Posts tagged with "Chicago Architecture Foundation":

Placeholder Alt Text

National Endowment for the Humanities awards $29 million to preservation, virtual reality projects

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) recently announced $29 million in awards for 215 projects across the country relating to all things humanities, from education programs to cultural preservation, film, exhibitions, virtual reality, and architecture.  Some highlights of the grant recipients include the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which received $50,000 for storage improvements for its collections housed at Taliesin West; the Chicago Architecture Foundation, which received $170,000 for k-12 workshops on the development of the skyscraper; and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, which received $10,000 for saving the School of Architecture design project archives. Lawrence Technological University was awarded $7,000 for improving the storage environment in its Albert Kahn library collection while the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, got $9,938 for a rare books assessment including influential texts on the history of architecture, aesthetic theory, and visual representation in European art. Old Sturbridge Village, a living museum located in Massachusetts, received $9,794 for the preservation assessment of various structures. “NEH grants help strengthen and sustain American cultural life in communities, at museums, libraries, and historic sites, and in classrooms,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “As the nation prepares to commemorate its 250th anniversary in 2026, NEH is proud to help lay the foundations for public engagement with America’s past by funding projects that safeguard cultural heritage and advance our understanding of the events, ideas, and people that have shaped our nation. The NEH awarded these peer-reviewed grants in addition to $48 million in annual operating support that goes to the national network of state and territorial humanities councils during the fiscal year. The organization also gave grants to cultural projects South by Somewhere, a television series created in Durham, N.C., on the foodways, history, and culture of the American South, as well as to Louisiana State University and A&M College in Baton Rouge for the development of a VESPACE (Virtually Early-Modern Spectacles and Publics, Active and Collaborative Environment) project on the fair theatre in 18th-century Paris. In addition, the NEH engaged in a $1 million partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to support the preservation of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Placeholder Alt Text

Chicago Architecture Foundation reveals its new home

On August 31, the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) gets a new home and a new name. The new Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) will make its debut once the space at 111 East Wacker, also known as One Illinois Center, opens to the public, a 25-year change from the organization's previous location in the 1904 Railway Exchange Building, designed by D.H. Burnham & Company. The new location gives CAF more symbolic and physical visibility from the commerce of North Michigan Avenue, as well as proximity to the dock for CAF’s popular river cruise highlighting the city's riverfront architecture. The 20,000-square-foot CAF space will be housed inside a 1970 structure designed by The Office of Mies van der Rohe. Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) is at the helm of the design for a series of custom spaces for tour orientation, public programs and education, as well as nearly 10,000 square feet of exhibit space. AS+GG is working in partnership with museum design firm Gallagher & Associates. The new exhibits will be located on two floors.  On the first floor, the popular Chicago Model will be expanded from 1,300 to 3,000 buildings, with an interactive light show to assist visitors in understanding Chicago’s growth as a frontier outpost and its rebirth after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, as well as highlighting neighborhoods and significant architects across time. The second floor will be the home of the Skyscraper Gallery, featuring the Building Tall exhibit, to be filled with supersized models of skyscrapers around the world, including the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, the world’s tallest building slated for completion in 2020. Established in 1966, the CAF began as an advocacy organization to save the threatened 1887 John J. Glessner House, the only H.H. Richardson building in Chicago. Over time, the CAF pivoted from advocacy to education, offering lectures and architectural tours, as well as running Open House Chicago, an annual architecture festival that provides the public with free access to both iconic landmarks and unique neighborhood treasures.  
Placeholder Alt Text

Chicago Architecture Foundation is raising funds for its new center

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) has just launched a $10 million campaign to pay for its new architecture center, which will be located inside Mies van der Rohe's One Illinois Center. Hometown firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture is designing the space, which should open this summer. The 20,000-square-foot project, steps from the Chicago River at 111 East Wacker Drive, will host lectures, educational programming, and other events for industry professionals and visitors alike. Most notably, the renovations will increase the CAF's exhibition space from 1,600 to nearly 10,000 square feet.

“Chicago’s civic, cultural and business leaders have responded to our plan for the Chicago Architecture Center with a vote of confidence,” said Lynn Osmond, CAF’s president and CEO, in a press release. “They recognize that Chicago is synonymous with architectural innovation and with their generosity, that innovation and Chicago’s place in architectural history will have a permanent home.”

