The Poetry Foundation, Chicago (USA)
The Foundation is at the corner of Dearborn street and Superior street in Chicago. The program included a library, a conference centre and a meeting room in a space of almost 1900 m². The architect opted a metaphorical design, and built an architectural poem, an architectural response that develops analogies with poetry.
The building blends quietly into the surrounding urban fabric in a dual, present-absent mode. The street side facade is made up of an undulating metal veil in perforated black zinc (ANTHRA-ZINC), a visual filter through which we can make out a garden, beyond which we distinguish the glass panels on the facade of the building itself. This exceptional element lets passers-by know that they are walking by a cultural building. It is also the setting for a universe whose atmosphere is light years away from the immediate urban surroundings.
420 West Huron Street
Chicago, Illinois 60654
Technique(s): VMZ Sine wave profile
Surface aspect: ANTHRA-ZINC®
Surface in zinc: 1,900 m2
Cost: $10.2 million (construction)
Completion date: June 2011
Location: 61 West Superior Street, Chicago, Illinois 60654
The colour black has certain connotations in our culture, the ones I was attempting to reference: authority and seriousness (judges and priests wear black clothes; a black belt is the highest level in martial arts).
Black also connotes the mysterious, the enigmatic, and the inexplicable, and I felt the building for poetry should have these qualities.
The preweathered black zinc is ordinary in one respect but slightly strange in an urban context, suggesting that something special is going on here.
The garden lighting will cause the screen wall to dissolve visually and become more recessive, allowing the garden space to become more dominant, as seen in this early rendering.
The garden would be the first step in this slowly unfolding sequence.
The space compresses, creating a path to the entry.
The visitor starts to emerge into the garden.
The glass wall is a custom-engineered curtain wall that spans 36 feet, from the ground, to the roof.
It is a unitized system that was installed in vertical strips.
Just outside the doors to the performance space is a tribute to Harriet Monroe, the founding editor of poetry magazine, that greets visitors as they enter.
As you pass through this glass wall at the entry, you enter the gallery that connects the library and the performance space.
This space will be used for changing exhibits related to poetry and as a gathering space before and after events held in the performance space.
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