How One of Chicago’s Award-Winning Buildings, And A Family’s Memories, Disappeared Overnight
Jun10

How One of Chicago’s Award-Winning Buildings, And A Family’s Memories, Disappeared Overnight

One week ago, a couple of buildings at 849 West Armitage Avenue were smashed to bits. I snuck through the surrounding fence on Saturday morning to survey the rubble. There was some mangled, twisted cable and other detritus. It bore no resemblance to the studio that once stood there. Until recently, the 2,500-square-foot property was the home and workplace of architect Howard Alan. The rear building was unusual looking, and innovative...

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Chicago Group Finds New Purposes For the City’s Old Office Furniture
Jun16

Chicago Group Finds New Purposes For the City’s Old Office Furniture

Some years back, I had a rickety old bookshelf. It was poorly constructed and listed badly to the left. Reluctantly, I took it out to the sidewalk for the trash guys but they never got the chance. It was gone within an hour. Whoever took that bookshelf saw it as a treasure or perhaps had the carpentry skills I lacked to fix it up. I unwittingly participated in an age-old and simple form of recycling that occurs daily in neighborhoods...

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A Sustainable Food Incubator Grows Small Businesses In The Back Of The Yards
Apr14

A Sustainable Food Incubator Grows Small Businesses In The Back Of The Yards

  I am in the basement of a former meat-processing plant deep in the Back of The Yards, watching a school of tilapia swim to and fro. Across the room are rows and rows of growing lettuce, Swiss chard and other leafy vegetables. The fish don’t know it, but they’re assisting in the plants’ fertilization process. The water in which they swim is rich in nutrients — thanks to their by-products — that will...

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When Renovating in Chicago It Isn’t Always Easy Being Green
Apr08

When Renovating in Chicago It Isn’t Always Easy Being Green

Jay Tennant and his wife Chris own a 1890′s-vintage three-flat in Little Italy in need of massive renovation. They also want to be sensitive to the environment with their project. That’s what brought the Tennants to the American Institute of Architect’s “Working With A Green Architect” session over the weekend at the Chicago Center For Green Technology. “We wanted to learn what makes the most sense in terms of...

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Radioactive Dirt Halts Construction on Residential Tower and Hotel
Nov06

Radioactive Dirt Halts Construction on Residential Tower and Hotel

Construction has stopped on the residential skyscraper and hotel being built at 435 North Park Drive in the Streeterville neighborhood.  It’s another victim of the radioactive legacy of the Lindsay Light Company. Just weeks ago we took pictures of heavy machinery getting the site ready for construction.  But like many construction projects in the Streeterville, Gold Coast, and Loop neighborhoods, extra caution must be taken...

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The Germans Set Up Haus In Daley Plaza
Oct07

The Germans Set Up Haus In Daley Plaza

Editor’s note: Sorry this is late.  It was scheduled to auto-publish two weeks ago, but something went wrong with the system and it didn’t happen.  Das Haus left Chicago on September 30th.  It will be on display in Denver next week, if you happen to be out there.  A passive house has been erected in the center of one of Chicago’s most active plazas.  Das Haus is an energy-efficient structure designed to demonstrate...

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Up On The Housetop – Raising Corn
Sep14

Up On The Housetop – Raising Corn

There’s been a lot of chatter about urban farming in Chicago lately.  From turning brownfields into veg patches to fish farms inside abandoned factories to Mayor Daley’s private garden on the roof of city hall (121 North LaSalle Street).  Now the biggest thing in urban farming to hit Chicago is landing in the little-known North Central neighborhood. Across the street from Lane Tech High School (2501 West Addison Street),...

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Slice of Life: Chicago’s River Scrubbing Boat
Sep12

Slice of Life: Chicago’s River Scrubbing Boat

We’ve seen a lot of different boats plying the Chicago River over the years.  Massive party boats that require the drawbridges to be raised, kayaks, cabin cruisers, sailboats, tugboats aplenty, police boats, fire boats, water department boats, heavily armed Coast Guard zodiacs, the occasional houseboat, and one absolutely immense barge that crawled through at 2am and was so big it could barely fit through the channel beneath the...

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Made in Chicago: Sustainable Furniture from Environmental Disaster
Sep05

Made in Chicago: Sustainable Furniture from Environmental Disaster

It’s been decades since Chicago was considered a global manufacturing hub.  The city’s steel mills are almost gone.  Products invented by Chicago minds actually get built in Asia and Africa.  And it seems the only thing that actually gets “made in Chicago” these days are cupcakes. That trend is changing.  In places like the West Loop, Bridgeport, and Ravenswood there is a quiet renaissance going on: a renaissance in small-scale...

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Work On Chicago’s Newest Lakefront Attraction Could Start Soon
Aug22

Work On Chicago’s Newest Lakefront Attraction Could Start Soon

The spit of land east of Lake Shore Drive, North of the Chicago River, and south of Ogden Slip could be ready to be turned into DuSable Park (401 North Lake Shore Drive) any day now. It’s been a long time since the Chicago Dock and Canal Trust donated that  particular sore thumb of land to the City of Chicago for use as a public park.  So far, there’s little to show for it.  The reason is simple — thorium. The land...

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