Studio Playlist: May Day - Cuba!

Guajira Guantanamera              

Compay Segundo

Juana Bacallao                           

Juana Bacallao

Mambo No. 5                               

Pérez Prado 


Buena Vista Social Club

Chan Chan                                    

Compay Segundo

Quizas, Quizas (Bolero Cha)    

Ruben Gonzalez

Calzada del Cerro                       


Amor Verdandero                      

Afro Cuban All Stars

Rumba Caliente                          

Elio Revé y su Charangón

El Negro Esta Cocinando        

Los Van Van

Todo lo bonito (En Directo)   

Lazaro Valdés y Bamboleo

La Negra Tiene Tumbao        

Celia Cruz

Gozando En La Habana          

El Chacal, Charanga Habanera & David Calzado

No Vale la Pena                        

Issac Delgado

A Mis Abuelos                           

Arturo Sandoval


Danay Suárez

El Party (feat. Micha)             




Don't Unplug My Body           

Daymé Arocena

Mambo Break                          

Wichy de Vedado

Me Recordarás                        

Diana Fuentes

La Mulata Rumbera                

Roberto Carcasses

Alas Escarlatas                         

Yilian Canizares

Yemaya - Son Montuno                       

Roberto Fonseca


X Alfonso


Second Tuesdays: The First Twenty-Six

We started a thing in our office this year called Second Tuesdays where two employees give a presentation on the second Tuesday of each month about what’s going on with the firm — what they want to cover and how they choose to do so is entirely their choice, with no prior review. The first one was last week, it became more of a history of the firm and turned out to be pretty funny as well. Click here to take a look at the video.

Studio Playlist: Valentines Day

The Look Of Love

Diana Krall

The Look Of Love


When Love Comes To Town

U2 & B.B. King

I Wanna Be Loved

Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Feel Like Makin' Love

Roberta Flack

Sexual Healing

Hot 8 Brass Band

Everybody Needs Somebody To Love

Solomon Burke

Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe

Barry White

When I Fall In Love

Little Jimmy Scott

L-O-V-E (French Version)

Nat King Cole

Love And Affection

Joan Armatrading

The Ways Of Love

Neil Young

The Glory Of Love

Peggy Lee

Let's Do It (Let's Fall In Love)

Ella Fitzgerald

When A Woman Loves A Man

Ella Fitzgerald

A Case Of You

Joni Mitchell

It Must Be Love

Rickie Lee Jones

Ain't No Cure For Love

Leonard Cohen

Sattellite Of Love

Lou Reed

Crown Of Love

Arcade Fire

Love To See You

The Roches

Lover, You Should've Come Over

Jeff Buckley

The Trouble With Love Is

Kelly Clarkson


25 Years: Arup SoundLab

Arup enlisted Brininstool + Lynch to collaborate in designing an enclosure for their new SoundLab within their existing Chicago office, located in the historic Jewelers Building. The room was conceived as a glowing, living object in their space to project the importance of this growing market sector for Arup. We created an acoustical envelope from conventional framing, gypsum board, and a thick layer of fabric-wrapped sound absorbing panels on the interior. On the exterior of the room, translucent acrylic wall panels are set in gasketed aluminum channels and are backlit with a programmable LED fixture that can range in color across the RGB spectrum. The detail of this illuminated acrylic has made SoundLab the physical and conversational focal point of Arup’s Chicago practice.

Studio Playlist: Autumnal Anthems

Summer End


Ragged Wood

Fleet Foxes

Dog Days Are Over

Florence + The Machine

Leaves That Are Green

Simon & Garfunkel

Sun It Rises      

Fleet Foxes

Leaves In The River

Sea Wolf


The Helio Sequence

Landscape - Demo

Florence + The Machine

Changing Seasons

Sea Wolf

Colder Weather

Zac Brown Band

The Boxer

Mumford & Sons feat. Jerry Douglas & Paul Simon

Old Pine

Ben Howard

Down In The Valley

The Head And The Heart

The Cold, The Dark, & The Silence

Sea Wolf

Go Outside


Changing Of The Seasons

Two Door Cinema Club

Sometimes In The Fall





Sign of the Times

I first read about the controversy of the sign to be placed on the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago back in February in Crain’s Chicago Business and didn’t think too much about it, other than how absolutely crazy the big tower sign issue was becoming. The seriousness of this issue didn’t occur to me until four days later when Joe Cahill, also of Crain’s Chicago Business, wrote an opinion piece in favor of the sign and defending Donald Trump. My first reaction to his commentary was to remember the words of the late New York Times architecture critic, Herbert Muschamp. 

