Los Angeles Times

Experts Talk About Soldier Field -- And So Do Readers

Tribune architecture critic

The architects of the controversial Soldier Field renovation plan will discuss their proposal in a free public lecture at 6 p.m. Wednesday..

The $580 million plan, which has drawn fire for the way its new seating bowl would rise over Soldier Field's classical colonnades, has been passed by the Chicago Plan Commission and the Chicago City Council. It still requires the approval of the Chicago Park District board of commissioners.

Chicago architect Dirk Lohan, whose firm designed the plan with Wood + Zapata architects of Boston, will speak at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, 224 S. Michigan Ave. Lohan will be joined by Joe Caprile, the project's managing partner.

A model of the stadium proposal will be on display in the foundation atrium gallery through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Call 312-933-3432 for further information.

On April 20, the other half of the Soldier Field design team, Boston architects Ben Wood and Carlos Zapata, will discuss "Work in Progress" at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Their lecture, which is open to the public, starts at 5:30 p.m. and is at Seigel Hall, 3301 S. Dearborn St. There is no admission charge. Call 312-567-3230 for further information.

Meanwhile, many readers responded to Blair Kamin's commentary ("Soldier Field plan: on further review, the play stinks," April 5). Here are some of them:

JENISON, Mich. -- The Soldier Field plan doesn't stink, your story does. For heaven's sake, do you realize how long this darn controversy has gone on. Who is to say what is in the best interest of the almighty public. I'm sure most people won't care one way or the other about the ultimate design of the structure, once it is completed and the Sunday afternoons begin. Most of the folks complaining will never go to such an immature macho event anyway. Please, let's stop the rhetoric and criticism and let those who love the Chicago Bears have a new stadium to go to and watch the team they love play in the city they love. The Bears are putting up most of the money, they are staying in this great city, they are investing their future in this Beautiful Chicago, give them a break. Why not criticize something else, like the ugly newspaper headquarters building across the boul from you. I love your city and I love the Bears; please, it is time to put this thing to rest. The Chicago Bears are as much a part of Chicago as are the Chicago Cubs.

-- Lawrence Oliver

Great article in the Trib about Soldier Field! It's hard to believe that those plans have been OK'd by the City Council, the Planning Commission, etc. It is a disgrace. I have a suggestion. Why not move the Thompson Building (Thompson's Folly!) and place it on top of Soldier Field -- then we would have a reminder of another architectural disaster and a domed stadium. The Bears would be happy! And those of us who work downtown would not have to view that awful building. . . . Just a thought.

Keep up your good work!

-- Joan Bentivenga

GLENVIEW -- Re your column in today's Tribune, is there truly nothing short of litigation to stop this monstrosity from becoming a reality? I have not seen the model that I assume has been constructed for viewing by the voting authorities, so I don't have a feel for the scale, but I wonder if it is possible to lower the structure by putting the floor of the stadium four or five stories below ground level. Would it then be less massive and fit behind the existing Soldier Field structure? I hope you will keep fighting this project as presently designed and located.

-- Phil Montross

CEDAR HILL, Texas -- I just finished reading Blair Kamin's article about the proposed Soldier Field renovation plans.

He stated what I, and I'm sure thousands (millions?) have been thinking since the first pictures of "Corporate" Soldier Field were published. How could they possibly agree upon such an offensive (and apparently unethical) renovation plan? I now live in Dallas and miss Chicago dearly. This feeling of longing comes from being extremely proud of Chicago. I believe it is far superior to any other city because of the variety (of everything) and beauty that it has to offer.

Other cities may be better in certain areas, but as a whole I haven't seen too many that can compete with it entirely. Each year, I've been able to bring one friend back home to show them what I've bragged about since being transferred out of Illinois. Not one single friend has ever been disappointed with their visit.

Surprisingly, though, the one thing that has really impressed each person has been the new and old architecture of Chicago. The lakefront area is one area that stands out the most. To change Soldier Field, in both name and appearance, would destroy what people like you have fought so hard to preserve and what friends like mine have been fortunate to enjoy.

In fact, each of my visiting friends has taken the riverboat architectural tour of the city and has gained an even greater appreciation of its beauty. However, the one thing (and, coincidentally, it relates to a building) that my friends are not impressed with is Comiskey Park. They all agree that it has great amenities but they can't get over how something so ugly can be in a city so beautiful. I couldn't agree more! I can't help but feel that we're on the verge of making a similar mistake with Soldier Field.

I've been to many, many sports facilities in my life and there's only one venue that makes me stare each time I pass it and that's Soldier Field. I'm sure I'm not alone in my opinion. I wish Mayor Daley would realize that it's not just the amenities that make the city or the game, it's the total experience!

How else can Wrigley continue to sell out each game when the Cubs haven't been a World Champion since 1908? He should take a drive-by tour of each sports facility around the U.S. so that he can appreciate what he already has in Soldier Field. A simple trip to Dallas (actually Irving) could possibly have the same effect. Stop by Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, stare at it for five or 10 minutes and you'll never have, or want, to look at it again. Is that what Mayor Daley wants for Chicago?

It's not that I'm against renovating Soldier Field to accommodate the Bears and other sports teams that play there. I just don't believe that you should notice these changes from Lake Shore Drive. A landmark and memorial as beautiful as Soldier Field should not be altered for the sake of money. There's a lot of intelligent people in Chicago, I'm sure an alternate plan can be devised.

-- Ty Barton

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