This symposium considers discourse on contemporary issues of design practice in two parts: the external pressures of economic, environmental, and political systems, and internal forces of tools, techniques, and strategies for design. Addressing the multifaceted nature of the profession, we will explore themes for the design of practice, such as work and labor, tools and technology, and ethics and agency. The symposium highlights potential avenues for the growth and constitution of practice, as well as the issues currently at stake within the profession. The following discussions confront pressing questions regarding the shifting responsibilities of design practice, and the future of practice itself.
This symposium is generously sponsored by the Carl M. Sapers Ethics in Practice Fund, and co-hosted by the GSD Practice Platform and the Department of Architecture.
Kajima Professor in Practice of Architecture Harvard Graduate School of Design
Principal, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects
Building Practice: Ethics, Agency, and Labor
This panel addresses the current systems of value in contemporary design practice for the management and creation of labor, the evaluation of risk, and the mediation of underlying economic and social dynamics in the design of the built environment. Focusing on the duties of the designer in our current culture of production, the panelists will hold a critical discussion on the external forces affecting practice and the growing crisis of the marginalization of the design disciplines. The evolution of practice will be examined through historical, ethnographic, and other qualitative lenses, revealing complex systems of relations between key players in the creation of the built environment.
In outlining the organizational distinctions between formal and informal design methodologies, corporate conglomerations and grassroots design teams, the discussion will emphasize the sociopolitical role of design, questions of professional identity, and the opportunities to increase the agency of design in the face of uncertain futures.
Aaron Cayer is an ethnographer, historian, and educator of architecture. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of New Mexico. Prior to New Mexico, he taught architecture history and theory at Cal Poly Pomona, and he was a Senior Research Associate at cityLAB, an urban research center within UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design, from 2012-2017. Also in Los Angeles, he co-founded the Los Angeles chapter of The Architecture Lobby in 2016. Aaron received his Ph.D. in Architecture from the University of California, Los Angeles, as well as undergraduate and graduate degrees in architecture from Norwich University in Vermont. His current research focuses on the histories and theories of postwar corporate architecture practices as they are informed by those of labor, capitalism, and urban political economies.
Neena Verma is an architect and theorist based in New York City. Her research and writing focus on the intersection of practice and society, with specific challenge to the norms of perception and beauty. As a former attorney, Neena’s analyses consider both the legal and architectural professions.
Neena’s writing has appeared broadly, most recently in Architectural Research Quarterly, and her collaborative work has been presented before the Association of American Law Schools, Buenos Aires Biennale and Venice Biennale. She was an invited participant to the American Institute of Architects Emerging Professionals Summit and an appointee to the AIA Center for Emerging Professionals. Her first built work was completed as an architecture graduate student with Tulane’s UrbanBuild program. A recipient of the John William Lawrence Travel Fellowship, she has studied slum architecture in India.
Neena holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School, Rutgers Law School and Tulane School of Architecture. She is currently Adjunct Faculty at NJIT College of Architecture and Design and principal of her eponymous practice. She is working on a book about immigrants finding place.
Jesse Keenan is a member of the architecture faculty of the Graduate School of Design where he teaches professional practice courses and conducts research at the intersection of climate adaptation and the built environment, including aspects of design, engineering, regulation and finance. Jesse has partnered with a variety of global actors, including the AIA, Audi, Carnegie Corporation, EPA, Goldman Sachs, Google, ICC, MoMA, Mori Foundation, Lennar Foundation, NASA, National Security Council, NIST, Open Society Foundation, Regional Plan Association, RAND Corporation, Rockefeller Foundation, the White House and the U.N. Jesse is the author of NYC 2040: Housing the Next One Million New Yorkers (Columbia University Press) and co-editor of Blue Dunes: Climate Change by Design (Columbia University Press) and Climate Change Adaptation in North America: Experiences, Case Studies and Best Practices (Springer). Jesse’s forthcoming book, Climate Adaptation Finance and Investment in California (Routledge) will be released in November. Keenan holds concurrent appointments as a Research Advisor to California’s Governor Jerry Brown and as a Visiting Scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Jesse holds degrees in the law (J.D., LL.M.) and science of the built environment (M.Sc.), including a Ph.D. from the Delft University of Technology.
Alison Brooks is the John T. Dunlop Design Critic in Architecture, and principal and creative director of Alison Brooks Architects based in London. One of the leading architects of her generation, and named in 2012 as one of “Britain’s 500 Most Influential” by Debrett’s, Alison has developed an international reputation for a multi-award winning body of work since founding her practice in 1996. Her architectural approach emerges from broad cultural research, with each of her projects expressing a specific response to place, community, and landscape. As a recipient of the RIBA Stirling Prize, Manser Medal, and Stephen Lawrence Prize, she is the only British architect to have won all three awards, and in 2017 was appointed as a Royal Designer for Industry by the RSA and selected as Mayors Design Advocate for London. Alison holds BArch and BES degrees from the University of Waterloo, where she also received an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering in 2016. She has taught at the AA, Bartlett UCL and recently taught a Master’s studio in Collective Housing at ETSAM Madrid. Her practice is currently exhibiting at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.
