Chicago Architecture Foundation
Discovering Why Design Matters
The Chicago Architecture Foundation (architecture.org) is the leading organization devoted to celebrating and promoting Chicago as a center of architectural innovation. It is also the Foundation responsible for Chicago's iconic River Boat Tours and Open House Chicago. The new site ensures this vibrant community of champions of design and design thinking can share all they have to offer with the world.
Blueprints For the Future of Architecture.org
The challenges of re-inventing such a prominent and well-trafficked domain as architecture.org were not lost on us. Chicago Architecture Foundation found success in the transactional elements of their existing site. What it lacked was a connection to the Foundation's core value: design. We needed to craft a website that properly represented the importance CAF puts on design as an art form.
The Glue That Binds It All
Fastspot created the Buildings of Chicago database to connect CAF's "collection" of buildings with their tours, educational programs, and glossary of architectural terms. The idea came out of our first meetings with CAF, and what’s come of that initial conversation is a growing interactive encyclopedia of Chicago’s buildings that depicts its unique urban landscape through historical stories and factual data—and all culled from the expertise of CAF's knowledgeable staff and volunteer docents. This complex schema was accomplished using BigTree CMS.
Not Just Tours
In order to position CAF as an interpreter of Chicago’s architectural history and as a facilitator of contemporary civic conversations, we needed to showcase their knowledge, beyond tours and events. The people of CAF are experts in their field.
They eat, sleep, and breathe architecture.
They love Chicago. There is constant discourse happening behind the scenes. We envisioned the Topic Hubs in the Topics & News section of the new site to bring those timely conversations to the forefront. These content-rich areas of exploration expand upon historical and contemporary issues affecting the world of architecture.
With so many programs, events, and exhibitions—not to mention hundreds of specialized tours—the new architecture.org needed a robust calendar system to organize CAF's offerings and make narrowing the choices easier on their users. The calendar is thoughtfully integrated with the Foundation's existing ecommerce system to keep transactions as seamless as possible. Making transactions easy for the user was a key goal of the project. Care was taken to avoid confusing jumps to external links and to provide direct access to the exact item being purchased.
From the Process
- Information Architecture
- Content Strategy
- Front-end Development
- CMS Implementation
- Ongoing Strategic Partnership
- Patron's Edge Online
- Google Maps
- Google Custom Search Engine
- Responsive Design
- BigTree CMS