Oct 16th 2015

Architecture Faculty are Nayar Prize Finalists

Three IIT Architecture faculty members are among the interdisciplinary team selected as one of three finalists for the $1 million Nayar Prize established to encourage and challenge Illinois Institute of Technology faculty, staff, and students to develop breakthrough, innovative projects that will, within three years, produce meaningful results with a societal impact. The rise of the driverless car is an example of the exciting technological advances that provide us with the opportunity for "Rethinking Metropolis".

Driverless City Project Team Members include 
Marshall Brown (Architecture)
, Lili Du (Transportation Engineering), 
Laura Forlano (Design)
, Jack Guthman (Architecture, Planning Attorney)
, and Ron Henderson (Landscape Architecture).

The Driverless City Project team, drawn from so many academic departments, represents the interdisciplinary approach leveraged in IIT Architecture's Cloud Studio program involving undergraduate and graduate students who work alongside one another on projects related to the City of Chicago.

The Driverless City Project will develop social scenarios, technical solutions, infrastructure prototypes, and model urban codes that transform city streets into twenty-first century human infrastructure. Research workshops, computer simulations, visionary drawings, physical models, and narrative videos will give shape to this future city. These elements will be further developed into smart driving control systems, design guidelines for transportation agencies, model municipal codes, and infrastructural prototypes.

As cities around the world leverage the opportunities and manage the impacts of driverless cars, this crucially important project investigates a transformative advance in transportation and communication technologies—the kind that have always changed cities and demanded new forms of physical infrastructure. In the next decades we can improve urban social life by increasing the ecological performance, safety, and efficiency of streets while also recovering underused land and revitalizing our cities.

An interdisciplinary team with a strong record of excellence and impact across the fields of urban design, landscape architecture, transportation engineering, sociology, smart cities, and planning law will investigate The Driverless City. Marshall Brown, associate professor at the College of Architecture, has been recognized for his work on the challenges of twenty-first century urbanism and will represent the United States at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. Lili Du, assistant professor of transportation engineering, is an expert whose research addresses the performance of connected and autonomous vehicle systems. Laura Forlano, assistant professor at the Institute of Design, has been researching the design and use of sociotechnical systems in cities from a critical perspective for more than 10 years. Jack Guthman is a planning attorney whose considerable experience includes zoning counsel for more than 40 million square feet of development and 12 years as chairman of the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals. Ron Henderson, director and professor of landscape architecture at the College of Architecture, has received international awards for his work on designing the public realm with a focus on the integration of ecological systems into parks and transportation landscapes.

Each of he three finalists teams will each be granted $100,000 to spend within a year to show significant progress toward a solution for the problem they investigating. In year two, the team that shows the most promise will receive an additional $200,000 to continue its work over the next two years. Finally, if that team continues to meet the metrics and benchmarks established by the steering committee, it will be awarded $500,000.

The Nayar Prize is funded by distinguished Illinois Institute of Technology alumnus Madhavan Nayar and the Nayar Family Foundation. Madhavan Nayar is the founder of a company that is a pioneer in information integrity software.