The Chicago Tribune moves into a new digital ‘space’ age

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

The Chicago Tribune’s move from the Tribune Tower to Prudential Plaza was not just a change of address for the storied paper, it was a change in the corporate organism itself.

With the move, newspaper leadership used the opportunity to shake up the newsroom and reconfigure the layout, transforming a legacy newspaper into a 21st century media player, active online and in print with its reporters feeding stories into myriad digital platforms.

Christine Taylor, managing editor of audiences, explained how the new newsroom layout—devoid of a lot of offices and cubicles—is improving how the staff reports the news. “We can move quicker to facilitate a more organic conversation,” she said of the open floor layout.

Reporters hard at work in the new Tribune newsroom.

The editorial department has five offices reserved for senior staff while everybody else, including multimedia editors, mostly digital natives, work shoulder to shoulder, she said.

Those editors help shape reporters’ stories as they’re written to better deliver the news to specific digital platforms.

“As we pursue different ways we tell stories, we’re not just driving everything toward the printed product and we want the people who understand those platforms best to be part of the conversation,” Taylor said.

In this way, the journalism giant hopes to compete with digital-only news outlets, like Buzzfeed, that operate across social media platforms in order to maximize exposure to a younger, tech-savvy audience, she said. Taylor said the Tribune will not sacrifice quality for clicks.

“I try to understand why [readers] tend to gravitate toward [digital] storytelling and then ask how do we participate in that space,” Taylor said. “How do we sell stories on those platforms and get those readers to interact with us?”

If that is the main question facing legacy news outlets, Tribune leaders believe the Prudential Plaza could provide the answer. Without walls to divide the newsroom, the operation works like a hive—each reporter working on his or her story, toward a common goal of greater readership. At the center of the newsroom, reporters have access to digital metrics, scorecards that track how well stories are performing and connecting with readers.

“As we pursue different ways we tell stories, we’re not just driving everything toward the printed product and we want the people who understand those platforms best to be part of the conversation.”

– Christine Taylor, Managing Editor, Audience

“One of the ideas around the restructuring was to put the audience at the center of everything we do,” Taylor said.

It’s a new way of reporting, in a new location, and Facilities Director Lynne Allen said the move was rough, especially on long-time employees who felt a personal
connection with the old tower.

“It was hard for people,” Allen said. “It’s an iconic building.”

For nearly a century, that iconic building was home. The Tribune moved into the Tower on July 6, 1925. Within those walls, presidents visited with editors, Ann Landers, Mike Royko and Gene Siskel banged out innumerable columns and hundreds of reporters pursued leads, called up sources and did the work that earned the paper 25 Pulitzer Prizes.

Despite the move, that history is far from forgotten in the Tribune’s new home in Prudential Plaza. In one corner, two couches, relics from Ann Landers’ office, sit ready for reporters to use during a break.

Historic front pages, etched in glass and illuminated from behind, line hallways. Quotes, taken from Tribune Tower’s front lobby now glisten in new shiny steel, old relics and artwork juxtaposed against a sleek modern day office interior. A historic wooden editorial board table, with chairs so worn that the leather has split, are given prominent positions in the the office landscape.

“If we had good furniture, we tried to reuse it,” Allen said.

In the middle of it all, a broad highway of a staircase connects the Tribune’s three floors. Allen calls them the “town hall stairs,” designed to accommodate staff for all employee meetings. The staircase also opens up the space, unifying the separate floors.

Eastlake Studio designed the space, and Allen said adding the wide staircase through the heart of their property in Prudential Plaza was no small feat.

“This was probably the most ambitious part of the project,” she said. “The stairs interconnect our space and make everything make sense.”

This, Allen explained, is a big difference from Tribune Tower.

“The Tower was a dark space with small windows,” she said. Floor to ceiling windows surround the office space at The Prudential Plaza. “Here, it’s nice to look out over Millennium Park all day long,” Allen said.

She said the newspaper looked at several properties but Prudential Plaza
was the best.

“We couldn’t have ended up at a better place,” she said.

