The Blog

International Students Are U.S. Business’ Best Hope For Growth

International Students Are U.S. Business’ Best Hope For Growth

by Steve Tobocman, Global Detroit // 

This week, as Donald Trump doubles down on anti-immigrant political rhetoric, hundreds of thousands of international students will say goodbye to the U.S. to return, degrees in hand, to their home countries. Far from being a drain on the American economy or threat to U.S. jobs, these talented graduates—disproportionately armed with graduate STEM degrees—could fill a very real need for companies that want to grow and create more jobs.

Ramsoft Systems, a Detroit-based information technology (IT) solutions firm with over 400 employees, is the archetype for America’s economic future. The company hires as many as 100 entry-level workers each year from local Michigan universities, seeking out highly-skilled IT, computer science, engineering, business, and other STEM graduates to retain its competitive edge serving clients like BMW, Hewlett Packard, Miller Brewing Company, and Northrop, among others.

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Seven Planning Principles for Successful Community Design

Seven Planning Principles for Successful Community Design

By: Jack Bialosky, Jr., AIA, LEED AP   |   @bialosky_arch

Bialosky ClevelandWe asked Jack Bialosky, Jr., AIA, LEED AP, Senior Principal of Bialosky Cleveland to discuss the Seven Planning Principles his firm uses for successful community design. Want to dig deeper? Join us on Wednesday, July 20 at 2 p.m. EST for a free webinar featuring Jack and his colleague David W. Craun, AIA, LEED AP. Principal and Director of Design at Bialosky Cleveland.


Bialosky Cleveland follows seven basic planning principles for community design that we believe apply to all types and all sizes of our projects – from residential to institutional – interior to urban planning. These principles, we believe, help stage a safe pedestrian environment that encourages community interaction and create the sense of place that so many spaces are missing.

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Planning Principle #1: The Grid

Planning Principle #1: The Grid

By: Jack Bialosky, Jr., AIA, LEED AP   |   @bialosky_arch

We have heard much in recent years about New Urbanism and Traditional Town Planning. On the one hand is nostalgia for what is called Main Street America; that is a well-scaled pedestrian friendly environment with human scaled storefronts and defined architectural character. On the other hand there is an aversion to so called big box retail developments and suburban sprawl- that is relatively unplanned hodge-podge developments with no consistent architectural character or sense of place. If these themes sound familiar, how can we design for the former and avoid the latter?

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Planning Principle # 2: Small Blocks

Planning Principle # 2: Small Blocks

By: Jack Bialosky, Jr., AIA, LEED AP   |   @bialosky_arch

Over the last 60 years, the biggest impediments to human scaled urban environments and a sense of place have been the preeminence of the automobile, with a need for vast areas of parking, and large blocks with uninterrupted expanses of blank walls. With the return to the concepts of Traditional Neighborhood Design the automobile is no longer preeminent and pedestrian environments seek to prevail. The second in our series of 7 Planning Principles for Community Design addresses block size. Once the network of streets and pathways is established, how is it best to define the size and scale of the individual blocks?

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Planning Principle #3: No Backs

Planning Principle #3: No Backs

By: Jack Bialosky, Jr., AIA, LEED AP   |   @bialosky_arch

We’ve been discussing optimal approaches to planning for pedestrian friendly people places. Once our network of pathways and roads has been created and we have established a reasonable block size, we’ve made it easy for people to traverse and permeate all sides of a town plan. We quickly come to understand how to make it much easier to navigate our town to get to work, to get home, and to patronize and service our businesses even in a dense urban environment. We have also created the opportunity and the necessity to treat all sides of the buildings appropriately and to activate them. While we can’t say that all sides are “fronts”, we can say that there are no “backs”, bringing us to our third organizing principle.

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Planning Principle #4: On Foot

Planning Principle #4: On Foot

By: Jack Bialosky, Jr., AIA, LEED AP   |   @bialosky_arch

One of the goals of great community design is to put the car in its place and to get people on their feet as soon as possible. This means that we have to design the pedestrian experience from door to door. In doing so, we can maintain the importance of interaction on public sidewalks and allow for chance encounters. The antithesis of this idea is the creation of hermetically sealed passageways and gerbil-tube links which might protect us from the weather but severely limits community interaction. It’s OK to be out in the weather!

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Planning Principle #5: To Dwell

Planning Principle #5: To Dwell

By: Jack Bialosky, Jr., AIA, LEED AP   |   @bialosky_arch

In order to really focus on pedestrianism, along with a hierarchy of pathways, shorter blocks, and activated facades, is a desire to make a sense of place. One of the best ways to design safe and comfortable walkable environments is to stop thinking of sidewalks and corridors only as places to pass through on the way to somewhere else and to begin to think of them as places to inhabit and to linger. To do this, it is often helpful to think of the street section as a series of outdoor rooms.

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Planning Principle #6: Mixed Up

Planning Principle #6: Mixed Up

By: Jack Bialosky, Jr., AIA, LEED AP   |   @bialosky_arch

Many people hold an idealized view of Main Street America with the flats over shops and small sized blocks of the turn of twentieth century. The advent of the automobile and unfettered urban growth with increased densities in the next half of the century engendered the need for zoning regulations to separate uses deemed to be noxious, to deal with light, sound, and pollution and to keep the peace. As is often the case, the pendulum must swing from extreme to extreme before finding its way back to the center. Successful (urban) Community Design seeks to find a middle ground with increased density and mixed uses.

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Planning Principle #7: Simplify

By: Jack Bialosky, Jr., AIA, LEED AP   |   @bialosky_arch

Our goal is to provide a vibrant and safe pedestrian environment that encourages community interaction and helps to create a sense of place. In looking at organizing principles, we have learned that there are many layers that underlie a successful community design. Undoubtedly there will be conflicting interests in reconciling all the design factors, and it would be easy to lose the forest for the trees, so this brings us to our 7th principle:

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