50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards

Chicago Architecture Foundation,
Atrium Gallery
224 South Michigan Avenue

On View
May 24-December 2016


Download PDF

What is the role of design in solving community challenges, both locally and citywide?

50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards features proposals from designers throughout Chicago that seek solutions to the city’s most urgent urban issues.

About the Exhibition

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) asked 50 designers to create transformative proposals aimed at improving the quality of life for residents in each of Chicago’s 50 wards. Seeking inspiration and answers about how we might grow, enhance and improve present conditions, the designers studied all elements of our city—streets, bridges, buildings, waterways, vacant lots and everything in between.

50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards is curated for the CAF by Martin Felsen, Sarah Dunn, and Reed Kroloff.

View the online exhibition

Studio Gang’s proposal, Water as Our Past and Future, explores water’s role in defining the city.

Chicago has a long history of treating its fresh water resources as a dumping ground, and today’s residents of Chicago and beyond have inherited decades of mistreatment. Nowhere in the city is this polluted legacy more visible than in the 11th Ward—a neighborhood long challenged by industrial use and misuse of the South Branch of the Chicago River. In addition to visible pollutants on the surface of Chicago’s waterways, invisible contaminants in both the water and below ground will have lasting impacts on the health of our aquifers, rivers, and lakes.

No single ward or neighborhood can tackle this problem alone. Through a cooperative effort between government, universities, technology leaders, designers, and residents, we can repair past abuses and transform our waterways into healthy, green, efficient, closed-loop systems. By harnessing nature and new water technologies, we can conserve our limited resources, create jobs, connect cities to thriving native ecologies, and become a global leader in the next generation of water infrastructure.