of our show yesterday with Linda Searl, Larry Booth and Ned Cramer; a show, remember this- on how to make Chicagoland the best, most vibrant and beautiful, and economically successful region it can be. I do believe that in the long run, good design=good business. And here, with our legacy of great buildings, we should capitalize on that and become known again throughout the world for the exciting spaces and rehabs and parks that we can realize here.

With that in mind, we talked on the show about the need to compete globally for tourist and convention dollars, which gives an added need to design those great public spaces and places. We talked about the lesson from Millennium Park – that good design can be good business. To what extent has the Mayor’s Office and the Pier Authority absorbed that lesson? We talked about balancing work by local talent with work by outsiders. And Larry Booth and Linda Searl had an on-air tete-a-tete-a-tete to see if the Chicago Architecture Foundation could sponsor a charette (design workshop) to explore ideas to make the revamped Navy Pier even better.

Then we all talked about how and where construction for Olympics facitilites should go, if Chicago bids for and wins the 2016 games. Gosh – you’ll be ten years older by the time they’d happen here! And we found art in the new structures going up (-will they? It’s hard to have faith in that site! Anyway, I liked it as a pia-z-z-a.) We’re talking Block 37. Oh, excuse me, 108 N. State.

We’ll revisit these topics, they’re good ones. In the meantime, if you missed the show, or you want to hear it again, you can listen to it here. Don’t miss Larry Booth proposing that the expressway entrance to the city on the very widened Congress Street, end at Wells, where Congress would be narrowed to the way it was.
Interesting idea. You know the stone arches you walk under and through between Michigan Avenue and the door of the Auditorium Theater? That’s supposed to be indoor space, it was made outdoor when Congress was widened and the sidewalk outside those arches was taken away. And in that space, (and let Larry Booth put it back), when it’s inside the Auditorium Building, is supposed to be- a great bar. I’d love to see it. And not just because I’m parched.


Photos of the outside of the Auditorium Building and of the bar (at top of post), from Architectural Record, 1891-92.