Team Cactus collaborates again! This entry was for this year’s Design Leadership Conference Competition, an internal competition through the firm we each work at. Unlike last year’s competition, which only spanned a weekend, this lasted over a month, allowing us to reach a more complex level of development and representation. The premise was very open-ended: given this site, located along the Chicago River, develop a master plan, and refine one particular aspect of that plan.

The massive superstructure at the heart of the project is an elevated surface, touching down strategically at key locations throughout the site. Transit and biking/pedestrian networks provide efficient circulation, embodying a living pulse supplying vitality to key spaces. The arterial network promotes wellness through interconnectivity and movement, encouraging participation with the site’s architecture and amenities. This large gesture and detailed layering strategy preserves or enhances existing structures and heritage items, integrating them into an overall system that recognizes the site’s history and celebrates its future development.


Layering and vertical distribution enhance the experience of each type of arrival and movement through the space, with unique strategies employed to best optimize each system. Heart.Beat engages and delights the senses to create an exciting journey and sense of place. A combination of newly activated program along the riverfront and remediation of the existing industrial areas cultivate a shared sense of responsibility to care for and contribute to the site’s growth. The site’s identity transforms from underutilized to awe inspiring, compelling visitors to return and residents to form lasting communities within easy reach of the site’s many amenities.

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