The School of Architecture (SoA) at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) has announced its new director: Argentinian architect, writer, and lecturer Florencia Rodriguez. Currently based in Brookline, Massachusetts, Rodriguez will begin her directorship this upcoming August, taking the place of Robert Somol, who served as director of the SoA since 2007.
Similar to her predecessor, Rodriguez has been extensively involved in editorial work. Rodriguez was trained as an architect at the University of Belgrano in Buenos Aires but has devoted the last two decades practicing in both the United States and Argentina as an editor, writer, and educator. In 2013, Rodriguez received the prestigious Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (Harvard GSD), where she is currently a lecturer.
“…[A]s a trained architect and educator whose work spans two continents, Florencia is representative of the diverse perspectives and cultures that shape the School of Architecture’s incredible student body, and that inspire and inform UIC’s progressive outlook,” said Rebecca Rugg, dean of the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts (CADA). (The SoA is housed within CADA.)
Rodriguez will be working closely with Rugg and the rest of SOA’s faculty, staff, and administration in an effort to promote values and objectives central to the school; in a press release, UIC stated that its architecture students should graduate with the ability work across design disciplines in diverse teams and to develop work that resonates with contemporary culture.
“I have long admired the School of Architecture’s commitment to a curriculum that fuses theory, technology, and rigorous research in a way that encourages students to approach architectural ideas with fresh eyes and a deep sense of purpose,” said Rodriguez. “I look forward to advancing this vision and adapting it to reflect the ever-shifting cultural, political, and economic realities of contemporary society.”
Rodriguez is currently editorial director of Lots of Architecture Publishers, which she founded in 2017 with Argentinian architect and photographer Pablo Gerson. Rodriguez has edited numerous books and issues of NESS, the publishing company’s periodical that provides in-depth explorations of architecture and urban culture. The magazine has featured conversations between prominent architects, educators, and critics, including Stan Allen, Kenneth Frampton, and Hashim Sarkis.
Rodriguez’s enterprising and intuitive approach to her editorial work is also apparent in her prior endeavors. In 2010, she founded her first publication PLOT and served as editorial director for seven years–the international architecture journal is now a leading design publication in Latin America. She also serves on this year’s jury for the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize at the Illinois Institute of Technology; awarded every other year (although delayed in its current cycle due to the pandemic), the prize recognizes excellence in built works of architecture in the Americas.
“With NESS, and previously Monte and PLOT, Florencia Rodriguez has demonstrated a significant ability and commitment to building forums focused on architecture as a cultural practice,” said David Brown, associate director of graduate affairs and the search committee’s co-chair. “Florencia is uniquely positioned to advance the School of Architecture’s mission to prepare graduates to negotiate and collaborate across various manifestations of design, and to generate ideas and systems with contemporary cultural and disciplinary resonance.”