Fun at the APA-IL State Conference

Posted by on Oct 12, 2010 in Headlines | No Comments

Congratulations to the “Quizletes”, the winners of the inaugural Illinois State Chapter conference pub quiz!  After a wonderful autumn evening of networking, eating and drinking, the reception hosted by Houseal Lavigne Associates incorporated a team trivia competition.  Over fifty eager planners participated on one of seven teams.  Photos of the event as well as the questions and answers are published below.  Based on the overwhelmingly positive (and rowdy!) response, we hope to make this an annual tradition.


Blog1.jpg Q1: Name the top five cities in Illinois in order by population, largest first, according to 2008 U.S. Census Bureau estimates.  (All or nothing, 5 points)

Q2: With the most bars per square mile, which city in Illinois was dubbed the “toughest town in America” by President Teddy Roosevelt (2 points)?

Q3: Illinois has four state universities named for the part of the state in which they are located (Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western).  List their team names (1 each).  For a 2-point bonus, name the team of the university where Bruce Knight went as an undergrad.

Q4: What is the only Illinois community that lies west of the Mississippi river (1 point)?

Q5: What event occurred in U of I’s Memorial Stadium this week in 1985 (3 points)?

Q6: Where was the first McDonalds located? Where was the first McDonalds franchise? (2 points, all or nothing)

Q7: Name the 13 Canadian provinces and territories.  You get one point per correct answer but must get a minimum of 10.

Q8: What restaurant chain got its start in Normal, IL? (1 point)

Q9: If you leave ORD and travel to IAD, MCO, MSY, BNA and IAH, which cities have you visited (1 point each)


Blog2.jpgQ10: Name the year and host city of the last 10 summer Olympics (1 point each)

Q11: Name the six original NHL team cities (all or nothing for 6 points)

Q12: According to Wikipedia, what is the mayor of Normal famous for paying $50 for (3 points)?

Q13: What is the largest freshwater lake (by volume) in the world? (1 point)

 Q14: Name all five members of the Traveling Wilburys (All or nothing, 5 points)

Q15: Name the historical figures brought to the future in the movie “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (1 point each)

Q16: Name the last 10 Oscar winners for “Best Picture” (1 point each)

Q17: What famous gym teacher died this week and why was he famous? (all or nothing, 2 points)

Q18: Name Rocky’s opponents from the movie series (1 point each)

Q19: Name the five actors who have portrayed James Bond in feature films (5 points, all or nothing)


Blog3.jpgQuiz Answers:

A1: Chicago, Aurora, Rockford, Naperville, Joliet

A2: Highwood

A3: Huskies (Northern), Salukis (Southern), Panthers (Eastern), Leathernecks (Western), Iowa State Cyclones

A4: Kaskaskia

A5: Farm Aid

A6: San Bernadino, CA, Des Plaines, IL

A7: Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Vancouver, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon

A8: Steak and Shake

A9: Chicago, Washington D.C., Orlando, New Orleans, Nashville and Houston

A10: 2008 Beijing, 2004 Athens, 2000 Sydney, 1996 Atlanta, 1992 Barcelona, 1988 Seoul, 1984 Los Angeles, 1980 Moscow, 1975 Montreal, 1972 Munich

A11: Chicago, New York City, Detroit, Toronto, Montreal, Boston

A12: Telling him a joke about “Normal” that he hasn’t heard before

A13: Lake Baikal

A14: Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, George Harrison and that other guy! Just kidding…Jeff Lynne

A15: Napoleon Bonaparte, Billy the Kid, Sigmund Freud, Socrates, Abe Lincoln, Genghis Kahn, J.S. Beethoven, Joan of Arc

A16: Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire, No Country for Old Man, the Departed, Crash, Million Dollar Baby, the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Chicago, A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator

A17: Lynard Skynard (name of the band)

A18: Apollo Creed, James “Clubber” Lang, Ivan Drago, Tommy Gunn, Mason Dixon

A19: Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton, George Lazenby

Placemaking Chicago

Posted by on Oct 10, 2010 in Blog Article | No Comments

The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has long placed an emphasis on placemaking efforts, the multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces.  The Chicago region is known for its well-used plazas, parks, sidewalks, and gardens that bring the city to life.  Many of these special places are hidden in the heart of neighborhoods, known only to a lucky few.   To correct that, and promote the establishment of well-developed public spaces, the MPC has recently announced their “What Makes Your Place Great?” contest.

