Project Statements

Make no Little Plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting with growing intensity.

Daniel Burnham, 1909 Chicago Plan

This inspiring phrase did in fact convince Chicagoans in 1909 to begin to put into place the grand master Plan of Chicago. And Burnham was correct; the "logical diagram" continues to "assert" itself. During the 2002 summer Chicago Mayor Daley made a surprise announcement that he was interested in extending the Burnham plan to the northern boundary of the city. This two and a half mile long portion of Chicago's lakeshore is the only section which has not remained, as promised by the founders of Chicago "Forever Open, Clear, and Free." But while this could be an exciting park expansion, it will be controversial due to potential cost and because the owners of the high-rise condominiums do not want to relinquish their private beachfront property. It will therefore be necessary to construct a series of lagoons and islands with landfill. Mary Ann Smith, Alderman of the 48th ward and noted by the AIA as being "focused on the right things," wants this new place to be a "water experience" with an "educational component." Your first task is to design a number of two-mile long pathways for walkers, runners, bicyclists, and rollerbladers.

The success of the lakefront, and the abrupt end of the bicycle path due to the location of the high-rises has resulted in sidewalk conditions dangerous enough to warrant police officers to be stationed at the corner of Sheridan Road and Ardmore Avenue. This summer the officers have issued over 250 tickets (with a $250 fine) to cyclists being caught on these sidewalks. Mayor Daley, an avid bicyclist intends for the park extension to correct this safety problem. You must optimize the conditions for social and environmental interaction, while addressing concerns for public safety and the environment.

We do not improve our situation through great 'plans,'
but by taking care of what is close to us, that is, of things?

Christian Norberg-Schulz

How does one reconcile and accommodate the seemingly contradictory statements of Burnham and Norberg-Schulz? Chicago's beauty and order is due in large measure to the "big plans" put forward by Daniel Burnham. Yet as one walks or bicycles through the city one notices the importance of "taking care of what is close to us." While Chicago is a world class city, and tourists come to see its notable "Loop" architecture, it is the cultural diversity of its neighborhoods that make it such a livable city. And many neighborhoods proudly proclaim distinctiveness with small identifying projects. Your second task is to design a lakefront experience with a gateway and a four-season shelter that you would have the city build on this site. These projects must establish an identity for this new land addition to Chicago.

The CAVE™ is an Immersive Virtual Reality Environment. Just as the lavish renderings by artist Jules Guerin were a significant reason for the acceptance of the 1909 Chicago Plan, you will have a similar opportunity to impress the public with models created with the latest innovative computer technology. The preliminary building designs will be sketched/modeled in the NCSA's (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) CAVE™ using the new application ShadowLight-Mirage. The CAVE is an immersive virtual reality theater, located in the Beckman Institute (at the north edge of UIUC campus). The web site http://cave.ncsa.uiuc.edu/ will provide more specific information about the CAVE facilities.

ShadowLight-Mirage is an application created by Kalev Leetaru for use in the CAVE™. It takes approximately 20 minutes to learn how to use the menu, and about two hours to develop body coordination. The advantage of this virtual reality environment is that it permits a closer approximation of the real world than traditional two-dimensional drawings. And because you are immersed into the full-scale model (rather than looking down on a small-scale model), a human scale, eye-level analysis can occur. Not only will your eyes make use of peripheral vision, but your haptic sense will also be activated as you draw and walk within the ten-foot square space.

This 30-mile long front yard is at once a victim of our poverty of imagination and the crippling consequences of its own success. As good as it is, the lakefront could be so much more. It could realize its vast potential if we just had a vision - and the will to act on it.

Blair Kamin, architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune

Required Reading:
"Reinventing the Lakefront," Blair Kamin. Chicago Tribune, Special Reprint,
Originally published October 26, 1998 - November 5, 1998. Pages 1 - 16.

Recommended Text:
Forever Open, Clear, and Free: The Struggle for Chicago's Lakefront, Lois Wille
AIA Guide to Chicago, edited by Alice Sinkevitch

Design Emphasis: It will be important to develop the activities program, select the access point(s) to the site, the location of the gateway and layout the pathway sequence. The application ShadowLight-Mirage will encourage a post-Cartesian, anti-rectangular, anti-alignment design appropriate for the character of the proposed projects. The CAVE™ will require consideration of the visual and haptic senses. Of particular importance will be the relationship between the inside and outside of structures and their color. Design emphasis will be placed on orientation of views, spatial depth, and color relationships.

Methods of Design Communications: Architectural design has, for at least the past 250 years, had to accommodate a fundamental contradiction: designs intended to be experienced in three-dimensions are conceived in sketches, elaborated in plan, elevation and section, and specified in technical drawings. These are all two-dimensional techniques that restrict spatial evaluation. Nevertheless, these traditional means of architectural development and presentations will be required to provide a site orientation. The gateway and four-season shelter will be conceived spatially and modeled in the CAVE™. Throughout the semester, comparisons of two, two-a-half (perspectives) and three-dimensional methods (immersive virtual reality environments) of architectural communication will be evaluated in their ability to develop and convey design ideas.