The List

The following is a list of cities, in no particular order, I would move to, if I had employment already lined up:

  1. Sydney
  2. London
  3. Melbourne (Australia, though I’m sure the Florida one is lovely)
  4. Seattle (Tower cranes galore)
  5. Los Angeles
  6. San Diego (Mostly for the weather. La Jolla in particular)
  7. New York City (If I can make it there…well, you know…)
  8. Boston**
  9. Tokyo* (I’ve never been here; it’s the idea of Tokyo that I like)
  10. Singapore* (Like Tokyo, have never been)
  11. San Francisco (That job I have lined up would have to be VERY lucrative)
  12. Phoenix (brutal in summer, but I’ve had it with cold winters)
  13. Toronto (So much construction going on here, I couldn’t resist the opportunity)
  14. Detroit** (This one surprises even me. It would be fun to be part of the comeback)
  15. Miami*** (Mostly the sunshine)
  16. Denver
  17. Pittsburgh (Reluctantly. I would have to live RIGHT downtown.)

If you don’t see your favorite city on this list, but you think it belongs, make me an offer.

  • Cities in bold are dream destinations
  • * Denotes cities I’ve never visited
  • ** Denotes cities I’ve been to, but haven’t really seen
  • *** Denotes an airport visit only



Kris Bryant fills the Chicago River with baseballs

Kris Bryant, with his BP pitcher Juan Cabreja, survey the outfield. Which is actually the Chicago River.

As far as PR stunts go, this one wasn’t bad.

Kris Bryant of the Cubs put on his jersey and took batting practice on the lawn at River Point Plaza. With Chicagoans lined up along the Lake Street Bridge, Wacker Drive, and the Chicago Riverwalk, he took swings and launched fly balls into the Chicago River with River Point tower providing the backdrop. This was a Red Bull event, so there was plenty of pomp and circumstance, including reps with backpack coolers handing out energy drinks, and a hyperbole-obsessed MC who let the crowd know at least 174 times that this kind of thing had never been done before.

I was there, and I took some pictures and video from a distance.

14 better ways to speed up baseball than that moronic “Runner On Second” MLB idea

In case you hadn’t heard, Major League Baseball wants to test a new rule that would automatically place a runner on second base to start each inning, once a game is tied after nine innings, according to Yahoo Sports.

**Keep in mind here, if the game has gone to extra innings, the horse is pretty much out of the barn on shortening the game.

So, to shorten the amount of time we have to sit in the open air and smell the grass and hear the crack of the bat, here are 14 better ways to make baseball games go by faster. They make as much sense as putting a runner on second base to start an inning:

  1. Hit off a tee.
  2. If, when hitting off the tee, a batter swings and misses, his place in the lineup is eliminated for the rest of the game, and is instead an automatic out. Come on, you swung and missed OFF A TEE?!
  3. If you insist on having pitchers — no tee — go to 2-1 counts. Two balls is a walk, one strike and you’re out. Or at least consider 3-2 instead.
  4. If a fan catches a foul ball in the air, the batter’s out.
  5. Those twin, parallel mounds in the bullpen? Utilize that technology on the field. Pitch to two hitters at once.
  6. Instead of 3 outs per inning, you get 5 outs every 2 innings. Follow me here. Every odd-numbered inning, the team at bat would have to decide, with 2 outs, whether to end the inning now, therefore allowing them 3 outs to use in the even-numbered inning that follows, or play on to the 3rd out, leaving them with just 2 outs to use next inning. So, if you’re first two batters make outs in the 3rd inning,  give up now, and save that third out for the 4th inning.
  7. Apparently Joe Torre is in favor of this fiasco. So make him pitch the 10th inning for the team that gave up the lead that resulted in extra frames.
  8. Show all commercials on the Jumbotron during the action, and eliminate breaks between innings.
  9. Bring back the bullpen cart. As a bullet train.
  10. Have relief pitchers be peanut vendors. They can warm up their arms throwing snacks, so they’re ready to pitch immediately upon being called onto the field.
  11. Use FaceTime for meetings on the mound, instead of waiting for 70-year-old managers to walk onto the field, then back to the dugout.
  12. Use only ambidextrous pitchers. Arm’s tired? Pitch with the other one. Saves time warming up a new pitcher.
  13. Put low ceilings over ball fields. As anyone who’s ever played squash will tell you, that really speeds up the game.
  14. If game time is 7:10, start at 7:00. Most fans don’t show up in time for first pitch anyway.


