Summer Sessions: Built Environment
Cities and institutions build infrastructure that reflects our social and political organization. These changes to the built environment can erase histories, divide communities, and perpetuate inequality, but also can improve the life of the citizenry. This week addresses the physical public sphere—spaces such as parks, cultural institutions, city streets, public transportation, and other aspects of the urban fabric.
How does urban infrastructure connect or divide us? How can we imagine new ways of activating “vacant” urban lands for common benefit? What could we learn by thinking about the built environment in relation to common wealth and common debts? How are these issues being explored by artists, designers, activists, and local organizations?
Facilitator: Duron Chavis (Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond)
Session leaders include Marshall Brown (Princeton University), Jonathan Knopf (Maggie Walker Community Land Trust), and Ryan Rinn (Storefront for Community Design, Richmond).
Wednesday, June 26 // Social Session, 6–8 pm
Open to the Public
Each Social Session is both a gathering and introduction to the week’s themes, bringing together Session partners, community members, and the public around music, wine, and common interests. Make connections and enjoy the Summer Sessions space. Live DJ, hands-on activities, and cash bar. Brief remarks at 6:30 pm.
Music by DJ Nobe
Delicious food by Mama J’s Kitchen
Saturday, June 29 // Program Session
Open to the Public
Program Sessions invite us to go deeper into each week’s topic through a mix of discussion and experience, and to reflect together about what to carry forward.
1 pm | Welcome
Duron Chavis and Stephanie Smith
1:15 pm | Talk
Marshall Brown, associate professor of architecture at Princeton University and Director of the School of Architecture’s Center for Architecture, Urbanism, and Infrastructure (CAUI), proposes that we consider vacant urban space and structures as collective resources rather than blight.
2:30–3:30 pm | Workshop
In small groups, we will consider sites in Richmond and imagine creative ways to activate them as commons for the future city. Group leaders include Marshall Brown, Duron Chavis, Ryan Rinn (Storefront for Community Design), and Jonathan Knopf of the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust.
3:45–4:15 pm | Reflection
What should we carry forward from this Session? We will reflect, discuss, and take notes on the gallery walls.
4:30–5:30 pm | WRIR “Local Voices Live”
Reflecting on “built environment” with leaders of this week’s Session. Moderated by WRIR host Melissa Vaughn.
Lewis Ginter Botanical GardenDuron Chavis is an activist and urban gardener who currently serves as the Manager of Community Engagement at The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. While working at The Black History Museum, he founded Happily Natural Day, a festival focused on natural hair, holistic health, and black awareness, now in its 15th year. In 2009, he started the Richmond Noir Market, a farmer’s market targeting food deserts in low-income communities. His work currently focuses on addressing topics of urban agriculture and local food systems in an innovative and culturally relevant way. As part of “Summer Sessions” at the ICA, he will be hosting weekly activities around the themes of Natural Resources (June 18-June 23) and Built Environment (June 25-30).
duronchavis.com // duronchavis
Princeton UniversityMarshall Brown is an architect and principal of Marshall Brown Projects. He is an Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Architecture, Urbanism, and Infrastructure at Princeton University. Brown received his B.A. from Washington University, St. Louis, and Master’s degrees in both Architecture and Urban Design from Harvard University. Among other accomplishments, Brown is a Graham Foundation grantee, a MacDowell Fellow, and exhibited in the U.S. Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. His works are in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Crystal Bridges Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Photography. He has also exhibited at the Arts Club of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles, and the Chicago Architecture Biennial. His projects and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Log, Metropolis, Crain’s, Architectural Record, Architect Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Art Papers, and other publications. Brown has served as a member of the Chicago Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council and as Vice President of the Arts Club of Chicago.
Maggie Walker Community Land TrustJonathan is the research and planning lead at Housing and Development Advisors (HDA), which provides local and regional organizations with a variety of services and tools to make affordable housing more accessible to citizens in the commonwealth. He specializes in using geographic information systems (GIS) to create static and interactive maps that help tell the story of housing needs throughout the state. Jonathan's passion is making complex information more easily understood for a wide audience. He is a Richmond native and earned a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he also teaches an undergraduate planning course. He volunteers with the Maymont Foundation to help build a GIS platform for their historic estate and arboretum. When he's not in front of a spreadsheet, you can find him in his garden or tinkering with vintage hi-fi equipment.
Storefront for Community Design, RichmondRyan is the Executive Director of Storefront for Community Design which facilitates access to planning and design resources that improve the quality of life in the City of Richmond. Ryan and Storefront are part of the partnership that operates the Six Points Innovation Center (6PIC) in Highland Park to serve teens from Richmond Public High Schools with ladders to career and educational success through a collaborative program called City Builders. During Rinn’s tenure Storefront has been named “Best in Community Development” and “Best in Urban Planning” by Richmond Magazine. In February of 2019, Ryan was appointed to the Mayor’s Commission on History and Culture for the City of Richmond. He teaches a course called Uncovering Richmond as an adjunct faculty member in the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU. He resides in the Byrd Park neighborhood with his husband, Jason Whitt, and spends his down time hiking, kayaking, fishing, and gardening.
WRIRMelissa is the Volunteer Coordinator at WRIR-LP 97.3 FM Richmond and one of three co-founders of RVA Dirt. She produces and co-hosts the collective's radio show RVA Dirt’s Municipal Mania, a weekly hour long government and politics show on WRIR that educates people about local issues through a combination of interviews, commentaries, and roundtable discussions.
RVA Dirt's Municipal Mania, Wednesdays at 11:00AM on WRIR-LP 97.3 FM Richmond
Six Points Innovation Center (6PIC)Jackie earned her master's degree in social work from VCU focusing on community engagement, revitalization and cultural resilience. Her view is that being a connector is a powerful way to empower communities. She coordinates programming at the Six Points Innovation Center (6PIC) in Highland Park. She works to connect the communities with design assistance. She also facilitates group dialogue around community issues.