EXPO CHICAGO brings top international art to Navy Pier

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

September 4, 2018

Artists, critics, collectors and connoisseurs will converge on Chicago this month for the seventh annual EXPO CHICAGO at the Navy Pier.

The international Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art will run Sept. 27–30 and will showcase the work of artists from 63 cities in 27 countries.

The international work was chosen by world-renowned gallerists including Chicago’s own Kavi Gupta, Rhona Hoffman, John Corbett and Jim Dempsey. Eleven Chicago galleries will be included, along- side art from cities like Seoul, Cape Town, Paris, Athens and Singapore.

“With over 3,000 international artists represented, there will be a wide variety of artwork for sale at EXPO CHICAGO this year,” said Tony Karman, President and Director of the EXPO.

The annual EXPO CHICAGO will unveil hundreds of top art pieces for audiences at Navy Pier. Photo courtesy of EXPO CHICAGO

“Most importantly, the artwork is always provocative. Whether it is evocative of sheer beauty or challenging in its content, the artwork presented at this year’s fair will do what contemporary artwork has always done—capture the moment and reflect what is happening in the world today,” Karman said.“That is what I always look forward to.”

This year, the EXPO will feature four sections of exhibits.

The “Exposure” section will give new artists a chance to shine with exhibits that will feature presentations from galleries that have been around for eight or fewer
years.

The “Profile” exhibits will focus on more established galleries and will present solo booths, focusing on major projects artists. The “Editions and Books” exhibit will showcase limited editions and publications by established and emerging artists. The “Special Exhibitions” will focus on non-profits based locally, nationally and internationally, including 11 Chicago-based organizations, like the Hyde Park Art Center and the University of Chicago Department of Visual Arts.

Karman said the Profile section of solo artists projects will be a definite highlight this year, along with the curated programmatic sections In/SITU and EXPO Video.

The EXPO will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 27–30 and and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 30.

Reilly unveils revised designs for Lakeshore East

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

Published Sept. 4, 2018

More green space and three towers are planned for the I, J, K and L sites in Lakeshore East.

A year after the initial proposal was unveiled for the Lakeshore East development, Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) and developers met in August with members of the community and the New Eastside Association of Residents (NEAR) for an informal discussion of revisions and updates on the project.

The Lakeshore East development will feature public walking and biking ways, intended to
Turn to IJKL, Page 4 facilitate thoroughfare in the area. Rendering courtesy of bKL Architecture

The project will develop land parcels I, J, K and L, which are located from 197 to 302 N. Harbor Drive and from 452 to 500 E. Waterside Drive. Representatives from the Lendlease Development Inc. and Lakeshore East LLC development teams were present.

The key announcement from the meeting was that residents can expect to see a larger park area developed and one less tower. Initially the master plan called for four towers, and hotel space. Now the hotel is scrapped in favor of condominium space. The space will include up to 1,700 residential units and 30,000 square feet of retail. The buildings will be approximately between 80 and 45 stories tall. Tom Weeks, a representative for the development team at Lendlease, said he believes the new plan is an improvement.

“I think we have a better plan tonight,” he told the audience. “Had you asked me that a year ago, I would have been skeptical of that.”

The plan includes 27 percent more green space and the elimination of a grand staircase, to be replaced with a meandering path. Developers said the plan is currently about half green space and that should improve pedestrian and bike traffic through the area. The green space will be developed and maintained by private developers but it
will be a public park, similar to Lakeshore East Park.

Alderman Brendan Reilly unveiled updates for the Lakeshore East development plans. The new
designs include one less tower and more green space. Rendering courtesy of bKL Architecture

“We wanted it to be universal access. We wanted it to be universal to all,” said Tom Kerwin, an architect from bKL Architecture.

For the most part, residents’ concerns and complaints were focused on traffic and safety, both of which Alderman Reilly said the development group would continue to address.

Upon news of the larger green space, several residents complained of people using illicit substances and homelessness in nearby parks. Reilly suggested residents call 911 and be willing to make an official complaint if they see illegal activity in parks.

The proposed green space will have a camera system and a funnel to
direct pedestrians through surveillance areas, he said.

