Madlener House
4 West Burton Place
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Telephone: 312.787.4071


Monica Chadha, “Urban Activators, Placemaking,” 2012

2014 Critical Pitch
Chicago Design Exchange
Mar 05, 2014 (6:30pm)

Please RSVP

Please join us for an evening of networking and innovative presentations by top creative and entrepreneurial talent from design, business, art, engineering, architecture, and technology schools across Chicago. Organized by Chicago Design Exchange, Critical Pitch brings together students and professionals representing the Hyde Park Art Center, Illinois Institute of Technology, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois—Chicago. To advance their projects and businesses, presenters seek the counsel and partnership of individuals from Chicago’s creative and business communities. Presentations include for-profit and non-profit enterprises and range from urban planning to product design, architecture to prosthetics, and healthcare to social entrepreneurship.

A reception will follow the presentations.

Founded in 2013 by a student group at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Chicago Design Exchange is dedicated to fostering collaboration between Chicago’s design and business communities. The organizing members of Chicago Design Exchange represent a wide range of graduate programs in art, humanities, and business across the City of Chicago.

The evening will include presentations by:

Director, PORT Architecture and Urbanism         
Clinical Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Illinois—Chicago

The scale and type of urbanistic thinking that will be needed to engender meaningful urban transformation over the coming decades will require significant collaboration between a range of disciplines. PORT is attempting to define a mode of practice — “Entrepreneurial Urbanism” — that will allow design to once again take a leadership role in defining visionary urban initiatives. PORT has researched and outlined four most pervasive, yet extremely limited, contemporary modes of urban production at the scale of the American City: Do No Harm Urbanism; Keeping Up with the Jones’s Urbanism; One-Trick Urbanism; and Copy-Paste Urbanism. PORT’s model of Entrepreneurial Urbanism negotiates these limiting obstacles through four complementary strategic tactics demonstrated by four recent or ongoing projects: Carbon T.A.P. (Leveraging Urban Latencies); Denver City Park City Loop (Privileging the Public Realm); LA River Greenway 2020 (Actionable Design Speculation); and Re-Cultivating the Forest City (Public Design Advocacy).


Executive Director, Hyde Park Art Center

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2014, Hyde Park Art Center is a nonprofit organization that advances contemporary visual art in Chicago by connecting artists and communities in unexpected ways. Based on one of the organization’s signature programs, Connect&Collect presents a new paradigm for art consulting. The project facilitates a personalized, fun, and accessible commissioning and collecting process that makes an impact. Its prototype has been a resounding success, and our next step is to provide customized consulting to private corporations interested in community building through arts patronage. Connect&Collect offers an ideal means to deepen impact for Chicago’s creative community by tapping into private companies’ consumer-driven focus on corporate responsibility.


President, Oisse Architects
Clinical Assistant Professor of Architecture, University of Illinois—Chicago

History Moves is a public history gallery designed to enable professional historians and community-based partners to collect and interpret under-explored pieces of urban history. More than a two-dimensional traveling exhibition or online experience, the three-dimensional gallery allows for the unique experience of physical artifacts, graphic materials, and digital content. We propose a new approach for making historical exhibitions, both in terms of how the content is determined and the way the content is delivered to the public. With civic engagement and architectural, digital and interactive design knit into the fabric of the project, History Moves serves as a forum for community-based organizations to use history as a tool to increase the visibility of their work, and expand their cultural authority.


Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology

What if a local chef opened a restaurant in a neighborhood school? Kid’s Table is a new type of community center based around an existing urban school. The initiative is focused on providing food and nutrition education for children, as well as food-related services and events for the larger community. During the day, the restaurant would serve as a learning playground for food education, where children learn respect and appreciation for food. On the weekends, the restaurant would open its doors to the community. Involving the community reinforces children’s healthy eating habits while at the same time nurturing children to become a channel for extending food knowledge to the broader population. Kid’s Table is the result of a semester-long workshop at the IIT Institute of Design, with the goal of finding new opportunities for innovation at the intersection of food, knowledge, and space.


Sung Jang Laboratory; Assistant Professor of Industrial Design, University of Illinois–Chicago

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Modular design systems offer tremendous advantages to the designer and user: flexibility, easy manufacturing, and structural strength. These advantages, however, come with a cost: modular systems rely on mechanical attachment and predictable geometry to construct forms that are visually noisy, dense, and inelegant. Inspired by work done on several modular toy designs, Mobi is a modular design system created to address these deficiencies. Mobi units stack in three-dimensions flexibly with non-obvious joints, flowing lines, and a natural form reminiscent of Melville's whale's tail. Mobi aims to embody the extravagant elegance of a truly beautiful module, without mechanical interference. The current Mobi unit has been refined through rounds of 3D-printed prototypes into a flowing form that is aesthetically pleasing, volume-generating, and structurally promising. Mobi clusters are envisioned for applications at object-scale, to produce furniture and lighting, as well as architectural-scale, to serve as support and facing for built structures.