                                                        PLAY BALL!


Heading into 2017 with an unburdened mind

Kris Bryant Championship Belt

I did *not* miss a smiling Kris Bryant as he wore the Championship Belt at the Cubs victory parade.

I thought I’d never admit this. Seriously. I didn’t want anyone to know. I was fully prepared to go to my grave with nary a soul finding out the truth behind one of the greatest moments in human history. But I need to get it out in the open, and let the healing begin.

I missed the final out of the 2016 World Series. You know, the one the Chicago Cubs won.

I missed Kris Bryant’s smiling, slipping throw to first. I missed Anthony Rizzo tucking the ball into his back pocket. I missed Ben Zobrist skipping in from left field like a child who just found a shiny nickle. I missed Addison Russell and Javy Baez meeting in midair like a couple of Cirque du Soleil acrobats.

I missed it all.

There was a pitching change. Carl Edwards, Jr. was coming off the mound. Mike Montgomery was coming in to pitch. I needed to use the restroom. So I did what you do when you have to go: I went. I thought I had time while Montgomery warmed up.

I did not.

I was away from every television Moe’s Cantina had to offer. And the sound I dreaded, happened. First, a nervous cheer, then a quick crescendo into pandemonium.  And I knew the crowd wasn’t cheering for a commercial. I ran to the sink, did a less-than-thorough washing of the hands, and ran out into the restaurant in the hopes I hadn’t really missed the culmination of 46 years of Cubs fandom.

No such luck. I had missed it. And you know what? It bothers me. A lot. I feel shame.

Sure, we still got to celebrate. And I got to watch, half-crying, half-laughing, as the Cubs players celebrated on the field. But I missed The Last Out. And I’ve still not quite forgiven myself.




































































Alta Roosevelt Coming to Big South Loop Dirt Lot

Alta Roosevelt May 2014

The Alta Roosevelt lot in the background, way back in May of 2014. I took this from the ShowPlace ICON at Roosevelt Collection. The construction equipment was from the early work on the British School.

They say a watched pot never boils.

Sadly, there is no other way to know when to put the pasta in the water.

But that’s a whole other issue. What’s important right now is that you know a watched lot of dust and dirt will one day be transformed. I know, because I’ve watched that lot. A lot.

At 801 South Financial Place in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood, Alta Roosevelt has been given the all-clear to begin digging foundations for its future 496 apartments. As we’ve reported at Chicago Architecturethe 33-story tower will have studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units, and a whopping 348 parking spaces to go along with them.

According to the Chicago architecture firm with the outstanding name that designed Alta Roosevelt, Pappageorge Haymes Partners, the tower will feature “resort-like amenities.” These types of highfalutin perks are becoming the norm for new-construction apartments, not just for condominiums. Developers are looking to provide renters with as many creature comforts as possible, making today’s apartment projects look much more like fancy condo buildings. (You can make the argument that high-end amenities will help developers turn those apartments into condos somewhere down the road, but I’m not going there.)

What is a tad unusual for a new Chicago development the size of  Alta Roosevelt is that early indications and renderings show no retail space at ground level. Nor any other level, for that matter.

Alta Roosevelt Soil sampler

A soil-sampling rig parked in the dirt back in August.

I can’t say for sure why I’ve been so anxious to see something happen at the 801 South Financial lot. I’ve visited often, mostly to watch progress on the new British School that was completed in the space just to the south. It was on one of those visits that I saw a soil-sampling rig parked in the dirt, a sure sign that development was imminent. But that was way back in August. It took seven months to finally see some action going on here.

Any construction project I can get to and photograph before any work actually starts becomes an instant favorite for me. It let’s me chronicle the entire process, from dirt to done, with pictures all along the way. That means lots of trips to the South Loop. Like I needed another reason to visit…

2515 South Wabash Loses a Water Tank

Chicago water tank 2515 South Wabash

This Chicago water tank sits, for now, atop 2515 South Wabash Avenue.

