This is the stretch run now, we have one more day until the final expo and the students aren’t loosing any steam. We came into the studio early in the morning and have stopped only for lunch and dinner. It’s been an awesome couple of days that have been jam packed with various activities and hours of sketching and drafting. I’ve never seen so many young students be this much into architecture and it has been an extremely refreshing experience. Tomorrow, the final awaits us.
Draw, draw, some then draw some more!!! The final expo is quickly approaching and the students are hard at work. Everyone is now scrambling to finish up their designs in order to transfer them over to the final drawing format. The desks are slowly getting more and more cluttered with the beauty of the architectural process becoming more apparent. The drawings are getting better and increasingly more detailed. Since we have a long day in studio on Thursday and everyone will be busy finishing up their drawings we decided to take everyone out for some classic Chicago style pizza. We went to Giordano’s Pizzeria since there were so many students who hadn’t tried deep dish pizza. Chicago is very proud of its pizza so introducing it to those who hadn’t tried it is crucial to the Chicago experience. Drawing and model building await us tomorrow.
On Tuesday we woke up extra early and brought the students to visit UrbanWorks. UrbanWorks is a medium size architecture firm located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. UrbanWorks focuses on a variety of projects ranging from urban planning to smaller residential units. We were given a presentation on their current projects as well as a presentation on possible portfolio content. Then we headed over to downtown Chicago and paid a visit to EXP Architecture firm. EXP is a multidisciplinary firm that focuses on building engineering, infrastructure, urban planning, and sustainability and is located in the heart of downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue. Thomas Hoepf, principal and design architect as well as a graduate professor here at IIT, gave us a tour of the firm as well as an in-depth conversation of what it’s like to transition from school into the workplace. We hurried back to catch lunch here at the commons. We’re all busy preparing for the final expo so we came back to the studio to continue drawing the rest of the day. We are entering the most exciting part of the design process and the creative energy is at an all-time high. The student drawings are developing well and we have such an amazing group of talented individuals. We can’t wait to see their final drawings!!!
Monday brought along a variety of exciting introductions. After meeting up at studio, we headed over to the West Loop neighborhood for our first firm tour. The firm Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) was gracious enough to bring us into their offices and talk to us about their work including showing us drawings for the newly designed Google headquarters in Chicago. Sophie Bidek, a partner with HPA talked to us about the architectural process their office applies as well as a brief overview of what it’s like to be a partner at a firm and an architect at a firm as they are quite different. Then we headed to downtown towards the well renown Louis Sullivan building where the Gensler headquarters are located. Gensler is one of the biggest firms in the world with a vast variety of projects. Our intention was to first introduce them to what a medium sized firm looks like and how they operate and then raise the scale and show them what the bigger firms do. After lunch, we returned to the studio and assigned what the final projects were going to be. The excitement in the air was at an all-time high as everyone got directly to sketching ideas while beginning the first set of paper models showing off their concepts. There’s too much excitement to be had in the days ahead!
We started the day off early since we were in a hurry to get to the Maxwell’s Street Market. The Maxwell Street Market is Chicago’s oldest open air markets and is now located on the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) campus. We took a combination of trains and buses as it’s just a great way to get to know the city and its lesser known areas. At the market, we sampled a variety of tasty foods and assorted icy beverages. We also gave them all the opportunity to explore the market on their own and fill any shopping needs. We continued the afternoon by heading over to Chicago’s historic landmark, Navy Pier. Navy Pier is Chicago’s largest tourist attraction and truly a place to visit at least once in your lifetime. It was a beautiful day full of adventure until rain threatened us over and over again. We decided to play it safe and head back to campus as most of us were beat from walking around in the sun all day. Luckily for us, we made it back just in time for dinner. The rest of the night was spent playing volleyball and soccer on campus grounds.
Chicago is an architectural goldmine and consequentially we have all had a long week exploring the city and its many neighborhoods. Saturday brought us all the much needed rest many of us needed. We allowed the students to take the morning to get some relaxation time. By the time the evening came many of us were eager to get out and continue exploring the city. We tried to rent some bikes and bike the beautiful Lake Shore path but were unsuccessful at acquiring 23 bikes for the entire group. We scrapped the idea and took the opportunity to introduce the students to the Red Line subway system as many of them had never ridden in underground transit. We took the students to North Avenue beach, one of the few beaches located in the heart of downtown Chicago, and enjoyed the 80 degree weather under the sun as well as the gorgeous views of Chicago’s breathtaking skyline. After spending a few hours playing volleyball, soccer, and general beach shenanigans we decided to head back to campus and prepare for an early morning the next day.
We had an early start to the day, seeing as how we had to travel to Oak Park where world renowned architect, Frank Llyod Wright established his first home and studio, along with various other homes in the area. When we arrived to Oak Park, we sketched in front of the Oak Park Library designed by Nagle Hartray. We toured through the gorgeous library and even got VIP access to the rooftop garden. After the tour and many sketches later, we worked up an appetite and ate at one of the local Italian restaurants.
Frank Llyod Wright was one of the greatest architects of the early 20th century. At 22 , Mr. Wright designed his first home and studio, which has been restored and persevered in order to offer tours of the beautiful historic space. As we toured his home and studio, one couldn’t help but to feel inspired by how we experienced the space. After the tour, we walked through Oak Park to visit his other homes he designed. After a beautiful day through the town, the only way to end it is with ice cream! Tomorrow, the student’s get to sleep in and enjoy their weekend.