Think You Know The Best of The Cultural Mile? | Discovering the Intersection of Modern and Historic

18 January 2018

South Loop and Historic Printer’s Row

The South Loop earned the 2017 Curbed Cup, awarded annually to Chicago’s best neighborhood by popular vote. The victory is well-deserved. Teeming with cultural, educational, sports, restaurant and retail options — not to mention privileged adjacency to Grant Park and Lake Michigan — 1000M’s neighborhood has a lot to offer, including a rich history.

The South Loop is home to historic Printer’s Row, a timeless enclave between Congress Parkway and Polk Street that was the heart of the Midwest printing and publishing industry from the late 19th to the first half of the 20th century. This perfectly preserved microneighborhood, boasting the iconic industrial design that secured Chicago place on the country’s architectural map, has been meticulously preserved to convey the aura of the past without kitsch or nostalgia.

 

Printer’s Row
Photo Credit: Richie Diesterheft

Printing Industry

One of the unintended consequences of the Great Fire of 1871 was to concentrate Chicago’s burgeoning printing industry into a single neighborhood in the Fire’s aftermath. The Near South Side of Chicago, now known as the South Loop, was ideal because of its proximity to energy and transportation — the Chicago River provided the water needed to produce steam power to run the presses and both the River and the nearby Dearborn Station provided transportation for shipping goods.

Printing companies poured in; the likes of Rand McNally, M. A. Donohue & Co, R.R. Donnelly & Sons and the Franklin Printing Company thrived. In 1886, Ottmar Merganthaler, the inventor of the Linotype machine, a revolutionary hot metal typesetting system used in printing, moved in at the intersection of Polk and Dearborn. The printing and publishing industry vitalized a district of the city that previously had a reputation for vice, and set the stage for vast amounts of textbooks, magazines, catalogues and maps to be printed throughout the late 19th and the early 20th century.

 

Pontiac Building in the 1000M neighborhood
Pontiac Building in 1902
Photo Credit: Chicagology

The printing industry drove not only the neighborhood’s economy, but also its architectural identity. Tall and narrow buildings rose, designed to support the printing machinery of the day and maximize natural light. The First Chicago School of Architecture, the city’s defining architectural style in the later 19th century, influenced the buildings, as well. This influence is well showcased in structures like the Pontiac Building a steel frame skyscraper with a brick façade and three tiers of bay windows completed in 1891.

Dearborn Station

The printing houses aren’t the only eye-catching structures. The Dearborn Station, a powerful presence in the neighborhood that was completed in 1885 and served as the premier passenger station in Chicago until the late 1940s, has an historic grandeur all its own. The Romanesque architecture rendered in red brick is topped with a 12-story clock tower. Tens and thousands of people, from immigrants to celebrities, set foot in Chicago in Dearborn Station, during the years when the Santa Fe Railway passed through on its way from New York to California and the Southwest.

Dearborn Station near 1000M
Dearborn Station, 33-57 W Polk. Cyrus L.W. Eidlitz, 1883. No longer a railroad station, now retail and offices. Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers

Printer’s Row began to unwind in the 1960s; as printing technology evolved, companies moved to the suburbs where greater space could accommodate sprawling automated press machines. When Amtrak consolidated in 1971, Dearborn Station closed and fell into disrepair; the neighborhood stagnated without the printing industry to give it purpose. A renaissance began in the mid-1980s when the Station was adapted to retail space and many of the neighborhood’s printing buildings were converted to residential and commercial spaces. In 1996, Printer’s Row was designated a Chicago landmark to memorialize this rich era of Chicago history.

Today, Printer’s Row is no longer defined by the industry of its namesake. The only major print house in operation is Palmer Printing, which opened in 1937. However, the architecture and, with it, the feeling of a distinct era, remain.

The residents, as well, celebrate the area’s origins. Since 1984, the Printer’s Row Lit Fest has brought together Chicago’s community of book lovers throughout the city. Connecting booksellers, serious collectors, casual readers and everyone in between, the Lit Fest is a venue for purchasing rare books, retro magazines, and antique maps, enjoying literary programming, and most importantly, engaging with fellow bibliophiles.

 

A short stroll from 1000M, Printer’s Row is an exploration of where the historic and modern meet.

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Historic Printer’s Row // Between Congress Parkway & Polk Street

 

 

 

 

1000M | Joining A Tradition of Elevation

16 January 2018

 

1000M will takes its place in Chicago’s enduring legacy of architectural excellence and height, a tradition that harkens back to the late 1800’s, when the Windy City was reborn from the ashes of the Great Fire of 1871 as the birthplace of the skyscraper — the symbol of modern urban skylines.

