Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Little About My Thesis

By Alan Kirkwood
This post I decided to inform you a little about my thesis:

Title: Suburban Design's Impact on Socioeconomics by way of the Building and Planning


The economy in America has been struggling severely for the last several years. As a result of this, there

has been a decrease of property value in many suburban areas, loss of jobs, a decline in spending and

closure of local businesses and stores. Though the economic problems are beginning to level out in

some areas, there are still areas that are continuing to decline.

Three current Southwestern suburbs of Chicago, Illinois that are facing this type of problem still are

Matteson, Park Forest and Olympia Fields, three neighboring suburbs each of which are facing their

own unique struggles. Though different, these struggles are all economic based and large contributors

are the lack of strong businesses and the transition of the people in and out of the areas due to lack of

involvement in the progress of the areas. These issues have led to the need for this project, one that

looks at these contributors and develops, not necessarily a direct finite solution to them but a means

of formulating a catalyst to jump start community interest and therefore involvement which will then

translate to a possible solution.

Park Forest, once with a thriving downtown area, has been on the progressive decline for the past

couple decades due to the closing of their major stores and small, local businesses. Matteson is in the

midst of losing their shopping mall which has always been their primary source of revenue due to back

taxes and the transition from mall shopping to online shopping. The last of the three, Olympia Fields,

has very few businesses to begin with, and after the large economic crash, many people who moved

into the area that purchased large, expensive homes found themselves unable to afford the house notes

along with the taxes that have progressively spiked over the last few years. Each has a failure in their

economic structure whether on a person to person level or larger business scale. The people of the area

are not interested in being proactive to make changes or just supporting the businesses of their local

area but rather travel fifteen to twenty-five miles away and shop in suburbs that are already thriving

from their local citizens.

Once identifying the issues these areas are facing, the next question is what approach to take in

addressing the issues. By considering the demographics of the area, the stakeholders and the previous

trends, a strategy can be formulated. By considering the concepts of urban/suburban planning,

architecture, both built and natural, can be used to bring to the forefront of the minds of the locals that

there can be a change and spark a new progressive attitude for the areas that will in turn then help solve

the problems.

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