This March marks two years since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. To say that those two years have changed the world would be an understatement—from the ways we live, work, travel and communicate, to smaller things, like dating, having a drink at a local bar, trying on clothes in a fitting room (which my pre-pandemic self was never a fan of but now somehow it hits differently), or hugging a stranger when the Blackhawks score a goal. Even our usual annual Design 50 list, highlighting those “who shape Chicago” missed a beat, bypassing a 2021 edition.
At this time, two years into a twilight zone of sorts—or maybe better described as a long dream that leaves you numb in a haze of confusion and disorientation—I found myself thinking less and less about the post-pandemic future and more about embracing change. In the space between dwelling in the nostalgia of “the before times” and trying to envision “the new normal,” comes a liberating realization: some things are just out of our control. Letting go is not easy nor is bringing yourself into the present moment, away from what life used to be or could be “after all of this is over.” But it is then and there that one can finally reclaim power by turning all energy and effort into looking at change as opportunity.
This is exactly what this issue is about: Celebrating the forces behind the scenes in terms of power and influence in Chicago’s design scene—those who are changing our world for the better. Whether reimagining the urban landscape, redesigning our interior spaces or a workspace in which we’ll be able to better collaborate, providing digital experiences when coming together is not an option, proposing green initiatives and sustainable solutions to protect the environment, striving to bring equity, diversity and inclusion to the foreground, stressing the importance of community, and elevating the design world at-large while highlighting Chicago in the process, they all have one thing in common: they are all about redesigning the world in which we will again thrive. Onward and upward.
Here are those who shape Chicago’s Architecture and Built Environment:
Author/Professor of Architectural History and Cultural Heritage in the College of Architecture of the Illinois Institute of Technology
“Hopefully, 2022 will finally bring the arts community back together live so we can initiate multidisciplinary collaborations that impact the quality of the built environment in Chicagoland,” says architect, preservationist and historian Michelangelo Sabatino, also a professor of architectural history and cultural heritage at IIT’s College of Architecture. Sabatino, alongside Susan S. Benjamin, co-authored “Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses 1929-75,” a volume that explores the substantial yet sometimes overlooked role that Chicago and its suburbs played in the development of the modern single-family house in the twentieth century. He has a new book in the works that “will offer different perspectives on the history of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s campus, Bronzeville and Chicago,” he says, adding that the research featured will also serve as the basis of an exhibition hosted on the IIT campus.
Michelangelo Sabatino joined SAH in 1999. He has served on the SAH Melon Author Jury, as a Session Chair at the 2014 Annual Conference, and on the SAH Board from 2013-2016.
To read about all the Design 50 2022, click here