The Final Review

Michelle DiFranco

Posts by Michelle DiFranco

Why Chicago? 2018 BOMA/Chicago Economic Impact Series Explores City’s Appeal

Feb 15, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Previously, we covered the 2017 BOMA/Chicago Economic Trends Report that highlighted Chicago’s changing Central Business District (CBD) occupancy trends and tech growth, especially in rapidly-changing areas like the South and West Loop. Though the study found that the City of Chicago is home to a growing technology sector, Chicago’s economy remains highly diverse, and downtown office space occupancy rates continue to increase. 

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Open House Chicago 2018: Photos from This Year's Sites

Oct 26, 2018 10:15:00 AM

On October 13th and 14th, the Chicago Architecture Center (formerly the Chicago Architecture Foundation) hosted its eighth annual Open House Chicago and hundreds of notable buildings opened their doors to attendees. Part of network of worldwide events, Open House Chicago (OHC) continues to expands its offerings to include new buildings, businesses, sacred spaces, and more throughout the city of Chicago and near suburbs.

Burnham’s team members toured many of the buildings in this year’s event and we’d like to showcase some of the places we explored below, as well as some of the significant sites from Open House Chicago’s largest year yet. 

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Open House Chicago 2018 to Feature New Neighborhoods, Unique Spaces

Sep 27, 2018 10:30:00 AM

Now in its eighth year, Open House Chicago (OHC) 2018 will take place on October 13th and 14th and features numerous architecturally-significant buildings and behind the scenes looks at spaces rarely open to the public in almost 30 neighborhoods across the City of Chicago. The event, hosted yearly by the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) - formerly the Chicago Architecture Foundation - seeks to shed light on communities and architecture in neighborhoods often overlooked. 

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Project Drawdown: Bamboo’s Quick Growth Sequesters More Carbon than Trees

Sep 20, 2018 1:00:00 PM

Bamboo is one of the world’s fastest growing and most adaptable grasses, sequestering significant amounts of carbon and thriving even on degraded land. According to Project Drawdown, the plant is ideal for afforestation - replanting of trees in barren land to reduce the overuse of natural resources and create a new forest - because of its adaptability and uniquely fast growing times. Bamboo reaches full height in a single growing season, making it a very sustainable, renewable material source. With a host of practical uses, bamboo has “the compressive strength of concrete and tensile strength of steel.” 

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Cook County Hospital Redevelopment Promises New Life for Storied Building

Jul 17, 2018 10:45:00 AM

Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill’s $1 billion mixed-use redevelopment of the historic former Cook County Hospital building located on Chicago’s Near West Side is poised to create a host of changes for the 102-year-old Beaux Arts building. Prominent in Chicago history, the historic building was listed on four separate occasions on Landmark IllinoisMost Endangered Historic Places list after closing in 2002. 

image by Jeff Dahl - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

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Drawdown: Increase Mass Transit Use to Fight Global Warming, Promote Healthier Cities

Jul 2, 2018 12:00:00 PM

According to Project Drawdown, the transport sector is responsible for more than “seven gigatons of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually” and is responsible for 14 percent of total global emissions. Transport emissions in individual countries count for up to 35 percent of all emissions, and the sector share continues to grow. 

International shipping, air transportation, and other subsectors are in high demand, and as “a country develops economically, [the] movement of people and good increases.” Without targeted efforts and special focus on transportation emissions in all forms, Drawdown states that “emissions [could] balloon out of control” and threaten any plan to fight global warming. 

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FREESPACE: Generosity at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

Jun 21, 2018 10:00:00 AM

The City of Chicago’s own successful architecture biennial is the largest of its kind in the North America and is one of a host of international architecture events occurring around the world. Now in its 16th year, la Biennale di Venezia’s architecture exhibition is currently running from May 24th, 2018 through November 25th, 2018. 

image by Sam Mouat

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Drawdown 2018 EcoChallenge Makes Climate Solutions Accessible

May 31, 2018 11:15:00 AM

We’ve been highlighting Project Drawdown’s strategies for fighting climate change since the beginning of year, including green roofs, cement, and the number one solution to global warming, reducing air conditioning refrigerants. The majority of these solutions are focused on a larger scale involving urban planning and global initiatives, but Project Drawdown also has actionable items for individuals and local groups. This year, Project Drawdown and the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) debuted the Drawdown EcoChallenge to spur action on these items.

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Child-Friendly Urban Planning Creates More Resilient Cities

May 1, 2018 11:30:00 AM

Our recent focus on Project Drawdown illustrates an urgently urbanizing world. The world’s cities are growing exponentially, especially in the “global South”, and the United Nations estimates that by 2030, 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities and one in three people will be living in a city with over half a million people. New populations in the United States (US) are also urbanizing, facing challenges unique to both growing mid-size cities and established urban centers experiencing shifting demographics. 

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All Building Uses Benefit from Retrofitting Savings, Positive Environmental Impact

Apr 18, 2018 12:00:00 PM

Buildings account for 32 percent of all energy use and 19 percent of energy-related greenhouse gases, according to Project Drawdown, a number that will increase as the global population urbanizes. Heating and cooling requires energy pulled from either natural gas lines or the electric grid, and buildings of all ages are subject to energy loss through gaps in the building envelope or during operations, such as occupants leaving on lights or electronics.

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Vibrant Cities Lab: A Map for Accessible, Equitable Urban Forestry

Apr 6, 2018 12:00:00 PM

Last month, we covered urban reforestation as part of our Project Drawdown series and highlighted the importance of green infrastructure in the fight against global warming. The Vibrant Cities Lab (Lab), an initiative by the US Forest Service, American Forests, and the National Association of Regional Councils, advocates for urban forestry in the United States by providing resources for cities seeking to improve their tree canopy or green space. By bolstering the urban tree canopy and mandating living roofs, cities will reap major benefits: urban heat island reduction, better stormwater management, new wildlife habitat and increased biodiversity, better and more efficient building cooling, and aesthetic improvement among others.