On an October night in 1871, a fire sparked that devastated Chicago, destroying over three square miles and obliterating 17,500 buildings. Despite the overwhelming damage and loss of life, this tragedy laid the foundation for a rebirth that would establish Chicago as an architectural giant with global influence that remains intact today.

The fire not only created the necessity to rebuild, but also mandated architects to construct with fireproof materials. Post-1871 fireproof engineering represented a phase of unprecedented innovation in materials and methods, including the fabrication and use of steel frames, which were better for building vertically than previous masonry construction. The birth of the skyscraper following the fire, came about due to other factors as well, including a booming Chicago economy that caused downtown land value to skyrocket, creating demand for density … in other words, building UP.

The Chicago School, a style of architecture, also emerged in the decades following the Great Fire and would define Chicago’s architectural pulse until the present day. Thanks to Chicago School masterminds like Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Fazlur Khan and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the city was not simply rebuilt; it was built up, leveraging breakthroughs in engineering and materials to rise to new heights with some of the tallest buildings in the world. The Chicago School shunned adornment and decoration, but rather championed commercial practicality. Building vertically, especially with high Chicago land value, was a better financial option than building horizontally.

The first skyscraper in the world — the Home Insurance Building — emerged from the Chicago School. Designed by William Le Baron Jenney and completed in 1885 at the corner of Adams and LaSalle, the building utilized more fire resistant steel columns to achieve a then-outstanding height of 10 stories (138 ft). As time passed, the Chicago School continued to influence the skyline, producing a host of tall buildings between 1880-1900, many of which use steel columns as support and a classic “Chicago window” similar to an oriel window. Chicago’s post-fire and vertical engineering, especially the use of steel frame design as interior building skeletons, set the stage for widespread adoption in New York City and in major cities across the country.

At ten stories, the Home Insurance Building was the world’s first skyscraper.

Rising a mile down the street (at 832 feet) from where the Home Insurance Building once stood, 1000M does not simply fit into the Chicago School tradition as a skyscraper, but also as a response to the 1909 Plan of Chicago that was authored by Daniel Burnham, a prominent member of the Chicago School. As a result of his visionary recommendations for city planning, Burnham’s hope of preserving the lakefront for the public was realized, leading to the unparalleled views 1000M residences will enjoy.

The unobstructed lakefront served as a siren call to 1000M architect Helmut Jahn, as well. In a recent interview he explained, “[1000M] faces Grant Park and the lake, one of the most beautiful front yards you can have in the world … This building is forever protected by the place where it is,” he added, alluding to Burnham’s plan that reads, “Not a foot of [the lake’s] shores should be appropriated to the exclusion of the people.”

1000M will have forever views of Lake Michigan and Grant Park.

 

1000M is not only joining a rich historic tradition; it is also celebrating a contemporary Chicago architectural community that is as vital, ambitious and innovative as it was 150 years ago. The living skyline is expanding both north and south, while historic structures are experiencing thoughtful renovation and adaptation. The Willis Tower is adding a 3-story entertainment, dining and retail addition to the base of its building, and the possibility of Chicago’s South Loop being chosen as Amazon’s second headquarters, would promise unprecedented growth.

While engineering has evolved and architectural tastes have adapted, 1000M is taking its place in a city that has an unwavering dedication to architectural excellence, just as it did when the Home Insurance Building first reached for the sky.

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Who is Helmut Jahn?

11 January 2018

Helmut Jahn O'Hare International Airport
The tunnel between United Concourses B and C at O’Hare International Airport, which incorporates neon lighting into its design. Photo Credit: Rainer Viertlböck

You’ve likely encountered his work before while traversing the city of Chicago, but who is Helmut Jahn?  A creative powerhouse and dedicated craftsman, he’s one of the leading minds in today’s architectural elite.  Helmut Jahn’s architecture spans Chicago; he’s created notable buildings all over the city, in addition to his work across the rest of the country and abroad.  Now he brings his passion for beauty to 1000M, to craft one of the most noteworthy new skyscrapers on the cultural mile.

Jahn was born in Nuremberg, Germany to a schoolteacher who hoped his son would follow in his footsteps.  But Jahn showed an affinity for drawing at a young age, and went to Munich to study architecture before immigrating to Chicago in 1966.  It was while he attended the Illinois Institute of Technology that Jahn was exposed to one of his earliest career influences, the work of modernist Mies van der Rohe.  In 1967, Jahn began work at CF Murphy Associates, now simply known as JAHN, rising to become president and CEO, and it’s where he’s remained ever since.

