Join HCCC for a series of six speaking events designed to provide a forum for Houston’s rich dialogue on urban development. Held in conjunction with the SPRAWL exhibition this fall, the series features a variety of notable individuals from city, county, academic, architecture, and urban planning backgrounds.

Like the exhibition, the speaker series addresses three main topics, “Infrastructure of Expansion,” “Survey, Plan, Build,” and “Aftereffects,” which loosely define the phases of urban growth. To supplement the art works in the show, the series aims to create a cross-disciplinary dialogue to address the complex issues raised by the exhibition and generate public discussion.

All events take place at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and are free and open to the public.

The SPRAWL Speaker Series was made possible in part through the City’s Initiative Grant Program of the Houston Arts Alliance.

Infrastructure of Expansion

October 18, 12 – 1 PM
Judge Edward M. Emmett
Harris County Judge

Judge Ed Emmett has served as Harris County Judge since 2007. He was a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1979 to 1987, where he was Chairman of the Committee on Energy, a member of the Transportation Committee, and represented the state on numerous national committees relating to energy and transportation policy. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush nominated Emmett as a commissioner at the Interstate Commerce Commission, where he served on the commission by a unanimous vote from the United States Senate for three years. Among many other activities, Judge Emmett is Director of Harris County’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Chairman of the Houston-Galveston Area Council, and Chairman of the HGAC Transportation Policy Council. In 1971, he received a B.A. in economics from Rice University, followed by a Masters in public affairs from the University of Texas-Austin in 1974.

October 24, 6 – 7 PM
Thomas Colbert
Associate Professor at the Gerald D. Hines
College of Architecture, University of Houston

Practicing architect and planner, Thomas Colbert, is an associate professor at the University of Houston’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture. His interests include research into architecture and the modern city, especially the cultural, technological, and environmental forces that shape the built environment and the dialogue between building and place. His recent work dealt with the preparation and evaluation of design responses to the threat of climate change and extreme weather events. Working with environmental and coastal scientists, as well as civil and environmental engineers, Colbert’s research anticipates the transformations of the upper Texas Gulf Coast and the development of place-based, multi-functional infrastructure and urbanism. His work has been widely published and presented at numerous national and international conferences.  Colbert holds a B.A. in architecture and urban planning from Princeton University and a graduate degree in architecture from the University of Cambridge.

Susan Rogers
Director of the Community Design Resource Center and
Assistant Professor of the University of Houston’s College of Architecture

Susan Rogers is Director of the Community Design Resource Center (CDRC) at the University of Houston’s College of Architecture and an assistant professor. Her work focuses on design as a strategy for community change and explores the seams between design, justice and the public interest.  She is the co-author of “An Architecture of Change,” the introduction to Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism, edited by Bryan Bell and Katie Wakeford.  Her work has been published in Urban Design International, Places Journal, ArtLies, Cite: The Architecture and Design Review of Houston, and, most recently, her essay, “Strategrams,” was published in the fifth volume of the Urban Infill series, Diagrammatically.

Thomas Colbert & Susan Rogers,
Infrastructure of Expansion


Survey, Plan, Build

November 6, 6 – 7 PM
Brian Crimmins
City of Houston Planning & Development Chief of Staff

Brian Crimmins has worked for Houston’s Planning and Development department for over seven years. As Chief of Staff, Crimmins has been involved in technology upgrades that interface with the public, such as making the city’s general plan available online as a source of guidance for Houston’s development. He has also assisted in amending ordinances to increase flexibility for developers, establish incentives for high-density and pedestrian-friendly development, and add requirements for parks and open space.

November 7, 6 – 7 PM
Houston Urban Development & Improvement Panel

Peter H. Brown
Director of Better Houston

Peter H. Brown, a native Houstonian, continues a distinguished career in urban planning, design and development, and as a leader in the livable cities movement. With a belief in the transformative power and magic of cities, Brown has devoted his career to public service, especially to improving the quality and character of the urban environment in his hometown of Houston, Texas.  He holds a B.A. from the University of Houston and B.Arch, M.Arch, and Master of City Planning degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. He is Co-Founder and Director of BetterHouston, a non-profit civic involvement organization, dedicated to the betterment of neighborhoods and the urban environment. He also serves as Chairman of the Mayor’s International Trade and Development Council, Mayor Annise Parker’s expanded initiative to bring global talent, jobs, business, and cultural exchanges to the city.

A member of Houston City Council (2006-2010) and candidate for Mayor (2009), Brown previously directed a nationally recognized design firm, known for innovative public and private projects in Houston and 22 other American cities. A founding member of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) and a fellow of the American Institute for Architects, he followed the design principles of The New Urbanism for over 25 years. A recent effort is THE GREAT CITY COALITION in Houston, modeled after Seattle’s Great City Initiative, which focuses on great neighborhoods, great schools, great streets, great transit, great urban development, great economy, and great governance.

BetterHouston is committed to better neighborhoods, better transit, and better urban development and is currently working on developing urban districts in Houston neighborhoods, including the Downtown Core, the Washington Avenue Corridor, the Greater East End, and the Fifth Ward. BetterHouston collaborates with a number of community partners, including the Kinder Center for Urban Research at Rice University, Project Row Houses, and several “super” neighborhoods.

