Think Tank 2021 | Homecoming: Design for Disrupting Disinvestment

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A Note on the Art “CLOUD SILOS” Art by Justin Banda Much of the iconography surrounding a return focuses on returning to the past, rather than building bridges to new futures. Homecoming is a difficult concept to depict. With CLOUD SILOS, we portray people representing different parts of life trapped in their silos—thought leaders stuck in their own cycles and patterns. The people in these towers are stuck, confused, perhaps demotivated—and with nowhere to go, they each take different paths. Some try to break down doors and struggle, others accept the reality of their situation and dangle their feet off a ledge, and some stand on top of the towers, searching for inspiration elsewhere. Everyone is looking for a way down, but the truth is that going home requires cooperation with others, forming connections that transcend our silos. With “Think Tank,” our goal is to break down individual silos of knowledge by bringing together disciplines that, on the surface, have little to do with each other, so that we can build understanding with the people we serve.


3 Table of Contents 4 Introduction A Homecoming Justin Banda, WELL AP, Associate AIA

6 Essays 6

Disinvested, Disrupted, Designed: On the Reimagining of Transformative Architectures Justin Banda, WELL AP, Associate AIA


Change Smaller, Not Faster: Disruption in Instructional Design Nicholas Woodard, AIA, LEED AP Robin Randall, AIA, ALEP, LEED AP BD+C


Reversing Gentrification to Alleviate Housing Shortages: Creatively Adapting Existing Stock to Solve Urban Problems Ross Jackson


No Shortcuts: How Regional Transportation Networks Can Equalize Opportunity Adam Quigley, AIA Ted Haug, AIA , LEED AP BD+C


Health Equity and Design: Using Architecture to Combat Disparities in Healthcare Access Sepideh Asadi, AIA, WELL AP

22 Competition

Equalizing Everywhere: The Global Playground

26 Calendar

Competition Registration Opens | July 19, 2021 Competition Registration Closes | September 5, 2021 Competition Winners Announced | September 10, 2021 Institutional & Instructional Design - Columbus, Ohio | September 10, 2021 Housing Stock & Design Alternatives - Chicago, Illinois | October 1, 2021 Transportation & Municipal Design - Quad Cities, Iowa/Illinois | October 22, 2021 Health & Wellbeing Design - Oak Brook, Illinois | November 12, 2021

27 Hosts 28 About

About Think Tank About Legat Architects



of disrupting the status quo is an acknowledgment of a problem; someone has arrived on the scene and has determined that things cannot continue unchecked. In many cases, disruption can be as simple as a conversation that elevates an aggrieved party to the level of equal. Design is the physical manifestation of a solution; after disruption occurs, the new element (the designer) joins with the existing elements (the users) to create a remedy (the design). The design is an attempt to repair, restore, or recreate something that was once disinvested in by others.

A Homecoming Justin Banda, WELL AP, Associate AIA The basis for Think Tank 2021 comes to us from the theme of the 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial, The Available City, curated by David Brown. The Available City began as an inventory of vacant, city-owned lots across Chicago—currently numbering more than 13,000 sites concentrated on the city’s South and West sides. Over more than a decade of work, Brown developed his research into an ongoing urban design proposal that connects community residents, architects, and designers to work together to create spaces reflecting the needs of local neighborhoods.

In Legat Architects’ 2021 Vision and Values update, we wrote collectively that with design, one of our goals is to empower people by using our researchdriven process to create equity through listening. We are not the starchitect who comes down from on high to declare a singular vision as the catch-all solution; we are the messengers who have the privilege to visit underserved communities and listen, and then through design, to elevate. Our voice does not carry proclamations written in stone; rather, we are the conduit that translates need into action. This is who we are, and this is why we’ve chosen to highlight four practice areas to explore through these lenses.

The Available City represents a summation of the design process, which our Think Tank team recognized as an appropriate launching point for the lenses of this year’s topic: disinvestment, disruption, and design. Disinvestment is the recognition of a problem, whether it is an inequality in the status quo, an active intent to harm or disenfranchise, or simply a broken context that requires a fix. Disinvestment represents the problem, whatever it may be. Disruption occurs when a new element is introduced to the context: in this case, the designer. The process

The four lenses we’ve chosen to focus on should not be seen as design restrictors, but as generators:


• Institutional & Instructional Design September 10, 2021 | 2:00 - 5:00 PM CDT Columbus, Ohio

learning, we want to understand where the people who live and work in our buildings feel left behind. What is the purpose of reinvestment? Our first essay perhaps gets closest to an answer. Using Chicago’s Madison Street on the city’s West Side as an example, we see systemic disinvestment in the Austin and North Lawndale neighborhoods. The original residents, many of them lower-income African Americans who were left behind during the “white flight” of the 1960s and 70s, have mostly died off, leaving their children and grandchildren to tend to the ruins of once-thriving businesses and petition the city to reinvest in their properties. While the original residents may be mostly gone, their descendants grew up believing that building back better was not only possible, but achievable.

• Housing Stock & Design Alternatives October 1, 2021 | 2:00 - 5:00 PM CDT Chicago, Illinois • Transportation & Municipal Design October 22 , 2021 | 2:00 - 5:00 PM CDT Quad Cities, Iowa/Illinois • Health & Wellbeing Design November 12 , 2021 | 2:00 - 5:00 PM CST Oak Brook, Illinois Our format for 2021 is simple: from 2:00 - 5:00 PM CST on four autumn Fridays each three weeks apart, a different Legat studio will host a keynote speaker, followed by an intermission and a panel discussion with 3-5 experts (including the keynote speaker).

For these people, reinvestment is a form of homecoming—not a physical return to a specific place, but a promise made by investors to communities that they matter, and that they are part of a legacy that will continue after they’re gone. To the disinvested, reinvestment is bound to feel like a homecoming of sorts—with all the bittersweet realities that entails. But as long as we are collectively willing to do the work, a homecoming will always be waiting for our users at the end of the journey.

With Think Tank 2021, our goal is to invite experts in their fields who understand the current market and can highlight our blind spots as designers. We seek to understand where our users feel their needs have been unmet, and what solutions we can provide to them to mend these overlooked gaps. Whether it’s in the growing field of wellness-based design or in an established segment like playful and early childhood


Disinvested, Disrupted, Designed:

people have perished—many of them who would otherwise likely still be with us. Although the labor market is slowly recovering, new variants threaten to undo the tenuous progress we think we’ve made, and most of us have grown used to the frequent rule changes regarding what is and isn’t considered acceptable contact in the age of the pandemic. What’s worse, any positive progress made in the fight toward climate change at the beginning of the American stay-at-home orders was quickly undone the moment people returned to the office, and now we find ourselves besieged by wildfires and heat domes in the west to hurricanes in the east and flooding to the south—all consequences of a climate emergency that has decided it will be ignored no longer. And all the while, one truth has grown painfully clear: this is what disruption feels like.

