Columbia Interior Architecture Students Reimagine Chicago

Columbia courses use Chicago as a focal point for students studying Interior Architecture.

Living in a city with an extraordinary history like that of Chicago comes with the advantage of being surrounded by both the modern and the historic. This is likely of particular interest to history buffs and design enthusiasts. For Interior Architecture students in Columbia College Chicago’s Research Methods for Interior Architecture (INTA 410) and Final Studio (INTA 435) courses, the advantage of being surrounded by both modern and historic architectural design is invaluable. The courses, which give students the opportunity to explore how research is integrated into the design process while providing the ability to put that knowledge into practice, have been set up to explore the architecture of the city while also giving students the capacity to act as visionaries for what the city’s structures could look like in the future.

Architect, Visiting Professor of Interior Architecture, and former Principal at architecture firm Gensler, Dave Broz, has been teaching INTA 410 and INTA 435 to Columbia seniors since fall of 2021. Last year, Broz’s students had the opportunity to explore State Street and reimagine what that portion of the downtown area would be like in a post-pandemic, social justice-focused era. They came up with 30 unique design ideas. “Their proposals brought to the city center spaces focused on immigrants, homeless individuals, minority communities, and female youths. Together, their proposals give our future hope and a more inclusive environment that I’d like to be a part of for sure,” says Broz.

This semester, Broz’s students visited with park rangers, historians, and residents of the historic train town created by George Mortimer Pullman and his train car business—the Pullman neighborhood in Chicago—as part of their final studio project. “I'm excited to guide this studio again this year,” says Broz. “Their final year-long capstone 2022 studio project consists of collective research into this far South Side Pullman District and a design insertion that will enhance the district. Inspired to create massive change by the book Mau: MC24, written by design change agent Bruce Mau HDR ’11, they are motivated by the ripple effect of the district enhancing their project and, most importantly, of their project enhancing the district.

“Our students are looking at the district as a whole to see what can stitch it all together—the residents, the jobs, the historic structures, the tourists. I can’t wait to see where these future leaders of our cities, towns, and businesses are putting their collective energy towards painting a future based on their experiences and vision of what Chicago is and, more importantly, what it should be,” says Broz.

This fall, a group of students from Mau’s class at the Architecture School at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada will be visiting Columbia for several weeks to tour Columbia’s Student Center. Visiting students will be part of a co-teaching session with Columbia’s 4th year Interior Architecture students and learn from Columbia students’ research for both the State Street and Pullman projects.