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Forum by inference. Photo: Cory Dewald

Chicago, United States

inference is a multidisciplinary design firm, research collective, and strategic planning consultancy located in Chicago, Illinois, and San Francisco, California, with affiliates in Hong Kong and Germany. They provide architecture, interiors, and urban and strategic services for the built environment. Our methodology draws deeply on research, analytical processes, and artistic intuition. inference works in many design mediums, both traditional and contemporary, and the wide range of capabilities ensures that they engage in a fluid and flexible process that provides clients with the best possible outcomes.

CAB 5 Contribution

Project Overview


Helmut Jahn’s massive open atrium of the James R. Thompson  Center was intended to be an architectural metaphor for transparency— revealing government in action, the public “improvising” their civic  rights and duties in concert with elected officials. Within this context,  “The Forum” will be a stage, a screen, an instrument, and a backdrop,  creating space that can be transformed through its use as a venue  for convening, public programming, and the arts, fostering a sense of  community and encouraging social interaction and engagement. 

Forum will serve as a prototype to evaluate and acquire new fields of  knowledge through the creation and curation of an improvisational  platform for exploration, dialogue, and urban activation, in particular,  those that illustrate the complexities of contemporary cities. 

inference is deeply interested in the physical manifestation of  objects; how they’re conceived, designed, and the craft of making.  The tectonics of an object are a direct reflection and representation  of how they are used and what they can achieve. It is with this  understanding that we will “rehearse” new modes of manufacturing,  assemblage and organization. 


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James R. Thompson Center


100 W Randolph St., Chicago, IL, 60601


The Loop


Made possible by The Prime Group, Capri Investment Group, and Google, the James R. Thompson Center serves as a site for exhibitions and site-specific installations as part of CAB 5. Hailed as one of Chicago’s postmodern architectural marvels, the Helmut Jahn-designed building will open to the public through the end of the year.

The City is the Site