“You’ll be able to get eyes east and west,” Reilly said. “We will know who’s going through the neighborhood.”

Last summer Reilly introduced construction plans to the NEAR group and since then, his office has been receiving feedback.

“If we have to say no, I’ve failed in my job because I’ve failed to find the middle ground and move the project forward.” – Alderman Brendan Reilly

Reilly has not signed off on the project and the meeting was intended to show how resident feedback has been incorporated into the designs.

“Negotiations have been many, many, many hours long,” Reilly told the audience at the start of the meeting. Those negotiations, he said, stemmed from community concerns.

“I don’t know if you’ve read, but there’s a story about the municipal race and it’s suggested there’s a habit that I drive developers crazy,” Reilly said. “And while I cringed a
little bit, I realized it’s part of doing my job.” Reilly told the audience he must also work for business interests.

“If we have to say no, I’ve failed in my job because I’ve failed to find the middle ground and move the project forward,” he said.

One objection he would not entertain was that of residents who complained the
new development would block views.

“I can’t protect your view,” Reilly told a resident. “That’s not the role of an alderman and that’s not how development works in a big city. If you want me to protect your view, I’m not your guy.”

Another concern involved pedway development. Several residents asked about forcing developers to build an underground pedestrian walkway but Reilly said that wasn’t going to happen.

“I don’t have the jurisdiction to assign a $10 million dollar obligation for a pedway system,” he said.

Following the meeting, Reilly said he
thought the discussion went well and while he does not expect to have any more public meetings on the development, his office is still taking resident concerns. Alderman Brendan Reilly can be contacted via his website, ward42chicago.com.

Chicago artist opens U.S. Pizza Museum

With museum, Chicago gets a slice of the pizza history pie

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

Published September 5, 2018

Everyone knows pizza has long been big business in Chicago. With dozens of restaurants all through the city and suburbs offering a wide variety of styles and traditions, it is no surprise that Chicago is known as a destination city for pizza aficionados.

The newly opened U.S. Pizza Museum. Photo by Angela Gagnon

But now there’s more than pizza. Last month the U.S. Pizza Museum opened at the Roosevelt Collection Shop, 150 Roosevelt Road, adding an important side dish to the meal itself—history.

Kendall Bruns founded the museum several years ago as a series of pop-up events at various pizza restaurants. With gathered steam—and funding—he is hoping to make the Roosevelt Collection address a permanent home of his pizza memorabilia. Indeed, the museum itself is less a collection of pizza lore and myth as it is a collection of pop culture ephemera—important to pizza lovers of the late 20th century and a fun trip down memory lane for most people.

An ode to Chicago-style pizza at the new museum. Photo by Angela Gagnon.

The space opened Aug. 10 and judging from the people waiting to go inside, there are plenty of people who are interested in checking it out.

“We’re just here to learn about pizza and Chicago,” said museum visitor Shaheen Thasa.

The pizza museum made national news and, maybe predictably, the announcement was met with outrage among New York City pizza fans who took to Twitter to complain that any pizza museum should belong to New York.

“I’m not biased or anything, but Chicago pizza is the best,” Thasa said. Bruns, the founder, has taken pains to remain neutral in the debate. He displays memorabilia from around the United States and in interview after interview, he would not pick a favorite style of pie.

Bruns describes himself as a pizza agnostic and said the national social media debate about his museum was not intentional.

Bruns said he hopes pizza unites more than it divides.

“People can get passionate, but it doesn’t have to be this division,” he said. Bruns said any type of pizza can be tasty.

The collection of pizza memorabilia is located in the Roosevelt Collection. Photo by Angela Gagnon.

“I enjoy all different styles of pizza,” he said. “And everyone should.”

He explained that the food should unify Americans because whatever style they grew up eating, the food itself has a special place in most peoples’ memories.

“People have this connection to their memories of the pizza they ate growing up,” he explained.

Another visitor said good pizza depends less on the region and more on the preparation.

“I think any pizza that has a hand-tossed crust, grated mozzarella cheese and home-
made sauce is good,” said museum visitor Daniel Gulco.

