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2022 Kelbaugh Lecture: David Brown

Taubman College presents the Inaugural Kelbaugh Lecture featuring David Brown, Chicago-based designer, researcher, and educator, and artistic director of the 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

What is the potential of The Available City, Chicago’s 15,000 city-owned vacant lots as a collective space system, an urban design, and a future we can have today? How can a community-oriented approach shift perspectives in how cities are built and vacant urban spaces are transformed? Deeply rooted in a framework for collaboration and community-led design, Brown asks us to consider the collective impact that space can have in cities today.

Brown’s work investigates non-hierarchical, flexible, and variable approaches to urban design within The Available City, an ongoing speculation on the potential of Chicago’s city-owned vacant land. Iterations of the speculative design have been exhibited in the Venice Architecture Biennale (2012), the Chicago Cultural Center’s Expo 72 (2013), the Chicago Architecture Biennial (2015), and received a grant from the Graham Foundation in 2011. As an implementation of the project, he is currently working with organizations in North Lawndale to develop two collective spaces. 

Brown’s essays and drawings presenting the transformative impact The Available City can have on Chicago’s South and West Sides are found in CENTER 18: Music in Architecture—Architecture in Music, the Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies, volume 2, and Flat Out 4. Those essays advance his study of design and structures in jazz that facilitate improvisation, which he initiated in the book Noise Orders (University of Minnesota Press, 2006).

Brown has lectured on his work at Columbia University’s Center for Jazz Studies and the Politecnico di Milano and has taught at Florida A&M University and Rice University. He is currently a professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University and a Master of Architecture from University of California, Berkeley.

The inaugural Kelbaugh Lecture, generously funded through an endowed fund given by Douglas Kelbaugh and Kathleen Nolan.

Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial / Nathan Keay, 2020
© Chicago Architecture Biennial / Nathan Keay, 2020

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