Posts tagged with "Chicago":

Fifty firms imagine 50 futures for Chicago’s underused spaces

Running in conjunction with the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) has opened Between States, a show which brings together over 50 designers to imagine the future of the city’s 50 aldermanic wards. Between States is the second iteration of the CAF’s multi-year 50 Designers/50 Wards project. Last year’s show 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards asked 50 young design firms to design for the city’s wards, while Between States asked a number of more established firms to take on a similar challenge. Each of the firms was asked to address underutilized spaces in each one of their respective wards, as well as reference another project outside of the city in their design. The title of the show, Between States, is a play on this two-part brief, referring to the changing condition of the sites as well as the importing of references from other places. Firms were also asked to work with the community to assess needs and opportunities in the neighborhood they were designing in. The show will run until January 7, 2018 in the CAF’s Atrium Gallery. The exhibition is curated by Martin Felsen, partner at Chicago-based UrbanLab. Invited firms include: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture AECOM ARUP Bailey Edward bKL Architecture Booth Hansen CannonDesign Cordogan, Clark & Associates Dirk Denison Architects eastlake studio Eckenhoff Saunders Architects Epstein Exp Farr Associates Forum Studio Future Firm Gensler Ghafari Associates Goettsch Partners Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture HBRA Architects HDR Holabird & Root JAHN Legat Architects Lothan Van Hook Destefano Architecture Metter|Studio / Morris Architects, Planners Sheehan Nagle Hartray Architects Pappageorge Haymes Partners Perkins + Will Global RADA Architects Searl Lamaster Howe Architects Site Design Group SmithGroup JJR SMNG A Solomon Cordwell Buenz SOM Space Architects + Planners Stantec STL Architects Terry Guen Design Associates Thornton Tomasetti Tom Brock Architect Valerio Dewalt Train Associates Vinci Hamp Architects Vladimir Radutny Architects von Weise Associates Weese Langley Weese Wight & Company, Lohan Studio Woodhouse Tinucci Architects Worn Jerabek Wiltse Architects

Chicago Union Station renovation will brighten its Great Hall

In a city of spectacular interior spaces, perhaps the most iconic is the Great Hall of the Chicago Union Station. Built in 1925, the light-filled waiting area is finally getting the renovation it deserves. Construction is now underway on the $22 million project that will completely refurbish the 219-foot-long skylight and repair plaster throughout. Union Station was originally designed by Daniel Burnham, but was completed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White after Burnham’s death. The Beaux-Arts structure now serves both Amtrak and the regional commuter Metra trains. Over the past 90 years, the great hall has slowly degraded due to leaks in the epic skylight, but recent years have seen the beginning of its revitalization. In 2016, the iconic marble stairs made famous in the climatic shootout scene in The Untouchables were completely renovated. Both the stair renovation and the current overhaul of the Great Hall are led by Chicago-based Goettsch Partners. When the staircase was being worked on, the area was closed off, much to the chagrin of tourists who came to see the site of the famous scene. To maintain movement through the Great Hall for this renovation, all the construction will be done without closing the space. Instead, decks will be suspended from the 115-foot-tall ceiling, negating the need for obtrusive scaffolding. To address the skylight’s water problems, each of the 2,052 pieces of glass will be replaced and a new third layer of glass will be added above the entire opening. The new high-efficiency, fully transparent glass panes will replace the current wire-embedded glass, and the end result is expected to allow about 50 percent more light into the space. Once the significant water damage on the walls is repaired, the entire Great Hall will be repainted in its original color. This phase of Union Station’s renovation is being funded by Amtrak, who owns the building, and is expected to be completed in late 2018. By that time, we may also have more information about Goettsch Partners' ambitious plans to redevelop the station and its surroundings, including the proposal to add two towers to the building’s roof.

