Results 11-14of 14 Reviews
July 28, 2004
At Millennium Park the talk of the town is the new landmark sculpture called "Cloud Gate", although most people simply call it "the Bean" because it looks like a giant silvery jelly bean. This brilliant work was designed by Anish Kapoor, a London artist born in Bombay. His first work in the States has quickly become a favorite with the public, which is notoriously skeptical of anything new or original.
The stainless steel object is deceptively simple. At first glance it just looks like a big bean, but the fun begins as you approach it. The reflective convex surface becomes a giant funhouse mirror, so buildings across Michigan Avenue can now be viewed with a fresh perspective. Onlookers feel like part of the art as they see their reflections. The experience becomes even more intense once you walk beneath the sculpture through its "gate". The underside of the bean is more concave than one might expect so instead of a claustrophobic feeling, you feel liberated as you walk under here. The bizarre mirror effect is multiplied so everyone can see several reflections of themselves simultaneously. Play some Pink Floyd if you want to enhance this psychedelic experience. As marvelous as the enormous (66 feet long, 33 feet high, 42 feet wide, 110 tons) sculpture is already, it is to be fine-tuned a bit to remove some of the seams, which currently do not necessarily detract from the overall appearance. Once this is completed, this will be one really smooth bean. It will probably be quite a chore to maintain the sparkling surface of the sculpture.
The Crown Fountain is as far from typical as one can get. Conceived by Barcelona artist Jaume Plensa and designed with the local architecture firm Krueck and Sexton, this extraordinary project is virtually guaranteed to make any visitor smile.
The ensemble features two 50-foot-tall rectangular towers of glass block at either end of a black granite reflecting pool that acts as a wet plaza. On the inside surface of each of the towers, a face of a "typical" local is monumentally displayed. After the two video images face off for several minutes, they simultaneously "spit" a stream of water onto the plaza. Once these modern-day gargoyles are finished spewing water, the images disappear and cascades of water tumble down the towers as if an invisible bucket were dislodged from the top of a door. The cycle renews with another two portraits squaring off, and there are supposedly hundreds of these resident faces in the database. Kids and frisky adults enjoy frolicking in this urban water park. The glass towers are dramatically lit at night. Perhaps since this is the most "fun" part of Millennium Park, it will not be as critically acclaimed for its design. The Crown Fountain is public art that is as inclusive as it gets, and that is what should endear it to the hearts of Chicagoans.
(continued in Part 3)
From journal Bill at home in CHICAGO - Activities
Perhaps the most anticipated element of the complex is the Jay Pritzker Music Pavilion, designed by Mr. Guggenheim Bilbao himself, architect Frank Gehry. He has one of the hottest hands in the world of architecture, and he shows it again with this gleaming structure featuring his trademark network of stainless steel panels. I have been privileged to watch this project slowly taking shape during its construction phase, and the final result is a welcome addition to the Chicago landscape. It may not be as exciting as the Guggenheim Bilbao, but this new band shell should still be appreciated as a nice derivative of Gehry’s original standard.
The pavilion looks like a giant metallic onion with its outer layers peeled off to reveal the beautiful state-of-the-art stage in its heart. The shells hovering above the stage have been compared to a headdress or silvery clouds. 4,000 red seats face the concert stage, backed with a Great Lawn that can hold another 7,000 people. A steel trellis that adds a sense of enclosure even though it is clearly an outdoor space tops the lawn. Speakers are attached to the trellis to spread the sound quality throughout the lawn area. Some have speculated that the trellis could eventually be hooded with a fabric roof for those not-so-nice days in the city, and such a dome may be an attractive result next to the grandiose Gehry pavilion.
Gehry also designed the BP Pedestrian Bridge. It connects Millennium Park with Daley Bicentennial Plaza by leaping over Columbus Drive, adding an extra connection to the lakefront. The bridge, Gehry’s first completed design of such a span, features similar stainless steel panels to act as an ensemble piece to the Pritzker Pavilion. The bridge is not a straight crossover, so it will frustrate those who like to go directly from Point A to Point B. It is more of a winding promenade path than a bridge, designed with several switchbacks that provide many opportunities to gaze at Gehry’s other creation from various angles. It is sculpturally serpentine and scaly, with imagery of a snake or the Mississippi River coming to mind. The bridge deck is composed of hardwood planks, a nice touch that should appeal to the many pedestrians who will utilize this structure.
(continued in Part 2)
July 27, 2004
The Park Shop is loaded with Millennium Park products! You will also find the usual tourist necessities of postcards, maps and guides; gifts, t-shirts and caps, spa products, stationary, and assorted souvenirs. For more discerning tastes, there are books on Chicago art, architecture, and history. Millennium Park architectural star, Frank Gehry has leased some limited-edition fine art and prints only to the Park Shops available for a high-end purchase.
A children's section is nestled in a brightly-lit corner that contains educational items and colorful books. Located directly outside is a designer kiosk with additional interactive souvenier items and toys. These are much more cheaply made, but only slightly less expensive than inside.
The shop is tiny and always seems busy being located in the midst of the food venues as well as a public restroom. But the interior design is neat and clean. The cool celadon walls invite you inside to peruse through the good displayed on the orderly white fixtures. The clerks are pleasant and quite helpful with the merchandise and directions, the displays kept crisp in spite of the high traffic, but the merchandise is, as expected, quite pricey.
At present, the Park Shop has a corner on the market for most Millennium Park related items with very steep price-tags. But I suspect in a few weeks, some of the surrounding retailers will begin to carry similar or identical items and the prices will be more reasonable throughout. But if I were a tourist, I would not go home with out my Millennium Park snow globe to all compliment the growing tacky-travel-kitsch on my shelf.
Store Hours: 9 am to 9pm daily (extended hours during Park events).
From journal MILLENNIUM PARK-CHICAGO "Make no little plans...”
September 23, 2002
If you want to hit the hottest spot in Chi-town right now-Moda is the place to be, but if you don't get in, don't feel bad-just have a backup plan.
Tip: If you want to get anywhere in this city besides a sports bar, guys, no jeans (unless they cost $800) and no gym shoes (no matter how much they cost).
From journal Sweet Home Chicago