A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Eco Design Riverworks: Cultural and Environmental Mapping

Buckingham Fountain Students listen to their city and create interactive public interfaces to engage sound experiences.

Summer 2017
Faculty: Linda Keane, AIADO, and Eric Leonardson, Sound

Riverworks Chicago is an interactive, transient, sound mapping, and community engagement class that visualizes and reimagines the world above and beneath the surface of the city’s water system.

The class researches ecological urbanism, sustainable acoustic ecology, and public engagement with local water issues in riverwalk and soundscape settings. Readings and case studies in architecture, eco sensing, and data recording reinforce field trips.

During the class, students connect virtually with Dr. Leah Barclay, UNESCO Biospheres Reserves river listener, who shares different acoustic aspects of the environment, including geophonic, biophonic, and anthrophonic; Eddee Daniels, Artist in Resident and Photographer, who records hidden views and the treatment of a city at the waters’ edge; and Dr. Antoneel Radicchio, Sound Consultant, works to reinforce quiet zones in urban areas to increase the health of the city.  


Students use spatial sensing, computing, diagramming, and mapping with interactive media to design site specific works. In partnership with local organizations, students engage with the Chicago River. They initiate an Eco Design Chicago Riverworks Blog, to share their experiences of sound sensing water in the city. Students create soundscape recordings and collect data for water and river maps connecting people to the culture, politics, and place of water.


Recruited by a Chicago firm, students capture experiences with water. Chosen images are printed on large metallic sheets and mounted in the lobby, hallways, and employee areas of the firm overlooking the Chicago River.

Melis Simsek
Abudullah al Salem
Olive Ouyang

Learn about other Riverworks courses: Water is Essential for Life and Taking the Waters.