According to those reports, the project’s price tag has soared to $27 million from an initial estimate of $7.6 million. But that is not an apples-to-apples comparison. All it reveals—surprise— is that city officials low-balled the project’s overall cost when they announced that Gang and her firm, Studio Gang Architecture, had bested 107 entrants from nine countries in a design competition for the center. — Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune
The Ford Calumet Environmental Center— darlingly nicknamed the 'Best Nest'— was officially unveiled on Earth Day in 2004. Seven years later, the project has yet to materialize into anything despite a 2006 completion date. Perhaps merely a political stunt, on-his-way-out Mayor Daley had wanted to make Chicago “the greenest city in America." With Daley gone, this 'pet project' is getting a revaluation due to a $10,000,000 funding gap.
Jeanne Gang's business partner, Mark Schendel, had previously given a figure of $17,360,000 that included numerous updates and improvements when documents were completed in 2008. However, this figure ignored land acquisition costs, future construction costs and furnishing the building which is expected to add another $10,000,000 of heft.
Department of Environment Commissioner Suzanne Malec-McKenna has given a few numbers on current funding for the project— $10,000,000 from the city, $3,000,000 from the state, $1,000,000 in grants and $6,000,000 from the Ford Foundation.The 'Best Nest' will or might sit on a site in Hegewisch Marsh, just south of the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant, on S. Torrance Avenue.
One of the most prominent features of this project was the use of a recycled-steel exterior cage-like structure to reduce bird collisions. As a use of architecture protecting wildlife, Studio Gang is a pioneer of reducing bird-and-building-related fatalities.
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