The University of Chicago Booth School of Business

We believe the healthcare industry is ripe for technological disruption as a result of a number of advances over the last few years, namely the Affordable Care Act. Our idea’s genesis is based on the general lack of transparency that individuals have with regard to their health records. This health-related data is now increasingly available through electronic health records (EHRs). myPULSE brings together disparate healthcare data, primarily in the form of EHR's and data collected from wearables (e.g., Fitbit and Jawbone), in order to introduce insights from these data in real time. For example, the web application will show a sufferer of high blood pressure (data found and updated in his EMR) how his health is being affected by his daily activities (data found through wearables). By pairing real-time data from wearables with health records, our platform will have sufficient data to inform, encourage, and instruct users on how to improve their health. Our goal is to replicate what Mint did for individual consumers’ finances. By creating one central hub for all personal health history and activity, we are hoping to change the way people look at and understand their health.


University of Illinois—Chicago, Liautaud Graduate School of Business

NuFortis is a technology services firm offering the next generation Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) solution to the civil infrastructure industry. Aging bridges, and the shortage of funds needed to repair or replace them, are urgent concerns for Federal and State governments. After the infamous collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minnesota in 2007, which resulted in 13 deaths and tremendous repair costs, the Federal Highway Administration ramped up efforts to find an efficient and cost effective solution to monitor the health of bridges in real-time, while also providing the data needed to guide resource allocation for repair and maintenance. NuFortis offers a patented solution, licensed from Oak Ridge National Labs, that not only monitors a structure’s health in real-time, but also continuously forewarns of structural failure, thus minimizing the costs and risks associated with failing infrastructure. Our team's motivation in bringing this technology to market is not only to improve public safety, but to help the government become more effective in allocating it's dollars toward repairs where and when they are needed most.


Director, Indie Architecture
Clinical Assistant Professor of Architecture, University of Illinois—Chicago

The P Series House is a low-cost house made from a prefabricated steel barn. It is designed for infill sites in urban neighborhoods. Recent real estate trends suggest that a young generation of homebuyers is looking for a house with an open floor plan in a desirable neighborhood. Generally speaking, they prefer urban areas with good restaurants, an active street life, and access to public transportation to the space of the suburbs. Add in people who have limped out of the housing crisis, and you’ll find a growing market for low-cost urban homes. Architects have been experimenting with prefabricated housing for over a century. A modular kit-of-parts strategy for customizing prefab houses has been the dominant approach since the 1940s. The P Series House, which has a new organization and aesthetic sensibility, reinvigorates prefabricated architecture using contemporary strategies of repetition and variation.


School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Founder, TRANS / FORM

The majority of our society exists within a binary world of male and female. For those who are transitioning from one sex to another there can be great difficulty in fitting in. TRANS / FORM breaks the conventional male/female identities by creating an empowering space in which those who are transitioning can explore and find their ideal form. At TRANS / FORM we challenge conventional norms, advocate for those who are underserved and create a healthier way of existing - imagination is embedded in our everyday. TRANS / FORM is a product line of wearable prosthetics for the transgender community that has incorporated breathable and durable components found in current athletic apparel. For these products, design choices were made out of deference to the necessities of a person transitioning, while allowing for much less restriction than what is currently available.


Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architecture, Illinois Institute of Technology 
Initiative Director, ImPACT (Detroit), and Co-founder, Converge:Exchange

Adjunct Associate Professor of Architecture
Principal, Betsy Williams Architects

Abandoned retail spaces are an impediment to the redevelopment of many urban neighborhoods. Activating storefronts in a temporary, cost effective manner can create an atmosphere that is conducive to economic development. Urban Activators is developing a reproducible prototype of an instant pop-up store that can be used in vacant storefronts. This project would be a ‘starter kit’ for activating a storefront. Because these spaces are raw and vacant, many community organizations and cottage industries do not have the physical resources to set up. In developing this prototype we would be creating a shop within a vacant storefront. The starter kit would have items such as shelving, tables, seating and lighting, everything needed to set up for sales or community events. While we are looking at two specific sites along 53rd Street, where the Instant Storefront will be installed, we seek to develop a prototype that could be deployed in multiple locations. Many underserved neighborhoods have vacant storefronts that can be re-activated. This project would provide the community with a means to gain value from underused retail space.


Founder, Weathers
Assistant Professor of Architecture, University of Illinois—Chicago

For over a century, city parks and public spaces have provided recreation and commercial resources past nightfall by manipulating outdoor micro-climates through the use of artificial street lighting, extending public life hours after the sun has set. This venture seeks to deploy additional forms of energy systems beyond just light (thermal, acoustic, electromagnetic) that can be used to further activate urban public spaces. By leveraging existing technologies—and by developing new ones where required—these technological resources can be used to fundamentally redesign our cities. This technology can be licensed by either other designers for their individual work or by city agencies looking to use a commercially available version of the product.


University of Illinois–Chicago, Department of Urban Planning & Policy

Bridgehouse Hotels is a proposal to bring new life to some of Chicago’s most compelling yet overlooked historic structures. Sited in prime locations throughout the Loop, along the Chicago Riverwalk, each Bridgehouse tower would contain one hotel suite. The lookout rooms, once used to watch for ships coming down the river, would become premium locations for private views of the Chicago River. These exciting structures help make the hotel as much as an attraction as the city around them.