Part studio, part traveling classroom, Good Grids took its inspiration from a 1913 competition run by the City Club of Chicago, in which architects and planners offered up new takes on the traditional street grid, which at the time was threatening to turn the nation’s rapidly expanding cities into cookie-cutter wastelands.

“The studio had a significant body of research and there was a nice frame—no pun intended—for it. The grids made for a compelling variety of studies.” —Juror Jeanne Gang

The summer studio began with a five-week trip around the eastern U.S., looking at how planners and developers implemented grid designs in New York; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and 34 other cities in 19 states. “It’s true that you can treat the grid too generally,” says clinical assistant professor, Gregory Delaney. “But when you really look at each city, you start to tease out the idiosyncrasies that make some grids better than others.”

After returning to campus, the students—a mix of undergraduate and graduate—developed “late entries” to the 1913 competition, keeping with its original restrictions of presenting 2-mile-square swaths of Chicago, in both a plan and aerial view, and entirely in black and white. Some plans contorted Chicago’s grid to introduce curves and soft angles; others broke up linear streets to create cul-de-sacs and hidden neighborhoods.

The studio was a one-off, and Delaney thinks its timing couldn’t have been better, as cities are focusing more at urbanism and urban forms. “We need to look again at the grid idea, and learn from its successes, and its failures,” he says.

Student Work

Hidden Passage by David Lin

Sewing Thread by Asuka Fujita

Asuka Fujita

Urban Fortress by Nicholas Traverse

Piax by Rachel Chen

re(PROUN) by Patrick Niedzwiecki

Project Credits
Course: Good Grids
School: University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, School of Architecture and Planning,
Level: B.S. in Architecture (year three and four) and M.Arch., with preprofessional degree (year one)
Duration: Summer 2015 semester
Project Site: Chicago
Instructor: Gregory Delaney (clinical assistant professor)
Students: Rachel Chen, Asuka Fujita, David Lin, Patrick Niedzwiecki, Nicholas Traverse (submitted projects); George Behn, Ginny Gallersdorfer, Brandon Hake, Lorrin Kline, Cortland Knopp, Aniket Marathe, Aimée Plante, Dylan Russ, Andres Santandreu, Rohit Walimbe, Veronica Yuqui

Read more about the ARCHITECT Studio Prize winners.