2018 National DiscoverDesign Competition:

Design A Community Market for Social Good

Design a community market on a transit-oriented site in Chicago to improve access to resources and provide public gathering spaces for the Marshall Square or McKinley Park neighborhoods in Chicago.


Design a Community Market for social good in a Chicago neighborhood.

Community markets provide both social and economic benefits for the public. They encourage personal interactions, bring life to often overlooked spaces and stimulate local economies in ways that major retail stores or supermarkets cannot. Community markets can especially thrive in areas where people already pass through, making areas near bus, train bicycle and other transit stations an ideal location.

Projects developed with consideration to nearby transit stations are called transit-oriented developments (TODs). Research shows that TODs can positively impact an area in a ½ mile radius from the station location. As a gateway for many communities, transit-oriented projects are pedestrian focused, sustainable and can serve as an important resource for people using the station. In particular, they can provide unique opportunities for community exchange, gathering and access to essential community resources. For example, fresh and healthy food options in ‘food deserts’ (areas where people don’t have access to fresh or healthy food options) or safe spaces for public gathering.

Your design must be able to be built on one of the following transit-oriented development sites:

  • 2012 S California Avenue, vacant lot under the train line at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Pink line, California station in the Marshall Square neighborhood
  • 2211 W 35th Street, vacant lot near the CTA Orange line, 35th/Archer station in the McKinley Park neighborhood

TRY THIS: Define the problem you are solving for by writing a success statement:

“My community market design, located at ___________, will serve the community of ____(describe your community location)____ by providing/enabling ____(explain what needs your design will meet/do for the community)_____.”

Collect Info

Gather information about the sites and the people who will use it.

About the sites:

Try this:

  • Research community markets and what they can offer to communities.
  • Are there marketplaces in your area? Go visit them and take notes on what makes them successful and/or meaningful. Consider researching a local case study near where you live.
  • Use Google street view to explore and document your site. Take notes of what you notice. What is there? What isn’t?
  • Research Chicago’s guidelines and definitions of transit-oriented developments.
  • Listen to users. Talk to transit users and ask how they would use a market place.
  • Look at the history of the neighborhood. What used to be in these locations?
  • Use public data to learn more about the population, demographics and economy in the area.

Check out these resources for more information.

Brainstorm Ideas

How might your research shape early ideas? Sketch, write or take pictures.

Try this:

  • Sketch some of your initial ideas and/or find some inspiration images and upload them here.
  • How are community market spaces different from a mall or chain supermarket? Why might that be important?
  • Complete a site analysis. What assets are around (within a half-mile of) the station? Are there essential services missing? (e.g. stores, sidewalks, benches, etc.) How might your market improve the area?
  • Consider the local climate and seasons – how much space should be inside, outside or covered? What materials could be successful?
  • Lay out the site in a bubble diagram. Where are the opportunities to engage the community?
  • How might your research about the community and residents influence your design? How might you best support the local culture?

Develop Solutions

Put your ideas together to propose a few solutions for a community market.

Try this:

  • Firm up the program of your building(s) and your public spaces.
  • Make a massing model with cardboard and tape.
  • Create pathways that connect entrances and activities. How will people get to the space and move through it when they are there?
  • Consider capacity – how many vendors can fit in the space? How many variations of vending areas would you provide? Would you provide areas for pop-up (one-time) vendors?
  • Memory and identity – how does your marketplace support cultural and neighborhood life? How do you make this space a memorable experience? Design other urban design elements (e.g. street lights, benches, bike racks, signage) that are unique to the identity of the place.

Get Feedback and Improve

  • Ask your teacher, friends, family, neighbors, what they think of your design.
  • Redefine your problem statement based on your findings. Show how your ideas have changed through your research.

Final Design

Upload images and describe your final design.

Review your design and test it against your original success statement that you wrote for the Overview. Does it solve the design challenge?

Try this:

Upload detail images that showcase different perspectives and spaces of your design from an eye-level perspective:

  • Exterior View: a rendering of the exterior of your house
  • Interior View 1: a view showing the interior of your house
  • Interior View 2: a view showing the interior of your house
  • Material Detail View 1: a detail image of an important material (interior or exterior) used in/on your house
  • Any other images you’d like to include to help the jury understand your design.

Write about your target audience and material choices:

  • How does this design benefit the local community?
  • Tell us about the site and materials you have included in your design and why.


  • Your overall 3D view and the site plan should show the street and neighboring buildings, to help the jury understand how your building sits on the site. Include trees and people to help the jury understand the scale of your building.
  • If you are creating a physical model, take a picture with a high quality camera or use the HDR setting on a phone. Take the photo against a blank wall or surface and get close! Do not include a lot of stuff or people in the background of your photo.
  • If you are working in a digital design software like SketchUp, do not submit a screenshot of your work. These files may be too small and blurry for the jury to review. Export your files as large jpegs and upload (5,400 pixels WIDE by 3,600 pixels TALL (5,400 x 3,600)).

Submission Requirements

All of the following requirements must be submitted by November 30 to the competition portal in order to qualify for jury review:

Completed design challenge steps on DiscoverDesign. A completed design challenge must include:

  • A unique cover image of your design
  • At least one description and three images per step of the design process
  • Written statement (250-500 words) addressing: Reflect on your initial success statement. How did you successfully address the challenge and serve the identified community? What are some unresolved aspects of your design?

Completed registration on the competition portal including:

  • All form questions answered
  • URL to your completed design challenge
  • One (1) overall image showcasing your final design (jpeg) (this needs to be the same as your header image for your DiscoverDesign project)
  • Click the SUBMIT button by November 30, 2018.

Projects must be submitted to the competition portal on November 30, 2018 to qualify for jury review. You must submit your design project URL and one (1) overall image to the competition platform.

Submit the project on Slideroom

Projects must be sumbitted by November 30, 2018

Submit on Slideroom