From Illinois Tech Magazine: Equity By Design

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By Linsey Maughan

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Metra train tracks run at ground level through the Chicago South Side neighborhood of South Shore, where Dawveed Scully (ARCH ’10) spent his early years. An urban designer and associate director at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), and an adjunct instructor in architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology, the 36-year-old Scully recalls the boundary that the tracks created at 71st Street and Ridgeland Avenue, and within the realm of his childhood, a dividing line he opted not to cross.

“Urban spaces contribute to both physical and perceived boundaries,” Scully says. “There is a sense of barriers and thresholds and places that you don’t go due to infrastructure. Going to the other side of 71st Street is something that I barely remember doing. Those physical infrastructure barriers really sort of frame a territory, especially when you’re small and you have these big double-decker trains. I just remember being like, ‘I’m not going over there.’”

It would be some time before Scully understood how practices like redlining—a term that describes discrimination in housing for certain areas that are considered to be poor economic risks—shaped the planning and development of neighborhoods like South Shore.

“These barriers and spaces that I knew as normal, [I later] learned that they were designed conditions and policies,” he says. “[I came to understand] the role of design and planning in creating those places. A key thing that drives me as a designer is reimagining what these places could be by addressing historic inequities and barriers—imagining what a place can be if we amplified communities through design and made more just and equitable places.”

Read more on the Illinois Tech Magazine website

Photo: Dawveed Scully (David Ettinger)

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