Martin Felsen (born 1968) is an American architect and Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA). He directs UrbanLab, a Chicago-based architecture and urban design firm. Felsen's projects range in scale from houses such as the Hennepin, Illinois Residence,[1][2] mixed-use residential and commercial buildings such as Upton's Naturals Headquarters,[3][4] public open spaces such as the Smart Museum of Art Courtyard [5][6] at the University of Chicago, and large scale, urban design projects such as Growing Water in Chicago[7][8] and a masterplan (13 square kilometers / 5 square miles) for the Yangming Lake region of Changde, China.[9][10] Felsen was awarded the 2009 Latrobe Prize [11] by the American Institute of Architects, College of Fellows.

Martin Felsen
Martin Felsen of UrbanLab.jpg
Martin Felsen, UrbanLab
Born1968 (age 51–52)
Alma materVirginia Tech (B.Arch., 1991), Columbia University (M.S., 1994)
Awards2009 Latrobe Prize


Felsen earned his Bachelor of Architecture from Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies in 1991 and a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in 1994.[12] Prior to founding his own firm, he worked for Peter Eisenman, Stan Allen, and OMA/Rem Koolhaas in Rotterdam.

In addition to practicing architecture at UrbanLab, Felsen has lectured internationally, and curated and participated in several international exhibitions about contemporary architecture and urbanism. Two public exhibitions curated by Felsen were held at the Chicago Architecture Foundation in 2016 and 2017. The 2016 show, titled "50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards," exhibited transformative proposals aimed at improving the quality of life for residents in each of Chicago's 50 wards.[13] Felsen invited fifty notable architects and teams of architects/artists to participate and produce original work.[14] The 2017 show, titled "Between States - 50 Designers Transform Chicago's Neighborhoods," exhibited design solutions to transform underappreciated and underperforming parts of Chicago into rejuvenated civic anchors.[15] Again, fifty notable architects and teams of architects/artists were invited to participate and produce original work.[16] Felsen has publicly spoken about these exhibitions, along with the importance of architecture in tackling urgent issues such as globalization in cities on several occasions.[17] Felsen was invited to participate in the Venice Biennale of Architecture (La Biennale de Venezia) in 2010 and 2012, and the Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2015 and 2017. In 2010, as the Director of Archeworks, an alternative design school, Felsen exhibited "Mobile Food Collective" in the U.S. Pavilion at the 12th International Venice Biennale of Architecture.[18] In 2012, Felsen and UrbanLab exhibited "Fresh Water District" at the 13th International Venice Biennale of Architecture curated by David Chipperfield.[19] In 2015, Felsen and UrbanLab exhibited "Filter Island" at the Chicago Architecture Biennial curated by Sarah Herda and Joseph Grima.[20] In 2017, Felsen and UrbanLab exhibited "Re-Encampment" at the Chicago Architecture Biennial curated by Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee.[21] Felsen's work has also been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art,[22] the National Building Museum,[23] and the Art Institute of Chicago.[24] Felsen has been featured in several publications such as Architect magazine.[25] He has received many honors for his work, including several design awards from the American Institute of Architects.

Since 1996, Felsen has taught architecture and urban design as an Associate Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology.[26] He has been a visiting professor at Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and Washington University in St. Louis.[27] Felsen served as Director of Archeworks,[28] an alternative design school in Chicago from 2008-11.[29] Under his leadership, Archeworks completed several significant public interest design projects,[30] and developed and organized two influential urban design workshops titled Infrastructures for Change.[31] During Felsen's tenure, Archeworks’ projects were exhibited internationally at the Venice Biennale of Architecture [32] and The Architecture Foundation in London.[33] Felsen founded and served as editor of a new Archeworks publication titled Works.[34]


UrbanLab: Bowling is a new book about UrbanLab's work authored by Martin Felsen and Sarah Dunn, published by Applied Research + Design.[35] The book explores relationships and realities between cities, architecture and water.[36][37] As populations steadily increase in cities, the world's natural resources are consumed at ever-faster rates.[38] The majority of the world's populations live in countries where clean water supplies are dwindling, and these water shortages are also quickly translating into food shortages. What can designers do to avert looming water-related realities?[39] UrbanLab: Bowling views potential water crises as opportunities to speculate on future urban design possibilities, especially in cities.[40][41] Several projects are presented that take an ecological approach to re-thinking received urban design methodologies of addressing the design of water-related infrastructures in existing and new cities.[42][43]

