Op-Ed: Good Design Isn't Just for Downtowns

Richard Driehaus attests to the importance of intentional, context-oriented design on the neighborhood level.

1 minute read

June 16, 2019, 9:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

Street Design

La Citta Vita / Flickr

Richard Driehaus, better known as the man behind the Driehaus Architecture Prize, also bestows the Driehaus Awards for Architectural Excellence In Community Design for praiseworthy design at the neighborhood level.

In an op-ed, he calls on the incoming administration of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to give due consideration to the built environments of underinvested neighborhoods. "When we initiated the Driehaus Awards our intentions were to assert that the built environments of neighborhoods are as important as that of the city center," he writes.

"We can all learn from the designs of neighborhood builders," Driehaus continues, citing how they must pay attention to factors like budget, sustainability, and local context. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot "has staked her tenure on ensuring a new inclusiveness and equity throughout the city. We can therefore be hopeful for a new attention on neighborhoods — particularly those that have been bereft of needed investment for too long."

Driehaus concludes with an argument that "honoring" residents means building neighborhoods where "shopping, schools, housing and recreation" are within walking distance.

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