Chi-CADE is a work of architecture for architecture, providing over 200,000 square feet of space allocated to the creativity of the Chicago community and its visitors. This Center for Architecture, Design & Education is not meant to focus solely on Chicago architecture, but represent the entire world of architecture; past, present and future. The Column, being a fundamental architectural element, is one the most diversely understood components of architecture around the world, and the driving force behind this design concept.
The ultimate goal of this project is to establish a cultural initiative within the city of Chicago that expands the understanding of World Architecture and Design beyond its contributors, using the column as a device. Arranged on a gridded site, the columns are responsible for all vertical exchanges, be they forces, movement, or utility. The buildings form is inspired by the potential to re-imagine the scale of an urban environment. Floating masses remain formally ambiguous, but maintain their individuality. Each floating mass represents a new urban interior with an internal focus on educating the community. The space created between the objects provides a community landscape complete with gardens, observation areas, and exhibition spaces.
Unlike Toyo Ito’s Sendai Mediatheque, the center point remains true to the grid. The column never pretends to be something else. It simply takes on more responsibility, while maintaining its identity. It is structure, utility, circulation, and void; but always a column.
By manipulating the Ground into a continuous folding surface, one is able to access four different spaces from the street, including a semi-enclosed public space. This type of ground presence allows for a level of flow that will encourage passers by to engage in the architecture. It also creates a procession that further emphasizes the strength of the lifted tower above.
The goal of this project is to provide a frame through which Architecture is rediscovered. The building emphasizes its urban interior while taking the form of oversized piece of furniture. It establishes a cultural initiative to acknowledge the past, move forward in the present and look eagerly towards the future.