Any resident 16 or older of the Chicago metro region (including the City of Chicago and Chicago suburbs located in Boone, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties in Illinois, or in Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties in Indiana, or in Racine and Kenosha counties in Wisconsin) is eligible to submit an entry to the MPC.  All that is required is a compelling photo or video of a public space with a 250-words-or-less description detailing how the space contributes to the community. 

In evaluating entries, the MPC will consider the four key qualities of successful public spaces:  they are accessible; people are engaged in activities; the space is comfortable and feels safe; and it is a place where people meet each other and take people when they come to visit.  If places in your community meet those descriptions encourage residents to apply; winners will receive passes to a Chicago-area museum and the spaces themselves will be featured on a Chicago Architectural Foundation tour.  Time is running out though, applications are due July 26th. 

Placemaking Chicago website:

Form Based Codes

Posted by on Oct 10, 2010 in Blog Article | No Comments

Form-based codes (FBC) are land development regulations that seek a specific urban form by emphasizing physical form and aesthetics over use.  There are a number of issues to be weighed by any community considering adopting FBC.  While it is a relatively new tool for planners, the field can look to places such as Denver, CO; Lowell, MA and Arlington County, VA as case-studies.  To do this, design elements such as building height, setback measurements, and landscaping among others are given particular emphasis.  It is just as important, however, to understand what FBC are not:  they do not promote a social agenda in and of itself.  Although many FBC seek an increase in pedestrianism, for example, this is a result of the physical form goals defined through the process, rather than an explicit requirement.

Turning first to the strengths of FBC, it is most commonly said that they produce predictable results because they are prescriptive rather than proscriptive, meaning they call for guidelines which address what is desired rather than what is not allowed.  These desired results are developed in with the public through design charettes so that the resulting product is a consensus-built vision which, proponents argue, results in fewer issues that typically plague Euclidean zoning, due to the common need for variances and rezoning.  In theory this creates a reduction in costs for both the applicant of a new development and the municipality reviewing it.  Additionally, because FBC focus on design aspects rather than legal ones, planning documents tend to be more accessible to non-planning professionals.  Proponents also claim that FBC more readily address infill and encourage small-scale projects by multiple owners because developments are regulated by building or parcel rather than by block or larger land divisions. 

On the other hand, FBC are not without criticism.  To start with, consensus building is a difficult task especially when defining urban form in advance of any specific development proposal.  Ultimately some segments will be left unsatisfied.  To that end, FBC require a long-term commitment as politics shift and private developers adjust to restrictive design coding.  For established urban centers, it is more difficult to establish FBC since they have already been defined by Euclidean zoning.  In these areas, it may be strongly associated with gentrification and the displacement of residents.

From a logistical standpoint, FBC are a relatively new tool for planners and, as such, there exist few experts and “best practices” to draw from and localities must accept some degree of trial and error.  Critics claim that FBC formalize and control traditional urban values and forms which were created accidentally, organically, and spontaneously so the resulting product is disingenuous and fails to realize potential goals of vibrancy and community interaction.

HLA and City of Jackson, Missouri win 2010 MO-APA Outstanding Comprehensive Plan Award

Posted by on Oct 8, 2010 in Headlines | No Comments

 The Missouri Chapter of the American Planning Association recently announced the winners of the 2010 Chapter Awards.   The City of Jackson’s Comprehensive Plan, prepared by Houseal Lavigne Associates received the award for the year’s Outstanding Comprehensive Plan.  The award was presented to Janet Sanders from the City at the Missouri State Conference on October 7, 2010.  The plan was judged upon its originality, quality, effectiveness and implementation.   While Houseal Lavigne has won previous awards from the State of Illinois including three in 2010, this is the first state of Missouri Planning award for the firm.