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School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), one of America's largest and most influential art and design colleges, had grown organically since its early foundation into a series of isolated locations across the downtown Loop. While university leaders recognized that the urban campus was a core part of SAIC's offering and approach, they also knew that a planning process would greatly benefit the SAIC community.

Bruce Mau Design joined Cannon Design to create a campus masterplan that would reflect the values and aspirations of the SAIC, while establishing a comprehensive spatial strategy that would remain relevant for years to come. BMD took on a research, facilitation and visioning role, setting the stage for Cannon’s planning further down the line.

The SAIC community had varied and sometimes competing interests. BMD’s goal was to create a clear vision for the campus that would enable the various parties to rally together with a common understanding and purpose.

BMD's research, including precedent research, site visits, one-on-one interviews, generative workshops and rountable discussions with students, faculty and staff, was crucial to gaining an understanding of the many different perspectives across the institution. A synthesis of the research findings led us to a campus vision that we articulated both verbally and visually. We delivered this vision through a series of feedback sessions to SAIC decision-makers, faculty heads, staff and students. A final report became the foundation that will help guide discussions throughout the project.