David Crossley
President of Houston Tomorrow

David Crossley is President and Founder of Houston Tomorrow, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for all the people of the Houston region through research, education, and discussion. Crossley has led the initiative for sustainability, quality of life, and smart growth in the Houston Gulf Coast region since 1998.  His focus is on long-range, regional considerations of sustainability and quality of life.  Crossley is Co-Founder and Former Chair of Blueprint Houston, an initiative toward a comprehensive plan for the City of Houston that began as a Houston Tomorrow program in 2001. He also served as President of the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition from 1993 – 1996. On a national level, he is a board member of Smart Growth America and a member of the steering committee of America 2050.Houston Tomorrow’s mission for 15 years has been to improve the quality of life for all the people of the Houston region through research, education, and discussion. Houston Tomorrow’s vision is that, on its 200th birthday in 2036, the Houston region will be home to the healthiest, happiest, most prosperous people in the United States.

Houston Tomorrow promotes sustainable development of the region’s built environment and keeps citizens, policymakers, and business leaders informed about best practices and emerging research for urban development through its website, newsletter, ongoing public events, incisive presentations, input to the policy making process, and other publications.

Diane Schenke
President of Greater East End District

Diane Schenke is President of the Greater East End Management District and has served in that role since June 1, 2009. She is a longtime East End advocate, having served as President and Executive Director of The Park People, Gulf Coast Program Manager for The Nature Conservancy, and Executive Director of The Grand Parkway Association. Schenke brings a variety of experiences to the Greater East End Management District, having worked as an environmental lawyer for law firms and corporations prior to her time spent at governmental and nonprofit entities.

Since Schenke came to the Greater East End Management District, the District has received grant funds of over $17M and commitments of $4.5M in capital funds in the Second Ward and Harrisburg Corridor for pedestrian-friendly improvements.  These improvements, which complement the East End Rail Line and real-estate improvements, are grounded in strong community input through the Livable Centers process.

The Greater East End Management District was formed by the Texas Legislature in 1999 to function as a tool for economic development and revitalization of the area. The District receives assessments from commercial property owners and uses funds for infrastructure improvements, beautification, security and public safety, workforce development, and other programs as designated by its board of directors.

Diane Schenke,
Greater East End Management District-Creating a Livable Community



December 17, 6 – 7 PM
Sara Zewde
M.L.A. Candidate, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Sara Zewde has long had a keen interest in the spatial practices of various cultures and their relationships with landscapes. She has explored the potential for cultural spatial understanding to inform contemporary design and planning through her studies in Brazil, South Africa, and New Zealand, among other places. Her professional experiences have proved to be test laboratories for ideas on cultural spatial practice, as well, ranging from sustainable transportation planning in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to landscape design in Oakland, California, with Hood Design Studio, and as a designer and planner with Asakura Robinson Company in Houston, Texas.

Zewde ultimately believes that good design empowers people. She holds a B.A. from Boston University, a Master of City Planning and Urban Design Certificate from MIT, and is currently a candidate for the Master of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

January 9, 7 – 8 PM
Carrie Schneider
Houston Artist

Carrie Marie Schneider graduated magna cum laude from the Maryland Institute College of Art, with a B.F.A. in fine arts and minor in culture and politics in 2009.  Schneider is the founder of Hear Our Houston, a series of public generated, audio walking tours. Her recent work has included transforming the suburban house where she grew up into a memorial for care and loss and developing a skill-share between local creatives and refugee youth from Burma, who were resettled in Houston four years ago.  With collaborator, Alex Tu, she also presented The Human Tour 2013, a series of 10 public walks tracing the 40-mile outline of a human form across streets of Houston, as originally mapped in Michael Galbreth’s 1987 guerilla-art project.

Schneider has recently facilitated a series of nine tours around the historic Palm Center, in collaboration with the Southeast Houston Transformation Alliance. She has been in residence and exhibited at Project Row Houses, labotanica, Alabama Song, Harold Arts, Elsewhere, Skydive, and the Texas Biennial.  She has delivered talks at Davidson College in North Carolina; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; and TEDx Houston.  Her writing has appeared on Glasstire and Temporary Art Review.  She is one of 16 artists featured in the SPRAWL exhibition at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.

October 4, 2013 — January 19, 2014
In the Main Gallery

Opening Reception
Friday, October 4, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
5:30 PM  Artist Talk by Tybre Newcomer (The Maker’s Archive)
5:45 PM – Curators’ Talk by Susie J. Silbert and Anna Walker (SPRAWL)
Open Studios by Current Resident Artists (to follow artist talks)

4848 Main Street, Houston, TX 77002

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft is located in the Houston Museum District, two blocks south of Highway 59, near Rosedale St. Visitors should park in the free parking lot located directly behind the building, off Rosedale and Travis Streets, and enter through the back entrance. 

Free Admission


4848 Main Street, Houston, TX 77002

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft is located in the Houston Museum District, two blocks south of Highway 59, near Rosedale St. Visitors should park in the free parking lot located directly behind the building, off Rosedale and Travis Streets, and enter through the back entrance. 

Free Admission


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