Great Lakes Century Vision Plan

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The Great Lakes contain approximately 20 percent of the world’s fresh water, and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River watershed spanning from Duluth, Minnesota to the Atlantic Ocean is home to over 50 million people. Despite hundreds of important efforts to clean and protect the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, none addresses the international watershed comprehensively, as a whole ecosystem.

Inspired by the centennial of Burnham’s Plan of Chicago in 2009, SOM began a 100-year “call to vision” that outlines measures to protect the lake system and promote sustainable development in the 21st century. The pro-bono initiative illustrates opportunities to tap into renewable energy resources, improve regional transit options, and create an international park with 11,000 miles of waterfront. In the five years of this ongoing initiative, SOM’s design team has engaged scientists, public officials, businesses, and public policy advocates from over 40 organizations and presented the vision in dozens of speaking engagements, focusing attention on the opportunities and challenges associated with the future of the Great Lakes.