Parking for Obama library may wipe out five acres of historic green space

Barack Obama’s Obama Presidential Center, a three-building complex designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien on Chicago’s South Side, has made its intention to embrace its neighborhood very clear—specifically Jackson Park and the Midway Plaisance, the historic Frederick Law Olmsted–designed greenways that have hosted, among other things, the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, a.k.a. the “White City.” But what the Center hasn’t made as clear is that the complex’s footprint is growing, with its leaders recently proposing an aboveground parking garage that could take up about five acres of the Midway. The library’s concession for eating into this space is a green roof, which opponents claim should not be considered green space at all. Original plans for the center, released in May, did not include any building on the Midway. The land is owned by the city’s Department of Transportation, and the move would need to be approved by the Chicago City Council. “To say it’s ok to carve up a work of art and replace it with something else is ridiculous,” said Charles Birnbaum, president and CEO of the Cultural Landscape Foundation. “The issue is not whether a green roof is considered green space; what’s disconcerting is the Obama Center’s insistence that they need more parkland.” When completed, the Obama Center—whose footprint currently measures roughly 20 acres—will consist of a tall, stone-clad, geometric presidential museum, a green-roofed library, and a forum for events, all clustered around a broad plaza. The greenery is meant to blend with the existing park, but will not, say critics, make up for the amount of space it is taking from the famed parks. A spokesperson for the Obama Foundation told AN: “The parking facility on the Midway will revitalize underutilized section of the Midway Plaisance. The facility will be covered and surrounded by a new park that will be open to the public.” The Chicago Park District has called three meetings for citizens to weigh in on the planned changes, particularly to Jackson Park and the Midway. “We thought a comprehensive planning process was in order,” Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irizarry told CBS Chicago. “Now it’s happening so quickly that we don’t believe it possibly can be a real, transparent process.”

Iconic Chicago Post Office gets a long-awaited renovation by Gensler

Gensler released the plans for its renovation and restoration of the famed Graham, Anderson, Probst & White Post Office in Chicago. The 1932 structure, out of commission since 1997, will be used for office space, retail space, a conference center, tenant amenities, a food hall, a roof deck, parking, and a river-facing lawn. Renovations will cost over $600 million to overhaul the building that, at 2.5 million square feet, can hold an impressive 2,000 people per floor. It is currently the largest redevelopment in the United States. Officially dubbed “The Post Office,” the project features a spiffy new logo that evokes wings in flight, a motif that appears throughout the initial renderings as light fixtures and design elements. While certain original features are restored, such as the postmaster’s office, lobby, mail chutes and scales (the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001), interiors are pointedly geared toward millennials (lest you think this is too presumptuous, the fitness center is depicted with the slogan, “Sweat is just fat crying.”). Throughout the space, exposed ceilings are juxtaposed with warm wood, cozy leather, and midcentury modern furnishings, with large expanses of glass revealing views of Chicago and that iconic limestone facade. The exterior is largely untouched, albeit with a four-acre roof deck on top that will hold an impressive amount of amenities, including park space, cafes, a quarter-mile running trail, and sports courts. “We fully recognize the historical significance of this building,” Brian Whiting, president of the Telos Group, which will oversee parts of the project, said in a statement. “When the Post Office was built, Chicago was the center of catalog retail sales and the building was designed to handle fulfillment for the largest operators, including Sears, Roebuck & Company and Montgomery Ward. Fittingly, The Post Office will once again serve to promote the commerce industry, including the e-commerce companies that have replaced catalog houses, but this time with cutting-edge office space.” According to the project's representation, The Post Office's anticipated new tenants have already spurred the development of nearby residential projects in anticipation of the new-old hub roaring back to life.

Chicago Architecture Foundation announces new Chicago Architecture Center

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) is getting a new home. Currently located in the Daniel Burnham-designed Railway Exchange building on South Michigan Avenue, the institution's offices and exhibition space will soon be located in the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed 111 East Wacker building. With the move will come expanded exhibition space, lecture space, and new offices for the foundation’s 70 employees. Leading the interior design of what will be called the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) is Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG). The 20,000-square-foot center will include 9,000 square feet of exhibition space, to be designed by New York-based Local Projects. “Architecturally the building is a gem,” said Gordon Gill, founding partner of AS+GG in a press release. “The design will create a dynamic and elegant space for CAF that promotes patrons to fully engage in the influence Chicago has on global architecture. The large volume of space fronting the Chicago River also creates an inviting and interactive atmosphere for visitors.” The Chicago City Model Experience, currently located in the atrium of the Railway Exchange building, will be enhanced with interactive digital multimedia. Other permanent exhibitions include the Skyscraper Gallery and the City of Neighborhoods Gallery. Space will also be set aside for rotating galleries, and a new lecture hall will provide space for the CAF’s many public lectures. A new design studio space will be the heart of the foundation’s youth summer camps, and a Tour Orientation Center will be the starting point for its daily walking tours. The location of the new center also brings it closer to the docks of Chicago’s First Lady Cruises, the CAF’s river cruise boat. Hundreds of thousands of people either visit or take one of the CAF’s architecture tours every year. The new location along the river will bring the foundation much closer to the throngs of tourists walking along the “Magnificent Mile.” Chicago River’s shoreline has recently undergone major improvements, with the center being one more major attraction when completed in the summer of 2018.

