OPINION: A Design Agenda for a New Mayor by Edward Keegan

” In Chicago, architecture matters
Recent mayors often sided with the economic interests of real estate developers, deploying architects as public relations window dressing. That’s not the strategy that made Chicago a mecca for designers, and tourists who want to see their best works. Our most enduring and successful projects have usually been active collaborations between public servants, community members, developers, architects and other allied designers. That’s the messy, complicated and politically fraught formula to create the best version of the public realm—for everybody. Embrace it.

” Development is more than tall buildings
For all the hype about being the birthplace of the skyscraper, Chicago has always been fundamentally a city of neighborhoods—and for more than a century that’s been a rich tapestry of two- and three-story residential and similarly scaled mixed-use buildings. Chicago bungalows, three-flats, six-flats, courtyard apartment buildings—each of these types are the basic building blocks of the city and provide a marvelously rich and dense fabric from Rogers Park to Austin to Lawndale to Woodlawn. We could more than double the population of the city—to about 6 million people—by just infilling these very comfortable and well-known building types on the vacant land that’s found throughout in the city. So, the next time you hear about a high-rise that’s going to improve density, remember—we don’t need high-rises for density.

” Stop tearing down buildings. Just stop.
Demolition doesn’t mean progress, it means destruction. And it’s pretty unusual for a better new building to replace a worse old building. So, let’s make this one easy by just making it very difficult to tear things down. Fixing up old things? Make that easier.

“The late Harry Weese, who served as the architectural conscience of the city for many decades in the 20th century, used to say that “every building is a landmark until proven otherwise.” Our next mayor could dramatically upgrade the look of our future city by adopting his simple dictum as the rule, not the exception.(Keegan, 9/21/18)

Read the full story at Crain’s Chicago Business

A design agenda for a new mayor; Demolition is destruction; high-rises aren’t the only way to achieve density; collaboration is key to good architecture, writes a local architecture critic, Edward Keegan, Crain’s Chicago Business, 9/21/18


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