Livable Streets and Reviving a Chicago Plaza Proposal

by crandell | 07/02/2010


Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin today posted a great piece on livable streets and street closures and revived a plaza proposal I floated last year: Let's keep an open mind on closing streets: They might bring new life to dull city blocks

Read the proposal for a plaza by the Belmont Red Line station here:

Where else might you envision a neighborhood plaza in Chicago?

Profile: Belmont CTA Artist David Lee Csicsko

by crandell | 07/24/2009


David Lee Csicsko is a Chicago artist who recently won the commission for the new public art installation at the rebuilt Belmont CTA station following a competitive public selection process. The station and artwork are expected to be completed by the end of this year (view work-in-progress on the right). His Belmont 2000 work, which was originally intended as a temporary installation, had been on display at the old station since 1999 and was removed for the station construction.

What's the name of your new Belmont CTA piece, and how does it relate to the transit experience and to Lakeview?

Belmont Pedestrian Plaza -- a Placemaking Proposal for Lakeview

by crandell | 04/06/2009


In celebration of the Burnham Centennial, I'm sharing an idea to enhance the public realm in my neighborhood. I've lived in Lakeview for six years, and while I love it, I've always felt that it's missing a quality public gathering space. The various sub-neighborhoods kind of have their own little centers, but you can't really inhabit those places. Most of the sidewalks are too narrow and there aren't places to sit. I grew up near Annapolis, Md., which has a harbor with a plaza where people would hang out to talk, eat ice cream, drink coffee, etc. And Lakeview alone is almost three times the size of Annapolis, so we should be able to support a place like that. Anyone who has lived in a European city also knows what a pleasure a nice centrally located plaza can be. But even some other neighborhoods in Chicago have such places. I'm thinking of Giddings Plaza in Lincoln Square, which is a great, active public place.

Belmont Wants David Lee Csicsko Back

by crandell | 01/27/2009


A well-attended community meeting this evening at Ann Sather demonstrated overwhelming support for the return of David Lee Csicsko's cheerful aesthetic to the Belmont station. The CTA Arts in Transit program solicited community feedback at the meeting on the selection of public art for the station, presenting proposals from six artists. The CTA said the chosen work would be installed this summer. Neighbors had plenty of time at the end of the meeting to provide feedback on the artwork. As people around the room took their turns voicing their opinions, it seemed the one work everybody loved, receiving the vast majority of comments (only one negative), was the proposal by David Lee Csicsko, who's "Belmont 2000" recently decorated the Belmont station before construction forced its removal.

Broadway Carfree for the Weekend

by crandell | 09/09/2007


This weekend, Broadway from Belmont to Roscoe was opened up for pedestrians to freely amble and stroll and enjoy the beautiful weather. The Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce hosted its third annual Fine Art Festival, celebrating a great public space by filling the street with art, food and music. About the only thing a car was good for was as a canvas for painting -- as demonstrated at the "Paint a Volvo" booth.

These kinds of festivals happen all summer long in Chicago, and they're a great reminder that our streets serve a greater purpose than just moving cars. Unlike sprawling suburban streets that only serve to get cars to their destinations, urban streets are destinations in and of themselves. They are public places -- places for people.