Aug 14, 2014

VOA, SOM Collaborative Studios featured in the Cloud

L: VOA - Roosevelt University
R: SOM - One World Trade Center

New offerings in the Cloud Studios this year include a studio lead by architects of VOA and three studios in collaboration with SOM among several other exciting prospects.

2014-2015 CLOUD Studios, Professors and Themes:


Zoka Zola and Dorothea Schulz – New City

This studio will continue and expand on last year’s research on how new technologies and scientific discoveries can be the basis for future cities. This studio looks at an inter-disciplinary approach, at researching and imagining how new technologies and scientific discoveries can be brought to the urban devel-opment, resulting in a futuristic city based on technological advancement of architecture. By allowing the concept of future to enter the design approach, we are free to circumvent the problems and go directly to solutions that otherwise would seem impossible.


Steven Brubaker – Making Metropolis 3

Immediately west of the Chicago Loop are three under-utilized parallel poetries of place: Wacker Drive, the River and the Railroads from Lake to Willis. Can Randolph, Washington, Madison, Monroe, Adams and Jackson lace them together into the dense, mixed-use Metropolis they want to be: Walking, Water and Air Rights, layered horizontally and vertically, 24/7: silent, secret, fecund figura serpentinatas on the Chicago Grid?

The first term, student teams of three will master plan these parallel places employing a mixed-use program of large-scale residential, educational, entertainment, office, manufacturing and cultural complexes embedded within gardens, street-retail and street-scape. The second term the same teams will comprehensively design one complex each.


Susan Conger – Setting the stage - Goodman Theater sponsored studio

This is a unique opportunity for students to propose the making of a modest public space through the practices of people and critical architectural interventions in the urban environment. The space should capture a mix of specificity, ie the local culture and desired current needs, while allowing for future reinvention and fluidity of program. What is the meaning of the local in the context of globalization and digital networks? Can a local space have a larger span than its physical boundaries? Can a public building in a specific neighborhood act as a catalyst for multi- sited events throughout a city?

As architects, we learn from many forms of knowledge: We research the past, searching for patterns, organization, and attitude toward site, observing any alterations to the original type that might reveal evolving needs. Then, through discussions with educators, students and administrators we learn about current desires and needs. Combining both past and present knowledge, the collaborative dialogue and debate begins.

In the Fall Semester, students will work closely with two public high schools, along with Goodman Theater, and faculty within IIT’s Department of Math And Science Education to help develop the curriculum/connections between the arts, sciences and the humanities using the urban environment as the vehicle. In particular, students (working in groups) will identify specific areas within each school’s neighborhood where a series of interactive spaces can encourage this new curriculum both with the school and its community. Students will research, analyze and document the proposed sites, and will develop a master plan by the end of the fall semester. Each proposal will include a performance space to embody the educational aims of the
newly created curriculum.


Martin Felsen – In the Zone

Students will design architecture, landscapes and infrastructure serving water-intensive industries and institutions within a newly conceptualized “Water Enterprise Trade Zone” (WET Zone) in Chicago.

Combining the Rust Belts’ expected population growth with its abundance of freshwater, the studio will develop a design strategy for the re-densification of underutilized post-industrial landscapes in Chicago. Recycled freshwater will be used as a catalyst for attracting water-intensive industries to relocate from areas such as the Sun Belt - where water is scarce - to the water endowed Great Lakes region. Today, water intensive businesses representing millions of jobs are scrambling to secure long-term water resources as global supplies become more and more contested. To this end, the studio will speculate on the creation an Enterprise Zone named the “Water Enterprise Trade Zone” (WET Zone) surrounding the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District's (MWRD) Calumet treatment plant at 130th Street in Chicago. 


Chris Groesbeck, Monika Thadhani (VOA) – Reforesting the City

This studio will focus on the evolutionary nature of urban growth in response to new programs, changes of context and upcoming epoch of future urbanism. Studio will attempt to project future models within the context of the historical city. It will elaborate study of new possibilities of urban form, physical and sociological configuration with consideration of the past, and focus towards the future. It will study the opportunities to redefine and improve urban livability with its integrated city infrastructure. It will implement the possibility of evolving city structure and technology to better use the ecological systems, introduce the opportunity to reduce the carbon level with growing city densification. The studio will provide a platform to investigate and question today's cities, will discuss designs that merge architecture with environment, demonstrate a novel method of arranging city spaces with idea of harmoniously integrated Earth’s biological life forms with the spaces of human activities. The studio initiative will merge architecture studio with student’s attitude towards reality thru their personal experience expressed in various forms of art.

As a response to the issue above this studio will propose the idea of “Reforesting City” as both an Ecological Methodology and a Metaphor for future urban development that will look at concerns of high density, study the interconnection between systems of open spaces and creating new imperative hybrids that transform the historical concept into the future urban model.


