Architects to Talk Strategy at National Affordable Housing Summit

Newswise — More affordable, appropriate and sustainable housing could be built if architects would seek to reduce governmental red tape, says an architecture professor organizing a national summit on affordable housing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Sept. 22-24.

Roberta Feldman, director of UIC's City Design Center, says Architecture for Change will reach beyond other conferences because architects and developers will do more than present their successful designs: They will tell how they got the designs built.

"This is a how-to summit," Feldman said. "Many government policies and conventional development practices impede affordable design. Architects need to organize and get involved, not wait for commissions. There's a movement among young architects to address this and other social issues that have been marginal in architecture for 20 years."

At least 19 designers and activists will join panel discussions on why change is necessary, why design matters, how to make design affordable, strategies for change, and alternative activist practices.

Among the speakers are:

-David Baker of David Baker + Partners Architects in San Francisco, whose Paseo Senter in San Jose earned the 2010 AIA/HUD Secretary's Housing Community by Design Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing

-Bryan Bell of Design Corps, co-author of the SEED Evaluator, an online tool to guide, assess and certify design projects' positive social, economic and environmental impacts

-Maurice Cox, director of design for the National Endowment for the Arts, whom Fast Company magazine named one of "20 Masters of Design" in 2004 for merging architecture, politics and design education

-Teddy Cruz of Estudio Cruz, known for his urban research on the Tijuana-San Diego border and his designs recently seen in "Small Scale, Big Change" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

-Sergio Palleroni of Portland State University's Center for Sustainable Practices and Processes, whose activism at the University of Texas resulted in the Alley Flat Initiative for affordable housing in Austin

-Michael Pyatok of Pyatok Architects, Inc., in Oakland, Calif., designer of affordable and mixed-income, mixed-use housing for families, seniors and students

The conference will feature "Fenced In/Fenced Out," an interactive exhibit from the Museum of Contemporary Phenomena, an art and architecture collective. The exhibit presents the affordable housing movement from its grass roots, rather than from a policy-maker's perspective, to illustrate how people adapt the built environment to their needs.

Optional tours will be led by Chicago architects through the remodeled Archer Courts in Chinatown; green and multi-generational housing in Roseland and North Lawndale; and the adaptive reuse of the Howard Street Theater in Rogers Park.

Architecture for Change will take place Sept. 22, 5:30 – 8 p.m.; and Sept. 23-24, 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., at the UIC Theatre, 1040 W. Harrison St. Registration is $25 to $75.

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