Sign up for E-update

Join the upcoming debate!  Chicago Public Transit: On Track or Derailed? >>

Chicago defined the "City of the Century" in the Twentieth Century. But is Chicago becoming the "Suburb of the Century" in the Twenty-First?  Are big-box retailers eating up our neighborhoods? Or are they the perfect solution to the problem of food deserts and widespread unemployment?  Is the land of Sullivan and Wright becoming generic Anyplace, USA?  Or do mixed-use developments replace historic buildings that no longer serve their purpose, ultimately enlivening the neighborhood by providing much-needed amenities?  Are we becoming less of a city in which to stroll? Or do the adjoining green spaces planned for many mixed-use developments make Chicago, in fact, more walkable?

Join leading voices from architecture, design, business and politics at Goose Island Wrigleyville as they debate the pros and cons of mixed-use development and big-box stores in the city of Chicago. If you care about our city, be a part of the debate.  If you care about the quality of life here, be a part of the debate.  For no-holds barred, real, thoughtful, lively, solution-oriented conversations, be a part of the debate.  Although we're losing our Mayor, we'll maintain the mojo.  Be a part of the debate.  Chicago Debates.  

  Ben Joravsky
Staff Writer,
Chicago Reader

Linda Searl
Chair, Chicago Plan Commission

Christopher Robling
Principal, Jayne Thompson & Associates

Jonathan Fine
Executive Director,
Preservation Chicago

John Lahey
Chairman and President,
Solomon Cordwell Buenz

Edward Lifson
Cultural Critic and blogger (moderator)

Malling the North Side: Addison Park on Clark

This $100 million, mixed-use development is slated to go-up across the street from Wrigley Field, in the heart of the Wrigleyville neighborhood at the intersection of Addison and Clark streets.  Current tenants will be forced to move in order to make way for a new eight-story hotel, 135 residential units, national chain stores and other retail space, and 399 underground parking spaces.  Some local bar, theater and restaurant owners have lambasted the project, saying it will "suburbanize" the neighborhood.  They say Wrigleyville is already hip and cool and this new development could ruin it.  

The developer, on the other hand, says this "public transit-oriented and environmentally sensitive development" will "help improve an underutilized, open asphalt parking lot at the center of the neighborhood; widen area sidewalks; increase open and green space; and is projected to create several hundred jobs during construction and ongoing operations."  Furthermore, it will "address the critical need for modern hotel space" in the area, according to the developer's website.  After early renderings were criticized, the developer altered the design and reduced the height of the buildings, but the Chicago Tribune's architecture critic Blair Kamin says it's still "no design home run."  

For More Information

  Revised Plan for Wrigleyville Development: Less Bland, But Still No Design Home Run   Suburbia in Wrigleyville?
  Addison Park Development: Where Do You Stand?   Tunney: Wrigleyville Development Controversy a "Family Feud"

Malling the South Side: Wal-Mart

A 150,000-square foot Wal-Mart Super Center that sells groceries is planned to anchor Pullman Park, a 180-acre residential, commercial and retailing complex near Pullman at 111th and the Bishop Ford Freeway on Chicago’s far-South Side. Pullman is currently one of the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago, with few retail or recreational facilities.  It's what's referred to as a "food desert," wherein residents must leave the area to shop, even for necessities such as groceries.  Pullman Park would give the residents local shopping options and it could employ hundreds of people, including many community residents.  Wal-Mart has agreed to pay a higher starting wage than it normally does, although still lower than what many Chicago aldermen and labor leaders wanted; Wal-Mart will offer a $8.75/hr starting wage in Pullman.  

The project comes with a master plan featuring parks for recreation and a retail center including another big box.  Also discussed are a hotel, a school, and hundreds of housing units including affordable housing, all to be phased-in over the next ten years.  Sustainability is heeded: the buildings will have "green roofs," the parking lot will be landscaped with permeable pavers and the site will have zero storm water runoff, with three retention ponds. The improved tax base that will result from this development should improve public education, public health and human services in the area.   

Wal-Mart has been trying to increase its presence in Chicago for several years.  This store could be the first of many new Chicago Wal-Marts, which would put greater pressure on smaller, independently-owned businesses and ultimately change the face of retailing in Chicago.

For more information

  A Bargain for Pullman?   City Committee OKs Wal-Mart for Pullman Park
  What Else You Should Know About Wal-Mart   Wal-Mart Critical to Pullman Development Plans


Malling the Loop: Block 37, aka 108 North State Street

Bordered by State, Randolph, Dearborn and Washington streets, the North Loop’s "Block 37" encompasses an entire city block in the heart of downtown.  Years ago this nearly three-acre plot of land was about as urban as it could be—with independently-owned shops, movie theaters, food stores and restaurants.  Then it was empty, some said cursed, and the city missed the tax revenues that such a central parcel could generate.  After several false starts, a mall was born: a multi-story shopping mall whose ground-level opens to the street studios of WBBM-TV.  Architecture critics have called the still-unfinished project a major disappointment.
Many of the stores and restaurants are the same as those found in any mall anywhere in America.  Yet, one could argue that the addition of this mall is helping to transform State Street back into the major shopping destination it once was.  Inside is a sky-lit atrium, with escalators found in any suburban shopping mall, but it also boasts views of the city, framing landmarks such as the Picasso sculpture across the street in Daley Plaza.  Movie theaters are planned, and the roof will be accessible.  Luxury hotel and residential towers could be built above the mall, when the economy picks up.    

What would have been a grand urban move—a Chicago Transit Authority "superstation" beneath the mall, to take travelers on express trains to O'Hare and Midway airports—has been mothballed for the foreseeable future.   Maybe this plot should have remained a park?  True, it generates taxes and downtown activity, and more tenants will move in as the economy improves, but some say that as built, Block 37 will always lack a truly-urban edge. 

For more information

  Encyclopedia of Chicago: Block 37 entry   Block 37 Mall Design Falls Short Despite Smart Urban Touches
  Trying to Break the Jinx of Chicago's Block 37   Block 37: #2 On Our List of Disappointing Developments




   This project is also generously supported by the AIA Chicago Foundation.

This Week's Public Programs

Institute of Environmental Sustainability - Loyola
Thu, 05 Mar 2015
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Minecraft Studio: 2 Day ChallengeRecurring Event
Sat, 07 Mar 2015
12:00 PM - 3:00 PM

LEGO® Build Workshop: ShadowRecurring Event
Sun, 08 Mar 2015
11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Minecraft Studio: 2 Day ChallengeRecurring Event
Sun, 08 Mar 2015
12:00 PM - 3:00 PM

LEGO® Build Workshop: ShadowRecurring Event
Sun, 08 Mar 2015
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Design Dialogues: Post Industrial Chicago
Tue, 10 Mar 2015
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

More Events


Download our 2015
March April Calendar!



Chicago Architecture Foundation, 224 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60604  |  312.922.3432  |   Privacy Policy  |   © Copyright 2012