“Design on the Edge: Chicago Architects Reimagine Neighborhoods”

Jeanne Gang, John Ronan and other local architects envision a more sustainable city.

 (Photograph: Doug Garofalo/Xavier Vendrell)
Photograph: Doug Garofalo/Xavier VendrellDoug Garofalo and Xavier Vendrell, Eight Rs for Roscoe Village, 2011.
 (Photograph: John Ronan Architects)
Photograph: John Ronan ArchitectsJohn Ronan Architects, SuperElevated, 2011.
 (Photograph: John Ronan Architects)
Photograph: John Ronan ArchitectsJohn Ronan Architects, SuperElevated, 2011.

Roscoe Village is well served by buses and the Brown Line, yet 80 percent of its residents own cars. That aggravating statistic fueled Xavier Vendrell and Doug Garofalo’s Eight Rs for Roscoe Village, one of seven proposals that architect Stanley Tigerman and urban planner William Martin commissioned for “Design on the Edge: Chicago Architects Reimagine Neighborhoods.”

Vendrell and Garofalo (who died July 31) suggest closing Roscoe Street to traffic, claiming it for pedestrians, cyclists and community gardens. Automobiles would be diverted to alleys. With so many other modes of transportation available, however, homeowners will find new uses for their garages, such as the cute bookshop depicted in a rendering.

In 2005, Tigerman and Martin cocurated the downtown-focused “Visionary Chicago Architecture” at the Graham Foundation. “Design on the Edge” improves on its equally speculative predecessor because its projects acknowledge most of the city. In one of the show’s video interviews, Patricia Saldaña Natke—who proposes a Pilsen Textile Incubator—says that people can work, as well as live, in their neighborhoods. Why direct all our resources to one business district?

Tigerman asked the contributing architects to develop their proposals around specific El stops, including Loyola, where John Ronan Architects’SuperElevated (pictured) would replace the Red Line with a maglev monorail topped by a path for cyclists and pedestrians, and add a 16-story garage full of shared electric cars.

While the CTA intends to renovate the Loyola stop next year, the food trucks in Ronan’s model at the CAF probably are more likely to appear on the site than the monorail. But his firm’s emphasis on public transit and sustainability, echoed throughout “Design on the Edge,” couldn’t be more realistic.