The Obama Presidential Center Will Break Ground This Year, and Other News

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Rendering of the Obama Presidential Center, which will soon break ground on Chicago’s South Side

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The Obama Presidential Center’s long-delayed groundbreaking may start in August.

The arrival of the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago’s South Side has long been beset by delays. After a lengthy review process that ended up spanning four years, federal agencies concluded that construction of the complex wouldn’t pose a “significant impact” on Jackson Park or nearby neighborhoods, preliminary work can kick off in April and groundbreaking can start as early as August. “Getting to this point wouldn’t have been possible without the folks in the community who have been a part of this process along the way,” Barack Obama said in a video message. “Michelle and I want to thank you for making this project even better—a space for the community, built in partnership with the community. We know that by working together, we can unlock the South Side’s fullest potential.” 

Supporters have heralded the decision to build in Jackson Park, arguing that the project will help revitalize neighboring communities and become a source of pride for the South Side. The groundbreaking of the $500 million campus, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, will include a museum, Obama Foundation offices, a public library branch, an athletic center, and outdoor recreation space. Had the project not experienced four years of bureaucratic delays, it would have opened this year. 

A row house thought to be an Underground Railroad stop gets landmarked after 20 years.

The 20-year campaign to landmark a Downtown Brooklyn row house tied to the 19th-century antislavery movement has finally paid off. A unanimous vote by the Landmarks Preservation Commission has designated 227 Duffield Street as historically important, preventing demolition or alterations to the building—once owned by abolitionists Harriet and Thomas Truesdell—without the commission’s approval. “I’m on cloud nine right now,” says one of the owners, Shawné Lee, of the structure, which is believed to be a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Pierre Cardin’s Palais Bulles in the South of France

After Pierre Cardin’s death, his iconic Palais Bulles in the South of France hits the market.

Designed by Hungarian architect Antti Lovag, Palais Bulles is a 13,000 square-foot mansion composed of otherworldly interwoven bubble-shaped spaces. Built between 1979 and 1984 for French industrialist Pierre Bernard, the Bubble Palace was purchased in 1992 by fashion designer Pierre Cardin, who passed away late last year. Now, the 13,000-square-foot mansion has hit the market. In total, the estate includes ten bedroom suites decorated by contemporary artists, a swimming pool, gardens, ponds, and a 500-seat outdoor auditorium overlooking the breathtaking bay of Cannes. Listed on Christie’s real estate arm, the property’s price is only available “upon request.” Time to book a virtual tour!

Stylish scrubs startup Figs gets sued by a medical apparel brand for misleading marketing. 

Since it first came onto the scene in 2013, direct-to-consumer brand FIGS has been credited with introducing a stylish sensibility to medical apparel. The Los Angeles–based company, which has used such advertising tactics as wallpapering the subway lines serving New York hospitals with irreverent ads and producing a video with a female physician in pink scrubs reading from an upside-down book titled “Medical Terminology for Dummies,” is now coming under fire for misleading marketing. The “Warby Parker” of healthcare uniforms is facing a lawsuit from legacy company Careismatic Brands, owner of Cherokee and Dickies, for claiming its scrubs kill bacteria and infection on contact, repel liquids and reduce hospital-acquired infections by 66 percent. Figs says Careismatic’s litigation is a fishing expedition designed to halt the momentum of its inroads into an estimated $66 billion annual marketplace. “We were warned when we started, ‘If you build a successful, innovative company, there will be those who copy it and those who try to crush you,’” co-founder Trina Spear says. “This company is clearly trying to do both.”

Rendering of 175 Park Avenue, which will replace the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan

New York will replace Trump’s Grand Hyatt Hotel with a gleaming 1,600-foot-tall tower.

When former president Donald Trump transformed Midtown Manhattan’s historic Commodore Hotel into the Grand Hyatt Hotel, he reportedly received a 40-year tax break that cost New York roughly $410 million. That expired last year, and now RXR Realty and TF Cornerstone plan to replace the structure with a gleaming 83-story tower designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Beyer Blinder Belle. As part of the project, developers plan to remove several large structural columns that block access to the below Grand Central Terminal, which will be dramatically expanded as part of the project. The new mixed-use tower, which will top out around 1,600 feet high, will hold more than two million square feet of office space, a 500-key hotel on the top floors, and 10,000 square feet of retail. The project is expected to enter public review this spring; if all goes according to plan, demolition is slated to begin next year with construction ultimately wrapping up by 2030.  

Finland advocates for 13 Alvar Aalto buildings to become UNESCO World Heritage sites. 

The Finnish Heritage Agency is vying for sites designed by the early Finnish modernist Alvar Aalto to meet the criteria for Outstanding Universal Values (OUV), a prerequisite for inclusion in the World Heritage List. Nominated structures include Studio Aalto, The Aalto House, Finlandia Hall, National Pensions Institute, & House of Culture in Helsinki; Jyväskylä University Campus Area, Muuratsalo Experimental House, & Säynätsalo Town Hall in Jyväskylä; Paimio Sanatorium in Paimio; Seinäjoki Civic Centre in Seinäjoki; Sunila Pulp Mill Residential Area in Kotka; Villa Mairea in Noormarkku; and the Church of the Three Crosses (Vuoksenniska Church), Imatra.

Works by Hilma af Klint at the 2018 exhibition “ Paintings for the Future” at New York’s Guggenheim Museum

Today’s attractive distractions:

Enter the meltdown of one of Brooklyn’s most buzzed-about creameries.

Secret paintings by the trailblazing Hilma af Klint are headed to Sydney.

Scientists engineer spinach plants that are capable of sending emails. 

The infant Luca Yupanqui releases an album recorded inside the womb.

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