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Despite this year’s lack of buzzer beaters, I’m a sucker for the NCAA basketball tournament. Cinderellas, upsets, March Madness, Capital One, all that. I don’t think my Mom ever realized I would always have to stay home sick from school around the third Thursday of March (sorry, Mom). During the three weeks of the tournament 63 games (add 4 for the new play-in round, or whatever they’re calling it now) are played at 13 different venues. However, starting in 2009 you would think they are all playing in the same arena. That’s because the NCAA has rolled out a standard, featureless court at every tournament venue. From Portland to Grensboro, Phoenix to Boston, its black and blue and boredom.

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Mayor Emanuel announced today he is planning to streamline the Department of Building’s permitting process.  Hoooray!  He says the changes announced would reduce the permit wait time from submittal to issuance down to 35 days.

(He also mentioned setting up a website for homeowners to track the status of the permit.  He’s new to this, so I don’t expect him to know the capability already exists, assuming you know your application number.)

To do this he is initiating an E-Plan submittal, which would allow architects to submit plans online, eliminating the need for paper drawings (and tree killing) to be shepherded to City Hall.  Applause!!!  Back in 2000 (yes, Chicago is getting to this 11 years later) my firm at the time worked with the City of San Diego to implement a similar program.  Technology was different back then making the process a bit cumbersome, but we got it worked out.  Unfortunately, the Building Commissioner left in the middle of the project for a plum job up the coast and the project died.  It has not been resurrected.  Today, though, it is much easier to transmit drawings with reduced file sizes via .pdf.  What is missing from the announcement, though, is whether the Department of Zoning will also implement the program.  If not, paper drawings will still have to schlepped to the zoning counter for their tedious review process.  And will the Department of Public Health also be signing on?  The Health Department has to review every restaurant, grocery store, or commercial kitchen project.

Lastly, the City will now require that half the estimated permit fee be paid up front to prevent already reviewed plans from being abandoned at City Hall.  Chicago, again, is slow to conform.  Most other cities have a separate plan check fee due up front, and a permit fee when the project is ready for issuance.

Everyone likes to complain about the Building Department (me included), however, they aren’t always to blame.  Just most of the time.  Here is what I think would help the department curb wait times. Read the rest of this entry »

Lets just put thisssss riiiiight herrrrrre.  Apparently, postal trucks have been parking in the new, not-that-protected Kinzie Street bike lane.  Courtesy of GRID.

Arguably one of the best bike routes in the Midwest.  Route from Cross Village south to Goodhart.

click for full view

I came across this cool (and nerdy) Chicago SSA comparative map we put together for the LAMP project.  Discovery: Wicker Park-Bucktown SSA is huge.  Enjoy.

burgerkingWell, baloney is more of a real meat substance than whatever is used to concoct a whopper.  This sign was spotted outside of at least five Memphis area Burger King locations.  Sounds like someone needs a refresher on how CAFO’s operate?

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Have a look at our interview over at jill press box , our car-free, realtor friend.

sun of the first nationsThe inaugural post should explain the header, right?  Right.  The overall vision is to give an insider’s look at the architectural practice through the lens of my own architectural practice (see “about” page).  In doing so I hope to shed some light the the intricacies of the profession, but more specifically where I would like to see it go and the avenues for getting there.  I think that broadest boulevard is paved with straw, metaphorical straw, of course.  Architects are supposed to be on the front lines of innovation since we see the project first, get our hands dirty first, and typically get to control the flow and direction.  However, too many contradictory interests have invaded our once prominent stronghold.  All in all, we have lost our way.  We are no longer the creators of innovation but the proprietors of sameness. Read the rest of this entry »