We live in relativistic times. And architecture is a deeply subjective matter. One of its glories is that even stupid people get to have an opinion about it. Nowhere is it written, however, that architecture must appeal to the lowest common denominator of taste. Or that there’s no difference between an opinion and an informed opinion, educated and uneducated taste, a prejudice and an idea.

What particularly struck me about Mr. Cahill’s opinion piece is that he quoted marketing professor Tim Calkins of Northwestern University saying, “He really has built a brand that means something. It stands for quality and elegance and luxury.” OMG! He really said that? Dean Blount should have taken a line from Donald Trump and told Professor Calkins, “You’re fired.” 

Mr. Cahill himself went even further, “Nobody knows more about branding than Donald Trump. He has turned his name into one of the most recognized brands in the world, reaching far beyond traditional real estate development.” Of course, it wouldn’t take much research to discover that isn’t true. The Donald has made his money in real estate, pure and simple, regardless of his forays into entertainment and non-real estate businesses. Even as a real estate developer, he has made some serious business errors to the detriment of others (while not being personally affected) and has a meager track record compared to other New York real estate developers. And by no means is he the wealthiest of them, not to mention he didn’t even come close to making the cut in Crain’s New York Business’ “Most Connected New Yorkers.”

I realize that Mr. Cahill might consider purchasing a tie with a Trump label attached to it—perhaps he is wearing one now—but for the rest of the world this is not a popular luxury item nor a coveted one. Perhaps he was seduced by Professor Calkins pronouncement that by Donald Trump “putting his name on these really spectacular buildings like the Chicago tower and similar high-rises in other cities…a consumer who is impressed to see Trump on an opulent skyscraper is more likely to try a cologne with the same name.” Mmmm, I guess next time I’m at Walgreen’s I’ll have to look for Waste Management’s new line of men’s deodorant, or BP’s skin care products. It’s unfortunate, if not embarrassing to his institution that someone like Professor Calkins cannot distinguish between good and bad branding, or even correctly define it in regard to its specific place in the market, but I guess now we know where the real estate people get these crazy ideas. Maybe the professor should look to someone immensely more successful in both business and in building a luxury brand than the Donald, such as Giorgio Armani who famously said, “Elegance is not about being noticed, it’s about being remembered.”

Which brings me to the point of why I am writing this. Why is everyone so upset about this sign in Chicago? Why should Chicagoans care? Well, because it is Chicago, and like few other cities in the world, architecture is Chicago’s brand. Chicago is one of the few cities in the world where you can stop someone in the general populace and more than likely they can point to a significant building and identify it by name. Not because there is a huge sign on the building, but because architecture is part of the public realm, it’s important to the city, and Chicagoans are proud of the fact they know something about it. And it is not only Chicagoans who appreciate the city’s architectural legacy, but also half a million people annually who take organized architectural tours while visiting, spearheaded by groups like the Chicago Architecture Foundation—the largest organization of its kind in the world. 

I understand why Kohl’s, Mariano’s, Burger King, Office Depot, Mr. Beef and thousands of other businesses need signs on their buildings. They are companies that would never consider architecture or, specifically, the good design of a building as part of their business strategy or success—quite the opposite—and they require something to mark their spot, like a dog and a fence. Nevertheless, for scores of high-rise buildings in Chicago, it is architecture that speaks to the public about the businesses that occupy them, and there is a tangible benefit and prestige for those that do. Where architects have been involved in the planning of a building’s signage, rather than a real estate broker, there seems to be a noticeable difference in quality and affect. A few dissimilar examples come to mind and in different cities: the Apple Stores designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, take your pick of which location but I prefer the Lincoln Park Store; the Inland Steel Building in Chicago (my favorite) designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; The New York Times Building by Renzo Piano; and in Washington, D.C., where the architect Cass Gilbert not only designed the placement of the signage for the Supreme Court Building, he penned the now famous lexicon that is inscribed in the entablature above the front entry, ‘Equal Justice Under Law.’ 

