Chicago Architectural Club - Burnham Prize 2020

We encourage architects to engage issues of the future – climate change, movements of conflict, climate and economic refugees, pollution of the environment, depletion of resources – that can no longer be avoided. What actions should the architectural community take that will ensure that our grandchildren and their children see 2120?

Category Idea Competition / Open to Students
Type International, Idea, Open, Single-Stage, Anonymous
Genre Urban
Country Chicago, United States
RegDeadline 19 June 2020 GoogleCal iCal
3 July 2020 (via Online) GoogleCal
Eligibility All

Despite its wide success, the Burnham Plan has been subject to criticism being considered, in its essence, merely a “city beautification” proposal. Kristen Schaffer, author of The Plan of Chicago: Published, Unpublished, and the Treachery of Images, attributes this misconception primarily to Jules Guerin’s famous illustrations, which outshine the plan’s more functional, social and human concerns. Elements of Burnham’s social agenda included the enhancement of public space, parks, and field houses providing services to all citizens and the promotion of institutions such as neighborhood schools and daycare centers to help women balance work and family. Burnham addresses all of these issues in his draft of the plan—his intended vision was “Not the beautification of the city, but its humanization.”
Now, in 2020, Chicago is very much a product of systemic issues that have been neglected and ignored despite the social intentions of Burnham’s original draft plan. Furthermore, Chicago is facing a new set of challenges. In contrast to the rapidly growing city of the early 20th century, today’s Chicago is shrinking. This population loss is due to several social, economic, and political factors, such as high taxes, access to high quality education and housing, crime, segregation, and social and racial inequality. In addition, Chicago is confronting global challenges including water and air pollution, climate change, and the current health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the 2020 Burnham Prize, the Chicago Architectural Club is calling for new visions that address the humanization of our city. Looking at Chicago’s future and reflecting on today’s challenges, formulate your interpretation of the Burnham Plan that expresses the needs of our time. Through a project, series of projects or a larger plan, define one or more elements that address current urban issues that are able to contribute to the design of a more “human” city.

A jury will be announced in May.

1st Prize: $1,500
2nd Prize: $1,000
3rd Prize: $500
Honorable mentions

Entry Fee
Professionals: $75
Students (with valid ID): $30

July, 2020: Virtual Jury Meeting, Projects Shortlist Announced.
September, 2020: Winners Announced & Exhibition Opening Event

Past winners

The Chicago Architectural Club (CAC)

Official Website