AIA Chicago Firm of the Year!

Congratulations.  Well done.

AIA Chicago Firm of the Year!

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chicago Chapter has awarded Farr Associates its highest honor. The Firm of the Year Award recognizes the outstanding collective achievements by a firm and overall excellence in its body of work. It honors outstanding contributions made in the areas of design, research, planning, technology, and architectural practice. The award also acknowledges the distinctive characteristics or personality of the firm and its operations, this year, citing Farr Associates' culture of connecting architecture with urban planning.Farr Associates was selected based on the "firm's committment to sustainability far surpassing industry norms and an impressive optimism of the future of our cities. Seven LEED Platinum projects, two net-zero projects, and numerous publications on the subject of Sustainable Urbanism clearly show that Farr Associates is advancing the profession."

Doug Farr, founding principal, responded, "We are honored by this recognition of our firm’s integration of planning and architecture, our leadership in advancing sustainable design at all scales, and our dedication to promoting Sustainable Urbanism around the world. We sincerely thank our client and collaborator partners who help us realize our dream of making future-minded places and buildings increasingly routine."


Net-Zero No-Kill Cat Shelter Earns LEED Platinum

Farr Associates' design for Harmony House for Cats is the Midwest's most sustainable cageless, no-kill animal shelter, earning LEED-NC v3.0 Platinum this month. Located in Chicago, the 7,100 square foot project is the City's first design for a net-zero energy commercial building and features a 30KW photovoltaic system, and 20 solar hot water panels that not only provide hot water for the shelter's cleaning needs, but also augment the 14-well geothermal system by charging the ground with excess heat during summer months. The courtyard design creates a beautiful daylit solution, reducing energy bills, and gives shelter inhabitants (150 cats) and volunteers (numerous humans) a gorgeous view to the landscaping--and passersby an immediate view of adoptable cats and kittens.

Harper Court Achieves LEED-ND Gold

Harper Court, a new mixed-use development initiated to replace an urban-renewal-era shopping center in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, has earned a LEED for Neighborhood Development (ND) Gold rating from the USGBC, an Illinois first. Farr Associates led the project's LEED-ND certification and served as the project's master plan and urban design consultant in collaboration with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture. The master plan described a vibrant urban place with mixed used-buildings defining a first-of-its-kind multi-purpose street. Developed through a partnership among Harper Court Partners, LLC, the City of Chicago and the University of Chicago, at full buildout Harper Court will provide 1.1 million square feet of new mixed-use space on ±3.96 acres, including 250,000 square feet of commercial uses, a new hotel, and up to 425 residential units. The LEED-ND certification recognizes the inherent sustainability of mixed-use transit-served urban development, enhanced with green infrastructure and buildings. 

Municipalities Adopt Sustainable Codes

Increasingly municipalities are implementing sustainability plans by adopting sustainable subdivision, zoning and building codes. Here are three recently adopted codes prepared by Farr:

Dublin, Ohio adopted the Bridge Street Corridor Development Code. An outcome of a larger master planning process for the area, this form-based code was developed with the goal of creating a vibrant, walkable environment with a dynamic mix of land uses and housing types within the 800-acre district.

Billings, Montana adopted the East Billings Urban Revitalization District Code. This form-based code will guide the sustainable redevelopment of the area into a walkable, flexible light industrial and mixed-use area.

Aurora, Illinois adopted an alternative energy ordinance that establishes requirements and streamlines the process for property owners installing solar and wind energy systems within the city.


With a particular emphasis on the Rust Belt of the American Midwest, SynergiCity argues that cities such as Detroit, St. Louis, and Peoria must redefine themselves to be globally competitive. This revitalization is possible through environmentally and economically sustainable restoration of industrial areas and warehouse districts for commercial, research, light industrial, and residential uses. The volume's expert researchers, urban planners, and architects draw on the redevelopment successes of other major cities--such as the American Tobacco District in Durham, North Carolina, and the Milwaukee River Greenway--to set guidelines and goals for reinventing and revitalizing the postindustrial landscape.

Contributors are Paul J. Armstrong, Donald K. Carter, Lynne M. Dearborn, Norman W. Garrick, Mark L. Gillem, Robert Greenstreet, Craig Harlan Hullinger, Paul Hardin Kapp, Ray Lees, Emil Malizia, John O. Norquist, Christine Scott Thomson, and James H. Wasley.

"Instead of handing over neighborhoods to city hall or private developers, this book shows that the solution to many cities' plights lies within them. Empowering residents to take control of and build on community assets, engaging them in community-based organizations that can spearhead revitalization and build real quality of place, yields real results. To the extent that they adopt a holistic approach to planning and build on a city's intrinsic strengths, they can accomplish miracles."--from the foreword by Richard Florida
Hardcover $60.00 Buy Now

* Full Disclosure - Ray Lees and I wrote a chapter.


The map a above shows nations by transparency. The lighter the color the better.

"Transparency, as used in scienceengineeringbusiness, the humanities and in a social context more generally, implies openness, communication, and accountability."

Click to read more

Note that the most successful countries are also the most transparent. 

Green Sculpture Park


The City of Peoria has many quality sculptures. The City is also leading the expansion of “Green” Technology and Sustainability. A Green Sculpture Park could be developed that would be artistic and “green”, incorporating recycled materials, wind and solar energy, etc. into the design. 

A program modeled on the successful Sioux Falls, South Dakota program could be created. . Each year new sculptures are displayed in downtown for one year, and become a tourist attraction. After one year the sculptures are replaced by new sculptures. The sculptures are for sale and people vote for their favorite.

The Civic Center could sponsor this event, with sculptures mounted in Civic Center green space. As the event grew it could cascade down Fulton and on to the Build the Block Campus.

The sculptures would be a major tourist attraction.

The Green Sculpture Park Could start small on the green space at the Civic Center, then expand down Fulton Street to Build the Block and the River.