To find out more about the U.S. Pizza Museum, its hours and ticket prices, visit uspizzamuseum.com

Reilly seeks feedback on Aon project

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) is looking for feedback on the redevelopment of the highest floor of the Aon Center into an observatory and restaurant.

The project will turn the highest floor of the Aon Center—in the heart of New Eastside at 200 E. Randolph St.—into an attraction projected to draw more than two million visitors annually.

The proposed space will be accessible by a glass-enclosed external elevator on the Northwest corner.

Reilly co-hosted a community meeting with the Chicago Loop Alliance earlier this year at The Mid-America Club to discuss plans with residents. More than 100 community members attended.

“Neighbors raised concerns related to increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic, privacy and safety,” Reilly said in an emailed statement.

Upgrades coming to Lakeshore East Park

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

After complaints of graffiti, vandalism and general wear and tear at Lakeshore East Park, repairs are finally coming.

According to a letter from the Office of Alderman Brendan Reilly, Magellan Development Group, the park’s developer, have long term improvements planned. These include replacing the play area surface material in the tot lot and new playground equipment that will offer more activities for children of all ages.

Gabby Hart, the director of planning and development for Reilly’s office, confirmed the plans. “Plans are in place for full replacement of the playground surface and upgrades to the playground equipment are planned as well,” Hart said.

Hart said the tot lot will be closed when repairs are being made, but will otherwise remain open throughout the project.

Repairs to the surface area are already underway. The other improvements are expected to take place over the next few months and be completed by the end of the year.

SOAR serving lunch to first responders, Streeterville

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

September 4, 2018

Once again, the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) is preparing for its annual First Responders Appreciation Day. The event will be held Sept. 13, from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. at the Chicago Fire Department Engine Company 98, 202 E. Chicago Ave.

Bob Johnson, chairman of the safety and sound management taskforce for SOAR, said the event is a way to give back to the men and women who keep the neighborhood safe.

“The organization wanted to give thanks to our firefighters and our police officers and our paramedics who serve the community,” he explained. “We think they do a terrific job.”

In addition to the public luncheon, SOAR will deliver sandwiches from Timothy O’Toole’s Pub to the 18th Precinct District at 10 p.m. to recognize the overnight shift workers.

This year, the event moved from the Lakeshore Field House to a fire station two blocks west. Johnson said in prior years, getting the firefighters to go to an offsite location and then sit down for a meal could be tricky, especially if a fire broke out.

“The firefighters never got a chance to attend the event because they’d walk in, get a bite of food and then get called out,” he said.

However, Johnson said the event is for the community and not just for first responders.“Just show up,” he said. “Come as you are.”

Johnson said that while a local alderman or congressman might stop in, the lunch is less a political event as it is a way to build community.

“We just think it would be nice for our first responders to get to know our people and for our people to get to know them.”

Johnson said the lunch has been an event for years, and is something of a tradition in Streeterville.

“I think it was done shortly after the 9/11 [ceremonies], as a way to remember the 343 firefighters killed in 9/11,” he said. “It’s a time of year we think of them more so than during the rest of the year.”

For more information, visit the SOAR website, soarchicago.org.

The Palmer House gives guests a glimpse into historic Chicago

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

One of the oldest hotels in America sits right outside of New Eastside, at 17 E. Monroe St.

The historic Palmer House | Photo by Elizabeth Czapski

The Palmer House Hilton was intended as a wedding gift from Potter Palmer, an innovative businessman and the hotel’s namesake, to his new, much younger wife, Bertha, an educated socialite who was a champion for women and the arts.

The hotel first opened in 1871, but was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire just two weeks later. It was rebuilt across the street, re-opening in 1873, according to the Palmer House’s director of publicity and resident historian Ken Price.

Price has been with the Palmer House since 1983 and leads a guided tour of the hotel called “History is Hot!” Participants eat lunch in the hotel’s Lockwood Restaurant & Bar, and visit the Palmer House’s one-room museum, which opened in 2010.

The one room Palmer House museum. Photo by Elizabeth Czapski

The history Price teaches doesn’t rely
on timelines and dry facts. Rather, he takes names and dates and weaves them
into enthralling narratives, giving life to historical figures.