On the Reimagining of Transformative Architectures Justin Banda, WELL AP, Associate AIA Design as a service industry is at a critical inflection point; only by adapting can we survive. DISRUPTED When the global pandemic finally hit the United States in full force in March of 2020, it represented the single greatest disruption to the world economy that most had encountered in living memory. Reactions at the time ranged from mild annoyance to full-blown panic, but most agreed on one thing: that this would all be over soon.

If you ask Pete Sena, the concept of disruption is widely misunderstood—rather than serving as a catchall for systemic change, disruption is not a single event, but an ongoing process that becomes part of a system’s DNA. Sena writes,

Eighteen months later, the world is still grappling with the pandemic, and prospects are decidedly more measured; we’ve gone from “this will be over soon” to “it’s likely we’ll be dealing with this for the rest of our lives.” Even with effective vaccines widely available, the economic, social, and personal impacts continue to resonate. More than four million

“Because businesses are framing disruption as a singular event, they are also framing the solution— transformation— as a singular event. A single partner, initiative, or project is deemed the solution and all the resources the company can afford are thrown at it.”1

1.) Pete Sena, Why Everything You Think About Disruption Is Wrong, DigitalSurgeons, 2.) Acaroglu, Leyla. “What Is Disruptive Design?” Medium, April 29, 2019. https://

3.) Mitchell, Bruce C., PhD Senior Researcher, and NCRC. “Reversing the Red Lines: Disinvestment in America’s Cities » NCRC.” Accessed July 16, 2021. 4.) The Quad-City Times. “Letter to the Editor: Unacceptable,” February 2, 2021.



Because the problem is seen as singular, the solution must also be singular, as the thinking goes. This mentality sinks many an energetic new initiative before it’s left the dock. Leyla Acaroglu believes the concept of disruption has been abused beyond recognition.

In relation to America’s critical building infrastructure—our architecture—disruption has been a long time coming. For close to a century, the federal government has chosen to systemically disinvest from the poorest communities in its purview, using racial and economic redlining to section off large swaths of land (and the communities which inhabit the land) as undeserving of remediation. Prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act and The Fair Housing Act of 1968, those segregative practices were actually codified in the law, serving as part of the decision-making process of local governments around the country. 3

“Conceptually, the term means to create an interruption into something that is maintaining a status quo. Colloquially, though, it is much more about making loads of money from the newest, most ‘disruptive’ (read: newer) technology out there… In this context, it’s not about making change; it’s about winning customers, clicks, and clients. [But,] to disrupt is to disturb or intervene… It has nothing to do with coolness or edginess, or even social change or sustainability. [Disruption], in this context, simply has to do with new economic activity that challenges the mainstream business establishment.”2

Yet even today the policies of systemic disinvestment that were supposedly overruled in the 1960s still haunt our cities, especially in the Midwest, where every major city has seen population declines. In the twenty years or so following World War II, white flight bled major city centers dry as families seeking expansion traded the urban for the suburban by spreading out to the farthest reaches of their metropolitan areas. Today, as cities try to entice families and singles into relocating back to their urban hearts, policies such as Chicago’s ban on accessory dwelling units (more commonly known as “ADUs” or “carriage houses”) and Davenport’s struggle to contain the bleeding of students from public to

But disruption is usually preceded (or necessitated) by critical flaws in the status quo—usually following a long period of disinvestment by the system managers (be they the federal, state, or local governments, organization leaders, or any kind of stakeholder). Disruption is the natural consequence of disinvestment and stagnancy. 5.)


Ferenchik, Mark. “More Columbus and Ohio City Neighborhoods Are High Poverty, Not Gentrified.” The Columbus Dispatch, July 17, 2020. https://www.


Ambrose, Graham. “‘A Great Start’: City Leaders Are Encouraged by Early Signs of Success for Refurbishment Program.” Dispatch Argus. Accessed July 16, 2021. article_e60dcc3a-48eb-55a7-9df6-e7232e515817.html.

private schools (the loss of funding per student implied therein) only stymie development and halt growth. 4

dead and 300 injured, and reduced large stretches of Chicago’s West Side to rubble. But a 2020 ProPublica study found a different cause for the neighborhood’s decline.

In Ohio, poverty in urban neighborhoods has expanded. A 2020 study found that 369 neighborhoods spanning Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Akron, Canton, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown either stayed or became highpoverty neighborhoods. The study also found that neighborhood poverty was predisposed to affect Black households the most. “In Columbus, the population living in high-poverty tracts of land jumped from 88,812 in 1980 to 166,530 in 2018.” 5, 6 The middle class is shrinking as disinvestment grows.

ProPublica discovered three major causes for Garfield Park’s precipitous decline. “First, no government agency led a comprehensive effort to rebuild Madison Street or the surrounding community. Instead, a succession of government programs attempted to lure private investors,” the study’s authors begin. 7 “Then,” they continue, “the city’s main answer to the neighborhood’s decline was to demolish scores of blighted buildings in a bid to improve public safety. But those aggressive clearance efforts left Madison Street with fewer storefronts for potential entrepreneurs and a glut of empty lots. And in the resulting vacuum, vacant properties became commodities for speculators with little connection to the neighborhood and, in many cases, little interest in developing it.”

Consider the chain of disinvestment using Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood as an example. The once-thriving retail strip along Madison Street, flourishing in the 1960s, has today become a hazardous boulevard filled with empty tracts of land and barren storefronts. In 2021, Garfield Park is one of Chicago’s poorest communities, with the current population of 20,000 less than half of what it stood at in 1970. One-quarter of the parcels of land sit vacant. The commonly-circulated narrative attributes the decline of Madison Street in Garfield Park to a series of race riots following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, which left nine

Time and again, the systemic response to blight and disinvestment has not been reinvestment, but rather trying to wipe the slate clean, sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively. But that tabula rasa approach fails to address the most important component: resident buy-in. As ProPublica explains: “City leaders



Dumke, Tony; Briscoe, Haru; Coryne, Mick. “Disinvested: How Government and Private Industry Let the Main Street of a Black Neighborhood Crumble.” ProPublica. Accessed July 16, 2021.

“Disinvested Areas - CMAP.” Accessed July 16, 2021. https://www.cmap.illinois. gov/2050/draft/community/disinvested-areas. 9.) Titchkosky, Ninotschka. “Transformation – Disruption and the Future.” Australian Design Review (blog), September 15, 2019.


didn’t address what would happen if those private businesses simply left and never came back. In the following years, the question would be answered repeatedly: Madison Street would grow emptier… efforts turned out to be too scattered, too small, and too susceptible to shifting politics to make a lasting impact.” The answer to blight is rarely—if ever—to wipe original residents from the land and start over.

some causes of systemic disinvestment, such as longer travel distances, lower-quality education, training, and services, and a mismatch between local property values and revenue requirements leading to higher property tax rates. “A critical part of promoting inclusive growth is helping to build economic opportunity and vibrant nodes within disinvested areas that have a historical lack of private investment,” the roadmap goes on to explain. “Most disinvested areas were economically thriving in the past and still have strengths to build upon. Many have highly desirable infrastructure assets, particularly public transit. Rebuilding disinvested areas will be critical to long-term regional prosperity by ensuring that jobs and economic opportunities are available in communities where economically disconnected residents live.” 8

So what is the solution to widespread systemic indifference and active disinvestment? The answer to disinvestment is through system shock—when skin is scraped and infected, the answer is to shock the body’s system into selfregeneration with the shock of an antiseptic like hydrogen peroxide. Similarly, the act of disruption in an ailing and disinvested system can serve to shock the status quo into active regeneration.

