Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art presents 'Massive Change: The Future of Global Design'

Entering the Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago, recently certified as a 'Green' museum, is the perfect place to host two exhibits dealing with issues of our environment, 'Massive Change: The Future of Global Design' and 'Sustainable Architecture in Chicago: Works in Progress'. The Museum of Contemporary Art wants to show how art and design go hand-in-hand and this is the only U.S. venue for the traveling exhibit. 'Massive Change' was organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery in collaboration with Bruce Mau Design and the Institute without Boundaries and poses the question, 'Now that we can do anything what will we do?'

Bruce Mau believes, 'Design is one of the most powerful forces at work today' and 'Design is no longer simply a mechanism for adapting to the world in which we live, but is profoundly affecting change on a global scale'. He also suggests 'It's not about the world of design. It's about the design of the world.' Presenting extraordinary breakthroughs and discoveries that have transformed our world along with those ready to emerge, the exhibition uses objects, sound, video, still photography, computer and satellite images, interactive technology, and three-dimensional constructs to deliver its message. The ten key areas of human activity that constitute the future of global design are: urbanization, information, the image, movement, manufacturing, materials, markets, living, the military and energy.

Model of Dean Kamen's Workshop

Among the highlights from the exhibit on movement are examples of advancements in the design of transportation. One can see forms of transportation that provide more freedom and greater efficiency at lower cost ecologically and economically. Included is a look at the workshop of Segway and iBot inventor, Dean Kamen. There is one vehicle that can go 60 miles on a charge, recharges in 2-4 hours, and can travel 40 miles an hour.

In the section on Living, there is an examination of the ability to redesign the human body, the capacity to genetically modify crops and animals and the means to deliver potable water to the whole world. Visitors to the exhibit had the opportunity to vote on whether or not they supported these approaches.

Do you think we should tamper with the elements of life?

Markets that are well tuned produce a nearly seamless marriage of demand and supply that can pretty much deliver anything, anytime, anywhere, if the price is right. It is believed that the power of markets brought to bear on the world's real problems could provide the power to change the world.

Information technology is contributing to the achievement of an unprecedented understanding of the world. This information helps us to 'see' the ozone hole, the earth's gravity field and economic and infrastructural development in remote villages around the world.

Energy looks beyond our current dependence on oil and explores wind, geothermal and solar energy with their promise to restructure the energy system from a centrally based system to a network of energy production and consumption.

Different sources of energy

Materials with intelligence such as self- healing plastic and self-cleaning glass that breaks down mold and bacteria when exposed to light are in development.

Many innovations that began with Military technology have become part of our daily lives, including the Internet, Gore-Tex and freeze-dried foods. Conversely, the world of play, including Tyco's 'Vertigo' toy truck and Hasbro's Super Soaker water gun, has impacted military design.

Military impacts daily life

Manufacture's goal is continuous flow- from design to prototyping, to fabrication, and even to disassembly so that ' Waste=food ' for new creation.

Products currently on the market include bottled water in a container that looks like plastic but is really a corn based product that biodegrades quickly, products made from Bamboo, which is faster growing than the trees that supply our paper products and also degrades rapidly, and many more environmentally friendly products. The gift shop sells paper vases and a full line of bamboo items, disposable and reusable as well as the book, 'Massive Change: The Future of Global Design' that accompanies the exhibit.

Realizing that 'If all the world lived like Americans, we would need five earths', one can take from this exhibit a recognition of the potential for change and a challenge to apply creative thinking on a global scale. The global scope of this exhibit comes to mind as I prepare my leaves, bottles, cans etc for recycling.

Energy saving vehicles

Mayor Richard Daley's vision of Chicago as the 'greenest city in America', has much to do with 'Sustainable Architecture in Chicago: Works in Progress'. This exhibit is very exciting because the notion of sustainability can be clearly seen in these designs.

'Sustainable' and 'green' can be seen applied to the 'Pacific Garden Mission' project in which Stanley Tigerman designed a 150,000 square foot facility that includes a green roof, solar panel water heating and energy efficient greenhouses. Elva Rubio leads the Gensler team in the renovation of the Hyatt Regency Lower Wacker Exhibition Hall and Riverwalk Renovation Project, both of which, will improve energy, water and waste management and offer sustainable features such as daylight harvesting to help illuminate space under Wacker Drive and provide alternative methods of heating and cooling. The UrbanLab: Aurora Master Plan incorporates the concept of an 'urban ecosystem' and is intended to become a pilot project by applying some of the foremost sustainable practices on a regional scale. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP: Zero Energy Tower is the corporate headquarters for a Chinese company in Guangzhou, China.

The global impact of design

Museum of Contemporary Art is at 220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611-2643
PH: 312.280.2660 or

Related events: Massive Change and the City: Global Visionaries Symposium, Saturday, November 18, 10:00am-5:30pm (member-$75.00, non-member- $100.00) PH:312.334.7777

Climate Crisis: Creative Solutions, October 22, 1:00pm-5:00pm

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