Chicago pilots program to stem gentrification on North and West Sides

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced a new pilot program to encourage affordable housing in the city’s rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. The program would focus on areas on the Near North and Near West sides, and along Milwaukee Avenue corridor. Since the dismantling of much of the city’s public housing throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s, Chicago has heavily relied upon private development to fulfill affordable housing needs. To guide this the city passed the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO), which sets rules for new developments over 10 units or that receive zoning changes. The current iteration of the ordinance requires that 10 percent of units in qualifying developments must be affordable, or the developer can pay in-lieu fees up to $225,000. The new pilot program would target particular neighborhoods which have shown signs of rapid gentrification. These include 9 miles along Milwaukee Avenue, incorporating parts of Logan Square, Avendale, West Town, and areas along the Green Line. The goal is to create 1,000 new affordable units over the next three years. To do this, the program proposes to raise the required affordable unit obligation from 10 percent to 15 or 20 percent depending on location. The in-lieu fee option would also be eliminated, forcing developers to build affordable units instead of paying to get out of the obligation. Lastly, the pool of eligible tenants would be expanded by increasing the threshold to 80 percent Area Median Income (AMI), 20 percent above the current threshold. “Access to affordable housing is critical to Chicago’s legacy as one of the world’s most livable big cities, especially as the real estate market undergoes unprecedented neighborhood development,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This initiative will create more affordable units in targeted areas while helping the city to assess the most effective ways of meeting neighborhood affordable housing goals.” If passed by the city council, the program will affect some of the fastest developing areas in the city. Both the Near North and Near West Sides have seen rapid growth, particularly around transit nodes. Thanks to a 2015 Transit-Oriented Development Ordinance, developers have been able to build large residential blocks with few or no parking spaces near major transit lines. The result has been a building boom, which many argue has exacerbated the gentrification in neighborhoods across the city.

What’s up with the Chicago Architecture Biennial?

The 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) will open its second iteration this September under the theme “Make New History.” This raises some serious questions. Why are we still talking about “history” in architecture? Didn’t the cheeky use of architectural history doom postmodernism? Early postmodernism’s original, successful use of decorative, historic forms was a radically subversive act in the 1960s, a revolt against the hegemony of Miesian corporate modernism. But isn’t there a new language for today’s context? One could make the argument that history is always present in architecture, even if there isn’t an obvious rampant arch or column. For example, as digital techniques took off in the 1980s and '90's, Chuck Hoberman looked to Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome for precedent. Isn’t history ironically present even in the most radical ideas? Is referencing "history" a way of going back to the pomo of 1979, or even the Romanesque Revival of the mid-1800s? What do we even mean by “history”? Is there a more underwhelming word in architecture? Do we need another Chicago Tribune Tower competition, which the biennial intends to revisit? Hasn’t the Chicago architecture community—led by Stanley Tigerman (and his late submissions)—done enough of those? It can be argued that the site, context, politics, codes, and people involved in any project leave a mark and, if we look close enough, define and historicize most buildings. How many times can we simplify architectural forms into lower-res versions of themselves until we are at minimalist modernism again? It seems history—rather than a productive starting point for intellectual inquiry—is becoming a flaccid category deployed to showcase the work of friends without thinking too much about the content? Perhaps this would have been an opportunity to consider how architectural history relates to the city and its inhabitants. In other words, what does it mean to be the Chicago Architecture Biennial? Consider the responsibilities of staging a massive architecture exhibition in one of the grandest public interiors in the world. Will summer vacationers Gary and Sheila from Waukesha, Wisconsin, understand—let alone care about—the exhibition? The city's first architecture biennial introduced a formidable group of Chicago practitioners to the larger architectural community and presented a balanced global perspective to the people of Chicago. Was the 2015 biennial so good because it blended the global and local perfectly? Was it the first biennial’s inimitable leadership—Graham Foundation Director Sarah Herda’s on-the-ground supervision and architect-curator Joseph Grima’s global perspective—that impressed Chicago on the contemporary architecture consciousness? What is the real goal of this year’s biennial? Is it to summon the usual suspects for another round of talks and events that will struggle to be different than what we saw Venice and Oslo?  Will this year have a balance of geographic perspectives? Will there be too many Swiss participants, and if so, why? Will there be any “history” from the rich history of the global south? Will Chicago Round Two be the point where we finally reach peak “-ennial?” Perhaps what all of this boils down to is: How will “history” operate in this biennial? This could be an opportune moment in which history could connect the biennial to issues outside of architecture, or speculate on new ways architecture could be relevant in the world. It could help point to the future and imagine how technology, the environment, migration, and other nascent geopolitical forces will rearrange the world. Or will we fall asleep listening to yet another reflection on Rosalind Krauss and John Baldessari? So, what is the reason for this return to something that we never really lost? And how will this about-face to “history” be different than past discursive turns? There are certainly new ways of making and working available in examining history, but is “history” just a disciplinary co-opt of a broader, more relevant phenomenon endemic in our cut-and-paste culture and the information age? History in this year's Chicago biennial seems to be used as an empty signifier that denotes taste and style, like the art we might see at EXPO Chicago, which—not coincidentally—will run in parallel to CAB. The curators say they are interested in "the axis between architecture and art." But if we really want to talk about art and architecture, why not look at contemporary art and how it combines disciplinary knowledge with relevant issues—and how it seems to be having better luck than architecture operating in a market that it is completely dependent on?

