Annual Chicago Think Tank seeks attendees and design exhibition entries for symposium that explores the future of Chicago megaregion
According to America 2050, the network of major cities around the Great Lakes has environmental resources and a “strong research and cultural tradition” fueled by higher education institutions. Policy experts now think of Chicago not as a city surrounded by suburbs, but rather as the epicenter of a “megaregion,” an interconnected web of services and infrastructure.
With Chicago’s evolution come the issues—gentrification as a side effect of policy shortcomings, self-driving cars, water quality, disaster recovery and resiliency—that have sparked debates everywhere from the offices that fill the Loop’s renowned skyscrapers to the cafés within collar county lifestyle malls.
On September 27, Legat Architects’ Think Tank 2019: Megaregion will welcome architects, urbanists, public policy makers, academics, and critics to consider how designers can address these and other issues. Speakers include scholars, design professionals, transit experts, and leading urban planners.
The Think Tank is for anyone who has an interest in what day-to-day life in the Chicago region will look like in next 30 years. It’s a chance to learn from some of the Midwest’s most influential thought leaders, but it’s also an opportunity to engage in a dialogue about our city’s future.Justin Banda,
Event Coordinator, Legat Architects
The one-day symposium will take place at DIRTT Environmental Solutions’ Green Learning Center (325 North Wells Street), a sustainable presentation space and bistro ten stories above the Chicago River. Its rooftop deck offers sweeping views of the Chicago skyline.
Think Tank attendees have two track options for both morning and afternoon. Each track features top speakers and panelists debating the future of the region. The day’s events feature parallel programming tracks; each track has a morning session and an afternoon session. The price for each session is $7.50 and those who register for morning and afternoon tracks will receive lunch and hors d’oeuvres.
Think Tank organizers are also seeking design submissions for Chicago Megaregion 2050, an exhibition that will be on display at the event. The exhibition will feature designers’ visions for how the city can address key challenges in the year 2050.
Check the Think Tank website for more information on event, including details on registering to attend or submit a design. Event partners are Legat Architects, K.R. Miller Contractors, and site design group. Sponsors include dbHMS, DIRTT, Frank Cooney, Henry Bros. Co., IMEG, Kimball, Larson Engineering, Mortenson, Nicholas & Associates, RTM Engineering Consultants, Rubinos & Mesia Engineers, Steelcase, and Turner Construction Company.
Think Tank 2019: Megaregion has been selected as a partner program by the Chicago Architectural Biennial, the largest architecture and design exhibition in North America.
The Chicago Architecture Biennial provides a platform for groundbreaking architectural projects and spatial experiments that demonstrate how creativity and innovation can radically transform our lived experience. The 2019 Biennial, titled . . . and other such stories, invites contributors “to present projects and programs that ask urgent questions about the implications of architecture as it relates to land, memory, rights, and civic participation” . . . all concepts that relate to Think Tank 2019.
2019 Biennial Artistic Director Yesomi Umolu said, “Our 2019 contributors represent the diversity of thinking on architecture and spatial practice globally, each engaged in research and work that explores the potential and challenges of our everyday experiences across public and private space, as well as the motivation and potential for the future of the field.”
Rise of the Chicago Megaregion: Challenges
The Think Tank will explore solutions to four key challenges the Chicago megaregion faces in the coming decades:
Housing and Homelessness
Ten thousand Chicago families experience homelessness. The problem afflicts collar counties as well. Add Chicagoland’s worsening weather conditions and the crisis escalates.
Rivers and Watersheds
Despite recent preservation efforts, the Chicago River faces toxic threats from chemicals and bacterial sewage. Other regional bodies of water must contend with pesticides and waste after decades of corporate dumping, human indifference, and increasing populations.
Research reveals many benefits of public green spaces, yet there exists a vast discrepancy between the number of such spaces available in wealthier and lower income neighborhoods. Moreover, many green spaces in poorer neighborhoods have failed.
Transportation and Mobility
Every day, 400,000 people commute in and out of Chicago. The average commuter wastes 61 hours and more $1,400 a year sitting in traffic.
Keynote speaker Thomas Fisher will discuss the fallout from a century of overbuilding and how cities can overcome these challenges to become more productive, equitable, and sustainable. Fisher is a Professor in the School of Architecture, the Dayton Hudson Chair in Urban Design, and the Director of the Minnesota Design Center at the College of Design, University of Minnesota. He has written 10 books, over 50 book chapters or introductions, and over 400 articles in professional journals and major publications. He has been named a top-25 design educator four times by Design Intelligence.
Lunchtime keynote Douglas Kelbaugh, FAIA will reflect on cities representing the last best hope for the survival of the human species in the oncoming war against climate change. Professor Kelbaugh served as the dean of Taubman College at the University of Michigan between 1998 and 2008, then as VP of design and planning for a large development company in Dubai. He returned to full-time teaching in 2010 and was awarded the 2016 Topaz Medal for Excellence in Architectural Education, the highest award in the field. In 2017, he was awarded the Emil Lorch Collegiate Professor for 2017 through 2020, after a sabbatical at Cambridge University, where he wrote THE URBAN FIX: Resilient Cities in the War against Climate Change, Heat Islands and Overpopulation.
Additional speakers include educators from the University of Michigan, Syracuse University, Judson University, DePaul’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as leading design professionals from Chicago and beyond.
Design Exhibition: Chicago Megaregion 2050
The Think Tank is also seeking submissions for the Chicago Megaregion 2050 Design Exhibition. The exhibition asks designers to identify a problem area within one of the four challenges facing the city, then devise a solution and show how it will impact Chicago in 2050.
“The exhibition is open to students, seasoned design professionals, urban planners, and anyone else who has a vision for how to address these issues while focusing on long-term growth and regional stability,” said Banda. “Concepts can range from a single site to an entire neighborhood, transit line, or body of water. The common denominator is showing how the condition will look in 2050 if corrective measures are taken.”
See the exhibition brief for specific submission requirements, deadlines, entry fee, prizes, and other details.
Cast a New Vision at Think Tank 2019
Those who attend Think Tank 2019 will have several unique experiences: They will see different and sometimes unlikely disciplines casting a new vision for Chicago. They will see Chicago-area designers and residents uniting to discuss their city. They will get a glimpse at what Chicago’s future holds and understand what changes they can make to prepare for that future.
What makes Chicago unique? What will transportation look like 30 years from now? What can be done about the homeless crisis? How can more green spaces be brought to economically disadvantaged communities? Join us at Think Tank 2019: Megaregion to get to the bottom of these and other critical questions.
Contact us to learn more about ThinkTank 2019: Megaregion or comment below to share your thoughts on this post.