Founded in 1995,
the City Design Center is a multi-disciplinary research, education, and
service program in the College of Architecture and the Arts at the University
of Illinois at Chicago. The Centers mission is the study and practice
of design in the public interest. The Centers work is founded on
the idea that the quality of the built urban environment from the
fixtures, furnishings, and buildings that house them, to the streets,
plazas and parks that surround them, to the resulting spatial form of
the overall community is intrinsic to the vitality and diversity
of the citys cultural, economic, and political life. To meet this
challenge, the Center develops and advocates for innovative and effective
design research and practices by providing information to improve the
quality of design decisions.
The Centers work is accomplished through cross-disciplinary collaborations
among faculty and students in architecture and urban design, urban planning,
history and culture of cities, public and community art, environmental
graphic design, industrial design, historic preservation, and other relevant
design disciplines and professions. The Center emphasizes applying research
and educational programs to design ideas and practices, and prototypic
and demonstration projects to explore design innovation in support of
its social agenda.
The City Design Center supports:
multi-disciplinary research projects initiated by faculty or in
response to solicitations by foundations, government agencies, and non-profit
technical assistance through partnerships with community groups
in response to requests by community development corporations and other
non-profit organizations, most often in low income communities where such
design services typically are not available; and
public education through lectures, workshops, symposia, and Internet
websites addressed to local, national, and international audiences of
academics, professionals, government officials, and concerned citizens.
The Center aims to provide opportunities for students to learn and gain
hands-on experience through work on actual projects with community clients.
Through these projects, students from various design disciplines make
linkages among theory, practice, and social interests while learning about
each others professions.
From January 1998 through May 2000, the Center completed more than 30
projects with more than 30 community partners and public agencies. It
has added two new program areas - Design Matters and Charting Community
Assets - to its original four program areas Imagebase, Community
Design Excellence, CityLab, and Conferences and Exhibits (now called Public
Forums); and it has expanded on its curriculum development program to
add coursework in addition to the CityLab.