Architecture Bookstore Finds New Life

There was much tumult in Chicago’s architecture and literary communities a couple of years ago when the Prairie Avenue Bookshop closed its doors.  The fantastic readery at 418 South Wabash Avenue was one of just a handful of architecture bookstores left nationwide when it shuttered its doors in August of 2009. Today, the building that was once the haunt of famous architects, skyscraper tourists, and students in training is the...

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The Lost Messages of Seahorses

Architects used to love to design buildings festooned with allegorical messages.  Because of an unusual coincidence of timing, technology, and the region’s clay deposits, Chicago is one of the great terra cotta cities. But what message is this building trying to convey through the ages?  The medallion on the left is a sailing ship braving rough seas.  In the center is a pair of canoodling seahorses.  And on...

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FlatTop Grill Opens at the Sullivan Center

The re-inventing of Chicago’s venerated Sullivan Center takes another major step forward today (Monday, September 21, 2009) with the opening of FlatTop Grill. Many people will remember the Sullivan Center (33 South State Street) by its previous name — the Carson Pirie Scott flagship store.  When Carson’s pulled out of the Loop it was the latest in a series of devastating retail moves that continue to slowly turn...

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Slice of Life: Wrought Iron on Wabash

It’s easy to overlook the magnificent grillwork above 434 South Wabash Avenue, considering it’s in a recessed alcove and doesn’t look like it’s been washed in decades.  But this just proves that there are wonderful things lurking in the dark corners of...

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Slice of Life: Trump Above the Tracks

If the Wabash elevated line continued north, it would plow right through the Trump International Hotel and Tower at 401 North Wabash Avenue.  Too bad it doesn’t, because the combination of massive tower, a drawbridge over the river, and a passage through a building would certainly be a great engineering feat, and make a heck of a great post...

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Wamu Vamooses from The Fordham

We’re Washington Mutual customers, so imagine our surprise when we found this the other day: The Wamu branch on the ground floor of The Fordham is closed.  We knew all along that the merger with Chase would mean some Wamu branches would be closed.  We were prepared for that.  In fact, Chase helped us prepare by sending us a letter listing which branches would be closed in our neighborhood.  This one was not...

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Details About the IBM Building Hotel Conversion
Feb17

Details About the IBM Building Hotel Conversion

More details are coming out about the conversion of a portion of 330 North Wabash (the old One IBM Plaza) into a hotel.  I was at a meeting recently with John Rutledge, the C.E.O. of Oxford Capital.  That’s the company doing the conversion, and he had some very interesting things to say. The big question in everyone’s minds these days is, “Is this really going to happen?”  The answer at this time is...

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Confection Selections in the Loop

It seems like you can’t swing a lollypop without hitting a sweet shop in downtown Chicago these days.  That’s a good thing.  In spite of setbacks like the closing of the Australian ice cream shop in Macy’s State Street, and the closing of Moonstruck Chocolates on Michigan Avenue (home to the comfiest chairs and most senseless lack of wifi in the state), the chocolate biz seems very healthy.  Maybe in a...

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Slice of Life: Trump’s Helix

While the building is still not completed, and the reviews are mixed, Donald Trump’s Trump International Hotel and Tower is starting to grow on us.  The spire on top helps make it seem more complete, even though we dismiss it as a height manipulation stunt.  But the base is not without its charms. The public sidewalk is still closed, but the parking garage is open and that necessitates a way to get in and out.  In...

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Time-Lapse Video: Assembling Trump’s Spire

After weeks of delays, it finally happened — on January 3, 2009 the spire was finally assembled at the top of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago.  Doing so raises the building’s height to 1,326 feet, making it the second-tallest building in the city, and the third-tallest in North America (if, of course, you count spires but not antennae).   The spire isn’t quite done yet.  With the exception of three...

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