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Creative Commons
Making public spaces unwelcome is a perversion of their purpose, writes ASLA president Wendy Miller in this op-ed. Too often over the past few weeks, the central promise of the civic realm has been turned on its head.

The Fourth of July weekend is upon us. In less fraught times, this is when millions of Americans would gather in their local parks to watch fireworks or crowd along sidewalks to watch holiday parades. Public places are the traditional settings for community celebration. When the pandemic passes, they certainly will be again.

Public space, broadly defined, is where the First Amendment moves from parchment to pavement. Parks, plazas, streets, city squares, the grounds of capitol buildings, and city halls: These are the great stages upon which civic life, democratic values, and constitutional rights play out. The right to free expression. The right to redress grievances. The right to peaceably assemble. Without abundant public spaces and free access to them, those principles have little meaning. Active citizenship and the built environment are inseparable.

In big cities and small towns all across the country, protests have arisen in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Although most end up in the streets, many begin in public parks: Washington Park in Cincinnati; Kaiser in Oakland; Union in Chicago; Franklin in Boston; Patton in Detroit; Humboldt in Milwaukee; and countless others. Landscape architects understand that the beauty of our parks and civic spaces isn’t just in their design, but in their irreplaceable role as launching pad and reflection of our most cherished values.

But too often over the past weeks, as protests have spread to every corner of the nation, the central promise of the civic realm has been turned on its head.

When law enforcement used tear gas and pepper spray to clear Lafayette Square in front of the White House, in order to facilitate a presidential photo op—they committed a violation of the rights of the protesters, and a perversion of the purpose of the park itself.

When a black birdwatcher named Christian Cooper was confronted by a racist harasser in New York’s Central Park, the fundamental rationale of this iconic public space was subverted, denying Mr. Cooper the right to safely enjoy what rightly belongs to him.

The lesson of the current moment is that you cannot separate the place from its promise and purpose. Making public space unwelcome or a site of fear and terror is a subversion of democracy itself. Free speech and free expression have no value if people are attacked and excluded from the places where those ideas are expressed.

But out of this national trauma change can and must come. Both the pandemic and the response to the Black Lives Matter movement have opened the door for a reexamination of the way landscape architects design public places. We must ask hard questions and we must have challenging conversations.

We often say that public spaces are open to all, but there are those who clearly feel unwelcome. Who can doubt that the design of public places does not sufficiently reflect diverse cultures, traditions, and community needs? As leaders of design teams, landscape architects must ensure that community voices are truly heard during the design and planning process. Cities serious about fostering equity in the civic realm should prioritize inclusive, non-commercial public spaces over exclusionary private ones. And we must recognize that places and spaces that serve black communities are best shaped by the hearts and hands of black designers.

This Fourth of July, as we celebrate democratic traditions, those of us in the design professions who have the honor and responsibility to lead the creation of civic space must commit to a reexamination of what we do and how we do it. Our national pain has exposed many things, and both the importance and shortcomings of the public realm are among them. If our way of life relies on the existence of fully inclusive and accessible public spaces—these great arenas of civic engagement—then we have no choice.
Interior Design Media
Events of the past centuries, the past decades, and most recently in past weeks and days have painfully and plainly illuminated the disparities in our culture and society. We are at a pivotal moment where we must face great societal challenges that will not be repaired without great collective effort. Confronting racism, injustice, and a need for equity is critical to moving forward, and current events expose how much work needs to be done for us all to really “be in this together.” We know that design is but one small part of that larger equation—so why not start with the change we can most immediately affect?

Design illuminates disparity and helps close the gaps—from healthcare and education to public space and urban planning. Design in all its manifestations is a force for change.

Recently at IIDA, we’ve considered, like so many of you, what “re-entry” and a return to life in a post-pandemic world might be. Certainly, not the same world we left behind four months ago. And definitely not a so-called “new normal.” Frankly, the old normal wasn’t exactly working that well for us. For the environment. For people of color. For the LGBTQIA community. For so many.

So what will we come back to?

Quite simply, the spaces that encompass where our lives happen—the places where we heal, where we work, where we learn, where we gather, museums, theatres, playgrounds, schools, sports facilities, stadiums, civic centers, libraries, concert halls, outdoor festivals—all the places that perhaps we took for granted before, are now places filled with nostalgia. As we re-enter these spaces, let us mandate that they be healthier and safer, but importantly also more inclusive, more equitable—DESIGN FOR HUMANITY.

The power of our collective energy is more important than ever, and we should and will consider how we function as a global design community and how we hold strong to those foundational values. The spaces we envision and create, envelop and contain those values and this time requires a broadened vocabulary of collaboration. One where we are open to learning, expanding our societal and world views, and maintaining a through-line of equity and humanity in all the work we do.

Design and design strategies can develop the tools we need to create our safer spaces. As we head into the future and the inevitable aftermath of this global crisis, public and commercial interiors will be looked at through a new lens. Within interior design, there will be more of an emphasis on the way that people move within a space and how that enables them to interact.

Health, well-being, and wellness, must be at the forefront, and our interior spaces and the furniture, fabrics, and materials will be held to and regulated at much higher standards. It must be reinforced that no matter the neighborhood we live in, no matter where we exist socioeconomically, no matter our race, gender, or background, we all deserve to live with these fundamental design values and with DIGNITY.

Designers have always put humans first, and in a post pandemic world, humans and their safety and well-being are of paramount importance. And for now, for next, and for always, design will do what design does best, support and uplift humanity and culture. Design is indeed the business of life. Now more than ever, the world requires what design so abundantly endows—grace, civility, compassion, clarity, connection, common sense, empathy, well-being, comfort, healing, hope, and EQUITY.

We have to stand together as humans dedicated to the betterment of our society. Let us continue to be a force for good in this world and take responsibility individually and collectively for envisioning and enacting change, progress, and JUSTICE.

Design is forever an act of optimism, and we can little afford in our activism to not be optimistic about our collective future.

All my best wishes to you for peace, safety, good health, and well-being. Stay hopeful and stay strong.
Yuen Lui
The renowned scholar and activist educator reflects on the vision of Martin Luther King Jr. and the opportunities that exist for architects to effect change.

Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nailed America’s greatest challenge: learning to coexist within “the architectural pattern of [a] large world house,” its upper floors soaring into the stratosphere of science and technology, its foundations mired in racism, poverty, and violence. Dr. King envisioned two futures: one powered by injustice, the other by social vision; one leading to chaos, the other to community.

Despite scientific and technological progress, a chasm in the nation’s economic system has steadily undermined the foundation of collective life, creating inequities that threaten catastrophic failure. On one side of the abyss are billionaires who purchase palatial abodes as safety deposit boxes for investment income. On the other are renters and homeowners who struggle to circumvent a growing mismatch between housing costs and earnings.

When the economy was robust and unemployment at historic lows, developers were raking in profits from new subdivisions, especially from areas with cheap land and low taxes. Yet, low-income families—and even median-income families—were priced out, both groups facing eviction, forfeiture of property, stays in homeless shelters, depression, illness, unemployment, and school failure.

The housing crisis that stemmed from commodifying a human necessity existed long before the pandemic but went largely unnoticed. The pause that halted business as usual exposed its ugly secrets, accentuating the life-and-death difference between sheltering in commodious spaces and sheltering in crowded ones or in streets and other spaces unfit for human habitation. News reports exposed the absurdity of “sheltering” poor people “in place,” especially black Americans, many of whom live in abysmal environments, overrepresented among the homeless and now among COVID-19 victims.

"Dr. King noted that, like Rip Van Winkle, protectors of the status quo sleep through social revolutions.

Yet, Cornell University historian Nicholas Mulder speculates that COVID-19 could produce a silver lining as occurred after World War II when social inequalities flattened. With business as usual on hold, we architects could seize the opportunity created by increased public consciousness of housing injustice. We could animate public dialogue about homeownership as a source of wealth, which while benefiting some, has put the most basic means of survival up for grabs to the highest bidder. Echoing sociologist Amitai Etzioni’s call for a bond among the nation’s social groups, we could envision a communitarian contract as the foundation of a world house. We could call for equilibrating the rights and responsibilities of residents, whether impoverished, affluent, or middling. We could demand that politicians guarantee the right to housing, while requiring that taxpayers contribute to community well-being according to their means.

At this watershed moment, we could reimagine our roles as architects. Not waiting for developers to call the shots, we could about-face and work with residents to create the dwellings of community. We could reinvent ourselves by studying innovations like New York’s Urban Homesteading Assistance Board or Boston’s Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, where affordability stems from sweat equity, share loans, resident management, mutual aid, and energy efficiency. However, we would need to raise the bar and persuade well-heeled folks to live in mixed-income, collectively owned, limited equity communities that pool financial, social, and cultural wealth. We would need to take advantage of the public’s heightened awareness of low-wage workers’ contributions to society and call for nothing less than total reconstruction of the nation’s architectural pattern.

Dr. King noted that, like Rip Van Winkle, protectors of the status quo sleep through social revolutions. As obstructers of injustice, architects can remain vigilant and work toward transforming attitudes about collective life. To paraphrase Dr. King, residents of the world house can either coexist in harmony or perish as fools. Let’s work toward designing a vision of coexistence.
The interiors of future houses will be designed to mitigate coronavirus, says Michelle Ogundehin who has outlined 11 ways the pandemic will impact the home.

The home played a pivotal role in the recent global crisis. Forced to double as office, school, gym, even restaurant, whether it felt safe or suffocating, it came under forensic examination, and for many was found wanting. And I do not mean in the decorative sense. Rather, Covid-19 clarified that the contemporary paradigm of the home, and crucially, how we live within it, must change if we are to survive the next inter-pandemic phase — learning to live with a virus in our midst.

After all, if we look to history, we can see that pandemics are not the exception in human history, they are the rule, so domestic adaptation is long overdue. For many, lockdown unleashed profound mental stress, and yet responses ranged from unduly romantic visions of a "great correction" to reactive catastrophising with homes as isolationist bunkers and the need for off-grid independence.

