Ann Lui Named Baumer Visiting Professor of Architecture in the Open City

The founding principal of Future Firm will lead a studio that proposes speculative visions for alternative development in Chicago’s West Side.

Ann Lui Named Baumer Visiting Professor of Architecture in the Open City

Headshot photo of Ann Lui

The Knowlton School is pleased to announce that Ann Lui, AIA, will join the Knowlton School this spring as the first Baumer Visiting Professor of Architecture in the Open City. 

The visiting professorship invites practitioners and scholars to address a longstanding question: Can architecture be as open-ended as the city? Whether considering cultural, environmental, or social aspects, this question embraces the idea of architecture that is flexible, adaptable, and engaged with its surroundings. Visiting professors teach advanced design studios based on their expertise and insights into architecture in the open city.

As the inaugural Open City professor, Lui will facilitate an urban-design scale studio during the spring semester based in a futurist approach to a series of adaptive re-use and ground-up developments along the Green Line of Chicago’s West Side. She will guide her students to develop a vision for an expanded “restaurant row” in the year 2100 which foregrounds “weak signals” — cutting-edge approaches to building construction, food access and distribution, and equitable development as generators of future design.

Ann Lui is a founding principal of Future Firm, a Chicago-based architecture and design research practice, and an assistant professor of practice at the University of Michigan.

Future Firm designs spaces for changemakers, with a focus on serving nonprofits, community-led developments, and arts and culture organizations. The firm was awarded the J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize in 2021 and has been exhibited at the Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, Storefront for Art & Architecture, and the Chicago Architecture Center.

Lui’s scholarly work explores the intersection of professional practice and social justice, including exploring access to design services, equitable enforcement of building code, and coauthorship of the built environment.

Lui has held teaching positions at multiple universities including as Cullinan Visiting Professor at Rice University. She was co-curator of Dimensions of Citizenship, the 2018 U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. She coedited Public Space? Lost and Found (MIT/SA+P Press, 2015) and Log 53, “Coauthoring” (2022). Her current research explores building code as a pathway towards justice, including the recently published “Toward an Office of the Public Architect” (Log 48) and “Building Code as Battleground” (HDM, 2024). 

She was a member of Crain Chicago Business’s “40 Under 40” in 2018 and is currently a member of the Steering Committee for the Metropolitan Planning Council’s Zoning and Land Use assessment and a member of the Advisory Committee for the State of Illinois Asian American and Pacific Islander Business Collective (IAAPIBC). She holds an SMArchS in History, Theory and Criticism from MIT and a BArch from Cornell University, where she was awarded the Charles Goodwin Sands Medal and the Clifton Beckwith Brown Memorial Medal.