As part of the 2015 annual conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, the Chicago Seminar engages international scholars and local audiences in critical discussions about local architectural histories and the future of the city. The seminar focuses on the increasingly important relationships that link new plans for local communities to historic, economic, and environmental concerns. An interdisciplinary panel of architects, historians, and other experts discuss the dynamics of history and innovation in the city's and region's evolution, including the multifarious roles of industry in the city, options for the region's water resources, and the impact of gentrification and development in historic neighborhoods. Keynote speakers, including Charles Waldheim, address this intersection of scales, histories, and disciplines. Through this focus, the seminar meets the needs of its two target audiences: local public and professionals, and visiting scholars wishing to understand the debates shaping Chicago's built environment today.
Alison Fisher, cochair and moderator of the Chicago Seminar, is the Harold and Margot Schiff Assistant Curator of Architecture at the Art Institute of Chicago. Fisher received her BA from the University of Rochester, her MA in art history from Northwestern University, and is completing her PhD in art and architectural history at Northwestern. Since joining the Art Institute, Fisher has curated numerous exhibitions, including the major retrospective and catalog Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention (2011–12); The Challenge of American Style (2010–11); and Looking After Louis Sullivan (2010). Her current exhibition project The City Lost and Found: Capturing New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, 1960–1980 will travel to the Princeton University Art Museum in 2015 and be accompanied by a catalog published by Princeton University Press. Fisher has organized panels and given lectures on modern architecture and urbanism at international conferences including the College Art Association, the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH), the American Planning Association, and the ETH Zürich.
Ken Tadashi Oshima, cochair of the Chicago Seminar, is associate professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington. Oshima teaches transnational architectural history, theory, representation, and design. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard University’s GSD, Columbia University, and the University of British Columbia. Oshima earned an BA degree in East Asian studies and visual and environmental studies from Harvard Univeristy; an MArch from the Univeristy of California, Berkeley; and a PhD in architectural history and theory from Columbia University. His publications include Global Ends: Towards the Beginning (2012), International Architecture in Interwar Japan: Constructing Kokusai Kenchiku (2009), and Arata Isozaki (2009).
Charles Waldheim, keynote speaker, is the John E. Irving Professor of Landscape Architecture and chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University’s GSD. Waldheim teaches design studios at the intersection of landscape and contemporary urbanism. He offers the proseminar in landscape architecture, as well as lecture and seminar courses on the histories, theories, and contemporary practices of landscape architecture and urbanism. Waldheim's research focuses on landscape architecture in relation to contemporary urbanism. He coined the term “landscape urbanism” to describe emerging landscape design practices in the context of North American urbanism. On the history and future of Chicago urbanism, he is the author of Constructed Ground (University of Illinois Press, 2001) and coeditor, with Katerina Ruedi Ray, of Chicago Architecture and Urbanism: Histories, Revisions, Alternatives (University of Chicago Press, 2005). He is currently writing the first book-length history of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, entitled Chicago O'Hare: A Natural and Cultural History (University of Chicago Press). His writing has also appeared in Landscape Journal, Topos, Log, Praxis, 306090, Canadian Architect, Dimensions, and Landscape Architecture Magazine.
The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) promotes the study, interpretation, and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes, and urbanism worldwide. Founded at Harvard in 1940, SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions, and individuals who, by vocation or avocation, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful engagement with the history of the built environment thorough advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national, and international programs. Since 1994, SAH has been headquartered in Chicago.