Tag Archives: Chicago

November Events

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It’s officially fall, but the events aren’t slowing down. This November we are celebrating architecture and design. Here are just a few events taking place this month:

2015 Design Matters Conference
November 4-6, 2015
Chicago, USA

World Architecture Festival
November 4-6, 2015
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Design Thinkers Conference
November 12-13, 2015
Toronto, Canada

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OpenCity Weekly Review

Here’s our weekly review rounding up the best stories and ideas in public space from cities around the world. This week we bring you a technicolor Chicago intersection, another High Line imitator, youthful advice, and a Canadian update from the ‘complete streets’ movement.

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Double-decker Downtown Chicago

Exploring Chicago’s downtown “Loop” for the first time is a bit like stumbling into an M.C. Escher drawing with improbable dimensions and physical laws. This is the result of many of the streets near the Chicago River containing multiple levels. Descend through a portal in the sidewalk in most cities and you will find yourself in a subway station, but with Chicago’s rapid transit being mostly elevated through the Loop, a sidewalk portal is more likely to take you into a dark, noisy network of underground express streets and loading bays. Continue reading

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Chicago’s Comfortable Hard Edge

The Chicago River is a very urban waterway, about as far from ‘natural’ as any river gets. Over a century ago, it was so polluted that Chicagoans dug a canal to the Mississippi River and used the weight of Lake Michigan to flush tons of human waste and industrial by-products backwards through the Chicago River, downstream to Saint Louis (much to their displeasure) and beyond to the Gulf of Mexico. But lately, as industries have moved away for Interstate access and Sunbelt tax breaks, the water has become much cleaner and begun to look more like an asset to the city than a dirty open sewer.

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A Tale of Two Parks in One City

What makes a good park? Chicago has two of the biggest, boldest examples of very different ideas about parks right beside each other on its downtown lakefront.

More than 600 metres wide and nearly 2 kilometres long, Grant Park is truly enormous and a remarkable dedication of valuable urban land to a park. (In Toronto, it would cover the waterfront between Yonge Street and Bathurst Street, an often-maligned forest of condo towers between the downtown core and the water.) The park began as a thin sliver of public lakeshore along Michigan Avenue, attaining its present scale somewhat accidentally when the debris following the Great Fire of 1871 was dumped in the lake and became new parkland. The park is protected from significant development by easements and dedications fought for by local residents over several decades against their own City government. All buildings are subject to a low height limit, except for the Art Institute of Chicago, a relic from the 1893 World’s Fair.

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