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February 4, 2014

Save the Date: Great Lakes Symposium

Please join us  Thursday, March 13, 2014 for a Great Lakes Symposium, “Designing for Life along the Water’s Edge,” at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

To plan for the sustainability of our fresh water system, designers of major urban parks and infrastructure projects must consider the health of the Great Lakes. This evening discussion will explore the complexities of designing along the water’s edge from a number of perspectives. Representatives from cities around the Great Lakes in the US and Canada will discuss the complexities of designing within this ecosystem and discuss a wide range of projects; from the comprehensive urban design created by SOM for the Chicago Lakeside development, to designs for Toronto’s waterfront, and efforts to revitalize urban centers like Detroit through design.


  • Phil Enquist: Partner in Charge of Urban Design and Planning for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
  • Toni L. Griffin: Professor and Director of the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the City College of New York
  • Chris Glaisek: Vice President of Planning + Design, Waterfront Toronto
  • Steven Litt: Architecture Critic, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Location: CAF Lecture Hall, 224 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, Illinois
Registration: http://tickets.architecture.org/public/show.asp?shcode=447 

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January 30, 2014

Great Basin Exhibition Open Into March 2014

What if we ignored boundaries and acted as one people? What if we designed a 100-year plan to restore, repair and ensure the health and prosperity of our Great Basin? What if our commitment to a clean environment reinvigorated our cities and our economy?

Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin presents this challenge and calls for a 100-year vision to guide planning and development in the binational watershed of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, and Gulf of St. Lawrence – the Great Basin. The exhibition depicts the Great Basin as one region defined by the watershed rather than political boundaries and illustrates a  the region as an international park that encompasses culturally-rich urban and rural areas.  The exhibition also highlights initiatives around the region that Basin cities can learn from to enhance quality of life.

Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin is open through the third week week of March 2014 with monthly lunchtime programming — visit www.architecture.org/lunch for details on upcoming events.  The exhibition is a collaboration between SOM, the International Secretariat for Water (ISW) and the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) with support from Arcelor Mittal and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Click any image below to view the gallery.

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December 19, 2013

Into the World by Way of the City

How can city design focus on accommodating future growth in urban, compact and “natureintelligent” ways that strengthen the value and livability of cities? This challenge has redefined SOM’s City Design Practice as well as its approach to design education, through an ongoing partnership with Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture + Design. Philip Enquist, Andrew Balster and Edward Keegan write about the need to simultaneously engage global and local issues in a new DesignIntelligence article:

In an age when design problems are literally planet-wide in their scope and scale, new ways of thinking need to be developed to produce critical — holistic — answers. A partnership between Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture & Urban Studies and the Chicago office of Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) has over a decade of practical application. We believe in a close and active collaboration between academia and the profession to solve today’s problems.

The results prove that by working together, the innovative potential is extraordinary. SOM’s commitment to the Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design’s CHICAGO STUDIO is deeply rooted in thinking about contemporary urban issues with planet-wide vision — and applying those ideas at the most local of scales here in Chicago. There is one intention — to make our cities healthier, sustainable, and better for future generations.

Read the full article online: http://www.di.net/articles/into-the-world-by-way-of-the-city/ 

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November 21, 2013

Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin: Opening Reception

Thank you to all those you attended!

Click any image below to view the gallery.


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November 14, 2013

Opening Reception Tonight

Please join us to celebrate the launch of Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin tonight! We are honored to be joined by local, national, and international leaders — bridging the fields of policy, planning, business, environmental management, ecological research, education, and more — who have contributed to and inspired the vision presented in this exhibition. All are welcome to join us in the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Atrium Gallery at 224 S. Michigan from 5:30-7:30pm, with remarks at 6:15 from the exhibition partners and special guests:

  • Lynn Osmond, Chicago Architecture Foundation
  • Phil Enquist, SOM
  • Raymond Jost, International Secretariat for Water
  • Ivo Daalder, Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Cameron Davis, U.S. EPA
  • Bill Steers, ArcelorMittal

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November 7, 2013

New Exhibition Calls for a Bold Vision in the “Great Basin”

SOM, in partnership with the International Secretariat for Water (ISW) and the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF), presents Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin. The new exhibition calls for a 100-year vision to guide planning and development in the binational watershed of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, and Gulf of St. Lawrence – the Great Basin. Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin is on display in CAF’s Atrium Gallery at 224 South Michigan Avenue until February 2014.

Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin engages the public with the vastness and vulnerability of the earth’s largest surface freshwater resource, which spans from Duluth, Minnesota to the Atlantic Ocean. The exhibition depicts the Great Basin as one region defined by the watershed rather than political boundaries and illustrates a vision for the region as an international park that encompasses culturally-rich urban and rural areas.  The exhibition also highlights initiatives around the region that Basin cities can learn from to enhance quality of life.

“We have a responsibility to be stewards of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin,” SOM Urban Design and Planning Partner Philip Enquist, FAIA, said. “We must design our cities and region to eliminate waste, and rely on more innovative and sustainable development strategies. We can and must ensure fresh water for all future generations.”

