Energy+Urbanism

Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin

Statement

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), in partnership with the International Secretariat for Water (ISW) and the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF), presented Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin. The exhibition called for a 100-year vision to guide planning and development in the binational watershed of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, and Gulf of St. Lawrence — the Great Basin. Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin was on display through February 2014.

People

Philip Enquist, FAIA

Governor's Chair,
Partner for Urban Design & Planning
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Governor’s Chair for Energy + Urbanism

Paul O'Connor

Program Strategist
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

We can and must ensure fresh water for all future generations.

Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin engaged the public with the vastness and vulnerability of the earth’s largest surface freshwater resource, which spans from Duluth, Minnesota to the Atlantic Ocean. The exhibition depicts the Great Basin as one region defined by the watershed rather than political boundaries and illustrates a vision for the region as an international park that encompasses culturally-rich urban and rural areas. The exhibition also highlights initiatives around the region that Basin cities can learn from to enhance quality of life.

The health of the watershed and the vitality of its cities are inextricably linked. Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin highlights ideas that will improve the relationship between the natural and built assets of our region — and between people and their basin environment.

“We have a responsibility to be stewards of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin. We must design our cities and region to eliminate waste, and rely on more innovative and sustainable development strategies,” says Philip Enquist, Lead of SOM’s Urban Design group.

“Water is the key to shared prosperity and this goal demands that all Basiners — whether from cities, the countryside, or distant communities — work together towards managing it in an integrated and participatory way,” said Raymond Jost, Secretary General of the Montréal-based International Secretariat for Water. “We, men and women of all generations, must all learn to live responsibly and in harmony with our larger natural context. This exhibition is an invitation to take a step towards getting all the members of the Basin to rally around a shared vision.”

“The Chicago Architecture Foundation is honored to host this exhibition, which we hope will motivate people to define where they live by their basin, rather than their city,” said Lynn Osmond, president and CEO of CAF. “People will be moved by what they learn from this exhibition and see firsthand the profound impact we all have on our waterways.”

The exhibition builds upon the international design firm’s ongoing pro bono initiative, begun in 2009, to develop a 100-year vision for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River region. SOM’s 100-year vision plan, created in collaboration with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, has garnered awards from the American Institute of Architects, Congress for the New Urbanism, and most recently from the American Society of Landscape Architects in November 2013.