The Burnham Plan Centennial - Bold Plans, Big Dreams

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John Marshall Law School Burnham Centennial Student Writing Competition

In 1909, Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett collaborated with the Commercial Club of Chicago and others to create a new plan for the greater Chicago region. One hundred years later, now, the challenges of increased congestion and pollution, loss of public lands, and growing disparity of wealth, give added urgency to Burnham's call to act regionally, comprehensively, and boldly.

Just as Chicago's physical architecture defines the space in which we live, law provides a hidden architecture& defining our social and economic space. Poor or outdated legal structures can restrict human growth, prosperity, and satisfaction, but well-designed ones can promote social, economic, and personal well-being.

This competition solicits student articles responsive to the challenge to act regionally, comprehensively, and boldly and to address how law should (or has) advanced the implementation of the Burnham plan in areas including architecture, urban planning, land use policy, housing policy, water rights, parkland preservation, and historical preservation.

The winning entry will be awarded a prize of $3,000. The competition will award a second prize of $2,000 and a third prize of $1,000. Winners will be invited to attend Burnham Centennial events at the law school.  For more more detail, please click here or see below.


1. Eligibility. The competition is open to college, university and law students at schools in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana as well as students who attend accredited laws schools outside these states but are residents of them. All entries must be the work of an individual; jointly-authored entries will not be considered. Entries may have been written for another purpose within the last year -- e.g., a paper submitted for a course or internship -- but must not have been previously published.

2. Subject Matter. Entries should demonstrate original thought on the issue.

3. Standards. Entries will be evaluated based on: (1) originality, (2) contribution to the understanding or development of the fields of planning and law, (3) quality of scholarship, and (4) quality and organization of writing.

4. Directions for Entries. Entries shall not exceed forty-five (45) pages including footnotes with a 1" margin on all sides. Text should be double-spaced in twelve point font. Manuscripts should follow generally accepted guidelines for academic writing.

5. Submission of Entries. To enter the competition, send five (5) copies of your entry, postmarked no later than September 1, 2009 so winners can be notified before the “Law As Hidden Architect” lecture on October 1, 2009, at which time the winners will be formally announced, to Professor Susan Marie Connor, The John Marshall Law School, 315 South Plymouth Court, Chicago, IL 60604. Please send an additional copy via email to

Each copy must have two title pages: the first should contain the title of the entry, the name/address/e-mail of the student, and identify the student's school and date of graduation; the second should contain only the title of the entry. This requirement is to insure anonymous review of the submissions. Submissions will be judged by a panel of academics including law professors and planners.

Awards. Winners of the competition will be advised by September 15, 2009 or as soon thereafter as is possible.

Program Partner

John Marshall Law School

Throughout its history, The John Marshall Law School has upheld a tradition of diversity, innovation and opportunity, and has consistently provided an education that combines an understanding of the theory, the philosophy and the practice of law. Founded in 1899, ...[MORE]

John Marshall Law School

Contact: Celeste Hammond,


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