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Chicago Architectural Club Burnham Prize - Summer 2020


This project is a competition entry for Chicago Architectural Club’s 2020 Burnham Prize in collaboration with architecture students Desai Wang and Helen Sturman. The competition tasks architects, planners, and creators alike to address the growing changes and struggles of Chicago urbanism, as the city faces more modern problems. 

The 1909 Plan of Chicago addressed many needs of the growing city, but failed to show how architecture can counteract inequitable policies that disadvantaged people of color. While the Burnham Plan implemented public transportation infrastructure and stimulated the city’s connectivity, it failed to connect the city beyond the physical level. Chicago’s main urban train system, “the L,” is riddled with abandoned and underdeveloped lots underneath the tracks in the south and west sides. Our proposal aims to combat the division within underprivileged communities across the city. Given the decrease in Chicago’s population, specifically in the south and west sides, our proposal focuses on strengthening the existing communities. Under the L is a series of community spaces that utilize areas beneath the train lines. As shown in two example sites, our project consists of modular scaffolding structures sourced from nearby building companies. The structure is made up of four modules: gardens, kitchens, markets, and gathering spaces. The garden modules supply families with sustainable and healthy produce that is available in the market. The kitchens provide additional spaces for local restaurants and community members to cook and prepare meals. Additionally, these programs can provide after school opportunities where students learn to grow and cook their own food. Fragments of the surrounding community are drawn together into this microcosm, encouraging residents and businesses to interact and bond. Over time, the initial proposal will evolve and change to accommodate local needs, allowing residents to reclaim the installation.

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