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The Great Lakes Century


The Great Lakes Century inspires all in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin to envision and take action towards a prosperous and sustainable future for the region. This pro-bono initiative of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s City Design Practice advances a 100-year vision for the watershed focused on environmental protection, smart growth, and economic revitalization. View the Vision Video from SOM for a preview.

Designers can play an important role in activating meaningful dialogue and advocating for progressive policies towards realizing a shared regional vision for the future. SOM brings extensive international planning and design experience to this initiative with master planning projects in over 20 cities in 2012 alone. SOM’s interdisciplinary team includes architects, urban planners, engineers, ecologists, and landscape architects.

In four years, SOM has engaged scientists, politicians, environmentalists, businesses, and public policy advocates from over 35 organizations working actively in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region. The vision set forth in this initiative was unanimously approved by the 95 Mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.


About Paul O’Connor

The keynote presentation “The Great Lakes Century” will be given by Paul O’Connor of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP in Hancock Hall auditorium at 9 a.m. Paul provides strategy, marketing and urban affairs expertise for SOM’s City Design Practice Worldwide. The Great Lakes project, a pro-bono initiative of SOM advances a 100-year vision for the watershed of the Great Lakes region focused on environmental protection, smart growth, and economic revitalization.

About Philip Enquist

Philip Enquist is leader of the global city design practice of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), the world’s most highly awarded urban planning group. Phil and his studios have improved the quality and efficiency of city living on five continents by creating location-unique strategic designs that integrate nature and urban density within a framework of future-focused public infrastructure.

The scale of Phil’s design perspective continues to expand from innovating sustainable urban forms that enhance city living with walkable, transit-enabled districts humanized by their natural amenities to rapidly changing urban clusters within regional ecosystems like North America’s Great Lakes basin and China’s Bohai Rim.

Phil is committed to the profession through one-on-one mentorships, his recent teaching of a studio for architecture and urban design students at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and as the Charles Moore Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

He was honored with the 2010 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Architectural Guild of the University of Southern California (USC) School of Architecture for his dedication to strengthening the physical, social and intellectual infrastructure of cities. The year prior, the Chicago Tribune named him and his studio Chicagoans of the Year in Architecture, citing “the city-friendly designs of Phil Enquist.”

Phil passionately believes that the world’s explosive growth in cities and population must be managed by humanely bold and holistically sustainable thinking at the national, regional and metropolitan scale and that human habitat design will become the alpha design science of the 21st century.


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