Saturday, October 21
9:20 AM - 10:20 AM

Featuring Nootan Bharani, Chandra Christmas-Rouse, Chana Haouzi

Each of the panelists in this session has created courses regarding the built environment that challenge the status quo of design teaching and studio culture. Based in the humanities rather than technology systems, the courses bring the reasons for design to the forefront and raise discussions that center on those that have traditionally been left out of the design process. In this conference session, panelists will briefly present these courses which were created for youth and/or for higher-education non-design majors. Panelists will discuss the benefits of bringing such design discussions to a much wider audience. In particular, participants of these courses become immersed in the inquiry of why, how, and of whom to demand a better built environment.

Architecture of Memory

In this architecture studio, students will study and engage in design work through lenses of human condition as the priority. By imagining spaces that evoke emotion and inspire action, and examining relationships and meaning between architecture and place, we will explore concepts for spaces created for the purpose of holding, preserving, or honoring aspects of culture and history. The culture and history of the South Side of Chicago will be the primary focus. The final design project will be to create a memorial for an aspect of social history of the South Side of Chicago, sited in Washington Park.

Arts + Public Life's Design Apprenticeship Program - Arts Lawn Pavilion

During the summer of 2021, youth participants of Arts + Public Life's (APL) Design Apprenticeship Program had the unique opportunity to create the design brief and initial designs for a real project - a pavilion for a new public space. APL included artists and the landscape architect of record in this summer education session. The resulting structure, opening in 2023, honors the youth participants' design closely. The innovative summer program centered local youths' voices for the primary permanent structure in this new community open space. 

The Life of Buildings

The Life of Buildings is taught to University of Chicago undergraduates in various majors. The course examines the life of buildings-– how they perform, evolve, and adapt over time. How do particular design decisions influence human experience and behavior? Which parts of the building align with its intended use, and what are surprising outcomes or changes? These questions aim to provide students with a deeper understanding of the built environment and the series of decisions that shaped them. Through readings, surveys, site visits, and conversations with architects and building users, the course equips students with practical tools and strategies needed to shape our world and account for the long-term impact of design. 

(Re)memory and Spatial Imaginaries in Bronzeville Workshop Series

The workshop series opens with a walking tour of the Bronzeville neighborhood that explores Black women’s contributions to building Chicago and designing urban planning interventions in Bronzeville. Students learn about how they transformed spaces often abandoned by urban planning institutions to create new possibilities through design rooted in their values. The workshop then invites students to engage in intergenerational conversations about the history of their neighborhoods and to design spaces that reflect the values, cultures and traditions of their communities. 

Where the Sidewalk Grows

Where the Sidewalk Grows is a graphic novel that follows a 13 year old girl named Imani and her classmates as they reflect on the spaces that make their neighborhood of Bronzeville on the southside of Chicago feel like a community. As they learn about the history and traditions of their neighborhood, they begin to create a vision for the future of development in the neighborhood one sidewalk at a time.


Nootan Bharani, AIA

​​Nootan Bharani is a fierce champion of the continuum of communities and a thoughtful leader of processes to shape places where people want to be. As an architect and maker with deep background in environmental sustainability, Nootan has a propensity toward existing buildings and in-between spaces. Nootan has spent most of her career in non-traditional practice, working directly with neighborhood partners on a variety of projects. Nootan is currently the Associate Director of Cultural Stewardship and University Partnerships at Arts + Public Life, and a lecturer at the University of Chicago. Previously, Nootan was Lead Design Manager for Place Lab where she was thought and practice leader for building projects by artist, Theaster Gates. Prior to coming to the University of Chicago, she was Managing Director for CB&I Sustainable Design Solutions of Illinois. Nootan is also a volunteer in Chicago Public Schools where her children attend, co-leading initiatives for caregivers of students with disabilities.


Chandra Christmas-Rouse

Chandra Christmas-Rouse is a Senior Manager at Metropolitan Planning Council where she leads the Change Lab initiative which equips advocates, the public sector, and private entities with the knowledge, skills and tools to affect structural change and to institutionalize equity. Chandra also directs MPC’s housing work and supports land use & planning and equitable transit-oriented development (eTOD) programs. A background in community development and environmental justice informs her design approach of working with community stakeholders in a participatory process to support capacity building, achieve place-based solutions, and reimagine systems. Her past experiences include integrating policy and strategy consulting with technical knowledge to advance economic mobility and sustainability for a number of organizations and firms including Enterprise Community Partners and United Nations. Chandra is also an interdisciplinary creative, educator, and author of a graphic novel entitled Where the Sidewalk Grows. 

Take a minute and play Maplips to reflect on your own community!


Chana Haouzi

Chana Haouzi is an architect, educator, and fierce advocate that good design can and should be for everyone. She is the founder of Architecture for Public Benefit, a mission-driven practice serving nonprofits and community organizations. Chana teaches at the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her practice and teaching focus on promoting socially engaged and inclusive design rooted in community and context. Chana worked for the City of Boston as an Architect and Rose Fellow and developed innovative initiatives to increase housing affordability and access. She holds a Master in Architecture II from Harvard University and a Master of Architecture and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from McGill University. In 2022, Chana received a AIA Young Architects Award, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the architecture profession early in their careers.