Currently, the CAF occupies the Railway Exchange Building, a Beaux Arts commercial building in the Loop by D.H. Burnham. Turner Construction, developer Related Midwest, and steel and mining company ArcelorMittal are some of the major non-family donors supporting the project. As of earlier this month, the CAF is 60 percent of the way towards its $10 million fundraising goal. Of those dollars, $8 million will go towards the facility and its exhibits, and $2 million is earmarked for education programs.  If you're willing to fork over a quarter-million-plus, the CAF says there are plenty of naming opportunities still available.
Placeholder Alt Text

Fifty firms imagine 50 futures for Chicago's underused spaces

Running in conjunction with the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) has opened Between States, a show which brings together over 50 designers to imagine the future of the city’s 50 aldermanic wards. Between States is the second iteration of the CAF’s multi-year 50 Designers/50 Wards project. Last year’s show 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards asked 50 young design firms to design for the city’s wards, while Between States asked a number of more established firms to take on a similar challenge. Each of the firms was asked to address underutilized spaces in each one of their respective wards, as well as reference another project outside of the city in their design. The title of the show, Between States, is a play on this two-part brief, referring to the changing condition of the sites as well as the importing of references from other places. Firms were also asked to work with the community to assess needs and opportunities in the neighborhood they were designing in. The show will run until January 7, 2018 in the CAF’s Atrium Gallery. The exhibition is curated by Martin Felsen, partner at Chicago-based UrbanLab. Invited firms include: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture AECOM ARUP Bailey Edward bKL Architecture Booth Hansen CannonDesign Cordogan, Clark & Associates Dirk Denison Architects eastlake studio Eckenhoff Saunders Architects Epstein Exp Farr Associates Forum Studio Future Firm Gensler Ghafari Associates Goettsch Partners Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture HBRA Architects HDR Holabird & Root JAHN Legat Architects Lothan Van Hook Destefano Architecture Metter|Studio / Morris Architects, Planners Sheehan Nagle Hartray Architects Pappageorge Haymes Partners Perkins + Will Global RADA Architects Searl Lamaster Howe Architects Site Design Group SmithGroup JJR SMNG A Solomon Cordwell Buenz SOM Space Architects + Planners Stantec STL Architects Terry Guen Design Associates Thornton Tomasetti Tom Brock Architect Valerio Dewalt Train Associates Vinci Hamp Architects Vladimir Radutny Architects von Weise Associates Weese Langley Weese Wight & Company, Lohan Studio Woodhouse Tinucci Architects Worn Jerabek Wiltse Architects
Placeholder Alt Text

Chicago Architecture Foundation announces new Chicago Architecture Center

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) is getting a new home. Currently located in the Daniel Burnham-designed Railway Exchange building on South Michigan Avenue, the institution's offices and exhibition space will soon be located in the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed 111 East Wacker building. With the move will come expanded exhibition space, lecture space, and new offices for the foundation’s 70 employees. Leading the interior design of what will be called the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) is Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG). The 20,000-square-foot center will include 9,000 square feet of exhibition space, to be designed by New York-based Local Projects. “Architecturally the building is a gem,” said Gordon Gill, founding partner of AS+GG in a press release. “The design will create a dynamic and elegant space for CAF that promotes patrons to fully engage in the influence Chicago has on global architecture. The large volume of space fronting the Chicago River also creates an inviting and interactive atmosphere for visitors.” The Chicago City Model Experience, currently located in the atrium of the Railway Exchange building, will be enhanced with interactive digital multimedia. Other permanent exhibitions include the Skyscraper Gallery and the City of Neighborhoods Gallery. Space will also be set aside for rotating galleries, and a new lecture hall will provide space for the CAF’s many public lectures. A new design studio space will be the heart of the foundation’s youth summer camps, and a Tour Orientation Center will be the starting point for its daily walking tours. The location of the new center also brings it closer to the docks of Chicago’s First Lady Cruises, the CAF’s river cruise boat. Hundreds of thousands of people either visit or take one of the CAF’s architecture tours every year. The new location along the river will bring the foundation much closer to the throngs of tourists walking along the “Magnificent Mile.” Chicago River’s shoreline has recently undergone major improvements, with the center being one more major attraction when completed in the summer of 2018.
Placeholder Alt Text

