The Burnham Plan Centennial - Bold Plans, Big Dreams

Calendar & Projects


The spatial moment of power: urban design proposals for the Chciago Circle Interchange

The spatial moment of power: urban design proposals for the Chciago Circle Interchange

This historical moment demands that we leverage the urban potential of Chicago's rise to the center of international attention. In this urban design studio, we are envisioning the center of Chicago as a center of the world- what the sociologist Saskia Sassen has called a "spatial moment of power." Our site for intervention is the Chicago Cirble Interchange. We have taken three events as a starting point for our studies:

  • The Centennial of Burnham and Bennett's Plan of Chicago
  • Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics
  • Barack Obama's election to the Presidency of the United States

The Circle Interchange is located at the intersection of Halsted Street and Congress Parkway- cardinal axes of Burnham's 1909 Plan; and the location of the unrealized Civic Center that was to be the core of the plan. Instead of a center of civic activiy, it became the third most congested traffic interchange in the United States, recently estimated to be responsible for the loss of some 25 million driving hours per year.

We are developing high density proposals for the site with aspirations of global scale and significance as well as infrastuctural solutions that seek to close the void created by the traffic circle. Throughout the studio we have insisted on urban design as a preemptive, anticipatory practice that exceeds architecture in its ability to engage and intervene in the socio-political milieu.

Taking current local, national and international events as a context for our efforts, we are exploring how design can shape and expand the urban imagination and project possible scenarios for the future.

Program Partner

Illinois Institute of Technology

The mission of the Illinois Institute of Technology is to advance knowledge through research and scholarship, to cultivate invention improving the human condition, and to educate students from throughout the world for a life of professional achievement, service to society, ...[MORE]

Illinois Institute of Technology

Contact: Donna Robertson,


Illinois Institute of Technology
3300 South Federal Street
Chicago, IL 60616
[Get Directions]

The Burnham Plan Centennial
© Copyright 2009

c/o Chicago Metropolis 2020
30 West Monroe Street, 18th Floor Chicago, Illinois 60603 • (312)332-2020

Site developed and hosted by
The University of Chicago Library