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Reinvention in the Urban Midwest

Sasaki Sponsored Research
Midwest, United States
Planning and Urban Design
Completed September 2013

To reinvent is to recast something familiar into a different form or purpose. Like planning and design itself, reinvention is an act of optimism. It takes the inherent strengths of a place, introduces something new or unexpected, and catalyzes positive change and transformation. Reinvention in the Urban Midwest explores drivers of change in the American Midwest and a series of Sasaki projects in the region that exemplify responses to these drivers. Despite a variety of unique project types—campuses, districts, waterfronts, and regions—and a mix of physical and economic contexts, the work demonstrates the fertility of the Midwest for urban reinvention.

Evolving cities, global competition, the ideas economy, scarce resources, and shifting priorities are among the current high-level changes motivating the need for urban reinvention. Macro responses to these drivers include rethinking resilience, identity, partnerships, adaptation, and choice. The Sasaki projects selected to illustrate these include The Chicago RiverwalkPlan Big at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Midtown Detroit TechTown District PlanPark-Stradley Hall at The Ohio State University, and The Tomorrow Plan.

An interactive mapping survey, titled MyMidwest, accompanied the exhibit to capture how people define the Midwest. In addition to contention about how to define the geographic borders of the Midwest, some survey respondents called into question the degree to which we can typify the communities within these borders.

Reinvention in the Urban Midwest was on view from July 17 to September 27 at BSA Space in downtown Boston and is currently seeking new venues for display.

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