Rules of the Road: Connecting Chicago to Underutilized Freeway Infrastructure Zones
Karl Daubmann, John Marshall, Cezanne Charles
Transportation infrastructure such as waterways, Roman roads, railroads or the federal highways have always informed the design of cities. The National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956 forever changed transportation, economic flows, connectivity and the landscape of the US. The mechanical efficiency required for the success of the freeway is created through separation from everything that might slow it down, but unfortunately the benefits of speed created by separation are constantly at odds with the slower, finer-grained, human concerns of dense urban cores.
Chicago is a unique city to consider regional and local connectivity given the history of commerce and the transportation of goods into, around, and out of the city. Many designers have considered the forces, forms, and implications of the freeway with wholesale utopian visions of buildings and roads merging into mega-infrastructural proposals such as Chambliss’s 1910 “Roadtown” or Jellicoe’s 1961 Motopia. Rather than negate the rich existing conditions of Chicago and its infrastructure, Rules of the Road engages the Federal, parametric, Fordist logic of the freeway with the requirements of a post-Fordist city and proposes urban design strategies that mitigate environmental, social, and formal concerns with an architecture that engages underutilized freeway infrastructure zones.