2018 HKS Design Fellowship Midwest: A Resilient Makerspace for Chicago

By Tyler Schwede, Lisa Nono, Lauren Stark on January 3, 2018

The HKS Design Fellowship is an annual design exercise that brings together creatives from across HKS to explore big ideas and stimulate new thinking. Our goal is to cultivate emerging design talent as we enrich the quality of design at HKS. We connect students, emerging design professionals and community leaders in conversation around real-world conditions that could benefit from design and creative dialogue.

This year, unique design fellowships will be hosted by the HKS offices in Chicago (Midwest DF), Washington, D.C. (Mid-Atlantic DF) and Orlando (Southeast DF).

In 2017, HKS Chicago moved into a new office, which we think of as a Living Lab. It’s a studio that reflects our core design beliefs, one of which is a commitment to resilience and well-being. Building upon that spirit, we will partner with Illinois Green Alliance to host the 2018 HKS Midwest Design Fellowship.

The program for this year’s HKS Design Fellowship Midwest will center on creating conceptual designs for a new makerspace and collaborative green hub for Chicago. This new place will provide a location for people to gather, share and build ideas. We’ll incorporate both educational and community spaces into our proposals. Our hope is that with our conceptual designs in hand, Illinois Green Alliance may inspire investment in this proposed new space.



Who can participate?

Any university students and recent graduates are eligible to apply. Students in architecture, urban planning, interior design, industrial design/designed objects, landscape architecture and the fine arts are particularly encouraged to apply.

When will it take place?

This year’s HKS Midwest Design Fellowship will take place March 23 – 26 at HKS Chicago.

What will we do?

The three-day charette will involve workshops, team design, tours and lectures. At the program’s conclusion, we will present our final designs to a jury panel of educators, practicing architects, and community leaders.

Is there a cost to participate?

There is no cost to participate in the Design Fellowship. Lunch and dinner will be provided, and participants will be responsible for their own lodging and transportation.

How do I apply?

Send an e-mail to that includes a single pdf, comprised of:

  • A completed entry form
  • A 8.5” x 11” page showing your design creativity. The requirements of this portion of the application are intentionally vague; your design page can consist of a single image, a collage or a piece of artwork and should reflect who you are as a designer. Note: in order to maintain a blind review of applicants by the selection committee, please do not include your name or any photos of yourself on this page.
  • A description of your design process and the tools and processes you use (2-3 sentences).
  • A brief letter of recommendation from a studio instructor, advisor or mentor. This can be either emailed directly from the recommendor or incorporated into your submission pdf.
  • A one-paragraph bio.

Important dates:

  • January 5, 2018: call for entries
  • February 16, 2018: applications due
  • March 1, 2018: fellows selected and notified
  • March 23-25, 2018: fellowship charrette at HKS Chicago
  • March 26, 2018, 5:00 p.m.: final presentations at HKS Chicago


Enter any additional questions in the comment fields of this story, below.


  • Hi, I am interested in applying but unsure if I am still considered a recent graduate. I graduated approximately two years ago (May 2016) and have roughly 1 year of work experience. Also, I noticed the other HKS offices has location specific requirements, is this one open to all locations. Thank you and Happy New Year!

  • Dear Sir,

    I am a first year graduate student at University of Illinois wanted to know that the Letter of Recommendation should be sent to you after you notify the recommender? or he should send it to you directly once I submit the application requirement?

    Please let me know to the earliest.

    • Hi Dikshit,
      Thank you for your question. Please have your recommender send your letter to you so you can submit the Letter of Recommendation with the rest of your application materials.

  • Hello,
    on here it says that the deadline is 2/16/2018, but on the entry form and the email our school send us indicate that the deadline is 3/1? Which is correct? Thank you

    • Hi Toby,

      Thank you for bringing this to our attention, it will be changed on the form immediately. The application is due today. Please contact me if you have any questions. Thanks again – Tyler

Leave a Reply to Tyler S. Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *