Presidential Lecture Series: “Building the World of Tomorrow” – March 5

The third installment of the Presidential Lecture Series, hosted by President John L. Anderson, will be held on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

John W. Rowe, chairman of the IIT Board of Trustees and chairman emeritus of Exelon Corporation, will introduce the lecture entitled, “Building the World of Tomorrow,” presented by IIT Mies van der Rohe Visiting Professor Werner Sobek.

Building the World of Tomorrow requires nothing more and nothing less than a paradigm shift. We have to change our general attitudes from compartmentalized, short-term thinking to a holistic view based on the long term. We have to learn to take into consideration the whole life-cycle of our built environment, i.e. its design, its construction, its use, its refurbishment, and finally also its deconstruction. This implies a much wider focus than usually associated with “green building.” For example, instead of thinking only of energy efficiency we also have to learn how to make our buildings fully recycleable while maintaining full user comfort and functionality. Werner Sobek presents a selection of tools, materials, and planning techniques making such a paradigm shift possible. His building designs as well as his research projects provide an exciting glimpse on what is already feasible—and what might become reality in the future.

Watch the first two IIT Presidential lectures here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
3:30 pm – Lecture, Hermann Hall Ballroom
5:00 pm – Reception, Hermann Hall Gallery

RSVP to the President’s Office no later than February 26. Please phone 312.567.5196 or email

Photo by A. T. Schaefer

About the Speaker
Werner Sobek is professor and head of the famous Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design (ILEK) of the University of Stuttgart. The ILEK specializes on the research into new materials and new concepts for lightweight and ultralightweight structures. He is also Mies van der Rohe Professor at IIT.

Werner Sobek studied architecture and structural engineering at the University of Stuttgart in Germany. He holds a Doctoral Degree from the University of Stuttgart. As successor to architect Frei Otto and engineer Joerg Schlaich, he advocates a unique approach of bringing architects and engineers together, both during their training and in their professional activities.

Werner Sobek’s office is one of the leading consultancies in the world. It excels through innovative design, excellent engineering and sophisticated concepts for sustainable buildings. A particular focus lies on special structures in steel, glass, titanium, concrete, textiles and wood. He has offices in Stuttgart, Dubai, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Moscow, New York, and Sao Paulo.

Werner Sobek has been awarded numerous awards and distinctions, including:

  • Médaille de la Recherche et de la Technique de l’Académie d’Architecture (Académie d’Architecture, Paris)
  • Fritz Schumacher Award (F.V.S Foundation, Hamburg)
  • Fazlur Rahman Khan Medal (Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, Chicago)
  • Auguste Perret Prize (UIA Union Internationale des Architectes, Istanbul)
  • German Solar Award (Eurosolar, Wuppertal)
  • Prix Acier (Swiss Steel Institute, Geneve)
  • Hugo Haering Award (Baden Württemberg Institute of Architects, Biberach)
  • Oscar Faber Award (Institution of Structural Engineers, London)
  • Balthasar Neumann Award (German Institute of Architects BDA, Biberach)

About the Moderator
John W. Rowe is chairman emeritus of Exelon Corporation.

Mr. Rowe previously held chief executive officer positions at the New England Electric System and Central Maine Power Company, served as general counsel of Consolidated Rail Corporation, and was a partner in the law firm of Isham, Lincoln & Beale. He is the lead independent director of Northern Trust Company and a member of the board of directors of The Allstate Corporation and SunCoke Energy.

Mr. Rowe serves as chairman of IIT, New Schools for Chicago, and The Field Museum, and as president of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. He is a member of the board of the Illinois Holocaust Museum, the Morgridge Institute for Research, the Northwestern University Settlement House, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and OneChicagoFund.

The Rowe Family Trust has founded the Rowe Professorship of Architecture and the Rowe Chair in Sustainable Energy at IIT, the Rowe Professorship in Byzantine History and the Rowe Professorship in Greek History at the University of Wisconsin, the Rowe Professorship in Virology at the Morgridge Institute and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and the Curator of Evolutionary Biology at The Field Museum. The trust co-founded the Rowe-Clark Math and Science Academy and the Rowe Elementary School. The Rowes serve as patrons of the Pope John Paul II parochial school on Chicago’s southwest side.

Mr. Rowe holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Wisconsin, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and the Order of the Coif. He has also received that university’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

John Rowe and his wife, Jeanne, reside in Chicago.