Chicago: Green Furniture and Deep Pizza

How Green is your Credenza?

Thrilled to be in a thriving downtown city again. We wanted to catch some of the local exhibits, so after picking up a "Chicago Reader" we staked out our targets and headed off.

First we went to the Chicago Cultural Center which just opened an exhibit on Sustainable Furniture. Modern designers and furniture manufacturers set out to design and build beautiful household utilities using scrap pieces, unwanted parts, and whatever else they could find while also targeting usefulness and longevity of a piece. One of the nicest pieces was a small cylindrical latern built out of two left-over pieces of PVC pipe. Another piece, a student's desk, utilized the leftover parts from a kinetic flashlight to make a chair that, using the energy put into rocking the chair, lit a desk lamp.

Based on a suggestion by the attending security guard, who had also expressed her obsession with furniture, thereby making her current assignment ('guarding' a furniture exhibit) rather enjoyable, that we should take the elevator to the fifth floor of the center and walk our way down. What we had not known, going to the exhibit, was the building used to be the Chicago Public Library, and houses many beautiful Tiffany glass mosaic domes, walls, and stairwells.

Why do you trust the lens?

The Museum of Contemporary Photography has an exhibit exploring the use of photography in painting and painting of photography. It offers the juxtaposition that people tend to accept exaggeration in literature, poetry, and painting, but tend to take photographs as truth and reality.

One of the more intriguing examples was Gregory Scott (homepage) whose self-portraits are overlain with paintings to both humor and be intrigued by the combination of modern techniques and classical influences. "Six Inches Taller" was one of the more clever, and subtle, examples.

Would you like fries with that?

Being a bit of greenroof junkies while wandering the streets of downtown Chicago we passed a rather impressive building by an otherwise unimpressive restaurant. The Chicago McDonald's is an intriguing, two-story building with glass walls, a green-patio on the second floor, leather couches and small, private, eating areas. It's almost assaulting to smell the fried lard purchased for $0.80 to ruin the sense of the place. That, and the large man with walkie-talkie that follows you around after watching you take pictures of the building. I guess he assumed we were either a) terrorists, or b) Burger King spies.

How high is high enough?

Instead of doing the typical Sears Tower, we decided to mount the city on the slightly less high Hancock Tower (coupled with a 'family coupon', this worked out rather nicely). Besides the kitch and requisite group photo (which you can purchase later for a low price of $14.99), the view was very impressive. The city is very compact, with the primary view of all the big buildings clumped South of the Hancock tower, along the waterfront. Again, we were on a greenroof hunt, but it would have been easier to be on a rooftop swimming pool hunt. It's odd to think one would spend so much energy, effort, and money to put a swimming pool on a roof that may be usable for... oh... 2 months out of the year?

To top a busy day off, we spent the evening stuffing our faces at the very popular Giordano's Pizza. Mmmm... 3inches of stuffed, deep dish, Chicago pizza with some cool, refreshing Goose Island IPA. Of course, this is if you're willing to wait the hour-and-a-half queue time. We were.

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Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.