Fall 2014 Graduate Urban Design Studio
LaFox, Illinois is a small hamlet located west of Chicago in Kane County, between Elburn to the west and Geneva to the east. The student proposal for LaFox envisions a town of 25-35,000 residents occupying 1240 acres (1.9375 square miles) in mostly two-story buildings, organized around an existing commuter rail station and three existing roads. Wastewater is treated locally and passively, and returned to the ground (and to local aquifers) as pure water; and an innovative county-wide Land Value Tax program is proposed in tandem with a regional plan and localized form-based codes, both to promote local development and entrepreneurial activity and to help preserve open land. (For a conjectural fiction of Kane County’s tax and land use reforms, see “Hunting LaFox.”) Last but not least, LaFox illustrates the possibilities of low-rise density: a mid-level build-out for just the town as designed would comfortably accommodate a population of 15,000 people per square mile gross (greater than Chicago’s 12,000 / square mile gross) in mostly detached buildings rarely taller than two-stories; on only 58% of LaFox’s total land area; in a rural landscape connected by road and rail to all of metropolitan Chicago.