Helmut Jahn’s Connection to Chicago

Helmut Jahn has designed memorable and impressive works in major cities across the world, including the Sony Center in Berlin, the Japan Post Tower in Tokyo, 50 West Street in New York City, and MesseTurm in Frankfurt. Yet, his architecture practice maintains a close connection with the city of Chicago. Despite his global footprint, the heart of his firm has always remained here.  In a recent interview with Archinect, Jahn describes Chicago as “my home – it’s where I started my career.”  His influence on the city’s architecture is hard to ignore.  In fact, even the state of Illinois itself has felt the impact of his design – the state department offices are housed in Jahn’s iconic Thompson Center.  It’s a testament to Jahn’s work that a 13-minute short film has been dedicated to the building after Gov. Rauner announced his plan to sell the property.

Helmut Jahn Thompson Center
A rendering of proposed revisions to the Thompson Center.

But the state building is not Jahn’s only contribution to Chicago’s architectural landscape.  He’s responsible for a number of buildings across the city, including 500 W Madison, a modernist skyscraper, State Street Village, a newer resident hall located at Jahn’s alma mater, 120 N Lasalle, a high-rise office building notable for its mosaic of Icarus and Daedalus above the entranceway, and now 1000M, among others.

Helmut Jahn Chicago Board of Trade
The interior of the Chicago Board of Trade Addition. Photo Credit: Rainer Viertlböck

Jahn rose to fame at a time when postmodern architecture was at its peak.  An irreverent yet impactful mixture of modern and historical elements characterized the scene, and Helmut Jahn’s work in Chicago exemplifies this style.  His design for the United Airlines Terminal at O’Hare International Airport combines arching glass and steel with creative lighting to evoke a Victorian railway station brought to the modern age.  Salmon pink and bright blue compliment the airy atrium of the Thompson Center, and its curved design calls to mind ancient coliseums.  His work on the Chicago Board of Trade Addition makes reference to the art deco movement of the 1920s and 1930s, yet retains a modern aspect, thanks to Jahn’s signature glass styling.  There was no architect in Chicago more adept at navigating the postmodern era, and Jahn’s personal aesthetic, which favored double-breasted Italian suits and foreign sports cars, was indicative of his appreciation for beauty and his bold approach to design.

Helmut Jahn United terminal at O'Hare International Airport
The United terminal at O’Hare International Airport. Photo Credit: Rainer Viertlböck

Helmut Jahn’s Vision for 1000M

Naturally, only such a visionary architect could bring 1000M’s “seek beauty” mantra to life.  Inspired by the “intersection of nature and city,” Jahn’s design encapsulates both efficiency and style, gradually widening at the top to provide expansive views of Grant Park and Lake Michigan. It’s a design that immediately stands out, and carries the unmistakable stamp of Jahn’s flair for daring and beautiful work.

The location especially appealed to Jahn – marrying the beauty of architecture to that of nature was easily done with such a backdrop.  What began as a stacked base for the building transitioned to a gently sloping design over the course of the planning phase, giving 1000M a slim yet striking profile in glittering glass.

To Jahn, the importance of beauty cannot be overstated.  Likening the building to a jewel in a recent video interview, he notes that “[a] sensuous building is something you want to touch, and [1000M is] sensuous, but it’s tough. The two go along with each other, too. It has to do with the materials. It’s the way it’s detailed.”  The glittering, jewel-like nature of 1000M is indicative of Jahn’s more recent work that strives to let the materials take center stage by removing unnecessary details.

1000M Luxury Condos Chicago by Helmut Jahn
Jahn describes 1000M as sensuous, but tough.

That early design inspiration from van der Rohe has morphed into a distinctive style all Jahn’s own.  As he tells Archinect, “[w]e always, especially after the postmortem time, put a lot of emphasis on what we call the ‘archineering’, the integration of architecture and engineering.”  To Jahn, a beautiful building is not successful if it lacks function.  Jahn’s irreverent approach to architecture that characterized his early career has mellowed to a sensibility that focuses on exceptional engineering above all.  1000M embodies this philosophy, allowing residents to build a home surrounded by one of the most beautiful locations the city has to offer.

To Jahn, crafting buildings that fit seamlessly into their particular urban landscape is an art.  With 1000M, he hopes to bring that level of craftsmanship to the Cultural Mile and to 1000M’s future residents.

Want to hear Jahn discuss 1000M in more detail? Listen to our interview with him.

Video link

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Think You Know The Best of The Cultural Mile? | Magical Moments and Budding Stars on Stage at Merle Reskin Theatre

11 December 2017

With its Historic Michigan Boulevard District location, 1000M affords residents ample opportunities to find beauty from the past and to watch history in the making. Few places nearby illustrate that duality more than DePaul University’s Merle Reskin Theatre on Balbo Drive.

