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Imagine Austin Speaker Series: Why Parks Matter and How Cities Can Benefit
May 25, 2016 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Urban parks play a vital role in cities as a critical part of civic infrastructure that promotes community engagement, improves health outcomes, drives economic development, and contributes to more resilient, safe, and sustainable communities. With strategic investments in their park and recreation systems, cities can achieve measurable social, economic, and public health benefits, especially when those investments are aligned with other system-wide planning efforts and partnership opportunities. Hear from urban planner/designer and park expert Gia Biagi, former Chief of Staff for the Chicago Park District, who will share insights on why parks matter as a strategic priority and how to leverage parks to meet the needs of the city as a whole.
Our featured speaker, Gia Biagi, is Senior Director for Urbanism + Civic Impact at Studio Gang, an architecture and urban design collective located in Chicago and New York. A strategic thinker who connects ideas with action, Gia is widely regarded as a thought leader in the preservation, enhancement, and expansion of urban public space. At Studio Gang, she leads design teams, coordinates master plans, facilitates stakeholder engagement, and guides the urban approach for projects such as Polis Station, which proposed how to use design to improve relationships between police and the communities they serve and Edge Effect, which reimagined Milwaukee’s industrial harbor as an estuarine condition that balances commercial, residential, and open space development. Previous to Studio Gang, Gia spent more than a decade working for the City of Chicago, including as Director of Planning and Development and later as Chief of Staff for the Chicago Park District where she led multi-year planning, design, and engagement activities that produced signature civic projects like Maggie Daley Park, Northerly Island, and The 606/Bloomingdale Trail, as well as the Park District’s first Strategic Plan in nearly twenty years. Gia serves as President of NeighborSpace, a non-profit land trust that provides long-term protection and community-based management to over 100 urban gardens across Chicago, and is a former board member of the City Parks Alliance. She is a member of the Urban Land Institute and Lambda Alpha, an honorary society for the study of land economics. She lives in Chicago with her husband Travis and two sons, Max and Enzo.