Peter Ruggiero
Design Principal
HOK, Inc., Chicago

The American city of the late nineteenth century was formally defined by the City Beautiful Movement. During the middle of the 20th century, the embrace of modernist urban planning fueled by the optimism of the post-war period shaped the American city. What will the American city look like in 2050 and what are some of the issues that will guide it, inform it, and shape it?

Demographic data currently predicts that 65 percent of the global population will shift to cities by mid-century and there is indeed already a marked shift of interest toward city living. As our American cities quickly approach the 2050 milestone, three urban elements are explored that have the potential to renew the definition, vitality and celebration of Civitas in urban life, with Chicago as a case study for the challenges and opportunities of the new mid-century American city. The three elements are density, transportation, and the characteristics of the post-industrial city with a focus on revitalizing its pre-existing urban infrastructure.

In addition to providing a detailed look into examples of each of these urban elements as they specifically relate to Chicago, an overview of the changes the overall character of the modern city faces is also provided. A call to action centered on the Vitruvian mandate of utility, commodity, and delight, asks that all involved take it upon themselves to consciously design the newest iteration of the mid-21st century modern city by maximizing the opportunities of its key urban elements and facing their challenges in the present, while collaborating across roles and industries to the greatest benefit of our future population.