This graphic novel aims to shape Chicago’s next generation of city planners

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF)'s latest venture is an educational graphic novel about urban planning and its challenges. While the book—titled No Small Plans—raises questions that aren’t new, it serves as an introduction for its target audience, namely children in grades six to ten. It’s tough to write a book for young teenagers on issues like urban planning, civic engagement, and the socioeconomic factors that shape our cities today, but No Small Plans, armed with colorful drawings and references to modern day life, brings light to these topics. As part of its 50th-anniversary celebrations, the CAF published No Small Plans and modeled it after Wacker’s Manual, a 1911 textbook on Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan for Chicago. Wacker’s Manual was required reading for eighth graders in Chicago Public Schools for at least three decades and it aimed to engage children with Burnham’s grand, ‘City Beautiful’ vision for Chicago. No Small Plans, by Gabrielle Lyon and in partnership with Eyes of the Cat Illustration, has the same goal and will be taught in the city’s public school starting this year. It’s a reimagined Wacker’s Manual, in a 21st-century medium, to help young Chicagoans envision and build a city that they want now, and in the future. The graphic novel is split into three different time periods: the past (1928), present (2017), and future (2211). Each section follows different groups, all of whom are grappling with different issues such as racial discrimination, gentrification, affordable housing, zoning, and community engagement. It’s set in the Chicago we know today, featuring sites like the Chicago Theatre and the 606. It’s also a dive into what Chicago’s future could be. In the year 2211, the book depicts Chicago so fractured that virtual reality is the only means of connecting people between different neighborhoods. The lack of “real facing” (i.e. actual human interaction) has led to a disconnect between what residents need and what big-time developers plan for the city. The book is an attempt to bridge the civic education gap: low-income students, students of color, and those not planning to attend college have fewer opportunities to engage with questions every young city resident should be thinking about, according to Lyon. “When young people have opportunities to consider questions like the ones the characters wrestle with in No Small Plans, it makes a difference,” Lyon said in a press release. The book’s success on Kickstarter—raising more than double of its $20,000 goal—is an indication that the questions of what makes a city livable and how to foster civic identity are ones that Chicagoans both old and young are interested in. Thirty thousand free copies will be distributed over the next three years. No Small Plans is available to purchase through CAF's website.
Placeholder Alt Text

Chicago Architecture Foundation names new Board of Trustees members

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) has announced the appointment of eight new members to its Board of Trustees. The new members are made up of high-ranking executives of the architecture, development, design, and cultural communities. The CAF Board of Trustees is charged with guiding and advising the nonprofit organization as it continues to expand. The new trustees include: Ramón (Ray) Cepeda, senior vice president and senior managing director, Northern Trust Corporation Brian Lee, design partner, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP Anthony LoBello, principal, SmithGroup JJR and past president of the board of directors, AIA Chicago Robin Loewenberg Tebbe, chief marketing officer, Magellan Development Group Jenny Niemann, president/CEO and owner of Forward Space Lee Pollock, trustee and advisor to the board, The International Churchill Society Constance Rajala, CAF docent council president Theodore (Ted) Yi, partner, Quarles & Brady, LLP “CAF is pleased to welcome these eight individuals, each a leader in their own fields,” said CAF President and CEO Lynn Osmond in a press release. “Their expertise will provide CAF, the world’s largest public architecture organization, with the counsel we require as we undertake an expansion that will take CAF, and the city of Chicago, through our next fifty years.” CAF is in the process of expanding its public programming in its 51st year. Programs include tours programs, exhibitions, field trips, and online resources for the public to better appreciate architecture. Notably, the CAF runs Open House Chicago and the extremely popular Architecture River Cruise through the city’s downtown on the Chicago River.
Placeholder Alt Text

Chicago Architecture Club announces 2016 Chicago Prize winners

The Chicago Architecture Club (CAC) has just announced the winners of the 2016 Chicago Prize. This year’s competition, entitled "On the Edge," asked entrants to envision the future of Chicago’s Lakefront. Along with the winners, a group of shortlisted submissions will go on display at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The top prize went to the Kwong Von Glinow Design Office for its entry Grand Lattices. The proposal calls for a series of steel-frame structures in the median of Lake Shore Drive. The structures are integrated into the current tunnels that connect the city to the lakefront under the road, enticing pedestrians to stop and climb into a space that is normally relegated completely to automobiles. Aerial Greenway by Tulio Polisi and Michael Graceffa, which received an Honorable Mention, proposes to connect some of the city’s most popular pedestrian areas to the lakefront through a system of winding elevated footbridges. The project extends the Chicago Riverwalk and Upper Wacker Drive over Lake Shore Drive to the Lakefront Trail. Another Honorable Mention by Loren Johnson is entitled Open Source (OS) Edge Network. Perhaps the most dramatic of the three, the Edge Network pushes Lake Shore Drive out into Lake Michigan and fills the space between the road and land with a grid of vertical piers. The piers come in multiple forms, including one to capture kinetic energy, one that provides habitat for wildlife, and a third type that is dedicated to recreation.
Placeholder Alt Text

