Activate Union Station calling on best ideas to bring Chicago's Union Station to life
VOTE for your top two favorite entries now through tomorrow, Wednesday, July 31!
Chicago’s Union Station is an iconic building and a major transportation hub—but it could be so much more: a gathering place for West Loop residents, an attraction for tourists, another cultural jewel in Chicago’s crown.
Apply below by Wednesday, July 24, at 5 p.m.
Two winners will receive $5,000 each, underwritten by Fifth Third Bank, to make their ideas happen at Union Station between Aug. 24 and Sept. 2.
Now is your chance to Activate Union Station. The Metropolitan Planning Council’s Fifth Annual Placemaking Contest, sponsored by Fifth Third Bank, is awarding cash prizes to the best temporary ideas to breathe new life into Chicago’s Union Station.
We want you to dream it and develop a plan … if you win, we’ll give you $5,000 to make it happen for 10 days this summer, between Aug. 24 and Sept. 2. Enter using the form below between now and July 24!
Have a great idea, but no man power? Drop your thoughts in our idea box, or tweet at us (@Metroplanners) with #ActivateUS!
Read the complete Contest Guidelines before submitting your application. The submission form appears at the end of this post.
MPC thanks Fifth Third Bank for underwriting the Activate Union Station contest.
- This competition is open to anyone 18 and over with a vision of what Chicago’s Union Station could become: artists, neighborhood groups, performers, chambers of commerce, architects, students, landscape architects, planners, industrial designers, and others.
- This is a plan-build-program competition. Winners will be responsible for all three stages. Winning means implementing!
- This contest is not just about design. The emphasis and the top criteria for our judges is the plan that best draws people in to activate the space with ideas that are engaging, low-cost and temporary. Following the Project for Public Spaces' "Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper" mantra, successful designs will create a gathering place that is universally accessible and inclusive, as well as active and engaging—all within the space of 10 days. Function takes precedence over form: Programming will fare better than an art gallery, for instance. Entrants are encouraged to explore metroplanning.org/placemaking and placemakingchicago.com to learn more about the elements of placemaking, a community-based approach to planning, designing and managing great public places.
Why Union Station?
Located in Chicago’s bustling West Loop neighborhood, Union Station is the nation’s third-busiest rail hub, accommodating more than 120,000 Amtrak and Metra passengers every day—more daily traffic than Midway Airport. From local commuters to people traveling across the country, all of them pass through the station—but few actually hang out there because the station, sadly, is not the city’s most scintillating attraction.
Yet Union Station is full of untapped space and resources. In 2011, the City of Chicago adopted the Union Station Master Plan, which not only outlines plans for renovating the station to accommodate a greater number of travelers, but also identifies the need to create a truly great place that invites people to stop and stay awhile. In D.C. and Philadelphia, Union Stations have transformed into community hotspots. They serve a robust commuter and tourist base, but have become so much more: a place for people to mix, mingle and enjoy.
The Activate Union Station contest calls on entrants to bring to life three prime locations at the station; two of the three sites will be selected for implementation:
- The iconic Headhouse, located west of Canal Street
- The east-facing arcade on Canal Street
- Plaza of Fifth Third Center, along the Chicago River
Thanks for your submissions! The submission period is now over—check out the entries at activateunionstation.com for our public voting period, beginning this weekend.