B12 Solipsism

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Court challenge could jeopardize Chicago’s landmark ordinance

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Blood in Our Eyes
[Louis Sullivan’s Carson Pirie Scott & Co. store, now vacant]

Blue was the color of my true loves hair
[Bertrand Goldberg’s Marina Towers]

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) … urged protected status last year for the iconic riverfront complex designed by architect Bertrand Goldberg. “When you look at any snow globe they sell at O’Hare or Midway, there’s Mr. Goldberg’s beautiful towers,” Reilly said.

Yet the effort to safeguard this mid-1960s classic is grinding forward rather than speeding ahead. That is a consequence, some preservation advocates contend, of a court challenge that could jeopardize Chicago’s 41-year-old landmark ordinance — and the 281 individual landmarks and 51 districts it safeguards, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Crown Hall, Louis Sullivan’s former Carson Pirie Scott & Co. store on State Street, and Wrigley Field.

In January, the Illinois Appellate Court deemed the law to be unconstitutionally vague. When the Illinois Supreme Court denied the city’s appeal of that ruling last Thursday, it sent the case back to the Cook County Circuit Court, where a judge is thought to have little choice but to strike down the law.

[Click to continue reading Blair Kamin’s Landmark ordinance: Court challenge could jeopardize Chicago’s 41-year-old landmark ordinance and affect U.S. preservation efforts — chicagotribune.com]

Rookery

[stairway of The Rookery, Lobby designed by Frank Lloyd Wright]

Personally, landmarks are what makes a city interesting, what gives a city an identity, what makes a city great (or by contrast, generic). Haphazardly demolishing and “reconfiguring” landmarks to make sterile condo buildings and office parks is a travesty. I sincerely hope, after what will probably be years of litigation, the City of Chicago and other metropolitan authorities come to their senses and write a stronger landmark preservation bill, protecting our shared architectural heritage.

Jonathan Fine, executive director of Preservation Chicago, an advocacy group, argues that Chicago’s landmark law is inherently political and that it represents a fine-grained application of zoning power, which allows the city to decide what uses go on what properties — and how dense those uses can be.

“It’s a land-use planning tool,” Fine said of the landmarks law. “It’s not a wrench. It’s a needle-nosed plier. It fits in there with every tool that this city has to guide and direct responsible planning.”

Harry Weese Cottages

[Harry Weese Cottages]

Written by Seth Anderson

June 5th, 2009 at 9:46 am

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