Awards and honorsEdit

Selected worksEdit

  • UrbanLab: Bowling (Applied Research + Design Publishing, 2017) ISBN 1940743133


  1. ^ Ryan Blitstein (November 2009). "New Grass Roots". Dwell magazine. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  2. ^ "Hennepin House". UrbanLab. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  3. ^ Luke Hopping (June 2015). "In just 48 hours". Dwell magazine. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  4. ^ "Upton's Naturals". UrbanLab. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  5. ^ "Sculpture Garden and Reception Hall". University of Chicago. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  6. ^ "Courtyard at the Smart Museum". UrbanLab. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  7. ^ David Sokol (2008-09-29). "Momentum Grows for Futuristic Scheme". Architectural Record. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  8. ^ "Growing Water". UrbanLab. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  9. ^ Matthew Messner (2016-10-07). "This Master Plan Calls for a Brand New City to Alleviate China's Water Issues". The Architect's Newspaper. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  10. ^ "Yangming Lake". UrbanLab. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  11. ^ Matt Tinder (August 11, 2010). "AIA College of Fellows announces winner of 2009 Latrobe Prize". Building Design+Construction. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  12. ^ Paul Makovsky (December 1999). "Tschumi Steps Down". Metropolis (architecture magazine). Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  13. ^ Blair Kamin (2016-05-09). "Chicago architects offer 50 ideas for 50 wards at exhibition". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  14. ^ Matthew Messner (2016-06-05). "UrbanLab explores the Windy City's unique urbanism with exhibit 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards". The Architect's Newspaper. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  15. ^ Blair Kamin (2017-09-29). "Bite-sized Biennial shows give the big exhibit a Chicago focus". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  16. ^ Matthew Messner (2017-10-17). "Fifty firms imagine 50 futures". The Architect's Newspaper. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  17. ^ City Club of Chicago (2017-10-15). "Make New History – Discovering the Chicago Architecture Biennial". WGN (AM). Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  18. ^ Alan Brake (2010-06-09). "Smart Cart Farms Out Design on Chicago Streets". The Architect's Newspaper. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  19. ^ Jayne Merkel (2012-06-19). "Preview: Americans in Venice". Architectural Record. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  20. ^ Sam Lubell (2015-10-18). "Radical Visions of Chicago's Future Skyline". Wired. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  21. ^ Christopher Hawthorne (2017-10-22). "'Make New History,' the second Chicago Architecture Biennial". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  22. ^ Museum of Modern Art (2012-07-01). "Young Architects Program 2012". YAP 2012 Finalist: Virtual Water UrbanLab. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  23. ^ National Building Museum (2014-07-01). "Martin Felsen". National Building Museum Video Archive. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  24. ^ Art Institute of Chicago (2009-03-01). "Visitor's Center Project". Permanent Collection. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  25. ^ Ernest Beck (January 17, 2012). "UrbanLab". Architect magazine. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  26. ^ "IIT Faculty: Martin Felsen". Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  27. ^ "Sam Fox School, Master's of Urban Design Studio". Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  28. ^ "Archeworks". Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  29. ^ Blair Kamin (January 17, 2008). "Alternative design school". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  30. ^ "Archeworks Project Archive". Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  31. ^ Metropolitan Planning Council. "Infrastructures for Change Workshop 2010 – Great Lakes Model". Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  32. ^ "Workshopping at the 2010 Venice Biennale". Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  33. ^ "Critical Infrastructures at The Architecture Foundation, London". Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  34. ^ "Works 01". Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  35. ^ Martin Felsen and Sarah Dunn (2017-07-30). "UrbanLab: Bowling". UrbanLab. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  36. ^ David Salomon (2016-05-26). "Towards a new infrastructure: aesthetic thinking, synthetic sensibilities". Journal of Landscape Architecture. 11 (2): 54–65. doi:10.1080/18626033.2016.1188574.
  37. ^ Roger L. Kemp (2008-12-12). Cities and Water: A Handbook for Planning. ISBN 9780786434695. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  38. ^ Matthew Messner (2016-11-07). "UrbanLab is Combining Water Infrastructure with Architecture to Reimagine How Cities Work". The Architect's Newspaper. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  39. ^ Sophie Knight (2017-09-25). "What would an entirely flood-proof city look like?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  40. ^ Zach Mortice (2017-12-01). "The Story of the Great Lakes in 8 Maps". CityLab (web magazine). Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  41. ^ Fabrizio Gallanti (2015-05-15). "Waters Free to Circulate". Abitare. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  42. ^ Chicago Tribune Editorial Board (2014-09-18). "A new Plan of Chicago: 12 ways to heal a city". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  43. ^ Timothy Beatley (2010-10-25). Biophilic Cities: Integrating Nature Into Urban Design and Planning. ISBN 9781597267151. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  44. ^ "American Institute of Architects College of Fellows". 2014. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  45. ^ "AIA Awards". 2017. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  46. ^ "AIA Awards". 2016. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  47. ^ Matt Shaw (October 2015). "Bold New Visions". The Architect's Newspaper. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  48. ^ "MCHAP Awards". 2015. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  49. ^ "AIA Awards". 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-05.
  50. ^ "AIA Awards". 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-05.
  51. ^ "AIA Awards". 2013. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  52. ^ Jayne Merkel (June 19, 2012). "Preview: Americans in Venice". Architectural Record. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  53. ^ "AIA Awards". 2011. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  54. ^ "AIA Awards". 2010. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  55. ^ "2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Finalists". April 29, 2010. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  56. ^ Julie Iovine (2010-03-03). "UrbanLab". The Architect's Newspaper. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  57. ^ "Workshopping at the 2010 Venice Biennale". Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  58. ^ "AIA Awards". 2009. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  59. ^ "AIA Awards". 2009. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  60. ^ Matt Tinder (August 11, 2010). "AIA College of Fellows announces winner of 2009 Latrobe Prize". Building Design+Construction. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  61. ^ "Global Visionaries WBEZ". March 2, 2009. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  62. ^ "AIA Awards". 2008. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  63. ^ Blair Kamin (December 12, 2007). "Pitt making celebrity work for homes". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  64. ^ "AIA Awards". 2007. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  65. ^ Robin Pogrebin (February 9, 2007). "Chicago Firm Urban Design Winner". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-04-25.

External linksEdit

  • [1] UrbanLab's official website