Chicago Cultural Mile: Merle Reskin Theatre
The Merle Reskin Theatre

What other neighboring building can boast — if its walls could talk — that it has hosted performances by iconic actors Lillian Gish, Dustin Hoffman, James Earl Jones, Maggie Smith and Joe Mantegna, but also newbie stars such as Joe Keery, who plays Steve Harrington in the hit Netflix series Stranger Things?

“He constantly comes up in my world,” said Leslie Shook, theatre manager for The Theatre School at DePaul University since 1982. “The kids always ask, ‘Did you know Joe Keery?’ Yeah, he was an actor here.”

Keery, who graduated from the program in 2014, starred as Hansel in the school’s production of Hansel & Gretel in 2013 at the Merle Reskin, which now serves as the home for the school’s Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences. The oldest continually producing children’s theatre in the Midwest, Chicago Playworks has a long history of its own. It was founded as the Goodman Children’s Theatre in 1925.

Joe Kerry; Chicago Playworks production of Hansel and Gretel
The 2013 – 2014 Chicago Playworks production of Hansel and Gretel that featured Joe Keery, Photo Credit: Michael Brosilow

Keery is just one in a long list of artists — actors, directors, musicians and technical craftspeople — who have helped create the magic and beauty of live theater on the historic stage since it first opened on New Year’s Eve 1910 as the Blackstone Theatre.

The Early Years of Merle Reskin Theatre

Designed by architects Benjamin Marshall and Charles Fox in a French Renaissance style to mimic European opera houses, the Blackstone Theatre opened on New Year’s Eve 1910. The duo also designed the nearby Blackstone Hotel that still stands at 636 S. Michigan Ave.

 interior of the Merle Reskin Theatre
The interior of the Merle Reskin Theatre

The Blackstone Theatre was home to top talent and productions in its early years, hosting the first American tour in 1913 of what would become the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as the Theatre Guild’s touring productions in 1929-30.

After the stock market crash, the Federal Theatre Project, established by the Works Progress Administration in 1935, leased the Blackstone and staged more than 20 productions there.

Over the next several decades, Chicago audiences saw many iconic performances, some that remain Shook’s fondest memories of the place. Still in graduate school at UIC, Shook sometimes worked at the theater before DePaul owned it.

Chicago Playworks spring 2017 production of Cinderella
The Chicago Playworks spring 2017 production of Cinderella: The Remix, Photo Credit: Michael Brosilow

“It was always a place which was so dynamic and so beautiful,” she said, adding that in 1984 she was invited to watch a Lena Horne press conference during the run of her The Lady and Her Music show.

“It was outside my current Reskin office,” she said. “She took questions from countless reporters for hours, literally, and that was just wonderful to listen to firsthand. That was really special.”

In 1978, she saw legendary actors Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy star in The Gin Game and in 1980 she watched, several times, David Bowie star as The Elephant Man.

“That was pretty cool,” she said of Bowie.

Famous Grads of The Merle Reskin Theatre

DePaul purchased the theater in the late 1980s and in 1992 renamed it the Merle Reskin Theatre. It became the main stage for The Theatre School until 2013 when a new facility was built on the school’s Lincoln Park campus. During that period, several now famous grads appeared in productions, including David Dastmalchian (Blade Runner 2049), Larry Bates (Big Little Lies), Aaron Abrams (Hannibal), Alexander Koch (Under the Dome) and Chicago theater actress Taylor Blim.

Lighting designer Heather Gilbert and stage manager Brent Beavers are among the behind-the-curtain talent who got their start with Reskin productions.

The Merle Reskin Theatre still is making history — and futures stars — with three children’s theater productions a season and one production of the DePaul Opera Theatre each season.

Joe Kerry; Chicago Playworks production of Hansel and Gretel
The 2013 – 2014 Chicago Playworks production of Hansel and Gretel that featured Joe Keery, Photo Credit: Michael Brosilow

And if you think that just because these productions are for children they aren’t gorgeously staged and well-acted—think again. Shook said everyone brings their A-game.

“We fully produce and create these shows on a very large scale. We’re doing this play called Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook, and we’re doing the Cat in the Hat this year,” she said. “They are fabulously beautiful.”

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The Merle Reskin Theatre // 60 E. Balbo Drive. // The Cultural Mile

For current production season: https://theatre.depaul.edu/on-stage/current-season/Pages/default.aspx

For The Theatre School’s history: https://theatre.depaul.edu/about/history/Pages/default.aspx

For past shows and casts: https://theatre.depaul.edu/on-stage/productions/Pages/default.aspx

Luminary Artist Kerry James Marshall Shares His Vision of Beauty and Dignity On Chicago’s Cultural Mile

4 December 2017

Kerry James Marshall Chicago Murals

A new artistic wonder has come to 1000M’s neighborhood in the form of a massive mural celebrating the who’s who of women in Chicago’s art and culture world. The mural, by famed artist, MacArthur Fellow and Chicago resident Kerry James Marshall, is installed on the Chicago Cultural Center’s Garland Court facade, between Washington and Randolph on the city’s renowned Cultural Mile.

