The Decline Of Chicago Architecture

Chicago Tribune Architecture Critic, Blair Kamin, goes on a tirade over how the unchecked residential boom in Chicago has ruined the City's architectural character.
August 16, 2003, 1pm PDT | Connie Chung
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"For years, urban planners dreamed of a '24-hour downtown' where you could live, work and play. Now that the dream is being realized, however, it is turning out to be an aesthetic nightmare. To be sure, these are the kind of problems cities want. The new residential towers have created thousands of construction jobs, expanded the tax base, and provided a built-in clientele for fancy stores and fine-dining restaurants....Yet a vital city is not the same thing as a healthy city. A healthy city is more than a collection of megabuck high-rises. It's a place where traffic moves instead of crawls; where shops and entertainment make lively, mixed-use districts instead of sterile in-town, dormitory suburbs; where parks and other open spaces create civilized clearings instead of a wall-to-wall concrete jungle of steel and concrete. There is a difference, in short, between carefully managed growth and unchecked, Dodge City growth....As Chicago rewrites its antiquated 1957 zoning ordinance, it is approaching these essential, quality-of-life issues with the usual timidity, tweaking on the margins instead of addressing the problem's core: a failure, on the part of public officials, developers and architects, to respond creatively to dramatic shifts in urban life, including the city's reinvigoration and its simultaneous suburbanization."

Thanks to Connie Chung

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Published on Sunday, August 10, 2003 in The Chicago Tribune
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