A more pragmatic way forward is required. Something achievable regardless of wealth, size of home, or whether they're rented or owned. Not least because further waves of this virus are highly likely. Less a 'new normal' on the horizon then, than a new 'counter-normal'.

Thankfully, I believe our homes can be a powerful weapon in the fight against contagion. And right now, as we lack a vaccine and immunity after infection is not proven, they might just be the most potent defence available. In the future home, form will follow infection. Herewith then 11 proposals for change:

Immunity boosting homes. Indoor air can be up to 10 times more contaminated than that outdoors due to the build-up of pollutants therein. Think paints off-gassing, toxins from common cleaning products, fumes from petroleum-wax based candles or adhesives in new carpets even before you factor in cigarette smoke, mould spores, bacteria and viruses.

It's a lethal cocktail that's responsible for some 99,000 annual deaths in Europe alone, according to the Royal College of Physicians. So, VOC-free paints and formaldehyde-free building materials must become standard and MDF should be banned.

Air and water filtration systems can be high-tech solutions but the minimum of a drinking water filter jug and plenty of leafy houseplants can also be highly effective. Plants are air-cleaning ninjas so effective even NASA commissioned research to prove it.

Layout determined by need, not history. Apparently 80 per cent of the homes we'll be living in by 2050 have already been built. If this is the case, then existing layouts must be seen as suggestions, not absolutes. But it's not about just moving or removing walls. For example, in a standard house, why are all bedrooms habitually placed upstairs? A smaller darker downstairs room might be better fit for purpose and a larger well-lit upstairs suite then released for living, rather than sleep.

Survival of the most adaptable. Indeed, in Japan, floor plans for new homes are seldom drawn with furniture in situ because rooms are intended to be multi-functional. Ample storage enables a single room to segue effortlessly from dining space to relaxation area or sleeping quarters, as required.

She proposes 11 ways the pandemic could impact the design of future homes, including more easily adapted rooms, use of touchless technology, and the addition of air filtration systems to boost immunity.

Other stories in this week's newsletter include Herzog & de Meuron's proposal for Canada's tallest skyscraper, a Mexican hotel designed using local and sustainable materials and images of the Berliner Ensemble theatre, which has removed 500 seats to allow for social distancing.

"In the future home, form will follow infection," she writes.

There is much to learn from this. In contrast, in the West, open-plan became the layout of choice in pursuit of flexibility. While it undoubtedly improves inter-household communication, quiet corners and privacy were lost. A complete reversion to cellular rooms is not necessary, but the recognition that mental health will always suffer without some means of retreat from the maelstrom of life, even within the home itself, is vital. A situation that's exacerbated if entire families are at home together 24/7.

Back to Basics. Another Japanese
Common Edge
Architecture, like music, is a public art. Both depend upon the larger public as viewers/listeners/consumers in order to exist; both suffer when public spaces, and public access, are in short supply. Today that is very much the case.

Because I am both an architect and a singer, for many years I wrote a blog called Frozen Music. My choral music community is a big part of my life. During this pandemic, my choral music colleagues have been figuring out ways of singing together. We can’t help it—singing sustains us.

Some of the results have been inspiring, but no one is happy to lose the visceral pleasure of singing together in the same space. There are lots of videos that use a form of ZOOM editing to produce “performances” among actors, singers, and instrumentalists. One of the best was produced recently at Julliard in New York. They aren’t happy to be playing in a virtual orchestra; you can see it in the faces of each student and teacher at the famous school.

For architecture, there is a sliver of a silver lining to the pandemic, in that private spaces—houses, apartments, gardens—have attained a public presence for all of us. We must work, exercise, play, worship, watch performances, clean up, and do business from our domestic environments. More important, our home places must be capable of sustaining us in these activities. “Working from home” has taken on a new meaning. Apparently some companies are institutionalizing the practice, which will lead to fewer office rentals, and eventually the need to find new uses for the vacant buildings.

In a recent book on house renovations and additions, my co-author, Gordon Bock, and I underlined the coming requirement for more in-home telecommuting and workspaces. We understood 10 years ago that many societal factors were forcing businesses and institutions to find ways of bringing work, and workers, together “remotely,” as the cost of office space increased and commuting times lengthened. There is no question that designers now confront these problems with a new urgency.

If the house is to become a primary workspace, how will designers address the need to provide necessary privacy for other members of the family who cannot be near those working (for whatever reason, including the noise each may make)? Many of us in quarantine are confronting these issues every day, if our family members are near our home offices. There are solutions to this, but we have to think seriously about which ones are acceptable in our particular situations, with different ages, sexes, and health conditions in every family.

On the other side of the coin, urbanists throughout the world are talking and writing about the pressing need for more public spaces in cities, as new desires for fresh air and exercise push people out of their cramped houses and apartments. These policy experts and designers have been making the same case for decades, generally to deaf and dumb politicians who listen only to developers and business interests when it comes to new planning initiatives. Even the so-called public spaces in developments like Hudson Yards in New York require passes for non-residents. We’re not building enough parks, bikeways, pedestrian squares, or open-air performance venues to meet the demand of our citizens. The same situation persists worldwide, only mitigated in some societies (Spain, Italy, Mexico perhaps) where “ramblas” and public piazzas have been built for centuries and continue to be used by everyone. In temperate climates larger public spaces make sense; elsewhere it may be impractical to build and condition such spaces.

Even increased access to public transportation and the need to keep auto traffic from clogging city streets have become hot-button issues in the new world of social distancing and epidemics. John Massengale, a noted Congress for the New Urbanism leader and expert on street design, has proposed new ways of “greening” New York streets by limiting vehicle speeds and auto access to some side streets throughout lower Manhattan. These design strategies have been used successfully in Europe but have seldom been employed successfully in the United States. It is high time we looked more seriously at them.

As the distance between our private realms and our public ones increases, so the need for each becomes more acute. This paradox is one that all architects should embrace, and c
A group of young architects in the United Kingdom have launched a petition calling for the shutdown of construction sites, in the midst of widespread lockdowns to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The Architecture Foundation’s Young Network said in their petition, “Construction workers are unable to do their work and social distance at the same time putting the health of themselves and in turn their families and the wider public at risk.

“All other industries have sacrificed progression and profit for this public health crisis and the construction industry must do the same. This decision should not be left to site managers and developers we need a government mandate to close all non-essential construction sites. This will allow contract administrators to grant extensions of time for force majeure so relevant insurances can come into effect.”

More than 1,600 people have signed the petition at the time of publication.

In Australia, the National Cabinet has deemed constuction work an essential activity. Peak architecture bodies are also generally supportive of keeping the industry going, and in some cases increasing the level of development and construction. In a letter to the federal government published on 25 March, the leadership of the Australian Institute of Architects said that “keeping construction running” and “bringing forward infrastructure programs and projects” as “key actions for Australia to weather this storm.”

A number of workers on several construction sites in Australia have tested positive for COVID-19, On 31 March a worker at the Multiplex’s Melbourne Square designed by Cox Architecture, where construction is underway on a major six-tower project in the central city, tested positive for the virus. Earlier in March a subcontractor for Kane Construction working on the University of Melbourne’s New Student Precinct, designed by a team led by Lyons Architecture, has also tested positive for COVID-19.

Construction worker unions have generally warned against work stoppages. Writing for socialist publication Red Flag on 24 March, tradesman Ryan Stanton argued that unions were not, however, acting in the best interest of the health of workers, with conditions on site conducive to spreading the virus.

“My jobsite has over 250 workers, all of whom share a break room that is barely large enough for us to sit in and eat at the same time,” Stanton wrote. “It is impossible to socially distance while at work, and many of us catch public transport, furthering our exposure to infection. These construction sites are perfect for spreading the viral outbreak.”

The Master Builders Association, in conjunction with the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and Australian Workers Union (AWU), have launched an advertising campaign to promote social distancing and good hygiene practices building sites.

The question of whether such projects should continue to operate is being answered differently around the world. In New Zealand, for example, construction has not been listed as an essential service, and all sites have been closed as part of a nationwide lockdown. Representatives of the industry are calling for systems to be designed that allow for sites to reopen safely, as business struggle to stay afloat with all projects paused.
Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Running a small business isn’t easy at the best of times. Payroll comes every two weeks. Rent and utility bills come every month. Tax submissions come every quarter. Today’s pandemic exacerbates the challenges that small businesses face: reserves are often minimal, allowing for, if they’re lucky, a month or two of emergency financial resources.

Due to the nature of tight budgets, small businesses rely on their clients to pay their bills regularly and keep revenue flowing. Sometimes this is within 30 days, but more often within 60, though some are 90 or longer. As long as its predictable, things flow smoothly. But when bills are submitted by mail, processed by in-house staff and cheques mailed out, this process can grind to a halt if everyone is working from home. Thankfully, many bigger organizations use direct deposit and accept invoices by email. Making sure bills are paid in a timely fashion helps everyone; it means payroll gets covered, rents get paid.

When staff have to work remotely, it means buying the necessary hardware to work remotely. It means setting up processes and systems to maintain file security and supporting staff with work from home options; that can mean subsidizing their home internet use, paying for their personal cell phone or giving them an office work chair so that their ergonomics at work (from home) are the same as when they are at work (at work).

All these things cost money. A decent computer is over $3,000 alone, not to mention the set-up time, software and so on. Access to the office resources (building codes, reference material) is limited to what can be made available on-line. Many resources can’t be digitized and some projects have security protocols and can’t be worked on outside the office.

Then there is the social aspect. We work collaboratively on projects. That means getting up from your desk to talk to the other people on the project or getting an outside opinion on how to do something from someone down the hall. It might mean printing the drawing you’re working on and grabbing a coffee with someone to talk through the design problem. All this is possible, when working from home, but not only is it different, its not what we’re used to. It takes time, and technology, to make this happen.

