Chicago Urban Exploration | Day 2

May 15, 2015 Written by

Published in Events

The Downtown Alliance hosts an annual trip with local leaders and elected officials to explore other American cities. This year, we've chosen Chicago, visiting a wide range of the "Windy City". Read about day one here, which finished with a reception at Google's Chicago headquarters. Their open office concept represents a design many other tech firms have mimicked to provide a collaborative and energetic environment for their workers. And the view wasn't bad, either! 

On Friday, May 15th the exploration began with a breakfast panel on private management of public spaces:

John Chikow, President and CEO of the Magnificent Mile Association and Mike Edwards, President and CEO of the Chicago Loop Alliance spoke about private management of public spaces in two of the country's busiest retail corridors. The Mag Mile Association and Loop Alliance both provide marketing, beautification, maintenance and security services on behalf of private property owners and retailers within their respective boundaries.

The Magnificent Mile, sometimes referred to as The Mag Mile, is an upscale section of Chicago's Michigan Avenue, running from the Chicago River to Oak Street in the Near North Side. The Magnificent Mile serves as the main thoroughfare between Chicago's Loop business district and its Gold Coast.

Chicago Loop Alliance creates, manages and promotes high-performing urban experiences, attracting people and investment to their district on State street within the loop. Their focus is on placemaking and economic development within their boundaries.

From concerts to tulip gardens on the sidewalk, as well as public art projects and holiday lights, these two organizations ensure the downtown chicago area is as interesting as it is welcoming.

Harris Theatre and Pritzker Pavilion

The Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance is a 1500-seat state-of-the art performance venue located in Chicago's Millennium Park. Opened in November 2003, the nonprofit Harris Theater was the first multi-use performance venue built in downtown Chicago since 1929.

Harris Theater serves as a unique national model of collaboration between the philanthropic community and performing arts organizations in music and dance. More than a decade later, the theater features the most diverse offerings of any venue in Chicago, hosting local, national, and internationally renowned artists and ensembles.

The Jay Pritzker Pavilion is one of the premier outdoor Amphitheatres in the Chicago area. Located centrally in Millennium Park (just south of the Harris Theater), the pavilion stands 120-feet high, with a billowing headdress of brushed stainless steel ribbons that frame the stage opening and connect to an overhead trellis of crisscrossing steel pipes.

Millennium Park Tour with Ed Uhlir

Milllennium Park is a 24.5 acre public park located in the Loop community area of Chicago with awe-inspiring landscaping, breathtaking architecture and an iconic collection of public art.

Chicago 2

Under Richard M. Daley, the City of Chicago Mayor's Office initially acquired the land for Millennium Park. In order to engage the private sector, Mayor Daley turned to John H. Bryan (a well connected philanthropist) who formed the not-for-profit Millennium Park, Inc. This public-private partnership formed the basic fundraising and management structure to create Millennium Park. One of the key factors in this project's success was the freedom given to patrons of Millennium Park, Inc. to alter the city's original design and work closely with the park features' various artists and architects. Even as these changes led to increased construction costs for city-funded portions of the park, the project endured media criticism and political pressures. This would not have been possible without clear contractual separation from the city and adaptive project management by Edward Uhlir in the Mayor's office. In the end, this partnership successfully raised $490 million to complete the park, a sum that would not have been possible without access to both public and private funding sources.

River cruise

Critics say that no other city has influenced and embodied the state-of-the-art in high-rise design and modern architecture as prominently as Chicago; virtually every major architect has a signature building here. Chicago's ambitious business leaders in the late-1800's (after most of the commercial district had been erased by the Great Fire) faced a quandary. Hemmed in by water on three sides and a rail center to the south, they knew that if the city were to grow, it would have to grow up. "Limited as to ground, business sought the air," wrote an observer, as quoted in Donald L. Miller's City of the Century.

Closing Hamilton Partners Reception at 224 S. Michigan Ave Burnham Penthouse

Formerly known as the Sante Fe Building, 224 S. Michigan is a 17-story office building in the historic Michigan Boulevard District of the loop designed by Daniel Burnham. 224 S. Michigan was originally built as a railway exchange for the Sante Fe railway. Burnham and company had offices on the 14th floor. It is now home to a number of architectural organizations including the Chicago Architecture Foundation, Goestch Parnters, VOA Associates, Harding Partners, and the Chicago offices of Skidmore, owings and Merrill.

The building is owned and leased by Hamilton Parters.