Design of bKL’s Second GEMS Academy Building Gets Refined
Jan17

Design of bKL’s Second GEMS Academy Building Gets Refined

It looks like it’s full steam ahead for the second GEMS Academy school in Lakeshore East.  As soon as Old Man Winter gives us a break. The building planned for 355 East Wacker Drive, now going by the name GEMS World Academy Chicago Middle-Upper School, already has its caissons in place under the lakefront loam.  Word is that foundation permits are expected to be issued within the next two weeks.  Then, once winter abates a...

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Video: bKL Looks Back at GEMS World Academy Building One
Apr18

Video: bKL Looks Back at GEMS World Academy Building One

bKL Architecture has posted a new video on its YouTube channel, highlighting the GEMS World Academy school building.  It’s the first of two GEMS buildings that will eventually be located in the New East Side.  The second will be adjacent to the first building, but face Wacker Drive and the Chicago River instead of Lakeshore East Park. While still one of the newest schools in Chicago, the building has been running long enough to...

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Chicago’s 93-Story Vista Tower Breaks Ground
Sep07

Chicago’s 93-Story Vista Tower Breaks Ground

With lucky red shovels in hand, friends, financiers, politicians, developers, and architects held a ceremonial groundbreaking today for the Vista Tower at 363 East Wacker Drive. Perched on the grassy bit behind The Tides, the gathered dignitaries and international press could see work already well underway in the dirt patches on either side of North Field Boulevard.  The 93-story building being developed by China’s Wanda Group...

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Chicago Firm Designs World’s Second-Tallest Building
Apr21

Chicago Firm Designs World’s Second-Tallest Building

Today we continue our series of reports we call “Chicago Exports.” So much of the world’s great architecture is designed right here in Chicago by Chicagoans, but it’s not built in Chicagoland so it goes unseen by the hometown crowd. That’s why we are featuring the great works produced by Chicago architects continuing the city’s proud legacy as the birthplace of the skyscraper, and a global center of architecture. Friends-of-the-Blog,...

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645 West Madison is Still a Thing
Jan11

645 West Madison is Still a Thing

With so many buildings being proposed, revised, approved, built, and opened in Chicago all the time, it can be hard to keep up with all the activity.  Sometimes a building slips through the cracks and the next thing you know, it’s either silently cancelled, or suddenly there’s a crane where there was no crane before. Neither of those are true for the modest red building proposed for 645 West Madison.  It doesn’t have...

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In Architecture Firms and Economies, Size Matters
Jan04

In Architecture Firms and Economies, Size Matters

With the new year here, a lot of people are making resolutions and thinking about reinventing themselves. Sometimes what you need is to stop working for someone else, and go out on your own.  That’s what Thomas Kerwin did when he left Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and planted the seeds of bKL Architecture.  Today we talk to him about his six-year-old company, where it’s been, and how it’s different. Editor: bKL has...

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Ready or Not, Here Comes Wolf Point West
Dec28

Ready or Not, Here Comes Wolf Point West

The first of three new skyscrapers planned for Wolf Point is just two weeks away from opening its doors to new residents.  Wolf Point West (343 West Wolf Point Plaza) is probably the most anticipated and visible residential tower to go up in downtown Chicago since Trump Tower.  With that in mind, we talked with Thomas Kerwin, principal at bKL Architecture about building his company designed. Editor: Getting to work on Wolf...

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200 North Michigan Tops Out
Aug25

200 North Michigan Tops Out

As they say in Wisconsin, “That’s all the further she goes.” MiLa, the skyscraper formerly known as 200 North Michigan, has topped out.  Loop Spy Daniel hit our tip line to let us know, and it was confirmed by architect Thomas Kerwin over at bKL Architecture. Like bKL’s other recently topped-out tower, Wolf Point West, MiLa stands impossibly straight and tall, as if peering over a precipice.  But instead of...

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Two Views of Architecture and Education in Chicago
Jan05

Two Views of Architecture and Education in Chicago

  If you had to name a high school that has had an outsized impact on the Chicago we live in today, one of the best choices would be Lane Technical College Prep High School (2501 West Addison Street).  For decades, the North Center pile known simply as Lane Tech has been an incubator for home-grown talent that stays in Chicago and makes the city better.  From athletes and actors to politicians and news anchors, a remarkable...

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Status Update: Let’s Start 2015 at 200 North Michigan
Jan01

Status Update: Let’s Start 2015 at 200 North Michigan

Our first Status Update of the year is a building that’s always a curiosity to tourists and locals, 200 North Michigan.  We talked about the tower with friend-of-the-blog, Thomas Kerwin, Principal at bKL Architecture a couple of days ago, and he was nice enough to send along a set of the latest construction photos.  All photographs by Darris Lee Harris Photography.  Please to enjoy. Location: 200 North Michigan Avenue, The...

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