EET 02 - 08 - 2010

Brief description of my hometown and the infamous hometown project. La Grange, IL - Chicago suburb located 13 miles west of the Loop. Developed as the perfect suburban village for those wishing to live outside of the city while still being able to access all of its amenities. Settled and expanded along the commuter and freight rail that runs out of the city center, the rail connection is still a strong and viable way of getting in and out of the city. La Grange boasts two train stations along the BNSF rail, one in the La Grange downtown, and the other in the west end district. While both serve their purpose, neither has reached the full potential and maximized the use of space, making the train experience less enjoyable than it could be. There is also a strong disconnect through the corridor that connects that two stations. The goal for this project is to create a transportation corridor that connects the two stations through a series of commercial, residential, and outdoor spaces better suited to the needs of the La Grange residents in order to establish a vibrant east-west connection through La Grange. The potential for a dynamic, pedestrian-friendly corridor is there, it just needs to be capitalized on. Aside from planning that will be required in order to determine land and building uses and the design required to improve the train stations and their immediate surroundings, one of the main factors and possibly most important factor of this project is the streetscape design. No matter how great the planning is, if the streets along this corridore are not walkable, they will see little to no usage. I admire many of the European cities, especially Barcelona, for the pedestrian-oriented streets. They are much more comfortable to walk along and more attractive to users. This idea could be more difficult to apply along the rail lone, but as long as the priority is the pedestrian experience, than the design can be successful. For expample, in the same way that the streets in Barcelona use vegetation to block vehicular traffic, vegetation can be used to block train noise and create a safer environment. [Below Image: Diagram showing context,important connections to make, and necessary factros to consider including the downtown strip, schools, and parks.] [Right Image: Example of streetscape in Barcelona.]

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