New today, on Tumblr:

On Tuesday the 15th, the City of Chicago issued a demolition permit for the water tank sitting atop 2515 South Wabash Avenue in the South Loop.

This one instantly became one of my favorites when I spotted it back in September because it’s a “character” tank. Not just one color, not just plain, but with distinct markings on it. In this case, it’s just a company name with some tagging. But that still distinguishes it from every other water tank in the city. Heck, from every other water in the world, for that matter.

2515 South Wabash Chicago Water Tank




The Lazy Photographer’s Guide to West Loop Construction

West Loop pan

A dreary-day panorama of the West Loop.

If there’s one thing you know about me, it’s probably my name. If there’s a second thing, it’s how much I love walking around Chicago snapping photos. But if there’s one thing you know about Chicago, it’s likely to be that not every day is conducive to long walks, where cold and wind can make it downright impossible to hold a camera steady.

As it turns out, construction workers are a much heartier lot, and they’re tasks continue despite conditions. Lucky for me, I have my perch atop the Chicago Architecture West Loop Bureau from which to keep tabs on a whole bunch of projects and developments around the West Loop neighborhood.

The Parker Fulton Market.

The Parker Fulton Market

The Parker Fulton Market, more than half-glassed, at 171 North Halsted Street.

The Parker Fulton Market is the most noticeable construction site from our windows, standing just to the north along the Kennedy Expressway. It’s a project of Shapack Partners, a West Loop-based development company doing wonderful work to transform the Fulton Market District from a meat-packing mecca into a lively urban neighborhood. Topped out in December, the 29-story tower brings 227 new apartments to the West Loop, and will include 9,000 square feet of retail space. Residents should start moving into the new digs in June.

Brooklyn Bowl

Brooklyn Bowl

Somewhere back there is Brooklyn Bowl, a new bowling alley/entertainment space at 832 West Fulton Market

Brooklyn Bowl finally got the ball rolling last year after an eternity in the planning stages. Besides a huge, fancy new bowling alley, the space will also include dining, retail, and even a live-music venue. Designed by OKW Architects, a West Loop-based firm, a key feature is the facade along Fulton Market and Morgan being preserved from the original warehouse. You can see a photo of it in the gallery below.

The Ace Hotel

Ace Hotel

The Ace Hotel, mostly hidden by a giant condo tower blocking my view. #NIMBY

The Ace Hotel will be a seven-story, 159-room hotel directly across North Morgan Street from the new Google building. It was designed by Chicago firm Grec Architects, and should be open sometime in 2017. Not that I’ll be able to tell; Skybridge blocks my view.

One South Halsted

One South Halsted

See the soil sampling rig at bottom left? That means construction on One South Halsted is imminent.

It’s not a construction site yet, but the soil-sampling rig you see in the photo above is a positive sign. It means the project known as One South Halsted has a very bright future. Finally. The 50-story tower was approved for the site, now a parking lot for the Crowne Plaza Hotel, three years ago. Designed by FitzGerald Associates Architects — yep, a West Loop firm! — One South Halsted will have about 500 apartment units. It will also include banquet halls, a business center, a pool, and a health club, all to be shared with Crowne Plaza guests.

Jane Byrne Interchange Flyover

Byrne Interchange

The Jane Byrne Interchange Flyover is a multi-stage construction project to restructure what Chicago sued to call the Circle Interchange. When finished, it will include a new ramp from the inbound Dan Ryan Expressway (pictured above) as well as a new ramp from the Dan Ryan onto Congress parkway into The Loop. Also included in the project is a brand new Halsted Street bridge, pictured below.

Halsted Bridge and Bryne interchange

On the right, work continues on the Halsted Street bridge. At center of frame, you can see how far the Ryan-to-Eisenhower ramp has progressed.

The United Center

United Center

The United Center is adding a 6-story office building next door.

Saying it’s in the West Loop is a bit of a stretch, but the United Center is adding a 6-story office building in the lot just to its east. In addition to housing employees of the U.C, Chicago Bulls, and Chicago Blackhawks, the structure will include a 10,000-square-foot retail store selling merchandise from both teams, and a large atrium open to the public. It’s expected to be open in time for the 2016-2017 NHL and NBA seasons.

Coming Attractions