C40 Design Competition Launching in Chicago with Net Zero Potential
The City of Chicago is launching a C40 real estate and design competition to develop a city-owned parcel of land in the downtown district. The land is inside the famous loop area at Plymouth and Van Buren. The partnership between the City of Chicago and a developer/design team is being led by the DPD (Department of Planning and Development). C40 projects have been implemented in over 90 cities worldwide. It is truly an innovative form of project delivery for architecture focusing on carbon neutral and inclusive development.
Design competition focusing on architecture and real estate
C40 utilizes a design competition process to select architect/developer teams to acquire and develop the proposed site. The first community input meeting was March 4th, 2020 at the Harold Washington Library. The process starts with an “interest” phase where teams of developers and architects submit their RFP responses. A selected jury will review the responses and select a shortlist of teams to proceed.
Design excellence criteria for the project
The shortlist of teams then fine-tune their designs for the final project winner. The Department of Planning and Development has 10 “design excellence” criteria for consideration of the project proposals.
- Prioritize inclusive design processes to foster equitable development.
- Encourage diverse design approaches in order to inspire innovation and design excellence.
- Revitalize Chicago’s neighborhoods while celebrating their authenticity and singularity.
- Honor Chicago’s legacy of architectural innovation by promoting contemporary design.
- Strive to enhance the public realm. Focus on the pedestrian experience.
- Immerse yourself in the places, people and cultures of the city.
- Develop a healthier, more resilient and beautiful city.
- Leverage the economic benefits of good design.
- Communicate design excellence to the public.
- Support design excellence within City departments and sister agencies.
Changing the status quo for development projects
Usually, when the City sells land they don’t have as much influence in the outcome of the property. Since the land is city-owned this process is a creative way for the City of Chicago to solicit ideas for a project with sustainability, inclusivity and quality design at its heart. The “design excellence” criteria are well thought out and will definitely encourage a holistic design. The C40 Chicago project definitely will well thought out spaces in the neighborhood.
Community input will be gathered through surveys and meetings
At the community meeting, the alderwoman and a representative from the Department of Planning and Development were present to answer questions from attendees. People from the community brought up interesting questions about the project. Some wanted to know if there was a potential for a grocery store to be part of the project. Others wanted to know how the site would be accessed from the street. Also, since there is an adjacent park in the adjacent lot people were thinking the new building could help establish “eyes” on the park to keep it safer. Overall, the questions for the audience were well perceived and answered by the organizers.
Considerations for architect/developer teams
While listening to the presentation, it definitely felt like the architect/developer teams will be taking on some risk pursuing this competition. The financial incentive for teams to have a negotiated land sale with the city obtaining the property at a discounted rate. Consequently, the payout for taking on the project may not be years down the road when the returns start to be realized. This formula may be ok for some developers, but for architecture firms, this may be a challenge. Ultimately the project needs to be taken on by a team that can sustain involvement for multiple years expecting a payout at project completion or after.
Thoughts on winning this C40 chicago project competition
Focusing on the “design excellence” criteria is going to be key for any team that pursues this project. Architecture projects need to be inclusive and create a better environment for the people who live and visit the neighborhood. There is ample opportunities for triple bottom line wins for people involved in the project. Since the project is also zoned DX-16 the building does not have a maximum height requirement. This will allow the architect/developer teams to have maximum creativity to include necessary program elements within the building design.
Official City of Chicago website link
Community input survey for the Department of Planning and Development link
Official C40 Reinventing Cities website link