Wicker Park gets the gyro it deserves

At the ever-busy, ever-changing “Six Points” intersection in Wicker Park, Chicago, a new Greek restaurant in a highly finished setting is anything but your average gyro joint. DOX Quality Greek sets itself apart by serving Athenian street food prepared by a chef who has also worked at Michelin-starred restaurants around the world. Designed by Athens-based k-studio, the furniture, fixtures, pay counter, and order windows all fit within a white three-dimensional tartan grid. The subdued material palette mixes wood slatting, white terrazzo flooring, white tiles, and dusty blue fabrics. Due to the constrained triangular block on which it sits, the restaurant is wider than it is deep—odd for most Chicago storefronts—allowing for a bright interior lit by a proportionally long glass facade. The simple interior matches the straightforward menu, inviting the throngs of pedestrians pouring out of a nearby L station to step into a little piece of Athens.
DOX Quality Greek 1566 North Damen Avenue Chicago Tel: (872) 829-3144 Architects: K Studio

Wheeler Kearns’s coffee and record shop Purple Llama boasts a giant faceted ferrous steel bar

A massive faceted ferrous steel bar anchors the Purple Llama, a new coffee shop and curated record store situated along popular Division Street in Chicago’s Wicker Park. The idea for the record store–coffee shop comes from the owners’ experience in the rich coffee scene in London, while the angular form of the space is derived from the company’s quirky purple branding. Dan Wheeler and Emmanuel Garcia of Wheeler Kearns Architects worked closely with brand designer Brian W. Jones of Welcome to develop the space. Besides the imposing bar, one side of the 1,000-square-foot shop is defined by a faceted bright wood wall, while the opposite end is filled with a cartoon landscape of mountaintop llamas and the Chicago skyline. In the back, a “records vault” displays a small selection of vinyl records on built-in shelving. Purple Llama Coffee & Records 2140 West Division Street Chicago Tel: (773) 687-9900 Architect: Wheeler Kearns Architects

Architectural “sideshow” to run alongside the Chicago Architecture Biennial

The Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) won’t be the only show rolling into town this September. Just a few blocks away from the Biennial’s hub at the Chicago Cultural Center, the Unsolicited Sideshow will take over the lobby and mezzanine of the Chicago Athletic Association (CAA). Like sideshows of the past, the Unsolicited Sideshow will operate on the edge of the big show and will include a series of exhibitions and events that don’t quite align with the main stage. The Unsolicited Sideshow will explore concepts of “otherness,” normalcy, and taboo, through the architectural mediums of form, program, materials, and affect. The ten contributors to the show will produce work to comment on contemporary culture and politics, and their relationship to contemporary architecture. Contributors include: Adrianne Joergensen (Singapore) Architecture Hero (Chicago) Chicago Underground Practice (Chicago) Cosmo Design Factory (Philmont, New York) Could Be Architecture (Chicago) office ca (Columbus, Ohio) John Clark (Chicago) Office Andorus (Portland) SUBSTUDIO (Detroit and Cincinnati) Team B Architecture & Design (Cincinnati) Throughout the exhibition, the Sideshow will also hold "Tank Takeovers," events and performances held in the CAA’s former ground-floor pool. These monthly events will include DJs, additional architectural installations, and puppet shows, to name a few. The exhibition is being curated by Joseph Altshuler and Zack Morrison of Could Be Architecture, Chelsea Ross, and will be designed by Matthew Harlan. The exhibition is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to produce the show. The Unsolicited Sideshow will run from September 15th through October 16th at the Chicago Athletic Association.

