• South Side Stories
    Terreform, 2022

“Other Plans: University of Chicago Studies,” 1998. Alternative masterplan for the University of Chicago

UR (Urban Research), the imprint of Terreform, is a book series devoted to cities and their futures. Understanding that no single approach is adequate to the promise and problems of the urban, a wide range of designs and analyses are published. Forthcoming projects range from the practical to the idealized, from community inspired plans for neighborhood transformation to outstanding outcomes from academic studios, to visionary speculations by designers burning the midnight oil, and to collations of scholarly arguments about the most urgent issues of urban growth and survival. The intent is to get the word out about solutions that exceed the imaginative reach of “official” planning and design, and to encourage vigorous forms of debate. UR seeks to become a key venue for individuals and organizations engaged in progressive urban research, design, and critical advocacy.

Through South Side Stories, Terreform aims to help reverse the way efforts to institute planning and policy changes on the South Side of Chicago have ignored the rich legacy of work outside the system and draw attention to a lode of talent and engagement that has thus far been overlooked. In particular, we will focus on the wide-ranging and sustained activism of artists and designers seeking to introduce new paradigms for living on the south side through the media of planning and building. The volume gathers both celebrated and not-yet-told tales of activism in order to reflect on the role art, social sciences, and design initiatives have played in South Side’s place-making. It brings together a number of key stakeholders in the current debates over the region’s future to present their strategies.

Michael Sorkin (1948–2020) was the founder and president of Terreform, and founder and principal of Michael Sorkin Studio, an international architecture and urbanism practice. His work spans design, criticism public advocacy, and pedagogy. Since 2000, Sorkin was Distinguished Professor of Architecture and Director of the Graduate Program in Urban Design at the City College of New York. Sorkin was architecture critic for The Nation, contributing editor at Architectural Record, author or editor of twenty books, and taught at 32 schools of architecture.  He was editor-in-chief of UR (Urban Research), which was launched in 2015 as Terreform’s book imprint. Sorkin served on the board of several civic and professional organizations including Urban Design Forum (Vice President); the Architectural League of New York (Life Trustee); and Architects, Designers, and Planners for Social Responsibility. He won the National Design Award in the category of “Design Mind” as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship; and was named a Fellow of the National Academy Of Arts and Sciences.

Joan Copjec, president of Terreform, is professor of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. From 1991–2013 she was director of the Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Culture at University at Buffalo, where she was distinguished professor of English. She has held fellowships at the Pembroke Center (Brown); Radcliffe Institute (Harvard);  Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut (Essen); the Advanced Study Center (University of Michigan); Center for the Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture (Rutgers);  Society of Humanities (Cornell); and the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (New York).  In 2010 she was critical inquiry professor at University of Chicago and distinguished guest professor at the Center for Gender Studies at the University of Aarhus (1998). Author of Read My Desire (MIT Press; republished in “Critical Thinkers” series, Verso, 2015); Imagine There’s No Woman (MIT, 2003); and Cloud: Between Paris and Tehran (MIT, forthcoming), she also edited several book collections.

Maria Cecilia Fagel, executive editor of Terreform, is an architecture/urban researcher, critic, and writer. She has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of San Carlos (Cebu); a BBA in Design Management from Parsons, The New School for Design, and a master’s in design criticism from the School of Visual Arts. Prior to Terreform, she was a market research analyst for the New York City-based Advisor to Dentsu Japan. Her work was published in Architect’s Newspaper, Verlag form GmbH & Co. KG, and by Cooper-Hewitt’s DesignFile.

Naomi Davis is founder and CEO of Blacks in Green (BIG), a national sustainability network and community wealth-building initiative dedicated to “green-village building.” Granddaughter of Mississippi sharecroppers, she is an urban theorist, attorney, and activist. She teaches courses and workshops in “Green Village Building” and lectures nationally. She served on Illinois Governor-elect Pritzker’s transition team, “Powering Illiniois’ Future,” Chicago Mayor Emanuel’s transition team, “Energy, Environment, and Public Space,” and was selected as a sustainability thought leader at Groupon’s First Annual Chicago’s Ideas Week. She is a member of the Chicago Environmental Justice Network, Local First Chicago, and the Woodlawn Chamber of Commerce, among other organizations.

Terreform is a nonprofit urban research studio and advocacy group. Founded in 2005 by Michael Sorkin, its mission is to investigate the forms, policies, technologies, and practices that will yield equitable, sustainable, and beautiful cities for our urbanizing planet. Terreform is a “friend of the court,” dedicated to raising urban expectations and to advocating innovative and progressive urban ideas as widely as possible. We undertake self-initiated investigations into both local and global issues and make research and design available to community and other organizations to support independent environmental and planning initiatives.