But these changes, while broad, are system-level solutions. As individuals, what is our vehicle for inciting disruption?

While disinvestment is primarily a systemic issue, the solutions are not necessarily system-wide, and can be affected by individual actors and organizations within the system, creating disruption in their industries to spark community growth by bringing the disinvested back to the table. As part of their lauded “Road to 2050” document, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) released a roadmap for state and local governments to reinvest in disadvantaged communities. The roadmap highlights

DESIGN “We live in a time of great promise and great peril,” cautions Ninotschka Titchkosky, writing for the Australian Design Review. “At the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution—” (the First Industrial Revolution introducing the switch from handmade

10.) Schwab, Klaus. “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: What It Means and How to Respond.” World Economic Forum, January 14, 2016. https://www.weforum. org/agenda/2016/01/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-what-it-means-andhow-to-respond/.

11.) Brownell, Blaine. “The Disruptive Nature of Architectural Innovation.” Architect Magazine, January 15, 2015. the-disruptive-nature-of-architectural-innovation_o. 12.) Gans, Joshua. “The Other Disruption.” Harvard Business Review, March 1, 2016.


production to mechanized production; the Second introducing electrification and infrastructure; and the Third bringing us the internet and digitalization)— “technologies are becoming embedded in our cities and our lives, blurring the boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological spheres of existence. This is potentially the most significant change that humanity has ever experienced.” 9

innovate in the margins.

The challenge, then, becomes bringing awareness of patterns of disinvestment and disruption into any new wave of technologic advancement. Too frequently, the introduction of new technology comes at the expense of society’s poorest and most vulnerable— consider the computer: an essential tool for 21st century society, but out of reach for our oldest and most impoverished, thus placing those benefits out of attainment. 10 The other challenge for the designers of disruption is twofold. On the first of these battlefronts, there is the ever-present specter of cost. Titchkosky explains that “Architects are traditionally a fee for service industry—we get paid to produce things. We aren’t an investment model. This is a challenge for us to shift our thinking into a more balanced view of the way we operate. The reality is you can’t always be paid to develop new ways of doing things.” As a profession, as designers, our challenge is always revenue-driven: disruption is expensive, and as its architects we must

The second of these battles is waged between owners and architects. When designers aren’t facing headwinds with suppliers and cost estimators, they must contend with the wrath of owners and governments wary of innovation, such as China’s Xi Jinping’s recent call for an end to the construction of modern curiosities like OMA’s CCTV headquarters, or the late Prince Charles’ infamous 1984 speech lambasting modernist buildings as “monstrous carbuncles.” Blaine Brownell sums up the hypocrisy of these criticisms: “What is unsettling about these and other critiques is not their disapproval of a particular style or approach, but rather their uniform censure of architectural innovation—the aspiration to solve challenges, to improve upon old models, or to simply evade obsolescence. Architecture must innovate in order to grow and maintain relevance and currency in the wake of technological, cultural, and environmental change. Such innovation pushes the boundaries of building, resulting in unanticipated forms and material applications, yet this outcome should hardly be regarded as an affront.” 11 Titchkosky helpfully provides a framework for

13.) Woodward, Chris. “The Coming Disruption of Architecture.” Medium, May 18, 2018.


incorporating disruption into architectural praxis. “First, a broad range of early-stage ideas and incremental innovations—anyone can participate in this. Generally, it is not dedicated time, but happens within the current business-as-usual system. Second, promising mid-range ideas—these are innovations that have promise and require a level of practice buy-in and investment through combination of part-time or full-time dedicated people and partnerships or materials. We put a framework around these. Lastly, big bets—these are driven from the strategic direction of the practice. They have dedicated teams and agreed-upon investments, and include things like research projects, which are years-long.”

itself up for future failure by focusing too heavily on new physical construction, rather than on human experiences within fluid spaces. At the time he wrote, the global pandemic was still three years off, so his warning seems especially prophetic: “Based on the trends of our current business and social climate, this [focus on new construction] seems to be a missed opportunity. Big “tech” firms have shown that the creation and distribution of products is too easily commoditized. There are too many people who can do the same thing… architecture firms are not set up to compete with the WeWork model. Architecture is a product oriented business except now WeWork is providing a service on top of that product.” 13 This is not meant to underemphasize the importance of innovative practices, but rather to highlight the point that designers are, ironically enough, often the slowest to change and adopt best practices. Disruption is a siren’s call that tempts many but which few succeed at achieving, which brings us back to Sena’s original paradigm shift: that disruption is not a singular event, but rather an ongoing process resulting from an evolution in mindset. Our challenge is to focus in practice areas we already serve— terra firma rather than terra nova—and expand our practice to include true disruptivity in our workflow.

Ultimately, however, the real challenge is that true disruption requires a commitment to fundamentally alter the existing paradigm, an act which moves many beyond the limits of their comfort zones. As Joshua Gans explains, “Pulling that off turns out to be more difficult in practice than it sounds in theory: In many cases, disrupted incumbents find themselves unable to transfer the new technologies into their mainstream operations because doing so requires them to fundamentally change the way they manufacture and distribute their products.” 12 This type of rug-pulling usually ends poorly for the incumbent; often, the nimble startup is better-suited to take advantage of this kind of paradigm shift.

Justin Banda, WELL AP, Associate AIA serves as program director for Legat Architects’ annual Think Tank symposium. He currently serves on the AIA Chicago Board of Directors as an Associate Director and designs programming for various AEC-related emerging professionals groups across the country.

We see this especially in the AEC industry. Three years ago, writing for Medium, Chris Woodard warned that the architecture industry was setting 11

Change Smaller, Not Faster: Disruption in Instructional Design Nicholas Woodard, AIA, LEED AP Robin Randall, AIA, ALEP, LEED AP BD+C

learning. A study of New York City middle schools found that, among other aspects of the physical and social environments, the building condition was a contributing factor to academic performance.”1 This problem isn’t limited to pre-K-12 education. The skyrocketing cost of higher education is creating a massive divide between those who can afford a degree and those who can’t. As Tomas ChamorroPremuzic writes in the Harvard Business Review,

Don’t try to change faster; research shows that changing smaller can produce better results. How can architects support disadvantaged communities and their schools? What are effective architectural responses in the educational sector to the challenges of rebuilding these communities?

