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Demonstrating the viability of sustainable concepts and practices in urban environments through research, education, and hands-on projects.

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UHC Lecture Series 2010 7) Community Activism through the Design Studio

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 · 6:30 PM

7. Community Activism through the Design Studio


DATE: Wednesday, July 7, 2010
TIME: 6:30pm
LOCATION: J. Merlo Branch of the Chicago Public Library
644 W. Belmont Avenue, 60657 (map)

Lecture Summary

From the University of Kansas’ Architecture Department, Chair and Associate Professor, Nils Gore, and Associate Professor, Shannon Criss, will share with us the community-based projects they’ve done with architecture students in Mississippi and Kansas.

Under the auspices of the Small Town Center (STC) at Mississippi State, an outreach center of the School of Architecture, Nils and Shannone worked in small towns, helping them with design and planning. They were able to focus their efforts on revitalizing downtowns after large corporations sucked the business out and create a symbol of community unity by building a park in a racially-divided town.

After moving to Kansas (KU), they’ve done several projects in New Orleans, following Hurricane Katrina, working with a community organization in the 7th Ward. These are all small projects, prefabricated in Kansas, then transported to and installed in NOLA: a tool shed, an outdoor classroom, a mobile stage, and notice boards. Most recently they’ve also done a couple of projects in Kansas for a scientific research field station to help them with public outreach and education - an overlook deck with a view across a river valley and a visitors pavilion to introduce people to the field station.

They’ll also talk about the project that brought them to Chicago where they first met UHC’s Anna and Dave, which was a hypothetical, paper project they did with students regarding urban agriculture on the South Side.

The projects all have the constant themes of localism, sustainable materials, cultural connection, and what they call “guerrilla” or insurgent architecture: small, independent projects done kind of on-the-sly, and definitely on-the-cheap. Their hope as educators is to introduce to students the idea that architecture can be found in small, meaningful grassroots initiatives, in contrast to corporate mega-projects.

View some of the STC projects
View some of the KU projects

Lecturers’ Bios

Nils Bio:
I am an Associate Professor in Architecture at the University of Kansas, Chair of the Architecture Department, and a licensed architect. My education includes a B.Arch degree from Kansas State University, and an M.Arch. degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design. Prior to my appointment at KU in 2001, I taught at the Boston Architectural Center and at Mississippi State University. My community-based design/build projects have won numerous design awards from the American Institute of Architects, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, and the Young Architects Forum. The work has been exhibited at the Cooper Hewitt Museum, and published in Domus, Batture, Cityscape, and the Journal of Architectural Education.

Shannon Bio:
Shannon Criss is an Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Design and is a licensed architect. Her projects and writings are focused on issues related to sustainability and engaging everyday buildings with urban places. She has delivered papers and published numerous articles related to community-design practices, one noted in Good Deeds, Good Design, Community Service Through Architecture published by Princeton Architectural Press. She has been supported with a variety of grants, the most recent award from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards for innovative teaching in sustainability. She received her Masters of Architecture degree from Harvard University and a Bachelors degree in architecture from Kansas State University. Prior to teaching at KU, she taught at the Boston Architecture Center, Harvard Graduate School of Design and Mississippi State University.

Downloadable content

Community Activism through the Design Studio (6.3 MB, PDF format)

Audio coming soon…

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