Archive for the ‘Spertus’ Category

New Chicago – Spertus


What I saw on a quick trip. Here’s the lobby atrium of the new Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. And it reflects the faceted glass exterior, which plays off well against the historic stone Michigan Avenue street wall. Following it just enough, and being contemporary at the same time.
The light that the glass lets in displays Spertus’ mission of spreading light and of being enlightened, but – is this building Jewish? Can a building be Jewish? New Yorker magazine architecture critic Paul Goldberger will discuss that and more at the Spertus on January 27. Goldberger’s always good.

Here’s are views of Chicago’s Grant Park from the windows of the new Spertus.

Great views of the park, looking east, north and south are opened up.

Natural light also enters the art galleries.

And here’s the “signature” staircase, back in the entrance lobby. Very Miesian. Architects Ron Krueck and Mark Sexton are of the Mies/IIT school.

Nice, modern, clean, sleek.

I’ll post more soon. And on the new Helmut Jahn tower, the new Renzo Piano wing of the Art Institute and more.

Now I’m off to Williamstown, Mass. to see the new Tadao Ando building – a partly wooden building, in the woods, combining nature and art – for the already wonderful and soon to be that much more wonderful Clark Art Institute.

All best,


blue and white, ‘rippling in the wind’ as the clouds sail by
on these beautiful days

calls to mind an abstract


Chicago Ergo Sum

Trump Tower
Adrian Smith, SOM

Spertus Institute on South Michigan Avenue
Krueck and Sexton

600 N. Fairbanks
Helmut Jahn, Murphy/Jahn


Soon when you need a good kosher knish downtown, you’ll know where to find it. The
Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies

in Chicago on South Michigan Avenue, overlooking Grant Park.
Our fearless architects

Ron Krueck (l) and Mark Sexton (r)

a facade like the facets of a diamond.

Some say it protrudes too far out from the historic steetwall. Especially since it’s in glass, rather than stone as the other buildings are on South Michigan Avenue.

The projections and the faceting give views up Michigan Avenue

Here’s what you see from a balcony on 10. Also on this floor – the Board Room and Sky Garden.

Above this, greatly pleasing the Mayor, a green roof.

The glass (American-made), has markings which purposely make it less than completely transparent.

Glass on the left, no glass on the right. I’m curious how transparent it will look when it’s finished, washed and the protective coating removed.

And the 400-seat theater space looks large and promising, a two story space.

The exhibition spaces will also feature a two story atrium, to connect the Museum’s Core Collection on 9 and the Changing Exhibition Galleries on 10. Plus space for Spertus College , the Asher Library, a children’s center, site-specific art and more. Plus, when you need a good

kosher knish downtown, you’ll know where to find it. (Though Wolfgang makes it a little different than they did in the shtetl.) A kosher cafe by Wolfgang Puck, on the second floor, overlooking the park at tree top level.

At night the building is supposed to emit ‘a warm glow.” Spertus literature says

“This emphasis on light echoes the Spertus logo, a falme accompanied by the biblical phrase yehi or, let there be light, symbolizing both physical light and the light of learning and truth.”

This new $55 million Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies is set to open on November 30, 2007. They’ll host a week-long public celebration with tours, music and more.

No full review of the building from me until it’s complete and occupied. But now you have today’s photos. I’m hungry, how about you?

Spertus President Howard Sulkin wanted a home for this multi-faceted institution that would be open, transparent and dynamic; and he’s getting it. He should be commended for building a downtown Jewish institution that projects not fear, but optimism, enlightenment, joy, culture and learning. The building also expresses assimilation. The glass should make everyone feel welcome, and through the glass all visitors will feel still connected to the city, to the park, to Michigan Avenue, to Soldier Field, Lake Michigan and the midwestern sky. It’s an intimate connection I felt today, looking from Spertus to the rest of my town. And I saw the city anew, from fresh angles, which is the mark of a great city, to be able to offer new perspectives, on itself, and on life.



It’s not chopped liver….

Later today I’ll try to post, with photos, on the new Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, designed by Ron Krueck and Mark Sexton.


Ever click on the Art Institute’s 24 hour a day webcam pointed at the construction site of their new wing? Here’s what it looked like last night at midnight.

Hello Beautiful!


PS. I thought Spertus had one for their new building. I can’t find it.
Wish they did.