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LA21st Aug 20, 2006 1:49 PM

It really is amazing what has happened there. Michigan Ave (south of the river) on the weekends feels like rush hour in many other cities. A few more years, it might rival North Michigan Ave for pedestrian traffic, and everyone knows how busy that is. Weekday rush hour ALREADY does rival it. More and more people are coming to the Loop after 5.

Wild Onion Mike Aug 21, 2006 11:39 PM

The place that has changed most dramatically in the Loop is the intersections along Roosevelt, between State and Michigan Ave. What a great urban environment that has turned into; elevated trains, sidewalk level shopping, heavy pedestrian usage, college students, commuters, tourists going to the Museum Campus. It looks terrific!

Busy Bee Aug 23, 2006 4:10 PM

^*sick feeling in stomach (again)

trvlr70 Aug 26, 2006 2:24 PM

City Place Apartments.....oh my God! A total architectural abomination.

I'm surprised Kamin didn't note the Michigan Av. Marriott. What a loser!

BVictor1 Aug 29, 2006 1:34 PM

Architecture firm looks for `next steward'
Graham Anderson is put on the block

By Susan Diesenhouse
Tribune staff reporter
Published August 29, 2006

A Chicago architectural firm that traces its roots back to planning visionary Daniel Burnham is for sale and seems destined to disappear in its current form.

"I'm looking for the next steward to carry on the history of this amazing firm," Robert E. Surman, the 44-year-old president and owner of Graham Anderson Probst & White Corp., said Monday.

Generations ago various permutations of this partnership designed masterpieces such as the Wrigley Building, Shedd Aquarium, Merchandise Mart, the Civic Opera, the Post Office building and Union Station. But in the last few decades the firm's staff has been reduced significantly and its projects have become less grandiose.

Still, Surman hopes to find another firm or person, he said, "who will take an aggressive approach to high-quality architecture" and preserve the firm's extensive historic archive of blueprints, drawings and photographs, including a copy of the 1909 Chicago Plan designed and signed by Burnham.

Sometime this fall Surman, whose father, William, led the storied design and planning firm from the late 1960s through the mid-1990s, plans to become a vice president for architecture and development at HomeMade Pizza Co. on the North Side.

With some of America's most notable beaux-arts and art deco creations in its portfolio, "they are one of the iconic firms in the American [architecture] cosmos," Robert Ivy, editor in chief of Architectural Record, said of Graham Anderson Probst & White.

"In the early 20th Century they were capable of making buildings of great clarity and power like Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum and Union Station in Chicago and D.C.," Ivy added. "They combine neo-classical design with a heroic scale that few have matched in the intervening years."

But by the 1970s the firm that once could boast more than 200 designers, draftsmen and engineers had scaled down. Since then it has consisted of about a dozen people, and in a 2004 publication that profiled Illinois architectural firms it is listed as having seven architectural professionals on staff.

Surman and his father prided themselves on the high quality of their work. But the firm's recent standout projects, such as the 500,000-square-foot, mixed-use building at 2 East Erie St., first occupied in 2002, are few and their pipeline of future projects seems slim.

The firm has a roster of corporate clients for whom it regularly works, but Surman explained that "like many service businesses, these relationships may continue with the firm or with the other employees who may move on."

As a result, he said, if the firm is sold it will probably fetch considerably less than $1 million.

"No one buys a portfolio," explained Paul Nakazawa, an international consultant who teaches architecture at Harvard University.

"In any profession it's the people who make the firm, and if they aren't there the value isn't really there," he said.

To assess the value of a design firm a potential buyer will consider several factors, and if it likes what it sees it will pay some multiple of earnings for it, said Scott Simpson, president and chief executive of Stubbins Associates in Cambridge, Mass.

A buyer will calculate the average annual gross fee per professional and the firm's gross profit, and perhaps add some premium.

"A buyer looks at the portfolio, clients, reputation, work in progress and future work," Simpson said.

"They must be able to make back their investment and retain the firm's intellectual capital," he said.

That Surman is planning to leave soon could influence a sale outcome, said architect Daniel Coffey, head of Daniel P. Coffey & Associates Ltd. in Chicago.

"When a person just leaves, typically that diminishes a firm's value," he said. But the firm's footprint has been fading, he added, and "you don't hear much about their projects."

Graham Anderson Probst & White has been doing corporate interiors and other work for public agencies and companies such as Schaumburg-based Motorola Inc. and Chicago-based Unitrin Inc., but Surman said it has not engaged in international commissions, a major source of billings for U.S design firms.

In the first few decades of the 20th Century, earlier incarnations of the firm were at the heart of a Golden Age of American architecture, said Sally Chappell, author of a book on the firm, "Transforming Tradition: Architecture and Planning of Graham Anderson Probst & White."

"They were one of the largest firms in the great building period of American architecture, during the teens and 1920s," she said.

All of the partners who formed the firm in 1917 had worked for Daniel Burnham. They developed a reputation for reinterpreting classical and European design motifs to create monumental structures that inspired awe but also enhanced the efficient functioning of cities such as Chicago, New York and Washington.

For instance, Chappell said, Union Station in Chicago was designed to be a statement of civic grandeur but also to ease traffic that approached from the river, highways and city streets.

"They designed special ramps for taxis to drop off passengers without delaying traffic on the streets," she said. Meanwhile, under the colonnade, train "passengers could be out of the weather while they waited."

Surman is well aware of the firm's heritage that he hopes can be preserved.

"They took classical and European architectural styles and applied them to a variety of building types such as banks, offices and museums," he said "That made them unique."


Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

the urban politician Sep 7, 2006 11:53 PM

^ Looks good, I remember seeing that article before. Just curious--does anyone know what this park is replacing?

Wild Onion Mike Sep 8, 2006 12:40 AM

At the moment the site is a vacant lot at a very busy intersection. I'm happy to see the park going in but wish it was a little larger. It's across the street from the Harold Washinton Cultural Center, a theater/concert hall with a 1,000 person seating capacity. Great to have this historic intersection become such a civic minded/community enriching focal point.

no-la-usa Sep 11, 2006 11:38 PM

Good For Mayor Daley. That is why Chicago is so great because it has a Mayor who puts reason above politics. This ordinance would accomplish none of its supposed objectives, all the while steering tax dollars, jobs, and cosumers to nearby suburbs at the expense of the city. If you dont like working for the amount these stores pay, get an education and work some other place.


nomarandlee Sep 30, 2006 11:26 AM

Floating maritime museum may dock downtown
not a big development but could serve as a nice little downtown tourist attraction.....

Floating maritime museum may dock downtown

September 30, 2006

Ahoy, Chicago: A new floating museum aboard a former Coast Guard ship is coming to the city, with plans to eventually moor downtown.
The 180-foot-long, 74-foot-tall cutter, built in 1944, will be moved in mid-October from Indiana to the Far South Side, where it will dock for the winter at an old U.S. Steel boat slip, Gov. Blagojevich announced Friday.

Obtained at no cost to the state as federal government surplus, the USCGC Acacia is "essentially a complete time capsule," said Marty Hecker, an official with the nonprofit group that will oversee the craft.

"She's in excellent shape," said Hecker, vice president of the American Academy of Industry, the group that plans to open it in 2007 as a museum of maritime and military history.

Blagojevich envisions the ship as a downtown tourist attraction.

The city has discussed docking the red-and-black boat on the Chicago River or at Northerly Island, the former home of Meigs Field, Hecker said.

Or, the craft could end up anchoring the 17-acre site of the former steel plant at 87th and the lake, now being converted into park land by the Chicago Park District, Hecker said.

Similar vessels in other cities have been used as places for youth groups such as the Boy Scouts to "camp" overnight -- a role Hecker envisions for the Acacia.

More than 6,000 crew members served on the Acacia during its 62 years of service. Used primarily on the Great Lakes as a rescue and maintenance vessel and for ice breaking, it never saw combat.

Another group, the Chicago Maritime Society, has also expressed interest in a museum at Northerly Island. Board member David Metzger said Friday his group still wants to open a permanent museum.

SamInTheLoop Oct 14, 2006 10:05 PM

Just wondering if anyone here attended the Friends of Downtown forum this week on the future of Wabash? I had intended to go but couldn't make it...
If so, would love to hear if anything interesting was mentioned or discussed...

Frankie Oct 15, 2006 10:26 AM

Marvel 33 has placed a link to his website (newcityskyline) on the boom rundown, giving a very-well written summary of the future of wabash and what was discussed at the Friends of Downtown Forum

jpIllInoIs Oct 17, 2006 12:13 PM

Chicago Loop Universities

Chicago Tribune article in todays TEMPO section.

Loop U.
Packed with students, dorm rooms and educational facilities, the 1.65-square-mile area bounded by the Chicago River, Wacker Drive, Roosevelt Road and the Lakefront is THE LARGEST COLLEGE TOWN IN ILLIN

By Patrice M. Jones
Tribune staff reporter
Published October 17, 2006

In a patch of perfect lawn across the street from Buckingham Fountain, Mike Perry and two other Roosevelt University students took a break from classes downtown recently to enjoy a game of Frisbee in Grant Park.

There was the Sears Tower gleaming in the distance in the afternoon sun to one side of them; the iconic fountain and the lakefront on the other.

"Where else could you find a campus quad better than Grant Park?" said Jesse Hernandez, 19, who met Perry only a few weeks ago when the two started the fall semester living in the massive downtown dormitory called University Center that houses students from Roosevelt, Columbia College Chicago and DePaul University.

"You can't beat it," he said.

You can find the backpack- and iPod-wearing set hanging out in droves near University Center, the high-rise that opened two years ago at 525 S. State St. The lobby and sidewalk outside the "UC" are informal gathering spots where South Loop dwellers share ideas about the best places to eat, find a book or bar hop. College students also are invading Grant Park for the free concerts and festivals, and trolling downtown for other entertainment.

Last year, an economic analysis confirmed the trend, dubbing a 1.65-square-mile area bounded by the Chicago River, Wacker Drive, Roosevelt Road and the lakefront, the "largest college town in Illinois." It boasted 52,000 students and more than 20 institutions of higher education occupying more than double the space of the Sears Tower.

The economic study was conducted by the Regional Economic Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was sponsored by the Greater State Street Council and the Central Michigan Avenue Association, which merged last year and is now called the Chicago Loop Alliance.

The study -- meant to track the growth of Loop facilities devoted to higher education -- also found that the number of residential beds offered by academic institutions in the Loop numbered almost 4,000. That number is not huge in comparison with some other institutions. The University of Illinois at Chicago alone, for example, has 3,100 student beds. But the figure was an unexpected bright spot for campuses downtown that had been long known largely as commuter schools.

"We were pretty surprised by the numbers," said Ty Tabing, executive director of the Chicago Loop Alliance. "We planned to look at higher education as sort of a new recruiting tool for businesses interested in the area, but when we started doing the research, we found out a number of universities were experiencing tremendous growth and adding facilities at a rate we hadn't expected."

The higher education study found some additional interesting facts: Loop colleges and universities collectively represent one of Chicago's top 25 employers with over 12,000 workers; college students spend more than $25 million annually at area businesses in the Loop; and seven institutions alone hosted events in one year that attracted a half-million people.

Big plans

Ten institutions alone also spent $159 million in facility construction and improvements over a five-year period and collectively the Loop's schools plan to spend almost $340 million in capital projects by the end of the decade.

The higher education study now is more than a year old, and the downtown growth continues.

Farther north, Loyola University Chicago -- though not part of the Loop study -- cut a giant red ribbon on its new $51 million, 25-story high-rise downtown student residence last month featuring furnished apartments at 26 E. Pearson St. near Water Tower Place. The facility, which includes 627 beds, has been a big draw for students such as Thomas Marcuccilli of Fort Wayne, Ind.

"Growing up in a small town in Indiana, this is the kind of place where I could go to on vacation, and right now, it's right outside my door," said the gregarious junior. "People come to visit, and I can walk them straight out into the shops on North Michigan Avenue."

University officials say the reason for the growth is multifaceted: it is a collision of positives that have come from the growing allure of Chicago's downtown that has shed much its gritty image and now boasts Millennium Park, museums, and a thriving arts and theater scene.

At the same time, schools such as Columbia College and Roosevelt University with a longtime downtown presence increasingly have been transforming themselves from commuter to residential campuses -- attracting younger students and recruiting nationally and internationally. They also have been using their urban backdrop as a key selling point.

"Students come to downtown Chicago for the museums, the galleries, the bookstores, the performances -- all of it gets wrapped up into the experience of being at Columbia," said Mark Kelly, vice president for student affairs at Columbia College.

Columbia transformation

Columbia probably has had the biggest transformation. Columbia had about 15 percent of its freshmen living on campus three years ago; now that figure is about 58 percent. In addition, Columbia plans to add another 434 beds next fall, Kelly said. The university also has seen its enrollment jump about 16 percent since 2003 to 11,500 students.continue >> Still, students say there is room for improvement -- in a survey accompanying last year's Loop study, students reported there was a need for more affordable restaurants and parking, and the majority female students expressed concerns about walking alone in the Loop at night.

- - -

Life in the Loop. Students who study and live in downtown Chicago note a variety of reasons for

loving their environs. Here is what some of them had to say:

MIKE PERRY, a junior at Roosevelt University from Glen Ellyn, mentioned some distinct advantages to living downtown -- like dancing under the stars:

"Within my first couple of weeks here, there was a Latin night in Grant Park. I went with some friends and we just walked over there. There was a free, hourlong instruction period for tango and salsa. . . . Definitely, an icebreaker. Later, they were rotating partners, so I danced with a few ladies from Chicago that I would have never met otherwise."

BRITTANY NASH, a Columbia College freshman from Milwaukee, said:

"I know for me, coming from Milwaukee, our downtown is small. It all shuts down at 10 o'clock. So I just have been having fun walking around and seeing so many people outside, particularly at night. I actually just love looking out the windows and seeing all the lights from the city. I guess things like that people from Chicago take for granted."

GRAHAM HOPPE, a senior at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from Indianapolis, said he thought living downtown would be an amazing chance he might never have again. He said the major downside is the Loop's need for more affordable restaurants:

"Absolutely, cheaper, non-fast food would be great. We would all love that. And more community spaces where you don't feel compelled to spend money."

KEVIN MERKELZ, a Columbia College senior from Rolling Meadows, said he also is focused on employment opportunities:

"I find that a lot of students don't miss the frat house or sorority scene on a traditional campus. A lot of students who come to school down here are very self-motivated. I am a film and video student. Chicago is a booming market for editing and sound. So I am here to make friends, but ultimately I want to find a job and this is a good place to find internships. It is the best place to be -- not out in some cornfield in southern Illinois."

CHIOMA NWAKIBU, a DePaul University junior from Gaithersburg, Md., actually does a reverse commute, traveling from downtown to most of her classes at

DePaul's Lincoln Park campus -- just because she likes living downtown.

"My sister lives on a traditional college campus and she has had problems finding a job. Down here, there are just so many places downtown to work, do internships and so many other opportunities. I just feel I am a few steps ahead by living down here."

--Patrice M. Jones

- - -

State's largest `college town'

In 2005, researchers decided to look at higher education as an economic sector and study its impact on the Loop and South Loop. They were floored by what they found: The 1.65-square-mile area bounded by the Chicago River, Wacker Drive, Roosevelt Road and the lakefront is the largest college town in Illinois.

They found 52,000 students and more than 20 institutions of higher education occupied nearly 7.5 million gross square feet of Loop real estate -- more than double the space of the Sears Tower.

School residence facilities in the Loop offered almost 4,000 beds.

Loop colleges and universities collectively represented one of Chicago's top 25 employers, with more than 12,000 workers.

College students spent more than $25 million annually at area businesses in the Loop.

In one year, 7 academic institutions in the Loop attracted a half-million people to their events and programs.

Source: "Higher Education in the Loop and South Loop: An Impact Study"


the urban politician Oct 17, 2006 5:25 PM

^ Yeah, apparantly Columbia has a huge space crunch. They have a LOT of expansion plans on the table, which is pretty exciting.

My only problem with this article is that they've chosen a pretty arbitrary set of boundaries for this "largest college town in Illinois". I wonder how much larger the student populations would be if they included other "central area" hoods such as Streeterville, River North, and UIC.

Kevin J Oct 17, 2006 9:17 PM


Originally Posted by the urban politician
^ Yeah, apparantly Columbia has a huge space crunch. They have a LOT of expansion plans on the table, which is pretty exciting.

My only problem with this article is that they've chosen a pretty arbitrary set of boundaries for this "largest college town in Illinois". I wonder how much larger the student populations would be if they included other "central area" hoods such as Streeterville, River North, and UIC.

I wondered the same thing when I first came across this report. Geek that I am, I actually tried to find out the answer. Here are the numbers I was able to come up with. Some are incomplete estimates because schools like Loyola and Northwestern, don't report separate enrollment figures for their downtown campuses, only for the various schools/programs on those campuses.

-UIC: 25,000
-Northwestern (Streeterville): 2700
-Loyola (River North):1400 in Law School, Business School and Education. Other programs, enrollments unknown
-Illinois Institute of Art (in the Apparel Center): 2600
-Argosy University (in the Apparel Center): 1000
-IIT (West Loop): 1325 in Law and Business schools. Urban Planning enrollment unknown
-Chicago Cooking and Hospitality Institute (River North): 1050
-Erikson Institute (River North): 300
-University of Chicago (River North) 2000

TOTAL: 37,375+

In addition, the report quoted in the article also left out several schools/programs that are in the geographic area they covered, namely the MBA programs of Notre Dame, University of Illlinois (not UIC's Liataud Business School), and Keller. The Notre Dame MBA program is relatively new, so that's probably why it wasn't included.

