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We are excited to announce that our parklet project is a candidate for Ford’s Community Grant. Designed in collaboration with Studio Murmur, the parklet will provide a green oasis complete with seating, planters and an herb garden in the heart of Andersonville. Vote for our parklet this Saturday and Sunday at Chicago’s Green Festival on Navy Pier, which will have free yoga, and homebrew classes, among other sweet-looking activities. With this additional funding, we could fuel seasonal plantings, park seating and the seedlings of future parklets. Check out our official renderings above and below this post. Hope to see you there!

moss green architect parking day

Three years ago, we held Chicago’s first PARK(ing) Day in Lakeview, where we transformed a few parking spaces into a fun, public green space for a summer day. Now, we, along with eco-Andersonville and the Andersonville Development Corporation, are excited to announce a semi-permanent iteration of PARK(ing) Day: a parklet in Andersonville at Clark and Farragut. Parklets, which are popping up all over the world (SF tour, here), are mini urban retreats, complete with plant life and seating areas. They provide more green space in the thick of cities, which often lack communal places to sit and watch the world go by. Watch the video, learn more about the project, and support our kickstarter here. We’re gathering funds for seasonal plantings, park seating and future parklets, three of which are in the works in the coming years.

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Lakeview Area Master Plan (LAMP) reveal. During the research phase of LAMP, the number one feature Lakeview residents expressed need for was more public space. One of our suggestions was to create the LowLine, sprucing up the currently dingy path below the Chicago Brown Line’s tracks with native plants and solar lamps to connect and beautify the neighborhood. More inside.

We are reclaiming urban public space for people on PARK(ing) Day, Friday, September 16, 2011 from 9am to 5pm.  The designed “PARK(ing) spaces”, metered parking spaces converted into temporary green parks, will be located in front of Southport Grocery, 3552 North Southport Avenue.  The ‘park’ will feature a bicycle repair station, live music, and a lawn for dining and enjoying the day.

In 2009 and 2010, moss Design converted parking spaces into temporary public space, which will be expanded this year to highlight the need for bike infrastructure and open space in Lakeview.  Earlier this year moss Design unveiled a sustainable master plan, prepared for the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce and SSA 27.  Part of the plan was a call for more unique and accessible public open space.  This year’s PARK(ing) Day theme is a “Bicycle Comfort Station” featuring free food, live music, bike parking and repair, and relaxation areas.  Think of it as the mini-mart of the future.
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Parking. Its a sore subject here in Chicago.  In 2008 the City decided to privatize it’s 36,000 parking meters – in reality leasing an 8′ wide section of asphalt from the curb to the sometimes-present-bike lane – to a group made up of Morgan Stanley, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Allianz Capital Partners for a $1.16B. Since then, everyone in the City, nay, the world, seems to have developed a disdain to the selling off of public assets.  And rightly so.  Bloomberg News discovered just last month that we Chicagoans got royally hosed on the deal.  It turns out the private group will net $9.58B over the course of the 75-year term.  Oops.  This is more than twice what Alderman Scott Waguespack estimated the City would loose in profits when he denounced the deal and subsequently voted against it in the City Council.

This doesn’t stop the City from praising itself for the move, as Chicago’s CFO, Gene Saffold, touted, “The concession agreement was absolutely the best deal for Chicagoans”.  Going on to wax delusional, “The net present value of $11.6 billion in revenue over the life of the 75-year agreement is consistent with $1.15 billion the city received.”  Um, yeah.  You say this guy does the City’s accounting, eh.  Meanwhile, the Chicago’s Office of the Inspector General called the deal “dubious” since Saffold, “failed to calculate how much the system would be worth over 75 years.  The present value of the contract was $2.13 billion, more than the $1.15 billion the city received”, according to Bloomberg. Read the rest of this entry »

Even if real streets are not becoming any more hospitable to cyclists, the virtual ones sure are.  Today everyone’s favorite online map rolled out bicycling navigation as a native feature of Google maps. The bike routing is available in 150 cities, Chicago included, and also shows bike trails in addition to bike-friendly autoways.  As a test I looked up my favorite local ride, Northwest on Elston to the Milwaukee/Devon/Superdawg intersection to pick up the North Branch Trail (unfortunately, there are no trail labels on Google maps yet) for a mostly uninterrupted, 16-mile jaunt to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, which I just noticed is mislabeled as ‘Botanical’ on Google maps.  Conversely, I looked up the most death-defying bike route in San Diego, this bike lane abruptly ends at a freeway off ramp just north of Little Italy on India Street.  Biker Beware. Read the rest of this entry »

McCall Park - portlandOne the best urban open spaces in one of the best US cities is McCall Riverfront Park (named for the former Governor of Oregon) along the the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon.  Aside from its splendid view and close proximity of downtown Portland, it is what brought it to existence that makes it remarkable.   Read the rest of this entry »

traffic lightsQuite a bit a fallout this week on the parking meter fee increase which has pushed most Chicago parking meters from $0.25 an hour to $1.00 and hour, the exception being West Loop meters at $2/hour and Loop meters at $3.50/hour.  The backlash has resonated everywhere, from parking meter blogs to a round table discussion on NPR’s eight forty-eight last Friday.  This has caused such an uproar that the Sun-Times is calling it a “quiet rebellion”, and unleashed speculation that this could be the undoing of the mayor as a final straw.  Really?  I am sure there could be a more worthy cause than parking meters? Read the rest of this entry »

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