Why do small businesses matter? Over 90% of architecture practices in the province employ fewer than 10 architects (are likely firms of less than 75 people). Over 75% of Ontario architecture practices are very small businesses, with 2 architects or less, likely representing less than 20 employees. Yet, Ontario architects have an economic impact that represents 14% of the province’s GDP.

There are real steps cities and provincial governments can take, right now, that would make a difference. Immediate steps include:
  • Suspending commercial property taxes for the next 6 months. That could be tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Provide grant funding for hardware and software to keep employees working. Make this grant funding come directly out of quarterly HST submissions so that the revenue is recouped quickly instead of waiting until next year’s tax submission.
In the short- and medium-term, we need to look at how to stimulate the economy. Investing in buildings creates places for people, and we need better places more than ever before. We still have a housing crisis and can’t forget that sustainable investment in the built environment pays dividends. City and provincial governments can take immediate steps, today:
  • Funding design competitions for deep energy retrofits, renovations and restorations to address the backlog of billions of dollars in infrastructure; holding ideas competitions creates opportunities for small- and medium-sized firms to showcase their talents and spur a public conversation on community investment, and set the stage for longer-range capital planning.
  • Create more small projects; ten $20 million modest housing projects can create opportunities for ten competent smaller firms whereas one $200 million project creates 1 job opportunity (and very few firms can compete for it).
  • Expropriate vacant and derelict buildings where we desperately need good infill development; cities can hold onto this land, supporting design competitions and planning approvals to create sustainable infill and build them as city owned projects, or sell them with planning approvals and designs in p
The mass work-from-home experiment imposed on us by coronavirus could finally force companies to embrace remote working, says Tom Ravenscroft.

Like many companies around the world, Dezeen has closed its offices and all of our staff are now working from home. We made the decision at the end of the week before last, as the coronavirus outbreak in the UK worsened. In the absence of government guidance, we decided we were not comfortable asking people to come into the office.

At a company meeting to explain the move to the team, there was unanimous agreement that sending everyone home was the right choice. Twelve days later, social distancing is now part of our collective vocabulary and working from home has become the new normal.

The Dezeen staff are part of the world's largest-ever work-from-home experiment. The coronavirus outbreak is the most dramatic disruption to office working culture in our lifetimes. Companies across the world are being forced to embrace remote working and the digital technology that supports it.

The dawn of the internet threatened to revolutionise the traditional office, as near-instant communication promised to free large numbers of people to work from wherever they wanted – by now I definitely should be editing Dezeen from a beachside location. By 2020, slogging to a physical office and back was meant to be a thing of the past; instead, everyone would be "telecottaging", as we quaintly called it in the noughties.

The coronavirus outbreaks have now forced many companies to stress-test working from home at its most extreme

But despite leaps in technology, the office has stubbornly refused to retire. Twenty years after the internet became ubiquitous, while many companies (including Dezeen) have introduced degrees of flexibility, few office workers telecommute on a daily basis. Disrupting long-held working patterns has been limited by both technology and corporate inertia. There has been a fear of the disruption that working from home might cause, effectively slowing its adoption.

The coronavirus outbreaks have now forced many companies to stress-test working from home at its most extreme. Where some businesses were resistant to a single team member telecommuting for a single day, they are now coming to terms with having the entire team working from home indefinitely.

And as many of us are learning, working full-time from home is possible. Of course, at least in these early weeks, it is far from ideal. At Dezeen, a largely online company that is seemingly perfect for a digital transition, the move has been expectably strained.

We have lost the immediacy of face-to-face communications. Conversations that should take seconds have been stretched out over minutes on Slack, ideas and instructions are being lost in translation within emails and we are all talking over each other in Google Hangouts. My own productivity is definitely suffering. The relative, calm of the office has disappeared. Concentrating amid constant cat and baby distractions is tough. Like many, I am now rotating between working in bed, at the kitchen table or in my garden shed-cum-office, which doesn't have WiFi. While all good options, none is ideal.

We are finding ways to make working remotely work

However, as a team, we are learning. And next week will be easier, as we begin to develop personal and company-wide systems to understand how to work most efficiently in this unprecedented environment. We are finding ways to make working remotely work.

Certainly, there will be hiccups and barriers to smooth remote working and technology is not quite up to the task. Internet speeds and variability make downloading large files troublesome, remote server access is a pain, and teleconferences often have a frozen person. There is the constant worry that, with everyone else working from home too, internet services will become overloaded.

But the experiment will force innovation, driving investment and improvement. It will force teams to better understand distance working and try things that were previously thought to be impossible. Joining a meeting remotely used to be a novelty; this week our 15-person editorial meeting happened in a Google Hangout without any major issues. Next week's full-team meeting will be even more efficient.

Once the world returns to normality, remote working will no
Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images
A group of U.S. economists, academics and policy makers say the Covid-19 pandemic is an opportunity to fix the economy — and the planet — for the long term.

If we’re going to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, then let’s do it in a way that shakes up the status quo. This is the message that a group of U.S. economists, professors, and veterans of the last financial crisis sent in a letter to Congress yesterday asking for “green stimulus” legislation to jump-start the economy in a way that controls for climate change and poverty.

They are asking for a $2 trillion commitment for programs that will create living-wage jobs, amped-up public health and housing sectors, and a pivot away from a fossil-fuels-based energy frame. Under their plan, the stimulus would automatically renew every year at 4 percent of GDP, or $850 billion annually, as well as give the public more of a voice in whether — and how — large-scale corporations would get bailouts. For now, the coalition recognizes that the focus should be on stopping the spread of coronavirus and mitigating all related health risks.

“However, we can do all the preparatory work now to make green projects are ‘shovel ready,’” the group said in its open letter published on Medium.com. Legislative action and planning work now “can ensure that physical projects can commence as soon as it is feasible to restart major in-person work across the economy.”

Congress is already deep in the throes of constructing a large economic recovery bill, to help workers losing income and businesses and governments losing revenue due to the novel coronavirus crisis. But the U.S. Senate is stuck in a debate between Republicans who want to dedicate a quarter of its $1.8 trillion stimulus plan to bailing out corporations, and Democrats who want to ensure strict transparency and oversight over how that $500 billion corporate bailout would be registered.

Congressional Democrats are also making their own demands, like making airlines that receive federal funding assistance agree to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent, and making corporations pay a $15 minimum wage to its workers. The Green Stimulus asks Congress to push for even more to guarantee that workers are protected and businesses can operate sustainably to ward off climate change catastrophes, especially in a coronavirus-crippled economy. The authors of the proposal are focused more on the long-term recovery — similar to the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus passed by the Obama administration that followed the 2008 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act bailout of the Bush administration.

In fact, many of the authors of the Green Stimulus letter either worked on the 2009 ARRA legislation or are now working on Green New Deal legislative proposals, and in some cases both. And yes, much of the Green Stimulus package mirrors the Green New Deal. The Green Stimulus architects are operating under guidelines set by a coalition of climate and environmental justice organizations called the “Five Principles for Just Covid-19 Relief and Stimulus:” prioritize public health; provide direct economic relief to families; relieve workers rather than corporate executives; protect elections and democratic processes; and, make a “down payment on a regenerative economy.” The last principle is what the Green Stimulus seeks to represent.

“As policymakers take steps to ensure immediate relief and long-term recovery, it is imperative that they consider the interrelated crises of wealth inequality, racism, and ecological decline, which were in place long before Covid-19, and now risk being intensified,” according to the principles.

CityLab spoke with J. Mijin Cha, an author of the Green Stimulus, senior fellow at Data for Progress, and assistant professor of urban and environmental policy at Occidental College. Much of her scholarship has been on the transition to a low-carbon economy, and how to fairly prepare fossil fuel workers and the unemployed for jobs in renewable energy. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Why is a focus on a just transition for workers — from fossil fuel industries to renewable energy industries — an important thing to talk about in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic?

There is an overlap between communities that are struggling with coronavirus that don’t have the resources to adequately fight it, and these rural regions that are fossil fuel communities. As we think about the stimulus, this is definitely an area of workers that
Curbed Boston
If you’ve been an architect for long enough, you’ve had your heart broken: You don’t get the job you interviewed for. Projects fall through—or they get put on hold. Or you do get the job, design it through bidding, but the budget blows up, and you’re kicked to the curb. Doctors lose patients, lawyers lose trials. But architects can successfully do their jobs, create great architecture, and completely fail in our mission to be part of our built environment.

But there is a worse fate. And it’s one every architect who has built something experiences: Not only do you get the job, but you complete the building. It’s a triumph of effort, will, and devotion. The client is thrilled. Maybe you win an award or two. And then, years or decades later, it’s torn down.

People change, so their buildings inevitably change. The business term for this is churn. Almost every building has an invisible expiration date attached to it. But for the creator of the original place, knowing that doesn’t make the sting of its death any easier. Instead, it feels like you have lost a loved one, often without being able to say goodbye.

I remember feeling punched in the gut when a client called to let me know that a New York loft, whose kitchen was a cover project for a national magazine, was being gutted—by them! (Even worse: “We used a guy in the building.”) Another project, an Architectural Record “Record Bath,” which used 8,000 swirling custom tiles in six shapes and eight colors, was ripped out, a decade after construction, when my client sold her home and moved back into the city.
Those projects met untimely deaths. But then there are the zombies, still living in this world, but altered beyond all original intentions. These projects become the living dead of our broken dreams; our best hopes, defiled.

This year, we helped a young entrepreneur create a public entry. It was carefully designed, and then approved by two boards. I went to see it while it was being built, and what we had designed was not there. Fulfilling the fears generated by a long-unpaid bill, the elegant jewel that we originally drew had been built to look like a squat hut over the front door, sad and ugly. I resigned from my role in the project, and immediately emailed my resignation to all those city officials that had given approval to the project. I am also resigned to never getting paid.

