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Posts Tagged ‘michigan avenue’

Is the Pedway the Right Way?

In Architecture, Urbanism on July 7, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Designing systems for buildings, people and vehicles to coexist in a busy downtown like Chicago is a great opportunity for innovation and creativity in design.  The above pedway crossing over South Water Street just East of Michigan Avenue in Chicago satisfies all of these requirements quite well.  The design allows vehicular traffic to pass underneath the pedway, pedestrian traffic to flow above the traffic, and the entire structure in turn serves as the base and public plaza of the Mies van der Rohe office building above.  The perspective here illustrates one of the several entrances to the pedway on the left.

The Loop has its fair share of under and above ground pedestrian pathways intended to provide shelter to users while taking full advantage of the captive audience with shops, restaurants and business dotting the way.  Interestingly, from an urban design standpoint, the pedway itself is difficult to successfully design in city centers that are not as busy as Chicago.  They essentially divert people from the street level businesses that rely on foot traffic.  Also, in today’s car-dominated society, giving further speed and prominence to vehicular traffic in city centers can make the few pedestrians on the street feel uneasy about strolling through a potentially hazardous downtown.

Despite these common pitfalls, this pedway seems to allow pedestrians, vehicles and the surrounding buildings to coexist creatively.

Understated Classicism on Michigan Ave

In Architecture, Classicisim on June 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm

This sketch represents the first ever Lunchtime Sketchbook installment!

Today at lunch I sketched a building that I’ve walked past a few hundred times but never really taken notice of before.  The building sits just north of Randolph on Michigan Ave which makes it one of the busiest intersections in Chicago.

Despite the towering structures all around, this building evokes a peaceful feeling in an increasingly hectic area through scale, simplicity and natural materials (red brick & limestone).  The building is divided into 3 portions: base, middle and top.

The stone base appropriately represents the structural integrity of being the “foundation” of the building.  The entrance is clearly marked by the double-height stone archway adjacent to the long storefront window.  The middle portion varies its window articulation from curved to angular pediments.  The top story is marked by four Tuscan columns dividing three arched windows.  A balustrade completes the composition at its peak.

If you find yourself wandering around the Taste of Chicago this weekend, take a second and check out this building.