Chicago Architecture Foundation announces DiscoverDesign student competition winners

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) has announced the winners of the 2016 National DiscoverDesign Competition. The annual youth competition invites high school students from across the country to address a pressing social issue through architectural design. This year’s prompt asked participants to “identify a specific audience in need of affordable housing.” “Since its inception the National DiscoverDesign Competition has served as a catalyst for surfacing innovative ideas from students all across the country,” said Gabrielle Lyon, vice president of education and experience of CAF, in a press release. “The competition challenges youth to apply math and science skills, research and empathy to solve problems using the design process. The problems they solve are real ones—and the diversity of participants and solutions are a great reflection of the talent of young people from across America.” Five jurors chose 10 finalists from 150 entries representing 30 schools in 12 states. Two first place winners were awarded all-expense paid trips to Chicago and second and third place winners were awarded gift certificates to the CAF’s architectural gift shop. This year’s jurors included Maya Bird-Murphy of Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, Nancy Firfer, senior advisor at the Metropolitan Planning Council, Kerl Lejeune senior design manager for the Public Building Commission of Chicago, Adam Rosa, principal at Camiros, and Douglas A. Smith, managing principal at Perkins+Will. Students participating in the competition were asked to assemble entries that included renderings sketches, drawings, and models, along with short essays responding to the prompt. First place was awarded to Denilson Saavedra of Lindblom Math and Science Academy, Chicago, Illinois and Antonio Trejo of the Advanced Technologies Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada. The second place winner was Meejan Patal of the Atlanta International School, Atlanta, Georgia, and third place went to Andrew Shepherd of the Advanced Technologies Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada. Virtual tour of second place entry by Meejan Patal (Meesan Patal) DiscoverDesign is an online learning site that is focused on connecting teens interested in architecture to design professionals and educators. The site was recently redesigned to provide more resources to students and mentors, as well as host the annual high school competition.
Placeholder Alt Text

Chicago Architecture Foundation relaunches educational website

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) has relaunched its online project-based design education platform, The platform provides resources for students, teachers, and mentors to explore architecture and design. The website focuses on a series of challenges and competitions that address contemporary urban issues. From pocket parks to affordable housing, provides briefs and guidance for educators and students to complete designs while learning about pressing topics. “ is in many ways, the only learning tool of its kind. It is collaborative, interactive and offers a multitude of creative applications,” said Lynn Osmond, president and CEO of CAF, in a press release. “We know that the traditional learning model is evolving. Opportunities for young people to use technology, consider practical design solutions to the world around them and work with experienced professionals, is what will best prepare them for success in the future. With this reimagined website, educators are able to offer the dynamic learning experience that will give teens an advantage, and keep them engaged and inspired.” hopes to bring teens from around the world together to share and learn from professionals. The site bases its model on the National Education Association’s (NEA) “Four Cs”: Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity. The site is set up so educators can use its resources in the classroom and through online interaction. Online volunteer mentors can also interact with teens through feedback and comments on projects. The new version of the website allows for students to create and publish a design portfolio for review. As students complete challenges they are also able to earn digital “badges,” which highlight the new skills they gained during the design process. The CAF worked with Caxy Code Creative to realize the site’s new interface and look. Caxy took into account feedback from students, teachers, mentors, and previous participants in redesigning the site. Rosamund Lannin, project manager of Caxy Code Creative, explained the primary goals of the redesign: “We wanted the redesign to stay true to the core values of the site and the established style guide while creating a cleaner, more user-friendly platform.” The relaunch of the website coincides with the 2016 National DiscoverDesign Competition. This year’s competition asks participants to design an affordable housing prototype. Young designers are challenged to design for their local neighborhood or a location of their choice. The competition brief encourages them to use neighborhood and city data to inform their design decisions. Participants must produce a digital or physical model that will serve at least one family of four. You can visit the website here.
Placeholder Alt Text

