This Spring, RADA Architects generously loaned their Junior Architect, Bryan A. Hadley, to lead a team at Community Christian Alternative (CCA) Academy in North Lawndale to brainstorm strategies for Chicago’s historic boulevards to become safer, cleaner, and greener.

Through a partnership with the USGBC, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and Chicago area schools, Bryan mentored a student team through a set of visioning exercises to generate ideas for activation of Chicago’s historic boulevards and to make them more sustainable.  Located in North Lawndale, the CCA Academy student group was especially keen to incorporate strategies to improve neighborhood safety and to promote job growth and access to healthy foods.  With his background in urban design, Bryan led workshops to embrace existing assets and opportunities for spatial improvements at key intersections throughout the boulevards system.  Bryan encouraged students to think of these nodes as important places for community gathering as well as points of interest linking neighborhoods throughout the city.

In North Lawndale the students of CCA Academy identified the intersection of Independence and Douglas Boulevards as a central and highly visible place within the neighborhood.  In order too include currently underutilized expanses of green space, students envisioned community gardens, farmer’s markets, public art, gathering circles, and an outdoor stage for performances and events.  Students then developed their ideas into campaigns, which have been uploaded to a social networking and citizens empowerment website called Municipal, where people can vote for and promote ideas to improve Chicago.  Taking it one step further, the CCA Academy group is pairing this project with another initiative to develop a peace event in early summer.  They will host the event at the intersection of Independence and Douglas Boulevards.  Slated for July, this event will bring together stakeholders, residents, and organizations from around the city in the hopes of promoting peace and non-violence.

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