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Our work at 2 Sparrows Restaurant is featured in the 2012 Winter issue of CS Interiors Magazine.  Article inside. Read the rest of this entry »

Merging Sustainable Agriculture and Modern Architecture.

We wanted the design to speak to the industrial and traditional roots of the Chicago food industry, while responding to the unique mission of 2 Sparrows.  Similar to how a sparrow builds a nest by collecting building elements from nearby, we assembled the space for this seasonally driven, gastro-brunch restaurant with building components collected from Chicago.  This approach resulted in an industrial farmhouse aesthetic rooted in Chicago restaurant classicism perfectly calibrated for food production and enjoyment.  The architectural design echoes the sustainable agriculture ethos of the restaurant and complements the food and products from local farmers, artisans, distillers, and brewmasters offered at the restaurant. Product list and photos inside. Read the rest of this entry »

Parking. Its a sore subject here in Chicago.  In 2008 the City decided to privatize it’s 36,000 parking meters – in reality leasing an 8′ wide section of asphalt from the curb to the sometimes-present-bike lane – to a group made up of Morgan Stanley, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Allianz Capital Partners for a $1.16B. Since then, everyone in the City, nay, the world, seems to have developed a disdain to the selling off of public assets.  And rightly so.  Bloomberg News discovered just last month that we Chicagoans got royally hosed on the deal.  It turns out the private group will net $9.58B over the course of the 75-year term.  Oops.  This is more than twice what Alderman Scott Waguespack estimated the City would loose in profits when he denounced the deal and subsequently voted against it in the City Council.

This doesn’t stop the City from praising itself for the move, as Chicago’s CFO, Gene Saffold, touted, “The concession agreement was absolutely the best deal for Chicagoans”.  Going on to wax delusional, “The net present value of $11.6 billion in revenue over the life of the 75-year agreement is consistent with $1.15 billion the city received.”  Um, yeah.  You say this guy does the City’s accounting, eh.  Meanwhile, the Chicago’s Office of the Inspector General called the deal “dubious” since Saffold, “failed to calculate how much the system would be worth over 75 years.  The present value of the contract was $2.13 billion, more than the $1.15 billion the city received”, according to Bloomberg. Read the rest of this entry »

Even if real streets are not becoming any more hospitable to cyclists, the virtual ones sure are.  Today everyone’s favorite online map rolled out bicycling navigation as a native feature of Google maps. The bike routing is available in 150 cities, Chicago included, and also shows bike trails in addition to bike-friendly autoways.  As a test I looked up my favorite local ride, Northwest on Elston to the Milwaukee/Devon/Superdawg intersection to pick up the North Branch Trail (unfortunately, there are no trail labels on Google maps yet) for a mostly uninterrupted, 16-mile jaunt to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, which I just noticed is mislabeled as ‘Botanical’ on Google maps.  Conversely, I looked up the most death-defying bike route in San Diego, this bike lane abruptly ends at a freeway off ramp just north of Little Italy on India Street.  Biker Beware. Read the rest of this entry »

eisenhowersignA recent New York Times Magazine article described the difficulty of piecing together the ballot-initiated California High Speed Rail, which will connect Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2 hours and 40 minutes (with eventual spurs to Sacramento, north, and San Diego, south) at top speeds of 220 miles per hour.  Quite an improvement over the bumbling trip, along a similar path, on Amtrak that now takes over 12 hours and costs you $55.  The main stumbling block appears to be acquiring right-of-way to allow for straight stretches of tracks (obviously the straighter the track the faster the train can coast).

This got me thinking that Chicago doesn’t at all have a right-of-way problem.  Read the rest of this entry »

filterWe are currently designing the new space for Filter, the Wicker Park stalwart coffee house that was displaced by BofA from the Flatiron building on the Milwaukee/Damen/North intersection.  The project will be aiming for a LEED-CI certification and will be located in the 1300 block of North Milwaukee Avenue.  Stay tuned here for updates.

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