Jeanne Gang, the Chicago architect who is redesigning Lexington's empty CentrePointe block, has been chosen as one of this year's MacArthur Fellows, receiving a $500,000 "genius" grant.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded 22 grants to people in various fields, including an elder-rights lawyer, a virologist, a composer and a poet.
The "no strings attached" money is awarded over five years.
Gang, 47, founder of Gang Studio, was recognized for "integrating conventional materials, striking yet functional designs, and ecologically friendly technology in bold structures that challenge the aesthetic and technical possibilities of the art form," according to the MacArthur Foundation Web site.
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In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times after the announcement, Gang said, "Being named a MacArthur Fellow is such a vote of confidence, and so energizing. There are many aspects of research and experimentation that are not funded by clients, so now I will be able to make time for that."
CentrePointe developer Dudley Webb hired Gang in March at the suggestion of Mayor Jim Gray after the original project at the site fell through. Her design features one tall tower surrounded by smaller buildings, some of which are to be designed by local architects.
"The world at every level is influenced by genius and imagination," Gray said in a statement. "If we're lucky enough to find it in our back yard, we need to encourage it and often even fight for it."
Gang's best-known work is the 82-story Aqua Tower in Chicago.
For more information on the awards, go to Macfound.org.