If it's got anything to do with O'Hare Airport, it's hinky

Is Chicago Tribune architect critic  the only newsman in Chicago who is sniffing around the latest O'Hare Airport expansion project and suspects that something doesn't smell right?

Kamin raises the issue in today's revealing column, "A peek inside Chicago's hush-hush competition to pick an O'Hare expansion architect: 'This whole process has been pretty weird.'"

It's a theme that Kamin discussed early on. Refer to my article, "Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin smells  “backroom deals” and “smoke-filled rooms” in the latest multi-billion plan to yank the 1950s-style O’Hare International Airport into the 21st Century."

I hope Karmin keeps pounding away at Rahm Emanuel's opaque process for selecting the architects for the new terminal/concourse

O'Hare's proposed terminal two (in purple)

O'Hare's proposed terminal two (in purple)

that'll cost unspecified billions of dollars. It's as if Chicago and the media have purposely ignored the abject failure of Mayor Richard M. Daley's earlier O'Hare Expansion Project spent billions more yet produced little if any promised improvements.

It's deja vu all over again. As Kamin related:

Architectural insiders are also in the dark.

“I know nothing,” said Lynn Osmond, president of the Chicago Architecture Center, the nonprofit group that hosted the architects’ presentations at its new 111 E. Wacker Drive. headquarters.

The city’s desire for confidentiality was so strict that Osmond wasn’t allowed inside her own organization’s lecture hall to witness the presentations, she said. And the imposition of confidentiality pervaded the lecture hall itself.

In addition to the drawn shades and papered-over windows, the architects were not told the identities of the committee members to whom they were presenting their plans, people familiar with the deliberations said. Often in contests like this, such introductions are made, letting architects know an evaluation committee’s qualifications and areas of expertise.

It's another perfect example of the Chicago Way. The political and special interest oligarchs decide by themselves what's good for everyone, take it or leave it.

As Kamin concludes:

That raises one of the biggest questions of the Great O’Hare Guessing Game: Whether a contract will be signed by the time Emanuel leaves office - and whether his successor will be bound to back the winning design.

dennis@dennisbyrne.net

www.dennisbyrne.net

My historical novel: Madness: The War of 1812

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