Despite the latest fulminations of Hyde Park's Garden Underground towards the Dark Kingdom of Mordor known by the rest of us as the University of Chicago, the U of C has actually been scoring some points with the City's architecture critic for its recent campus makeover and its still-unfolding South Campus developments.
Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin likes the scope of the South Campus plan, and its most recent achievement, a fascinating and "city-friendly" residential dormitory.
It's a happy iteration of a style that fits nicely in Chicago, one that a few of us have dubbed "re-mo" (re-Modern) -- a kindler, gentler Bauhaus.
This fall, [the University] opened a city-friendly, 9-story dormitory, clad in the familiar material of Indiana limestone, south of the Midway. On Tuesday, the university announced that it would break ground next spring on a handsomely-austere, 11-story arts center, also south of the grassy expanse. And much more is planned, including the installation next spring of 40-foot-tall light pylons (below) that will seek to make the vast Midway more inviting to pedestrians, particularly at night.
While the new designs are not without anti-urban details, such as the prison-like bars to keep intruders out of the dormitory's courtyards, the surge of construction as a whole is praiseworthy.
Forty-foot tall light pylons? Awesome! The new art center is slated to open in 2012 despite the recession and cuts made to other projects. Following on the success of the Hyde Park Jazz Festival and other developments, the art center may help to make Hyde Park a much stronger location on the Chicago art map.
All in all, not bad, I have to say.