Roberta Feldman, Ph.D., Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Architecture. Roberta Feldman is an architectural activist, researcher, and educator committed to democratic design. Her work is grounded in the conviction that high quality design is a meaningful and necessary component of an equitable and sustainable society.
Roberta Feldman has been engaged in community design and research for more than 30 years. Embracing participatory design and action research practices, she has sustained working relationships with community leaders in over 50 community organizations and development corporations in Chicago's low income neighborhoods to address their visions for shaping, revitalizing and preserving their designed environments.
Feldman co-founded the City Design Center in 1995 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has worked individually as well as coordinated multi-disciplinary teams of students, faculty, and professionals in the fields of architecture, urban planning, graphic and industrial design, and history and culture of cities to support communities underserved by the design professions. Through the center, Feldman has initiated numerous advocacy projects as well—forums, summits, exhibits, and websites—to raise the professions' and public's awareness of design's potential to serve the public's interest. Feldman has received over 50 competitive grants from federal and local government and foundations to engage in this work. Now as Director Emeritus of the center, she and her colleagues, Bryan Bell, Sergio Palleroni and David Perkes have been awarded the 2011 AIA Latrobe Prize to research and elaborate upon public interest strategies in architecture.
Feldman's current research has focused on affordable and public housing design including: author, with Susan Stall, of The Dignity of Resistance: Women Residents Activism in Chicago Public Housing, Cambridge University Press, 2004; editor of the pioneering Internet catalog, Design Matters: Best Practices in Affordable Housing; curator of the exhibit, Out of the Box: Design Innovations in Manufactured Housing, which opened at the Field Museum in January 2005 and traveled through 2008; consultant to the Cabrini Green Local Advisory Council in the HOPE VI redevelopment of their community from 2002–2007; and editor with Jim Wheaton of The Chicago Greystone in Historic North Lawndale, City Design Center, distributed by University of Chicago Press, 2007, a guide to community revitalization though historic preservation.
Feldman is a professor at the UIC School of Architecture, where she developed and chaired the Activist Practice concentration in the School of Architecture at UIC for eight years. The concentration provided students with studio and seminar experiences that linked architectural design and theory to a public interest agenda. She has brought the same agenda to her service on the JAE Editorial Board, the ACSA/ACSP Taskforce on Architecture and Planning Education and Collaborative Educational Programs Task Force, and, as a founding member of the ACSA Affordable Housing Design Initiative. Feldman has further served the profession as Editor of the Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, President of the Board of Trustees of the Graham Foundation, and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Environmental Design Research Association.
Feldman's expertise and commitment to democratic design and action research are recognized nationally and internationally including such awards as the 2008 AIA Chapter Distinguished Service Award, and for projects she directed at the City Design Center, the 2008 EDRA/Places/Metropolis Award for Research, 2008 ACSA Collaborative Practice Award, 2005 EDRA/Places Research Award, and 2001 Association for Community Design Award for Excellence. As a respected community designer in Chicago, the Chicago Department of Planning has asked her to serve on the Design Initiative Taskforce and the Urban Design, Open Space and Waterfront Taskforce.
Dr Feldman received her PhD in Psychology (Environmental Psychology Program) in 1986 from the City University of New York, and her MArch in 1976 from the University of Pennsylvania.