For civic leaders in early 20th century Chicago, few issues seemed as vexing as the city's grid. Omnipresent, monotonous, dehumanizing. In a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse city, the grid appeared to constrain every best effort to build a cohesive community. In this talk, Shiben Banerji examines how three architects—Daniel Burnham, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Marion Mahony Griffin—each defined the problem of the grid. Comparing their various efforts to disguise, rescue, and modify the grid, this talk reveals how reflecting on urban planning between 1909 and 1949 can shape our own contemporary efforts to build vibrant, pluralistic, and ecologically responsible communities.

About the speaker
Shiben BanerjiShiben Banerji is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is the author of the forthcoming book Lineages of the Global City, which follows the Chicago architects Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin across the United States, Australia, and India between 1895 and 1949. Shiben is the recipient of numerous awards and research grants, including a Mellon fellowship in the urban humanities. He received his PhD in the History and Theory of Architecture, as well as a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Shiben earned his BA from Columbia University in New York.


Thursday, March 29, 2018


7 - 8 pm


Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street, Oak Park


Free, registration required

Marion Mahony Griffin, Transforming Chicago into a Livable Industrial Center, 1947 (detail). Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.