The built environment is defined by human-made decisions that have long-lasting impacts on our society. Today, we are in the midst of a critical conversation about how structural racial injustices, discriminatory policies, and uneven access to resources have shaped our society and our built environment for decades. Challenges like the current global health crisis reveal and amplify conditions that have always been present. These injustices and policies are manifested in both subtle and explicit ways across many areas—from housing, education, economy, and safety to public transportation, public space, health, and the environment. Governments, civic institutions, private organizations, professionals, and citizens continuously define, respond, and contest these conditions. Exploring and identifying long-term policies, immediate actions, and comprehensive plans have the potential to shape a more equitable and sustainable future.
Grant proposals should address how design professionals can work toward urban justice and examine how design can contribute to conditions of social justice in cities, neighborhoods, buildings, and public spaces. The proposals should help identify strategies, policies, and interventions that can increase access, agency, ownership, diversity, and empowerment.
Submission proposals should incorporate multidisciplinary teams and build upon disciplines that seek to scientifically understand this multifaceted topic. Teams should develop a study that is based on rigorous research and that provides a unique and innovative approach to the topic.
The principal investigator(s) will be expected to work in a collaborative manner with faculty or leading professionals from other disciplines and students to pursue a research question inspired by the SOM Foundation Topic. The SOM Foundation Research Prize is intended to support new and ongoing research by faculty and students with the goal of providing conclusive findings about the topic at hand. The development of this research can take place within an academic studio or as part of other research structures within an academic institution.
During the research period, the Foundation Advisory Board is anticipated to have periodic interactions for the purpose of providing feedback and focus to maintain a high level of excellence throughout the research effort.
The grant is expected to be completed a year after its start date. The start date can vary to match academic calendar but needs to be no later than August 31, 2021.
The winning teams will be required to thoroughly document the research findings and develop conclusions or suggestions for application to professional practice. The final product should advance the discussion around the selected topic and be visually compelling.
The leading faculty and academic institution submitting the grant application may present the results at the end of the project at a public event held at their institution. Faculty will be responsible for seeking out additional opportunities to disseminate research findings at relevant professional, public, and civic events, as well as in online and print publications.
The principal investigator(s) must teach at a US school with accredited Bachelor, Master, or PhD degree programs in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, or Urban Design.
The secondary investigator(s) can be based worldwide. The secondary investigator(s) can be academic institutions, professional companies, and nonprofit organizations. Multidisciplinary teams are encouraged to apply.
SOM Foundation affiliated members and SOM employees should not be included as part of the proposals.
Principal investigator(s) from previously awarded proposals are not eligible. However, previously awarded academic institutions can submit new proposals.
A jury, chaired by Iker Gil, will be responsible for selecting two submissions most suited to the Topic profiled in the SOM Foundation Research Brief. The 2020 jury will be comprised of three leading professionals and two SOM Foundation representatives.
David Brown is a Professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He works on The Available City, the potential of Chicago’s 15,000 city-owned vacant lots as a collective space system, an urban design, an exposition, and a future we can have today.
Justin Garrett Moore is an urban designer and the executive director of the New York City Public Design Commission. He has extensive experience in urban design and city planning—from large-scale urban systems, policies, and projects to grassroots and community-focused planning, design, and arts initiatives.
Iker Gil is the Executive Director of the SOM Foundation, Chicago (Chair).
Arathi Gowda is an Associate Director in SOM’s Chicago office and the team leader for the office's Performative Design Group. She is a member of AIA’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) and an Adjunct Professor at the College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).
Toni L. Griffin is the founder of Urban Planning and Design for the American City, based in New York. Through the practice, she served as Project Director for the long range planning initiative of the Detroit Work Project, and in 2013 completed and released Detroit Future City, a comprehensive citywide framework plan for urban transformation. She is the Professor in Practice of Urban Planning at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
Doug Voigt is a SOM Foundation Director and Urban Design and Planning Partner in SOM’s Chicago office. Since joining SOM in 1995, he has focused on complex urban plans and architectural projects. He is interested in the capacity of design to build community and connect people to one another.
Proposal relevance to goals and objectives of the SOM Foundation Research Brief.
Research program innovation and rigorousness.
Clarity of approach to student engagement in the proposed research program.
Transferability of research outcomes to practice.
Qualifications, prior achievements, expertise, track record of performance.
Capacity to administer, including contract and budget management.
Content and quality of supporting documentation.
7.1 Title Page
Title of Research Project
Name(s) and institutional affiliation of principal investigator(s) and secondary investigator(s)
Date of submission
Maximum 250-word abstract summarizing the topic of the proposed research. Specifically, the problems or the conditions that demonstrate the need for the research, the research question that will be addressed, the scope and proposed methodology of the work, and the expected outcomes of the project.
500-word expository description of the area of focus, scope, and outcomes of the proposed work. Include the institutional context of the of the research (e.g. team composition, travel, facilities, institutional support, etc.).
7.4 Work Plan
Identify project collaborator(s), a schedule, key milestones, preliminary budget, final products, and a draft syllabus.
7.5 Preliminary Budget
Provide itemized use of the grant funds (e.g. research assistance, travel, equipment, software, supplies, etc.). Please, include additional funds or in-kind support, if any, provided by other funding sources. Administrative costs should be kept to a minimum and never to exceed 15% of the grant.
7.6 Supporting Documentation
CV(s) of principal investigator(s).
Examples of student studio work produced under the instruction of the principal investigator(s). Examples from multiple students in a single studio are preferred.
Letter of support from the supervising department head or chief academic officer of the department, college, or university of the principal investigator(s).
7.7 Supplemental Documentation
Maximum of 20 pages of additional documentation directly related to the proposed research program (e.g. copies of completed or speculative creative work or building designs, relevant writings or other documents that establish unique qualifications).
All proposals submitted should be:
8.5" x 11", Portrait orientation
35 pages maximum
File size not to exceed 150 MB
Monday, November 16, 2020 at 11:59pm CST.
Please, include the name of the award and principal investigator on the subject line.
Submissions will be accepted starting October 26, 2020.