City hosts quality design meeting

Audrey Cheng

Panelists at the Quality Design 3 meeting Thursday night presented solutions to sustainability issues in Evanston.

Speakers at the convention, held at the Northshore Hotel, 1611 Chicago Ave., included developer Michael Tobin, architect Richard Wilson and Evanston city planner Janet Attarian. They presented their ideas to a group of Design Evanston supporters to make Evanston a model in sustainability for other cities.

Attarian’s presentation focused mainly on upgrading infrastructure. Laying out goals Evanston could adopt to promote sustainability, she highlighted new ways in which the city could convert aging parts of town into new public spaces. She emphasized adopting green infrastructure would create more jobs.

Wilson’s presentation emphasized empowering people and teaching citizens about sustainability in order to incorporate renewable energy in city planning.

“I thought he had the most interesting insights on Evanston that I had never expected before,” Weiss said of Wilson’s presentation.

Jonathon Boyer, an architect with sustainable planning firm Farr Associates, said he attended the event expecting to see more concrete examples of green design.

“I think it was long on generalities but short on specifics,” Boyer said. “I came here really to learn about the methodology than the particular techniques. What I was interested in was the systemic issues that might encourage communities to embrace sustainability more. How we can get better participation and greater community acceptance and greater behavioral change to bring more sustainable change into this community.”

Design Evanston, a not-for profit design advocacy organization, promotes what they term “good design.” While many urban design groups tend to focus strictly on architectural aesthetics, Design Evanston is devoted to its new “go-green” initiative, group president Jack Weiss said. Weiss said Evanston can achieve a sustainable model of design if developers increased awareness of green alternatives in their industries.

“We feel that as an organization that promotes issues about awareness and design in the city, we should help promote these ideas and create the dialogue (between the green engineers and Evanston citizens),” Weiss said.

Design Evanston has given out numerous design awards since its founding in 1980. The group was an integral player to Mayor Tisdahl’s 2011 Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Award.

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