When it was originally announced that Donald Trump was going to build a tower on the Chicago River, there was a shared gasp and a sense of angst that built up among Chicago architecture enthusiasts, but when it was completed, there was a collective sigh of relief from the same group. It was, in the end, an elegant tower designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and it fit well on the river. In fact, in spite of its little flaws, it became a new Chicago architectural icon and part of its brand. We have Mayor Daley and Adrian Smith to thank for that, more than the building’s developer. And for plastering a bad hairpiece on the side of the building and deteriorating the city’s brand, we have none other than Donald Trump to thank for that.


Studio Playlist: AFRICA!

Méchant Garçon

Diblo Dibala

Toujours Oui

Diblo Dibala

Be Africa

Bibi Tanga & The Selenites


Miriam Makeba


Miriam Makeba


Miriam Makeba

Gari Good

Segun Damisa & The Afro-Beat Crusaders


Segun Damisa & The Afro-Beat Crusaders


Segun Damisa & The Afro-Beat Crusaders

African Dialects           

Peter King

It’s a Vanity 

Gabo Brown & Orchestra

Se Na Min

El Rego et ses Commandos

Crazy Afrobeat

Tony Allen

Soul Makossa

Manu Dibango

Wicked Funk 

Kwanzaa Posse

Alu Jon Jonky Jon

Fela Kuti

Chop & Quench

Fela Kuti

Eko Ile

Fela Kuti

Je’nwi Temi

Fela Kuti


Olu Dara



Studio Playlist: Fat Tuesday

Goin' Back To New Orleans

Dr. John

Walking To New Orleans

Fats Domino


Professor Longhair

Iko Iko

The Dixie Cups

Go To The Mardi Gras

Professor Longhair

Hey Pocky A-Way

The Meters

Big Chief

Professor Longhair

Street Parade

Earl King

Tremé Mardi Gras 

Kermit Ruffins

Handa Wanda

Bo Dillis and the Wild Magnolia Mardi Gras Indian Band

Second and Dryades 

Galactic & Big Chief Monk Boudreaux

All On A Mardi Gras Day 

The Wild Magnolias

Fire On The Bayou 

The Neville Brothers

Right Place Wrong Time

Dr. John

Carnival Day 

Dave Bartholomew

Throw Me Something, Mister 

Buckwheat Zydeco

Do Watcha Wanna

Rebirth Brass Band

La Danse de Mardi Gras 

Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys

When The Saints Go Marching In 

Pete Fountain

Jambalaya Strut 

Dr. Michael White


Watch These Films: A Lovers' List


Michael Curtiz  


Brief Encounter  

David Lean  



Billy Wilder


An Affair to Remember 

Leo McCarey



Jean-Luc Goddard  


Splendor in the Grass

Elia Kazan


Jules et Jim

Francois Truffaut


Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?

Mike Nichols


Bonnie and Clyde

Arthur Penn


The Graduate

Mike Nichols


Woman Under the Influence

John Cassavetes



Woody Allen



Paul Mazursky


Paris, Texas

Wim Wenders


I Love You

Marco Ferreri


Betty Blue

Jean-Jacques Beineix


Wings of Desire 

Wim Wenders


The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Philip Kaufman


The English Patient

Anthony Minghella


Shakespeare in Love

John Madden


In the Mood for Love

Wong Kar-Wai


Pride & Prejudice

Joe Wright


Silver Linings Playbook

David O. Russell


Blue is the Warmest Color

Abdellatif Kechiche



Studio Playlist: Winter SOUL-stice

Soul Searching

Solomon Burke

People Get Ready

Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions

I’ll Take You There

The Staple Singers

Bring It On Home To Me

Sam Cooke

Sweet Soul Music  

Arthur Conley    

Soul Man       

Sam & Dave

I Got You

James Brown

Try a Little Tenderness

Otis Redding

Hold On! I’m Comin’

Sam & Dave


Junior Walker & The All Stars


Otis Redding

Cry to Me

Solomon Burke

Mercy Mercy Me

Marvin Gaye

Let’s Stay Together

Al Green

Whatcha See Is Watcha Get

The Dramatics

Let’s Groove

Earth, Wind & Fire

Dancing In the Street       

Martha Reeves

I Want You Back

Jackson 5

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

Diana Ross, Jackson 5 & The Supremes