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Pelli Clarke Pelli Serves Ravioli as Likely DePaul Arena Design

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Update: McPier's board voted unanimously Monday morning to accept the Pelli Clarke Pelli arena design.

Pelli Clarke Pelli, the architect of DePaul's new Theater School, is also expected to be the firm chosen for DePaul's new South Loop Arena, reveals The Tribune. An advisory panel recommended Pelli's design to the board of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (McPier). Unlike the exhilarating Navy Pier design-off, the public was not invited to experience the competing bids—from a total of six firms—prior to the panel making their pick. Only a few weeks were given for the firms to compose a bid, and so if the above renderings look a little raw or less-than-comprehensive one may wish to blame the timetable.

The officially-named McCormick Place Event Center has been given a bright, billowy, and low-slung presence at Cermak & Indiana, which oughta help placate a local anti-arena crowd anxious about grim "black-box" arena design in a dense residential neighborhood. Instead, Pelli has advanced a sunken white box with a ballooning midsection sliced by skylights. Its has a similar street-feel to the McCormick Place convention structures— not what you'd consider a wonderful pedestrian experience. A skyway will connect the arena directly to McCormick, further discouraging feet on the ground. The renderings have the yet-to-be designed "boutique" 500-room hotel tower plotted for the site's northeast corner, the furthest distance from the planned 1,200-room McCormick Marriot. The sculptural arena, which will henceforth be known to Curbed as "The Ravioli", will, in effect, cushion this concentrated development.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is almost guaranteed to get his way with this mega-development, but skeptics won't easily forget the far cheaper and way more logical DePaul Arena siting options frittered away, including the United Center's rent-free offer. Projections have the arena drawing 58 gatherings a year (sports, trade shows, graduations, church events, etc.) when it opens in 2016. Construction is estimated to cost $173M with DePaul kicking in $70M.
·Panel opts for airy DePaul arena design [Trib]
·DePaul arena input coming later rather than sooner [Trib]
·City Promotes Bundled $1.1B Investment in McCormick Area, Navy Pier [Curbed Chicago]
·DePaul Arena Coverage [Curbed Chicago]