UoB Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor Douglas Pancoast, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA

Douglas Pancoast profile picture

Digitilization of Society: connecting experiment making with place and object making

25 Apr - 1 Jul 2018


A graduate of University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Design and Cranbrook Academy of Art, Architect Douglas Pancoast has worked for firms including Richard Meier and Partners, 1100 Architect, BlackBox Studio at SOM, and agency.com. His work has been shown in the Chicago-based exhibitions Art in the Urban Garden, Mystique: Space, Technology, and Craft and Speculative Chicago; and in Scale at the Architectural League of New York and the National Building Museum, Washington, DC. His projects have been featured in Architectural Record, Architecture, A.P.+, and The Architectural Review, and in the book Young Architects: Scale.

Pancoast has lectured widely on his own work and on the topic of transdisciplinary education, and has served as a guest critic at Columbia
University, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Parsons School of Design. He examines how large, public data sets (economic, environmental, social, cultural, civic) are a context for creative practice and is a co-investigator for the Urban Sciences Research Coordination Network, an award meant to build inter-institutional collaborative research capacity around the subject
of "big data" for social benefit. Since 2012 Pancoast has been a frequent co-investigator in the newly established Urban Center for Computation and Data, specifically providing architectural knowledge, and visualization expertise for a network of associated projects.
Recent projects include “The Array of Things” – a city scaled collection of environmental sensors deployed in Chicago providing data on city
conditions for the Chicago Open Data Portal; and "Safety in Numbers" - working with communities, the project develops tools of inquiry and
instructional modules for exploring space and place. Focusing on data collection technology and environmental media as a process for iterative inquiry on the complex issue of “safety” and its formation, project participants make a series of tools, and ways to use them, that encourage people to investigate their environment and share their findings as public visualizations and materializations.


Professor Pancoast is exploring participatory research and experimentalism in art and design, with embedded sensor and data collection and visualization technology; bespoke tools of inquiry, with nature, with built form - not as an expression of novelty, but as an approach to making spaces and things that are infrastructures for experiments themselves – and importantly, that continue to provide meaning and value after specific speculation and research has waned. Given the rapid and ubiquitous digitalization of society (information transactions, data collecting capacities, necessities, opportunities and consequences) and the expense of materials and labour, he proposes that connecting experiment making with place and object making, as an emerging methodology, will only become more common and vital - rich with creative opportunity and potential for growth.

During his stay in Bristol, Prof. Pancoast will be hosted by Dr. Theo Tryfonas (Civil, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering).