Weekend Update

February 2, 2009 Chicago Buildings, Vision and Style Comments (0) 1188

Quick hits:

1. Another detail about the landmarks ordinance strike-down: the plaintiffs (and no one plaints like these whingers) represented two landmark districts where there had been previous attempts to downzone. This makes the decision slightly less nutzoid – perhaps they thought they were following takings precedents focused on the character of government action. It is still an incorrect decision – those precedents focused on unfunded government programs replaced with regulation, not two types of regulation – but this expains why Jack Guthman was quoted in the story, since he loves to say that landmarking is sneaky downzoning. Landmarking is a planning tool like zoning, but when it comes to districts, landmarking has never achieved the same effect, which is why Brooklyn Heights, Old Town, Astor Street, Mid-North and Ukrainian Village were downzoned AFTER they were landmarked. Because when you are trying to limit new development, you need zoning. Landmarking you need when you are trying to save buildings, which is what was happening in Arlington-Deming (who lives there, I wonder?) and East Village.

2. Thursday night I went to the Solemn Benediction and reception at the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, which is the former St. Clara/St. Gelasius in Woodlawn, a Chicago Landmark. They have done a lovely job sprucing up the old church and rectory and they are working to build their events programs, congregation and fundraising. Here is a quick view of the place, which still needs a ceiling, although I like the view to the structure. www.historic-landmark.org.

3. Saturday was Windsor, to the Academie Ste Cecile International School, originally the Holy Redeemer Seminary, one of the most significant works by Prairie School architect Barry Byrne, a redesign of the monastic plan that a visualist like Le Corbusier could not achieve.


We first visited in Summer 2003, and school leader Mlle. Therese Gadoury has been kind enough to request my input on her architectural plans since then, which was the reason for my visit. They did a sensitive addition recently and are now planning another dormitory and eventually a concert hall.


A final view of the chapel, solemn and modern.


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