Those willful mutilations are perpetrated by the incompetent or the indifferent. But a more tragic end of any architect’s best hopes is the inevitable toll of time. It may heal wounds, but it surely wounds many wonderful designs. There are a million things to overcome to get anything built. But no one can overcome time.

The brutal reality is that every creator loses control of their creation the minute someone else owns it. That is the risk of creating anything subject to market forces and client whims. Still, it breaks your heart.

A stark example of how users own what you create happened more than 30 years ago. I had designed a little spec house, purchased by nice people, who wished to add on. I gave them some sketches, hoping to evolve the new design. And then: silence. A few years later I finally saw it. That sweet little home I had designed had a bedroom popping out of its roof like a huge, cancerous growth. It hurt.

Last month, I was visiting a site for a home we’ve been commissioned to help create in the same neighborhood where I had designed a house almost 30 years ago. The reunion with my old architectural flame did not go well. The home was frozen in my mind, a profile pic of its 1992 reality. However, my encounter with this long-lost love object, like most dates in the digital age, betrayed that mental profile.

When built, the home was featured in several magazines, won a Connecticut AIA award, and was a delight to me in my early career. But coastal aging is hard on a building. (The skin of a sailor shows the effects of the sun and salt water.) Everything was changed: carefully composed windows had been replaced with stock units; new elements such as roofing, A/C condensers, walls, and awnings were rudely tacked onto its once-proud presence.

You’d think that a 64-year-old architect with 800-plus completed buildings would have a better perspective than I do. But, as with any parent, my children are always the innocent beauties they were at birth. My hu
Ben Willis
"It is not your responsibility to finish the work [of perfecting the world], but you are not free to desist from it either.” —Rabbi Tarfon

On a recent flight, a gentleman sitting next to me noticed, aloud, that I was reading a book about architecture. Daring to engage in a conversation with more than two hours of flight time left, I confessed that I not only read about, but also practice architecture. His next question, with the earnest tone of a newly minted grandfather, was whether architects were “solving the housing crisis.”

“We’re trying,” I said. “But it’s complicated.”

With more clarity of thought, or less investment in finishing my book, I might have admitted that it was a grave exaggeration to say architects were solving the housing crisis. Or the climate crisis. Or whatever crisis-of-the-day was waiting to be delivered by phone notification when the plane touched down.

A species’ ability to survive depends both on how attentive it is to crises and whether it can develop tools to adapt to and survive them. Lately, it feels like our culture has turned the dial from “crisis-attentive” to “crisis-obsessed,” threatening our ability to separate sensationalism from necessary calls to action. But this crisis awareness has also turned up the pressure on all of us—or at least, the responsible ones—to really examine whether we’re burying our heads in the sand while the world burns or doing something to help the bucket brigade.

Enter architects, with our utopian idealism, desire to solve things, and dash of artistic inferiority complex.

Most architects care deeply about the problems intertwined with the built environment—housing, climate, health, social wellbeing—and the evidence is clear that many of these have reached a crisis point, or at least need stronger action than business-as-usual. But I suspect we portray an over-idealistic vision about the power of design to address them. We’re bombarded with articles about building types that can “solve” homelessness, conference sessions about designs for “solving” the climate crisis, and professional organizations lauding architects’ ability to “solve” the loneliness epidemic. These big claims are marketing efforts on steroids, thrown around the profession to generate clicks and ease our own qualms about the value and necessity of our work.

Admittedly, I sometimes want to believe that architecture wields a disproportionate weapon in these fights. Yet when confronted with a building-related crisis—the asbestos plaguing Philadelphia schools, for one—what good is the power to design a brilliant school building until the local politicians allot money toward building repairs and the school district decides how to divvy it up? Likewise, architects can design dense, human-centric neighborhoods until all the current cow pastures become big-box stores, but such neighborhoods can’t house more people if the zoning ordinance forbids denser housing and the price point of modus operandi single-family housing continues to exclude low-income and nontraditional buyers.

This perceived impotence is likely what drives some architects to leave the profession and become developers (where financial control resides) or planners (where policy power lies) or politicians (OK, actually there aren’t many architects who become politicians, but perhaps there should be?).

The leverage of a developer, planner, or politician may be different than that of an architect, but if they have a silver bullet solution to these crises, they’re holding out on us. The rather obvious truth is that solutions to big problems require ecosystems of solutions, and the “ecosystem of solutions” to problems plaguing the built environment is made up of planning, financing, designing, constructing, and inhabiting.

Less obvious are the ways that architecture may be underperforming in its role. In the way that we forgot for a few centuries the role that buildings play in their environmental ecosystems—n.b. the climate crisis—we have similarly neglected to examine, and accurately convey, how architects could play a more effective role in this ecosystem.

Here is a non-exhaustive and non-authoritative set of suggestions:

Expand the definition of the problem. Design’s most potent product is a systematic process for arriving at a solution. Th
Steven Bingler is a New Orleans-based architect and planner and founder of Common Edge Collaborative, a nonprofit organization that advocates planning and design engagement with the public. Martin C. Pedersen is executive director of the organization.

Hundred-year floods. Record-breaking Antarctic heat. Wildfires and drought. The stories appear with numbing regularity. And though the details differ, they all point to the same grim conclusion. We’re failing to address climate change. With carbon emissions continuing to rise, what were once dismissed as worst-case scenarios now look like the best we can hope for.

If Plan A was to prevent, or at least mitigate, the most serious impacts of climate change, what’s Plan B?

In our Plan-A world, architecture and planning has become focused on the idea of “resilient” design. But continuing to talk about “resilience” in the face of ever-worsening projections is its own form of climate denial. It’s time for planners to begin replacing the R-word of the moment with a now not-so-unthinkable one.


According to a recent paper in the scientific journal Nature Communications, some of the earlier projections of population displacement from sea-level rise are probably way too low. Around the world, instead of some 50 million people being forced to move to higher ground over the next 30 years, the oceans will likely rise higher than predicted, with a coastal diaspora at least three times larger; by 2100, the number of climate refugees could surpass 300 million. Indeed, sea-level rise looks likely to be measured in yards and meters, not inches or feet.

Where will all of these displaced people go? Can they be accommodated in existing cities, towns and villages? Which cities will we defend? Which will we surrender? Who will decide? These are unprecedented design and planning challenges that our society hasn’t begun to think about, let alone plan for. Given the increasingly dire outlook, we believe it is time to start.

In recent years, we’ve seen countless climate-resiliency schemes featuring bioswales, rain gardens, retention ponds, earth berms, levees, sea-wall barriers, even oyster beds. All of these strategies are useful, but they come with a big “if.” They will help protect our coastal cities if we also cut our carbon emissions in time to mitigate even worse impacts of climate change.

Both of us live in New Orleans, a city that is below sea level but that is not at all inclined to give up. But for the sake of future generations, we need to honestly assess the threats ahead and plan accordingly. Planners are expected to operate within multiple time frames, and the challenge today is even trickier. We must continue to wage the political fight to rein in and eventually eliminate fossil fuels, while at the same time remaining clear-eyed about what needs to happen should our best efforts fail. Doing both is the only responsible course of action.

It is not overly alarmist to start thinking about exit strategies that work under the most severe scenarios. Moving existing cities, retrofitting old ones for explosive growth, creating new settlements and mitigating thousands of miles of polluted shorelines will be expensive and complicated. Even if properly planned, this will be a messy and even brutal process; if unplanned and ad hoc, in all likelihood, it will descend into a chaos straight out of science fiction.

Steven’s firm, Concordia, led the politically and emotionally charged planning process in post-Katrina New Orleans, a city with a pre-storm population of 485,000. (Today, that number stands at about 390,000.) That was certainly a difficult and unprecedented effort, but it was nothing compared to the simultaneous challenges facing coastal towns and cities in the decades ahead. And our problems don’t stop at the water’s edge. Many places inland will see water become increasingly scarce, putting immense stress on settlement patterns and agriculture. Mass migrations will inevitably become a part of our children’s and grandchildren’s futures.

Sadly, few of our politicians will “go there” yet, because their planning for the future extends precisely as far as the next election. It’s time for architects and planners to sound the alarm. Time, in other words, to get real.

The irony is that as we dawdle, energy and insurance companies, along with
Dennis Pieprz
stanbul is a teeming city of striking contrasts. Its setting on the Bosphorus—a natural strait connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara—places it between continents, between histories, and between cultures. And this is exactly how I experienced the city: some neighborhoods felt like the heart of Cairo; other areas called to mind Paris, or even Rome. On Istiklal Street (shown above) you can feel the shape of the city as the open, slightly inclined pavement bends toward the sea. It’s thrilling, full of valuable lessons for urban designers and placemakers.

This is a street just off Taksim Square. It’s quieter, but equally interesting. The concrete pavers go from building face to building face. This flattened surface created a welcome feeling for pedestrians. The odd car seemed quite comfortable as it slowed down, navigating groups trying to decide which restaurant to try. A mix of residential, office, and commercial buildings make the street active and vital throughout the day and evening.

Across the Golden Quarter waterway from Istiklal Street, a local friend took me to the Eminonu quarter, where we were engulfed by masses of people moving through tight passageways, shopping at every conceivable kind of store. Suddenly there’s a break in the enclosed street, and I am in front of the portal to the Egyptian Bazaar.

As a kind of covered street, the L-shaped bazaar fits seamlessly into the network of markets and streets nearby. At this intersection, you can carry on forward through the arched space of the market street or head back into the city. I am drawn to this granite column anchoring a corner shop jammed with every spice imaginable.

It was mid-December when I visited Istanbul. I came across a section of the market devoted to light decorations. In the slightly darkened street sat thousands of glowing objects for sale. The magical radiance transformed the space for a moment as I moved along to the next array of stalls and vendors.

One of the most remarkable places I saw was the Suleymaniye Mosque complex, built by the architect Mimar Sinan between 1550 and 1557. Located on a hill, the mosque comprises a number of institutions, including four madrasas, or schools. The domes of the learning places step down the hill, their chimneys forming a geometric construct that contrasts with the informal market streets nearby and the modern city beyond.

