Chicago Gets Covered in Architect’s Trace

Apple sketch walks by Today at Apple and Architect Iker Gil of MAS Studio are using digital drawing to engage and experience the ultimate architect’s city we all know and love. Using augmented reality, background photos and the magic of architect’s Trace, they ventured out into the iconic Marina City as part of the grand opening of Apple’s new Michigan Avenue Store. This amazing urban hub, designed by Norman Foster and Partners, celebrates Chicago and Apple’s shared legacy of merging technology with design by bringing together dynamic creatives of all types. Morpholio is proud to feature the drawings of four sketch explorers — Julio Brenes, Peter Exley, Rafael Gil, Michel Rojkind — and the full story in his own words by Iker Gil.

Detail of image by Julio Brenes.

Read the full account of the Sketch Walk through Marina City using Morpholio Trace in Gil’s words below.

Capturing the City

By Iker Gil

On Sunday, October 22, 2017, during the opening festivities for the new Apple store in Chicago, I was invited to lead a sketch walk through Marina City. The event had two purposes: to share the remarkable history of the Bertrand Goldberg-designed complex; and to discuss the role of sketching by presenting original sketches of Marina City, sharing sketches specifically commissioned for the event, and leading a visit to the rooftop of one of the towers so that participants could create their own sketches using the Morpholio Trace app. For this brief recount of the event, I would like to focus on sketching and Marina City.

Image by Peter Exley.

As part of the presentation of the history of Marina City, I selected a series of original sketches and illustrations from the Bertrand Goldberg Archives that are housed at the Art Institute of Chicago. The selected sketches illustrated the complex before and after it was built, each created to highlight a specific quality. For example, in an overall view, the author relates Marina City to the Wrigley Building through the use of light to position it as the new icon in the city. The bridges and streets are also highlighted, possibly to focus our attention to its immediate context and connection to the Loop. In an illustration of the plaza, the original intent to establish a strong civic space, defined by the presence of large sculptures, is clearly articulated. In an illustration of the commercial area, we can understand the thickness of the ground, with the stacking of the different uses: plaza, restaurant, riverwalk, marina, and river. And an interior view of the theater conveys a sense of awe and the future that has arrived, highlighting the beauty and complexity of the roof structure. After the complex was built, there were other sketches produced by Bertrand Goldberg. In a 1985 sketch, the residential towers are not accurately located relative to the site in order to once again highlight the size of the plaza level and its civic qualities. Also highlighted is the transparency of the commercial level and ice skating rink, and its relationship to the river with its marina level.

Image by Rafael Gil.

To continue to explore ways of communicating the qualities of Marina City, for the event I commissioned a series of sketches by five colleagues based in different places across the world, from Tokyo and Melbourne to Bilbao and Mexico City as well as Chicago. The sketch artists were Luis Mendo, Julio Brenes, Rafael Gil, Michel Rojkind, and Peter Exley respectively. As it was the case in the original sketches, it was interesting to discuss the different techniques used in each of them as well as how each sketch focused on specific qualities of the buildings: the formal repetition of the balconies, the composition defined by the two residential towers, Marina City’s relationship to its immediate context and the city, and the extraordinary life that takes place in its balconies.

Image by Michel Rojkind

Finally, those attending the event had the chance to go to the rooftop of Marina City (or the observation deck as architect Bertrand Goldberg called it) to sketch Chicago’s skyline and the surroundings of Marina City with their iPad Pro and Morpholio Trace app. It was a unique opportunity for each of them to directly test some of the concepts discussed earlier in the day and create their own personal observation of the city. Each of the participants created a sketch that became a unique representation of the city, incorporating and conveying their own point of view.

Image by Julio Brenes.

About Iker Gil

Iker Gil is an architect and director of MAS Studio. He is also the editor in chief of the design journal MAS Context, faculty member at the School of Art Institute of Chicago, and the associate curator of the US Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Learn more about Iker and MAS Studio on Twitter, @MASContext, and Instagram: @ikergil and @MASContext.

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