Chicago Studio

Graduate students in our Master of Architecture programs may enroll in the Chicago Studio, a semester-long residential immersion in the Chicago architectural scene.

Millennium Park, Chicago, at twilight

Program Introduction

Putting design and research excellence in service of the public good remains the School of Architecture’s firm commitment to our state. The most obvious and enduring example of this commitment: a Chicago skyline shaped by the talents of thousands of Illinois alumni who have built and practiced in firms large and small over the years.

The Fall 2020 studio, taught by Trina Sandschafer and AnnaMarie Bliss, is titled re:VITAL and focuses on housing in the pandemic and post-pandemic eras. This studio asks designers to consider how the architecture and space around housing structures impact a resident’s ability maintain wellness and high quality of life. The goal is to interrogate traditional housing typologies and amenities in order to provide residential environments that promote wellness and positive quality of life in the context of COVID-19 and after. The studio investigates the positive effects of community, promotes wellness, and strives for sustainability, all while innovating and storytelling in unique and compelling ways.

Previous Chicago Studios have examined the area of the South Branch of the Chicago River known as Bubbly Creek; engaged Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning graduate students in an interdisciplinary design experience; and have explored urban design and building design for the South Loop.

Fall 2020 Chicago Studio: re:VITAL

This studio asks designers to consider how the architecture and space around housing structures impact a resident’s ability maintain wellness and high quality of life.

Board showing diagrams, plans, and rendered view of housing proposal in Chicago
"Urban Greenscape" by Yue Amber Shi and Shweta Krishnan (Fall 2020)

Previous Chicago Studios and Seminars

Fall 2019 Chicago Studio

This course develops an urban design strategy/proposal for areas which seek to harmonize with the existing structures of the city, anticipate the future needs of residents and visitors, and providing a new level of quality. The 2019 studio will work with the City of Chicago on properties identified as possible sites for a proposed casino. Our goal is to maximize the positive potential for the casino in the selected neighborhood.

Fall 2019 Urban Morphology Seminar

Urban Design theory introduces seminal ideas and theoretical writings and connects them to social, political, economic, cultural and technical events and developments as they influenced architectural thought and built urban environments. This course will include readings, projects and field trips to facilitate discussions and allow for a holistic understanding of urban design in the Chicago context.

Students will create an interactive website which shall facilitate comparative analysis of Chicago neighborhoods, morphology and typology, using figure grounds, Nolli information, aerial photographs, zoning and land use diagrams.

Fall 2019 Professional Practice Seminar

The course visits a variety of professional architecture offices to ascertain the ideals and methods used by Chicago architecture firms in their professional commitment to their clients and the general public. Students may have an individual mentor determined by participating firms, to assist the student with their immersion into the Chicago architecture community.

Fall 2018 Chicago Studio

The Chicago Studio has been asked by the Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to explore principles and make observations on best practices for affordable housing. The studio will undertake 3 to 4 different studies on sites identified by the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). The Chicago Housing Authority will discuss their sites and share their goals for the identified sites.

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