"There is the ideal Chicago," Tribune architecture guru Blair Kaminwrites on his Skyline blog today, "the showcase city glimpsed on the Chicago River boat tour that glides past the Wrigley Building and other glorious skyscrapers. And then there is the real Chicago, a Dickensian construction zone where it is simultaneously the best and the worst of times. Come see it, if you dare."
* "[T]here's Avenue East, an orange-and-white hulk done in the colors of a Creamsicle."
* "Just north of McCormick Place stands Museum Park Place, a stubby slab that addresses South Lake Shore Drive with a superscale tic-tac-toe grid in screeching red."
* "Farther north on the Drive, in the big Lakeshore East project, there's the Lancaster, a tinselly glass tower that looks like it dropped in from China."
* "And then, on East Chicago Avenue, you stumble upon the Bernardin, a postmodern cartoon with a parking garage base wrapped in a comically bad, neo-Italianate stage-set, right down to the keystones above faux windows."
This, Kamin writes, is the reality of architecture in Chicago. "For every authentic gem . . . there are more gewgaws - structures that offend not only because they're poorly designed but also because they erode the city's extraordinary sense of place."
You can see Kamin's rogues gallery of ugly new or recently completed buildings at chicagotribune.com/ugly.