Archive for November, 2009

Even more issues in American homes because of drywall from China.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on November 30, 2009

CPSC Ties Drywall, Corrosion


WASHINGTON — Federal regulators said Monday there is a “strong association” between chemicals emitted by Chinese drywall and metals corrosion, a finding that could pave the way for the government to help homeowners facing billions of dollars in repair bills. But who will pay for the damages remains unclear.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said an investigation by the CPSC and other federal agencies has shown levels of hydrogen sulfide to be higher in some houses built with Chinese drywall than in those without it. The findings include results from an indoor-air study of 51 homes and two other preliminary studies on home corrosion.

“We are now ready to get to work fixing this problem,” said CPSC chief Inez Tenenbaum.

Nearly 2,100 homeowners in 32 states and Washington, D.C., have claimed their homes were damaged by chemicals emitting from Chinese drywall. Many of the affected homes were built in 2006 and after in areas of the Southeastern U.S., and most of the complaints have come from Florida and Louisiana. Some builders used the Chinese product because of a domestic shortage during the housing boom.

Homeowners have also complained of health problems such as bloody noses, headaches and asthma attacks. Regulators said more studies are needed to determine if there is a link between the drywall and health or safety issues, such as fire hazards possibly from damaged electrical wiring.

Another finding from the studies: While hydrogen sulfide gas was the “essential component” that caused copper and silver corrosion in homes where the owners complained of problems, “other factors” including air circulation, formaldehyde and other air contaminants also contributed.

The CPSC said an interagency drywall task force is working with congressional and White House officials to determine how to identify and fix affected homes and fund repairs. But it remains unclear what the remedies will be and where the money will come from. Consulting firm Towers Perrin estimates drywall damages of $15 billion to $25 billion, including litigation costs….

To read the full Wall Street Journal article click HERE!

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My own visions for Roosevelt University’s new high rise in downtown Chicago

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on November 29, 2009

What do you think?  After eating for an entire day, I was sitting bored and trying not to give in to the tryptophan so I did a little editing for Roosevelt University’s new proposed dormitory and educational building, located at 425 S. Wabash Avenue in Chicago’s Loop.




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Roosevelt University to construct 32 story building. 2nd tallest in United States!

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on November 28, 2009

Roosevelt University to Build 32-Story Vertical Campus for Academics, Student Life and Housing

Roosevelt University will begin construction in February on a dramatic skyscraper that will be the second tallest university building in the nation.

The University’s new vertical campus will be sleek and contemporary, featuring a glass exterior, undulating shape, views of Lake Michigan and connections in four locations with the University’s landmark Auditorium Building.  A groundbreaking ceremony for the project is planned for April.

Designed with open spaces that will make the building feel like a series of neighborhoods, the structure will be a “green” building, drawing in natural light and cutting energy costs, and will be one of the few skyscrapers in Chicago that is LEED certified.

The 32-story multi-purpose building will be located at 425 S. Wabash Avenue in Chicago on the site of the University’s old Herman Crown Center, which is currently being demolished.

The structure will have classrooms, lecture halls, state-of-the-art science labs, conference space, a dining center, a student recreation center, residence suites for more than 600 students, offices and space for the Walter E. Heller College of Business Administration.

The new facility is needed for increasing numbers of full-time students who are taking more credit hours than ever before at the Chicago Campus. The University is projecting full-time equivalency enrollments will continue to rise significantly through 2017. The building will increase classroom capacity by 40 percent at the Chicago Campus and will pave the way for centralization of student services and new facilities for growing numbers of student-life organizations.

“This is the most important development in the University’s history since the Auditorium Building was acquired in 1946,” said Roosevelt University President Chuck Middleton. “We are building the quintessential 21st Century university structure and it’s going to give us a dramatic new image on Chicago’s skyline….”

Check out the full article by clicking HERE!  Photos courtesy of Roosevelt University’s website!

Image: South View  Image: Front View

Image: Street View  Image: Across the Street View

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Mortgage rates tie with the record low of 4.78% Perfect for home-buyin’!

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on November 27, 2009

Mortgages Tie Record Low of 4.78%


Rates on 30-year fixed-rate home mortgages averaged 4.78% this week, matching an all-time low in Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of conforming mortgage rates, released Wednesday.

The mortgage averaged 4.83% last week and 5.97% a year ago. This week’s average matched a low set the week ending April 30.

“Interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate loans are currently 0.8 percentage points below this year’s peak set in mid-June, which shaves roughly $100 off the monthly payments on a $200,000 mortgage,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist.

