Smartness: Between Discourse and Practice

Hope to see you at the 15th Architectural Humanities Research Association [AHRA] International Conference! I will be presenting my smart cities research in Tomorrow's City Today: Palimpsest of the Future at “Smartness: Between Discourse & Practice” during November 15-17, 2018. The conference is hosted by the Department of the Built Environment, TU Eindhoven, Netherlands. Dan Hill from ARUP is one of the keynote speakers, in addition to urban planner and social geographer, Stephen Graham.

Parametric Workshop at SOM BlackBox Chicago

A big thank you to Kyle Vansice and the rest of the BlackBox crew at SOM for hosting a parametric workshop for my graduate design students. Their mid-review is coming up — and with Blackbox’s coaching, the students were able to develop their projects further by coding in grasshopper. Thanks too to Blake, Jessie, Yang, Anthony - you’re the greatest!

MADRID: ACSA/COAM "New Instrumentalities" Conference

El Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Madrid (COAM) hosted this year's international ACSA Conference with keynotes by Juan Herreros, estudio Herreros + Momoyo Kaijima, Atelier Bow-WowShawn Rickenbacker of City College New York was our illustrious panel moderator.  It was an extra perk that the World Cup was going on at the same time as the conference - nothing like watching Spain vs. Portugal in a Madrid bar.  Conference publication to be released in September 2018 - look for my paper on Toronto's Smarter City.


Can hardly believe it!   It has been only a year since "Intelligent Infrastructure: Zipcars, Invisible Networks and Urban Transformation" was released -- and now UVa Press is publishing a 2nd edition.   Special thanks to contributors Mitchell Schwarzer, Jordan Geiger, Bjarke Ingels (BIG), Carlo Ratti (MIT),  @MitchellJoachim, Urban Think Tank, Frederic Stout, Chamee Yang, in addition to @de_monchaux  @ken_goldberg  @SPUR_Urbanist  @Bldrsbooksource & to all of you amazing readers!

Blog Launch

Designers who explore the subject of utopia have had to contend directly with the ideological forces of politics, technology, and economics.  Such speculations have catalyzed discourse and design throughout most of the twentieth century.   Now my UIUC smart cities seminar has entered into the discussion with a blog: "How to Hack Utopia: Speculative interventions for the urban planet"    Check us out -


Whether we want it or not [wink] -- Spring is coming! Next week, at UIUC we are holding our design mid-reviews.  Please join us and see the incredible work!  My students are designing a mediatheque in the West Loop Chicago; this architectural intervention redefines information access for the 21st century.   In addition to their formal studies, the students completed a UX survey which contributed to their conceptual explorations.

Tierney's MAKER/THINKER Exhibition opens in the West Gallery

Professor Tierney’s MAKER/THINKER: Chicago Biennial Exhibition features parametric explorations on the future of museum design as 8 variations on a theme.  Starting with the premise that the definition of art has shifted from “artifact” to “experience,” for example, Olifar Eliason’s “Weather” exhibition at the Tate Modern, this studio posed the question, what would an experience-based museum look likeBy applying design fiction as a narrative device, this studio integrated theory, practice, and digital form-making as a means to reflect on the future of architectural production.

Much thanks and appreciation goes to our design reviewers for their comments and suggestions: Studio Gang, Carol Ross Barney, Perkins & Will, Jeff Poss, FAIA, SOM Research Group, Smith + Gill Architects, and Stewart Hicks, Design w/Co.  

Alvin Huang, SDA, speaks at UIUC School of Architecture

Award winning architect Alvin Huang lectured on "Technology/Technique/Techne" on January 29 -- our lecture hall was filled to capacity.  Earlier we went to the Erlanger House in Urbana, a mid-century modern masterpiece designed by Jack Baker in 1964.  Alvin was named Time Magazine's Inventor of the Year, and designer of Volvo Car's energy generating pavilion. The question remains, will Alvin become our next Plym Professor?

Tierney to speak at University of Arizona

Next month, I will be presenting my most recent smart cities research, "Developing the Urban Stack," for the Critical Practice in an Age of Complexity Conference at University of Arizona to be held on Feb 22-23, 2018.  The conference is sponsored by Architecture Media Politics Society [AMPS] and University College London.  If you are unable to attend, papers will be published through UCL Press.

