Philip Bess: God and Man In “Nature’s Metropolis”
Pre-modern cities gave primary material expression to shared convictions of sacred and civic order, but modern cities increasingly give primary material expression to the economic order of global crony-capitalism. This talk imagines how classical humanist sensibilities might coherently manifest themselves in metropolitan Chicago about a hundred years forward — a city chosen for study due to the ongoing internal conflict between its famous proto-modernist origins and history and its 1909 classical humanist Plan of Chicago by Daniel Burnham.
About Philip Bess
PHILIP BESS is a Professor of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame, where he teaches graduate urban design and theory and from 2004 to 2014 directed the School of Architecture’s graduate programs. During the past decade his graduate urban design studios have completed master plan proposals for Lewis University (IL), Cooperstown (NY), Northampton (MA), Ventura (CA), and Skaneateles (NY), the latter of which won the 2011 Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) Charter Award Academic Grand Prize. In 2011 his studios began a multi-year project focusing upon contemporary metropolitan Chicago called After Burnham: The Notre Dame Plan of Chicago 2109, which received a 2013 Award for Best Regional Plan from the Illinois Chapter of the CNU, a 2014 Special Academic Charter Award at the national meeting of the CNU, and the 2016 INTBAU-London World Congress Excellence Award in Urban Design. In addition, his 2014 graduate urban design studio received a 2015 CNU Charter Student Award of Merit for their plan for LaFox, Illinois, and a 2016 CNU Charter Student Award of Merit for their plans for Historic Center Infill in Providence, Rhode Island.
Professor Bess holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Whittier College, a graduate degree in church history from Harvard, and a graduate degree in architecture from the University of Virginia; and is the author of numerous essays and three books: City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense About Cities and Baseball Parks (1991); Inland Architecture: Subterranean Essays on Moral Order and Formal Order in Chicago (2000); and Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architecture, Urbanism, and the Sacred (2006). Before coming to Notre Dame in 2004 he lived and worked in Chicago, where from 1987-88 he was the director and principal designer of the NEA-and-Graham-Foundation-funded Urban Baseball Park Design Project of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). In Boston in August 2000 he directed and coordinated the ultimately successful “Save Fenway Park!” neighborhood design workshop, from which came contemporary Fenway’s famous “Monster Seats” and other prominent renovations. In 2013-14 he was a William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life in Princeton University’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions; and in May 2015 he was awarded the degree Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa from The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California.