Each year, AIA Chicago Foundation administers and juries The Chicago Award in Architecture, a competition of student projects. The project awarded First Place is honored with the the Benn-Johnck Award, in the amount of $500, Second Place is awarded $300, and Third Place is awarded $200.


This year, the first place award went to a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee duo, Alexa Wojciechowicz and Efrain Cano. Their project, The Architecture of Cooperation, is a proposal for a cultural center in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. The students observed tensions between existing populations (predominantly comprised of a long-standing Puerto Rican population) and the new neighbors arriving as the neighborhood gentrifies. The cultural center includes spaces for physical activity, cultural programming, and also offers opportunities for visitors to connect activities to the outdoors via ample courtyard space. The project also connects to the train.

The jury noted, "This is a very interesting concept and solution to the problem of bringing cultures together. The project addresses the idea of creating a space that is flexible and open.  Tying the train line into the site as something all cultures will go through and experience is intriguing (I wish the train would stop here as a destination!). Great graphics and really great physical model.  It all tells the story thoroughly and contributes to the Chicago community."



Wanwan Shao, Widya Ramadhani, and Yuxuan Wang from the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana came in second place with their Noida Medical Center: Hospital that Responds to the Living Pattern of India. Their proposal brings a much-needed emergency care facility to a town in India that often experiences natural disasters.

The jury said they, "appreciate how beautiful the space feels (very unlike a traditional hospital) and nature being integrated within public spaces as a way to promote good health and social activity."  


In third place, Liyuan Ge from University of Illionis at Urbana Champaign designed a dual structure that responds to a recent disaster in China that spewed toxic sodium cyanide into the air, killing over 100 people and injured several hundreds more. The project simultaneously purifies the disaster site—cleaning up the surrounding water—while also preserving and honoring the memory of those who died in the disaster. 

Jurors called it, "A very striking project with unique and creative solutions to solve a problem and create space." 














Ayyoub Rakan, Brian Cruse, and John Harmon from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign received an Honorable Mention for their project, 320 East North Water Street - Vertical City in Chicago’s Streeterville District.