Chicago has become a testing ground for the next wave of restaurant design

We are living in the Golden Age of restaurants. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Americans spend nearly half of their food budget eating at restaurants, rather than shopping at grocery stores. This fact stands in stark contrast to the greater trend in retail, which shows brick-and-mortar storefronts struggling against online competition and skyrocketing rent. Yet, success in the restaurant business is far from guaranteed. With more options for high quality food than ever before, restaurants new and old are rethinking their place in urban settings.

Though Chicago may be best known for deep-dish pizza and hotdogs, the food scene in the past decade has been defined more by several highly experimental restaurants such as the Michelin three-star micro-gastronomy restaurant Alinea. While such award-winning establishments have changed the culinary scene, it is the extreme flux of fast-casual eateries, such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Freshii, that has saturated neighborhoods to the point of bursting.

Just as Chicago has been a testing ground for some of the world’s most unusual cooking techniques, it would seem the city is now becoming the site of an uncanny fast food resurgence. As McDonald’s moves its headquarters from its Dirk Lohan–designed modernist campus in Chicago’s Oak Brook suburb to downtown, other chains are also rethinking their spaces to appeal to the urban set. McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell all have redesigned or launched new restaurants specifically for urban settings. In particular, Taco Bell has launched a new line of storefronts that are hardly recognizable as the affordable “Mexican” chain.

With the first of its kind opening in Wicker Park, Chicago, the Taco Bell Cantina takes a step toward the fast-casual market and away from its drive-through and suburban-mall food court roots. Most noticeably, the Cantina doesn’t have a drive-through, or even a parking lot. Situated in a small storefront—which once housed a short-lived high-end sex toy shop—the fast food giant takes advantage of the heavily pedestrian-trafficked Milwaukee Avenue retail district. Once pocked with numerous vacant storefronts, the street is now filling with local and national chains looking to cash in on the popularity of the walkable neighborhood.

As such, this Taco Bell is specifically designed for pedestrians. This carries into the interior with nonslip tile floors that guard against the slush and snow of Chicago winters. The dining area is somewhere between a fast-casual restaurant, an internet cafe, and a sports bar. Yes, a sports bar. When the Cantina opened, most stories revolved around the fact that this is the first Taco Bell to serve alcohol. Hard liquor can be mixed with Taco Bell’s proprietary Mountain Dew flavors, and beer is served in bottles. Large flat-screen TVs along one wall play sports, news, and, late at night (it is open 24 hours), the Syfy channel. During the day, it is not uncommon to see people sitting at the highly finished plywood furniture working on laptops. Airport terminals should take note of the number of outlets at this Taco Bell. With at least one for every seat, it is ironically more convenient to work there than at the trendy coffee shop down the street. All of this is part of a carefully planned shift by Yum! Brands, Inc., Taco Bell’s parent company. Since the opening of the Wicker Park Cantina in late 2015, 11 other “urban inline stores” have opened around the country. Along with the Cantina, Taco Bell has opened four other models in California, ostensibly referencing their specific locations. Those models have names like Heritage, Modern Explorer, California Sol, and Urban Edge. Of the 2,500 more Taco Bell locations Yum! plans to open around the world in the next five years, at least 300 of them are planned to be the urban iterations.