The mural which was dedicated to the City of Chicago on Monday, December 4th, was funded by Murals of Acceptance with the goal to bring art to all people in public areas.

Marshall’s mural represents women across the Chicago art spectrum

The noteworthy Chicago women include founders and leaders of internationally known arts organizations, literary icons, creative innovators and longtime supporters of the arts.

Susanne Ghez, Director and Chief Curator for nearly 40 years, The Renaissance Society

Barbara Gaines, Founder and Artistic Director, Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Jacqueline Russell, Founder and Artistic Director, Chicago Children’s Theatre

Ruth Page, Dancer, Choreographer and Founder, Ruth Page Center for the Arts

Lois Weisberg, Longest-serving Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs

Maggie Daley, Longest-serving First Lady of the City of Chicago

Jackie Taylor, Founder and CEO, Black Ensemble Theater

Monica Haslip, Founder and Executive Director, Little Black Pearl

Abena Joan Brown, Founder, eta Creative Arts Foundation

Margaret Burroughs, Founder, DuSable Museum of African American History

Harriet Monroe, Founder, Poetry Magazine

Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Co-founder, Goodman Theatre / Dearborn Homes Youth Drama Workshop

Sandra Delgado, Founding Ensemble Member, Collaboraction

Jane Saks, Founding Director of the Ellen Stone Belic Institute and Project&

Barbara Jones-Hogu, Founding Member, AfriCobra

Gwendolyn Brooks, Literary Icon

Sandra Cisneros, Literary Icon

Achy Obejas, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

Oprah Winfrey, Cultural Icon

Joan Gray, Dancer and Longtime President of Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago

The mural, which will be Marshall’s largest yet at 132-foot by 100-foot, is an element of Chicago’s Year of Public Art, which strives to illuminate the city’s vibrant art scene and bring internationally recognized artists to the city.

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Chicago Cultural Center // Garland Court, 78 E. Washington St. // The Cultural Mile 

Think You Know The Best of The Cultural Mile? | The Inaugural Chicago Art Book Fair

9 November 2017

The inaugural Chicago Art Book Fair (CABF) will debut on November 16 and run through November 19. While programming occurs at several partner locations throughout the city, the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, just up the street from 1000M , will act as the Fair’s host site. Unlike anything else in Chicago, the CABF’s rich programming celebrates small press arts publishing, and will showcase more than 120 international publishers, small presses, book artists, comic artists, zinemakers and printmakers — along with robust presentations, panels and discussions with the artists. Co-founded and co-directed by Aay Preston-Myint and Alexander Valentine, the Fair’s programming is free and open to the public, and brings an oft-overlooked medium to the forefront of the Chicago art scene.

Can’t make it to CABF? Check back soon to get the highlights here, or follow @1000MChicago on Insta.

The Chicago Art Book Fair // Chicago Athletic Association Hotel // Partner Institutions throughout Chicago // Free and Open to the Public // 11.16 – 11.19

Think you know the best of the cultural mile? | Classical music with a mission

8 November 2017

With blues clubs to the south and the summer concert scene at Grant Park and Millennium Park to the north, 1000M sits in the center of a diverse musical world. But residents need stroll just a few blocks to the Chicago Symphony Center to see the performances of the Chicago Sinfonietta, which bills itself as the most diverse orchestra in the country.

“There is beauty in diversity, certainly in what you see onstage and in our audience, but also in the kind of music that we present and how we do that. It runs the gamut,” says Courtney Perkins, the Sinfonietta’s director of development and operations.

The 30-year-old Sinfonietta still adheres to the mission of its pioneering founder and first conductor, Maestro Paul Freeman. He wanted to create an orchestra that provided opportunities for musicians, composers, conductors and soloists from all backgrounds and also hoped to build an audience that reflected the diversity of Chicago.

Paul Freeman (left) is the founder of the Chicago Sinfonietta where Mei-Ann Chen (right) is the Music Director.

“The first time [Freeman] ever saw an orchestra, he sat in the balcony—which was the segregated section for people of color,” Perkins says. “And even then it made such an incredible impact on him, how the conductor pulled the sounds out of his musicians. He was always drawn to that and he wanted others to have the same experience.”

Despite the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—one of the best orchestras in the world—already being based in the city, Freeman went to work. Freeman wooed potential supporters “one coffee at a time,” eventually creating a founding board, many members of whom still are subscribers today, Perkins says.

