Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-06-09



Architect Mark Sexton on values of inspiration, collaboration

by Ariel Parrella-Aureli

This article shared 847 times since Mon Oct 8, 2018
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

On Oct. 2, architect Mark Sexton spoke at the University Club in the Loop to share the 40-year history of his firm, Krueck + Sexton Architects. It is behind one of the most iconic and award-winning architecture pieces in the city: Crown Fountain in Millennium Park.

Sexton's presentation focused on connecting art with architecture and how design challenges lead to breakthroughs. He discussed how collaboration with artists and inspiration from past and present designers shape his projects.

"Our offices based on collaboration from day one—we work together," Sexton said of his business partner, Ron Krueck.

Although Crown Fountain might be the most recognizable project the firm has done, its style can be seen in buildings and houses across the country. Just like the iconic downtown gem, other buildings the firm has worked on reflect a similar philosophy: pushing the boundaries of architecture and design to challenge and grow with the modern world. The forward-thinking, minimalistic glass-themed work the firm focuses on pulls much of its design ideas from surrounding landscapes. Sexton gave a prime example of this from a project the firm did in the early 2000s called A Transparent House II in Florida's Gulf Coast.

"The inspiration came from the land of where it was put," Sexton said, describing the land around the house as having very soft and fine sand called sugar sand. "These wonderful dune grasses that sprout in the area—we used that as inspiration as we were structuring the house."

While most houses were on stilts to withstand category 5 hurricanes, Sexton and Krueck used the V-shaped root structure of the dune grass to create sturdy structures for the house, thus pulling from the nature around it and using that inspiration to make the house stand strong.

"We didn't ask the dune grass for collaboration but we actually collaborated with the dune grass," he said with a laugh.

Personal desires are also present in this project, which gave the firm another layer of detail to add to its design. The owner grew up with polio and it did not let him be outside much, so having open views with ample Florida sun and free space was important for the design, Sexton said. Bringing in personal philosophy, history and imagination made the Transparent House II a piece with incredible detail and meaning that won the Divine Detail Award in 2010 from AIA Chicago.

Similar characteristics can be seen on Crown Fountain, which Sexton talked the most about and admitted he could dish about for a long time. Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa in collaboration with Sexton's firm, it embodies what he believes is essential to architecture: that it can inspire and improve life. Sexton said the 50-foot structure was an "extraordinary development" that got everyone thinking on how to bring Plensa's vision to fruition with fresh methods that reflected the future.

"[Plensa] wanted to find an example of a 21st-century fountain," Sexton said.

To start, the team needed to find a place to manufacture the glass blocks. After careful research and networking, Krueck connected with a glass company outside of Pittsburgh, who individually cast the 22,000 glass blocks.

"Those glass blocks—you couldn't go to home depot and pick them up because there was no glass block," Sexton said.

The project—now a city staple—has three awards and is revered as a collaboration between art, technology and design that encompasses Chicago's diversity and architecture talent. Sexton talked about it like it was unveiled yesterday, even though it is almost 15 years old.

"We were the translators, we made it physical—that's what architect do, they make dreams physical," he said, adding that the reception of the fountain was unimaginable. "No one who worked on this project could have imagined what it has become today. And although they've tried, we have not had one college student drown in the fountain."

Like any good creative, Sexton said the process of the Crown Fountain and his other work had bouts of "I have no idea" how to make this work. But, with help from other architects, engineers, artists and contractors, many Krueck + Sexton buildings stand out in Chicago.

Other local sites the firm created include the Chicago Children's Museum, the Franklin, Shure, Inc.'s headquarters, the UIC College of Medicine, the Spertus Institute and most recently, the I Grow Chicago Peace House in Englewood. And that project was perhaps the most touching piece that left the audience with an endearing feeling of the values Sexton encapsulates through his work. The house provides a safe space for children and youth to build community, sustainability, peace and empowerment to fight the poverty and violence in the area. What started with one vision and one house has spread to include more buildings, community gardens, sport facilities and more—a literal growth of the project, which Krueck + Sexton have been working on since 2014.

"In some ways, we love working around the world but actually I think we love working more in Chicago because we want to improve peoples' lives," Sexton said. "We believe architecture, design and art [do] that, so here is our little foray into that."

The inspiration here was from past firm work but also including safety and security into "an extraordinary dot of hope for these kids," as he put it.

