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The Chicago Architecture Center’s What’s Next? series explores how business and design leaders can unite to create great cities. It poses the questions: What kind of future do we want? What are we willing to do to get there?

Each event features a panel of influential, divergent thinkers who pack the content of several keynote lectures into one action-filled morning. Attendees walk away with a succinct synopsis of where things are going and how we all can work together to build better cities.

“The way we think and act in silos prevents innovative solutions and contributes to why and how we leave so many people behind… the more we can bring various disciplines together for a broad platform of exploration and discussion the better.”

—Phil Enquist, Consulting Partner, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Past Events 

Watch the video below (run time 5:04) for highlights from
What's Next? Designing the future city: part 2

View the full program video


Watch the video below (run time 3:17) for highlights from

View the full program video

Why Cities?

Our world continues to urbanize. With 70 percent of the global population predicted to live in cities by 2050, now is not the time for business as usual.

For better or worse, cities are where we will have the greatest impact on planetary health and quality of life—through design, economic policy, next-generation technologies and sustainable development. We need big plans and bold action.

What’s Next? examines the major forces at play in cities everywhere—but especially Chicago—and offers critical learning for civic-minded executives.

What’s Next? is a multi-year series generously supported by Sandra L. Helton and Norman Edelson.