The health of the watershed and the vitality of its cities are inextricably linked. Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin highlights ideas that will improve the relationship between the natural and built assets of our region—and between people and their basin environment.

“Water is the key to shared prosperity and this goal demands that all Basiners – whether from cities, the countryside, or distant communities – work together towards managing it in an integrated and participatory way,” said Raymond Jost, Secretary General of the Montréal-based International Secretariat for Water.  “We, men and women of all generations, must all learn to live responsibly and in harmony with our larger natural context. This exhibition is an invitation to take a step towards getting all the members of the Basin to rally around a shared vision.”

“The Chicago Architecture Foundation is honored to host this exhibition, which we hope will motivate people to define where they live by their basin, rather than their city,” said Lynn Osmond, president and CEO of CAF. “People will be moved by what they learn from this exhibition and see firsthand the profound impact we all have on our waterways.”

The exhibition builds upon the international design firm’s ongoing pro bono initiative, begun in 2009, to develop a 100-year vision for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River region. SOM’s 100-year vision plan, created in collaboration with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, has garnered awards from the American Institute of Architects, Congress for the New Urbanism, and most recently from the American Society of Landscape Architects in November 2013.

Philip Enquist will provide a lunchtime talk at CAF on November 13, with additional lectures occurring throughout the exhibition and a one-day symposium planned for January 2014. The schedule of events is available on CAF’s website (http://www.architecture.org/page.aspx?pid=476 ). Exhibition artwork is available to other institutions upon request so that the exhibition may be presented in other cities across the region.

About SOM’s City Design Practice
Founded in 1936, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP is one of the world’s leading architecture, urban design, engineering, and interior architecture firms. SOM’s global City Design Practice advances bold ideas for the future of cities, creating sustainable, livable and resilient places on five continents. The City Design Practice – the most highly awarded urban planning group – has completed some of the largest and most complex urban development projects in the world, such as the Beijing CBD East Expansion, Millennium Park in Chicago, and Canary Wharf in London. Visit www.som.com and follow @SOMCityDesign on Twitter for more information.

About International Secretariat for Water
The International Secretariat for Water (ISW) is an international non-governmental organization created in 1990 in the context of the Decade for Water and Sanitation. Based in Montréal, The ISW facilitates the application of the four principles stipulated in the Montreal Charter on Drinking Water and Sanitation: access to water and sanitation is first and foremost a policy issue; all actions in this field must be conceived in support to the populations concerned; access to water must be integrated into an overall development approach; all water related programs must include the education and training of the populations.

About The Chicago Architecture Foundation
The Chicago Architecture Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspire people to discover why design matters. The CAF pursues this mission through architecture tours, exhibitions, panel discussions, and youth and adult education programs. For further information visit www.architecture.org, call 312.922.3432, become a Facebook fan (www.facebook.com/chiarchitecture) or follow @chiarchitecture on Twitter.

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November 4, 2013

Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin: Opening Reception Nov. 14

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October 15, 2013

Great Lakes, Great People: Reid Bogert

Reid Bogert is a Coordinator in Shedd Aquarium’s Great Lakes and Sustainability programs, where he leads Great Lakes Action Days – opportunities to maintain trails, plant native flora and collect important data through citizen science projects. Reid spoke with us about how leading volunteers in the field illustrates the power of hands-on experience to spark an interest in the region’s wildlife and diverse ecosystems from dunes to prairies and forests. Reid shared his vision for more people engaged with the Great Lakes and our watershed, committed to preserving and celebrating its diversity as part of our lives. Learn more about Shedd’s Great Lakes program and upcoming Great Lakes Action Days here.

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October 9, 2013

Great Lakes, Great People: Joel Brammeier

Joel Brammeier is president and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, an organization of 22 professionals and more than 12,000 volunteers dedicated to protecting and restoring clean water, educating citizens and youth, and building a sustainable future for the Great Lakes. Joel has developed laws and regulations to prevent invasive species in several Great Lakes states and published a first-of-its kind report describing options for permanent separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River. He also advises the state governors and provincial premiers on regional implementation of the Great Lakes Water Resources Compact. Joel spoke with us recently about the Great Lakes’ timelessness and global significance and described the need to fulfill a new identity for the region. Joel shared his vision of a “culture of water” where water is valued equally with other factors in economic development, education, transportation, and business decisions.

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October 7, 2013

Great Lakes, Great People: Solomon David

Dr. Solomon David is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Shedd Aquarium’s Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research. His work focuses on migratory patterns of near shore fishes in Lake Michigan and the importance these migrations play in the Great Lakes ecosystem. Solomon spoke with us recently about how fish are a great indicator of overall ecosystem health and how migratory fish represent a connection between the lakes, rivers, and wetlands in the larger watershed. These upstream water bodies provide irreplaceable habitat for migratory fishes, and Solomon shared his 100-year vision for greater available habitat in waters that are home to diverse species as well as navigation and industry. Read more about Shedd Aquarium’s Great Lakes conservation research here.

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