Benjamin Franklin Project Distinguished Lecture: “Democracy and the Built Environment”

The Social Sciences Department will host the Benjamin Franklin Project Distinguished Lecture, “Democracy and the Built Environment,” on Tuesday, February 26, 7:00 pm, in the McCormick Tribune Campus Center Auditorium. The event will feature Peter Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History at the University of Virginia, and Marshall Brown, assistant professor of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Please RSVP here.

Onuf and Brown will explore the architectural dimensions of the American Experiment, from the perspective of Founders like Thomas Jefferson as well as that of contemporary architects and urban planners. How should architects in a modern democracy balance the values of freedom, equality, progress, enlightenment, and beauty?

Onuf will explore the significance of Thomas Jefferson’s design and construction of Monticello, his mountaintop home, for his fundamental commitment to democratic self-government. Onuf will show how Monticello reflected Jefferson’s life-long goal of creating spaces for the activities that he considered essential for the success of the nation’s experiment in republican government.

Brown will focus on his current project, developing possible site plans for the Obama library here in Chicago. Brown will narrow in on one location, in particular, on the South Side of the city in Washington Park. He’ll use this example to address architecture’s broader social and political goals and the challenges of urban development today.

Onuf has authored numerous books on the American founding, most recently The Mind of Thomas Jefferson, and co-hosts the public radio show Backstory with the American History Guys, which is heard on WBEZ (91.5FM) in Chicago on Sunday evenings.

Brown lectures at IIT on urban planning and design, and helms Marshall Brown Projects, a studio based in Chicago that specializes in large-scale urban environments.

The public is invited to a reception after the lecture featuring “Transitions,” a collection of photographs about change, social inequality, and the urban landscape by award-winning photographer and Chicago sociologist David Schalliol, who also will be present. View some of Schalliol’s work on his website.