Thursday, November 7

On Conference Day One, we consider the evolution of our field and the type of leadership needed to take us forward. In the afternoon, we explore the Chicago Architecture Biennial exhibition.


Registration Opens at the Chicago Architecture Center

9:00am – 10:00am

Looking Forward/
Looking Back

Chicago Architecture Center, 111 E Wacker Drive

Emmanuel Pratt, Executive Director, Sweet Water Foundation

Damon Rich, partner, Hector Design Service

Sarah Herda (moderator), Director, Graham Foundation; AAO Board Member
We start the day in conversation with two urban designers from our field—Damon Rich  and Emmanuel Pratt—both of whom have invented energizing forms of public engagement that have earned them the title MacArthur Genius. Together with Graham Foundation director Sarah Herda we’ll examine how public engagement and community design has evolved over the past ten years and discuss what is needed to keep us growing into the future. Through their ranging experiences, we consider as well the varied career paths now open to those committed to advancing architecture, urbanism, and culture.

Damon Rich, a featured speaker at our very first AAO conference, founded the trail-blazing Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) that set the standard for inventive visual communications in our field. From there, Damon has never looked back, moving on to a role as chief planner for the City of Newark, and, most recently, establishing the independent design studio Hector (with partner Jae Shin) that continues to imagine new ways forward for building community. Meanwhile, Emmanuel Pratt has brought forth a holistic vision for urban regeneration that touches all ages and walks of life in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood through the creation of the Sweet Water Foundation. His comprehensive approach to community development is informing the work of organizations in other urban neighborhoods around the world.

10:00am – 11:00am

Meet the New Boss!

Chicago Architecture Center, 111 E Wacker Drive

Stephanie Whitlock, Architectural Heritage Center

Jia Yi Gu, Materials & Applications

Ben Prosky (moderator), AIA New York/Center for Architecture; AAO Board Member

In a 2016 survey, one-third of AAO member organizations reported anticipating a change in their top executive leadership position within the next five years. Here we join in conversation with a few recently appointed directors, and learn what new visions they bring to their jobs. Panelists will explore the major opportunities and challenges to keeping their organizations vital in their local communities and their staff and boards engaged.

11:00am – 12:00pm

Conference Round Tables

Chicago Architecture Center, 111 E Wacker Drive

We cap off the morning with facilitated group discussions among the Conference attendees. Here is your chance to go deeper into conversation with our morning’s guest speakers, as they will ask you to share the biggest changes facing your own organization. Groups will be themed by various topics that arise during the morning talks, so you’ll have every opportunity to follow your own area of interest.

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Lunch Break (on your own)

1:30pm – 2:15pm

Catalyzing Activism:
A Conversation with Chicago Architecture Biennial Artistic Director Yesomi Umolu

Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theatre; enter on Randolph Street between Michigan Ave and N. Garland Ct

Yesomi Umolu, 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial Artistic Director; Director and Curator, Logan Center Exhibitions at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago

Zoë Ryan (moderator), John H. Bryan Chair and Curator of Architecture and Design, The Art Institute of Chicago

The third edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, “…and other such stories,” invites design practitioners to address social, geopolitical, and ecological processes that inform both how we think about and experience architecture and the built environment. Organized around a set of themes exploring land and commodity, memory and place, rights and contested spaces, this year’s edition of the Biennial is big, bold, and experimental. Born in Lagos, raised in the United Kingdom, and now based at the University of Chicago, curator Yesomi Umolu will provide us with an inside look at the process of delivering a Biennial fit for public dialogue and the insights she learned about communicating architecture.

2:15pm – 3:30pm

Free Time to Explore the Biennial Exhibition

Billed as the largest international survey of contemporary architecture in North America, the Chicago Architecture Biennial exhibition takes over the entirety of the Chicago Cultural Center—an ornate Beaux Arts building (Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, 1897) that once served as the city’s central library. Stroll the galleries and large-scale installations over multiple floors and take in the perspectives of designers culled from all across the world.

3:30pm – 4:20pm

Member Shorts:
Take This Idea!

Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theatre; enter on Randolph Street between Michigan Ave and N. Garland Ct

Ashley Andrykovitch, Fallingwater

Mary-Margaret Zindren, AIA Minnesota

Cathi Schar, University of Hawai’i Community Design Center

Angela Kyle, PlayBuild NOLA andKenneth Schwartz, Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking, Tulane School of Architecture
A curated selection of rapid talks from AAO members are highlighted in this final session of the day. From the working title “Take this Idea!” our speakers will dispense practical advice and share their “a-ha” moments in fundraising, strategic planning, program development, and identifying local partners to champion your organization.

4:30pm – 6:00pm

Happy Hour:
Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

30 West Monroe Street, Suite 400
Designing tall buildings is a professional sport in Chicago. So, come have a drink with the team at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, the visionaries behind Jeddah Tower—soon to claim the title world’s tallest. Their meticulously restored office is located in the famed Inland Steel Building (SOM, 1958), a pioneer of the “open floor plan” and the first skyscraper built in Chicago’s Loop after World War II.

6:30pm – 7:30pm

Public Lecture:
Tatiana Bilbao

School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Rubloff Auditorium, 230 S. Columbus Drive
The Art Institute of Chicago presents the signature lecture of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, Tatiana Bilbao: Unraveling Modern Living—From Domesticity to the Commons. All Conference attendees will be pre-registered for this event.