Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



Architect Mark Sexton on values of inspiration, collaboration

by Ariel Parrella-Aureli

This article shared 1761 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 1761 times since Mon Oct 8, 2018
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

THINGS TO DO Open House Chicago taking place Oct. 15-16 2022-10-14
- The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) is presenting Open House Chicago (OHC) 2022 presented by Wintrust on Oct. 15-16. The public is encouraged to discover a roster of 150+ sites in 20 community areas over the weekend, ...

Gay News

STAYCATION REVIEW Sofitel Chicago 2022-08-17
- Bonjour! If you're like me, you've walked past the Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile (20 E. Chestnut St.; a million times. You've probably also admired the hotel's unique architecture almost ...

Gay News

Wrightwood 659 xhibits explore architecture, aocial engagement, Japanese "Modern Girls" 2022-03-31
-- From a press release - (CHICAGO, IL — March 31, 2022) Wrightwood 659 presents a trio of exhibitions opening May 6, 2022: AMERICAN FRAMING, a reinstallation of the U.S. entry in the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale; Rirkrit Tiravanija: (who's afraid of ...

Gay News

ART Wrightwood 659 exhibits extended into 2022 2021-12-06
- Two exhibitions currently on view at Wrightwood 659—a private, non-collecting institution at 659 W. Wrightwood Ave. devoted to socially engaged art and to architecture—will be extended through Feb. 26, 2022. "Romanticism to Ruin: Two Lost Works ...

Gay News

Month-long Open House Chicago 2021 to feature in-person site visits Oct. 16-17 2021-09-25
--From a press release - (September 20, 2021) CHICAGO — Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) announced that Open House Chicago 2021 will again offer its popular in-person, indoor site visits, providing rare behind-the-scenes access to more ...

Gay News

ARCHITECTURE Thompson Center Idea Competition winners named 2021-09-14
- The Chicago Architecture Center and the Chicago Architectural Club announced the jury's selection of three winning designs for the Thompson Center Design Ideas Competition that represent three distinct, creative visions for the State of Illinois Thomp ...

Gay News

'Two Lost Works of Sullivan and Wright' opens Sept. 24 2021-08-08
- Wrightwood 659, at 659 W. Wrightwood Ave., is presenting "Romanticism to Ruin: Two Lost Works of Sullivan and Wright" a dual exhibition exploring two of these architects' long-demolished masterpieces. Said masterpieces ...

Gay News

ATTRACTIONS Chicago's First Lady offers a premium architectural tour 2021-08-05
- Recently, USA Today selected the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Chicago's First Lady cruise as the best boat tour in the country—and it's easy to see why. (By the way, it also was voted the top boat tour ...

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 ...


Copyright © 2023 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
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     
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.