The Palmer House became a social
hotspot over the years, attracting famous
guests from all over the world including
many U.S. presidents, Charles Dickens and
Buffalo Bill. Musicians like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Liberace have performed in the hotel’s Empire Room.

An original recipe brownie served at the Palmer House. Photo by Elizabeth Czapski

The hotel was advertised as the first fire-proof hotel in the world, and the first to installlighting and telephones. Potter Palmer also invented an early version of the elevator, Price said. Perhaps most importantly, one of the most popular sweet treats in America was invented at the Palmer House—the brownie.

The kitchen still serves brownies made with the original Palmer House recipe.

It isn’t necessary to stay at the Palmer House to experience its historic beauty. Just pop in the lobby for a drink to experience the Grecian frescos on the ceiling, 24-karat gold chandeliers and bronze angel statues.

Haute Dogs to help Canine Companions

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

A different breed of fashion show is coming to Chicago on Sept. 20 at the Peninsula Chicago Hotel, 108 E. Superior St.

Haute Dog, a fashion show wherein both human and canine models walk the runway, will support Canine Companions for Independence, an organization that provides assistance dogs free of charge to adults, children and veterans with disabilities.

A woman and dog on the runway at a Haute Dog event. Photo by Marcin Cymer

Haute Dog began as a costume contest in Los Angeles, but three years ago, Canine Companions expanded to Chicago andchanged the format, according to Molly Schulz, the public relations and marketing coordinator for Canine Companions.

“We really wanted to find a way to combine the fashion industry and that fantastic … culture of Chicago with Canine Companions,” Schulz said.

A Haute Dog fashion show took place in Columbus, Ohio earlier this year.

This year’s models include Ravi Baichwal from ABC 7 Chicago and Natalie Bomke from Fox 32 Chicago, among other notable names. The human models will be accompanied on the runway by their own dogs or by a puppy from Canine Companions.

Members of the Greater Chicagoland Chapter of Canine Companions will volunteer at the event, assisting dog recipients and their canines. Shultz said the volunteers will be there to “mingle and talk to people so they can really hear about our mission firsthand from the people that we serve.”

A woman and service dog at a Haute Dog event. Photo by Marcin Cymer

Tails in the City, 1 E. Delaware Place, a luxury pet boutique, will provide all of the hound-some clothing for the dog models, Schulz said. Designers for the humans include Alice + Olivia, Contessa Bottega, Vince and Burdi.

All proceeds from the event will benefit Canine Companions for Independence.

In addition to the fashion show, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction will be available for guests, making for a paw-si-tively un-fur-gettable event.

Chicago Gourmet gets set to sizzle

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

With September comes Chicago Gourmet, a multi-day celebration of food, the city and, new this year, music.

This year’s event, set for Sept. 26–30 and themed Rock the Fork, is pairing music with the food, said Sam Toia, president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, and founding producer of the event.

“What goes better with food than music?” Toia asked.

Chicago Gourmet will offer the usual days of cooking demonstrations and tastings, all of which will be set to the sounds of DJs, blues, jazz, rock and other musicians.

“From blues to rock to you name it, we’re going to have it,” Toia said.

But, of course, front and center will be the food.

Toia said he expects Chicago Gourmet to again be the premier food and wine show
in the country.

Toia said Chicago Gourmet has gotten bigger each year since its start 11 years ago.

“When we originally started it was kind of a smaller event, and each year it keeps getting bigger and bigger, with more ancillary events,” he said.

Typically, Chicago Gourmet draws more than 16,000 people.

Toia said, “We’re just very happy.”

The event this year will feature 250 restaurants and chefs, along with premier wines. Area restaurants to be represented include III Forks, The Columbus Tap and Mariano’s.

Much of the action will be outside, in and around Millennium Park, and Toia said the setting is what makes the event popular.

“That’s one of the reasons we chose the last weekend in September, because historically it’s a very, very nice weekend,” he said.

For information about food, the events and tickets, go to chicagogourmet.org.

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