SAH Chicago Seminar

SAH Chicago Seminar

Magnitudes of Change: Local Sites and Global Concerns in Chicago's Built Environment

Saturday, April 18, 2015 | 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
The Buchanan Chapel, The Gratz Center at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E Chestnut St.
Tickets $10 (open to the general public; pre-registration required due to limited seating)


The Chicago Seminar continues SAH’s commitment to bringing together two important audiences—conference attendees and local participants, including students, practicing architects, and professionals in related fields. This half-day program addresses the history and future of Chicago waterways and issues of community and preservation in Chicago neighborhoods. Funded by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the seminar is anchored by a keynote address from professor Charles Waldheim of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and includes a tour of the Gratz Center and Fourth Presbyterian Church.

Moderator: Alison Fisher, SAH Annual Conference Co-Chair, Art Institute of Chicago
General Respondent: Clare Lyster, University of Illinois at Chicago

Keynote Address

Reading Chicago's Landscape as Urbanism
Charles Waldheim, Harvard University

Landscape has emerged as model and medium for the contemporary city. This claim has been available since the turn of the twenty-first century in the discourse and practices of ‘landscape urbanism.’ The talk begins by describing the origin of the profession of landscape architecture in the nineteenth century as a ‘new art’ charged with reconciling the design of the industrial city with its ecological and social functions. The origins of landscape architecture in the nineteenth century are described as the first of three moments over the past two centuries in which landscape reemerged as a medium of urbanism. The talk describes those three historical moments through the lens of Chicago’s history from the nineteenth-century frameworks of the park system to the twentieth-century aspirations for landscape planning. The main body of the talk situates recent claims for the landscape architect as the urbanist of our age with a particular focus on recent work in Chicago, and describes landscape as a medium of design for contemporary Chicago through comparison with recent projects in New York and Toronto.

Waldheim is the John E. Irving Professor of Landscape Architecture and Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Charles Waldheim

Keynote Speaker
Charles Waldheim
Harvard University

Panel One

Transformations of the Chicago River and Lakefront

Among the most exciting recent developments in Chicago are projects and research focused on the area’s waterfront, including Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. This discussion features architects working on important recent buildings and urban design, such as the Riverwalk by Ross Barney Architects, and the WMS Boathouse by Studio Gang Architects, completed in 2013 on the river’s north branch. In addition, we hear from a policy maker and an architect working on research directed toward the future of the Great Lakes region, making connections between local and global ecological and economic systems.

Martin Felsen

​Martin Felsen
Illinois Institute of Technology

Jeanne Gang

Jeanne Gang
Studio Gang Architects

Carol Ross Barney

Carol Ross Barney

Ross Barney Architects

Debra Shore

Debra Shore

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District

Panel Two

Development and Change in Chicago Neighborhoods

Chicago’s neighborhoods represent the distinctive history of the city as well as the evolving culture of the present. From the challenges of development in the vibrant neighborhood of Pilsen to the shifting demographics of Chicago suburbs, this panel brings together an architect, a policy expert, and a historian to discuss pressing issues of diversity, economic growth, and preservation in Chicago’s many distinctive neighborhoods.

Robert Bruegmann

Robert Bruegmann
University of Illinois at Chicago

Patricia Saldana Natke

 Patricia Saldaña Natke

Alaina Harkness

Alaina Harkness
MacArthur Foundation


8:30 a.m.  Check-In 
8:45 a.m.  Welcome and Introduction
9:00 a.m.  Keynote Address by Charles Waldheim 
9:30 a.m.  Panel Discussion One 
10:30 a.m.  Break and Tour of the Gratz Center and Fourth Presbyterian Church
10:45 a.m.  Panel Discussion Two 
11:45 a.m.  Q&A Period 
12:30 p.m.  Closure of Seminar 

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610