“At the same time, universities tend to increase rather than decrease inequality.... And as Anthony Jack noted in a recent book, even when elite universities focus on enrolling minorities, they tend to prioritize what he calls the “privileged poor,” such as Black or Hispanic people from higher socioeconomic status. The fundamental question we see is this: If a university claims to be a top educational institution, shouldn’t it admit the people with the lowest test scores, and turn them into the leaders of tomorrow?” 2

Schools serving disadvantaged families are not only education centers, but also community centers that provide a range of social support functions and serve as a form of community expression. There are costeffective strategies available to design professionals to serve these communities. The key is to think small. Disinvestment in public school systems is a significant challenge in pre-K-12 education. It affects student resources and facilities and negatively impacts student achievement. Lisette Partelow of The Center for American Progress writes:

Ultimately, both issues stem from lack of access, which tells us that rebalancing education means equalizing access to resources.

“Poor school conditions, for instance, can have negative effects on student learning. Research indicates that poor air quality or lighting, uncomfortable temperatures, and excessive noise can all impede student

Laraway School, completed in 2018 in Joliet, Illinois, is in a district where nearly 98% of the students are low-income. It was designed in response to district

1.) Partelow, Lisette, Sarah Shapiro, Abel McDaniels, and Catherine Brown. “Fixing Chronic Disinvestment in K-12 Schools.” Center for American Progress. Accessed July 21, 2021. education-k-12/reports/2018/09/20/457750/fixing-chronic-disinvestment-k-12-schools/.

2.) Chamorro-Premuzic, Tomas, and Becky Frankiewicz. “6 Reasons Why Higher Education Needs to Be Disrupted.” Harvard Business Review, November 19, 2019.


requirements that the new preK-8 facility be built for half the budget of similar nearby schools. This required multiple budget management strategies.

Galesburg, Illinois, another community experiencing declining student enrollment, closed and consolidated several district schools. Grades 7 through 9 relocated to the existing high school to join grades 10 through 12 in a single facility. As at Laraway, upper and lower grades occupy separate circulation spaces, classrooms, and, in this case, even cafeteria space. This is a low-cost organizing strategy with a significant impact on the student experience. Additionally, interior finishes costeffectively reference Galesburg’s local railway history and connect the school to the cultural context to strengthen community pride.

First, the building’s simple massing is characterized by a concise rectangular volume opened with courtyard spaces to provide views to the surrounding community and to admit daylight to classrooms and circulation spaces while reducing glare. Second, in response to market demands, the construction type was revised from precast concrete to masonry to avoid delivery premiums and maintain budget goals. Lastly, green metal panels at window jambs reduce the cost of masonry wall construction and provide a colorful reference to local agrarian traditions.

With a focus on attainable, cost-effective design strategies, Laraway School and Galesburg High School light a path for design professionals serving disadvantaged communities. The schools provide a strong learning environment and overall community support, while also serving as a source of regional pride. They demonstrate that thoughtful, affordable design can make a difference in schools for students, teachers, and the wider community.

Internally, circulation routes separate younger and older students into classroom clusters described as “neighborhoods.” Additionally, expanded lobbies and corridors incorporate spaces that encourage learning beyond the classroom. These simple organizing strategies have reduced bullying between grades and provided a safe, supportive learning environment for students.

Nicholas Woodard, AIA, LEED AP is a licensed architect with Legat Architects in Moline, IL. He has experience designing schools across the Midwest. He is looking forward to traveling in a post-pandemic world.

An additional reference to the local context is a stone feature wall that traverses the public circulation system. This “quarry wall” acknowledges Joliet’s limestone quarrying history and fosters a sense of belonging in a shared community history. It is a modest but impactful design feature that connects the school to the community, signals that the community values student learning, and promotes community reinvestment.

Robin Randall, AIA, ALEP, LEED AP BD+C is the Director of K-12 Education at Legat Architects. She originated the Think Tank in 2014 to encourage disruptive design by intellectual explorations with and for our clients and projects. She lives in Clarendon Hills, IL with her husband.


Reversing Gentrification to Alleviate Housing Shortages: Creatively Adapting Existing Stock to Solve Urban Problems

Columbus’s population has increased by 59 percent in the last 30 years.3 At the same time, the city’s housing stock is at an all-time low. 4 Soon the boundaries between the low-poverty and highpoverty neighborhoods will become even more stark, Ross Jackson creating enclaves of wealth within the area. This will drive regional housing shortages as low-income Addressing the current housing crisis means more families struggle to find housing within their budgets, than simply building new houses. while price increases ultimately squeeze out the Columbus, Ohio is experiencing a housing crisis— most vulnerable. the demand for housing far outweighs the supply. Additionally, central Ohio’s population is projected Reinvesting in these neighborhoods will help alleviate to increase to three million by 2050 . . . that is an the poverty level, but in what form should this increase of one million people. 1 Columbus does not 1 reinvestment manifest? While gentrification can be a have enough housing stock to meet demand. The source of positive change for a community, it can also solution is not simply to build more housing, but to build more housing that considers the needs of the force vulnerable populations from their homes due to those affected by disinvestment. The city needs to rising housing costs. move quickly to solve this dilemma. For example, Columbus’ Short North neighborhood is one of the areas in Ohio that has reduced its poverty Many neighborhoods in Ohio are neglected from rate from 30 percent in 1980 to 10 percent in 2018. a development perspective. According to a recent study performed by the Economic Innovation Group, Columbus’ downtown core was once a thriving the number of US neighborhoods with a poverty rate community. In the early 1900s, wealthier residents began to move to the north of the city and build large above 30 percent has doubled between 1980 and 2 2018. Only 10 neighborhoods in Ohio have reduced Victorian homes, forming the area now known as Victorian Village. Eventually, these wealthy residents poverty rates from above 30 percent in 1980 to moved even farther from the downtown core and below 10 percent in 2018. 3 left their estates in Victorian Village to be converted into apartments. 5 This continued to happen in the This pattern of poverty is expected to worsen. 60s and 70s as suburban sprawl took higher-earning 1.) Brown, T.C. “Central Ohio’s Housing Shortage.” Columbus Monthly, February 3, 2021. home-decor/2021/01/07/central-ohios-housing-shortage/115267430/. 2.) Benzow, August, and Kenan Fikri. “The Expanded Geography of High-Poverty Neighborhoods.” Economic Innovation Group (blog), May 2020. https://eig. org/neighborhood-poverty-project/expanded-geography.

3.) Segedy, Jason. “The Geography of High-Poverty Neighborhoods - The View from Ohio.” Economic Innovation Group (blog), July 8, 2020. news/the-geography-of-high-poverty-neighborhoods-the-view-from-ohio. 4.) Allen, Henry. “Central Ohio Housing Inventory Hits All-Time Low.” NBC4 WCMH-TV (blog), March 26, 2021.


residents away from the downtown core. This part of town had a reputation for being rife with crime. The police called the area the “Short North” since it was north of downtown but short of The Ohio State University. 6

One example of a sufficiently large structure that could support several hundred residents while providing amenity and parking space is the dying American shopping mall. Once large, indoor microcosms for shopping and entertainment, malls now offer us the chance to rethink the role of megastructures in the American urban environment. Mall spatial organization reflects that of an American residential street: dwellings define the edge of a greenspace, which defines the edge of a passageway. The greenspace is filled with the activity of the residents and the passageway allows for circulation of the residents to their homes. In this new mall-neighborhood, the greenspace and passageway are combined.

