Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Inside Mies van der Rohe's first high-rise, an eclectic marriage of style

Posted By on 09.27.16 at 03:35 PM

Tim Samuelson initially discovered the apartment complex—a modernist skyscraper in Hyde Park with sweeping views of Lake Michigan—the way he learns about most things: by reading about it.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Take a video tour of Harry Weese's nautical River Cottages

Posted By on 11.25.15 at 08:00 AM

From the Reader's tenth-floor office, the staff has a clear view of the Harry Weese River Cottages, located on Canal Street at the edge of Wolf Point's west bank. We've often wondered what's behind the architectural gem's many slanted windows. Earlier this fall, when one of the riverfront town house's units went on the market for the first time since it was completed in 1988, we jumped at the chance to tour the space designed by Weese, the lauded late architect whose many creations include the circular Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist and the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A bathroom with a glass wall, handgun art, and more surprises from boutique rental company Bangtel

Posted By on 11.10.15 at 07:30 AM

While visiting France a few years ago, a friend and I checked into a posh hotel. The concierge showed us to our room, which was fabulous save one quirk—the bathroom was in a clear glass cube in the center of the room. My travel buddy and I weren’t even on pee-with-the-door-open terms, so a glass-box shower show was out of the question. With an exasperated eye roll reserved for prudish Americans, the concierge escorted us to another room. This bathroom still had glass walls, but at least they were frosted. I began to think the see-through bathroom was a forward-thinking design element distinct to French libertines, so I was surprised to see this concept again on a recent visit to a Humboldt Park town house designed by Chicago native Liz Klafeta. One wall in her second-level bathroom is transparent floor-to-ceiling glass. It's subtle in comparison to the French version, so it wasn't until after flushing that I realized I had a clear view of people milling about below. Frantically, I replayed the bathroom visit in my mind, hoping I hadn’t done anything embarrassing.

"I want people to walk in and be like, 'What the heck?!'" says Klafeta, 32, the founder of the boutique apartment rental company Bangtel. With the two-year-old startup the designer applies her over-the-top style to furnished rental properties currently available in Chicago and New York. The business began with the first house Klafeta ever designed—her own.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Wrigleyville decorator's Halloween party is truly a three-ring circus

Posted By on 10.27.15 at 01:39 PM

An Elton John look-alike plays piano beneath a pink spotlight in the middle of a Wrigleyville apartment-building courtyard. Donning a white boa, platform heels, and blinking sunglasses, he busts into a spot-on rendition of "Bennie and the Jets." A flapper and a vampire roam the grounds, chatting with corpses and taking selfies. Lured by the spectacle a group of drunken Cubs fans stumble toward the apartment's entrance, woo-wooing in the neighborhood's native tongue. The man stationed at the door narrows his eyes, effectively denying them access to the party. "I don't think we're supposed to be here," one of them says as the sporty pack retreats into the shadows.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Wesley Willis's brother is among the disabled artists working at Project Onward in Bridgeport

Posted By on 10.06.15 at 04:00 PM

On the fourth floor of the Bridgeport Art Center, a 13,000-square-foot studio is dotted with art in various states of completion. From one workstation to the next, the work ranges wildly in style, medium, and subject matter. One drawing table is surrounded by paintings created by Sereno Wilson, aka Glitterman, who splashes his canvases with glue and sparkles. The adjacent desk is covered in the red and blue paints that Ruby Bradford uses in her offbeat takes on Superman. Another artist, Ricky Willis, uses cardboard to sculpt elements of the cityscape—water towers, CTA buses, automobiles, high-rise towers—that look not unlike ones that inhabited the drawings of his late brother, Wesley. 

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Design agency Someoddpilot's Wicker Park office isn't just another sleek branding studio

Posted By on 09.16.15 at 08:00 AM

"I wanted to create a space where it didn't feel like we were at work. It has to be fun, otherwise what's the point?" says Chris Eichenseer, founder of the graphic design studio and branding agency Someoddpilot. In 2011 the company set up shop in a historic building next to the el tracks in Wicker Park. The loft had a past life as Weirder Park, an underground party space known for keggers and general art-student mayhem. Eichenseer and his team revamped the raw space themselves, sanding the floors and painting the walls, but he consciously decided to keep some of the rough edges, eschewing the sleek interiors typical of design agencies. "You can roll up your sleeves and make a mess or do whatever you have to do," Eichenseer says. 

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Art and social justice converge at David Weinberg Photography

Posted By on 08.24.15 at 03:00 PM

Back in the late 1990s, David Weinberg sold his stake in his family's business, the automotive parts manufacturer Fel-Pro, after 35 years. Following a few uninspiring years consulting in the industry, he decided to give it all up to pursue his passion for photography, opening David Weinberg Photography in 2006. Over the last decade Weinberg has shifted the River North gallery's focus from serving as an exhibit space for his own work to hosting broadly contemporary commercial work—and last fall the photographer’s ongoing commitment to social justice issues inspired him to begin displaying only community-oriented work that comes out of a collaboration with a nonprofit organization.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Freedom Boat Club's floating party dock brings live music to Montrose Harbor

Posted By on 08.12.15 at 01:30 PM

As a sleek 25-foot boat dropped anchor at Montrose Harbor, the August sun slipped behind the skyline, its languid descent signaling happy hour. On one section of the dock, members of the Freedom Boat Club gathered over cocktails to unwind from the workday. Local singer-songwriter Bill Grady strummed an acoustic guitar and Buck, an old sea dog, made the rounds for head scratches and belly rubs aboard the club's newest amenity: a floating party dock called Captain’s Quarters.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How a Chicago master gardener transformed her yard from bleak to bountiful

Posted By on 07.28.15 at 01:30 PM

When musician and gardener Ellen Bunch moved into her Irving Park house in 2010, the small backyard featured the typical urban flora: grass and weeds, mostly, along with a few beat-up rose bushes. Five years later, the yard is thick with organic flowers, herbs, and vegetables—plus it’s a haven for bees, monarch butterflies, and the occasional squirrel feasting on the mulberry tree.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

M1 Interactive creates digital environments in this real environment on the Near West Side

Posted By on 06.09.15 at 02:00 PM

At M1 Interactive headquarters, visitors are greeted by a T. rex, jaws agape, baring killer fangs, and ferociously charging. Sure, the dino is a hologram on a pedestal that stands less than a foot tall, but its gait is visceral enough to trigger my fight-or-flight response. A 3-D simulated racing game nearby lets you hop into the driver's seat and gun it through some mountain passes. A high-speed spinout crash is so authentically rendered that Dramamine should be administered afterward. For Brian Dressel, the interactive development firm's founder, this hyperreal wonderland is just another day at the office.

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