Special Thanks to:

AIA Illinois

AIA Chicago

AIA Eastern Illinois

AIA Northeast Illinois

AIA Prairie

Site Selection Committees

AIA Illinois 200 Great Places FAQs

What makes a "Great Place"?

A consistent theme of the selected places is that of utilizing the AIA's 10 Principles of Livable Communities. First on this list was the principle of "design on a human scale," which emphasizes "compact, pedestrian-friendly communities." Other Principles include that of "mixed-use development," "preserved urban centers," and "vibrant public spaces." The list of Great Places includes many examples that illustrate these principles and more.

What kinds of Great Places are there?

The AIA Illinois Great Places encompass the built environment of Illinois. The list included planned communities as well as individual houses. There was no specific limit on the types of places that could be nominated, but they all had to be publicly accessible. The requirement of public access makes the list tend towards civic and commercial structures and limits private houses to those that have been turned into "house museums." The Great Places list includes churches, schools, offices, court houses, museums, and planned communities. The Great Places list can be sorted by type of use, location, and decade, which will provide the viewer with a way to use this list for educational and tourism purposes. The Great Places list includes notable structures by famous architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe, but also includes structures by anonymous builders and urban places with multiple designers.

How were the Great Places selected?

An AIA Illinois Great Place had to meet several criteria. First among these was the sense of how well did the place meet the AIA's 10 Principles of Livable Communities? These guiding principles help establish an overall framework. Secondly, the places had to be publicly accessible, which limited individual private homes and other structures that might be architecturally distinctive but did not help educate the public. A third and more difficult definition was that of size. How big could a place be and still be a place? The working definition for our selections is that of a place that could be experienced by standing in one location. The only exception to this was a designed landscape that was created by an identified planner or landscape architect. There are several communities that are listed because of their importance in urban planning and several parks that were designed by landscape architects. We did not include structures such as bridges which are primarily transportation infrastructure and not a pedestrian experience.

The selection committee for this project was created by the AIA chapters of Illinois, under the leadership of AIA Illinois. Each chapter nominated a core of places based upon the population of their region. Each chapter developed its own nominating committee, and was encouraged to work with other local organizations. The total list was then developed to provide a range of place types, eras and designers that represent a wide spectrum of Illinois.

How do I find out more information about specific Great Places?

The AIA Illinois Great Places web site is the host location for visitors and includes links to individual location websites.

What is AIA Illinois doing to recognize these Great Places?

Each local AIA Chapter in Illinois will work with the sites for a recognition ceremony. AIA Illinois has created a graphic identity package of framed certificates, window stickers and wall plaques that can be used for local commemoration. The AIA Illinois Great Places web site will be maintained by AIA Illinois into the future.

What if I want to visit these Great Places?

The AIA Illinois Great Places web site contains a map feature to help plan an itinerary or see if there is a great place near you.

Note about Dates

Many of the Great Places were constructed over a period of time. The list includes two dates. The first date would be the year a building was completed. The second date could represent several different possibilities. For a place that includes a number of buildings, it could be the end date of the construction of all the buildings. In other cases, the second date could be the period of major renovation.