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

Eco Design at SAIC 2018: Eco Cruises, Water Workshops, and Public Engagement Proposals


Eco Boat Cruises

Water is essential to life. Second only to air, healthy water is critical to a healthy city. Chicago is established at a strategic point where goods travel south down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico and north and east through Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Waterway to the Atlantic. The Great Lakes represent 90% of the freshwater resource of the United States, and 20 % of the world's freshwater positioning Chicago as a global leader in water stewardship.

This series of Eco Cruises featured experts working on improving the health of the Chicago River and its viability as an inviting, productive, and living river; experts that work to create balance between development and diversification of life on the river and Lake Michigan; and academics and professionals who offer public programming, publications and exhibitions, to bring more people to the river and lakefront. The series of Chicago Line Cruises included:

Water Stewardship - Dr. Gerould Wilhelm (Conservation Research Institute Director), Terry Guen (FASLA, Terry Guen Ltd), and Roy Diblik, Northwind Perennial Farm and Educator

Freshwater and the Great Lakes - Claire Lyster (AIA, CLUAA, Assistant Professor at UIC, and Author of Learning From Logistics, and Co Editor of The Third Coast: Prelude to a Plan) and Philip Enquist (Partner/ Urban Planning Director, SOM)

Walking the Chicago River - Carol Ross Barney (Architect of the Chicago Riverwalk), Chloe Gúrin Sand (Metropolitan Planning Council), and Eric Leonardson (Midwest Society of Acoustic Ecology)

Life On, Along, Above, and Below The Chicago River - Mark Hauser (Ecology Director, Friends of the Chicago River), Maggie Josh Coles (Program Director McCormick Bridge and Chicago River History Museum)

Growing Water - Linda Keane (Professor of Architecture and Environmental Design, SAIC)

TEENS H2O Water Workshops

Supported by HIVE CHICAGO and a Chicago Community Trust grant, Next.cc formed a partnership between SAICFriends of The Chicago RiverChicago Line Cruises, and Chicago Public Schools to deliver a series of Eco Cruises for teens throughout the Summer and Fall of 2018.

During the workshops "Water and Me," "Freshwater and the Great Lakes," and "Eco Sensing the River," Chicago students collaborated in art making opportunities, river touring and exploring, walking the river while using eco-sensing tools, and engaging with topics such as the water cycle, water testing, water quality issues, the world water crisis, water policies and politics, and more.

The "Freshwater and the Great Lakes" workshop, which took place out on a boat floating the Chicago River offered many of the students their first experience of seeing their city from the water. In all workshops, students interacted with and learned about water as citizen scientists, designers, engineers, and water stewards. 

Remote video URL


The Tender House Project

Tender House Project, curated by Mejay Gula, imagines the potential future of Chicago’s iconic yet overlooked bridgehouses, proposing that these hidden civic structures are cultural assets that will breathe new life into the Chicago River and its banks.

SAIC Eco Design students collaborated with Tender House project, selecting locations for interactive public installations on the main and north branch of the river. They worked on proposing interactive Great Lakes Aquariums, Plastic recycling and Agro Greens, year-round Green Houses along the river, and QR code linked fish sounds and streamed video installations that reveal the quality of life below the river as integral to the health of life above.