The schools are organized around courtyards and stepped gardens. Taking advantage of the slope, each classroom has an outdoor terrace platform where people can meet, quietly read a book, or work on their laptop. The double arches and vaults provide a cloistered protection from the harsh sun and create a beautiful place to study in the glowing light.

One evening, I discovered a roof terrace with a remarkable view toward the Suleymaniye Mosque, with the Hagia Sophia in the distance. These centuries-old complexes are lit up each night and, in the gloaming, mark the horizon of a city where many worlds coexist: East and West, religious and secular, ancient and modern.

Andrea Ucini
It is an obsession that undermines growth, fairness and public faith in capitalism

Economies can suffer both sudden crashes and chronic diseases. Housing markets in the rich world have caused both types of problem. A trillion dollars of dud mortgages blew up the financial system in 2007-08. But just as pernicious is the creeping dysfunction that housing has created over decades: vibrant cities without space to grow; ageing homeowners sitting in half-empty homes who are keen to protect their view; and a generation of young people who cannot easily afford to rent or buy and think capitalism has let them down. As our special report this week explains, much of the blame lies with warped housing policies that date back to the second world war and which are intertwined with an infatuation with home ownership. They have caused one of the rich world’s most serious and longest-running economic failures. A fresh architecture is urgently needed.

At the root of that failure is a lack of building, especially near the thriving cities in which jobs are plentiful. From Sydney to Sydenham, fiddly regulations protect an elite of existing homeowners and prevent developers from building the skyscrapers and flats that the modern economy demands. The resulting high rents and house prices make it hard for workers to move to where the most productive jobs are, and have slowed growth. Overall housing costs in America absorb 11% of gdp, up from 8% in the 1970s. If just three big cities—New York, San Francisco and San Jose—relaxed planning rules, America’s gdp could be 4% higher. That is an enormous prize.

As well as being merely inefficient, housing markets are deeply unfair. Over a period of decades, falling interest rates have compounded inadequate supply and led to a surge in prices. In America the frenzy is concentrated in thriving cities; in other rich countries average national prices have soared, especially in English-speaking countries where punting on property is a national sport. The financial crisis did not kill off the trend. In Britain inflation-adjusted house prices are roughly equal to their pre-crisis peak, while real wages are no higher. In Australia, despite recent falls, prices remain 20% higher than in 2008. In Canada they are up by half.

The soaring cost of housing has created gaping inequalities and inflamed both generational and geographical divides. In 1990 a generation of baby-boomers, with a median age of 35, owned a third of America’s real estate by value. In 2019 a similarly sized cohort of millennials, aged 31, owned just 4%. Young people’s view that housing is out of reach—unless you have rich parents—helps explain their drift towards “millennial socialism”. And homeowners of all ages who are trapped in declining places resent the windfall housing gains enjoyed in and around successful cities. In Britain areas with stagnant housing markets were more likely to vote for Brexit in 2016, even after accounting for differences in income and demography.

You might think fear and envy about housing is part of the human condition. In fact, the property pathology has its roots in a shift in public policy in the 1950s towards promoting home ownership. Since then governments have used subsidies, tax breaks and sales of public housing to encourage owner-occupation over renting. Politicians on the right have seen home ownership as a way to win votes by encouraging responsible citizenship. Those on the left see housing as a conduit for redistribution and for nudging poorer households to build wealth.

These arguments are overstated. It is hard to show whether property ownership makes better citizens. If you ignore leverage, it is usually better to own shares than to own homes. And the cult of owner-occupation has huge costs. Those who own homes often become nimbys who resist development in an effort to protect their investments. Data-crunching by The Economist suggests that the number of new houses constructed per person in the rich world has fallen by half since the 1960s. Because supply is constrained and the system is skewed towards ownership, most people feel they risk being left behind if they rent. As a result politicians focus on subsidising marginal buyers, as Britain has done in recent years. That channels cash to the middle classes and further boosts prices. And it fuels the build-up of mortgage debt that makes crises more likely.

It does not have to be this way. Not everywhere is afflicted with every part of the housing curse.
Manim8/Blendswap, TheStranger/Blendswap
And no amount of data or complex modeling will rectify the building industry’s staggering impact on the environment. Design culture itself needs to change.

For the past eight years, I’ve spent every day of my professional life enabling an industry that is responsible for nearly 40% of global climate emissions. I don’t work for an oil or gas company. I don’t work for an airline. I’m an architect.

The environmental impacts of the built environment are staggering. Although it’s become mainstream to discuss energy efficiency and advocate for minimizing those impacts, architects, engineers, and planners have yet to truly reckon with the magnitude and consequences of everyday design decisions. Not only do we burn fossil fuels to heat and cool most buildings, but construction itself is responsible for plenty of global emissions. Construction requires massive amounts of concrete, steel, aluminum, and glass—all of which are carbon-intensive materials. Their emissions extend up and down the supply chain, crossing property boundaries, economic sectors, and markets. While architects are not fully responsible for steel manufacturing or concrete production per se, there is a direct line from the material specifications that architects write to the steel mills of China, the coal mines of Appalachia, the brick kilns of India, or clear-cut forests in the Pacific Northwest or the Amazon.

It is time for the design community to come to terms with carbon and climate change—both the reality of our shared climate emergency and the very personal implications of the building industry’s role in perpetuating it. Only then can we do the hard work of connecting our climate concern with our day-to-day actions, transforming guilt into collective change.

Broadly speaking, there are two ways of measuring the emissions caused by buildings: operational carbon (the emissions associated with energy used to operate a building) and embodied carbon (the emissions associated with materials and construction processes throughout the whole life cycle of a building).

Programs such as LEED, Passive House, and the Living Building Challenge focus on decreasing the former—operational carbon. This is a laudable goal; after all, building operations account for 28% of global carbon emissions, and improving the energy efficiency of buildings through widespread electrification and through decarbonization of the energy grid is essential.

However, we’ve come to recognize that it is not enough for architects and engineers to focus solely on operational carbon. For decades, we have been ignoring the role of embodied emissions in global carbon budgets.

Embodied carbon from building materials and construction currently represents at least 11% of global carbon emissions, much of which can be attributed to just three materials: concrete, iron, and steel. However, that seemingly small slice of the full carbon pie can be misleading. Global construction is proceeding at an incredible pace—with roughly 6.13 billion square feet of construction each year and global building stock expected to double in the next 30 years. When we look at new buildings anticipated to be built between now and 2050, embodied carbon, also known as “upfront carbon” because it is released before a building is even occupied, is projected to account for nearly half of total new construction emissions. For practicing architects, engineers, policymakers, and anyone who cares about climate strategy, this should give us pause.

In 2018, a special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), called Global Warming of 1.5 ºC, asked two pressing questions: How can the global community reach the 1.5ºC target laid out by the Paris Agreement, and what happens if we fail? The report has two major takeaways. First, it is still possible to meet our climate targets, but only with immediate and unprecedented action. Second, the world presented if we fail to meet this target, by even a modest-sounding half-degree, are bleak—widespread ecosystem destruction, financial instability, growing social inequity, conflict and unrest, the disappearance of landmasses and nations. The scenarios are so clearly articulated, the models so robust, and the science so well documented, that they have ignited new urgency to find pathways across all sectors to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement and accelerate our progress towards a 1.5ºC pathway. Unfortunately, we are nowhere near meeting these targets. Last week, the UN Environment Program issued its annual
Smiley N. Pool
Let’s celebrate some of the highlights and lament the misfires.

Here’s a look at big moments in architecture as we celebrate the highs, lows and uh-ohs of the departing decade in Dallas culture, 2010-2019.

Growing pains in the Arts District

It’s easy to take the Arts District for granted — easy, because even after a decade of building it still has a tendency to feel, well, kind of dead. It’s not for a shortage of big-name architects. Additions to the district over the last 10 years have included Norman Foster’s AT&T Performing Arts Center, OMA’s Wyly Theatre, SOM’s Moody Performance Hall, and Allied Works’ expansion of the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. A bevy of less-impressive towers are filling in around these signature projects, with the ill-conceived Museum Tower being the most notorious. While all this building has gone on, a master plan for the district has sat on a shelf, waiting for implementation. Most cities, one should note, make the urban plan, and then allow for the building. Here, we do it in reverse and pay the price, which is empty streets. Still, we have some really nice buildings, and with the new development, there is potential for new life.

The decade’s best new buildings in Dallas

Rather than a single champion, we spread the accolades among a group of projects that collectively make Dallas a better place: Test Pavilion at the Dallas Arboretum (Buchanan Architecture), the St. Michael and All Angels Columbarium (Max Levy), the Temple Emanu-El expansion (Cunningham Architects), College Park Pavilion (Snøhetta), the Cottages at Hickory Crossing (BC Workshop), Webb Chapel Park Pavilion (Cooper Joseph Studio), the Wyly Theatre (OMA), the Booker T. Washington expansion (Allied Works), the Warehouse (Droese Raney), Pacific Plaza Pavilion (HKS), the Marshall Family Performing Arts Center at the Greenhill School (Weiss/Manfredi), the Science Building at the Lamplighter School (Marlon Blackwell), Bullion Restaurant (Gensler), 1217 Main St. (5G Studio), Rolex Building (Kengo Kuma), and Fire Station 27 (Perkins & Will).

Signature spans

In a fit of skyline-altering extravagance that we will probably never see again, Dallas managed to open not one but two bridges designed by Spanish shape-wizard Santiago Calatrava, each named for a beloved matriarch named Margaret. Like most everything built by Calatrava, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and the Margaret McDermott Bridge were massively expensive, dogged by construction problems, needlessly grandiose, uniformly white and — arguably — beautiful. At least, with the former, there was a purpose in the ostentation: the creation of a signal gateway to West Dallas, which has rapidly gentrified since the bridge’s inauguration. Of course, despite the big price tag, the bridge made no accommodation for pedestrians or cyclists, a fact only partially ameliorated by the transformation of the erstwhile Continental Avenue Bridge into a car-free elevated park. Call that a victory.