Another major brand that believes Chicago may be a perfect pilot site is the coffee giant Starbucks. After a major remodel of the tiny Wicker Park Starbucks, the space was rebranded as a higher-end offering that the Seattle-based company is calling Starbucks Reserve. Reserve locations serve small batch specialty coffees, and the design of the space has been rethought. Following a larger trend in retail, companies are looking to provide more differentiated environments, rather than the repetitious brand enforcing model companies like Starbucks are known for. Finer finishes, graphic and object references to the coffee harvesting process, and LEED compliant construction methods all add to this new “experience.” Doubling down in the windy city, Starbucks will also open its largest retail space to date downtown along Michigan Avenue. The third of its kind, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery will be a four-story, 43,000-square-foot coffee palace. Along with roasting the brand’s special Reserve coffees, the new space will include cafes and rooftop terraces.

While fast-casual chains continue to grow, that growth has begun to show signs of slowing in the past few years. The casual dining market on the other hand, typified by restaurants such as Applebee’s and TGI Fridays, has not only slowed to a stop—it has begun to lose ground. Analysts are now saying millennials, in particular, are just not interested in the chains that were so popular in the 1990s and early 2000s. With large numbers of twenty- and thirty-somethings moving to urban centers and preferring fast, generally healthier food, the restaurant industry is rushing to figure out how to keep up.

While Michelin-starred restaurants concoct fantastic dishes in spaces often difficult to find, let alone get reservations to, and fast casual brands continue to pump out quinoa wraps, a handful of large brands are trying to figure out what it means to have an urban presence. Rather than importing suburban drive-throughs, they’re mimicking urban coffee joints and neighborhood bars. Chicago, with its seemingly insatiable appetite for new and interesting restaurants, also seems to have room for some familiar faces that are willing to cater to its particular taste.

New development in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood aims to staunch gentrification

While Chicago has not faced the same levels of displacement due to gentrification as cities like New York and San Francisco, a number of its neighborhoods are experiencing rapid shifts in population and demographics. In particular, neighborhoods like Pilsen on the city’s near South Side, historically home to a large Mexican population, are being eyed by developers as the next hot neighborhood, worrying long-time residents. In at least one case, though, the developers are listening to local concerns and attempting to mitigate any tensions that may arise in the vulnerable neighborhood.

ParkWorks, a proposed 7.85-acre development in the heart of Pilsen, is taking special care—architecturally and administratively—to work with the neighborhood. On the developer’s side, Property Markets Group (PMG) organized a number of community meetings to hear from the people who will be most affected by the new multibuilding mixed-use complex. Rather than the typical presentation followed by a question-and-answer session, the meetings could better be described as public critiques. Presentation boards and texts were displayed, with developers and architects on hand to discuss the issues on a more personal level with area’s residents. Yet the community involvement is planned to extend past these initial meetings.

When complete, the project, which will include hundreds of new residential units, will provide a higher percentage of affordable housing than any other private development in Chicago, according to PMG. The development also plans to employ local residents: Two-thirds of the development’s staff will be hired from within the neighborhood, and businesses moving into any of the 10,000 square feet of retail space in the development will be given a 20 percent discount on rent if they hire one-third or more of their staff from the surrounding community. During construction, an employment center is set to be opened on the project’s site to help enable more local employment. Recognizing the area’s demographics, much of the proposal’s communications have also been bilingual, in English and Spanish.

While the developers managed local relations, the project’s architects and planners, Chicago-based Cordogan, Clark & Associates, have worked to provide for the existing community through design. Notably, 50 percent of the development has been set aside for open green space. This includes courtyards and transverse walkways through the site. The heart of the buildings’ campus will also include an “arts walk” along South Peoria Avenue, which bisects the site. The property is also immediately adjacent to the future Paseo Trail, an urban linear park being developed on a former rail line.

Density is often an indicating factor in gentrification, with either swift drops or increases signifying drastic uncontrolled change. In the case of ParkWorks, the project is filling two large, completely empty tracts of land. Thanks to the large amount of open space in the plan, its density will be slightly lower than the surrounding neighborhood. While this will be a net gain for the neighborhood’s density, it is as if the site were filled with the typical two-flats that populate most of the neighborhood.

There is no question that Pilsen, and many neighborhoods like it, are changing. While as a whole Chicago’s population is declining, white millennials are flocking to the city, affecting the demographics and density of particular areas. Many new city dwellers are the adult children of a generation that fled the city to the suburbs starting in the 1960s, making room for the communities that now define Chicago. So, when any development is built, it will undoubtedly attract residents from outside the existing community—it is an experiment in social integration. For the good of the city, and its many diverse communities, one can only hope that experiments like ParkWorks are successful.