This fall semester, the Office of Sustainability and the UIC School of Architecture hosted an interdisciplinary design competition for students. This collaboration, the first of its kind, was an experiment in a new kind of partnership for the Office.
The competition challenged students to assess and provide improvements for biking on campus, a subject that has been the focus of Office member Kate Yoshida’s work for over a year. The Bike Advisory Committee, created by Kate and comprised of several capstone students, has conducted bike-mapping studies to better understand the needs of UIC cyclists, among other outreach activities.
Kate first approached the School of Architecture at the end of the Spring 2012 semester with the idea that students could create a broad, innovative vision for how biking could be enhanced at UIC. By working closely with the School and one of its premier student organizations, the Department of Urban Speculation (DeptUS), this vision was realized through a 10-day competition titled the “Cycle the Circle Competition”, which ran from October 26th to November 5th.
The competition was a wonderful success by all measures; initial student turn out for the kick-off event on the 26th was beyond expectations, and totaled 11 teams of four. Students were enthusiastic and engaged at the event, enjoying a pizza buffet donated by Primo's Chicago Pizza as they listened to the competition overview, presented by Office members, students and faculty from the DeptUS and the School, respectively.
To keep the momentum going through the competition, and to provide students with knowledge resources, the School hosted a working lunch and feedback session on the 31st. Students enjoyed a spread of sandwiches provided by Rapid Transit as they discussed their progress with an array of volunteers from the School, the Office, IDOT and Rapid Transit. Students asked questions, presented challenges they were facing and were able to get direction from a rich mix of individuals, representing the fields of public health, urban planning, bike planning, architecture and many others.
After turning in their submissions on the 5th of November, students attended a reception and awards ceremony on the 9th, generously sponsored by SRAM Corporation. A diverse panel made up of leaders in architecture, bike planning, urban design and public health judged the competition entries. The awards event was hosted in the 3100 Gallery of the School, and was attended by Alderman Solis, School faculty, Office members, students, representatives of Rapid Transit, and representatives from SRAM. The competition entries represented a diverse and exciting number of approaches to improving biking at UIC, with the student teams each approaching the challenge in a unique way.
As this semester comes to a close, the Office has been able to reach out to students and engage them in a new way; the design competition was a learning experience for both the Office and the students, and the outcomes have provided a variety of new insights on how bikes can and should work at UIC.
The winning competition entries will be on public display in the Daley Library at the start of next semester, from January 15th to the 24th. Please take this great opportunity to see what the creative minds of UIC have come up with!