Chicago’s resilience journey

Chicago is the third most populous city in the US, an important cultural and economic center, and a bustling transportation hub. However, the city faces a significant challenge in its unequal distribution of resources and access to professional opportunities.

Chicago has been working to map and analyze local neighborhoods with a focus on vulnerable populations. The city has also been promoting a strategy focused on high-quality education in science, technology, engineering, and math, as a pathway to strengthen the city’s digital manufacturing sector and its middle class.

Chicago is developing plans to engage communities more effectively in infrastructure design, including water management. As a city that faces severe weather, Chicago has developed preparation and response plans for blizzards, emphasizing strategy and coordination among various agencies. Flooding is also a challenge, and while the city has begun to plan ways to divert water from high-flow areas, it still needs to increase infrastructure capacity to deal with the amount of water that falls on a regular basis.

Meet the Chief Resilience Officer

Eleanor Esser Gorski

Acting Chief Resilience Officer and First Deputy Commissioner

Eleanor Esser Gorski, AIA, is First Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Planning and Development and Acting Resiliency Officer for the City of Chicago. In this role, she coordinates the city government’s multidisciplinary planning and design efforts in the Central area, special projects, and department operations. Eleanor has managed city review and financial assistance for hundreds of residential and commercial projects for Chicago, notably adaptive reuse of architecturally significant Loop office buildings. She also oversees equity-based city planning to increase economic development and the integration of sustainability into projects.

Eleanor’s current portfolio includes the planning and construction of the Obama Presidential Center, and the first citywide plan for Chicago in over 50 years. She directly oversees planning and economic development for the central Loop business district and for the citywide preservation of historic buildings.

A licensed architect, Eleanor holds degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, and the Pennsylvania State University. She is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, and a Fellow of the University of Chicago Civic Leadership Academy.

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