Fifteen-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.29% for the week ended Nov. 25, a new low since Freddie Mac began tracking it in 1991. This week’s average is down from 4.32% last week and 5.74% a year ago. The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 4.18% this week, down from 4.25% last week and 5.86% a year ago. The ARM hasn’t been this low since Freddie Mac started tracking it in 2005.

And the one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 4.35%, unchanged from last week. The ARM averaged 5.18% a year ago. It hasn’t been lower since the week ending July 7, 2005, when it averaged 4.33%…

To check out the full Wall Street Journal article, click HERE!

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Happy Thanksgiving from ChicagoismynewBlog!

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on November 26, 2009

Hello everyone!  I just wanted to take a minute to say Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you all eat way too much food and get to spend time with family and friends!  I can officially say I’m uncomfortably full right now…

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Existing home sales are UP an average of 10.1% in the United States!

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on November 24, 2009

Existing-Home Sales Record Another Big Gain, Inventories Continue to Shrink

Washington, November 23, 2009

Driven by the first-time buyer tax credit, existing-home sales showed another big gain in October with a strong uptrend established over the past seven months, while inventories continue to decline, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – surged 10.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 6.10 million units in October from a downwardly revised pace of 5.54 million in September, and are 23.5 percent above the 4.94 million-unit level in October 2008. Sales activity is at the highest pace since February 2007 when it hit 6.55 million.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, was surprised at the size of the gain. “Many buyers have been rushing to beat the deadline for the first-time buyer tax credit that was scheduled to expire at the end of this month, and similarly robust sales may be occurring in November,” he said. “With such a sale spike, a measurable decline should be anticipated in December and early next year before another surge in spring and early summer.”

Now that the tax credit has been extended and expanded, potential buyers have until April 30 to have a contract in place. “There is still a large pent-up demand that can be tapped before the tax credit expires. Our recent consumer survey further shows that 13 percent of successful first-time buyers had a previous contract that was cancelled or fell through – there likely are many more buyers who were attempting to purchase but simply ran out of time,” Yun said.

Historically low interest rates also are boosting the market. “Mortgage interest rates last month were the third lowest on record dating back to 1971,” Yun noted. According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.95 percent in October from 5.06 percent in September; the rate was 6.20 percent in October 2008. Last week, Freddie Mac reporter the 30-year rate dropped to 4.83 percent.

NAR President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Tucson, Ariz., said strong demand by first-time buyers is creating some unusual conditions. “In parts of the country, especially in Southwestern states but also in Florida and suburban Washington, D.C., we’ve been getting many reports of multiple bids in the lower price ranges with foreclosed properties getting absorbed quickly,” she said….

Check out the full National Association of Realtors article by clicking HERE!

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Major expansion plans for DePaul University’s Lincoln Park campus. Some plans already approved!

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on November 23, 2009

Huge score for DePaul

NO DISSENT | City planners OK new music, theater schools in Lincoln Park

November 20, 2009

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter

DePaul University’s schools of theater and music would finally have the world-class facilities to match their top-notch talent, thanks to a 10-year master plan for the Lincoln Park campus approved Thursday.

Without a word of dissent, the Chicago Plan Commission signed off on DePaul’s ambitious plan to build new schools for theater and music, a new academic center, and to redevelop Fullerton Avenue with a hotel, student housing and market-rate housing.

The project — with a price tag in the hundreds of millions of dollars — calls for closing Kenmore Avenue to vehicles between Fullerton and Belden to improve student safety, add landscaping and create a greater “campus feel.” Spectator stands, new dugouts and press box facilities also are planned for Wish Field.

“Those two schools have some of the finest faculty in the world and some of the finest students in the country. And they’re literally performing in spaces with dropped ceilings and walls that bleed sound,” said the Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, DePaul’s president.

“It’s not where you learn how to play an instrument. It’s not where you learn how to sing. We need a space where musicians [and actors] can be properly trained.”

The new music school won’t come soon enough for clarinet performance major Philip Espe. But it’s still a dream come true.

“I walk into the practice rooms at 10 a.m. any morning. There’s no place for me to practice. I’m sometimes in rehearsal for six hours a day, and there’s no space. It’s incredibly small. The practice rooms are not acoustically sound,” Espe said.

Holtschneider assured the Plan Commission that there would be no influx of students at the already-cramped Lincoln Park campus….


To read the full Chicago Sun Times article about the expansion, click HERE!