Through mentoring programs for minority musicians and conductors and its community outreach programs, the Sinfonietta promotes classical music to many who would not get a chance to experience it. Since its inception in 2008, the Project Inclusion Orchestra Fellowship program has mentored more than 45 musicians of color who have gone on to perform around the country. Seven of the eight conductors who have gone through the program have been placed on podiums as assistant conductors or music directors, Perkins says.

Trademark Concert, Chicago Sinfonietta - 9/18/17 Photo by Chris Ocken Copyright 2017 - ockenphoto.com
The Sinfonietta’s 2017 Trademark Concert

The Sinfonietta’s mission of diversity—which earned it a $625,000 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions in 2016—extends beyond the makeup of the orchestra’s players.

Called “the city’s hippest orchestra” by the Chicago Tribune, the Sinfonietta finds its joy in breaking down the wall of intimidation that blocks potential fans from attending classical concerts. Through innovative partnerships with other arts groups, it presents eclectic programs that present classical music in creative new ways.

Conducting the Sinfonietta since 2011, Maestro Mei-Ann Chen continues the group’s unique musical performance tradition. Looking at the current season, the Sinfonietta has performed or will perform with the Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, NIU Steelband, NewMoon Chicago, the Roosevelt University Conservatory Choirs and punk marching band Mucca Pazza.

For its annual Martin Luther King Tribute concert, Maestro Chen will mix orchestra, opera, jazz vocals, spoken word, archival audio samples and video. The ensemble blends classical mainstays with new works it has commissioned from four diverse women composers to premiere during the season and be recorded as the orchestra’s 16th album in 2019.

The Sinfonietta’s 2017 MLK Tribute Concert

Perkins explains that most of the Sinfonietta’s concerts are created around a theme, and the organization creates an audience engagement experience around that theme that extends beyond the performances.

Organizers might invite groups to speak with concert-goers before the performances and at intermission. For an LGBTQ-themed concert, the Sinfonietta invited several local groups that work with the LGBTQ community to make presentations.

“We try to create an open space through the umbrella of classical music to talk about something totally separate from the music,” Perkins says. “This is a really special thing and I don’t exactly know what the word for it is —but somehow a community is built. It’s really special.”

The Sinfonietta season consists of five programs that the full orchestra performs twice—once at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., and once at a suburban location.

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Chicago Sinfonietta // Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave. // www.chicagosinfonietta.org.

Photos by Chris Ocken Copyright 2017 – ockenphoto.com

Dîner en Blanc | Seeking Beauty In The Unexpected

6 November 2017

Guests attend Dîner en Blanc at Chicago’s Theater on the Lake on Thursday August 24, 2017. Photographer: Christopher Dilts / Sipa USA

Dîner en Blanc is an experience like little else. Combining mystery, prestige and absolute elegance, the event is an exceptional opportunity for residents of 1000M to connect with beauty.

Dîner en Blanc, which translates to Dinner In White, began in France with François Pasquier in 1988. Pasquier was inspired by the simple but powerful motivation to share an elegant meal with close friends. One day, he spotted a couple in all white enjoying a bottle of champagne at a picnic table.

“There was the spark,” says Roger Hobby, one of five hosts or organizers of the Chicago Dîner en Blanc. Nearly three decades later, this spark has spread to more than 70 cities around the world, with nearly 120,000 guests participating globally each year. Chicago has participated since 2012.

Dîner en Blanc distinguishes itself with its peculiar guidelines. For starters, attendees must dress completely in white. “Why white? To recognize each other as being part of the party!” Hobby explains. Guests are also required to bring many of the essentials of a traditional dinner party, including tables, chairs, cutlery and napkins (no paper or plastic allowed; only the real stuff). They can also bring a gourmet meal or enjoy a picnic basket from the party’s caterer. And everything — food as the exception — must meet the color code. Finally, the party’s location is not released until the day of.

 

The annual event sparks lifelong friendships.

“There’s something magical about coming upon the venue and discovering it, as opposed to knowing where it will be all along,” says Hobby of the mystery surrounding the location.

Roger Hobby began attending Dîner en Blanc 17 years ago in Paris. “A friend sent me an email one day asking if wanted to go to dinner and if I had all white clothes. A passion was born that night.” He adds that he was captivated by the connection guests make at Dîner en Blanc. “People start lifelong relationships with new friends, job networks and yes, sometimes even romance.”

Hobby has played a pivotal role in ensuring that Dîner en Blanc thrives in the Windy City. In 2012, he heard the planned Chicago party was being cancelled. Hobby was committed to keeping his passion alive in his adopted hometown. So with no budget and barely six weeks, Hobby and a group of like-minded friends joined together to create the first Dîner en Blanc in Chicago under the international banner. This premier Dîner en Blanc was celebrated by about 500 guests in the South Garden of the Art institute of Chicago, right in 1000M’s neighborhood. Today, Dîner en Blanc Chicago has grown to include nearly 4,000 participants.

