Sometimes the lack of imagination of our architectural planners and critics astounds me. I was surprised when the Oak Park side of Lake and Harlem was redeveloped that it did not mirror the River Forest Town Center. That would have presented a cohesive look. When it didn't, I was surprised that they hadn't considered the Tudor style of the buildings on Westgate.
Now, with the latest talk of the "superblock," everything is being declared a local treasure worthy of saving at any cost. One thing that the folks at Disney's Epcot Center have taught us is that we can build things today that look just like the original. Even Maggiano's in Oak Brook was able to replicate the old storefronts of an Italian neighborhood. Look to European cities bombed during WWII and you can see true-to-detail reproductions.
I think that would be OK on the "superblock." Replicate all of the Tudor designs or terra cotta carvings we want; throw in a Prairie design if you want. Creating new buildings would also attract business that can have the spaces built out as they need them instead of having to work around old interior spaces.
The biggest benefit of replacing these old buildings with new spaces is that they would probably be much more ecologically friendly?#34;no lead paint, better insulated, more energy efficient, and handicap accessible. Oak Park is not a box. We need to be imaginative and think beyond it.