Olon Dotson

Olon Dotson serves as an Associate Professor at Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning (CAP). He received a B.A. in Architectural Science from  Tuskegee Institute and a Bachelor of Architecture and Science in Environmental Design from Ball State University. Subsequent to working with HNTB Architects in Phoenix, Arizona, he attended Columbia University in New York where he completed the Master of Science in Real Estate Development Program.

Upon returning to Indianapolis, Dotson was inspired to broaden his perspective which led to the co-founding of his company, ARMONICS, Inc., in 1994 with architect Russell Lewis. The firm’s principal focus was in the revitalization of inner-city communities, first in Indianapolis, with Hawthorne Place, Concord Village, Eagle Creek Village and the Master Plan for the King Park Homeownership Zone (HOZ) which became known as Fall Creek Place. ARMONICS earned national and international recognition for its progressive and innovative approach to urban revitalization initiatives and guided strategies in cities throughout the United States. While working in Muncie, Dotson began to teach at CAP.

Throughout his career in academia as well as in professional practice, Dotson’s primary research interest and focus has been in the resurgence of severely distressed inner-city communities. Despite the success stories, awards, articles, accolades for authoring grant applications, securing funding, and directing the implementation of numerous revitalization initiatives it became increasingly apparent to Dotson, that the net result has had minimal impact on the seemingly multitudinous needs of American inner-cities. Thus, he has chosen to become more philosophical and reflective with respect to the health and vitality of American cities and has elected to pursue a Ph.D. in American Studies at the Purdue University, College of Liberal Arts. His primary interests in the offerings at Purdue are to conduct an exploration of the institutional abandonment of America’s inner-cities, investigate the causes which have led to the massive disinvestment, attempt to enhance a sense of empathy for the citizens who choose or are forced to remain in these environments, and develop formal inquiry which will enhance understanding as a design professional and scholar.

Dotson has dedicated his life and career to improving the conditions of inner-cities by effectively developing, exploring, and communicating Fourth World theory to a wider audience through lectures and publications. It is his sincere belief that a formal declaration of the Fourth World condition will generate dialogue that may contribute to positive change for the physical and social structure of the United States of America.

Big Idea: ”Through the Lens of Fourth World Theory”

Is the United States in jeopardy of self-induced, ultimate, and eminent collapse under the weight of its own history? Design Learning places “Sustainability” at the forefront of discourse as part of a larger global imperative; however, the value of ‘Green’ is inconsequential when continued sprawling development practices are dictated by historic discrimination, segregation patterns, and chronic societal ills. By sharing and weaving his personal experiences with place-specific historical and critical geography, as well as Funk music, Olon Dotson examines the quality of life in the American inner-city through the lens of Fourth World Theory.