SCI-Arc faculty member Mohamed Sharif received first place in the 2011 Burnham Prize Competition: McCormick Place REDUX, organized by the Chicago Architectural Club (CAC), along with AIA Chicago and Landmarks Illinois.
Organizers this year voted to use the competition as a forum to decide the "theoretical" faith of Chicago's McCormick Place East—one of the largest exhibition and convention centers in the US— which is struggling to remain attractive against rising event destinations like Orlando and Las Vegas.
The international Burnham Prize ideas competition—one of the oldest and most prestigious of its type, challenged not only architects and those in the events business, but anyone with a vision for McCormick's future, gathering approximately 50 design proposals ranging from a "Chicago Speedway" racetrack to a floating stadium.
The winning entry, (Toward) a Requiem (shown here)—a collaborative design submission by LA-based designers Mohamed Sharif, Felix Monasakanian, Efren Soriano and Teo Biocina, proposed stripping McCormick Place East down to its bare steel structure and allowing lake water to flow into the convention center floor. Essentially a plan to turn the building into a testament to its former vanity by obscuring its function as an austere exhibition space, the design convinced the judges through its powerful idea and attitude.
Sharif is principal of Sharif Studio and currently teaches design studio and cultural studies seminars at SCI-Arc. He previously studied architecture as an exchange student at the Illinois Institute of Technology.