Explore proposals from the CAF's 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards

In celebration of the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s 50th anniversary, the Foundation is hosting an exhibition titled 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards which features unique architectural and urban design proposals born for each of Chicago’s 50 wards. The exhibition is currently on display at the CAF Atrium Gallery. The wards should not to be mistaken for Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods; each ward is “a legislative district represented by a directly elected alderman and the aldermen comprise the city council,” as The Architect's Newspaper wrote back in May. (Read our interview with Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen of Chicago-based UrbanLab, who put together the exhibition.) In preparation for the exhibition, 50 different Chicago-based designers, artists, and architects analyzed all aspects of the city, including buildings, roadways, waterways, other infrastructure systems, and even vacant lots. From this, they each produced one unique proposal for each ward. The proposals are split into four categories: Gather, Reclaim, Dwell, and Activate. These categories address the themes of public space activation, economic activity stimulation, pop-up/temporary interventions, and quality of housing improvement, respectively. For example, Fiction Fort, in the Gather category and by Design With Company, is a small pavilion used to house a free public book exchange in the 19th Ward. The proposal notes that, “[t]he exterior ‘walls’ are fashioned from elements that resemble open books and small gabled houses,” facilitating a physical experience when exchanging books. The design echoes the Gothic style of Givins' Irish Castle (Beverly Unitarian Church), a prominent building within the ward. One Reclaim proposal is Food Infrastructure by JGMA. This proposal for the 22nd Ward addresses the problem of food waste in Chicago. The design calls for transformation of the Crawford Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant in the ward, into a biodigester that would harvest the methane gas of wasted food. Jurassic Studio’s proposal for the 30th Ward, Backyard Arcade, is a commercial and communal space in the Dwell category. The design transforms the backsides of residences into a “commercial arcade.” “The arcade is a covered passageway or street often lined with ground-floor shops and second-story offices or workrooms,” the proposal describes. In the Activate category is 606+, a design by RANGE Design & Architecture for the 26th Ward. While vague in its proposal, the design looks to adaptively reuse industrial buildings and spaces along The 606, a linear park that was created from an abandoned railroad. The proposal consists of “3 Acts”:  606+ ArtsFest, a public festival space; Bloomingdale Gallery, an art gallery; and Kimball Theater, a community performance area. A final proposal, uncategorized, is work of John Ronan Architects, a firm in the running for the Barack Obama Presidential Center library project (the winner is likely to be announced in June or July of this year). Their proposal for the 45th Ward aims to revamp the existing Jefferson Park into the Jefferson Park Exchange, adding “a new civic cultural center consisting of a community art center, library and market to leverage the area’s cultural diversity and create a lively place of exchange.” The exhibition was curated by Martin Felsen and Sarah Dunn, co-founders of the Chicago-based office UrbanLab, and Reed Kroloff, CAF’s Senior Advisor for Programs and Industry Collaboration, in addition to CAF. Read more about the exhibit here.
Placeholder Alt Text

UrbanLab explores the Windy City's unique urbanism with exhibit 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards

As part of the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s (CAF) 50th anniversary, Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen of Chicago-based UrbanLab put together an exhibition exploring visions for Chicago’s 50 aldermanic wards, titled 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards (opens May 24). Each ward, not to be mistaken for Chicago’s 77 designated neighborhoods, is a legislative district represented by a directly elected alderman. These 50 aldermen make up the city council. Unlike the neighborhoods, which usually represent a more distinct community, the wards have divided the city in such a way that a single ward often represent parts of as many as six neighborhoods. Often accredited to gerrymandering, it is not uncommon for an oddly shaped ward to span economically and culturally diverse areas. This is often cited as both a strength and a weakness of the system. In either case, the function of a ward is to give Chicago citizens a voice in city hall. The role of the alderman also directly affects architects and development, as the city council is often involved with the permitting process.

50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards explores the relationship between design, the city, and the welfare of the people of Chicago. AN spoke with Dunn and Felsen about what the public could expect to see and why it is important to explore the city through design. The exhibition will be open at the CAF through December and is free to the public.

The Architect’s Newspaper: Could you explain how the show came to be and what it is all about?

