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March 2010 Blog posts

Designing for 98% of the population

Studio Gang Architects

This past weekend, Karin Sommer, MPC Associate, and I joined more than 200 architects, engineers, planners and sociologists from around the globe for the 10th annual Structures for Inclusion (SFI) conference in Washington, D.C., where participants discussed the vital role design can play in providing social equity in economically distressed communities. The SFI conference challenged architects to reject the architecture world’s stigma of exclusivity (that creativity and architecture is for the small percentage that can afford to build it) and instead design for a different type of clientele: the other “98 percent of the population.” The conference presented innovative examples of design processes and products breaking away from the rigid limitations of existing…

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Two seasons in Chicago: winter and construction

As the heavy jackets, snow shovels, and boots slowly make their way back into the closet, it doesn’t mean spring is coming. Nope. As every Chicagoan knows, there are only two seasons in our region: winter and construction. And construction season is upon us once again. Yesterday, my inbox and news alerts were flooded with articles warning commuters of the upcoming headache that will be caused by the upcoming construction season. With three major projects all in the same area – a 27-mile resurfacing project on the Eisenhower Expressway, Congress Parkway bridge work, and ramp reconstruction on Wacker Drive – drivers have been warned. Article after article, interview after interview had commuters talking about taking the side streets or having to leave a little earlier…

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Walk, bike to work with Active Trans

MPC's Emily Tapia Lopez posted a gentle reminder today for commuters staring down Chicago's harsh construction season: Ditch the stress of driving and try transit instead. As a daily bus-to-El commuter, I wholeheartedly second the notion. I'd also add that spring is a great time to give transit, walking and biking to work a whirl: With the threat of snow (hopefully) behind us, you can soak up some sunshine each morning, as I do on my walk to the bus. Heck, sometimes I skip the bus all together and walk the mile to my train station for a little extra vitamin D. If you need moral support, our friends at Active Transportation Alliance have two fun events planned in the next few months. Don your comfiest walking shoes this Friday, April 2, for Walk to Work Day. If you grew up with parents…

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MPC in Springfield: Affordable Housing Tax Credit passes in the House, on to the Senate

On Friday, the Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit renewal passed in the Illinois House of Representatives 98-9. Set to expire at the end of 2011, this tax credit will help support employer-assisted housing programs across Illinois until 2016. With $2 million allocated for EAH programs, the Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit has leveraged up to $4 million in private investments. Renewing the tax credit further solidifies the commitment of the state and private sector to help our workforce live near work.

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What's not broken in Chicagoland?

Neal Peirce, one of the nation's top journalists covering urban and regional development news, and founder of the National Journal, launched a new web site this month, He and his Citistates Group cohorts created the site as the "'go to' place to find the latest news and trends on fresh ideas, approaches, and ways to help the world's cities work better for all their people." The site features case studies from cities around the world taking innovative and inspiring approaches to everything from housing the poor to welcoming immigrants. With fantastic storytellers on board such as Peirce and Jay Walljasper, it's shaping up to be a great resource. Right now, Chicago's Climate Change Action Plan is the featured U.S. case study, alongside stories from Berlin, Singapore and Sao…

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