Ald. Preckwinkle, urban designer

Fran Spielman reports that Ald. Preckwinkle is now about as well trained an urban designer as you’ll probably find in Chicago:

[The alderman’s] demands [for the Olympic Village] include: Connections to the Bronzeville community to the west so the village doesn’t become an “isolated little spur of McCormick Place”; a “street grid instead of superblocks,” with streets that “go through like a real neighborhood”; a street wall “built to the lot lines” instead of the “unusual curved buildings” now proposed; and ground floor retail “so there’s some life on the street.”

“I want it to be like a neighborhood. [What they’ve proposed] is sort of architectural egotism as opposed to a real neighborhood,” Preckwinkle said of the alternating series of eight- and 16-story condo towers.

“They’ve proposed curved buildings sort of plunked there. I don’t think that contributes to having a neighborhood. The buildings are self-contained, as opposed to part of a larger community. They proposed a connection at 31st Street. That’s not good enough. There have to be intervening streets.”

Preckwinkle noted that superblocks are being eliminated in the $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation now replacing CHA high-rises with mixed income communities.

“One of the things we’ve done is put the streets back in. If you want a real neighborhood, it doesn’t work to have superblocks,” she said.