Click on session titles for additional information. Note that this is a preliminary schedule, featuring some prominent event keynotes plus the content contributions being made by our Local Host organizations for this year's Conference. The schedule will be continually updated. View registration rates and information here.

WEDNESDAY, November 4
Pre-Conference Day


All Day - Tours

Arrive early and explore Chicago on a CAF tour

If your schedule allows, spend Wednesday taking in Chicago's fantastic architecture. From the classics to the contemporary, there's a CAF tour for just about everything. See the highlights on the River Cruise or tour by "L" on Must-See Chicago. Visit the most recent contributions to the city's design legacy, including Maggie Daley Park or the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. Take a walk along the latest stretch of the Riverwalk, grab a Divvy bike and ride along the 606/Bloomingdale Trail, or browse the stacks at John Ronan's award-winning Poetry Foundation.

View all Nov. 5 CAF tours and sign up here.

9:00am-3:00pm - A+DEN Workshop

K-12 Architecture Programming: Becoming First in Class
Host: Gabrielle Lyon, Chicago Architecture Foundation
Trung Le, WONDER, By Design
Robert Tai, University of Virginia

Registration Required
Cost: $120 AAO Members, $150 Non-members, $85 Students
Location: Chicago Architecture Foundation

This day-long Pre-Conference Workshop will support front-line program staff, educators, and professionals who provide architecture, urban planning, design, and/or engineering education and outreach to K-12 audiences to consider the question "What's worth knowing and experiencing?" Networking dinner at the offices of Landon Bone Baker Architects follows the Workshop.

View more information and register.

3:30pm-5:30pm - Working Meeting

International Directors Council
Host: Kent Martinussen, Danish Architecture Center

The International Directors Council is the AAO forum for executive leaders of architectural and design organizations with annual program budgets exceeding $500,000. There is no additional cost for this event, but advanced registration is required.


THURSDAY, November 5
Conference Day One


Thursday Location: Chicago Cultural Center

78 E Washington St


8:30am - Registration Opens

Coffee service will be provided.

9:00am-9:15am Welcome Remarks

9:15am-10:00am Opening Address

Democratizing the Museum Experience
Kieran Long, Victoria & Albert Museum

Since its founding, the V&A has been committed to serving the public. Now with plans for a new outpost in the E20 arts district, the Museum is exploring how a new building can encourage public participation in today’s cultural climate. Kieran Long, who wrote the competition brief, will share how the brief’s visionary ideals translated to the reality of architectural practice throughout a politicized process. And in preparation for staffing the new museum, hear the V&A’s plans for erasing divisions between the Curatorial and Learning Departments, so that more staff members take on public roles. As a curator who also writes for Dezeen and hosts a BBC home makeover show, Kieran’s leading by example and continuing the V&A’s longstanding commitment to connecting with the public.

10:00am-11:00am - Morning Program

Making Your City a Showcase for Design
Michelle Boone, City of Chicago, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
Sarah Herda, Chicago Architecture Biennial
Zoë Ryan, Art Institute of Chicago
Moderator: Lynn Osmond, Chicago Architecture Foundation

The inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, North America’s largest international survey of contemporary architecture, will run from October 3, 2015-January 3, 2015. It provides a platform for groundbreaking architectural projects and spatial experiments that demonstrate how creativity and innovation can radically transform our lived experience. Lynn Osmond will moderate a panel discussion with Sarah Herda, the Biennial's co-artistic director, Michelle Boone, DCASE Commissioner, and Zoë Ryan, curator of the second Istanbul Design Biennial, about the potential of biennials to bring attention to new ideas in design.

11:00am-12:00pm - Exhibition Walk-Through

Chicago Architecture Biennial at the Chicago Cultural Center

Now that you've heard about it, you can experience it for yourself. View the international participants here.

12:00pm-1:00pm - Lunch

Lunch on your own.

1:00pm-1:45pm - Breakout Sessions, Round 1

Media Collaborations: Extending the Reach of Your Content
Jen Masengarb, Chicago Architecture Foundation
Shawn Allee, WBEZ Chicago Public Media

With the rise in popularity of both storytelling and user-generated content, what is the changing role of experts at your design organization? Learn about the collaboration between WBEZ, Chicago’s major public radio station, and the Chicago Architecture Foundation on several episodes of Curious City; radio stories that originate with the public’s questions about Chicago, the region, and its people – past or present. As the radio show producers began receiving hundreds of questions about architecture and the built environment, the program’s creator reached out to CAF’s Jen Masengarb. In the past year, Jen has assisted with several on-air stories, first as a quoted expert, researcher, and writer, and later as a co-reporter. In this workshop, learn about the process and hear from Jen and WBEZ staff about what both institutions have learned along the way. Learn creative strategies for collaborating with the media in your own community.

