The Final Review

Burnham’s Blog

The Final Review shares the knowledge of Burnham’s experts in building permit expediting and code compliance. Learn about different jurisdictional building permit requirements, and stay up-to-date on the Americans with Disabilities Act and local accessibility standards. Follow the latest in sustainability, including building energy codes and sustainability design developments.

Lincoln Yards Project First to Utilize North Branch Industrial Corridor Framework

Feb 12, 2019 8:00:00 AM

The Chicago Plan Commission approved the North Branch Industrial Corridor Framework Plan and Design Guidelines (the Framework) in May 2017. The plan will radically transform the large industrial area along the Chicago River between Kinzie Street and Fullerton Avenue, creating opportunities for investment and redevelopment. If fully realized, Chicago’s North Branch Industrial Corridor Framework Plan could dramatically impact the City’s economy in addition to reshaping Chicago’s built environment in industrial areas throughout the city.

In December 2018, the City of Chicago released updates to the North Branch Framework Plan, including plans for the Cortland and Chicago River Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment Project Area (the Project Area) on the city's Near North Side. The proposed district encompasses the "Lincoln Yards" planned development, the first to utilize the Framework.

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Though Bike Use is Growing, United States Cities Lack in Infrastructure

Aug 30, 2018 10:30:00 AM

As part of our Project Drawdown series and our ongoing discussion of urban planning, we’ve explored many of the benefits and challenges facing alternative transportation across the globe. Cycling, and the promotion of biking as a car alternative within and around cities, is a frequent discussion topic: Project Drawdown makes a strong case for bike infrastructure as essential for creating a transportation alternative to emissions-producing modes like private cars. 

Alternative transportation, including bikes, will continue to a play an increasing role in urban planning and design. Prioritizing ease of access, safety, and green solutions to issues in both large-scale planning and individual building design is quickly becoming expected, and designing safe cycling spaces is key to creating a culture that uses bikes as transportation.

Project Drawdown ranks Bike Infrastructure as #59 in solutions to global warming, estimated to reduce 2.31 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050 and a savings of $400.47 billion dollars. Better bike infrastructure promotes cleaner air quality and healthier populations and is less expensive to implement than other preventative health measures.

image by Viktor Kern
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New Federal Legislation to Increase Inclusionary Zoning

Aug 28, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Many cities across the United States are facing an affordable housing crisis. In response, steps are being taken in some parts of the country to use inclusionary zoning to require or stimulate the construction of housing for low- and middle-income households whenever new developments are being built. These efforts are usually at the local level. However, now there is an attempt to mandate inclusionary zoning at the federal level. This summer, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker introduced Senate Bill 3342. The legislation contains inclusive zoning requirements for federally funded projects in order to encourage more affordable housing as well as reduce discrimination resulting from exclusionary zoning practices.

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Hong Kong Cityscape: 10 Things to Notice

Aug 9, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Hong Kong is  truly impressive and much can be learned from this ultra-modern Asian city. It is helpful to sometimes look abroad and consider a different way of approaching issues. The following are some of the factors that make Hong Kong such a unique city and noticeably different from many American urban areas.

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The Need for Affordable Living: Rethinking Public Housing

Jul 19, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Many American cities are facing an affordable housing crisis that affects middle and low income families. Some cities and states are adopting laws and policies to encourage the private development of affordable housing. However, a more comprehensive public housing program, housing funded and administered by a government authority, would also help reduce the current shortage. In this post, we look at a few of the reasons public housing has encountered barriers in the United States and some public housing programs abroad.

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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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Merchandise Mart Illumination, Largest in US, Begins Sept. 29th

Mar 29, 2018 10:30:00 AM

Last February, the City of Chicago designated 2017 the Year of Public Art (YOPA) and promoted a number of initiatives to bring new art throughout the city, including the second run of the Chicago Architecture Biennial from September 2017 to January 2018. As part of YOPA, the City announced a plan to illuminate the 25 story facade of the historic Merchandise Mart building earlier this year. Now completed, “Art on theMART” is the largest permanent digital display in the United States and is part of a growing list of cities utilizing digital art as part of public art initiatives.

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Controversial California Legislation to Increase Transit Oriented Development

Mar 21, 2018 10:00:00 AM

A contentious California bill is designed to increase affordable housing and sustainability by providing density bonuses for developments near transit hubs throughout the state. This latest legislative effort to solve California’s housing crisis and encourage walkable communities, SB 827, was introduced in the state senate in January 2018. The bill already faces opposition by some because its requirements would force local communities to accept denser development.

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Ambitious Urban Re-greening Fights Emissions, Heat Islands

Feb 22, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Urban sprawl is increasing at a rapid pace according to the “Atlas for the End of the World,”a research project by the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. By 2100, three billion more people could be living in cities across the world - requiring the equivalent of 357 cities the size of New York to house them. 

