School of Architecture & Urban Planning to host traveling exhibition on the history of activism in architecture

MILWAUKEE _ UWM’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning is hosting the traveling exhibition “Now What?! Advocacy, Activism & Alliances in American Architecture since 1968,” which examines the history of social and political movements through architecture.

The exhibit opened at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning (SARUP) on Feb. 4 following previous stops in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York and San Francisco, as well as abroad in Stockholm. Sponsored by the Wisconsin Preservation Fund and the law firm Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, the “Now What?!” exhibit will be on display in the gallery on the first floor of the SARUP building through April 29.

“People who make design their profession often have a calling towards social justice, which has been expressed in many activist efforts. However, until now there hasn’t been a comprehensive study of these progressive movements,” said Lori Brown, president and founder of ArchiteXX. She is co-curator of the exhibit.

“Particularly, in light of the activism we’ve seen in the last two years, it’s important to commemorate this half-century of advocacy and let today’s viewers learn about the often forgotten narratives of activist designers who have come before them,” Brown said.

The civil rights, LGBTQ and women’s movements impacted every facet of U.S. society, including architecture and design. “Now What?!” tells the largely unknown history of how architects and designers have responded to the major social movements of the late 20th century until today. The exhibition offers an in-depth look at diversity and activism in the design professions since 1968 while crafting a space for public debate and dialogue.

“We are at a critical moment in the discipline and profession of architecture, where the influence of past actions can help chart a course forward for our students. Educating over 600 students in architecture and with roots in community engagement, the School of Architecture and Urban Planning is a perfect place to host this historic exhibit,” said Mo Zell, the school’s senior associate dean.

“’Now What?!’ not only provides a space for reflection about engagement with the community but also action,” Zell added. “It prompts our students to ask these questions: ‘What’s next? How will I get involved? How can I be an agent of change?’”

The exhibit is on view at the SARUP Gallery (2131 E. Hartford Avenue, Room 146), Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additional information can be found at

Lecture Series 

The exhibit will be complemented by a special lecture series exploring related themes. Lectures will take place at the SARUP gallery from 3:30-5 p.m. on each of the following dates:

  • February 25: Now What?! Exhibition Opening and Gallery Talk with curators Sarah Rafson, Roberta Washington, Lori Brown, and Andrea J. Merrett
  • March 4: Kimberly Dowdell on “Leading by Design”
  • March 18: Julia Gamolina on “Towards Madame Architect: Intuitive Evolution on Two Parallel Tracks”
  • April 1: Jennifer Newsom on “Making (It) Work?”
  • April 8: Emanuel Admassu on “Non-Cartesian Futures”
  • April 22: Andre Brumfield on “The 20 Minute City through the Lens of Equity”
  • April 29: Now What?! Exhibition Closing and Fellows Panel Presentation with Sarah Aziz, Debbie Chen & Lindsey Krug on “Fellow-Sheep and Cattle-Lysts: A Panel on Wayward Wayfinding”

The Spring 2022 SARUP Lectures, Events, & Exhibitions Series is organized by the Events Committee of the UWM Department of Architecture: Nikole Bouchard, Alex Timmer and Mo Zell.

Special thanks to lecture series sponsors: AIA Wisconsin, AIAS, Fitzhugh Scott, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, SAMPLE Journal, SmithGroup, UWM SARUP NOMAS, Wisco NOMA, Wisconsin Preservation Fund, Women in Design and Women in Design Student Group.