In the 1980s, newly graduated college students, specifically artists, gravitated to the area for the lower rent rates. Some business owners saw the influx of artists and formed art galleries. The art galleries attracted people from other parts of Columbus and the area drew other businesses. 7 This cycle kept feeding itself until the residents and businesses that made up the fabric of this community could no longer afford to rent there. 8 Now the area is home to several large apartment complexes that are too expensive for the people that need housing the most. We must reinvest strategically. Solutions must solve the problems of limited housing stock and high poverty. Policy and legislation will be critical to reversing these trends in Columbus, but what might be the role of the architecture industry?

The mall-turned-multifamily residence is not a new idea. Alderwood Mall in the Seattle suburb of Lynwood uses this strategy. 9 The residentialmall hybrid consolidates shopping, housing, and entertainment in one location. While it is too early to tell if this strategy will provide relief, we need to explore every avenue to combat the current housing crisis.

A strategy could be to convert our existing abandoned infrastructure into housing. This not only alleviates the affordable housing crisis in Columbus, but it can also be a more environmentally friendly solution. The buildings have already been built—let us use them.

Ross Jackson is a project associate with Legat Architects Columbus. He has experience designing housing across central Ohio.

5.) Trout, Martha, Addie Morrison, and Kevin Might. “The Victorian Village Handbook: Including Guidelines for Rehabilitation and New Construction.” Columbus Department of Human Services, September 1988. https://www. Village%20Handbook.pdf. 6.) “History | Business Type | Short North, Columbus Ohio.” Accessed July 21, 2021.


7.) Bent, Cindy. “An Art-Full Vision: How Sandy Wood Helped Change His World.” Short North Gazette, October 2002. html. 8.) Ferenchik, Mark. “Rent Hikes in City Core Push Columbus’ Poor Farther Out.” The Columbus Dispatch. Accessed July 21, 2021. news/20170604/rent-hikes-in-city-core-push-columbus-poor-farther-out. 9.) Sisson, Patrick. “A Case for Turning Empty Malls Into Housing: The Dying Mall’s New Lease on Life.” Bloomberg, June 30, 2020. news/articles/2020-06-30/a-case-for-turning-empty-malls-into-housing.

No Shortcuts: How Regional Transportation Networks Can Equalize Opportunity

Jane Jacobs, an influential critic and activist in early 20th century New York, coined the phrase “eyes on the street” about the importance of a vibrant street life to create neighborhood safety and community connections. A hundred years ago, railroads and architects put a great deal of effort into the design of train stations. As a focal point, the station linked the town and the outside world. It symbolized progress, while giving its community an identity. Every day, hundreds of thousands of commuters across the nation drift through train stations to catch a ride to work.

Adam Quigley, AIA Ted Haug, AIA, LEED AP BD+C Downtown revitalizations can combat disinvestment—but the secret weapon is a good public transportation network. Municipal and transportation design has long been at the center of successful city or neighborhood planning. Well-located and well-designed public spaces such and city services, libraries, parks, and transportation hubs can serve as the seed of commercial growth, enhance civic pride, and promote safety for communities. Reinvestment in municipal design can help address long-standing environmental, health, and economic disparities in disadvantaged communities.

Despite the growing popularity of commuter services, many train stations are in a sorry state of disrepair. Commuters see these stations as nothing more than a place to take shelter from the rain or cold while they wait. Community members ignore the stations or, even worse, complain that the facilities cast the community in a negative light. If the people served are respected with good design, the neighborhood will respond by protecting it and this can significantly impact a station’s long-term use, improve safety, and become a point of pride for the neighbors. The station is the face a community displays to all those on the train. If the station is attractive, commuters draw positive conclusions about the city spurring growth.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “these communities face an array of challenges such as proximity to polluting facilities, barriers to participating in decision-making processes, disproportionate levels of chronic disease, neighborhood disinvestment, high crime rates, security concerns, and poor or no access to jobs and services. Many of these challenges are related to how communities and regions are planned and built.”

A regional transportation system’s primary role is to

1.) US EPA, OP. “Smart Growth and Equitable Development.” Overviews and Factsheets, February 24, 2014. smart-growth-and-equitable-development.


connect residents and businesses to opportunities, which plays a crucial role in promoting inclusive economic growth. The train station can be so much more than a place to wait—it can present a positive image about the community to the outside world, add to local economic development efforts, and enrich a community’s civic value. By reestablishing the train station as a community focal point, cities and villages can inspire growth. New stations often sprout on the fringes of up-and-coming areas. Other times, they appear more toward the center of an urban area partially or totally developed. In either case, the appropriate station can inspire change like new commercial and housing developments or the rejuvenation of city centers.

point. The Oak Park Avenue Station (completed 2003) inspired a community transformation and even earned a spot on the American Institute of Architects’ “200 Great Places in Illinois” list. Ten years later, the new 80th Avenue Station further reinforced the village’s rich rail tradition. Many cities find that, over the years, their downtowns have been neglected. Development of large shopping malls along with related dining and entertainment venues in the late 20th century favored the periphery of the city. As a result, the original center of activity, the downtown, has often become a place of empty storefronts and minimal activity. However, that’s changing as municipalities are rediscovering the value that a vibrant and active downtown can have on their entire community. Hidden behind the vacant warehouse and neglected lot may be the seeds for a community cornerstone: the multimodal facility, which adds retail, hospitality, entertainment, and parking to the transit mix. This entices people back to and resuscitates forgotten urban areas. Multimodal facilities accommodate a variety of commuters: rail, bus, automobile, bicycle, and pedestrian. They integrate into mixed-use developments to create vibrant hubs that encourage alternative transportation. Also, they encourage commuters and residents to spend more time downtown.

One example is the Village of Clarendon Hills located in suburban Chicago. The centerpiece of its downtown revitalization is a new train station that supports the village’s focus on public outdoor spaces and sustainability. It features indoor and outdoor waiting areas and a green roof. The village anticipates that the station will become a new entry point that promotes economic development by attracting more businesses and residents. Another Chicagoland suburb, the 150-year-old Village of Tinley Park, exists because of the rail. Named after its first railroad station agent, the village developed a master plan with a train station as a focal


The Quad Cities consists of two Iowa cities and two Illinois cities, but also encompasses other surrounding communities. A recent project converts the first floor of a vacant six-story building into a transportation hub in Moline (Illinois), one of the four Quad Cities. The multimodal facility, part of a fullblock redevelopment, has kicked off a revitalization of downtown Moline, but is also expected to reestablish passenger rail service from Chicago to the Quad Cities.

of human settlements and the Romans undertook monumental engineering and public works programs to provide clean water and sanitation. Today, many communities still struggle with basic needs like health and safety. In the 21st century, we have the responsibility to reinvest in our most underserved communities. Transportation and municipal design can be the catalyst for business development, greater safety, and improved civic pride through the prioritization and thoughtful development of these public spaces.