The fall of sprawl’s thrall?

Yes, the cookie-cutter developments continued to sprout in the hinterlands, but the younger set returned to the city, and even those who remained out in the burbs clamored for reform. In Plano, in McKinney, in Frisco, and points beyond, suburban centers began emphasizing walkability and rail connection to the city, even as they remained principally automotive in nature. (They also became a lot more diverse.) Even Jerry Jones, always with a keen eye for opportunity, noticed the trend, the result being his own mini-city devoted to football: the Star, an antiseptic paradise for Cowboys fans.

The eternal quest for a Fair Park plan

Did you have a plan to save Fair Park? It seemed like everyone did during the 2010s. There were plans, and then more plans, and more plans after that. Every year, we heard lamentations about the state of affairs at the city’s crown jewel — too much concrete, no connection with the neighbors, underuse, decaying landmarks, flooding — and every year there was another plan to save the place that went exactly nowhere. It looked like we might just get through the entire decade with zero progress until, late in 2018, the city finally — finally — signed a 20-year deal with a private management firm with a solid history of running parks. Will this be the answer? The problems are still real, but there’s hope. And a $15 million
Architect Magagine
Aaron Betsky on why the work at this year's event gives hope for the future of architecture.

The breadth of the World Architecture Festival, a confab held for the last four years in Amsterdam (but moving to Lisbon next year), is astonishing. I know of no other conference or competition in the field that brings together such a great variety of architecture, interiors, and landscapes projects. Moreover, you can actually understand the many designs that are nominated in a dizzying array of different categories because each of the designers gets 20 minutes to present and defend their projects in front of a jury and a live audience. Inflatable tents that flank the manufacturers’ stands, which show the latest doorknobs and blinds and thus pay a lot of the events’ bills, are home to these non-stop critiques. The juries then pick a winner in each of the categories, which include best interior, best student work, best drawing, and best future building.

This year I had the honor of being a member of the “super jury,” which had the task of picking the best building of the year, which was featured with the other honorees at the event’s closing gala. Working with fellow jury members Anuradha Mathur, Ben van Berkel, Maria Warner Wong, and Murat Tabanlioglu, we picked the LocHal in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Designed by a team of three women-led firms (Braaksma & Roos, Inside/Outside, and Mecanoo), it is the renovation of a former train locomotive repair facility into a library and community hub. Not only was the work carried out with great care and produced a wide variety of beautifully proportioned, open, and functional spaces, but it also brought together four of the most important themes we saw in the work that was produced this last year: the repurposing of existing buildings; the importance of libraries as new community centers; the prominence of women designers, and the emergence and integration of new technologies, in this case the “heat the people, not the space” principle devised by Arup for this job, in which heating and cooling is directed only to those place and at those times when people are present.

What we missed (you can’t have everything in one project) were some other important themes. One was the integration of landscape and building. We saw projects in Singapore, New Zealand, Scotland, and Shenzhen that are more or less buried in the landscape, or where the landscape meanders through the whole building, turning the structures into open public spaces that bring together a variety of functions. Other projects open up to a borrowed landscape, in the manner of the library for the Sekkei-Kokugakuin University in Tokyo, which uses the trees of the adjacent temple yard to shield its massive expanse of glass from the sun. Yet others, like a small religious structure in Abu Dhabi, cloak themselves in the imagery of rocks and desert. It made you think that in the future, those projects that will not disappear into renovations of existing structures will dissolve into the landscape.

A second theme was the uncoupling of form or gesture from function. There was nary a blob to be found in the whole of the festival, nor were there many shards or angles (the notable example being the beautifully detailed and sited dwelling the Australian firm Terroir designed for a site in suburban Sydney, which won the Best House Award). The Weird Stuff category was dominated by Thomas Heatherwick Associates, who vied for the top prize with both the Vessel, their three-dimensional M.C. Escher in New York’s Hudson Yards, and their shopping mall in London, the Coal Drop Yards, where they delaminated and rebuilt the roof of two industrial buildings and curved them up and towards each to house a Samsung Concept Store. All hat (or stairs) and no cattle, as the old Texas saying about show-offs goes, the buildings’ lack of architectonic qualities highlighted that the era of expressionist exploration of technological possibilities is fading.

There were some other notable images and moves spread throughout the festival. I loved the winner of the Best Community Building Award, a small library for a village in southern China designed by teams led by faculty from schools in Hong Kong and Guangzhou. And I wish that more architects who are engaged in such collaborations with local inhabitants and craftspeople could afford the rather steep fees and travel costs that are the festival’s biggest drawback. The “mat building,” a labyrinth of closed and open spaces that hugs the ground and crea
Noah Pylvainen, Perkins and Will
Once perceived as "intimidating" by her colleagues, the principal and director of global diversity at Perkins and Will went from following the rules to defining them.

This op-ed appeared in the December 2019 issue of ARCHITECT. On Dec. 12, 2019, The American Institute of Architects announced Gabrielle Bullock, FAIA, as the recipient of the 2020 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award.

Big change can come from people who never expected to become change makers—from people who frequently second-guessed themselves, who look different from everyone else, and who never jumped the line. The tortoises, not the hares.

I had always been a rule-follower who stays the course—an idealist empowered by personal ambition and my mother’s encouragement. When I decided to become an architect, I pursued design with little fear of failure. Looking back, I realize that harnessing my own naive bravery was the best thing I could have done.

My formal training in architecture began at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1979. I knew I had earned my seat there, but, deep down, I continuously felt “less than.” I didn’t anticipate that I’d be the only black woman in my classes, or that I’d have to find my tribe outside of architecture, among other students of color. Suppressing feelings of isolation, inadequacy, and invisibleness, I focused on working my ass off.

The architectural jargon was foreign and unintelligible, and I struggled to understand what the professors and critics were saying. I realize now that this was very much the egocentric, starchitect era of design education. This was their platform to shine, and they commanded it.

Recognizing that this was part of the game that would lead me to success, I worked even harder to learn their language. Once I grasped the concepts, I no longer felt inadequate. I even felt empowered to break the rules I had struggled to understand.

In 1984, I became the second black woman ever to graduate RISD’s architecture department—and with A’s no less. After 21 years in the profession, I was tapped to be managing director of my firm’s Los Angeles office. I was flattered, scared, and surprised, but with encouragement from my tribe, I became the first woman and first African American to hold that role, firmwide.

Once I grasped the concepts, I ... felt empowered to break the rules I had struggled to understand.

As a woman with a direct communication style, I learned over time from peers that some colleagues and staff perceived me as “intimidating.” Though I was the leader of my office, my requests, statements, and directives were met frequently with resistance. Self-reflection, coaching, and soul-searching occupied a good deal of my time; realizing what you can adapt while remaining true to yourself, and recognizing and addressing gender or racial bias are strategies I’ve had to develop throughout my design career.

While not dismissing the existence of unconscious biases, I chose to modify my professional style not only to keep my hard-earned seat at the table, but also to ensure my voice was heard, and, ultimately, to become the leader of the room. I mastered the rules to win the game.

In 2013, I was ready to make my next move at the firm. After completing several international projects and taking stock of my own experiences, I had cultural competency on my mind. I wanted the profession to be more equitable, diverse, and inclusive. I believed that we could change what we design by changing who designs it.

With the agency I had earned, I chose to develop a firmwide diversity and inclusion program, which I now lead. All my academic and professional experiences, advancements, and challenges have brought me to this point in my career.

Calls to diversify the complexion and cultural makeup of the design profession to better mirror the society we serve have become louder and more intense, with many more voices chiming in. But we have a long way to go. To women and underrepresented groups, I say harness your inner strength, find your tribe, and then use your voice. Being the only one in the room can be your platform to shine.
Conversations around resiliency today seem to imply that planners and designers might be capable of—might even be expected to—save every building and public space at risk. The sad truth is, however, that we cannot, and perhaps we should not. Climate change and its attendant sea level rise will radically redraw urban edges, forcing us to make difficult decisions. Even if we had the vast sums of money required to protect the precarious status quo, that might not be enough to stave off the inevitable.

So, then: What are our priorities? How do we choose what to save? How do we responsibly chart this uncertain future? I believe the answers to these and similar questions should begin with an honest assessment of three essential considerations:

(1) Consider the useful life of buildings, structures, and public spaces. When thinking about how to apportion funds for resiliency and risk assessment, the “useful life” of a facility should be a key determinant in what is saved (note that I do not say “protect,” a potentially more accessible goal). Every structure and public space is designed to have a “useful life”: an anticipated life span based on design and construction. This is usually determined by clients, but it should be a significant consideration for designers, too. For example, hospitals are designed for, at minimum, a 100-year existence, even if internal mechanical systems require upgrading to keep pace with technological advances.

Sadly, housing—particularly standalone and attached residences—typically falls far below this threshold. One of the major challenges for this sector is that we largely construct these buildings with concrete, which is also true for infrastructure. Exposed-concrete structures, such as bridges and tunnels, have an approximate 50-to-60-year life span. In other words, New York’s Robert Moses-era infrastructure has now reached the end of its viability. Steel structures are also limited, if they are not regularly inspected and monitored for rust and deterioration. As a result, in the future, hospitals located near or in flood zones might warrant saving, but at-risk housing and infrastructure might not.

(2) Evaluate their worth to society. Every structure and space should be considered in terms of the value to people of its ability to withstand the impacts of a physically disruptive occurrence—i.e., the ability to recover from a traumatic event—and supported accordingly. Critical facilities include hospitals, food storage and delivery systems, and infrastructure such as bridges, roads, and telecommunications that provide evacuation and emergency response opportunities. Among these, facilities considered highly critical should be evaluated based on their capacity to integrate redundant systems that will enable them to function immediately following a catastrophic event. For example, following Hurricane Sandy, a number of major facilities along New York’s Upper East Side “Hospital Row” lacking in-built redundancy had their mechanical systems overwhelmed by flooding, which resulted in weeks of disruption to crucial medical care.

