Ann Lui, an assistant professor of practice in architecture and the founding principal of Future Firm, is a recipient of the 2020–2021 J. Irwin and Xenia Miller Prize. The prize is the centerpiece of Exhibit Columbus and honors practices that celebrate design and have a deep interest in research and making. Future Firm and this year’s other recipients were selected for their commitment to the transformative power that architecture, art, and design have to improve people’s lives and make cities better places to live.
Lui first joined Taubman College in the winter 2020 semester as a visiting assistant professor. At Future Firm, her Chicago-based architecture and design research practice, her work focuses on spaces of collectivity and the role of architecture in producing and intervening in paradoxical conditions of belonging. Founded by Lui and Craig Reschke in 2015, Future Firm designs spaces for clients who are change-makers in their own communities. Their work spans diverse scales: from events to residential and commercial buildings to urban and territorial speculations. Future Firm also currently operates The Night Gallery, a nocturnal exhibition space on Chicago's South side, which features video and film works by artists and architects from sunset to sunrise.
Exhibit Columbus launched in 2016 to celebrate the design legacy of Columbus, Indiana, through its annual exploration of architecture, art, design and community. The theme for the 2021 Exhibition is New Middles: From Main Street To Megalopolis, What Is The Future of The Middle City? This 2020-2021 symposium and exhibition cycle explores the future of the center of the United States and the regions connected by the Mississippi Watershed. Embracing a long timeline of cities past, present, and future, New Middles builds upon Columbus’ legacy as a laboratory for design as civic investment. In a moment when we most need reflection, creativity, and innovation to envision new ways of being, New Middles considers Columbus a place to destabilize assumptions, and imagine new architectures and landscapes as a way to positively move our cities forward.