The World Health Organization defines a healthy city as “…one that is continually creating and improving physical and social environments and expanding community resources that enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and in developing to their maximum potential.”2 Community engagement is a critical component to successful public planning and design. The Moline project brought the lager Quad Cities community into the planning process. Community members asked questions, presented challenges, and offered their thoughts on the design of the facility. The resulting project represents the residents and is a point of civic pride.

Adam Quigley is a project architect at Legat Architects Chicago. He works with a variety of transportation and municipal clients. Ted Haug works as Legat Architects’ Director of Design. He primarily works out of Legat’s Gurnee office and likes to swim.

Ever since humans first began to live collectively in cities, people have striven to build healthier and more sustainable communities. In the 6th century, Hippocrates wrote about the location and planning 2.) “What Is a Healthy City?” Accessed July 21, 2021. https://www.euro.who. int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/urban-health/who-european-healthy-cities-network/what-is-a-healthy-city.


Health Equity and Design: Using Architecture to Combat Disparities in Healthcare Access

where people live can hinder or contribute to good health. The appreciation of a community’s influence on health has, for example, made community organizing a key strategy of some local clinics and public health departments. Epidemiologists Sepideh Asadi, AIA, WELL AP are moving toward measuring the influence of neighborhoods and social capital [i.e., features of Architects and communities can come together to social organization that facilitate cooperation for overcome inconsistencies in healthcare access. mutual benefit ] on health outcomes.5 “Your zip code is a better predictor of your health than your genetic code,” said biostatistician Melody Illinois’ Waukegan, a city where the population has Goodman.1 Extensive research has been done on the dropped by 1.6% from 2010 to 2017, exemplifies social determinants of health, which the World Health the effects of low-income residents suffering Organization defines as “the non-medical factors that disproportionately from adverse health outcomes.6 influence health outcomes.”2 Social determinants A high property tax burden, low wages, and lack such as racist policies, a history of segregation, and of health insurance led to a lack of investment .7 decades of neighborhood disinvestment have led to With the belief that healthcare is a human right, poor health outcomes and inequities, especially in Chicago-based Erie Family Health Centers took socially and economically deprived communities.3 the opportunity to purchase and transform a 24,000-square-foot, 40-year-old bank into a bright, A growing awareness of social determinants has welcoming community center. This adaptive reuse initiated innovative forms of health practice and project, located within a commercial strip in the heart policies. Research done by PolicyLink suggests that of Waukegan, is surrounded by residents and easily “improving individual medical treatment, increasing accessed by public transportation. access to culturally competent health services, and effective disease prevention strategies” are some Today, the Erie HealthReach Waukegan Health solutions to understand and address disparities.4 Center serves Lake County residents regardless of their ability to pay. It stands as a role model for how PolicyLink authors suggest that communities are equitable practice can be celebrated by architectural central to this new thinking and action. The places design. The facility encourages a sustainable and 1.) Roeder, Amy. “Zip Code Better Predictor of Health than Genetic Code.” Harvard School of Public Health, August 4, 2014. news/features/zip-code-better-predictor-of-health-than-genetic-code/. 2.) World Health Organization. “Social Determinants of Health.” Accessed July 21, 2021.

3.) Fedorowicz, Martha, Joseph Schilling, Emily Bramhall, Brian Bieretz, Yipeng Su, and Steven Brown. “Leveraging the Built Environment for Health Equity.” Urban Institute, July 13, 2020. leveraging-built-environment-health-equity.


socially cohesive community built on bonds that unite rather than differences that separate. This example also demonstrates the integration of evidence-based practices and design thinking into innovative healthcare processes. The addition of a grand open stair in the facility inspires both staff and patients to choose the healthier option and take the stairs rather than the elevators.

when it comes to expanding opportunities for health, thinking the same approach will work universally is like expecting everyone to be able to ride the same bike.”9 Waukegan’s Lake Behavioral Hospital is an example of a design that contributes to a more widespread sense of belonging within the community. In 2017, behavioral healthcare organization US HealthVest invested in revitalizing a 30-year-old vacant medical office building on the former Vista Medical Center West campus. Many Waukeganites embraced the transformation of the campus known locally as “the old St. Therese Hospital” into a facility dedicated exclusively to mental health and addiction treatment. The resulting retrofit not only addresses the health disorder treatment needs, but also could trigger a rejuvenation of the entire campus.

Making healthier choices is dependent on fair and just opportunity and access to the care. This leads to the concept of health equity, which posits that every individual should be able to live a healthy life regardless of their background. According to CDC, health equity is when each person has a chance to reach their “full health potential,” without facing obstacles from “social position or other socially-determined circumstances.”8 It should be emphasized that health equity is not the same as health equality. Planning based on the health equity concept assures that everyone meets their needs appropriate to their unique situation rather than providing a one-size-fits-all solution.

“The new and much larger facility has allowed us to provide additional services to more people,” said Lake Behavioral Hospital CEO Cindy DeMarco. “Compared to the old facility, the new spaces are much more spread out so patients can move around in a calming environment full of light.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has developed a Culture of Health framework, in which health equity sits at its center. They describe this as follows: “To build a Culture of Health, we must first ensure everyone has the basics to be healthy. And

Healthcare frameworks should recognize that patients are people—people with concerns that often overshadow their wellbeing status. Circumstances like unemployment, failing grades,

4.) Bell, Janet Dewart, Judith Bell, Raymond Colmenar, Rebecca Flournoy, Marshall McGehee, Victor Rubin, Mildred Thompson, Jennifer Thompson, and Victoria Breckwich Vasquez. “Reducing Health Disparities Through a Focus on Communities | PolicyLink.” PolicyLink, November 2002. https://www.policylink. org/resources-tools/reducing-health-disparities-through-a-focus-on-communities.

5.) Adler, Nancy E., and Judith Stewart. “The Biology of Disadvantage: Socioeconomic Status and Health.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1186, no. 1 (2010): 1–4. 6.) “U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Lake County, Illinois.” Accessed July 21, 2021. 7.) Hanlon, Bernadette. Once the American Dream: Inner-Ring Suburbs of the


and housing instability can all affect the mind’s wellbeing just as much as poor diet and exercise can affect the body. This improved understanding of wellness reaffirms that health equity lies beyond the traditional medical practice setting. Health organizations must join forces with community agencies to build reliable resources based on trusted relationships, understanding, and transparency.

Sepideh Asadi, AIA, WELL AP is a licensed architect with Legat Architects in Oak Brook, Illinois. She currently lives in Oak Park, where she is a neighbor of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio. She believes that designers need to create spaces where everyone can cherish their moments together, regardless of their differences.