Considering public spaces, one might ask whether parks, for example, are “critical infrastructure.” Clearly, they are not vital to one’s ability to recover or survive a catastrophic event, but are they critical in terms of daily life? I would argue that they are. So what level of risk are we willing to accept for parkland? And if this parkland—125 of New York City’s 525-mile-long coastline, for example—is within a zone of vulnerability from storms and sea level rise, then will we slowly see the disappearance of it as seas rise and storm frequency accelerates? Should we be planning to replace that parkland elsewhere? Should we relocate (“retreat”) people from coastal communities so that we can build replacement parks at a higher elevation (a highly unlikely option)? Or do we simply accept this “taking” of parkland by natural forces? On the other hand, when is a “floodable park” no longer usable? When it floods monthly, or weekly, or diurnally with the tide? All of these elements come into consideration when evaluating the investment value of resiliency interventions in these spaces.

(3) Officially categorize structures and spaces and take action based on risk management and climate change considerations. The NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate Policy an
Climate Reality
o its great credit, the American Institute of Architects recently denounced the Trump administration’s decision to formally withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. This may put the professional organization on the right side of history, but it’s unlikely to sway any hardened hearts and minds in Washington. Obviously, the executive branch is worse than useless on this issue: not just an impediment to change, but a malevolent force for willful inaction. It’s hard to see it as anything less than an enemy of the climate.

Until this odious cast of characters in changes, climate activists must turn their attention elsewhere. Fortunately there’s an under-the-radar lobbying effort underway in California, by the AIA’s state chapter, that holds the potential to totally transform the building sector. In July, the organization’s Committee on the Environment, in collaboration with Edward Mazria of Architecture 2030, persuaded the California’s AIA’s governing board to support the adoption of a statewide Zero Code as soon as possible. The organization sent a letter to the governor in September, co-signed by leading firms, virtually all of the local chapters, as well as the cities of Berkeley, Santa Monica, Fremont, San Luis Obispo, and Culver City.

Green buildings in California would no longer be about rewarding good intentions or being less bad, no longer be about commemorative plaques or LEED ratings. Emissions-free buildings would be required by law.

If enacted, a Zero Code would essentially mandate emissions-free new buildings almost immediately. (Architecture 2030 defines a Zero Net Carbon building as “a highly energy efficient building that produces on-site, or procures, enough carbon-free renewable energy to meet building operations energy consumption annually.”) Green buildings in California would no longer be about rewarding good intentions or being less bad, no longer be about commemorative plaques or LEED ratings.

Emissions-free buildings would be required by law.

Before we go any further, though, the logical question to ask is the obvious one: Is this even possible? Is it politically feasible? For all of the well-meaning rhetoric swirling around the idea of a Green New Deal, none of it can even begin to happen without fundamental changes in policy, primarily at the state and local level. In California, the adoption of a Zero Code is largely dependent on the strong support of Governor Gavin Newsom, who has not weighed in on the issue.

Mazria initially approached the California AIA with a bolder approach, pushing the idea of an immediate Zero Code adoption via executive order, presumably the fastest route possible. As it turns out, this isn’t an option in California, where energy codes for buildings must be vetted and approved by the California Energy Commission. (The next overhaul will occur in 2022.) The governor, however, exerts a fair amount of control over that body. In two years, Governor Newsom will have either appointed or reappointed a majority of the commissioners on the five-member governing board. If he truly wanted to kick start the Green New Deal, putting his political muscle behind adoption of the Zero Code would be a monumental first step.

In the meantime, AIA California is working on several fronts, pushing and pulling at three different levers of power. “We’re organizing opportunities to enlist Governor Newsom’s active support,” says San Francisco architect William Leddy, who with Mazria helped convince the chapter to support adoption of the clean code. “Thanks to Michael Malinowski, the AIA’s government liaison, we’ve also discovered that there’s an avenue that might be much easier to attempt right now. And that’s to introduce the Zero Code immediately as a ‘reach code’ within CALGreen, which is the California Green Building Standard. We believe this approach doesn’t require the energy commission process. It would give cities around the state the option to adopt the Zero Code now, while we continue to pursue formal statewide adoption through the lengthy code-revision process.”

The reason these considerations are even possible is why Mazria approached the California AIA in the first place. Despite the apocalyptic fires, the rolling blackouts, the somewhat predictable this-is-the-end-of-California-as-we-know-it pronouncements, the state is well under way in its eventual transitio
Christopher Barrett.
Here’s a bold statement that we all need to be reminded of. Pinterest has altered the design world—but it hasn’t replaced the need for a designer.

In a fascinating report on Evidence-Based Design (EBD) from The Center for Health Design, the company defines EBD as “the deliberate attempt to base building decisions on the best available research evidence with the goal of improving outcomes and of continuing to monitor the success or failure for subsequent decision-making.” In short, purposeful design isn’t just a compilation of pretty pictures, but it’s backed by results, best practices, experience, trial and error, and years of research all curated into an expertly planned space centered around the end user's functionality and with inspiration in mind.

Mark Hirons FAIA, IIDA, LEED AP, design principal for CannonDesign, explained it best: “Informed design at the onset of a project leverages baseline comparisons to offer the client context and an enriched design consultancy experience. Design should be behavioral-focused and use relevant data as a means to explore ideas. Each project is unique. Ultimately, it’s a fine-tuned process that, while working with the client over time, results in a meaningful environment and often a portfolio of thoughtfully designed spaces.”

Understanding the Value of Design

The value of design exists in its ability to support two of the client’s most valuable resources: people and place. “While oftentimes clients initially may have preconceived notions, we seek to listen to their vision, understand their culture and explore new ideas that will best position them for the future. We look at behaviors and focus on efficiency and, even more importantly, effectiveness. While everyone wants a space that works well and is budget-friendly, the most important question is how do we purposefully design our client’s second-most-expensive asset in their portfolio (real estate) to make their first-most-expensive asset (people) more effective.”

By overlaying well-being, collaboration, privacy, and meaningful interaction, Hirons explains, great design can do both.

Want vs. Reality

Hirons notes that often the first endeavor is deciphering the difference between a client’s wants and needs within a space to best achieve their goals. “Our job is to take a step back and analyze how best to translate ideas and choices, authentically, to our client,” he says. “They may express an impact, characteristic, or mood desired for their space and our goal is to translate that with their brand and story to craft the environment for which they are aspiring.”

He continues, “Design is taking the desired behaviors and matching them with an array of purposeful settings that support concentration, collaboration, comprehension, and social connection and creating them to express each client’s mission and culture. We come back with a list of design choices that offer both the feel they want and the functional environment we know they need. For example, we’ll provide a list of things to consider—perhaps multi-functional spaces, art, gardens, enhanced technology, etc.—then the client can decide to pull different levers or accentuate certain choices to make the space more engaging and experiential.”

Design as a Catalyst, Space as an Innovator

As a well-illustrated example of this EBD principle, Hirons shared a recent client experience where a leading biopharmaceutical company in Korea wanted an environment that spoke to its brand reputation of being a global leader. After meeting with the client, CannonDesign realized the company needed to provide a space that supported its employees throughout their entire day.

“They wanted a work environment that infused the elements of collaboration, innovation, reflection, and a holistic perspective,” explained Hirons. “We delivered more than 50 different settings—from a living forest and micro-kitchens to seminar rooms and sleeping pods—that spoke to the idea of being the only one. We looked at each experience a person could have throughout the day and how the spaces could support productivity and infuse innovation. Ultimately, design was the catalyst to create a completely unique environment to enrich their staff members’ lives everyday.”

To clarify, Pinterest and the use of imagery has a place in the conte
What is a social stair? Remember back in 2001, when OMA/Koolhaas and Scheeren completed the Prada Boutique (now called Prada Epicenter) on lower Broadway in Soho? It features an amphitheater-like stair leading from the ground floor down to the basement. This stair can be used as a stair, taking you from one level to the next. It can also be used as bleacher-like seating. And when it is not accommodating seated human beings, the amphitheater part of the stair can be peopled with ranks of mannequins outfitted in Prada fashions. Though not the first of its kind, the Prada stair is the archetype of the 21st-century social stair. The social stair connotes a style of 21st-century sociability: cool; hip; spontaneous; diverse, yet connected; and youthful. As such, it has been transformed into a symbol: an icon of collective identity that suggests it has the power to make you cool, hip, awesome (and maybe even young) — just by being in its presence. The 21st-century word associated with this phenomenon of implied magical bonding is “meme” (rhymes with “mean”). My authoritative source on 21st-century forms of knowledge, Wikipedia, tells me that “meme” means a unit of conduct that you can internalize and imitate in order to represent yourself to others as embodying the desirable associations — cool, hip, awesome, young — affiliated with the meme/form. So now you know: The social stair is a magical meme. It possesses the power to confer a social identity, linking you to a community that you want other people to see you as belonging to.

The Wikipedia entry on memes has a whole section on architectural memes, an indication of the potency that buildings possess to shape the attitudes, opinions, and conduct of the people who occupy, or simply pass by, them. The Wikipedia entry also identifies the foremost theorist of architectural “meme-ology” as Nikos A. Salingaros, professor of mathematics at The University of Texas at San Antonio, and author of “A Theory of Architecture” (2006).

Houston, in the past four years, has experienced a population explosion of high-profile social stairs. The expansion and reconstruction of the University of Houston Student Center South (2015, EYP and WTW); the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (2015, Studio RED and Lake|Flato); the Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University (2017, Michael Maltzan); the Glassell School of Art of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2018, Steven Holl and Kendall/Heaton Associates); and the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (2019, Gensler) all have public spaces configured around social stairs. Do the people who frequent these buildings actually hang out on the social stairs, embodying the forms of contemporary sociability depicted in architectural renderings? Or is this even a relevant question? Doesn’t the very existence of the social stair demonstrate that the building comes equipped with the necessary spaces for shaping cool, awesome, etc., subjects and bonding them into a community?

