Design Dialogues: Whose Lakefront is it Anyway?

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Design Dialogues: Whose Lakefront is it Anyway?

March 14, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT

The Public Trust Doctrine introduced Chicagoans to the notion of an open, public lakefront. While many agree with the doctrine, the past century has been filled with battles over the land. Our panel discusses our lakefront’s past and future.

March 14, 2017
6:00 pm
$15 public
$7 CAF members
Lecture Hall @ CAF, 224 S. Michigan Ave.




AJ LaTrace is the editor of Curbed Chicago, a leading blog in the Vox Media family that focuses on Chicago real estate, architecture and neighborhoods. A graduate of DePaul University, AJ has previously held positions at the Art Institute of Chicago, Groupon and numerous political campaigns throughout the Chicago area. A longtime resident of Chicago’s northwest side, AJ is a homeowner and landlord in the Avondale community.



Joseph D. Kearney is the dean of Marquette University Law School, a position he has held since 2003. An accomplished teacher, scholar, administrator and lawyer, Joseph joined the Marquette Law School faculty in 1997. He previously practiced law at Sidley & Austin in Chicago and served as a law clerk to Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain and former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Joseph grew up on the South Side of Chicago and attended St. Ignatius High School. He graduated with honors from Yale College and Harvard Law School.



Thomas W. Merrill is the Charles Evans Hughes Professor of Law at Columbia University and a scholar in property, administrative and environmental law. He has practiced law at Sidley & Austin in Chicago, taught at Northwestern University and Yale University and served as Deputy Solicitor General for the Department of Justice. Thomas holds degrees from Grinnell College, Oxford University and the University of Chicago Law School. He began his legal career clerking for D.C. Circuit Court Judge David Bazelon and former Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun.

Kearney and Merrill have published three lengthy law review articles on the history and law of the Chicago lakefront and are currently writing a book, whose working title is “The Making of the Chicago Lakefront: Public Trust, Private Right, and Power.”



Paul Botts is a board member and officer of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the largest and oldest citizens’ environmental organization dedicated to protecting the Great Lakes. Paul also serves as president and executive director of the Wetlands Initiative, a Chicago-based conservation organization which designs and carries out wetlands restoration projects. Prior to his current positions, Paul managed a nonprofit professional theater organization and was a staff member for the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and Nature Conservancy’s Illinois chapter.

AIA/CES Credit: 1 LU

  • Ticket price includes complimentary beer, wine or soft drinks.
  • Discount tickets are available with a valid student ID for $10 at the CAF Box Office.