Posts Tagged ‘Richard Daley’

Helmut Jahn Unveils His Vision for Revamping Navy Pier

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Navy PierCelebrity architect Helmut Jahn has created a vision for redeveloping Chicago’s Navy Pier, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016.  Writing in the Chicago Tribune about Jahn’s plan, architecture critic Blair Kamin says “Yes, it’s over the top and, in all likelihood, ridiculously expensive.  But it’s full of creative sparks — precisely what was missing from the largely predictable list of recommendations made by a visiting panel of developers in conjunction with the news about the pier’s revamp.  Think of it as a conversation starter, one that kick starts the civic debate over Chicago’s first signature public work of the post-Daley era.  So what if the twisting, 2,000-foot Chicago Spire is dead?  Now, Chicago can channel every ounce of its civic energy into rebuilding and re-conceiving the ramrod straight, 3,300-foot-long pier.”

Jahn’s proposal includes the following:

  • Build a two-story retail addition to the south of the pier’s existing corridors. This would follow the canopy’s curve and be topped by a lengthy skylight.
  • Expand the Dock Street pedestrian walkway to the south and add small angled piers for pleasure boats.
  • Build a 500-foot-tall Ferris wheel and orient it to the east and west.
  • Expand the park at the west end to include a 1,300 lower-level garage and build ramps to accommodate CTA buses.

“Even if his plan is a relic from the Age of Excess that’s seeing the light of day in the Age of Austerity, it sets the architectural agenda, raising design issues that other architects who vie for this plum job will invariably have to address,” Kamin said.  “A big design competition might yield fascinating ideas, yet it also might prove time-consuming and unwieldy.  If, as expected, pier officials issue a request for proposals, it will be essential that they look not only for a powerful design but also an architect who can meld the practical and the visionary.  Jahn’s heroic, imperfect plan is but a first step down that road.”

Rahm Emanuel Throws His Hat Into Chicago Mayoral Race

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Rahm Emanuel leaves the White House to run for mayor of Chicago. Rahm Emanuel’s abrupt departure as White House Chief of Staff to run for mayor of Chicago is no surprise  now that Richard M. Daley has announced his retirement after 21 years in office.  The mercurial Emanuel, who left his Congressional seat and House leadership position to take the White House job, was replaced by the more introverted Pete Rouse, who served as President Barack Obama’s Senate chief of staff.  Emanuel ran the White House in an era of economic uproar, two wars and increasing political partisanship and assisted in the passage of what is considered one of the more productive legislative agendas in decades.

“This is a bittersweet day at the White House,” Obama said to senior staff and Cabinet member at the East Room announcement.  “On the one hand, we are all very excited for Rahm as he takes on a new challenge for which he is extraordinarily well qualified.  But we’re also losing an incomparable leader of our staff and one who we are going to miss very much.  Rahm has exceeded all of my expectations.  It’s fair to say that we could not have accomplished what we’ve accomplished without Rahm’s leadership.”

As Chief of Staff, Rouse will bring a completely different, less confrontational style to the job.  Obama said that Rouse has “never seen a microphone or TV camera that he likes.”  Initially, Rouse is expected to reorganize the West Wing to better coordinate policy-making with the political operation, both for the mid-term elections and later for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.  Obama described Rouse as one of his “closest and most essential advisers” who brings “customary clarity and common purpose” to the job.

As a going-away gift, Austan Goolsbee, head of the Office of Management and Budget, presented Emanuel with a dead Asian carp wrapped in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.  The gift echoed the occasion when Emanuel sent a dead fish to a political opponent.  After Emanuel – who reportedly had tears in his eyes — opened the gift, Goolsbee said, “To most people, it looks like a dead fish.  But to a future mayor of Chicago, it looks like a dead Asian carp. And you’ll be happy to know that it wasn’t easy to find one of these.”  White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs got the last word, “In Chicago, this is how friends say goodbye.”

Richard M. Daley Remade the Face of Chicago – Despite Controversy

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Whether you loved him or hated him, Mayor Richard M. Daley left an indelible mark on Chicago’s landscape.  Richard M. Daley dropped a bombshell on Chicago with his announcement that – after serving as mayor for 21 years, longer than his father Richard J. Daley – he would not seek an unprecedented seventh term.  As citizens and pundits pondered the reasoning behind the decision and political hopefuls immediately started jockeying to be his replacement, the Chicago Tribune‘s architectural critic Blair Kamin wrote that the mayor “changed the face of his city as well as its tired Rust Belt image.”

According to Kamin, Daley “was the Boss and the Builder – a democratically elected king who could remake vast swaths of the city at will.  He ruled with an iron fist and a green thumb, and he often used the power of the former to carry out the agenda of the latter.”  Daley’s legacy includes planting more than 600,000 trees, building more than 85 miles of landscaped medians and building more than 7,000,000 SF of green roofs.  Public construction of schools, police stations and firehouses are designed with energy-saving LEED standards.  “All that greenery was simply the beginning of Daley’s efforts to transform Chicago from a City Functional, where utilitarian concerns were paramount, into a City Beautiful, where quality of life issues carried equal weight,” Kamin wrote.  “Indeed, Daley’s long tenure – and his unchallenged grip on power – allowed him to take urban design risks that other mayors, nervously contemplating the next election, would be too timid to try.”

Other important public works projects carried out by the Daley administration include the de-malling of the State Street bus corridor; the renovation of Navy Pier into a tourist mecca; the construction of Millennium Park over an unsightly rail yard; the creation of the Museum Campus along the lakefront; and the controversial overhaul of Soldier Field – a move that deprived the stadium of its National Historic Landmark status.

“Daley’s style of operating often seemed to come straight from the playbook of Robert Moses, the all-powerful, mid-20th Century New York ‘master builder.’  Moses believed it was better to get things done now and apologize to his critics later,” according to Kamin.  “Yet Daley rarely apologized, earning him a reputation for arrogance as well as boldness.  Outside Chicago, his high-handedness didn’t cost him.  Within the city, it bred deep resentment, particularly when the economy turned sour.”

As someone who arrived in Chicago when Daley came to power, I saw first hand the transformation of our city into a world-class metropolis.  The redevelopment and architectural boldness did much more than re-inscribe our physical environment – it made the city cosmopolitan and multi-cultural, a focus for exciting ideas and a largeness of spirit, which still surprises people who travel here.  Daley leaves a legacy.