The Great Lakes and surrounding environs could sink well below the definition of “great” if this unique but often abused region of North America is ignored. That is the informal warning issued by Vision for the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Region, a master plan recently crafted by the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). Philip J. Enquist, leader of the firm’s global city design practice, spearheaded the project. For drafting the plan, he will receive the inaugural Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) Award for Excellence in Design, Planning & Sustainability at the organization’s gala on November 10.
The Vision “addresses the phenomenal increase in human population, the impacts of urbanization, and the threat of climate change to the largest fresh water lake system in the world,” cites Chicago-based SAH in the award announcement. Enquist says the Vision plan was inspired by the 100th anniversary of Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago. What would a Burnham Plan for the 21st century look like? SOM’s team of planners identified a “family” of issues that command attention if the Great Lakes are to be protected and enhanced.