AIAS Forum Held in Chicago
By Zach Borders
From December 29, 2002, to January 2, 2003, more than 1,300 students,
educators and professionals came together in the city of Chicago for FORUM
2002, the annual conference of the American Institute of Architecture
Students (AIAS). AIAS provides students with the opportunity to learn
about issues facing architectural education and the profession, to meet
students and professionals with common interests, and to interact with
today's leading architects. At this particular FORUM, themed "City Reborn"
and hosted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, attendees
gathered to discuss how architectural knowledge could help make better
places to live.
A wide variety of speakers, workshops and tours were included in the event's
program to help nurture ideas and enhance the learning experience. Tours
that explored the city and its wonderful architecture and neighborhoods
included Chicago's much-publicized HOPE VI Project, North Town Village,
a trip to Historic Pullman, Ill., and a tour of the Frank Gehry Millennium
Park band shell construction site. Workshops on portfolio design, graphic
skills and rendering, and photography were a unique and successful part
of the event's program.
Keynote speakers included Dr. Donald L. Miller, author of "City of the
Century: The Epic of Chicago and The Making of America"; Sharlene Young,
winner of the 2001 AIA Chicago Young Architect Award; and architects Eric
Lloyd Wright, Andrés Duany and Carol Ross Barney. Seminars led by Jim
Kunstler, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Peter Swift and Emily Talen encouraged
students to become active participants in their own communities and schools
where new urbanism is slowly working its way into the curriculums. Finally,
Duany and Kunstler joined University of California-Berkley architecture
student Jess Wendover, Mayor John Norquist of Milwaukee, and Mayor David
Ransburg of Peoria, Ill., in a panel discussion devoted to addressing
student concerns and thoughts about the future of our communities. "Envision
City Reborn" will long be remembered as a FORUM highlight.
For many of the architecture students in attendance, individuals who came
before them in the profession provide a great deal of inspiration. Walter
Burley Griffin's design of Canberra, Australia, Le Corbusier's "Radiant
City" and Frank Lloyd Wright's "Broadacre City" demonstrate how architects
have been keenly interested in the collaboration of architecture, landscape
and urban design. Through talent and creativity these individuals have
made a difference in the way the places we live look and work as communities.
Were their contributions positive ones? Will contributions made by future
architects be positive ones? At FORUM 2002, the message delivered was
that students of architecture and planning must understand the responsibility
that comes along with the degree.
Although the event itself has ended, the energy has not. The Students
for New Urbanism chapter at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
has recently begun a listserv devoted to continuing the discussion about
how young people can improve community life. Well over 100 subscribers
enlisted within the first week. The listserv, TIMELESSWAY, draws inspiration
from the written work of Christopher Alexander and others. To join this
listserv, please e-mail Genevieve Borich at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more
information about FORUM 2002, go to
Zach Borders, AIAS FORUM 2002 chair, is currently working towards a
master of architecture and a master of urban planning degree at the University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he earned a BSAS in 2001.