The government has seemingly been left holding the bag in the recent disintegration of the U.S. housing market, owing to its gratuitous propping up of the highly unregulated financial intermediaries to whom it completely turned over the sheltering of the populace, while architects, designers, planners and community organizers have struggled to craft solutions that could be remotely considered responsible, relevant and practical. But an upcoming conference plans to approach the crises in both the supply of and demand for affordable housing by avoiding undue reliance on either the neglectful inefficiency of public agencies or the high-tech futurist utopianism of private firms (c.f. Bruce Mau’s “Massive Change” wankathon at the MCA in 2006), in favor of new connections between poor communities and academic institutions. Learning from, advocating for and being accountable to low-income housing residents, and creating economically viable and ecologically sustainable plans and designs, will be central issues in the discussions at this three-day event. UIC architecture professor and City Design Center director Roberta Feldman told me, “Many of the case studies will illustrate the strategies designers have used to challenge conventional assumptions; that is, the process, not only the resulting designed project.” New models of ownership (Teddy Cruz), research and evaluation tools (Bryan Bell), an existing net-zero affordable housing project (Sergio Palleroni), direct family consultation (Casius Pealer) and reforming zoning and building codes (Michael Pyatok) will be topics at some noteworthy talks and panels. Guided tours of unique design endeavors in West Humboldt Park, Roseland, North Lawndale and Rogers Park will wrap the event up on Friday. (Bert Stabler)
Wednesday, September 22 through Friday, September 24 at 1040 West Harrison, University of Illinois at Chicago. For more info: architectureforchange.aa.uic.edu/pages/index.html
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