Suhail al Chalabi Rest in Peace

We are very sorry about Suhail al Chalabi. He was an outstanding man and a credit to city planning. Our prayers for Suhail and Margery and their families.


Urban planner and consultant Suhail al Chalabi was a master at analyzing the economic impact of developments, from high-profile proposals like those for a south suburban airport and the Illiana Expressway to more mundane and less visible infrastructure initiatives.

"He was an expert in economics and population and those kinds of things," Ed Paesel said. Paesel met Mr. al Chalabi in the mid-1980s when Paesel was mayor of Sauk Village and Mr. al Chalabi was a consultant to Illinois for a third airport proposed for a site near Peotone.

Paesel, now executive director of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, said one study Mr. al Chalabi and his group produced in the late 1980s looked at what the south suburbs needed to do for economic revival.

"He laid out some steps we needed to do," Paesel said. "Many of the recommendations we've begun to implement. He laid out a path for us to follow."

Mr. al Chalabi, 74, died of a rare form of leukemia Wednesday, Feb. 4, in the Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University in Chicago, according to his wife, Margery. He was a resident of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Mr. al Chalabi was born and grew up in Baghdad in a large and prominent family. By scoring well on national examinations, he earned acceptance and a scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in architecture.

He went from there to Athens, Greece, to study urban planning and regional economics at the Athens Technological Institute, receiving a master's in 1965, according to his wife who was also a student there. The couple married in 1965.

The couple soon came to Chicago, where Mr. al Chalabi joined the urban planning department of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. From there he moved to what was then the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, now part of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

As research director at CMAP, he supervised socioeconomic, demographic and land use studies and developed a model for forecasting the social and economic impact of major infrastructure projects.

He then went to work for the Chicago Area Transportation Study, also now part of CMAP, where he worked on long-range regional transportation issues.

In 1980, he was recruited to work in the administration of Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne, where he eventually became deputy commissioner of development and planning and commissioner of economic development, according to his wife. She also worked in the Byrne administration, on a comprehensive plan for the city called "Chicago 1992."

At the end of the Byrne administration, Mr. al Chalabi and his wife formed their own consulting firm, The al Chalabi Group Ltd.

Kermit Wies of CMAP said he worked with Mr. al Chalabi on a number of large-scale planning projects including household and employment forecasts.

"The niche here is — for planning purposes — those forecasts have to be combined with land use impacts, where on the map households and jobs are going to come," said Wies, deputy executive director for research and analysis.

That was especially important in areas around the sites of proposed large projects, like Peotone.

"He was quite expert in taking those forecasts and moving them down to a very small geographic area and making a map of future growth patterns to help people understand where growth will or won't occur in response to these large projects," Wies said.

Margery al Chalabi said her husband loved the Chicago region and always viewed its potential though the eyes of knowledge and creativity.

Mr. al Chalabi is also survived by sisters Dr. Ayser Hamoudi and Lina agha Jaffar and brother Dr. Jamil al Chalabi.

A celebration of his life is being planned.



  1. Suhail al Chalabi, urban planner who helped city, suburbs ...

    www.chicagotribune.com/.../ct-suhail-al-chalbi-obituary...

    Chicago Tribune
    Feb 6, 2015 - Suhail al Chalabi was a urban planner in the Chicago area who looked at the economic impact of development


  2. Suhail al Chalabi Obituary - Chicago, IL | Chicago Sun-Times

    legacy.suntimes.com/obituaries/.../obituary.aspx?pid...

    Chicago Sun‑Times
    Feb 8, 2015 - al Chalabi, Suhail A.J. (1940 - 2015) Suhail al Chalabi loved the Chicago Region. Like most architects, he appreciated structures by architects ...
  3. Contact Us - The al Chalabi Group, Ltd.

    www.al-chalabi.com/contact.html

    Margery al Chalabi President. Suhail al Chalabi Vice President, CIO. The al Chalabi Group, Ltd. 330 West Diversey Parkway Suite 1403. Chicago, Illinois 60657.
  4. Suhail al Chalabi Condolences | Chicago Sun-Times

    www.legacy.com/guestbooks/.../suhail...al-chalabi.../174090...

    Legacy.com
    Feb 14, 2015 - Guest Book for Suhail al Chalabi of Chicago, IL. Share your condolences, send flowers, find funeral home information. Guestbook provided by ...