PIs: Shannon Lee Dawdy and Bill Brown


Materializing the Future

How is the future being shaped by designers in the present? Modernism in architecture and urban design often took its boldest steps by attempting to shape society's future. Having passed through a period of postmodern disenchantment, designers now seem ready again to take on the challenge of the future. In the face of climate change, a global crisis in democratic governance, and a chaotic acceleration of neoliberal capitalism, what sort of futures are visionary architects and designers trying to bring into being? What sort of utopian visions do they have? What informs their social imaginaries? What projects are being realized? What is on the horizon? How can we understand urban and landscape design as a social movement in this contemporary moment?

This three-year project will facilitate conversations about and with architects, designers, geographers, and those who interact with them. Year 1 will initiate the project with three visiting lectures and a related reading group. Year 2 will expand this initiative with more experimental events inviting collaborations between scholars and practitioners. Year 3 will culminate in a conference and creative events organized in conjunction with the Chicago Architectural Biennial.

This series will enhance and benefit from several related initiative on campus begun in the 2017-2018 year, such as the Urban Art / Urban Form Sawyer Mellon seminar, the Designing Urbanism workshop and several events involving the Decolonizing Architecture group.