Cloud/SOM collaborative studio: Martin Kläschen– Interrogating Density

Based on a systematic research approach, the studio will study the phenomenon of density with focus on social-urban problems such as segregation, mono zoning, getthoization, migration, demography, living patterns, subcultures, shared spaces, public versus private, diversity etc and investigate their impact on the quality of our urban environment. Following up on these problematic occurrences studio participants will explore means for increasing social-urban interfaces, fostering ethnic and cultural diversity as well as stabilizing the urban economy and introducing a major shift toward using sustainable resources. In order to rethink social-urban conventions of density the studio will pursue the idea of fatness.


Cloud/SOM collaborative studio: Andrew Schachman – Chicago Winter Active

In Summer, Chicago’s spaces expand horizontally, adjacent, and within. As climate permeates all scales it reawakens forgotten realms: the summer cottage revives as a complement to the flat, the lake cools activities at the city’s edge, the horizon expands as a buoyant social plane. In Winter, the space of the city retracts. Our regional cosmology shifts, from hinterland to yard. Buildings assume a defensive posture, insulated and pressurized. This opening and closing of the metropolis seems more a product of Chicago’s attitude toward organization than a necessary response to climate.. Can we rethink our mental map of Chicago to activate civic life in Winter? Can we reconsider snow, rain, cold, heat, and humidity, as natural resources rather than inconveniences or constraints? Can we enrich our response to issues like climate change with new social, aesthetic, and economic agendas? Students will research and develop approaches to these questions proposing new landscapes, infrastructures, housing, institutions, installations, or technical assemblies.


Cloud/SOM collaborative studio: SOM team: Robert Bracken and Arathi Gowda - Mobility

This studio will be challenged to find viable design solutions at the intersection of Density + Transit and their resultant impact on the performance of the city. Transportation infrastructure has clear spatial implications for the city, and intangible but significant impacts on the energy, economic and demographic systems that support it.

By focusing on mobility, this studio will build bridges between the system based thinking required to optimize connectivity and the spatial/architectural manifestation of those solutions within the built environment. Using Chicago as a laboratory, this studio will seek to align our design thinking with this new political charge for the city, exploring innovative mobility solutions and demonstrating their value beyond moving people. 


Study Abroad: Winy Maas, Ulf Hackau, Bryant Pitak – Farm Blocks - Urban farming beyond clichés

Food, next to energy and water, is one of the key resources driving our cities. The way we produce, distribute, consume and discard food plays a crucial role in how our cities pre- pare for the future. Business as usual is not enough. Today’s global food system has to improve. This requires not only technological innovation but also spatial integration. There is certainly a role for architects and planners to work on this integration, to enable synergies by connecting food in a better way to the other flows of the city. Is our profession prepared to give an effective contribution to the necessary changes of the global food system? The interest is undeniably there. Food related design proposals have popped up in architecture schools all over the globe. There is a photoshopped abundance of green rooftops, happy cows and lucky farmers. But all too often, these images are too uninformed, too small, too romantic and far too far away from the tight realities of food production. We need to get serious in our proposals, realistic in the surfaces and precise in the requirements of food production.

In this studio, we take the challenge.


Thomas Kearns – Somewhere, Somethings: The Space Problem

In the studio, we will study and practice methodologies previously borrowed from and created by the Situationists, whose efforts to provide agency and engagement often relied on play and games. We will engage directly, through fieldwork in the city, on the city. The studio should be considered a design-build studio, whereby it’s participants will directly engage and construct interventions using physical and computational building systems. We will build

our own Internet of Things, and deploy it within the fabric of the city, so as to literally test the design and theories of our research. We will not simply re-think the Metropolis, we will actively re-constuct the Metropolis.

The studio will be organized into two phases outlined in more detail below. The first phase will be a carefully choreographed series of workshops driving skill building, applied technology research, and issue based urban research. The second phase will operate as small group projects, providing interest driven application of the students newly acquired skillsets and preparation for the spring semester.


Marshall Brown – American Dreams: Super Blocks, Broad Acres and Local Codes

This studio will deal with problems of urban form in the contemporary American context. Put simply, we will directly confront the continuing failures of urban design and architecture to provide compelling and desirable spatial models for our democratic, free-market society. Chicago, like many American cities, has experienced extremely uneven development over the past decades. Increasing mobility, market forces, social, and political problems have all contributed to the increasingly rapid and unmanageable spread of populations around the metropolitan area.   


MCHAP Emerging Winner: Pezo von Ellrichshausen – Naïve Intentions

Naïve Intention is a sequence of studios that explore the necessary spaces for nostalgia, meaning, uselessness and fiction within the urban collective experiences. The central aim of our exploration is not so much to focus on the specific phenomena and their causes but in their potential to be translated into a work of architecture, this is: a synthetic (even ascetic) object, a unitary and self-centred structure that basically refers to itself. The series of studios will explore the distant cultural landscape of the Chilean territory. The research will be alternated with studio trip to various locations, from the Atacama Desert or the Andes Mountains, to Chiloe Island, Patagonia and the southern Land of Fire archipelago. Each studio will focus on a different climatic and material condition under preliminary list of subjects.