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Chicago’s new transportation commissioner comes from architecture firm Studio Gang

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After a six month search, the city approved the appointment of Gia Biagi

A view of the elevated train tracks and a CTA car running between buildings.
The L train downtown.
Shutterstock

When Mayor Lightfoot was elected, she swiftly appointed commissioners for housing and city planning. The search for a new leader of the transportation department ended in December when the mayor announced Gia Biagi’s appointment. Now, fully approved by City Council on Wednesday, Biagi will take charge.

Biagi comes from Studio Gang, the award-winning architecture firm led by Jeanne Gang. Earlier this year, the firm’s design for the massive O’Hare International Airport expansion won the city’s competition. The firm has designed projects that run the gamut from the luxury Vista Tower skyscraper to Park District boathouses.

Before leading Studio Gang’s Urbanism and Civic Impact division, Biagi worked at the Chicago Park District for 11 years.

“Gia’s expertise and years of on-the-ground experience make her the ideal choice to lead our ambitious agenda for CDOT through the coming decade,” said the mayor in a statement.

Biagi will be responsible for building a strategy that’s in line with Lightfoot’s vision for accessible and affordable transportation across every neighborhood. A few of the biggest tasks will include analyzing the downtown congestion, implementing the city’s Bus Priority Zone program, overseeing Vision Zero, and executing the Divvy bike expansion.

A recent report published by the Metropolitan Planning Council, issued 32 recommendations that would improve transportation for people with disabilities. Equity is high on the mayor’s agenda, so that will likely be a priority for CDOT and Biagi this year.

“I am proud that Gia has answered the call to return to public service. It is always rewarding to see the members of our team harness the skills they have cultivated in the studio to effect positive change in the world,” said Jeanne Gang, founding principal of Studio Gang in a statement. “Gia has been a critical partner in maturing the Studio’s unique approach to our urban scale work that emphasizes mutuality and equity.”

Biagi will also be expected to work in partnership with the Department of Housing and the Department of Planning and Development ensuring that transportation aligns with city initiatives to improve affordable housing and the revitalization of neighborhoods.