Working together can not only engage patients more effectively in health where they live and work, but it can also indirectly mitigate factors that contribute to significant illness and disability.10 Although disparities in health outcomes by race/ ethnicity or income status are persistent and difficult to reduce, recognizing these social factors should ultimately be seen as a motivation and not discouragement. Our sense of comfort and belonging is strengthened by positive contact with our neighbors and involvement in decisions about the spaces we share. We may feel overwhelmed by the scale and complexity of health inequities, but we must reflect on who we are and how our skills, tools, and experiences can bring value. This consolidation of talent can unleash the creativity of communities and achieve the true meaning of equity, characterized by a focus on personalization instead of delivering consistent care. 10.) Wong, Winston F., Thomas A. LaVeist, and Joshua M. Sharfstein. “Achieving Health Equity by Design.” JAMA 313, no. 14 (April 14, 2015): 1417–18. https://doi. org/10.1001/jama.2015.2434.

Metropolitan United States. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2010. 8.) Center for Disease Control. “Health Equity | CDC,” May 20, 2020. https://www. 9.) RWJF. “Visualizing Health Equity: One Size Does Not Fit All Infographic,” June 30, 2017.



learners catch up to their peers and engage the neighborhood.


Unfortunately, many residents of disenfranchised communities do not have access to safe, educational play areas. For the purposes of this competition, we will refer to these areas as “play deserts.”

Equalizing Everywhere: The Global Playground

Playtime is a vehicle for children to explore and interact with not only their physical environment and the world around them, but also with each other. Studies have shown that play is critical to long-term social development, learning, and wellness; rather than ending with childhood, play is a lifelong pursuit of curiosity. A well-designed play area is an integral part of any community. In a recent article published on Legat Architects’ blog, Justin Banda, WELL AP argues that play is intimately linked to learning. The essay outlines three benefits of play: • • •

Assists in developing motor and cognitive skills Assists in helping children form social bonds and interactions with each other Affects how children develop into adults

The essay goes on to state that while children in underserved communities fall behind their more privileged peers’ academic achievements, urban play areas can be a vehicle for helping these early

For further information on the link between early childhood play and learning, please visit https://www. THE GOAL The goal of this competition is to create a space that can be an oasis in a play desert. You will propose a site and location that should not only consider the needs of those visiting your space, but also innovate play. This space is intended for the marriage of artistic expression with functional, accessible design in every aspect of the design: landscaping, gardens, food, art, play, fitness, wellness, sustainability, education, and even the concept of play. We are looking for spaces where the imagination is unconstrained from limitations.


As the oasis at the center of a play desert, this space should serve its community’s needs, from infant to elder. Your space should have something for everyone; whether residents are retirees on a leisurely stroll with friends in the morning, elementary-age students taking a school trip, or neighbors catching up over a drink while their toddlers play. This competition is open to anyone who wants to enter. A design background is not a prerequisite for entry.

12:00 PM - 3:00 PM » Children explore the site and play games. » A local couple takes their dog for a walk. » Farmers market vendors display their harvest.

3:00 PM - 5:00 PM » Parents pick up their children from daycare. » School children leave for the day. » Workers arrive to unwind.

5:00 PM - 12:00 AM » Food trucks arrive and drinks are served as day turns to night. » A local design firm hosts a series of open mic PechaKuchas in the park. » A local band performs live music.

12:00 AM - 6:00 AM » Garbage trucks arrive. » Maintenance workers listen to music while prepping the site for another day. » Café workers bake scones and other treats. » A local astronomy club stargazes in the park.

THE CHALLENGE Participants are invited to design a space with respect to the following four criteria: 1. A daily activity schedule: • 6:00 AM - 9:00 AM » Senior citizens arrive for an exercise class. » Working parents drop children off for daycare. » Local workers grab a bite to eat on the way to the office. •

2. Site: • While each play desert faces its own challenges, such as climate change, race, and socioeconomic inequalities, your entry

9:00 AM - 12:00 PM » Local schools bring students by for outdoor lessons. » Professionals hold client meetings.


should be a prototype able to respond to various external forces. Your palette is a siteless city block, with a footprint no larger than 330’x660’, which you will then place into your proposed site and location anywhere in the world. Show your site’s relationship to its context, including distance to the next closest play area, food options, and neighborhood amenities. Be sure to select a location where there are currently no play areas within a walking radius of 1.5 miles (WalkScore assigns scores based on 0.25 mile/5 minute distances, with scores diminishing to 0 after 1.5 miles/30 minutes). For further information on play deserts, please visit

3. Narrative: • Describe your entry in 750 words or fewer. Take readers on a journey through your intervention: How does your site encourage learning through play? How does it facilitate play at all ages? What makes someone want to visit your oasis? 4. Criteria: • All entries must meet Living Building Challenge standards. More information can be found at the Living Futures Institute’s website:

REGISTRATION Register online at Eventbrite. Search for “Equalizing Everywhere: The Global Playground,” or visit the link below directly. Ticket sales begin July 19th. DELIVERABLES 1. One (1) ARCH-D (36” x 24”) board, in landscape orientation. • Resolution: 300 DPI Format: PDF 2. One (1) US Letter (8.5” x 11”) narrative featuring project title and essay. • Format: PDF Your entry must include at least one of the following types of drawings. • Conceptual Graphic: A visual explanation of your idea and concept for your proposal, including but not limited to collages, drawings, photographs, or graphical representations. • 3D Graphic: A three-dimensional visual illustrating your concept. This can be a perspective view, an isometric, or an axonometric drawing.


Your entry must include all of the following: • Title of proposal (up to 3 words) and subtitle (if applicable; up to 10 words) • Written narrative of design proposal (up to 750 words) • Project team member details (names, professional backgrounds, etc.). This can be included as a separate letter-sized sheet or on the reverse side of your narrative.

JUDGING All entries will be reviewed and judged on computer monitors. Our panel of critics this year will include the panelists from the September 10th discussion on institutional and instructional design. RUBRIC The jury will score all submissions using the following rubric.

All submissions should be emailed to thinktank@ with your deliverables included as attachments totaling no more than 20 MB. • Do not send any Google Drive/Dropbox/Box/ Sharepoint/etc. links, as these entries will not be accepted.


SCHEDULE • 7/19/2021: Registration opens • 9/5/2021: Submissions are due at 5:00 PM CST. All submissions are final. Late entries will not be considered. • 9/6 - 9/10/2021: Two-week review period for judging. • 9/10/2021: Winners announced at Think Tank 2021: Education event.


Presentation (graphical quality, organization of information, clarity of submission)

____ / 100 points

Living Building standards (How does this submission address Living Building standards? How many petals are attempted or achieved?)

____ / 100 points

Playfulness (Would I want to play here? Would I bring my family and children here?)

____ / 300 points

Program (How does your entry respond to the daily schedule?)

