Pullman National Monument is a must-see treasure of Chicago’s south side. The formerly independent industrial town, now a landmark Chicago neighborhood, was entrusted February 2015 to the National Park Service via proclamation by President Barack Obama
There is much to celebrate in the area because of this. Yet, there are also many questions about what’s next for this national monument, and what the new designation means collectively for the Pullman neighborhood, the neighboring Roseland community and the larger Calumet region. On behalf of AIA Chicago and the National Parks Conservation Association, AS+GG was asked to organize and lead a three day community design workshop in Pullman in an effort to start addressing some of these questions.
The purpose of the workshop was to engage the public in discussions with the Chicago design community regarding opportunities for enhancing the park visitor experience, while leveraging the new national designation to advance important community development goals. AS+GG provided community planning and urban design services on a Pro Bono basis.
Although there were no mandated requirements, AS+GG organized a technical team of 40 architects, landscape architects, city planners, economists and engineers that was purposefully diverse and inclusive with more than 50% DBE participation. Core to the values of our firm, AS+GG believes that multiple points of view are needed to assure outcomes that are culturally relevant for people of varied ages, ethnicities and physical capabilities.
The workshop weekend began with a well-attended community meeting at the historic Greenstone Church to introduce the planning process, and have one-on-one discussions with members of the design team. The following day, the team worked at the historic Hotel Florence envisioning design and policy concepts to enhance the function and appearance of Pullman, while addressing business and job growth, environmental stewardship and regional connectivity.
On the last day of the workshop, a public open house in the north wing of the historic Pullman Factory building attracted nearly 400 participants. The open house offered the opportunity for the technical teams to talk through their findings and report out on their recommendations with the community. The conversations then centered on fine tuning the content, aligning goals and priorities, and identifying stakeholders that can help advance implementation.
Based upon public feedback from the open house, AS+GG refined the workshop material and prepared an “Ideas Book” of design and community enhancement recommendations. The book includes an action plan with 35 projects paired with lead entities, order-of-magnitude costs and priority considerations. The book is publicly available via the project website at www.positioningpullman.org.
Pullman is positioning itself to welcome people from around the world as a result of its new national monument status. As one of the premier national urban parks in America, it is an important development for the National Park Service as it approaches its centennial celebration in August 2016. And the lessons learned at Pullman could help shape policy, partnerships, and design over the course of the next 100 years.