The Architect’s Arsenal: Tools and Strategies
This panel focuses on both the tangible and intangible resources available to the designer in practice, with an emphasis on the ways in which the incorporation of new technologies and strategies affect design. With numerous digital platforms, BIM and machine learning programs already normalized within design workflows, new opportunities arise with the development of digital simulation, geospatial representation, and fabrication technologies for the built environment. The panelists will discuss emerging technologies, from early-stage research and development to commercial and professional usage, critically examining the gap between potential possibilities and actual feasibility in the use of new tools of design.
Focusing also on data-driven analysis and design collaboration, the panelists will address the growing multidisciplinary nature of design in the face of new technologies, as well as the risks and opportunities associated with the increasing automation of practice. In examining the ways in which various technological tools and strategies affect the design of practice, the panel will explore new modes of interaction and responsibility within the design professions.
Eduard Sancho Pou is a registered Architect in both New York and Barcelona, specializing in strategic consulting, planning and directing projects of all scales. His academic profile is based on his own diverse working experience, which includes being Director of Strategy for a private equity real estate firm in New York (New Amsterdam Design Associates), developing projects for the City of Buenos Aires as Urban Projects Operation Manager, running an architectural gallery in Barcelona with Aedes Berlin, and developing an international architectural competition, the Holcim Awards, with a Swiss multinational.
He has lived and worked in Barcelona, Buenos Aires, and most recently New York. Currently, he is based in the greater Zurich area, running his own architecture studio where he works as an architect and strategic consultant. Eduard is the author of Architectural Strategies (Peninsula, 2012) and Function Follows Strategy (Detail, 2015), which focus on how marketing, policies and data affect the process of a project. He is in the process of writing a third book, Digital Strategies for the Built Environment (Actar, 2019), which concentrates on the tools with which to implement strategies and design intangibles.
He has taught at the Columbia University GSAPP (New York), Universidad de Palermo (Buenos Aires) and Universitat Politecnica Catalunya (Barcelona). Eduard received his degrees in architecture and construction engineering, earning his PhD at UPC. He has been awarded a Graham Foundation grant and a Festival of Arts & Design (FAD) Theory Award for his research in Architectural Practice.
Sawako Kaijima is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the GSD and the Shutzer Assistant Professor at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute. Her work investigates the integration of architectural, structural, and environmental knowledge to create unique, efficient, and previously unattainable designs. In pursuing this objective, she develops computational design methods and artefacts employing computer simulation and various digital fabrication technologies. Her work has been widely published, exhibited, and has won multiple design awards. Pursuing both academic and applied research at the interface of architecture, engineering, and computer science, Sawako has led multiple interdisciplinary research projects in collaboration with various fields ranging from structural engineering, aeronautics, material science, to art. In addition, she was involved in the development of a vast range of architectural projects undertaken in collaboration with widely acclaimed architectural practices such as ZHA, Thomas Heatherwick, Fosters + Partners, and others at the London based structural engineering consultancy, AKT. Prior to joining Harvard, Sawako held an appointment at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. She received a Master of Architecture degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Information from Keio University, Japan.
Randy Deutsch AIA, LEED AP is the Associate Director for Graduate Studies and Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, teaching and conducting research in design, professional practice, building technology and digital technology. Randy is an international keynote speaker and design technology authority. An architect responsible for the design of over 100 large, complex sustainable projects, Randy has been an Exec Ed program leader at Harvard GSD. He has written for DesignIntelligence, has been featured in ARCHITECT Magazine and Architectural Record, and is the author of three books: Convergence: The Redesign of Design (AD, 2017) on the nature of the ongoing convergence of technology and work processes in the profession and industry; Data Driven Design and Construction: Strategies for Capturing, Analyzing and Applying Building Data (Wiley, 2015) on the innovative individuals and firms who are leveraging data to advance their practices; and, BIM and Integrated Design: Strategies for Architectural Practice (Wiley, 2011, translated to Chinese in 2018) tracking the social and organizational impacts of the new technologies and collaborative work processes, among other publications. His next book is Superusers: Design Technology Specialists and the Future of Practice (Routledge) due out in mid-2019.
Robert Pietrusko is an Associate Professor in the department of Landscape Architecture, where his teaching and research focus on geographic representation, simulation, narrative cartography, and the history of spatial data sets.
His design work is part of the permanent collection of the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris and has been exhibited in over ten countries at venues such the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), ZKM Center for Art & Media, and the Venice Architecture Biennale, among others.
Prior to joining the junior faculty of the GSD, Robert worked as a designer with Diller Scofidio + Renfro in New York, and held research positions at Parsons Institute for Information Mapping at the New School and at Columbia University’s Spatial Information Design Lab.
Robert holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Synthesis (with honors) from the Berklee College of Music; a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Villanova University; and a Master of Architecture (with distinction) from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.
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