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Old Posted Jul 23, 2011, 12:33 AM
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Originally Posted by emathias View Post
I'm hoping that the render was simply a generic plotting diagram, and not an actual representation of how they envision the individual buildings to look.

That said, if you get rid of some of the more fanciful things, such as the retail "bridge" over the river, you actually have the potential for some interesting results. For example, the positioning of the tall tower seems to have been selected to form a capstone to the view down the south branch of the river from the Apparel Mart and from the Riverside Plaza areas.
If you removed the retail between the shorter tower on the NE corner of the Post Office plot and the largest tower, you'd end up with an arrangement that would still show off the art deco Post Office, but enhance the sensation of driving through something. And we don't really know if they've ignored the river or not because they don't show any details about how the buildings would meet it. It's not as though the city and river there are already beautifully matched there - it would be very difficult to make any sort of ideal river/city meld in that area that didn't end up feeling forced and out of place. After all, Congress is essentially a highway there, and it kind of divides off that part of the river from any hope of being an extension of Riverside Plaza and across the river, the Wacker extension and interface with Congress destroys the usability on that side, too. And I think you're not really facing reality if you think that a park surrounded by a highway, a train yard and across the river from a boring, pretty ugly new post office processing facility would be popular or beautiful or usable or in any way add to Chicago. The big parcel south of Roosevelt Rd is really the best bet for creating an interface between the City and the River. That's across from a railyard, but it's a much bigger drawing board and thus has more flexible possibilities.
My interest isn't in the individual design of the buildings. This is a massing model, yes, but it's based on a concept, and that concept is to create a new shopping district within a single structure where you circulate solely from within-- in other words, a typical mall. There's simply no other way to interpret it. And because the residential and office components are housed in the towers, that hulking base will form a sheer ten story wall of parking and inwardly focused retail-- Water Tower Place writ large with an overall effect of Presidential Towers on steroids.

This comment especially irks me:

Originally Posted by emathias View Post
And I think you're not really facing reality if you think that a park surrounded by a highway, a train yard and across the river from a boring, pretty ugly new post office processing facility would be popular or beautiful or usable or in any way add to Chicago.
Where's the bold and visionary thinking? Why focus on the negative aspects of these features? And who said anything about a park? The site is a nexus: the CTA, Metra, Congress AND the river-- vital components of Chicago's transportation infrastructure-- all pass through it. I mean, it's like a small-scaled symbolic version of the city itself, which owes much of its existence and livelihood to the networks of rail, water, air and, recently, digital/fiber optics that intersect there. This should inform the concept, but it doesn't: Congress, for example, is 'brushed under the rug' and plans for the river (in the link bnk provided) include a line of restaurants connected to (and seemingly only accessed through) the mall.

Yes, some of these features provide certain challenges, but good design is measured by how well the architect responds to those challenges. That's where the bold and visionary thinking comes into play. But none of that is on display here. Instead, the strategy is to ignore, cover up, isolate and obstruct.

Originally Posted by emathias View Post
As for your counter-examples, they're all too small. Roosevelt Collection is hard to get to for neighborhood residents on foot, and just isn't big enough to draw people from anywhere else. Even Block 37 should either have gone bigger or simply not been a mall. If it wasn't on State Street, it would have no hope at that size and even being on State Street, it barely even holds its own as far as generating critical mass. I think the Trump thing will work, eventually, they just have to figure out how it's supposed to work during the winter when nobody in their right mind would walk along that section of the river.
This misses two of the points I was trying to make: First, that there is no demand for this much retail space downtown; and, second, the downtown area already has three established shopping districts catering to different demographics: a high end boutique will open along Oak Street, not on the former site of the Old Post Office; a flagship will open along Michigan Avenue and the more everyday along State. In order for this development to be successful, either those districts would have to be entirely built out (unlikely) or the developer would have to identify a demographic whose shopping needs aren't currently met by any of the three.
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