Chicago Grid: In Search For New Paradigms

Chicago can be seen as a paradigm city for its rapid growth and transformation, its economic importance and its innovative contributions to the techniques of urban design and planning. Many cities have studied its seminal episodes as a source of inspiration and reference.

The potential of its strategic geographical position, with the system of lakes and the canal, allowed it to build a strong port and growth based partly on the urban grid and partly on the territorial grid designed by Jefferson. This provided an efficient, versatile base for formation and transformation for different uses, creating a very dense central space with the use of infrastructures on exciting multi-levels.

The Studio will seek to interpret this evolution from various viewpoints. These include the evaluation of seminal projects in the city’s construction, such as the proposals of Olmsted, Lloyd Wright, Burnham, Jensen, Griffin, Wacker, Mies-Hilberseimer and SOM. Recent processes in public space such as Grant Park highlight the importance of these strategies.

The Studio aims to present an experimental approach to the reality of Chicago, taking as a hypothesis the value of city design at the intermediate scale.

This is one way of responding to the needs of the emerging urbanistic culture, where judicious use of energy and the correct formulation of the urban metabolism guarantee a more sustainable, harmonious city. In this respect, strategies of reclassification and densification will be models to experiment with. Chicago is, then, an excellent case study capable of suggesting new paradigms of city design.
Course format and Method:
The Studio is part of a much wider research project on “Revisiting the Urban Grids” which may serve as basis for the research of the Studio.

Chicago’s urbanistic dynamic seems to relate well with its open, adaptable urban morphology and has served to inspire the design of other cities that follow a regular grid pattern. For this reason, the Studio will be accompanied by a seminar on the theme of revisiting the urban grid and its contribution to the construction of the greater city to provide a theory basis that will enhance the experimental contents of the Studio. Students in the Studio will be highly recommended to take the UPD-3472 seminar on Urban Grids to complement the theory of this form of city design and apply it to the case of Chicago.

The Studio is open to students from all departments. It will require a high level of representation skills and design ability, since the studio will range from large scale mappings to precise Architectural and Urban Design interventions.

Program to be “in residence” the following dates:
-From January 22 to 30
– Feb 10 to 15
– Feb 24 to 28
– March 3 to 13
– March 24 to April 5
-April 14 to 24
-May 3 to May 8