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Homes Above The 'L' Tracks? Architects Dream Big For Exhibit

By Mina Bloom | May 31, 2016 6:21am
 A plan submitted by architecture firm Krueck + Sexton to transform
A plan submitted by architecture firm Krueck + Sexton to transform "L" stops.
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Chicago Architecture Foundation

LINCOLN PARK — Sure, many folks live near "L" stops — but would you want to live on top of the tracks? 

Homes above the tracks could offer unique views of the skyline and the neighborhoods, one local architecture firm said. Plus, commuting to work would be a breeze.

It's all part of a vision to make more efficient use of the space surrounding "L" stops in dense neighborhoods like Lincoln Park and Lakeview. 

Krueck + Sexton unveiled its proposal to transform "L" stops by building homes and offices above the tracks, shops and a park promenade underneath and more amenities like a pedestrian path connecting two stations.

"The 'L' is more of a divider. It cuts the neighborhood into separate pieces, but it could really act as a unifier," said Tom Jacobs, principal and project architect for Krueck + Sexton.

Mina Bloom talks about the idea of living really, really close to the 'L'.

While he admitted that it's unlikely the plan will come to fruition anytime soon, the architect hopes the proposal will get people thinking about how to better use the space surrounding the "L" trains.

"The true benefit of a project like this lies in creating awareness," he said. 

Krueck + Sexton was one of 50 architecture firms to submit plans for each of the city's wards as part of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's exhibit, "50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards," in celebration of the foundation's 50 anniversary.

The proposals are now on display in the foundation's Atrium Gallery at 224 S. Michigan Ave.

Another idea that's more likely is transforming the east canal of the Chicago river along Goose Island into a kayak park. 

Matthew Nardella of Moss Design first unveiled the proposal a year ago. He wants to bring "life" to the river by creating islands with vegetation that would attract animals, thus creating a habitat for kayaks to travel through.

A rendering of the kayak park proposed by Moss Design. [Courtesy/Chicago Architecture Foundation]

Unlike the "L" stop proposal, this one is gaining some traction. 

Nardella said the Active Transportation Alliance is meeting next week to talk about ways to improve Chicago's waterways and plan to discuss the the kayak park proposal specifically.

"I think something's bound to happen," Nardella said.

Other ideas in Lincoln Park include beautifying streetscapes by installing large graphics and de-cluttering streets by creating one public spot per block for newspaper boxes, parking signs and the like.

Explore all 50 proposals on the foundation's website.

Check out the Lincoln Park designs below:

Kayak Park

De-Cluttering Streets

Graphic Art

Transforming "L" Stops

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