Legat Architects’ 8th annual Think Tank, a Chicago Architecture Biennial partner event, aims to “shock the system” by tackling disinvestment within urban communities and giving a voice to the underrepresented (architects earn up to 10 AIA/CES LUs)
A city hosts an architectural competition for the design of a new building in a low-income/disadvantaged area. The winning “starchitect” designs a shiny new structure that gains the praise of the architectural community. And yet, the building is vastly out of line with the needs of the city . . . because community members were either ignored or never involved. This scenario has played out in many cities for many building types ranging from schools to healthcare centers.
When it comes to urban infrastructure and architecture, many American cities suffer from disinvestment. In other words, those who have the resources to make change have withdrawn their investments in these communities. The result is a drop in literacy rates, a rise in crime, and a domino effect of businesses and investors pulling out of the community.
Legat Architects’ 2021 Think Tank will explore this phenomenon and how cities, building owners, and those in the architecture/engineering/construction industry can address it. Think Tank Program Director Justin Banda said, “Instead of saying, ‘We’re going to give you this building and you’re going to like it,’ we should be saying, ‘Let’s work together to create a building that moves this community in a positive direction.’”
The symposium, titled HOMECOMING: Design for Disrupting Disinvestment, is a 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial partner event. Event speakers range from college/university faculty and lecturers to administrators and enthusiasts. Sessions take place over four afternoons each spaced three weeks apart:
- Institutional & Instructional Design
September 10, 2021 | 2:00 – 5:00 PM CST
- Housing Stock & Design Alternatives
October 1, 2021 | 2:00 – 5:00 PM CST
- Transportation & Municipal Design
October 22, 2021 | 2:00 – 5:00 PM CST
- Health & Wellness Design
November 12, 2021 | 2:00 – 5:00 PM CST
Each session features a keynote speaker, followed by a panel discussion with three to five experts (including the keynote speaker).
Registration is now open for the first event on September 10. Speakers include the following:
- Jane D. Leach – Also serves as keynote
Chief Executive Officer @ Future Ready Columbus
- Dr. Professor Susanne Junker
Professor of Design @ University of Applied Sciences Berlin
- Sarah Lytle, Ph.D.
Senior Advisor @ Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network
- Dr. Professor Marcel Robischon
Professor of Agritecture @ Humboldt University of Berlin
- David Webb
Administrator, Owner @ The Well – Madison
Each session will credit attendees with 2.5 AIA Continuing Education Learning Units
(LUs), which will count toward the required annual quota for architects.
Instead of saying, ‘We’re going to give you this building and you’re going to like it,’ we should be saying, ‘Let’s work together to create a building that moves this community in a positive direction.’Justin Banda,
Think Tank program director
A Shock to the System
Banda compares the current state of disinvestment to a machine/system in need of repair. The purpose of this year’s Think Tank, he said, is to kickstart the system back into action.
“When a community has been ignored for so long,” he said, “we need to shock it back into action by bringing its members back to the table and reminding them that they have a voice and a key role to play in the evolution of their cities. It’s a kind of homecoming. We also need to give the political, corporate, and institutional communities a jolt by showing their complicity in the problem and ways to remedy it.”
Register now for the 2021 Think Tank opening session on Institutional & Instructional Design.
Equalizing Everywhere: The Global Playground
Legat is also hosting a design competition that coincides with the 2021 Think Tank. “The Global Playground” competition, open to industry veterans and students alike, challenges designers to rethink the role of play as not just something for children, but also as a community-building exercise that sparks cross-cultural exchange, invites new avenues for play, and serves as a doorway to learning at every age.
Winners will be announced at Think Tank 2021, receive monetary rewards, and have their projects featured in a story about the competition. Submissions are due by Sunday, November 7 at noon. Register for “The Global Playground” design competition.
Contact us with questions about the 2021 Think Tank or comment below to share your thoughts on this post.