Chris is a graduate of the College of the University of Chicago (A.B., Cultural Anthropology), and holds professional degrees in architecture (M.Arch.) and planning (M.U.P.P.) from the University of Illinois – Chicago. His Ph.D. is from the School of Public Affairs of the University of Colorado Denver, with the dissertation Valorizing Heritage: Network and Regime in the Colorado Historic Preservation Policy Sub-System.
Chris’s teaching practice is informed by history and heritage, not for their own sake, but as methodological entrees into intervening in and transforming present conditions. As a studio educator, he introduces his students to community-based clients attempting to improve their neighborhoods and civic life more broadly. In recent semesters his graduate architecture students have been working with several non-profits in Denver. They have helped a residents’ group, Westwood Unidos, visualize and prioritize features they deemed important in advocating for a recreation center in an underserved part of the city. In another studio he worked with an advocacy non-profit, Denver Shared Spaces, conceptualizing how both their individual shared-space building, the Social Foundry, and that facility’s relationship to the existing neighborhood context will be affected by future redevelopment. A current studio focuses on using building and site rehabilitation and new design to advance the mutual objectives of two community-based organizations with different, but complementary, missions. His students are working with Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center and NEWSED Community Development Corporation to explore a complex program of performance space, youth education, business incubation, permanently affordable housing for artists/creatives and an events plaza on Santa Fe Drive in the Lincoln Park /La Alma neighborhood. In each of these cases, Chris draws upon his familiarity with the history of local institutions in advancing design for public good to posit another step forward.
In addition to studio-based architectural education, Chris also developed and teaches the Social Context of Design core course in the M.Arch. curriculum. This course introduces students to many of the topics that are probed more deeply in the studios. Thematic modules in this course cover: “the profession in society,” “spaces of public life,” “local institutions,” “spaces for work and residence,” and “the changing form of the (post) industrial city.” In recent years he has also taught seminars on Urban Conservation: Context for Reuse and Public Interest Design.
Chris directs both the Master of Science in Historic Preservation program and the College’s Colorado Center for Community Development (CCCD).The degree program affords students training in emerging aspects of heritage conservation including advanced documentation, sustainability, and neighborhood conservation. CCCD is an almost five decade old community design center that has provided technical assistance and advocacy for communities throughout Colorado. While Chris has focused his personal Center projects on urban projects arising from the non-profit and community-based sectors, he also manages a professional and student staff focusing on technical assistance to small and under-served communities across the state. The Center functions as a clinical teaching practice for the College while addressing the planning and design needs of a wide array of partner organizations.
Chris currently serves on the steering committees of Denver Shared Spaces, an initiative to spur collaboration among non-profits, and Space to Create Colorado, a statewide effort to develop affordable arts-based live/work in rural communities in support of economic development. He is the past board president of Colorado Preservation Inc.
While primarily focusing his career on education in recent years, Chris maintains architectural licensure in both Colorado and Illinois. He occasionally consults with practitioners and communities both locally and nationally in his areas of expertise. Earlier in his career he worked as an architect in several states. Project types include: adaptive reuse of industrial buildings in Chicago, scattered site public housing in Boston, transit oriented development in Lynn, Massachusetts, rehabilitation of historically significant structures in several states, and urban design for the first phase of the RTD light-rail through downtown Denver.