Placemaking & the Near North Side

June 10th, 2022

HPA’s research into a neighborhood’s history and how a community develops is an integral part of our approach to urban planning and contextual design. Our design studio was formerly located in Fulton Market, which has a clear identity as Chicago’s historic wholesale market for produce and livestock, and is now a popular restaurant and nightlife hub. In this laboratory, HPA’s practice of Placemaking was forged and shaped our practice.

North Union, and the location of our new headquarters, are nestled in the neighborhood known as the Near North Side. This is a neighborhood often described through its adjacencies to other locations: south of Old Town, north of River North, west of the Gold Coast, and east of the Chicago River and the former Cabrini-Green Homes.

North Union will be a new neighborhood grown from an area that had been largely used by Moody Bible Institute for campus support functions, such as storage and parking. HPA and JDL sought to create a new connection between these neighborhoods by creating density and active uses, as well as strengthening existing circulation routes. The existing variety in density and heights will be further strengthened by the adaptive reuse of several low-rise masonry buildings dating from 1922 at 871 Franklin & 917 Franklin, and a former fire patrol station built in 1893 at 221 Walton. Taller massings have been anchored along Wells Street to the east and the Brown Line el tracks to the west, allowing for a series of parks and pedestrian connections to flow through the areas between the lower existing buildings. The continuous green space will invite the community to engage with public art, children’s play areas, and ample open space. The buildings have been designed with special attention to the pedestrian scale and contextual materials.