Union Station should be a top infrastructure priority of the City of Chicago. It can become the centerpiece of a highly interconnected transit system, one that serves all parts of the city, the metropolitan region and the whole Midwest. It's the single most important piece of infrastructure for the city to focus on now. The current master plan to upgrade the station will increase its capacity but it falls far short of the required transformation. Through-routing promises to put Union Station at the center of a reinvigorated system, becoming a...
Construction technologies promise to improve city building
There will be an incredible drive to build and expand cities in this century, requiring much quicker, more efficient ways of planning and construction. The challenges are great but the advances of the digital age are now coming into the construction sector. I've had the opportunity to write about this, interviewing several innovators and entrepreneurs for Builtworlds. My published articles include stories on new construction technologies, urban entrepreneurs and 21st Century cities. Triax launches new equipment tracking sensor read...
A crack in the code
The arcane controversies of planning codes will never stir up much excitement. But I wrote this article to show planners at work, grappling with the world as it is, facing the constant challenge of bringing ideas into practice. The article, published in Planning (October 2016), is called A Crack in the Code? Form-based codes
Review of Planning Chicago
Planning Chicago by Jon DeVries and Brad Hunt, calls for a return to big ideas in a city once famous for bold planning. The authors decry the lack of vision and failure to implement that has beset Chicago planning in recent decades. And they show the maleffects of this failure. While Toronto and other global cities take on impressive infrastructure, housing and education programs, our town struggles to come up with cash just to maintain the status quo. My review in New City is called Bring Back the Big Picture. You may read the review...
Calumet area vision
During 2005-08, I led a non-profit environmental organization in the industrial Lake Calumet area. The area was covered with the huge brown fields left by the disappearance of steel making two decades before. And interspersed with degraded natural lands. The landscape looks much the same today but it holds enormous potential for a new economy. I stitched together the city's plans and added a few ideas of my own, assembling a regional strategy on an illustrated map called Calumet Area Vision - Places and Connections. It shows eight key spots,...
Transportation plan for Cook County
Cook County once led the way in planning for and building the expressways that now run through the heart of the city. I reported on the county's first comprehensive transportation plan since 1940, writing for BuiltWorlds. The new plan is about walking and bicycling and simply trying to hold the huge system together. How times have changed.
Masdar City combines ancient practice and modern technology
Masdar City in Abu Dhabi is a very interesting attempt to build a low-carbon sustainable city in the Middle East. Far from creating a sudden Utopia, the planners are gradually assembling the elements of the city and learning a lot along the way. Their “greenprint” for sustainable city making is becoming a model for the Middle East and possibly the world. When I visited in 2015, I was impressed with the regional planning for all of Abu Dhabi that guides the development of Masdar. I wrote an essay for CNU Journal, New eco-city combines ancient...
Frontier of form-based codes
Planning codes are interesting when applied in regional schemes, so I wrote this article for the APA Regional newsletter, Frontier of form-based codes. Whether the 'floating zone' towns and villages ever get built as planned is another story.
Let It Flow
My first published article was about the Coffee Creek conservation development in Indiana. It appeared in Urban Land in June, 2000. The year before, my last year in graduate studies, I won a fellowship from the Urban Land Institute which offered an opportunity to write for the magazine. I was a new staff planner at NIPC learning about the rising practice of suburban conservation design and the "culture of water." ULI kindly published this feature length piece called Let It Flow.
The hitch in the plan
This guest essay appeared in Illinois Issues shortly after the consolidation of the two regional agencies in Chicago. I argued that the underlying division remained and that regional planning would not become truly effective until internal unification of the whole agency under its board occurred. My opinion caused something of a stir evoking letters in response. My editor Peggy gave it the prescient title The hitch in the plan.
Thoughts on farmland
I was a young staff planner at NIPC working on the regional plan when, in winter 2003, I went up to McHenry County and asked the Farm Bureau to put a public meeting together to talk about farmland. We assembled a large group for that meeting, which occurred on a really cold night in early February. The Bureau helped me bring out some farmers, while some real estate people also showed up apparently to defend their interests. A farmer there of long standing in the county, I can't recall his name, expressed a sense of care for the land, although...
A Planner’s work in the Garden City of the Emirates
This article appeared in the APA International Division's newsletter (2016 pre-conference issue), called A Planner's work... It contains a reference to Steve's white paper, Impending revolution in planning practice It’s always interesting to watch a real planner at work, and even more interesting when s/he is working 7,000 miles from home. I was in Dubai for a few days last year when Stephen Goldie, an Australian who I first met at a CNU conference some years ago, invited me to visit him in Al Ain. I jumped at the opportunity. Al Ain is in...
Planners are now devoted to building up little cities around rail stations, and if it can be done in metro Dallas it can be done anywhere. The movement toward station density was just getting started there when I wrote Suburbia Revisited.
A profile of a farmer that appeared in Illinois Issues, April 2003. It portrays a farmer who's struggle with nature to conserve his soil is much easier than his struggle with commodity markets. The full article is here.
At the City’s Edges
A guest essay appearing in Illinois Issues, October 2000, in which I called for a regional dialogue on farmland, to consider farmland as land, which in those days of booming development was nearly impossible. The full article as published is here.
Stretching the Boundaries
An article published in Planning Magazine, January 2002, corresponding with the annual planning conference in Chicago that year. I summarize efforts of the many (perhaps too many) groups with their hand in the regional planning arena. The article as published is here.
A Different Kind of Recovery
An article about the ideas of designer William McDonough was published in Conscious Choice in April, 2002 . Please read the full article here.
This article, subtitled The Beauty and the Promise of Conservation Design, appeared in Conscious Choice in April, 2001. Please see the article here.