Our Work

August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean, October 2019, Photo by Darrell Hoemann

We seek out new voices and perspectives. We connect nature and technology. We explore ways to conserve resources and shape communities. We honor the past and keep moving forward.

We are FAA.

Long a hotbed of saxophone studies under the direction of Debra Richtmeyer, the School of Music has a new group: the University of Illinois Saxophone Ensemble founded by Gabriel Lamar Pique, which incorporates the range of instruments from soprano to bass. Tackling pieces originally written for orchestral winds or strings, the members morph and blend sounds to imitate flutes, violins, or anything else aside from a saxophone.

When planning ways to more deeply and directly engage visitors, the administrators, curators, and educators at Krannert Art Museum hit upon a strategy to get people to choose works from the collection for display: the Response Wall. Anyone can write in to suggest a piece and compose the accompanying text. Selections have included a poster by the Guerrilla Girls (who have appeared at KAM) and a photo by Richard Meisinger from his series about connections at borders.

Ah, Wilderness! at Krannert Center

Imagine being an undergraduate in a new state-of-the-art theatre and having a chance to direct a play on its grand stage. That was alumnus Robert Falls, the revered artistic director of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, when he helmed a production of Ah, Wilderness! by Eugene O'Neill at Krannert Center. Since then he's gone on to direct many works by that playwright and dozens of others.

At the RAD Lab, dancers, mechanical engineers, choreographers, robotics experts, and computer scientists study human movement, investigate how to make robots walk more like biological bipeds, use machine learning to understand dance styles, and create dances like Time to Compile that not merely incorporate technology but interrogate its place in our world and our spot in its sphere.

Odegaard Library

In 2019 alumna Ruth E. Baleiko, who earned a BS in architectural studies in 1996 and an M.Arch in 1998, was named a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, one of the highest honors in the field. At her firm Miller Hull, she focuses on reimagining libraries and learning spaces for higher education clients like the University of Washington, where her team reconfigured Odegaard Undergraduate Library—a campus landmark—without adding any square footage. Six School of Architecture graduates joined her in the 2019 class of fellows: Joseph Caprile, Jeanne Chen, Aaron J. Hyland, Michael Lykoudis, Michael S. Martin, and Karl W. Stumpf.

How much food do you waste in course of a year? What about just today? Urban planning alumna Carolina Chantrill hopes to make that number zero by volunteering with the startup Nilus. Through its app, those who can donate food notify a network of drivers who get paid to pick up and deliver to soup kitchens that can also post orders. A pilot program in Argentina has received support from other volunteers plus Harvard Innovation Labs and Google.

Girls' Day at Japan House

With judo, origami, the tea ceremony, doll displays, and other traditional activities, hinamatsuri at Japan House celebrates Girls' Day each March 3. The dolls clad in regal wear represent members of the ancient imperial court and were originally used as charms to ward off evil spirits, although today they more typically represent good wishes for health and happiness.

Fresh Press—an experimental studio led by Eric Benson of the School of Art and Design where undergraduate and graduate students create handmade paper from materials they have planted and harvested at the Sustainable Student Farm—has joined forces with conservators at the library to develop paper for preservation projects. Sturdiness and longevity of the paper, a sustainable process, and proximity that limits the carbon footprint of the undertaking amplify the benefits of this cross-university collaboration.

Meeting Green Designed by Jessica Henson

Whether she is facilitating group work in her classroom or scoping out a site along the Los Angeles River for redevelopment with Frank Gehry's team, Jessica Henson focuses on what people need from a landscape architecture project. Her award-winning design "Meeting Green" for Philadelphia's Soak It Up! competition harnessed the appeal of outdoor social spaces in neighborhoods to direct and control stormwaters.

Krannert Center 1969

Krannert Center 50th Anniversary Bus

Turning 50 might call for an examination of what's changed over the years. One thing's clear about Krannert Center's milestone birthday in 2019: transportation options might have expanded since 1969, but a stylish ride to a memorable performance is still the rule.