Adding in what's missing probably gets you to 39,000 or 40,000, which is like adding another college town to the Central Area.

For what it's worth, I would exclude UIC from this count just because it is so physically separated from the Central Area by the expressway and so very much it's own community because of its size and distance from the Loop. Even the most generous definitions of the Central Area rarely extend west of Halsted.

But even without UIC, you're still talking about an additional 10-15,000 people if you just include River North/Streeterville and the West Loop.

Kevin J Oct 18, 2006 3:16 AM


Originally Posted by Lukecuj
^ nice numbers.... what about School of the Art Insitute, Robert Morris, East-West Univ., Spertus.

The old post office would be a great re-use for expanding college space needs.

All the schools you named are in the area that the original study covered. So the enrollments for all of them are included in the 52,000 student figure quoted in the article. Again, all I was trying to do was count up the students that weren't included in that number because their schools are outside the boundaries of the study.

If you're asking what the enrollments are for the schools you listed just out of curiosity, I'm sure you can find them somewhere online.

The old post office is too geographically challenged for higher education purposes in the Loop. It's too far from the State-Wabash-Michigan corridor where most of the schools are located. This nexus of schools first happened due to chance, but is now being actively backed by the city (e.g. public money invested in DePaul's refurbished building at State and Jackson). Even with the mad condo construction in the south Loop, there are still tons of Class B and Class C buildings in that area for the schools to expand to when they're ready.

the urban politician Oct 19, 2006 7:30 PM


Originally Posted by Kevin J
-UIC: 25,000
-Northwestern (Streeterville): 2700
-Loyola (River North):1400 in Law School, Business School and Education. Other programs, enrollments unknown
-Illinois Institute of Art (in the Apparel Center): 2600
-Argosy University (in the Apparel Center): 1000
-IIT (West Loop): 1325 in Law and Business schools. Urban Planning enrollment unknown
-Chicago Cooking and Hospitality Institute (River North): 1050
-Erikson Institute (River North): 300
-University of Chicago (River North) 2000

TOTAL: 37,375+

^ These are just enrollments though, right? I think that's different from the number of students actually living in these areas.

the urban politician Oct 19, 2006 7:32 PM


Originally Posted by Lukecuj

^ I'm a bit confused--so this is threatened as well? What about that other building that was pictured a while back, that was supposed to be replaced by a highrise?

brian_b Oct 20, 2006 1:55 PM


Originally Posted by the urban politician
^ These are just enrollments though, right? I think that's different from the number of students actually living in these areas.

Yes, it is different. I know that Northwestern seems to be getting rid of their downtown dorms. Not that anybody lived in them anyway. It was always MUCH cheaper to rent a [much nicer] studio apartment in Streeterville. Even then, a lot of people don't live anywhere near Streeterville. Students can buy a ridiculously discounted parking pass for their parking garage. Northwestern runs a shuttle for students every half hour (or maybe it's every hour) between the downtown campus and the Evanston campus. It's easy to get to that area via bus or train so you can live pretty much anywhere in the city too. I would guess that no more than 1/3 of the downtown Northwestern students live downtown.

The other schools in that list are probably pretty similar.

museumparktom Oct 20, 2006 5:30 PM

Anyone have information on this restoration on Wabash just south of the CNA building? This thing was pitch black derelict for years. It's really looking good and I wonder if this is residential or offices?

Emproris link of the CNA with some pic of this building

Kevin J Oct 20, 2006 8:37 PM


Originally Posted by the urban politician
^ These are just enrollments though, right? I think that's different from the number of students actually living in these areas.

Yes, these numbers are enrollments. Enrollment numbers are what the original article dealt with, including the 52,000 figure that the article mentioned. The study didn't attempt to quantify how many students actually live in the central area. An interesting question, to be sure, but it would be hard to count without doing a big multi-school student survey, since most would be living "off campus." I do know that the dormitory population in the Loop proper is about 4000 now. Loyola and Northwestern also have dorms on their downtown campuses, that between them probably house another 500 or so students.

I also know that despite the high cost of living downtown, the apartment buildings in Streeterville house many students who attend Northwestern's Chicago campus. Between the law and medical schools, it's probably about 1000 students. I also know that a fair number of students who attend the Chicago-Kent Law School in the West Loop live in Presidential Towers and in the Greektown area. Beyond that, the number of students actually living downtown is a mystery to me.

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