Exceeding Fundraising Expectations: BSA Benevon Case Study
Polly Carpenter, BSA Foundation

Every organization strives to create more sustainable funding streams. Over the last year, the BSA Foundation has done exactly that using Benevon, a step-by-step fundraising method which employs storytelling at its core. Hear how the BSA Foundation applied the Benevon version of the hook-cultivate-solicit process to great success, exceeding its fundraising goals for both annual gifts and five-year pledges. Whether or not your organization might benefit from Benevon, leave this breakout with fresh tips for engaging potential donors.

2:00pm-2:45pm - Breakout Sessions, Round 2

These Volunteers Could Be Your Volunteers
Hallie Rosen, Chicago Architecture Foundation
Dick Clark, CAF Docent (Class of 2008)
Bobbi Pinkert, CAF Docent (Class of 1999)
Monica Rodriguez, CAF Docent (Class of 2015)

CAF's tour program depends on a docent corps of 450 impassioned volunteer tour guides. Ever wondered what attracts these volunteers to a place like CAF? What do they get out of the experience? How they feel about the various rules governing their volunteer work? This is your chance to ask them directly. Hallie, CAF's Director of Volunteer Engagement, will moderate this Q&A session with experienced CAF docents, exploring what works and what doesn't in volunteer management.

The Role of the Fellowship: Engaging Private-Sector Practitioners in Public-Sector Projects
Megan Canning, Design Trust for Public Space

Fellowships are one way that design and architecture organizations can activate their design community and engage private-sector practitioners in their work. But what does this mean exactly, and what is the role of a Fellow? For twenty years, the NYC-based nonprofit Design Trust for Public Space has awarded fellowships to a wide range of leading professionals (such as urban planners, artists, filmmakers, architects, graphic designers, public health experts, etc) to play a lead role on projects that have had a real impact on the city (according to some, getting a Design Trust Fellowship is like “getting the New York version of the Rome prize.”) This session will introduce the idea of a fellowship, how it works, and discuss strategies for building and managing an effective team.

3:00pm-4:30pm - Group Tours

Attendees will have the option to select one of the four tours below when registering for the Conference. Tour tickets are included with your Conference registration fee.

Millennium Park: Beyond the Bean
Led by Chicago Architecture Foundation docents

Learn how top architects, artists, and engineers collaborated with Chicago’s business elite to transform an ugly railway and parking lot into a park that has thrilled millions and become the envy of cities around the world. Hear the stories and inspiration behind Chicago’s newest icon: Millennium Park.

Intersections of Old and New Chicago
Led by Chicago Architecture Foundation docents

Explore Chicago architecture from the 1870s to the present while examining the intersections of streets, styles, and cultures of the city's history. We’ll view many different architectural styles and examine how they have become essential elements of Chicago’s unique urban fabric.

Historic Treasures of Culture and Commerce
Led by Chicago Architecture Foundation docents

Learn about the great late 19th— and early 20th—century architectural landmarks of Michigan Avenue and State Street, ranging from museums to department stores, skyscrapers to concert halls, including the Reliance Building, the Sullivan Center, and the Chicago Cultural Center. Highlights include interiors of dazzling beauty and startling originality.

Exhibition tour of "Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye" at the Art Institute of Chicago
Led by Art Institute of Chicago staff

Last year, you heard from David Adjaye at the 2014 AAO Conference closing program. This year, see the breadth of his work at this Art Institute of Chicago exhibition. Rather than advancing a signature architectural style, Adjaye’s structures address local concerns and conditions through both a historical understanding of context and a global understanding of modernism. This mid-career survey — the first devoted to Adjaye — offers an in-depth overview of the architect’s distinct approach and visual language with a dynamic installation design conceived by Adjaye Associates. Read more about "Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye."

5:00pm- Party!

Conference Party and Lightening Talks

Join us for more networking time with fellow Conference attendees at the beautifully renovated office and rooftop event space of cutting-edge design firm, IA Collaborative. Event includes a short program of inspired ideas presented by AAO members and friends, including:
Brian Strawn, IA Collaborative
Caroline James, Maryann Thompson Architects
Rebecca Johnson, Philadelphia Center for Architecture
Anijo Matthew, IIT Institute of Design
Cheryl Jacobs, Miami Center for Architecture and Design
Alexa Bosse, Community Design Collaborative
Jason Robbins, Storefront Manitoba


FRIDAY, November 6
Conference Day Two


Morning Location: Chicago Architecture Foundation

224 S Michigan Ave


8:30am - Registration Opens

Coffee service will be provided.

