6.0 Interchanging Identities
The architecture programs at UIC are structured to produce graduates able to think, negotiate, and collaborate through all media of design; to direct diverse project teams; and to generate design artifacts and arguments with a contemporary cultural and disciplinary resonance. Encouraging lateral thinking, the working hypothesis of the design culture of the school entails refiguring current constraints to generate future intelligence and innovation, the ability to extract signal from increasing noise, and advance significant design propositions in a context of information overload.
Beyond the studio, the first site for recognizing the plastic possibilities of architecture and urban design is the UIC campus itself. The campus simultaneously occupies the idealized civic center for the 1909 plan, the built reality of postwar disurbanism in the form of the circle interchange, and the thickened field of Walter Netsch's misunderstood and ultimately abandoned campus plan, including his Arts and Architecture Building which houses the School. Indeed, as an example of the campus as distilled and abstracted city, UIC may well be the only university in the world popularly named after a piece of traffic engineering: Chicago Circle.
This local collapse of image and infrastructure serves as the first emblem for the School's approach to design as a practice of fashioning collective identity from extreme performance.