Roberta Feldman


PhD, City University of New York
MArch, University of Pennsylvania

Roberta Feldman is an architectural activist, researcher, and educator committed to democratic design. Feldman, a Professor Emerita in the School of Architecture, 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. Recently she organized the Architecture for Change Summit in Chicago to delineate critical design issues in affordable housing, especially those that are encumbered by regulatory frameworks and funding programs that constrain innovation, and recommendations for changes in the shortcomings of government regulations. In 2011, she and her colleagues, Bryan Bell, Sergio Palleroni, and David Perkes were awarded the 2011 AIA Latrobe Prize to research and elaborate upon public interest strategies in architecture.

Feldman's current research and practice 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 currently Vice Chair on the board of the National Public Housing Museum responsible for programming and interpretation.

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.

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.