[USA / Chicago Guide / Part 1] A city of architecture and contemporary art

Men's Ex Online
By Koichi Nanyo

Why is Chicago Worth Watching Now?

Chicago is the third largest city in the United States after New York and Los Angeles. Anyone who thinks only of Al Capone and President Obama should immediately update their knowledge and image. See the world-famous elements of Chicago, the ancestor of skyscrapers and the city of contemporary art and street culture.

The skyscraper's rhythm and comfort

The skyscraper towering the skyscrapers and the myriad of window lights, Chicago is the ancestor of the image of the city that everyone can imagine first. Although it looks quite eastward in the United States on the map, it is still midwest. In the Midwest of Illinois, Chicago has developed as a logistics hub and gateway to the more inland western and Pacific coasts.

Chicago skyscrapers have a unique rhythmic feel. The individuality of each building is strong, and the height to the top is uneven and not side by side, so if the weather is good, you can see the blue sky from between the buildings of the wide skyscaper. There may be some room in the grid that is separated by a grid pattern, but it is far from crushed. And the Chicago metro is a “metro”, not a subway. The train is supported by piers without passing underground, and trains run as if passing through buildings. The feeling of oppression is extremely small in the city.

Originally linked to Canada and the Atlantic Ocean through Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River, Chicago was a trade zone for the American Indian Natives. In the 16th century, France became the British colony after France, and after the American Revolutionary War, it became a logistics point due to the water blessed terrain. It’s a remnant of the CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange), which is still dominant in the financial sector, a commodity futures exchange that starts with physical grains such as wheat and soy and today also handles financial derivatives.

The fire of 1871 began a rush of modern skyscrapers in Chicago, the archetype of a modern city. From a somewhat schematic perspective, from a movie “Gang of New York”, wooden barrack streets to a modern high-rise buildings made of brick and concrete with a steel structure became commonplace in the United States in the early 20th century. The change in the cityscape began in Chicago. The construction method that made high-rise buildings made of iron and glass possible was used for monuments such as the Expo in Europe and in Chicago. It was used for practical purposes such as increasing floors and increasing efficiency. Bauhaus celebrated its 100th anniversary in Germany in 2019, but it wasn’t so small that Chicago architect Luis Sullivan claimed that shape follows function.

In fact, Chicago continues to inspire Europe and the world. Virgil Abloh, who was named Artistic Director of the Men’s Division at Louis Vuitton in 2018, was born near Chicago and studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He succeeded in his own brand “Off-White” in Milan, based on street fashion, and gained attention in the collection that paid tribute to the late Princess Diana, and attracted worldwide attention in terms of statements and behavior. He is considered a seasonal designer.

Nevertheless, Chicago has a strong business and transportation business, such as transportation, insurance, and fast food industries. Is it a city that you should visit? Let’s find out the secret.

The sharpness of a modern city with a focus on architecture and art

Chicago has become famous as a contemporary art city because the Chicago Architectural Biennial is held every two years from September to the beginning of the following year. This is an art, architecture and design installation exhibition that boasts one of the largest scales in North America. Standing, a common or related theme exhibition will also be held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA). During the Expo Chicago meeting in late September, “Art of the Mart” will take place on the walls of the 1930s Art Deco Merchandise Mart (aka The Mart), a historic building in the city. From dusk, the projection mapping projected on almost the same area as the American football field is a masterpiece.

At the time of the interview, the work of Virgil Abloh at the MCA and the theme exhibition approaching the background, “FIGURES OF SPEECH,” were held for an extended time, and it was busy. His resources are said to have been influenced by the culture of subculture of the 1990s, including Russian weapons such as Sputnik, Mig 29, and Scud missiles, rock bands such as Nirvana, Guns & Roses, Japanese back-end fashion and Mark. Mentioned architectures include Jacobs and the Chicago Building, a landmark of Mies van der Rohe, designed by IBM Building (now AMA Plaza) and Marina City. Interestingly, Michael Jordan, a charismatic basketball player and sneaker boom who also flourished in the local Chicago Bulls, also temporary turned from a local white sox to a major leaguer. Leaping from his brand in Milan to Louis Vuitton and announcing collaborations with well-known brands such as IKEA, Nike and Levi’s, this is a far-fetched perspective that seems to be a charismatic designer who never stops.

At Expo Chicago, there are many galleries from not only Chicago and New York, but also Canada, California, and far away Australia, establishing a unique position as a contemporary art market that offers ample space. The city is famous for being a logistic hub. Large-scale works that cannot be held at small trade fairs in large cities are also gathered, so the exhibition works are of high quality and rich in variety.

At the same time, the Chicago Cultural Center, home to the Chicago Architectural Biennial, continues to show that art and architecture are key components of public space.

The building at 78 East Washington Avenue was built in 1893. Initially, the neoclassical building, which was used a city library, has impressive impressions of columns and round roofs reminiscent of Greece and Rome, and mosaics of tiles that fill the halls and stairs. In this space, the theme of how architecture forms a human community, town, environment and public space will be exhibited. Not only from architecture, but also art and technology have been exhibited. It is a theme that can be raised only because the history of disputes among people with diverse backgrounds has never been less.

Once every two years, with biennial as the fulcrum, the simultaneous occurrence of architecture and art will cause the whole city to swing, so if you are staying in chip atmosphere, I would definitely recommend the center of the skyscraper. That’s the Peninsula Chicago, a hotel just off the Water Tower, a history building that escaped the fire of 1871. Surrounded by high-rise buildings, the spacious room overlooking the street boasts one fo the best comforts in Chicago hotels. The Peninsula itself is a hotel brand that relies on fine-grained Oriental hospitality, and it is convincing that it has earned the top five-star rating recognized by locals.

The Peninsula Chicago

The Peninsula Chicago is a hotel favored not only by tourists and businessmen, but also by local groups. During the period of Biennial and Expo Chicago, they tied up with famous art galleries and exhibited several pieces of contemporary art in the hotel lobby and hall for a limited time. Enjoy the charm of luxury hotel royal roads, such as the bustle at dusk of the “Z Bar” terrace with a view facing the skyscrapers, and the breakfast in the main hall, which was renewed a few years ago in the image of Chicago during the Art Deco period. Enjoy the core.

After the fall of architecture and art, Chicago enters the off-season, aka Windy City, where cold winds from Lake Michigan pass between buildings. The best season in Chicago comes every two years, of course, as well as autumn, where there are many art events, but the content that can be enjoyed regularly in the spring and summer also has plenty of high-quality art and architecture. Next, we will focus on those regular elements.