The Chicago Toothbrush

Chicago is full of buildings that speak. The city has a unique vernacular architecture parlant of half-truths where the buildings’ shapes suggests their use or in other cases their nicknames because the buildings’ shapes suggest something else. Take Stanley Tigerman’s parking garage in the shape of a Rolls Royce grill in comparison to the Marina City Apartments, often referred to as corncobs. In such a big shouldered city, the nicknames are terms of endearment. In fact, you could say the colloquial names given to their buildings is one of the most intimate ways locals and visitors alike take ownership of their city’s landmarks.

Most loved of all Chicago’s nicknamed landmarks is, of course, the Bean. It’s a giant selfie station, a material wonder, and kind of petting zoo. Allegedly, the Bean receives 4.5 million visitors a year. That’s 9 million hands. 90 million fingers. One can only imagine how many of those reach out to stroke the Bean’s mirrored surface. The Bean gets dirty. So dirty, that the Bean is cleaned two to three times per day!

So what if cleaning the Bean became a way of playing with the Bean? We’d like to introduce The Chicago Toothbrush, a kiosk and a new landmark. Architecture over the last few decades has become increasingly isolationist and in that isolation a serious curmudgeon. The Chicago Toothbrush seeks to playfully engage the public through architecture, asking them to re-see the objects, the buildings, and the world around them in new ways and inviting them to participate in it joyfully.