Studio Gang Architects on Division/Ashland development


July 20, 2011

Dear Alderman Moreno:

I am an architect and urban designer with a practice, Studio Gang Architects, located in Wicker Park at Ashland and Division. Our office has called this address in the First Ward home since 2002; we now have 40 employees, the large majority of whom walk, bike or take the CTA to work each day. Proximity to the transport system was a major reason we chose to locate our practice here, as well as the diversity and dynamism of this area, which connects strongly to the energy and culture we try to foster among our team.

Just south of our office, on the southwest corner of Division and Ashland, is an empty lot (the site of a former Pizza Hut) that I understand is currently slated for redevelopment. The site's premier access to public transport, a well-utilized bike path, and prime shopping and dining imbue it with great potential to become an active asset for the area. Unfortunately, past plans for it have focused on single-story, single-use developments surrounded by a parking lot -- in other words, low density, stagnant islands encircled by concrete that do little to connect or contribute to the life of the neighborhood.

I write to you today to encourage you and you office to plan for this site's redevelopment with a critical eye toward the future of Wicker Park and the city at large. This site deserves a high-density and mixed-use occupation, one that takes full advantage of the dual opportunity to further define the Polish Triangle with great urban architecture and create a greener city. With an increasing need to reduce our reliance on cars and the detrimental effects of their emissions on our city and the globe, we should not miss this chance to plan responsibly for a more sustainable future. Such an important corner in Wicker Park represents the chance that all of us at Studio Gang Architects -- as city residents, active citizens, architects and urban designers -- believe can become a hub keeping the economy and beauty of our neighborhood thriving long into the future.

With kind regards,
Jeanne Gang, Principal & President
Studio Gang Architects
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