This article shared 847 times since Mon Oct 8, 2018
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Helmut Jahn architecture exhibit has opened 2021-07-24
- The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC), 111 E. Wacker Dr., has opened its first, major limited-run exhibit, "Helmut Jahn: Life + Architecture," the career retrospective of Helmut Jahn's innovative architectural designs. ...

Gay News

ATTRACTIONS Chicago Architecture Center reopens with new exhibits 2021-06-08
- On May 22, the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC), 111 E. Wacker Dr., opened all-new and updated exhibits in its 10,000 square feet of galleries full of scale models of new building designs from Chicago and around ...

Gay News

Chicago Cultural Center historic interiors to be restored for June reopening 2021-04-22
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL — Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) today announced the historic restoration of the landmark Chicago Cultural Center to reclaim two lost interiors decorated by the ...

Gay News

Chicago Architecture Center announces Spring 2021 reopening schedule 2021-03-12
--From a press release - CHICAGO — The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) announces plans for a safe Spring 2021 reopening of its popular CAC walking tours, CAFC River Cruise and CAC exhibits. Review COVID-19 safety policies for CAC experiences here. CAC ...

Gay News

Preservation Chicago unveils list of most endangered Chicago buildings 2021-02-26
- Preservation Chicago—which works with city officials, neighborhood residents, owners and stakeholders to prevent what is often viewed as the wholesale loss of Chicago's important buildings—has revealed its 2021 list of ...

Gay News

John Pennycuff Memorial Apartments in Castillo Plaza, LGBTQ housing in Logan Square 2020-12-18
- Last month, The John Pennycuff Memorial Apartments at Castillo Plaza (Pennycuff) opened at the corner of Milwaukee and Campbell Avenues in Logan Square after four years of development and city approval meetings and for the past ...

Gay News

Open House Chicago extended to Nov. 1 2020-10-22
- The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) is extending its 10th annual Open House Chicago festival (OHC) through Sunday, Nov. 1. Attendees have seven more days to follow 25 trails for self-guided ...

Gay News

Chicago Architecture Center offers self-guided, virtual neighborhood exploration 2020-10-06
--From a press release - CHICAGO — The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC), under the leadership of President and CEO Lynn J. Osmond, is pleased to offer more than 50 online programs and trails for self-guided, outdoor exploration, highlighting more than 100 ...

Gay News

ARCHITECTURE Controversy brews over Esposito dismissal 2020-08-30
- Members of Chicago's architecture community registered their displeasure after the city chapter of the American Institute of Architects announced that longtime Executive Vice President Zurich Esposito would no longer be in the ...

Gay News

Open House Chicago taking place Oct. 16-25 2020-08-18
- The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) announced the return of Open House Chicago (OHC) for a 10th consecutive year. It will take place Oct. 16-25, and the festival has been reconfigured for both in-person and remote attendance. ...

Gay News

Wrightwood 659 showing Doshi exhibit Sept. 9-Dec. 12 2020-07-26
- Local art space Wrightwood 659, 659 W. Wrightwood Ave., will reopen with an exhibition devoted to the work of visionary Indian architect, urbanist and teacher Balkrishna Doshi. Recipient of the 2018 Pritzker Architecture Prize, Doshi (born ...

Gay News

Chicago church that hosted historic same-sex event demolished 2020-07-08
- Following an extended effort to save the building, Misericordia Homes recently demolished the former Chicago Town and Tennis Club/Unity Church building at 1925 W. Thome Ave., in the West Ridge area of the city. Originally designed ...

Gay News

'Allure,' 'Warhol' closed until further notice 2020-03-16
- In light of the COVID-19 situation, the following visual arts institutions and exhibitions (and related programming) are temporarily closed until further notice: —"The Allure of Matter." at both Smart Museum ...

Gay News

Chicago's seven most endangered buildings, areas announced 2020-02-27
- Preservation Chicago released its 2020 Chicago 7 Most Endangered buildings list, covering some of the most vulnerable sites. —The James R. Thompson Center/State of Illinois, 100 W. Randolph St., designed by Helmut Jahn, will be listed ...

Gay News

BUSINESS Dan Earles and Bill Rossi, longtime business partners and friends 2020-02-05
- Dan Earles and Bill Rossi have known each other for a quarter-century—and that has involved everything from making crucial decisions about joint businesses to attending (more than two dozen) Cher concerts together. ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.