The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Patronage is Alive and Well and Celebrated

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 22, 2005 8:03PM

We've talked more about Chicago's endangered buildings than those sparkling new ones. Consider the sturdy construction, fine craftsmanship, and sentimental value, it’s not hard to see why. But don’t believe today’s architects lack imagination. They’re working around rising material and labor costs, risk-averse patrons and mounting pressure to deliver on time and under budget.

Behind every great building is an enlightened patron. The Chicago Architecture Foundation celebrated forward-thinking civic and business leaders by doling out their 2nd Annual Patron of the Year Awards. If these selections seem odd, remember CAF is celebrating sponsorship as much as final product. And the winners are:

perspectivessch.jpgThe Perspectives Charter School: Daring enough to win praise from archi-wonks, familiar enough to win the admiration of administrators, the South Loop school’s new building helps sell the idea that they’re different. It’s a good choice—Exhibit A for constructing something provocative on the cheap.

Soldier Field & North Burnham Park: Yes, yes, we winced when the flying saucer descended on the historic colonnade. So did preservationists, itching to remove it from the National Historic Landmark list. The CAF Committee looked past that, giving the Bears and the City props for staying on the lakefront and bringing the game day experience into the 21st Century. The kids love the Park’s sledding hill and we love its proximity to Northerly Island, from where the stadium resembles a new age cruise ship.

Crate & Barrel’s new Northbrook headquarters: Perhaps a sentimental choice, the gonzo retailer born in Old Town outfitted their new home with high tech networking and telecommunications systems. You can also bet they paid attention to the interior.

University of Chicago New Projects and Masters Plan: More a series of ongoing projects than a finished structure, U of C’s plan brings a more ‘campus feel’ to the neglected South Campus, converts the Midway into a destination, preserves open space, and makes the area more pedestrian friendly. Now if only they’d build an express line to the North Side…

The Hyde Park Bank & Trust’s lobby: Bank with confidence knowing you made that deposit in a cavernously elegant train station space. We can’t help thinking that the CAF also rewarded the Bank for aiding community gentrification and making potential future award winners possible.