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Thursday, September 14, 2017
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Joe Gonzalez Interviewed by Chicago Architecture Foundation about “Between States” Exhibit

Joe Gonzalez, Ghafari's Global Director of Design
Joe Gonzalez, Ghafari's Global Director of Design

Ghafari’s Global Director of Design, Joe Gonzalez, FAIA, was recently interviewed by the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) about the firm’s work in their latest exhibit, “Between States – 50 Designers Transform Chicago’s Neighborhoods”. The free exhibit, which will be on display in the CAF Atrium Gallery from September 19, 2017 to January 7, 2018, is an ambitious showcase of 50 community-based design solutions that reimagine underappreciated and underperforming spaces in Chicago.

Ghafari’s proposal for “Between States” is to transform the existing buildings and parking lots surrounding Guaranteed Rate Field (home of the Chicago White Sox) into a vibrant sports-oriented urban destination with the stadium as the central feature of a broader, functionally-integrated community. 

When Guaranteed Rate Field opened in 1991, it was the last of the “lump-in-a-parking lot” generation of stadiums. Drawing inspiration from successful sports-related venues such as San Diego’s Petco Park and Baltimore’s Camden Yards, Joe and his team sought to develop a meaningful context to fill the void created by an excess of parking lots.

“[This] area has been ‘empty’ with parking lots and we find this an unacceptable vacancy that requires intervention as part of an overall master plan for the area,” Joe says. “The baseball stadium and its parking requirements are not an excuse to leave a significant number of city blocks vacant for 75 percent of the year. In fact, we view Guaranteed Rate Field as an asset to build on and a catalyst for urban development.”

Our proposal, titled “Comiskey Commons” in recognition of the stadium’s heritage, incorporates the following components:

  1. Existing parking lots converted to highly textured multi-use city blocks of flexible modular units
  2. Reimagined stadium outer perimeter to create a pedestrian-friendly buffer / promenade with links to adjoining neighborhood streets, sidewalks, and public spaces
  3. Reimagined stadium parking program that meets current demand while being adaptable to other uses in response to future (and current) transportation technologies, such as expanded public transit, ride sharing, and driverless vehicles
  4. An attractive and highly visible public space adjacent to the stadium, imparting a sense of local identity throughout the year
  5. An iconic high-rise residential tower to accentuate identity both within the neighborhood and at a distance

Read Joe’s full interview with CAF here.  

Check out CAF’s free exhibit, “Between States”, at the CAF Atrium Gallery (224 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago), open daily from 9 AM to 9 PM, September 19, 2017 through January 7, 2018.