 

Chicago has celebrated this international tradition since 2012.

Dîner locations are selected based on size, accessibility and, of course, the location must define iconic Chicago beauty. The party’s location let’s “people rediscover their own city, especially parts of it they may have passed by thousands of times, but have never truly seen,” says Hobby.

One of Hobby’s favorite traditions is the event’s unwavering commitment to preserving each Dîner location. After the party concludes, guests leave nothing behind — no trash, no footprints in the grass, no stray streamers or balloons. Hobby remembers the Director of the Palais-Royal in Paris looking on in amazement when she realized the venue was more pristine after the Dîner than before. The guests were “even picking up old cigarette butts,” remembers Hobby.

After all his years participating, Hobby is still fascinated and charmed by the annual event that provides such a mysterious elegance. “It is an event like no other,” he emphasizes. “Your first year you should be prepared to be overwhelmed and amazed.”

Perhaps this year, the Cultural Mile will act as the stage for the 2018 Dîner en Blanc. 1000M’s neighborhood is a perfect location for this unique expression of beauty. Interested parties can sign up to learn more about the 2018 Dîner en Blanc at: https://chicago.dinerenblanc.com/register.

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Dîner en Blanc // Clandestine Location // 2018 TBD // Chicago.dinerenblanc.com

Think You Know The Best of The Cultural Mile? | A Cocktail With A Story To Tell

27 October 2017

1000M’s unrivaled amenities package has a host of options for celebrating your favorite beverages, including a Wine Tasting Room with private wine storage, and Club 1000 with its full-service bar. But when the 1000M’s neighborhood’s collection of bars, pubs and tasting rooms calls on your inner cocktail nerd, you might find yourself drawn to the Milk Room at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel (CAA).

Pete Smiler, the Director of Outlets at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, describes Milk Room as a singular experience guided by incredibly knowledgeable bartenders. “My personal favorite part of Milk Room, beyond the space, beyond the selection, is the one-on-one time with a knowledgeable bartender.”

The Chicago Athletic Association's Milk Room
The bartender experience at the Milk Room with Paul McGee.

Milk Room, the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel’s ultra-intimate bar, isn’t a run-of-the-mill craft cocktail experience. It has a touch of performance art and a commitment to history rare in the ubiquitous craft cocktail scene. Once a Speakeasy during prohibition, members of the Chicago Athletic Association would discreetly drink booze in a glass of milk at Milk Room, away from prying eyes of the prohis. Today, Milk Room is a quick-service coffee and pastry café during the day and, at night, a sanctuary for cocktail lovers or anyone craving a liquor experience unlike any other in Chicago.

Entry is not by reservation, but by buying a ticket online that requires a $50 deposit, which is later applied to your bill. The eight-seat space does reserve two seats for walk-ins.

Drinks at the Milk Room in the CAA.
A specialty cocktail at the Milk Room in the CAA.

“Milk Room creates a sense of exclusivity by limiting access only to guests who are drinking and dining with us,” Smiler explains. “There won’t be anyone ‘popping in’ or giving historical tours while you’re enjoying you experience with us. This temporary escape from the hundreds of people in (CAA’s) other restaurants gives you the feeling that you’ve found something that no one else knows about.”

Milk Room elevates a night at the bar to a tasting session of rare and historic spirits and liqueurs. Single drinks range from $26 to $100. A Dollarita at Applebee’s’ they are not. Some of the liquors date back to pre-1900 when the distilling techniques were unique from the modern day, translating into a truly singular taste.

Rare and historic spirits and liqueurs at the Milk Room.
Rare and historic spirits and liqueurs at the Milk Room.

The rarity of the spirits is coupled with breathtakingly-broad bartender knowledge. Smiler believes the intimate seating lends itself to conversation and education. The personalized interaction between guests and the bartender “adds integrity to the cocktail… you’ll enjoy it better knowing why we do what we do.”

Not a cocktail connoisseur? A little overwhelmed by the intricate menu? Not a problem. Smiler suggests visitors less familiar with the world of spirits simply put their menu down. “Ask (the bartender) what they’re nuts about, or tell them what you normally drink. They’ll ask you the easy questions from there and narrow down a cocktail crafted especially for you.”

With a versatile and exciting neighborhood to explore, Milk Room at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel is just one of many unexpected thrills near 1000M.

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Milk Room // 12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603 // Chicago Athletic Association Hotel // milkroom.tocktix.com

Photography by Clayton Hauck, courtesy of the Milk Room.