____ / 200 points

Writing (Title, subtitle, narrative; how do these support the ideas in your design?)

____ / 300 points


____ / 1000 points

PRIZES All entries will be featured on the Legat Architects Think Tank website following the announcement of winners. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes will be awarded in the form of $200, $100, and $50 Visa gift cards, respectively, and will be featured in the next Legat Architects weekly newsletter e-blast.


CALENDAR Schedule of Events The Think Tank will take place over four afternoons, each spaced three weeks apart. These four virtual sessions will coincide with the Chicago Architecture Biennial, which is partnering with us to provide this programming and support us in advertising.

From 2:00 - 5:00 PM CST on four autumn Fridays three weeks apart, a different Legat studio will be playing host to a keynote speaker, followed by an intermission and a panel discussion with 3-5 experts (including the keynote speaker).

• Institutional & Instructional Design September 10, 2021 | 2:00 - 5:00 PM CST Host: Ross Jackson Legat Architects Columbus

Event registration will be provided through Eventbrite. Links to the Zoom webinar will be provided via email upon registration. Each session will credit attendees with 2.0 AIA Continuing Education Learning Units (LUs), which will count toward the required annual quota for architects.

• Housing Stock & Design Alternatives October 1, 2021 | 2:00 - 5:00 PM CST Host: Adam Quigley, AIA Legat Architects Chicago

Each session will be hosted by a different representative from Legat Architects, opposite.

• Transportation & Municipal Design October 22 , 2021 | 2:00 - 5:00 PM CST Host: Nicholas Woodard, AIA, LEED AP Legat Architects Quad Cities • Health & Wellness Design November 12 , 2021 | 2:00 - 5:00 PM CST Host: Sepideh Asadi, AIA, WELL AP Legat Architects Oak Brook




September 10, 2021

Ross Jackson Ross Jackson, a member of Legat’s Columbus, Ohio studio, has worked on several educational projects including renovations and maintenance upgrades. Ross earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture at The Ohio State University. As a graphics class teaching assistant, he taught undergraduates how to use several architectural programs.



October 1, 2021

Adam Quigley, AIA Adam Quigley has 20 years of experience in architectural planning and design. Adam has drawn from his project management and technical skills to help clients overcome many challenges. Adam holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Michigan and an undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago.



October 22, 2021

Nicholas Woodard, AIA, LEED AP Nick Woodard spent 25 years practicing at firms in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, then returned home to the Quad Cities, where he joined Legat’s Moline, Illinois studio. A recipient of the Ralph Rapson Traveling Fellowship, Nick has maintained an interest in travel as a form of professional development and as a hobby. He has a master’s degree from Syracuse University and a BA from Iowa State University.



November 12, 2021

Sepideh Asadi, AIA, WELL AP Licensed architect Sepideh “Sepi” Asadi earned her bachelor’s degree in architecture from Shahid Beheshti University in her hometown of Tehran (the capital Iran), then emigrated to Chicago, where she obtained her master’s degree at Illinois Institute of Technology while picking up several notable awards. Her exposure to many different cultures has helped Sepi create places “where everyone can cherish their moments regardless of their differences.”



A Brief History

Why Think Tank?


The Think Tank is an annual symposium orchestrated by Legat Architects. Each year, we invite authorities from a variety of disciplines to speak about trends related to their areas of expertise, as well as how design impacts those fields. In recent years, the symposium has featured discussions about biophilic and sustainable design, health and welfare, school safety, urban sprawl, and many other timely topics. During our last in-person event in 2019, the Think Tank partnered with the Chicago Architecture Biennial and was featured on ArchDaily, Bustler, and Architectural Products magazine. In 2020, we discussed resilience in a post-COVID world among various industries including healthcare, transportation, and education. The event, co-hosted by the Chaddick Institute at DePaul University, was open to the public. Due to the global pandemic, the 2020 Think Tank took place entirely online as a series of lunchtime lectures hosted by experts from around the country.

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Prototype Education Biophilia HSWELLfare Neuroscience Megaregion Resilient Homecoming

Why Legat Architects? Legat Architects was founded in 1964 in a Waukegan, Illinois home. The firm gained a reputation for projects that were on time, on budget, and responsive. In the ensuing decades, the firm opened more studios and took on higher profile projects. Its work won more design awards, while its portfolio spread to over 30 countries. Though today Legat stands as a leading design firm, its legacy of responsive client service and employee empowerment remains at the firm’s core. “Our multi-studio structure gives clients the convenience of a local architect with large firm resources. It also lets employees work for a major firm close to home and allows us to select from


a larger talent pool,” says Patrick Brosnan, the president and CEO of Legat.

Daylight improves learning. Color impacts concentration. Building shape and materials can respond to local climate data. We understand the impact of these and other architectural influences on the daily life of people. We use this knowledge to make choices that allow each building user to achieve his or her highest level of performance.

Throughout Legat’s history, our designers have put themselves in facility owners’ shoes to understand what they see and feel. That happens through the art of interaction . . . working with building users and communities to uncover and address their needs. Design Our approach to design is collaborative and inclusive. We consider every challenge as a design opportunity, and we take a lifelong learner’s approach to every project. Legat buildings have no distinct style, but we have a distinct design process. Every design grows out of clients’ needs and responds to their culture, site, and aspirations. It might be a Prairie-style building to respond to an established neighborhood. Or it might be a contemporary facility to inspire future development in an up-and-coming community. What matters to us is that the design respects the budget, improves performance, and creates a legacy of pride for our clients and their communities. Our design process acknowledges the voices of all stakeholders. We empower our clients to fully consider the impacts of every design decision. We believe that all of us together are smarter than any one of us alone. A great idea can come from anywhere, from anyone. Each stakeholder has a voice in our design process. We believe in addressing context, at all scales and in all things . . . from the tactile quality of a door handle to the structural and infrastructural nature of the facility. Performance We believe in architecture that inspires and elevates the individual. We have examined the research behind what makes environments exceptional and we integrate this knowledge into our work.

Each year, we host a symposium and design exhibition called the Think Tank. Building owners, academics, design professionals, and community members share their visions for the future of architecture. At Legat, we embrace the unknown: each project is an opportunity for experimentation and innovation. Working with clients, we push the boundaries of contemporary design to support our clients’ philosophies. Sustainability Legat’s sustainability practice is comprised of decades of experience. Our designers are committed to creating exceptional high-performance solutions for our clients. Our practice aims at integration of sustainability, renewable energy, and deep energy efficiency into high-performance building design. Sustainable principles guide every aspect of our practice. From enhancing energy efficiency to incorporating durable, long-lasting materials and systems that focus on user well-being and comfort, our designs are aimed at creating economic, social, and environmental success. The idea of a healthy and thriving future for all motivates our work. In line with creating buildings with a positive impact on their surroundings, we are also committed to creating buildings that are designed with end-user wellness in mind. Our commitment to wellbeing extends to the individual user’s comfort and right to a healthy work environment, both physically and mentally.



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