Philip Enquist of SOM led an ambitious design studio at the Harvard GSD (gsd.harvard.edu/) where a fervent group of architecture, urban design, urban planning, and landscape architecture students confronted the underutilized and underappreciated South Branch of the Chicago River. Together, with determined collaboration, the students were rethinking what the River means to the City, questioning and dissecting this twofold urban relationship.

Under Enquist’s guidance, the studio seamlessly merged ideas from urban planning, architecture, and landscape architecture, while they attempted to generate thoughtful design solutions. Working both collectively and individually, the students eagerly analyzed and eventually enhanced how this aqueous artery defines the city of Chicago.

It is quite exciting to observe and document a design process, because research and revelation guide the methodology, and it is impossible to know where the process might lead. Because in the end, there is no answer for the City. There is only adaptation. And for this studio of architecture students at the GSD, adaptation is imagination is reality.

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