Proposed Design at Lake and Forest in Oak Park, IL 

The following is the "comment" I submitted to the news paper article about the proposed (pictured above) building on Lake Street (the main street) in Oak Park Illinois:

r u kidding me?!?!?!?!?!?

It's hard to overstate what a dumb proposal this is. Of the ridiculous oppressive 80’s style glass box proposal the Architect says, "we think is fresh” and will "stand the test of time" and is not "overly ornate." This banal glass skyscraper will suck Oak Park back in time to Rosemont in the 1980’s. Architecturally Oak Park is on the map due primarily to the Prairie Style Architects of the early 20th century. The Prairie Style is rooted in its relationship to the inhabitants as well as the site...its human scale and overall proportions to itself and its surroundings. The ornament is integral to the system of its design. Perhaps if more time was spent trying to understand these qualities instead of embellishing upon the eccentricities of the Architects personal lives one would be able see how negative this proposal will be for Oak Park.
It’s easy to get distracted by the computer graphics and how the proposed building looks like a shinny new toy or “cool” like the international space station. I implore folks to spend some time thinking about this proposal because whether it stands the test of time or not, it will be here for a long time. Go walk around Rosemont and see if that’s how you want to feel in downtown Oak Park.
The needs of the area can be met with a more carefully designed building contextually appropriate to Oak Park. Oak Park is a Village. This has many meanings, one of which is the quality of space that is experienced. Whether one is aware of it or not, space affects the way you feel and the positive design of space should be integral to any new building in Oak Park.
The bigger mystery may be why -- in a catastrophically contracting economy, compounded by a latent energy crisis -- anyone thinks Oak Park needs a 19 story behemoth hotel. Or why, in a disintegrating consumer context, there would be any need for more retail. Or why, in an apocalyptic residential real estate situation, anyone would want to bring 70 condos on line.
If it’s going to look and feel horrible at least require it be a “net zero energy building”...better still a “net positive energy building”! If it's going to look like the space station it should function like it.
Earth-to-Oak Park: the banal suburban glass skyscraper is obsolete not to mention entirely inappropriate for this Village.

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Sweet Spot 

Creating a sweet spot in a space or place will heighten the experience for the user. This example is a simple inlay, pre grout, one of two in a walk-in shower designed and executed by the Architect. The design and overall functionality of the space are of primary importance, but the seemingly simple act of creating a sweet spot will breathe new life into most spaces. Finding the spot is not a random process. Random processes generally result in a one time experience followed by insensate experiences. Careful design and placement of an element will make a space sing…a children’s song that brings one back to that free mind space we once experienced without trying in our youth.The price of this shower inlay was minimal relative to the overall cost of the shower but makes each experience priceless.

Sweet spots add an enduring quality that is “green” by attrition.

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