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Drawdown: Cities Must Mandate Living Roofs to Fight Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Mar 27, 2018 10:30:00 AM

Green roofs - and other green building components such as green walls - provide a host of benefits: aesthetic improvement, stormwater management, heat island reduction, increased biodiversity, and building cooling. Though not yet ubiquitous, a city building with a landscaped, accessible roof is now considered a desirable amenity that promotes a healthy workplace and provides cost-effective cooling benefits. 

Project Drawdown ranks green roofs and cool roofs as #73 in their list of solutions to global warming, with an anticipated 0.77 gigaton reduction in carbon dioxide and $988.46 billion in operational costs by 2050. The Project Drawdown impact statement is as follows:

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Efficient Water Distribution Essential to Fight Against Carbon Emissions, Water Scarcity

Feb 15, 2018 11:30:00 AM

Urban planning that mitigates water loss can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Though water infrastructure is a vital part of the urban landscape, urban planning often overlooks the environmental impacts of storing and transporting water and the amount of energy used during the process.

Project Drawdown highlights the significant amount of energy used to pump water from sources to treatment plants and then on to storage and distribution. Each year, over 8.6 trillion gallons of water are lost worldwide through leaks in water distribution systems, a number divided equally between low and high-income countries. 

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Bike Infrastructure Key to Healthier Cities, Reduced Emissions

Jan 18, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Long part of the culture of European cities such as Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Oslo, biking as transportation is heralded as a solution to inactivity and an alternative to trips by car. From 2000 to 2016, bike commuting grew by 51 percent in the United States. Bike use has grown by 105 percent in some states, with an influx of bike friendly communities (BFCs) in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky among others as cities continue to promote bicycling as a form of urban transit. But without the infrastructure to support safe biking and encourage bicycles as car alternatives, the “biking boom” can easily stall. image by David Marcu

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2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial Focused on Chicago's Past, Design's Future

Jan 9, 2018 12:00:00 PM

The Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) completed its second run this weekend after over three months of programming and exhibitions. The 2017 event brought together 140 international participants who contributed models, photography, films, and installations engaging with the role and relevance of history in the future of architecture.

As the event closes, we’re taking a look back at some of the CAB’s events and discussions around “making new history” at the Chicago Cultural Center and the CAB’s six Community Anchor sites in neighborhoods throughout Chicago - and sharing some of our own photos below.

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BOMA/Chicago Economic Trends Report: Chicago a Magnet for Relocation

Oct 26, 2017 10:00:00 AM

The City of Chicago’s downtown core and nearby neighborhoods are growing, and BOMA/Chicago and JLL Chicago Research’s 2017 Economic Impact Study (the Study) details the present and future impact of the trend on the city’s office and commercial buildings. Also undertaken in 2006 and 2012, the Study is a comprehensive look at the City of Chicago’s commercial growth and forecasts the needs and expectations of future tenants.

BOMA/Chicago’s excellent panel on the report illuminated the Study’s findings and provided insight on current trends in office leasing, job growth, and construction. BOMA/Chicago building membership is composed of 165.8 million square feet of space across 235 buildings and forms 98 percent of all Class A office buildings and 80 percent of all rentable office space.
image credit: Tim Trad

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Open House Chicago: An Inside Look at the City's Iconic Architecture

Oct 19, 2017 11:00:00 AM

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) hosted their 7th annual Open House Chicago (OHC) this past weekend. The largest event of its type in North America, this year’s festival had over 200 sites across Chicago and the near suburbs during two days of open-to-the-public tours, talks, and more. Burnham Nationwide's Chicago team explored some of the new neighborhoods and places featured this year and in addition to sharing our visits, we'd like to highlight some of the most interesting spaces from the event.

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Urban Farming: Benefits and Zoning Challenges

Sep 28, 2017 8:00:00 AM

 While often deemed a new trend, the history of agriculture in urban setting is both ancient and modern. Changing attitudes towards agriculture in cities based on space, place, and time have caused a shift in production to rural areas. However, as sustainability and resiliency become more important in urbanism discussions, this divide has started to change. The revival of urban farming in the United States highlights some of the new perspectives on urban agriculture along with some of the inherent challenges in bringing farming to the city.

image credit: Markus Spiske

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ReUrbanism and Hidden Benefits of Old Buildings

Aug 8, 2017 8:00:00 AM

The National Trust for Historic Preservation (National Trust) provides historic designations and advocates for the preservation of historic buildings throughout the country. The organization assists with funding efforts to save threatened structures and proposes ways to preserve buildings as part of sustainable development. The organization advocates for Adaptive Reuse, a preservation strategy that develops existing buildings for new uses without demolition or severe loss of historic character.

One of these efforts involved the thorough study of the role of older buildings in modern cities by the Preservation Green Lab, leading to the development of the ReUrbanism Initiative and the “Atlas of ReUrbanism”, an outline of the benefits of mixed-aged cities that we’ll explore in this post.

image credit: Daryan Shamkhali on Unsplash

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Endangered Buildings: Preservation Advocacy Across US Cities

Jun 8, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Organizations across the country are calling attention to endangered historic buildings in need of preservation. Fortunately, with the rise of adaptive reuse and other inventive repurposing of older sites, cities have begun listening - using existing and historic buildings and infrastructure to accommodate demands for increased walkability, more green space, and additional transportation alternatives. However, landmark and preservation organizations play a critical education and advocacy role in preventing the destruction of important historic buildings.

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