Digging in on AgriFlats

In a previous post, we introduced our proposal for Chicago’s West Side called AgriFlats, the final piece of a Food Innovation District aiming to revitalize neighborhoods by starting with “Why?” This post drills down on the details. Decarbonization Merely reducing our carbon emissions is insufficient to stifle global warming. We have to return vast amounts…

Growing Food to Grow a Neighborhood

In 2019, we expanded a proposal drafted a year earlier to establish Chicago’s first Food District on the West Side, building on neighborhood assets like our Inspiration Kitchens project that won the 2013 Rudy Bruner Award Gold Medal. In the intervening years, projects like the Hatchery, a food business incubator, were built nearby in what…

Dr. Russell Ackoff

An Ounce of Wisdom or Two Tons of Data?

Speaking to an educator audience in 1994, Dr. Russell Ackoff presented an aphorism equally timeless and relevant to designers. An ounce of information is worth a pound of data. An ounce of knowledge is worth a pound of information. An ounce of understanding is worth a pound of knowledge. An ounce of wisdom is worth…

ADU Pilot Areas over Invest South West Neighborhoods

A New Role for the ADU?

In December 2020, the City’s Committee on Housing and Real Estate passed an ordinance to the full Chicago City Council legalizing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) for three years in five pilot areas comprising 22 percent of the City. Talk about dipping your toe into inclusionary zoning. But we’ll take it. Buoyed by ULI Chicago’s advocacy,…

Bouncing Back

Everyone is talking about resiliency. Since 2004, the number of people searching or writing about it has doubled. With the tumult of 2020, that’s not likely to abate anytime soon. Ironically, while most people will tell you that resilience is a good thing, it’s not widely supported by policies or practices. In the late 90s,…

Regenerative Zoning

To rejuvenate its neighborhoods, Chicago may want to consider importing an idea emerging from the hinterlands. The idea isn’t exotic. It’s downright retro. In America’s farmland, startup IndigoAg is promoting regenerative agriculture at scale to capture all the carbon emitted in the atmosphere in modern times. By merely increasing the carbon content of the average…

Designing for Agility

In The Culture Code, author Daniel Coyle identifies two categories of skills workers possess – Skills of Proficiency and Skills of Creativity. He describes how these two skill sets help people solve different types of problems for organizations. If you are like me, you freely shift between these skill sets during a typical workday. Yet…

Reflections on Practice

After four decades of practice- and hopefully 40 to go- I am like others, a continually evolving architect searching for balance; optimistic of making things better, fearful of not doing so. The observations that follow have been formed through time, with gratitude to a large community of mentors, clients, colleagues, family, and daily encounters with…

Phasing- Friend or Foe?

If you’re planning a nice dinner, would you ever go to the grocery store, buy appetizer ingredients, prepare the appetizer, clean up the kitchen, and then repeat the same dedicated steps for the main course and then the dessert? Probably not, since that process would involve three separate “mobilizations” and take much longer. No one…

The Curious Thing About Discovery

You know the scenario. A young child is more captivated by a discarded box than the gift once inside, thoughtfully purchased by a now disappointed adult. Oblivious to intent, the curious child sees more open-ended possibilities in the box.  Playing, at this age, is learning. As we understand more about how children learn, research suggests…

Reconciling the Budget

While acknowledging the Construction Trilemma, which declares that you can only have your hand on two of three dials – Scope, Quality, and Cost – while making decisions, you can still find yourself puzzling over how to reconcile a project’s budget with its program.  When you get to this over-the-budget stalemate, what can you do? Most construction professionals will immediately…

The Construction Trilemma

A trilemma is a difficult choice posed by three options.  It can be a choice among three favorable options, only two of which are possible at the same time.  The Construction Trilemma, which faces almost all institutions that build, involves three choices. These choices can be thought of as dials, where your hands can only be on two dials…

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