• Now and Then: An Occasional History of Architecture at Chicago (1968–2018)
    Julia Di Castri, Jayne Kelley, and Robert E. Somol
    University of Illinois at Chicago-School of Architecture

Architecture studios in Walter Netsch’s A+A Building, late 1960s. Photo: Orlando Canbanban. Courtesy of UIC Special Collections and University Archives.

Appearing on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture, Now and Then is an institutional memoir that consists of scholarly essays, original criticism, conversation transcripts, and graphic argumentation, along with historical profiles and contemporary portfolios. It unfolds an alternative tale to the dominant narrative of architectural education in America through the unlikely nexus of a one time extension program in Chicago. The School of Architecture emerges as an occasionally fevered site of concept generation, one that has been typically repressed or neglected by virtue of the appropriation and successful marketing of those concepts elsewhere. Most schools are known for a single idea that they beat into the ground; UIC remains unknown due to the surfeit of ideas it gave away. Rather than being founded solely on the location of monuments, Chicago’s architectural significance might now equally be understood as erupting from the migration of ideas.

Robert Somol has been the director of the UIC School of Architecture since 2007. A design critic and theorist, he is the editor of Autonomy and Ideology (Monacelli Press, 1997) and has served on the editorial boards of Any, Log, and Flat Out. His writings have appeared in publications ranging from Assemblage to Wired, and will appear in a forthcoming collection of essays, Nothing to Declare. Somol is the codesigner of offuse, an award-winning studio and residence in Los Angeles that extends his interest in combining the speculative discipline of modernism with the material excesses of mass culture. For the 2015–16 academic year, Somol was a fellow at UIC’s Institute for the Humanities completing his book manuscript, This Will Cover That: Writing and Building from the Death of Corbusier to the End of Architecture, and served as the Baumer Distinguished Visiting Co-Professor (with Neil Denari) at the Ohio State University.

Jayne Kelley is a writer and editor based in Chicago. She is currently a visiting assistant professor at the UIC School of Architecture. From 2013 to 2017, she worked at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montréal, most recently as managing editor in the publications division. She is a coauthor of The Western Town: A Theory of Aggregation (Hatje Cantz, 2013), and her writing has appeared in Clog, MAS Context, the Journal of Architectural Education, and Flat Out, where she is a member of the editorial board.

Julia Di Castri is an architectural designer based in Toronto who teaches, curates, and writes. Her writing has appeared in Flat Out and Fresh Meat Journal, where she served on the editorial board for two years. She is cocurator and designer of several exhibitions at the UIC School of Architecture. Recent architectural projects include the design of the new permanent collections gallery for the Architecture and Design Department at the Art Institute of Chicago and design for a forthcoming exhibition at Krannert Art Museum.

Marcia Lausen has been the director of the UIC School of Design since the school’s formation in 2013. She is the founding director of Studio/lab, a multidisciplinary design practice with locations in Chicago and San Francisco. Studio/lab designs identity, information, and interactions. They also work in publication design and environmental graphics. As advocates for the value of good design in commercial, cultural, civic, and social settings, Studio/lab maintains a client base that spans this range of activity. From 2000 to 2008, Lausen led a comprehensive US election design–reform initiative. Her book Design for Democracy: Ballot + Election Design (University of Chicago Press, 2007) is the basis for federal election guidelines distributed by the US Election Assistance Commission.

The UIC School of Architecture promotes architecture as a cultural practice of organizing information, of identifying and deploying patterns—conceptual, visual, material, and behavioral—in the world. We prepare graduates to project all scales of these patterns through the development of an aesthetic attitude, a technical confidence, and a theoretical opportunism. When deployed creatively, architecture and urbanism are two of the most powerful tools available to remake the world as an artifact of our desires, ethics, and ideologies. Informed by a contemporary and historical understanding of its discipline and location, the School ventures to liberate and install new forms of collective association and material arrangement through all scales of media of architectural design and research. Our primary mission is to prepare graduates to think and negotiate through all genres of design; to direct diverse project teams, and to generate artifacts and arguments with a contemporary and cultural and disciplinary resonance.