9:00am-10:00am - AAO Members Meeting

AAO Members Meeting (open to all)
Michael Wood, Association of Architecture Organizations

Creativity Connects is a leadership initiative launched by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2015 that will show how the arts (including design) are central to the country’s creativity ecosystem, investigate how support systems for the arts have changed, and explore how the arts connect with other industries. The initiative will provide the framework for the NEA to investigate the conditions and trends affecting, shaping and promoting creativity in the United States and examine the ways in which the arts sector, government, for-profit sector, and philanthropic community can collaborate to support the arts, grow our nation’s creative economy, and enhance the contributions of creative workers to our society.

Creativity Connects: Report from the NEA on the Creativity Ecosystem
Courtney Spearman, National Endowment for the Arts

Annual business meeting hosted by the AAO Board of Directors. Open to all current AAO Members. Courtney will provide an update from the NEA on their latest research and funding opportunities related to public participation with the arts.

10:00am-11:00am - Morning Program

Taking the Long View: A Planner’s Perspective on City Building
Mark Hinshaw, Walker Macy
Presented by the American Planning Association

Working on the urban scale, planners see the bigger picture of how our cities are shaped. Their work not only intersects with architecture and design but also draws from a broad base of economics, sociology, environmental psychology, natural sciences, and other professions involved with human settlements. Using Port Angeles, Washington, as a case study, Mark will demonstrate how planners can help architectural organizations tell more compelling stories about the built environment. As a planner and author, his storylines bring to life the people and processes that create meaningful places, and point towards the future of how city dwellers will live, work and play.

11:00am-11:45am - Chicago Architecture Foundation Showcase

See what's new at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Select from one of the options below.

Hands-On Learning at the ArcelorMittal Design Studio @ CAF
Jesse Banwart, Gabrielle Lyon, and Tocarra Mallard, Chicago Architecture Foundation

Experience a group building exercise with the CAF Education staff. The Design Studio, CAF's newest programmed space, is Chicago's first collaborative learning lab focused on architecture, engineering, design, and planning. Studio programs use LEGO®, model-making materials, and other hands-on exploration tools to foster creativity, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration.

Managing Festivals: Open House Chicago and CAF Scavenger Hunt
Garrett Karp and Lyla Catellier, Chicago Architecture Foundation

Over the recent past, CAF has invested heavily to build a new core competency: hosting large-scale, urban exploration events. Learn more about the making of Open House Chicago, North America’s largest Open House event, as well as Foundation’s latest entry into the festival category, the springtime CAF Scavenger Hunt.

Shop Talk: CAF Retail Operations and Store Walk-Through
Eric Huck, Chicago Architecture Foundation

Learn more about CAF Retail Operations, the Foundation's third largest revenue stream.

11:45am-12:30pm - Breakout Sessions, Round 3

Integrating Urban Planning Content into Your Programming
Carol Rhea, President of the American Planning Association

How can AAO members incorporate planning examples into exhibits, courses, and similar activities that tell the story of how better communities are created? In this session structured as an open dialogue, the APA shares resources for staying abreast of planning success stories, such as those highlighted in APA’s Great Places in America program, and invites questions and comments from the audience to help APA better understand how AAO members look to weave urban planning into their work. In short, we ask: how can we work together to deliver better programs?

Developing Your Organization's Digital Content Marketing Strategy
Jill Farley and Patrick Miner, Chicago Architecture Foundation

If you’re looking to expand your audience reach and explore new channels for sharing your organization’s expertise, there is lots of potential in the rapidly evolving field of digital content marketing. Hear how CAF has been distributing its original website content through specific social media platforms and e-communication tools, and monitoring its work to maximize impact and drive web traffic.

12:30pm-1:30pm - Lunch

Lunch on your own. Walk to the Chicago Cultural Center for afternoon Conference sessions.


Afternoon Location: Chicago Cultural Center

78 E Washington St


1:30pm-3:00pm - Afternoon Breakout Sessions, Round 4

Chicago 0,0: Using Augmented Reality to Create New, Mobile Experiences with History Collections
John Russick, Chicago History Museum
Geoffrey Alan Rhodes, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

For many museums and architectural organizations, the challenge of making their visual media more accessible through digital means is a top priority and a growing expectation of the public. However, simply creating online repositories of massive collections may fall short of our overarching goal of offering meaningful, memorable, and accessible experiences with collections for the public. Drawing from over 1.5 million images in the Chicago History Museum's archive, the Chicago 0,0 project, a new app-based media experience, seeks to address this challenge. Our first episode, currently in prototype, uses Augmented Reality to superimpose historical images onto the exact views from which they were originally captured. Hear about the Chicago 0,0 project and take a narrative Augmented Reality tour with the creators along the nearby Chicago River Walk (tablet computers will be provided).

