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The 2020 Chicago Architecture Center’s Teen Summer Design Challenge invites teens to respond to the following prompt:

In response to the City of Chicago’s current initiative INVEST South/West, design a community amenity to reactivate a neighborhood in Chicago’s South and West side neighborhoods.

The Challenge

The challenge invites students to respond to the City of Chicago’s INVEST South/West initiative by designing a community amenity to improve the quality of life for residents in neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West Sides.

Examples of community amenities may be public spaces like park, community centers, affordable housing options, transportation improvements like CTA access or bike lanes, and public art. Submissions should be thoughtfully designed for specific locations and residents in one of the following Chicago neighborhoods:

  • Auburn Gresham
  • North Lawndale
  • Austin
  • Englewood
  • Humboldt Park
  • Quad Communities
  • New City
  • Roseland
  • South Chicago
  • South Shore
  • Your own neighborhood!


The Teen Summer Design Challenge is free to participate in and open from July 13-17 to students ages 13-18 from the Chicago area. Resources and a step-by-step guide is available on the CAC’s collaborative learning platform, A jury of design professionals will review student submissions to select finalists to compete for first, second and third place prizes. Winners receive varying cash prizes up to $500.

What do I need to submit?

Students must submit a digital image of their completed design and a short written response (300-500 words) to the following prompt:

What key issues or opportunities does your design address in order to improve the quality of life for your chosen neighborhood?

Projects may be 2-dimensional, 3-dimensional, and/or digital. Any materials or combination of materials are acceptable to submit (pencil, paper, recycled materials, photographs, collage, etc.)


  • Free to enter
  • Open to students from Chicago area
  • Open to students ages 13-18
  • Teams up to 5 students may enter


  • Mid-June: Challenge Open and Live on
  • July 13-17: Live virtual support available via Zoom (Monday-Friday, 1-2p)
  • July 31: Challenge closes
  • Early August: Juror Review + Winners Announced


The jury will select finalists to compete for first, second and third place prizes. Challenge winners will receive the following cash prize amounts:

  • 1st Prize - $500
  • 2nd Prize - $350
  • 3rd Prize - $250
  • Honorable Mentions - $100

Teams must divide the total prize amount


The Teen Summer Design Challenge is live on CAC’s award winning collaborative learning platform, DiscoverDesign. Log on to work through the steps of the design process, upload your progress and collaborate on our virtual learning platform.

For questions or support, please email to schedule a coaching call. To ensure all students’ safety, participants must register online or email in order to receive the Zoom call information.

Register here.


Final projects must be submitted to the online portal by 11:59pm on July 31, 2020 to be eligible for jury review.