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Chicago’s Loop – It’s All About the Experience

Significant demographic shifts in the Chicago Loop, including the rise of the millennial generation and the return of empty-nesters, have created new demands for engaging public space in downtown Chicago. The Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) recognized that attractive public spaces create a more competitive city, and that it must activate underperforming public spaces in the Loop. In 2015, CLA built off the success of its ‘clean and safe program’, and began a placemaking strategy targeting long ignored public spaces. The focus included non-traditional public spaces, including alleys, street medians and underperforming parks. CLA activated these spaces using design, art, lighting, community engagement, active social media and aggressive place management. This tour will tell the story of Chicago Loop Alliance’s evolution from traditional place management (clean and safe) services to our more extensive placemaking initiative. The tour will demonstrate how public space can drive real economic development, attract talent and thus employers and rebrand a downtown as a place for all people to enjoy in a contemporary way. This tour will cover the essentials of place management, marketing and benchmarking performance providing examples of both success and failure and will encourage attendees to search for placemaking opportunities in their own communities. The lessons provided are scalable to larger cities or small towns interested in placemaking. Attendees will leave the tour knowing the types and key elements of compelling public spaces as well as challenges and benefits of placemaking and its economic impact.

Mode: Walking