About: Civism and Cities

Civism and Cities aims to serve those interested in a Western language of architecture and practices of humanly-scaled and energy conserving urbanism:  open-ended (in the sense of adapting to the present and future), politically and socially pluralistic (shaped by local concerns for climate and traditions and materials), affirming communal institutions (rather than personal aesthetic statements), and aimed unapologetically at beauty.  The aim is to make buildings and places that serve communities and dignify individuals by respecting and visualizing their present and historical connections in built environments.

Judson University’s program in architecture has uniquely accommodated two approaches to architecture one of which is traditional architecture and urbanism.  Undergraduates from 2001 to 2008 were provided an opportunity to take one traditional architecture and urbanism studio in the fall of their senior year.  From 2008 to 2012 curriculum concentrations were approved at the undergraduate and graduate degree programs.  The graduate program concentration permitted students to take two of their three required studios in the concentration; the undergraduate concentration permitted students to take three of their required eight studios in this concentration.

In this period, about half of Judson’s graduates, at both the undergraduate and graduate level, have elected the traditional approach.  Perhaps because the graduate program is nearly unique in the country, the undergraduate degree-holders concentrating in traditional architecture and urbanism have returned at a higher percentage rate to fill the Judson graduate program.

These students, even in the recent recession, have been employed or self-employed at numbers equal to students preparing differently (ie, at very high percentages).  Judson graduates have worked and are working in the firms and agencies renowned among this community of practitioners.

To date, four Judson graduates, including Grant Saller, have been accepted to the Notre Dame University School of Architecture, which is acknowledged to be the world’s premier institution for those interested in classical architecture and traditional town design.  Samuel Lima and Brian Mork have been awarded full fellowships in the Notre Dame post-professional program.  Hannah Weber, admitted to the M.Arch. program, was selected, with funding, to take their dual degree.

Sam Lima may be the single most decorated student in the history of the Judson program having been acknowledged in a number of national competitions.  Below, at Student Work Reviews, see that Judson student work has been featured in the Classicist, the journal that speaks, at an extraordinarily high standard, for this community of practice.  The work of numerous Judson traditional architecture and urbanism students and projects was recognized in the inaugural 2015 Student Design Awards Winners and Student Design Awards Honors

True to mission, these students have served numerous communities in a process called a charrette.  A professional (or, student architecture) team works in a local venue (from one day to a week) with the community looking over their shoulders to strengthen what the community sees as important in the built environment and to improve what the community sees as counter-productive infrastructure.  See community charrettes.

Students who have pursued this approach to architecture have been acknowledged by faculty in the university as being sophisticated in their critical thinking and philosophic rationale.  The alumni, who followed this approach, have been some of the most committed to the program generally and most eager to see their opportunity maintained and enriched for those students who will follow at Judson.

For more, see Engagement.

This site, mastered by Christopher C. Miller, supports the instruction of those students interested in traditional architecture and urbanism, potential employers, and as a research site for advocates of this approach to architecture; of course, all are welcome.


  1. I see an entry for a lecture (I assume) under your Upcoming Events, but can find no information about where or when it will be. The entry is:
    ▶ Vinayak Bharne. Moule and Polyzoides Architects & Urbanists. Pasadena. Nov.11.
    I work with Vinayak and can ask him about this, but if I did not, I don’t know how I would find this information.

    Shouldn’t there be a link or a location or a time?

    mary walp

    1. Thanks for pointing out my oversight. I have added a bit to the entry and will add more as information via link becomes available. I look forward to having Vinayak here in Elgin to speak.

  2. Hello Professor Miller,

    I read your site regularly and would like to contact you directly.

    With best wishes,

  3. A topic that you at Judson, or followers of this blog, may have already considered fully or discussed I will now pitch your way. As an architect and adventurer that has reached the ripe old age of 56, and having been barraged by mail from AARP coaxing me to join that august club, I have grown more and more interested in John Nash’ Blaise Hamlet and those of similar ilk, the Alms Houses, and general small village character one sees in the far reaches of England, Scotland and Ireland. Many have experienced too the delight of collapsing after a long day chasing architectural visions in Italy or France, in some little village or market square, quaffing a beer while watching the old cronies pitch a game of bocce or petanque. That may have been me out there so don’t laugh. I have looked fondly too at the Royal Hospital Chelsea there on the Thames and thought that a good model too for housing us war weary fogeys. In any event, I dream of running my own pensioners club on some square under the sycamores throwing a bocce ball or too and enjoying a drink. Aren’t we the perfect anchor to any village really? We don’t need cars – you especially don’t want to be near me when I drive – and we can easily populate and activate any square and man the bars and vegetable stands. Seems like a no brainer to me. Additionally, the scale can be as tight as a tick, because you really want to spend every waking moment in the public space, or library, or town hall or pub. So, you brilliant thinkers, who is mulling over this formula these days??? This strikes me as not only an architectural and planning issue, but a societal one that is hitting the proverbial fan as we speak.
    Madison Spencer

    1. Madison, this makes sense and yet I cannot recall this coming up at CNU or elsewhere. Perhaps what you are describing has been the case in traditional towns but has been lost in suburbanization by developers. I will pass this along to some others.

  4. I am always intrigued by what Christopher Miller puts out there for a wider audience to consider and appreciate. It is also interesting to me that the banner image is of Venice. A nation state that for the most part should never have survived wedged between various fiefdoms and always held in questionable esteem by the Pope and Rome; nonetheless, they managed to prosper in that a somewhat freewheeling mercantile approach accepting of Jew, Muslim and Christian in a domain where rules of fair trade and equanimity found fertile ground moated so to speak for protection. That density, whether Venice, or New York or any tight knit village community literally forces an adoption of tolerance and a good balance of public and private realms. Basically, it is hard to be a jerk on a crowded bus and instances of unbridled selfless gestures go a long way in those circumstances.

    I trust that Chris will lead us on an interesting tour as this investigation of his unfolds.

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