Book Review: Intelligent Infrastructure

Georgia Tech's Emma French discusses the city of Atlanta in her review of Intelligent Infrastructure: Zip Cars, Invisible Networks & Urban Transformation for the Atlanta Studies Journal.  "The essays in Intelligent Infrastructure importantly remind us to look not only at the technological, but also the social impacts of smart cities... As one of the contributors notes: “a city’s technological development plans clearly reflects the way in which the leaders and innovators conceive the social order” (196). The challenge for Atlanta as it now positions itself to become a “smart” city is thus to make sure its plans really do reflect the needs and desires of all of its citizens." Read more here:



Maker/Thinker Chicago Biennale Review

On Monday December 4, we had our final design studio review in the Santa Fe Buidling 14th Floor Chicago.  Over the semester, our reviewers have included Studio Gang, SOM Black Box Group, Perkins Will etc

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">A preview of today&#39;s Final Review - Santa Fe Bldg 13th Flr Chicago from 2pm onwards <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; therese tierney (@tierneytoo) <a href="">December 4, 2017</a></blockquote>
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My intrepid students have written, designed, and constructed a fresh architectural blog "Make New History: The Chicago Biennale"  based on Hal Foster's notions on the art and architecture complex.  We will be hosting a public [soft] blog launch and exhibition on Weds November 15th from 5:30 to 8:30pm at [co][lab]  206 W Main St, Urbana, IL.  Hope to see you there!


MAKER/THINKER Chicago Architecture Biennale

My graduate level design studio held their mid reviews last week in the Santa Fe Building in Chicago.  This speculative studio tasked the students with designing a new cultural center for the Chicago Biennale Foundation.  Our avid reviewers included Maciej Kaczynski from Studio Gang, Todd Snapp, Ann Erskine from Perkins Will,  Greg Howe from Searl Lamaster Howe Architects and Yang Yu SOM Research Group, among others.  Our final review will be held on Monday Dec 4th.

West Coast Tour

Tierney returned in time to attend the preview for the Chicago Architectural Bienielle and /Dialogues at EXPO.  The previous week included speaking at the University of California Berkeley Center for New Media and University of San Francisco Urban Studies.  Tierney also moderated a panel discussion at SPUR: San Francisco Planning and Urban Research, in addition to presenting her UIUC smart cities research.  Panelists included Antwi Akom [SFSU, UCSF, Streetwyze app], among Ben Feldmann [Mia Leher Landscape + Planning], among others.  We were pleased by the large turnout and a spirited action-oriented discussion followed.  Many thanks to Ken Goldberg, Nicholas De Monchaux, Lara Wolfe, Noah Christman and everyone at SPUR!

Panel Discussion at SPUR SF on September 12, 2017

In our increasingly connected world, it is wireless infrastructure, rather than built form, that binds a city together.  Today’s networked city encompasses more than just technology; it allows for previously unimagined levels of adaptability, serving to organize people, policy and practices.  Yet at the same time, there are serious concerns related to data collection, data ownership and privacy. What does this new paradigm mean for architects and urban planners? Come hear a dynamic and diverse panel of speakers discuss how knowledge of the 'smart city' is critical to understanding our new urban environment.  

A book signing and reception will follow the discussion.

+ TF Tierney moderator / University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
+ Antwi Akom / San Francisco State University
+ Ben Feldman / Mia Lehrer + Associates
+ Gerry Tierney / Perkins + Will

Tierney Lectures at UC Berkeley Center for New Media

When we think of smart cities, the hypermodern cities of Shenzen or Songdo usually come to mind. But when we look to the future, it is clear that all cities – from Brooklyn to Berkeley – will also be smart. What does a new paradigm mean for our future cities?  Tierney will be addressing that question at University of California Berkeley BCNM "Commons Conversations"  on Monday September 11th.  Looking forward to seeing you there!  #intelligent infrastructure

Upcoming Panel on Intelligent Infrastructure

Wireless infrastructure allows cities previously unimagined levels of adaptability, with mobile telephony serving to organize people, practices and policy.  What does this new paradigm mean for architects and planners?  Find out at SPUR's [San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Assoc]  panel discussion and reception on September 12 at 6:00pm in San Francisco.  A book signing will follow the discussion. 

For more information:

Award for Faculty Excellence in Research

On May 4, 2017, I was honored at a reception by Dean Harleman of the College of Fine & Applied Arts at the University of Illinois. The Faculty Excellence in Research Award recognizes a sustained record of research and creative work, as demonstrated though publications, exhibitions, successful grant applications, and invited lectures.  

Post Digital U Turn

The "Collaborative for the Critical Study of Technology" at UIUC (of which I am a founding member) fosters experiments in theory and interdisciplinarity.  Last week, CCST hosted a lecture by Lawrence Liang (Yale University/Ambedkar University) and Nishant Shah (Leuphana University) titled "The Post-Digital U-turn." It featured some of Lawrence's work with - the wonderfully visual, accessible, and voluminous film archive and data base.

Susan Koshy directs CCST -- a humanities based research group that investigates how technological applications link up with other social developments in culture, politics, ethics, and public policy.

Tierney lectures on Design Thinking

Last Thursday I lectured at the Erlanger House and the place was packed, one of the best evenings of the series hosted by PhD candidates in Architecture and Landscape Architecture. My lecture topic was "The Researcher as a Creative Agent of Change" and I discussed Design Theory & Methologies from 1940-present time including First Gen thinking, Berkeley's 2nd Gen rebuttal and then closing with issues related to telepistemologies with reference to work currently being completed by artist and roboticist Ken Goldberg.