An Expert’s Guide to the Chicago Cultural Mile | 1000M

16 October 2017

Ask a tourist to name their favorite aspect of Chicago and the answers will come fast and furious: the dizzying diversity of dining experiences, an afternoon at the Friendly Confines, the opulence and energy of the Magnificent Mile. But ask a Chicagoan – any self-proclaimed expert on our Windy City – and the answer gets complex because Chicago is simply fabulous. She is a city who has always known how to build and rebuild, weaving each modern progress around, between and above her historic foundation. Nowhere in the city is this more distinct than the Chicago Cultural Mile. And from no vantage point is this impressive stretch more replete – and accessible – than from 1000M.  

Chicagos Cultural Mile

Seize one of those rare autumn afternoons for an experiential walk up and down Michigan Avenue’s oldest stretch, from Roosevelt Road north to the River and back to your doorstep at 1000M. Here’s some of the gems you’ll find along the Cultural Mile.

 

Museum Campus

Chicago Skyline Reflecting on Adler Planetarium
The iconic Chicago skyline reflects off the stunning glass walls of Adler Planetarium.

This area is actually east of Michigan Avenue – thereby not technically on the Mile. However, the short extension is easily justified by the rich artistic, historic and – obviously cultural – significance of the pedestrian-friendly expanse. The Adler Planetarium, the first planetarium in the U.S., opened its doors in 1930 with a mission to inspire exploration and understanding of the universe. Also opened in 1930, the Shedd Aquarium is one of the world’s largest and uniquely interactive indoor aquariums containing 32,000 animals within a staggering 5,000,000 gallons of water. The Field Museum of Natural History and its collections originated from a temporary structure erected for the 1893 World’s Fair. In 1921 the structure was moved from Jackson Park to its current location where permanent and temporary exhibitions continue the museum’s foundational mission to preserve artifacts illustrating art, archaeology, science and history.

 

Grant Park

Grant Park in the Summer
The Chicago skyline peers out over the lush flowers and greenery of Grant Park.

Belovedly regarded by many of Chicago’s urban dwellers as our “cozy” backyard, Grant Park was officially designated in 1844 as Lake Park. Debris from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 became “lakefill” and significantly increased the acreage of the park and was renamed to honor Ulysses S. Grant in 1901. At different times, the park was site to a post office, exposition center, armory and an early home field for the Chicago Cubs. Walk through Grant Park today and its features are seemingly endless. Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park, Buckingham Fountain, The Art Institute, Petrillo Music Shell, Congress Plaza, The Court of the Presidents and Hutchinson Field are all notable interior areas within Grant Park. The lakefront area is also home to Chicago’s most notable festivals including the Taste of Chicago, The Jazz and Blues Fests, as well as Lollapalooza.

 

Millennium Park

Lurie Garden in Millennium Park
Butterfly perched on the flowers of Lurie Garden in Millennium Park

Although Millennium Park officially opened to the public in 2004, it was created to commemorate the recent turn of the century and bring residents and tourists together in a free-admission and universally accessible space. The Cloud Gate sculpture, commonly referred to as the Bean, has become the visual icon of the Park and the Chicago Cultural Mile in general. Indian-born British artist Sir Anish Kapoor created the piece after observing the fluidity and transformation of liquid mercury. In thematic parallel, the sculpture’s surface reflects and distorts the city’s skyline. The Crown Fountain and Lurie Gardens are not to be missed. You can grab a bite and drink at the Park Grill and during the winter you can ice skate on McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink.

 

The Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago Lions
Lions at the front entrance of the Art Institute of Chicago guard the robust art collection.

Although officially founded as an institute in 1879, this permanent structure again traces its construction roots to the 1893 World’s Fair.  At a present expanse of nearly 1 million square feet and boasting a permanent collection of 300,000 works of art supplemented by 30 special exhibitions – the Art Institute of Chicago is second only to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of art in size and reputation. Notable works in the permanent collection include Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884, Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and Grant Wood’s American Gothic.

 

Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and Symphony Center

CSO and Symphony Center
Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Michigan Avenue

 

Founded in 1891, the CSO is one of the oldest American orchestral institutions and prominently considered one of the “Big Five.” Currently, Riccardo Muti is the music conductor. The Symphony Center includes the 2,522-seat Orchestra Hall (dating from renowned architect Daniel Burnham’s original design); Buntrock Hall, a rehearsal and performance space; Grainger Ballroom, an event space overlooking Michigan Avenue and the Art Institute of Chicago; a public multi-story rotunda; and the Tesori restaurant.

 

That might be enough for one afternoon. Head on back to your luxurious home at 1000M. Put your feet up and relish the view.

 

Call 312-781-7510 or contact us to schedule your private showing.