In preparation for the first Chicago Architecture Biennial, architects worldwide proposed kiosk designs inspired by the Windy City and its Lake Michigan waterfront. Pirouette represents a joint proposal by Denegri Bessai Studio and Studio Great Lakes

A clear expression for the ‘current state of advancement in architecture’ is a built form that is rooted in the ambitions of the past, and projects forward as a formal and material translation. This proposal strategically uses precedent as a driver for the design process. Method: Examine and interrogate the concept and design process of an iconic structure within the Chicago landscape to develop a sensibility. Use this sensibility to design a formal translation that functions first as an exhibition space to celebrate the discipline of architecture, and then as an iconic form at the lakefront for retail use. Objective: Showcase the ‘ambitions, challenges and possibilities fueling the architectural imagination today to steer the future field’.

The PIROUETTE design translates a retroactive aesthetic from a timeless icon on the Chicago skyline and speaks to the accelerated speed of change in the architectural landscape today.



Goldberg’s Formal Concept
Goldberg’s love for pure geometry informed his social and urban motivations in architecture. Goldberg believed that people should not live in square boxes (‘psychological slums’) and that “each person should retain his own relation to the core”. These interests led him to the futuristic structures of Buckminster Fuller to conceptualize Marina City. Goldberg imagined a tower design unlike any of the time; through form he made a social statement about urban housing and ‘community’. Marina City was the first United States project to use cranes for construction and, made with concrete in-situ, was the tallest reinforced concrete structure of its time.

Formal Concept
The core and balconies of Marina City established its iconography. Resting on eight caissons, the core rose faster than the floors in construction and created an initial identity. The repetitive balconies, defined by projecting floor plates and thick flanking columns with floor-to-ceiling glass, framed unobstructed views to the city and were seen as kernels on a ‘corn cob’.

PIROUETTE sources the successful formal qualities of a structural core and ‘framed views’ to conceptualize and encourage a scripted viewing of both the waterfront and the urban landscape. Conflating a couture gown and the hinging of an umbrella, PIROUETTE reinterprets the core and balconies of Marina City as a corset and flowing bustles of a skirt. In a folded, closed state, the corset cinches the skirt modifying the form to a rigid resting structure. In an open, released state, the structure becomes the twirling skirt of a dancing woman.

One of Goldberg’s first commissions was the North Pole Ice Cream Store. This store was designed for a location in Illinois for summer and Florida for winter. In his transcript entitled ‘Space on Wheels’ Goldberg defines this mobile structure as “a new alloy, neither trailer nor building but combining the best of both elements”. PIROUETTE is a direct translation of this concept of mobility. It is a foundationless structure that can pop-up or fold-down and is easily dismountable for transport.

When open, PIROUETTE acts as a cultural center for the Chicago Biennial, exhibiting architectural imagery and selling a branded t-shirt; eight radiating stands display a series of Chicago architect graphic tees: Burnham, Mies, Sullivan, Wright, Goldberg, Gang, SOM, and Ross Barney. The retail displays are movable enabling a variety of uses for a lakefront kiosk.

When PIROUETTE folds down for the evening, it illuminates and displays urban imagery of Chicago.

Goldberg used traditional planning strategies to formalize entries and provide geometric forms the negative space necessary to objectify them. PIROUETTE requires but is not limited by this same negative space that is abundant at Chicago’s lakefront and at Millennium Park. PIROUETTE can be sited in a variety of contexts since its round form is approachable from all sides.

Location: Chicago, IL
Year: 2015
Collaboration with Studio Great Lakes



plan and elevation



open/closed section


installation sequence


isometric sequence


model in ‘open’ position

model in ‘closed’ position






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