Every night, as I walk along the Chicago Riverwalk to my commuter train, I witness scenes that were unthinkable a year ago: young office workers sipping drinks at a packed wine bar, big powerboats tied up at dockside, clusters of kayaks scooting along the water.
Since entering office, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (third from right) has stepped into a surge of public-space revivals, including the opening of the 606 trail in June. Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel had big—no, huge—shoes to fill when he took office in 2011. His predecessor, Richard M. Daley, was straight out of central casting—scion of a legendary Chicago mayor, more street-smart than book-smart, but nonetheless a visionary who vowed to make his once-polluted Rust Belt burg “the greenest city in America.”
The avant-garde's defense of the mountainous blob that Star Wars creator George Lucas wants to erect on Chicago's lakefront speaks volumes about all that's wrong with architecture today: a celebration of object-making at the expense of public space, plus a shameless coddling of the powerful, provided they serve one's aesthetic agenda.
What Le Corbusier’s only realized project in North America says to us today. The center’s iconic ramp is wonderful to walk on, but a drag from below. And the landscape is merely a leftover space. How fast the radical present becomes the historical past. This new-is-old transformation has struck again at Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard. The boldly sculpted reinforced-concrete building, the architect’s only realized project in North America and one of the final commissions before his death in 1965, turned 50 on May 28, two weeks before New York’s Museum of Modern Art would