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Ecological Riverfront Design Classroom Project Receives Funds for Study

The Chicago River

The UIC Office of Global Engagement awarded one of four John and Grace Nuveen Grants for Campus Internationalization to Urban Planning and Policy’s Sanjeev Vidyarthi and Sevin Yildiz for use in the Master of City Design program.

Vidyarthi and Yildiz’s project, “Ecological Riverfront Design: Learning from Chicago and New Delhi,” will feature the Master of City Design (MCD) program and the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) India’s leading school located at the heart of New Delhi, jointly studying and conceiving ecology-centered design plans for riverfronts facing critical issues, such as climate change and urban flooding, common to two great cities of the world. Leveraging both cities’ geographical locations, the virtually organized semester-long studios will help participating faculty and students explore cutting-edge city design tools and nature-based solutions concentrating upon similarities and differences in the two places.

“Students will learn to work with design colleagues operating in global teams that collaborate across remote, cross-cultural settings using digital means,” Vidyarthi said. “Access to Nuveen funds will help invite the engagement of a robust set of resource persons, specialized in diverse fields like urban ecology, climate change, and blue and green infrastructure, into the design studio.”

College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs Interim Dean David Merriman noted that the joint studio will substantially enhance students’ global learning experience using a clever combination of curriculum design and existing resources such as the brand new, digitally equipped studio space on the 6th floor of CUPPA Hall and extensive ties with areawide institutions, progressive actors, and field-based practitioners.

“The proposed studio will expand meaningful engagement with diverse communities and professional networks both at home and abroad that only great cities like Chicago and Delhi and leading public research universities like UIC and SPA can help create and sustain. CUPPA has always supported efforts augmenting the public good,” Merriman said.

Based on the experience, Sevin and Vidyarthi plan to improve and update the course content and organization in subsequent semesters. “At this time,” Sevin said, “we anticipate a three-year joint effort studying design issues of mutual interest around riverfront planning. We intend to curate an exhibition and publish a design monograph based on studio outcomes at the end of three-year term while revisiting the nature and scope of further collaboration.”

The Master of City Design (MCD) in UIC’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs teaches how to plan for designing great cities given all the complexity shaping our increasingly urbanized planet. All studios are co-taught by leading urban designers and professional practitioners in a purposeful manner. Students learn by diving deep down into Chicago’s well-known neighborhoods, home to remarkably rich sub-cultures, as well as the famous downtown.

Find more information on the Master of City Design degree program in UIC’s Urban Planning and Policy Department at