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'Practical Planning' to be focus of yearly institute program at Illinois

Melissa Mitchell, Arts Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill.-- Extension specialists from Iowa State University will be coming to the 2006 Planning Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign March 2-3 with a couple of rather large props in tow.

Shadowing Mary Yearns and Ann Lundvall down the highway will be two demonstration trailers, which they are bringing to the annual institute to show participants how to redesign kitchens and bathrooms to universal design specifications that allow Baby Boomers to “"age in place."

That's just one example of the truly practical nature of many of the sessions on this year's institute program, "Practical Planning."” The event, hosted by the U. of I.'s department of urban and regional planning and organized by its Professional Development and Outreach Program, will be held at the Levis Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois St., Urbana.

Other topics on the agenda that may appeal to a broad audience include “"Green Schools, Green Communities, Biodiesel"”; “"Disaster Planning"”; “"Live-Work Artists Lofts as Catalytic Developments in Community Revitalization Plans"” and “"Richard Florida + Creative Class + Community Culture."”

“"Visioning, scenario planning, charrettes, good design, housing for ‘'Boomers' –-- some of the topics at this year's institute –-- capture what is happening throughout the Midwest as community leaders plan and design for a ‘'quality of life' place to live and stay,"” said Pattsi Petrie, the event's coordinator.

A complete program, with times and locations of events, as well as online registration and a fee schedule, is available on the Web at

The annual institute draws presenters and participants from the academic, government and public service sectors. And while presentations and discussions are geared toward these audiences, Petrie said sessions also may be of interest to community activists, citizen-planners and other members of the public.

Certain sessions will have a decidedly local focus.

“"Some of the topics at this year's institute were selected to “"interweave with the project ‘'big.small.all.champaign county' and the 2,222 issues identified by the various focus groups,"” Petrie said. Launched last year, “big.small.all.champaign county” is a community visioning project designed to engage citizens, companies and organizations in a conversation about the county's future.

Among the planning institute's featured speakers:

• Gary Hack, AICP (American Institute of Certified Planners), Paley Professor of City and Regional Planning and Dean of the School of Design, University of Pennsylvania. Hack will give the Louis B. Wetmore Planning Practice Lecture, billed as a "pre-institute"” talk at 6 p.m. March 1 in the Plym Auditorium, Temple Buell Hall, 611 Taft Drive, Champaign. His talk, free and open to the public, will focus on “Linking Theory and Practice in Urban Design.”

The Wetmore lecture is named in honor of emeritus professor Louis B. Wetmore, who in the 1950s and ’'60s headed what was then known as the department of city planning and landscape architecture at Illinois.

• Greg LeRoy, executive director, Good Jobs First, a national policy resource center that promotes corporate and government accountability in economic development and smart growth for working families. LeRoy will give the institute’s opening lecture, following welcoming remarks and introductions at 8:30 a.m. on March 2 by Christopher Silver, head of the department of urban and regional planning, and Robert Graves, interim dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts. LeRoy will base his talk on his book “The Great American Jobs Scam: Corporate Tax Dodging and the Myth of Job Creation.”

• Michael Pyatok, FAIA (Fellow in the American Institute of Architects), Pyatok Architects, Inc., Oakland, Calif.; professor of architecture and executive director of the Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family, Arizona State University, Tempe; and professor of architecture, University of Washington, Seattle. Pyatok will present the School of Architecture’s Max Abramovitz Distinguished Lecture at 6 p.m. in Temple Buell Hall’s Plym Auditorium. He’ll focus his remarks on “Good Design: Affordable Housing.”

• Macon Cowles, attorney, Macon Cowles & Associates, Boulder, Colo., and chair of the City of Boulder Planning Commission. His talk is titled “From Aristotle to Pattern Language: Planning Our Communities.

Co-sponsors of the planning institute include the university's Center for Advanced Study, Environmental Council, and Lorado Taft Lectureship on Art; U. of I. at Chicago; Illinois chapters of the American Planning Association and the American Association of Landscape Architects; Office of the Illinois Lieutenant Governor; Champaign County Development Foundation; Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District; and cities of Urbana and Champaign.

For more information about the institute, contact Petrie at 217-244-7424 or