The Curbed Awards wrap up today with a recognition of real estate and development figures who influenced or were influenced by those parallel grinding worlds. As always, it's a light hearted yet deathly serious affair.
Architect— Never having designed for Chicago before,Todd Williams & Billie Tsien gave us the immaculate Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. It's the sort of building that a whole city wants to visit, and that garners accolades and attention well in excess of its scale. Inspired by the image of a grain silo in the plains, the building ingeniously connects artists and academics. Runner up: By quantitative measure, Solomon Cordwell Buenz had another great year. They're one of those rare firms that seems to have more projects off and running than stuck on the drawing board (435 North Park, 360 W Hubbard, Goodman Center, 500 N LSD, Summit on Lake).
Developer— 2012 was a richer and less frightening year for developers than 2011. In naming Hines Interests developer of year, we don't mean to exclude the many noteworthy successes of other developers like Fifield (K2, Chicago Ave Plan, Eisenhower Cap scheme) and McCaffery (signing of Roosevelt Collection retail tenants, South Works mega development). But Hines had the year's most successful rental development (1225 Old Town), city-subsidized approval for a spec office tower called River Point, and Chicago's most prominent proposal in the Wolf Point trio of towers. In effect, they could control what the Chicago River juncture looks like for decades to come.
Renegade Agent— Seth Captain went down with dignity in the semis of the Curbed Chicago Hottest Broker Contest. The guy was such a good sport along the way, we thought we'd invent a category that he'd definitely win: Renegade Agent of 2012. Nice, huh? For one, Captain Realty specializes in obscure and vintage real estate and heroic prose to get clients in the buying mood. He's one of few joke-crakers in the biz, and even fewer with a comical blog. Take it away, Cap'n: "American Housing is the greatest market that modern man (and yes, woman and extra terrestrial too) has at his disposal. Greater than the biggest markets of the Silk Road or Africa. Better than the grand flea markets of County Fairs, or even, EBAY. The nature of our culture to constantly be in flux, always looking for the next best thing, or having to adapt to new circumstances, produces and has produced unrivaled housing development over the last 125 years, and created a market that guarantees, in every budget, that your home, a place with just enough light and space and location for you, that you can personalize into that dream home, exists."