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Charles L. Owen papers, 1980-1993

Identifier: 008.01.14

Eight reports and associated public relations materials authored or edited by Charles L. Owen concerning four class projects he directed as a professor in Illinois Institute of Technology's Institute of Design. The projects include Project Phoenix, Aquatecture, Aerotecture, and Nanoplastics. The reports included are listed as follows:


  1. Project Phoenix: Macro-Design Proposals for Confronting Global Warming Fire Replaced, Charles L. Owen, 1990, July 2004
  2. Project Phoenix: Macro-Design Proposals for Confronting Global Warming Fire Reversed, Charles L. Owen 1990, July 2004
  3. Aquatecture. Macro-design Projects on the Theme “Water” Floating Fields, Charles L. Owen 1987, July 2004
  4. Aquatecture. Macro-design Projects on the Theme “Water” CrossRoads in the Sea, Charles L. Owen 1987, July 2004
  5. Aquatecture. Macro-design Projects on the Theme “Water” Patterned Energy, Charles L. Owen 1987, July 2004
  6. Aquatecture: Macro-design Projects on the Theme “Water” Mobile Offshore Industry, Charles L. Owen 1987, July 2004
  7. Aerotecture: The Return of the Rigid Airship, Charles L. Owen 1993, August 2004
  8. NanoPlastics. A Home System, Brain Switzer, Jason Nims, Barry Shimelfarb, et al. with Charles L. Owen 1993, July 2004
  9. Public Relations documents re Project Phoenix (4 pages), Aquatecture (4 pages), and NanoPlastics (2 pages)

Additional unprocessed content includes 31 boxes of personal and professional papers, itemized as follows: Reference papers for design (1 box) Publications/PhD Program (1 box) Design notes and journals (1 box) Academic/Administrative/Office files (7 boxes) Slides and slide making materials (10 boxes) Lecture notes/files (1 box) Academic Affairs & Administrative paperwork (1 box) Academic pamphlets and files (1 box) Design classes (2 boxes) Student projects (3 boxes) Semantic Mapping computer program and printouts (1 box) IIT Handbooks and Student Affairs (1 box) Systems and other lesson plans (1 box).

A digitized version of a 1980 lecture by Owen on Structured Planning also remains to be processed.


  • Creation: 1980-1993


Language of Materials

Records are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The reports are available for research. The unprocessed 31 boxed of personal and professional papers and digital files of the Structured Planning lecture are not yet processed

Collection Size

8 reports

31 Boxes

229 megabytes : Digital files stored on network share and in Google Drive

Biographical Note

Charles L. Owen, Distinguished Professor of Design, joined the faculty of the Institute of Design in 1965, with prior service at Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute, 1962 - 1964. Owens served as Program Head for Product Design for more than 20 years. He served as associate director from 1969 to ca. 1972, and was instrumental in reviving the design program from near failure by a series of communication projects and competition wins from the late 1970's to the early 1980's. Owen assigned his students to design posters using the program, called Poster, which he then printed and circulated to strategic locations as a means of recruiting new students. The posters became recognized internationally for their innovation and design features.

Biographical / Historical

Project Phoenix comes up with two socially conscious plans intended to deal with the phenomena of global warming. The project uses the ideas of creating alternate forms of energy and strongly augmenting photosynthesis processes in order to hedge the disastrous effects of global warming on the environment. Aquatecture is a unique project that deals with the use of water. It poses the idea of using water resources for food production, transportation, energy development, and manufacturing. It is in these areas where the project is divided into subprojects named: Floating Fields, Crossroads in the Sea, Patterned Energy, and Mobile Offshore Industry. Nanoplastics, an innovational study on the technology surrounding the usage of plastics, was a project that had ambitious goals. It aimed to use molecular nanotechnology to develop materials that have properties such as: computational power, abilities to sense and react to surroundings, and capacities for changing function. Project Phoenix was given "Grand Award, Environmental Technology" for Popular Science's "100 Greatest Achievements in Science and Technology for 1991. Aquatecture won the Grand Prize in the 1987 Japan Design Foundation's international competition. See public relations documents (in folder 9 of the collection) for Nanoplastics recognitions.


Portions of the collection have not been arranged and described.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Formerly 2004.069


Important additions to the IIT Archives for documenting these later activities of the Institute of Design.


Catherine Bruck, University Archivist 1/3/2005

Part of the Paul V. Galvin Library. University Archives and Special Collections Repository

35 West 33rd Street
Chicago IL 60616
(312) 567-5993

Paul V. Galvin Library

35 West 33rd Street | Chicago, IL | 60616