SBD/August 8, 2013/Facilities

City Of Chicago Narrows List Of Firms Vying To Build DePaul's Proposed Arena

Chicago's Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority (McPier) recently named "six top-tier architectural firms as finalists" for DePaul Univ.'s proposed arena, but the process has "all the trappings of sad reversion to business as usual," according to Blair Kamin of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Whichever firm wins the "adventurous architectural bake-off for this building ... will meet with community representatives only after being selected." This "makes little sense," given that the arena, "envisioned by Mayor Rahm Emanuel as the centerpiece of an entertainment district, will be built smack in the middle of a dense urban neighborhood." Community leaders "want to know how the arena, also planned as a venue for concerts and convention meetings, would work, not just how it would look." The six firms -- "three from Chicago, three from outside -- are stellar." The Chicago-based firms are John Ronan Architects, Krueck + Sexton Architects and Ross Barney Architects. The "outsiders" are London-based Grimshaw Architects, Rotterdam, Netherlands-based OMA/AMO Architecture and Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects of New Haven, Conn. It is a "fascinating collection, primarily because the short-listed firms don't specialize in stadiums." So some "out-of-the-box solutions are likely, even though the firms are likely to partner with stadium specialists." But there are "real concerns, among them a fast-track schedule that is giving the architects just a few weeks to prepare this complex architectural and urban design." The firms will "make presentations Sept. 9 and 10, with a winner expected to be picked by mid-September." Kamin writes a "better course" would be for McPier to "redesign their flawed process, one that promises to keep the public in the dark during the crucial formative stages of a project that will have a lasting impact on the cityscape" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/8).
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