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Millennium Park Descends Into Architectural Madness

By Andrew Peerless in Arts & Entertainment on May 31, 2005 2:10PM

Image courtesy of Chicagoist knows you dig architecture. And we also know that, sometimes, one heavyweight architectural event just isn't enough to scratch your architectural itches. Lucky for you, Millennium Park will be double-fisting it this evening with two high-profile architectural goings on: the awarding of the 2005 Pritzker Prize and the unveiling of the plans for the Art Institute of Chicago's new wing.

We've told you a couple times about the Pritzker Prize, the architectural world's hightest honor, which is being bestowed upon L.A.-based architect Thom Mayne this evening. The ceremony will take place under the twinkly lattice of Frank Gehry's Jay Pritzker Pavilion (shiny metal bandshell), and will mark the first time the proceedings have been open to the public. The curtains open at 6:30 pm, so be sure to get there early enough to stake out a spot among the slender, bespectacled, black-clad masses.

Renzo Piano rendering of Art Institute expansionReserve some time, though, to swing by the Art Institute as they unleash a full day of jigginess surrounding the unveiling of the official plans for their new wing. The north wing, as the expansion is known, was designed by architectural heavyweight Renzo Piano, who rose to international superstardom in the 1970s with his unorthodox design for Paris's Centre Georges Pompidou. The expansion will feature three floors of steel, glass and limestone display space specifically intended for the Art Institute's collection of 20th century art, and will connect directly to Millennium Park via a rectilinear, totally straight pedestrian bridge (Piano's response to the lazily wandering BP Bridge at the other end of the park). The Trib has a really excellent write-up of the whole thing and groovy diagram here.

The Art Institute has a full day of events planned to commemmorate the public beginning of this project, including a new exhibit displaying the plans, choir and dance performances and a host of addresses and lectures. The full schedule can be found here.

If you decide to attend either of these events, be extra careful not to get eaten by bunnies. They seem to be eating everything else in Millennium Park...