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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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Car Bans, Congestion Pricing Plans Target City Traffic

Jan 26, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Transportation researcher Anthony Downs introduced his traffic equilibrium theory, the Law of Peak-Hour Expressway Congestion (Law), in a 1962 paper. Citing that “on urban commuter expressways, peak-hour traffic congestion rises to meet maximum capacity", the Law is applied to urban roads as whole: no matter if a road is widened or additional lanes are “built in and around American cities, you can’t stop cars from jamming them up.” image by Daryan Shamkhali

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The Quest for Affordable Housing: Chicago Adopts New Developer Requirements

Oct 24, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Chicago recently took additional steps to increase much needed affordable housing. Many major urban areas, including Chicago, are bolstering their inclusionary housing requirements due to the serious shortage of housing for low and middle-income households. Chicago City Council adopted two ordinances this October amending the City’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) to add two pilot programs. The new requirements will affect developers with residential projects in some of Chicago’s growing areas.

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River Edge Ideas Lab: Growing Chicago’s Second Waterfront

Oct 12, 2017 1:00:00 PM

Chicago’s “second coast” boasts a new riverwalk downtown and plans for major redevelopment of the industrial corridor along the Chicago River’s North Branch. The City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD), in a collaboration with the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) and Chicago Architecture Biennial, explores the river’s potential by inviting nine world-class architecture firms along the South Branch. image credit: Steven Wang

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How Will California’s New Affordable Housing Laws Impact Developers?

Oct 10, 2017 10:00:00 AM

California’s Governor Brown signed into law a package of bills on September 29, 2017, intended to increase the development of affordable housing. The state is deep in the middle of an affordable housing crisis and has been searching for solutions. Some major California cities passed ordinances in recent years, such as San Francisco’s new density bonus programs, to stimulate affordable housing development. However, change is also needed at the state level, and the set of new California laws has important implications for residential housing developers.

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New York City Zoning: Major Changes for East Midtown Manhattan

Aug 15, 2017 8:00:00 AM

New York City has undertaken a number of significant rezoning efforts in recent years. The latest change received City Council approval on August 9, 2017, the rezoning of a section of Midtown Manhattan known as East Midtown.The amendment of the Zoning Resolution of the City of New York is intended to encourage development in a major business center. The inability to construct larger-scale office towers has slowed growth in East Midtown. Rezoning the area to encourage development while accounting for the needs of different stakeholders has been a number of years in the making.

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New San Francisco Affordable Housing Incentives: Density Bonuses

Jun 27, 2017 8:00:00 AM

San Francisco recently adopted several new density bonus programs to help ease the city’s affordable housing crisis. Despite San Francisco’s economically diverse population, the city has one of the nation’s highest housing costs. San Francisco has taken various steps over the years to encourage affordable housing projects but much more needs to be done. In this post, we will look at the new San Francisco density bonus programs as well as the important role of the California Density Bonus Law.

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Los Angeles Construction Moratorium Ballot Initiative Defeated: Measure S

Mar 8, 2017 9:15:00 AM

On March 7, 2017, Los Angeles residents voted down a ballot initiative that included a two-year moratorium on much of the city’s new construction. The very controversial initiative, known as Measure S, was formally called the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative (Initiative). The Mayor of Los Angeles and a broad coalition of City of Los Angeles Council members, California State Assembly members, businesses, and organizations opposed the Initiative.

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Removing Barriers to Affordable Housing: Housing Development Toolkit

Oct 13, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Last month, the White House released the Housing Development Toolkit (Toolkit), a guide to promoting affordable housing development. The Toolkit’s recommendations are based on different state and local jurisdiction initiatives to remove barriers to affordable housing. Although the regulation of housing development is normally left to states and municipalities, the White House is hoping the Toolkit will help local governments adopt strategies to encourage an increase in affordable housing.

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Overview of Chicago Transit-Oriented Development

Jul 27, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Chicago is experiencing a growth construction projects near public transportation. A variety of organizations and government agencies are working on initiatives to support transit-oriented development in the Chicago Region. In Fall 2015, the Chicago City Council adopted changes to its transit-oriented development ordinance to encourage more building close to transit. We at Burnham thought we would take a look at steps being taken to foster Chicago’s transit-oriented development and some resulting projects.

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Historic Zoning Changes: New York City Zoning for Quality and Affordability

May 19, 2016 8:00:00 AM

This past March, New York City adopted amendments that are major changes to its zoning regulations, Zoning Resolution of the City of New York. These amendments seek to increase the amount of affordable housing in all five boroughs and improve the quality of the city’s housing. We at Burnham have been following the process for the adoption of the changes to New York City’s zoning regulations and are providing an overview of Zoning for Quality and Affordability, some of the complex amendments to New York City’s zoning regulations.

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