Archive for the ‘Weese’ Category

Buildings and trees

02/15/2007

Yesterday was a glorious blue sky kind of day. I woke up to the view above, from my WC at the magical artist’s colony Ragdale.
I drove down that path to end my residency, about which I’ll write more.

Downtown I drove, a few of us architecture types were to gather at Mies’ IBM building for a meeting. Many of the views from IBM are blocked by the new Trump Chicago,

that’s it looming on the left, with crazy, glossy windows. With the views blocked, some law firms, architects and other businesses have moved out of IBM and much of it will probably go condo. Not all of course. Eg, Perkins+Will architects just renewed their lease there. As for IBM, they’re long gone and the owners have redubbed the place, 330 North Wabash.

The good news is, not all of IBM’s views are completely blocked by the new Trump Chicago. Here’s a view up the river, from a southeast IBM corner office.


From a south IBM window, looking straight down,

(since it’s not blocked by Mr. Trump) one can still feel the relationship Mies gave the building to water, and ice! Not unlike his early houses in Potsdam, the Farnsworth by the Fox River, the Lake Shore Drive apartments, the fountains by Seagram, etc.

Look a little northeast,

and you see the concrete Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist; by Harry Weese (1968).

Looking west from inside IBM,


Marina City
. Looks great! (What a city, Chicago!) And Bertand Goldberg, who did Marina, knew Mies in Germany at the Bauhaus. Here they are in exciting manner, side-by-side, risen tall.

Alas, Chicago Trump Tower looks worse than feared.


One architect at the meeting, saw it through the glass and muttered, “Vegas.” Another disagreed. She said the buildings in Vegas are better. I thought, “bad Houston.” The glass is cheap, thin and warbly. And the darn thing will still grow a heck of a lot taller.


Trump Chicago – a bad building – and Rem Koolhaas’ IIT Student Center – a good building — each make the Mies they stand next to ever more elegant.

No one ever accused Donald Trump of elegance. But cities need elegance to raise them up. Remember, as I realized again this morning, cities are where we’ve cut down the trees.

-Edward

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11/02/2006


I love Weeses to pieces.
Or, concrete = honesty.
In this case.

Here are those photos I promised of Harry Weese’s Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago.

First let me tell you my favorite story about this Metropolitan Correctional Center. it’s famous for its rooftop basketball court, surrounded of course by a lot of barbed wire. Patty, who works nearby, told me that for a long time, there was a large billboard on the building right across the street, obviously not meant for the rooftop prisoners on the MCC. it said, “Escape to Wisconsin….”

It’s an iconic building in its way. Blair wrote about how the paint job is “neutering a muscular aesthetic.” He’s right. Go there now. The east side has not been painted yet. It has an honesty to it. The light bounces off the concrete so beautifully. The surface is mottled, with character. The modernists understood the effects of dramatic lighting as well as Baroque designers did. Here’s proof, at Weese’s MCC.

The west side has already been painted. It is dull, boring, plain, fades. It dims the air around it. The heart of the building is covered. Not allowed to breathe. It is in permamenent suspension from life (until we remove this coat of paint.) It uglifies the air around it. You can kind of see that even in this cellphone photo.

Stand at the prow of the triangular building, at the tip. See honesty and life on the left. Feel nothing on the right side. As if the building has had a terrible stroke.


Yes, on the left, the spalling is appalling. But there’s a way to fix it and respect the gift the great mind of Harry Weese gave us. Why don’t we respect our treasures?

UPDATE! 10/26/06 Now they’re painting the east side. Here’s a good shot of the difference.

—-

Two last lines about the MCC. A longtime friend of mine bought a Harry Weese house in Evanston not long ago. he was really proud. I told him, “I always thought you’d end up in a Harry Weese. I just thought it’d be the Metropolitan Correctional Center…”

And finally, if you love the Weese, read Lawrence Weschler’s essay on it in
Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences.(I saw Weschler last night at the Humanities Festvial he runs here. He recommends his convergences contest. It’s great stuff.)

The Weese “converged” for him when during a trip to Chicago Weschler looked at cuneiform-engraved tablets from ancient Persia at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, and then saw what he calls the “cuneiform-like design” on the slit-windowed facade of Harry Weese’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.

11/02/2006


I love Weeses to pieces.
Or, concrete = honesty.
In this case.

Here are those photos I promised of Harry Weese’s Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago.

First let me tell you my favorite story about this Metropolitan Correctional Center. it’s famous for its rooftop basketball court, surrounded of course by a lot of barbed wire. Patty, who works nearby, told me that for a long time, there was a large billboard on the building right across the street, obviously not meant for the rooftop prisoners on the MCC. it said, “Escape to Wisconsin….”

It’s an iconic building in its way. Blair wrote about how the paint job is “neutering a muscular aesthetic.” He’s right. Go there now. The east side has not been painted yet. It has an honesty to it. The light bounces off the concrete so beautifully. The surface is mottled, with character. The modernists understood the effects of dramatic lighting as well as Baroque designers did. Here’s proof, at Weese’s MCC.

The west side has already been painted. It is dull, boring, plain, fades. It dims the air around it. The heart of the building is covered. Not allowed to breathe. It is in permamenent suspension from life (until we remove this coat of paint.) It uglifies the air around it. You can kind of see that even in this cellphone photo.

Stand at the prow of the triangular building, at the tip. See honesty and life on the left. Feel nothing on the right side. As if the building has had a terrible stroke.


Yes, on the left, the spalling is appalling. But there’s a way to fix it and respect the gift the great mind of Harry Weese gave us. Why don’t we respect our treasures?

UPDATE! 10/26/06 Now they’re painting the east side. Here’s a good shot of the difference.

—-

Two last lines about the MCC. A longtime friend of mine bought a Harry Weese house in Evanston not long ago. he was really proud. I told him, “I always thought you’d end up in a Harry Weese. I just thought it’d be the Metropolitan Correctional Center…”

And finally, if you love the Weese, read Lawrence Weschler’s essay on it in
Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences.(I saw Weschler last night at the Humanities Festvial he runs here. He recommends his convergences contest. It’s great stuff.)

The Weese “converged” for him when during a trip to Chicago Weschler looked at cuneiform-engraved tablets from ancient Persia at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, and then saw what he calls the “cuneiform-like design” on the slit-windowed facade of Harry Weese’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.