Cities function because of (or in spite of) urban systems, which can be loosely defined as any collection of independent parts that work together to make cities work better (or not). Examples of such systems include those that provide energy, communications, education, healthcare, water supply, solid waste management, recreation, and transportation. The very notion of city is undergoing transformation as new information inhabits and organizes the city and as humans occupy, navigate, and experience it through new protocols. Coupled with evolving green strategies and technologies, this demands that designers and strategists negotiate between increasingly different realities. We must consider the hybrid challenges that will be presented to the practitioner of the near future and for users, individually and collectively, as they adapt.
Students in this multi-team IPRO section will examine the challenges we face in Chicago, now and in the near future, such as increased density, less dependence on non-renewable resources, aging infrastructure and technology, crisis prevention and management, mobility, usable social space, and more (which are also shared by other major metropolises). The innovation teams that are formed through this examination of urban realities will propose creative solutions to those challenges and prototype them. In addition to increasing awareness and understanding of urban problems, students in this IPRO section will learn and develop skills related to team dynamics, project management, economic analysis — in the context of applying discipline-specific fundamental knowledge and user-centered design and open-ended problem solving methods.