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How does a city as vast and complex as Chicago take shape? What are the consequences—intended and unintended—of urban planning? What challenges do planners face?

Beyond its reputation as a global metropolis featuring world-renowned architecture, Chicago enjoys special status: it is a model for understanding all cities. Enormous size, diverse population, booming industry, and complex infrastructure have made Chicago emblematic of modern life. Urban planners, sociologists, and historians have studied Chicago more than any other American city.

In recognition of the Plan of Chicago centennial celebration, the Chicago Architecture Foundation presents a new exhibition, Chicago Model City. The exhibition considers the philosophy of “thinking big” by examining historic and contemporary urban plans of all sizes. Chicago Model City includes photographs, maps, videos, digital visualizations, and a large-scale model of Chicago’s Loop—designed to be a permanent attraction and centerpiece of CAF.

Part of the installation is a new ‘model’ of Chicago, comprising of over 1000 buildings – the clip from NBC 5 provides a glimpse:

The Chicago Model City exhibit encompasses five thematic sections.

Global City examines how transportation networks form the basis of Chicago’s econo
mic wealth and innovative potential. The exhibition looks at the development and impact of O’Hare Airport and freight railways.

Connected City investigates how Chicagoans’ ability to circulate through their region encourages urban growth, drives real estate development, and contributes to quality of life. Visitors will also see how highways and Chicago’s famous “L” played an important part in Chicago’s development.

Green City focuses on the impact of urbanization on the health of citizens and the region.The exhibition studies programs such as Mayor Daley’s Chicago Climate Action Plan and Jane Addams’ public heath initiatives.

Beautiful City features Chicagoans’ efforts to build an efficient, pleasurable, and moral environment through beautification. Burnham and Bennett’s 1909 Plan of Chicago is explored.

New City investigates the belief that demolition and rebuilding will solve urban ills. CMC examines the IIT campus and its surrounding neighborhood—which the university and other institutions “renewed” beginning in the 1940s.

Take a look at for more info.

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