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… more specifically, the two new pavilions in the park dedicated to the centennial of the Chicago Plan, as envisioned by Burnham and Bennett.  I have not gotten a photo of them yet.

First:  maybe it was just that particular evening, but I noticed as many or more professional (looking) photographers taking photos of the new pavilions as there were actual people milling around and photographing them.  Tripods and such.  I think these might be more exciting to the press and architecture photographers than the average person; or maybe that’s just me who is underwhelmed by them.

Second:  walking around Millennium Park, I overhear a lot of people talking about their childhoods.  Totally supports my idea that the park is a big playground for adults as well as children.

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A lot on my mind recently, and I’ve been delinquent in putting these thoughts down in digital form.

For the time being, here are some photos from today’s walk to downtown (I would say “to and from” but the rain made me wuss out and take the bus home).  I headed from Wicker Park to Grand Avenue, saw a movie, and spent a bit of time in Millennium Park until I got somewhat rained out.

A show of color on Grand Avenue

I walked underneath Michigan Avenue for the first time (or at least, first time in that direction) – here’s the stairs to and from the lower level.

Egress to and from Lower Wacker

The “American Gothic” statues at the NBC Plaza, against a backdrop of the Tribune building.  Still working on how to hold the camera vertically.

American Gothic Statues and Tribune Tower

The rain at Millennium Park wasn’t heavy, just enough to make the park-goers huddle together under umbrellas.

Umbrellas in Millennium Park

My favorite photo – I love the floral umbrella.  This might have been the usual number of people at the Bean, but they seemed to be seeking shelter underneath it.

Rainy Day at the Bean

Five sparrows sitting by the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park.  They flew away about five seconds later.

Sparrows in Millennium Park

The rainy bus ride home (and messing around with the focus function)

Rain on Bus Window

Three weeks, more or less, until I leave Chicago.  More thoughts on this to come.

While I’ve already violated my rule to not spend any money today (not to excess, at least!), I successfully spent the afternoon transit-free.  After a couple errands, I headed down Milwaukee Ave. to the Loop (according to Google Maps, at least 2.2 miles from Wicker Park).  On my to-do list were the Rookery Building, the Monadnock Building, picking up a couple books from the library, and another jaunt up the Nichols Bridge at the Art Institute.

My camera was gracious enough to keep the battery alive for the whole afternoon, and I came across some interesting stuff.  After a lovely mini-tour of Oak Park earlier this week, I’m starting to think about another one of downtown… judiciously avoiding most of the touristy stuff in favor of more interesting sites.

Interesting shadows of an old fire escape

Interesting shadows of an old fire escape

I finally saw the Rookery Building – definitely worth a visit!

Lobby of the Rookery Building

Lobby of the Rookery Building

The Nichols Bridge, the spatial liaison between Millennium Park and the AI’s Modern Wing, might be one of my new favorite things.  I really wish they would leave it open at night, I’m sure it’s a beautiful view of the city.

A visual reminder that Chicago was built on the railroads...

A visual reminder that Chicago was built on the railroads...

… And a bonus:  I found an old rail bridge.  Very cool.

Looking up at the old rail bridge

Looking up at the old rail bridge

All in all, a lovely afternoon.  I’ll miss this city.

I headed downtown today to check out the Art Institute’s new Modern Wing, designed by Renzo Piano and which opened on Saturday.  The opening weekend (and all this week) Target is sponsoring free admission at the museum, which was definitely a mixed blessing, but nonetheless one gets a sense of the space itself even among the throngs of people.

Being somewhat disoriented (see: crowds, above), I did not get a clear picture in my head of how this new wing connects with the existing building, but the collection itself has been pretty neatly integrated into the new galleries – American contemporary and the Surrealists, among other things, are now housed in the Modern Wing.  The daylight-capturing roof was best seen from the outside, but was apparently at different angles when I walked in the wing and later out of it.

The best part by far was the new bridge connecting the museum with Millennium Park.  Although it’s a bit tricky to access it from the museum itself (one elevator takes you up to the balcony level, and the escalators are down-only?  Why?!), I imagine it’s a nice walk up from the park level.  The view is a beautiful one – overlooking the fountains and wading pool, looking east and west at Monroe, and the latticework of the amphitheatre lawn to the north – and very peaceful.  The bridge itself does quiver a bit, which I’d read about and was therefore prepared for, but it was unsettling nonetheless.

Looking north over Millennium Park

Looking north over Millennium Park

Unfortunately, the view immediately below the bridge is mostly landscaping detritus, so just don’t look down!

On my way home, I also (finally) stopped over at the Merchandise Mart to see the installation of Buckminster Fuller’s Fly Eye Dome.  It had some kind of organic chair-pile installation inside it – very cool.

Buckminster Fuller, Fly Eye Dome

Buckminster Fuller, Fly Eye Dome

The inside looks like raw blue fiberglass, and the bottom of the circles sit on the floor at an angle which suggests you could complete the sphere with more sections, if you so choose.

POSTSCRIPT:  The photography rooms in the basement of the Art Institute might be one of my new favorite things.  Also in the corner was the Architecture and Design Office/Library… it was closed, but peeking in the window had its reward.  Note that the drawers are Sudoku-like, not repeating colors in any row or column.

Architecture Library and Office at the Art Institute

Architecture Library and Office at the Art Institute