After a two-year hiatus, the Custom Residential Architects Symposium [CRAN] returns to an in-person live event at the historic Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile hotel. The opening cocktail reception takes place Thursday, September 8th, at 5:30 p.m., and we close with a luncheon on Sunday, the 11th. Please see the CRAN Symposium website for more information.
This year’s symposium is taking place in a world transformed and one still very much in transition. A speaker at the last live symposium in 2019, Jennifer Kretschmer, AIA, introduced us to her practice of a fully remote workforce. It was then a new frontier, and for many in the audience, it may have been an almost inconceivable idea. Today, remote working is a staple of our lives. Architects like Jennifer, who see just a little further over the horizon, make the CRAN Symposium what it is. And this year’s group of speakers is no different. As always, the CRAN Symposium is where we celebrate our profession’s shared experiences, the uniqueness of our career paths, and, indeed, our ingenuity.
With the great city of Chicago as a backdrop, the educational sessions will center on topics such as sustainable preservation and detailing, Midcentury Modern design, helping underserved communities, construction administration and risk management, and an exploration into Chicago’s role in developing American residential architecture.
Stuart Cohen, FAIA, will lead us off with a presentation on understanding Chicago’s residential architecture. From the invention of the balloon frame to Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, and the others who have shaped our practices and our world. Stuart is well known to the CRAN community. His work and the work of his firm, Stuart Cohen & Julie Hacker Architects, have been published and exhibited nationally and internationally. Stuart has received awards for design excellence from Progressive Architecture magazine, Interiors magazine, the American Institute of Architects, and the American Wood Council. Cohen was a faculty member at the University of Illinois, Chicago, from 1973 to 2002 and is currently a full professor of architecture emeritus. He has been a visiting professor and guest lecturer at universities throughout the country, including Harvard, Columbia, U. Penn, and Notre Dame.
Susan Benjamin and Lee Bey will follow Stuart with their study of Chicago’s Great Modern Houses, from Chatham to Waukegan. Susan will present stories of Chicago’s great Modernist houses. Susan is the co-author of “Modern in the Middle,” and Lee Bey authored “Modern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side.” Susan is a noted historic preservationist and published architectural historian based in Chicago. Her office, Benjamin Historic Certifications, has initiated the landmarking of notable historic buildings of all periods in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Lee Bey is a photographer, writer, lecturer, and consultant who documents and interprets the built environment—and the often complex political, social, and racial forces that shape spaces and places. His writing on architecture and urban design has been featured in Architect, Chicago magazine, Architectural Record, and many news outlets. His photography has appeared in Chicago Architect, Old House Journal, CITE, and in international design publications, including Bauwelt and Modulør.
Also on the agenda is Deon Lucas, AIA, NOMA. Deon is the managing partner of Beehyyve and president of E.G. Woode. He is responsible for establishing the firm’s creative strategy and developing budgets and schedules for key design projects. The practice of Beehyyve, L3 is an architecture design collective helping underserved communities. Mr. Lucas will present Beehyyve’s work as a social impact accelerator and a business that creates opportunities for families, entrepreneurs, and small businesses to thrive.
Eric Singer and Melissa S. Roberts will discuss construction administration and risk management against the backdrop of residential architecture. Melissa is a professional liability insurance broker. Mr. Singer is a construction lawyer and litigator. He is a member of the ABA Forum on Construction Law, the Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys, and the ISBA Construction Section Council. He is an Affiliate Member of the American Institute of Architects, AIA Chicago, and AIA Northeast Illinois. This discussion will highlight examples from actual claims and contract provisions to help manage risk in our practices.
The symposium will also feature Christine Williamson, Assoc. AIA. Christine Williamson has spent her career in building science forensics, discovering why buildings fail, and working with owners, architects, and builders to remedy the problems. She is the founder of the Instagram account BuildingScienceFightClub, an educational project that teaches architects about building science and construction. The site has almost 95k followers, and for a good reason, as it engages and informs. Christine graduated from Princeton University and received her Master’s of Architecture from NewSchool of Architecture & Design. She is past chair of ASHRAE Technical Committee 1.12, Moisture Management in Buildings, and is a frequent lecturer on building science at universities and professional conferences. Christine will present the small design adjustments that architects can make to disproportionately improve comfort and energy efficiency in residential design.
Bonnie McDonald and Nate Kipnis, FAIA, will discuss sustainable design practices through improving the performance of vintage homes. They will present the challenges of balancing existing conditions, code requirements, budget, and the commitment to saving a 1907 vintage home. Nate Kipnis, FAIA, of Kipnis Architecture + Planning, is joined by clients who have proven a commitment to the environment and preserving history. Rounding out the symposium is a dialogue on Chicago’s role in the development of American architecture by three Chicago architects: Celeste Robbins, AIA, Tom Shafer, AIA, and Michael Graham. The history of American architecture runs through Chicago from the Prairie School architects to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Howard Van Doren Shaw, and David Adler. The three architects with different approaches and residential projects will present their work, followed by a panel discussion.
Of course, the symposium will feature tours of some of Chicago’s iconic residential architecture. The tour selection offers a comparison not only between historic and contemporary structures and design but also between urban and suburban approaches to design. The home tour will include visits to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, H. H. Richardson’s Glessner House, Crab Tree Farms by Vinci Hamp Architects, as well as several contemporary homes. There are a host of networking dinners and a special evening of drinks and hors d’oeuvres aboard a glass-ceilinged riverboat while touring the city from the river.
CRAN welcomes back colleagues, sponsors, and friends. Looking past the sessions and events, the architects who come here make this event so special. Whether our colleagues are across the street or across the country, the trials and travails of being a custom residential architect are identical. And so are the joys of this remarkably unique profession. Here at the symposium, we come to share those moments, learn from another, and compare the notes of our professional journeys.
We look forward to seeing you in Chicago.
For more information about how to join AIA CRAN or attend the symposium, click here.