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Another Chicago building gets a good cleaning. The Fine Arts Building on Michigan Avenue.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on November 22, 2009

Wow, I’m naiive…and I guess stupid but why is it that I always think these buildings are supposed to be this dark and grimy color?  First it was the Old Colony building and now it’s the Fine Arts Building that is returning to its original splendor after a nice bath.  The Fine Arts Building, located at 410 S. Michigan Avenue across from Chicago’s Grant Park, has been going through the tedious process of cleaning the facade after decades of filth and grime soaked into the exterior stone.  Look at the pictures, especially the last one, and you’ll notice the change.  A big thanks goes to the ArchitectureChicago Plus website for the post and the photos!




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Design change for Chicago’s Grant Park and Northerly Island. This would be a great HGTV show!

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on November 21, 2009

Northerly Island, Grant Park have big changes in store

Both getting fresh designs — maybe for the better

Northerly Island

A design team recently held a public workshop for remaking Northerly Island, the 91-acre peninsula that once was home to Meigs Field. The team was led by JJR landscape architects of Chicago and including Studio Gang Architects, the Chicago firm responsible for the spectacular new Aqua tower. One of the ideas floated at that forum was integrating the peninsula’s massive Charter One concert pavilion into a hillside as part of an effort to create a more naturalistic landscape. (Tribune photo by Alex Garcia / November 10, 2009)
November 20, 2009

They are two of the most contested pieces of ground on Chicago’s lakefront — the first, where the Chicago Children’s Museum wants to build its controversial kiddie bunker; the second, where Mayor Richard M. Daley executed his infamous “midnight raid” and shut down Meigs Field.

Big changes are in store for both. And — hold your breath — they might even turn out for the better.

The Chicago Park District on Wednesday hired the highly regarded New York City landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh to redesign 25 acres in Grant Park’s northeast corner, an area that encompasses the dreary Daley Bicentennial Plaza and, within it, the proposed site of the mostly subterranean Children’s Museum.

As part of the project, which will renovate the East Monroe Street Garage below Daley Bicentennial Plaza, just about everything in the plaza — grass, shrubs and sidewalks — will be ripped up. In turn, the park will get a completely new layout, including a children’s play area of up to 5 acres.

Meanwhile, on Nov. 10, a design team led by JJR landscape architects of Chicago and including Studio Gang Architects, the Chicago firm responsible for the spectacular new Aqua tower, held a workshop for remaking Northerly Island, the 91-acre peninsula that once was home to Meigs Field. Among the ideas floated at that forum: integrating the peninsula’s massive Charter One concert pavilion into a hillside as part of an effort to create a more naturalistic landscape.

That the Chicago Park District has engaged such talented designers is a sign of how much Millennium Park and its Lurie Garden have raised the standards for landscape architecture along the lakefront. But given the bitter controversy that has preceded them, no one should expect either project to travel a smooth road.

The 58-year-old Van Valkenburgh, who was chosen from a field of 29 firms, brings to Chicago a long roster of acclaimed projects, such as Teardrop Park, a 1.75-acre public space that is expertly sandwiched between banal residential high-rises in lower Manhattan. The park is highlighted by massive bluestone walls that evoke the wild, rocky topography of upstate New York. It also contains features that don’t look as though they were made by nature (or God), like a 25-foot-long slide in a children’s play area.

This tension encapsulates Van Valkenburgh’s approach, which respects but does not slavishly follow the picturesque urban landscapes of great 19th century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. At the same time, a Van Valkenburgh park is not likely to be as intense as Millennium Park and its oversize pieces of public art. For Chicago, he said, “we’re talking about something that’s neither Olmstedian nor Millennium Parkish.”

“One element that we’re interested in,” he explained, “is a children’s play area. We’re operating under the expectation that (the Children’s Museum) is going ahead. We’re interested in how you draw some of those kids to a very different kind of play space, something you wouldn’t buy out of a catalog.”

Typical playgrounds, he added, “keep children busy, but they’re not memorable, they’re not inspiring.” The Chicago children’s play area, he said, might be anywhere from 2 to 5 acres in size, making it a “significant but not dominating” part of the park. He wants the play area to engage adults as well as children, and to be designed for a wide range of children, not just aggressive boys….

To read the full Chicago Tribune article on the new park plans, click HERE!

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GREEN ROOF UPDATE! 353 N. Clark in Chicago’s River North.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on November 20, 2009

A big thanks to SkyscraperPage user ‘Harry C’ because without his photos, I wouldn’t have access to these green roof photos from atop 353 N. Clark’s parking entrance and retail space.  You can definitely see the variation in plants and the overall design of the green roof a lot better in the second picture…money well spent in my opinion.  I can’t wait to see what the roof will look like a year or two from now.

Still finishing the green roof...

Finished and growing!

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