Washington, D.C. – Houseal Lavigne Associates, an urban planning and community development consulting firm based in Chicago, will receive the 2014 National Planning Excellence Award for an Emerging Planning & Design Firm from the American Planning Association. The Emerging Planning & Design Firm award honors a young planning and design firm that has helped elevate the planning profession and build public support for planning, and through its current work, demonstrates the potential of having a continual influence on the planning profession for years to come.
Founded in 2004, Houseal Lavigne Associates has had tremendous success with its fresh approach to citizen outreach, helping to make planning more engaging and thereby garnering maximum support for and among the communities with which they work.
“Houseal Lavigne’s team of innovative thinkers is breaking down the barriers between planners and community residents, welcoming the public and giving them easy access to the planning process,” said Ann C. Bagley, FAICP, 2014 APA Awards Jury chair. “Although the firm is young, it has had a tremendous impact on the profession of planning, adding value and expanding traditional notions of communication in planning and development practice.”
The firm develops plans that are:
- Technologically integrated: Applying emerging technologies such as sMap, a map-based outreach tool, to improve the planning process and allow for more effective recommendations.
- Visually engaging: The firm develops all of its design in-house and creates highly illustrative and graphically compelling documents that serve to better communicate planning concepts.
- Inclusionary outreach methods: The firm seeks to keep communities informed and provides transparency in the planning process. In almost every project, the firm creates a free website that helps to educate residents about ongoing projects.
“We strive to create stewardship by effectively engaging communities at all levels,” said John Houseal, Houseal Lavigne principal and cofounder. “We have worked with more than 200 communities across 13 states, having helped some of the nation’s most economically devastated communities as well as some of the most affluent.”
Since the firm was founded, its planners have been active in sharing their knowledge and furthering the profession of planning. By sponsoring, attending and presenting at conferences, training future certified planners, jurying student work, and leading mobile workshops, they have developed a distinctive and distinguished body of work.
The firm’s work has been recognized with multiple planning awards, including ten American Planning Association chapter awards in the last six years, downtown and commercial area planning awards from DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development (2008, 2012), the Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce (GOBCC) Commercial Revitalization Award (2009), American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois (ACEC IL) Studies and Research Award (2012), and the Kane County Plan of the Year Award (2013). “From the very beginning, we have prioritized creativity and implementation,” said Devin Lavigne, Houseal Lavigne principal and cofounder. “These foundations are instilled into everything we do.”
The Emerging Planning & Design Firm Award will be presented at APA’s National Planning Conference in Atlanta during a special luncheon on Tuesday, April 29, 2014. The firm also will be profiled in an issue of Planning magazine, APA’s flagship publication.
For a list of all of the APA 2014 National Planning Excellence and Achievement Award recipients, visit www.planning.org/awards/2014. APA’s national awards program, the profession’s highest honor, is a proud tradition established more than 50 years ago to recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts, and individuals for their leadership on planning issues.
The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning — physical, economic and social — so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Ill. For more information, visit www.planning.org.
The City of St. Charles straddles the picturesque Fox River 40 miles west of the City of Chicago. It is a community with a rich history, an engaged citizenry, historic architecture, and strong sense of community pride. Since being settled in the early 19th century, St. Charles has gone from the camp of just a few Pottawatomie Indians, to an industrial and manufacturing center, and finally to a nationally recognized, family-oriented community.
In 1950, the population of St. Charles was only 6,709. Today, St. Charles boasts 32,974 citizens. People visit St. Charles for the weekend and then return for good. After searching the country for perfect places to call “home”, Family Circle placed St. Charles at the tope of its list of “Best Towns and Cities for families.” Click Here for the Article.
In 2012 the City hired Houseal Lavigne Associates to assist the community with an update to its Comprehensive Plan to uphold this mission statement – Preserve our heritage, foster opportunity, build community, and enhance quality of life for all.
The City’s previous Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 1996 and with major changes in the community, including significant redevelopment within the downtown, the adoption of an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance (2008) and an updated Zoning Ordinance (2006), an updated Comprehensive Plan was a priority.
The City’s new award-winning Comprehensive Plan sets a course to guide land use decision making for the next twenty years, ensuring that St. Charles continues to improve upon its legacy with an eye toward the future. The Comprehensive Plan provides more robust guidance for future development. Historically, St. Charles has experienced much of its growth through annexation. The City recognizes that this type of growth becomes less possible as the City matures, and that new forms of economic growth must be pursued. This plan provides guidance on these issues, as well as improved information on character and quality, including considerations for neo-traditional neighborhoods and vertically mixed land-uses.