From Kid to Student to Architect: Connecting the Dots Along the Learning Pathway
Mike Newman, SHED Studio
Edward Orlowski, Lawrence Technological University
Helen Slade, Territory Urban Design

Many AAO and A+DEN members teach young people about design, whether that means piquing their interest as children, working with high schoolers who plan to formally study architecture, or teaching university-level courses to tomorrow’s design professionals. Yet, there are few professional development settings where design educators from K-12 and post-secondary environment have occasion to meet up and compare notes. This session provides an opportunity to bridge the gap, as we explore some hypothetical paths young people take from first being exposed to architecture to becoming a practicing architect.

Big Ditches to Bayou Greenways: Creating Public Spaces through Awareness, Design, and Advocacy
Linda Sylvan, Rice Design Alliance

We all strive to connect our programming to current issues. So, when we see an organization with the resolve (or good sense?) to stick with a single topic year after year, through thick and thin, we know there’s bound to be a few solid lessons worth sharing. For decades now the Rice Design Alliance has been advocating for the preservation and rediscovery of Houston’s network of slow-moving rivers or bayous, if you’re a local. It’s a story that unfolds episodically, and uses nearly every advocacy tactic in the preservationists’ playbook. With this session, we serve up a conversation about the perils, pitfalls, and triumphs of chasing big wins in your local community, and what it takes organizationally-speaking to stay in the game. A great session for executive leaders.

3:00pm-4:30pm - Afternoon Program

Creating Meaning and Connections
Jake Barton, Local Projects

Aiming to create memorable site-specific experiences, Local Projects creates interactives at top museums and public spaces that engage audiences through emotion and technology. The award-winning media design firm is responsible for groundbreaking installations at the Cooper Hewitt, the World Trade Center observatory, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and many others. Jake will share his thoughts on new and meaningful ways to encourage people to interact with educational content and each other.

4:30pm-6:00pm - Closing Panel Discussion

The State of the Art of Architecture Organizations
Moderator: Mary Rowe, The Municipal Art Society of New York
Caroline Baumann, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Dinu Bumbaru, Heritage Montreal
Jason Robbins, Storefront Manitoba

What is the state of the art of architecture organizations? In this closing conference session, Mary Rowe (back by popular demand!) will review current trends and moderate a panel discussion on the future of our field. Whether through programs, education outreach, exhibitions, or tours, we all strive to bring the power of design into focus and help people connect with their communities in new ways. Find out what AAO trailblazers see as the biggest opportunities for achieving our common goal.

6:30pm-8:00pm - Evening Public Program

The Interview Show
Presented by AAO and the Chicago Architecture Biennial
Hosted by Mark Bazer
Featuring Gia Biagi, Studio Gang; James Rondeau, Art Institute of Chicago; Thomas Kelley, NormanKelley
Music by Jennifer Hall

A talk show in a bar featuring comedy, music, and guests from every walk of life sharing their stories, world views, and talents in a laid-back intimate setting.

8:30pm- Dine-Arounds


Registration Required
Cost: $35/person

This year, we're removing the hassle of splitting the bill on-site at the restaurant by asking you to pre-pay for your local dinner outing. Have dinner with a small group of your Conference attendees following the Friday evening program. Participants will choose from one of three restaurant options published closer to the event date. Don't worry, the CAF team will hand select some of their favorite local spots!
Gather outside The Hideout after the program to travel with your group to nearby restaurants.


SATURDAY, November 7
Post-Conference Tour


9:00am-4:00pm - Day Trip to Racine

Tour Frank Lloyd Wright's SC Johnson Campus

Registration Required
Cost: $100 AAO Member, $120 Non-member

Extend your stay! Join us on Saturday for a trip to Racine, WI (1.5 hours from Chicago). Tour includes the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed SC Johnson Administration Building, Research Tower, and Wingspread, Wright's largest Prairie Style house. Lunch will be provided.

View more information and register.


SUNDAY, November 8
Post-Conference Tours


9:30am-5:00pm - Day trip to the Farnsworth House

Tour Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House, Crown Hall and 860-880 Lake Shore Dr.

Registration Required
Cost: $75

Farnsworth House, Crown Hall and 860-880 Lake Shore Dr. are included in this CAF tour of world renowned works of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a leader of Modernism who revolutionized the architecture of our era. We begin with a visit to the iconic twin towers designed by Mies at 860-880 Lake Shore Dr., which are considered to be the first modern steel and glass skyscrapers. Next, we tour Crown Hall on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology, described by Mies himself as his best work. We then enjoy a guided tour of the exterior and interior of Farnsworth House, the famous glass house in the woods created by Mies at a rural site 62 miles southwest of Chicago. We travel by deluxe motor coach and stop for an included lunch en route.

View more information and register.

All day

More than 20 CAF tours available on Sunday

Spend the weekend seeing great architecture! View the listing of all CAF tours for November 8 and sign up here.