Design for Life

Creates healthy, beautiful, ecological landscapes
Connects Communities with nature
Catalyzes life in your neighborhood

Terry Guen Design Associates’ (TGDA) Design for Life approach transforms underused public spaces into cultural, ecological, and socially vibrant places. Through our company ethic, TGDA designs for the environmental, economic, and social health and well-being of communities. TGDA’s built work creates natural beauty and activity, engages people in all seasons, and connects neighborhoods with the ecological processes of nature. These thoughtfully designed, visually distinct, multipurpose places function for individuals, small groups, and large crowds. TGDA designs are inspired by nature to create places that are comfortable and engaging; places that promote health and happiness, which people return to again and again.

The Design for Life approach contributes to the sustainable stewardship of our environment, communities, and their resources. Design for Life nurtures a community’s civic identity by activating places and fostering programs that improve environmental education. Design for Life enhances public health benefits, an outcome that continues to be associated with the availability of public green space. With nearly two decades of constructed projects, TGDA’s award-winning portfolio has proven that large and small-scale green urban projects are important and reliable catalysts for economic, social, and environmental benefits in local neighborhoods, cities, and regions.

Design for Life is dedicated to prior and current TGDA staff, the visionaries and makers who have jointly and diligently contributed to creating this ethic of practice and its success, and to the future TGDA staff who will enable this aspiration moving forward. Using Design for Life, TGDA seeks to continue as an innovative resource, providing excellent design services for the benefit of local neighborhoods, cities and regions.

Albany Park Library is one project that reveals Design for Life benefits. This Chicago Pubic Library branch, completed in 2014 is one of the most visited community libraries of 80 total in the system. The exterior reading garden, in addition to being the visual focus of the main floor, is home to 20 types of native plants adaptable to the area. The site and green roof captures and mitigates 830,000 gallons of stormwater annually. This place of reflection, relaxation and reported incidental nature play, serves the community, students, and families. (Center for Neighborhood Technology and American Rivers. “The Value of Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Recognizing Its Economic, Environmental, and Social Benefits.” 2010.)

Millennium Park is TGDA’s exemplary Design for Life project that has demonstrated proven economic, social, and environmental benefits to Chicago residents and visitors. When completed in 2004 the $480 million shared public/private cost raised local political alarms. Now acclaimed as a model of civic success and recognized worldwide, Millennium Park is conservatively projected to deliver over $6 billion of tax, employment, environmental, and cultural benefits in its first ten years, including jobs, tourism, civic amenities, increased safety, and public health benefits. (Uhlir, Edward K. “The Millennium Park Effect.” Economic Development Journal Spring 2005. Print.)

Design for Life at the regional watershed scale is highlighted in TGDA’s Heritage Park project in Wheeling, Illinois. Where a single use recreational park was converted into a multi-functional site that provides recreation and park amenities to the community as well as a large scale flood relief stormwater management features, such as water absorbing natural areas, an expanded retention lake, and new retention basins designed to capture water during storm events and relieve flood mitigation structures downstream. This effort was a component of the larger Levee 37 project, implemented by the Army Corps of Engineers, Lake and Cook County municipalities, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. The park utilizes open green space to collect and store stormwater draining from the Buffalo Creek Watershed which is part of the larger Des Plaines River watershed. These open spaces provide a compensatory storage facility that fills a 600 foot storage gap, relieving the levee structure downstream in Mount Prospect. The Heritage Park site provides six stormwater storage basins with a total capacity of 49 million gallons integrated into the new park with recreational amenities. (Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Public Affairs. U.S. Senator Durbin, Officials Inspect Heritage Park Flood Control Facility Construction Site. Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, 23 Oct. 2012. Web. 1 Apr. 2016.)

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