UrbanLab: In 2016, CAF will celebrate its 50th anniversary. CAF is taking this celebratory moment to look out across Chicago with pride and, in the tradition of the great architects who have helped give our city its remarkable form and shape, ask, “What more can be done to better our quality of life?” And one step further, “What role can design play in solving the city’s problems at both the local and citywide levels?” 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards asks and attempts to answer these questions in a first-ever, ward-by-ward exhibition of ideas for building a better Chicago.

Why was it decided to look at the 50 wards as opposed to looking at the more familiar neighborhoods, particular streets, or geographic regions of the city?

Wards are an artificial construct, devised to divide and semi-evenly distribute populations for political purposes. So, each ward has a “boss” who represents a large group of people that share a ward but sometimes live in very different neighborhoods and communities. As a result, each of the city’s 50 wards has its own distinctive qualities but also distinctive opportunities for design interventions that could contribute to a better future for its residents. Some design solutions are unique to a given ward and its various communities, but some can be shared across multiple wards, and some can even be applied to the entire city. We are eager to present each of the 50 projects to each of the 50 ward bosses in a way that attracts their attention and—we hope—sparks their interests to start a larger conversation with the designers and their constituents.

Can you talk a little about the process of finding 50 offices to participate in the event?

The 50 comprises a large group of designers that we admire who do really interesting and intriguing work. With our partners at CAF—Lynn Osmond, Michael Wood, and Jennifer Masengarb—as well as Reed Kroloff, who advises CAF, we sought a mix of people of who know something about the many different parts of the city. Several of the designers live or work outside of the city’s central core or popular North Side neighborhoods. These designers have a unique knowledge of the out-of-the-ordinary places in Chicago. We wanted to tap into this awareness, to give designers an opportunity to present ideas and insights about parts of Chicago few know well. We began with a very long list of over 150 designers—all either living, working, or teaching in Chicago—and eventually pared the list down to 50 who we thought would be interested to uncover design opportunities in unusual places in the city. The result is a show that inventories an uncommon collection of ideas and unrealized speculations, as well as planned and built projects, that can enhance and in a few cases even begin to heal some of Chicago’s communities.

Though we understand that the show is being produced to be accessible to the general public, what do you think architects might get out of it?

We initially sought innovative, implementable proposals that place design at the heart of building and rebuilding Chicago during the next 50 years. The premise of the exhibition recalls the creation of some of Chicago’s renowned urban plan, such as the Plan of Chicago (Burnham and Bennett, 1909), which proposed public parks, civic buildings, bridges, rails, piers, and roads across the city as an infrastructural investment in the future. We know many architects, landscape architects, urbanists, and designers in general have lots of ideas about Chicago’s future, and CAF is providing a unique venue to release these ideas into the communities.

So we hope designers see this show as part of a larger effort— which includes exhibitions like the Chicago Biennial—to engage the general public in conversations about the future of our collective built environment. And we hope the general public sees that designers are willing collaborators ready to help communities brainstorm and visualize their current situations, and help devise actionable strategies of transformation. From the outset of planning the exhibit, we encouraged proposals that break new ground or establish new territory for Chicago to consider as it continually looks to improve the lives of its citizens through design. Importantly, we looked for projects that will have (or already have) a real physical and material presence in Chicago—projects the general public can (perhaps eventually) see, touch, or enter.

What is the format of the show? What can the public expect to see in the show?

Each designer gets a double-sided 30-by-42-inch board to display his or her project. We asked everyone to show one large highly realistic image (photograph or photomontage) to convey the project’s meaning and underlying value. Many of the boards also contain simple diagrams conveying formal and spatial concepts, and simplified site plans documenting project locations. One hundred and fifty words of text on each board briefly explain the project. On the back of each board, we include an aerial of each ward. For each aerial, the designers created a flag to identify project locations in each ward, and we’ve drawn a half-mile radius around each project site to inventory walkable neighborhood amenities.

On the back of each board, we also show statistics such as locations of parks and various transportation options throughout each ward. We noticed that the 50 projects could be subdivided and collected into four main groups or “themes.” The “Figuring the Ground” group of projects are focusing on infrastructure projects like sidewalks, alleys, and the Chicago River. The “Stimulators” group is concentrating on community empowerments projects that address issues such as job training and educational venues. The “American Dream” group is investigating housing affordability and homelessness. And the “Pop-Up” group is looking at mobile buildings that can instigate local, temporary, or seasonal events. Four walls have been built to provide information about the four main themes.