In his book “The Architecture of Neoliberalism: How Contemporary Architecture Became an Instrument of Control and Compliance” (2016), the British architectural historian and theorist Douglas Spencer decodes such memes as the social stair; long refectory-like communal work tables; internally exposed trusses, ducts, tile block walls, and concrete floor slabs; and interior glass partitions to argue that these are not simply constituents of a currently fashionable style of architecture but the material and spatial building blocks of a social system based on the exaltation of economic markets. What Spencer finds notable about the effort to shape people’s (and especially architects’) self-conceptions and their ideas about community is how often Neoliberalism operates through soft means (and soft memes) — architecture, fashion, advertising images, architectural renderings — rather than through rules, creeds, and the formation of political or religious belief structures. The rhetoric of self-direction and workplace democracy, the absence of hierarchy, the ability to bring your pet to work — are visually portrayed in memetic images of happy, attractive, racially and ethnically diverse groups of young people working at their laptops or texting on their cellphones, spontaneously generating innovation even as they break from their co-work perches on social stairs to grab a healthy fusion snack at the nearest
Wanda Lau
Building professional connections is a skill not taught in many architecture programs, but it is a necessity in practice, Evelyn Lee writes in her first column for ARCHITECT.

According to Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point (Back Bay Books, 2002), I would be considered a “connector.” I’ve been in the industry nearly two decades, with about 15 years serving on different AIA committees at all levels. As a business school graduate and contributing writer to several publications, I seek out individuals and organizations thinking about the future of architecture and how practice needs to adapt. I enjoy connecting people within my network because, while the design profession is relatively small, the number of us thinking about the evolution of practice is even smaller. Relationship building has been critical to my own growth, professionally and personally. My best connections keep me excited about the industry, challenge my viewpoints, and have become incredible mentor and advocates—and I take pride in cultivating my network.

Which is why I was taken aback by the flurry of cold emails and messages I received from firm principals and senior designers almost immediately upon updating my LinkedIn profile with my new role as the inaugural senior experience designer at Slack, the fast-growing tech company in San Francisco. Since I had moved to the client side three years ago, my ability to hire architects was nothing new. So why the widespread attention? Perhaps it was Slack’s recent IPO?

The myriad mindless messages I received in response to my new position truly left a bad taste in my mouth. Business school graduates know that networking is fundamental: Universities want to promote what percentage of their alumni have gone on to find successful jobs, and building relationships enhances that stat. Literally, Networking 101 is built into B-school orientation.

But designers could certainly do much better when they reach out. To make the process more palatable to both you and your networking target, I offer five recommendations for developing professional relationships.

Look for Mutual Connections
Regardless of your age or experience, leverage the resources that exist in your network. People are more receptive to an email that comes from someone they know—or even someone who knows someone they know—than from a stranger. This validates a good connection and assures the recipient that the contact will be deeper than a superficial ask for new work. The architecture world is not that big.

It’s Not About You
The first outreach should never be about your needs: It’s always about theirs. Do not fish for information in the first contact; instead, be specific about why you want to talk or, at the very least, if you’re requesting their particular experience and viewpoint on your own work. If you explicitly want to talk about my new job, then I will shelve your request.

Simplify Your Ask
Most people will be happy to talk for 15 minutes on a topic they are passionate about—just make sure you know what that topic is. I have had more success asking for a 15-minute phone conversation than an in-person sit-down. Even a coffee meetup means you are asking someone to take time out of their day, go to a place out of their routine, and commit to a conversation that they may not be excited about. Fifteen minutes first. Then maybe coffee.

Be Patient
Relationships take time, trust, and nurturing. A milestone in a person’s career is a good reason to reach out or pick up a conversation with a connection you haven’t talked to in a while. As with personal relationships, it takes time to develop professional confidantes.

Google Yourself
Leverage technology but be mindful of your own profile. Whether you are building your own network or on the receiving end of a cold email, people are going to research who you are. Clean up your public personas and make sure they reflect your professional self.

About 10 years ago, I picked up a great book on social media marketing for AEC professionals. I wanted to meet the author and was excited to discover she was running a workshop at the local AIA component. I made the workshop but had to run immediately after the event without speaking with her. My few shared connections with her on LinkedIn were merely acquaintances to me—so I took a chance and messaged her directly. In my email, I explained that I had attended her workshop, had questions about specific points she made, and was interested on her take on the profession’s
Gabriela Marks
Fostering a more inclusive profession is everyone's job.

As the 2019 President of The American Institute of Architects, I have had the honor to learn from and listen to colleagues from across the nation and around the world. Those interactions have reinforced what I always knew: Our similarities, as people and as professionals, far outweigh our differences.

We don’t all speak the same language, come from the same family background, or share the same cultural heritage, but we do share a commitment to advancing our communities and our societies through the power of design.

Today, architects are finding ways, both small and large, to improve the profession’s environmental stewardship of the built world. In the years ahead, we must commit to leaning into this effort. I am proud of the clear direction of the board, Strategic Council, and members to seize the leadership moment presented by climate change, and I look forward to sharing the first steps in AIA’s years-long effort to lead on this issue.

However, leadership in the 21st century takes more than noble ideals and a clear vision. Today it requires the inclusion, innovation, ingenuity, and leadership of everyone.

As a profession, we are becoming more diverse, but it’s taking place slowly—especially in comparison to the society we serve.

For example, 46 percent of students enrolled in schools of architecture are women, up from 25 percent in 1985. In 2016, women accounted for 36 percent of newly licensed architects. That’s substantial progress, but we have a considerable way to go. After all, women make up 51 percent of the total population and 56 percent of all college students.

On the issue of race, progress has been harder to achieve, especially concerning African Americans and Hispanics. Currently, about 13 percent of college students identify as African American and a little more than 18 percent identify as Hispanic. In contrast, African Americans account for roughly 5 percent of architecture students.

Further along the career pipeline, roughly 19 percent of new architects identify as nonwhite. These statistics stand in sharp distinction to prevailing national demographic trends. For example, 39 percent of millennials self-identify with a race or ethnicity other than white, about double the share of the baby boomer generation at the same age. And according to census data, 48 percent of Gen Z (post-millennials) identify as nonwhite.

To help facilitate and advance the critical conversations needed to expand the pipeline of women and minorities into architecture and to retain them throughout their careers, AIA’s Guides for Equitable Practice, created in partnership with the University of Minnesota and AIA’s Equity and Future of Architecture Committee, continue to facilitate necessary discussions about fostering a more inclusive profession.

I am convinced that as we expand the definition of who is an architect, we will extend what architecture can accomplish. As firms and schools conduct critical conversations to better understand and eliminate the barriers and biases that challenge underrepresented groups in the profession, we will dramatically improve, impress, and ultimately inspire the society we serve through diverse design thinking.

To lead, we must be more diverse—as diverse as the population we serve. All of us have a critical role in ensuring that the talent and perspective of everyone, without regard to race, age, socio-economic background, or gender, is included in our effort to create a more equitable, compassionate, and environmentally responsible built world— and, by extension, society.
Building Design + Construction
With the rapid evolution of available technologies, and the integration of them into the profession, the role of an architect is changing faster than it ever has before.

The profession of architecture is one that dates back to ancient times, with a profound impact on the built environment of civilizations all over the world. The evolution of the practice has been relatively slow; while technologies and styles have evolved, the fundamentals today are not all that different than they were historically.

However, with the rapid evolution of available technologies, and the integration of them into the profession, the role of an architect is changing faster than it ever has before. At HMC Architects, we believe that the best way to stay relevant in our changing profession is to always be considering what the future holds, and pushing ourselves and the boundaries of the profession.


Taking a building from concept to reality is a long, involved process, with each project presenting its own unique set of challenges. For the sake of discussion, the core tenets of the architectural process can be simplified as follows:
  • Interpreting client
  • Developing a design solution
  • Submitting a design for approval from the local building agency
  • Conveying the design solution to the contractor via construction documents
  • Verifying that the construction is true to the documents provided
There are nuances to those responsibilities, such as code compliance and environmental considerations, but the core of our business is still solution-based, with a focus on problem-solving.

Looking forward, while the tenets may more or less stay the same, there will be less of a focus on the drawing process of the construction documents, and more of a focus on innovative solutions and how they affect as well as support the users of the space.

In turn, clients are becoming more sophisticated, and are demanding a higher level of understanding of the process and, in some cases, desire to be integral to its completion. Luckily, technologies are also advancing, allowing a higher level of information to be easily conveyed.


Technology is migrating into architecture more and more every day. The speed to market has increased significantly with the industrialization of construction with companies like Katerra and DIRTT. These firms are applying logistics via Google Maps to deliver materials to the job site quicker, along with the science of prefabrication to increase the efficiency of construction, which in turn delivers the project quicker to market.

While this is ideal from an operational and logistical standpoint, it also means that some of the traditional aspects of architecture, specifically the drawings, are going to fade away, and the next generation of architects will have a whole new type of deliverables.

These digital outputs, such as building information modeling (BIM), assist in achieving higher performing buildings by looking at regenerative design, renewability, life-cycle costs, and app-based maintenance programs. We also anticipate that, with the digital delivery of construction documents, they will no longer be plan checked by an individual, but by a program-based software; a virtual plan check of sorts. This will speed up the agency approval time, streamlining the path from design to construction while reducing the margin for human error.

The focus is shifting from pure architecture to an environment that is both architectural and user-focused to enhance the occupants’ experience. Our clients are looking for ways to get the most out of their buildings with user apps and sensors that allow them to gather data to determine which spaces are truly utilized, which will drive the need to design for more or less space. Clients will also be using technology and data analytics to determine the life-cycle costs of buildings, as well as forecast occupant experiences to drive future buildings and programs.

With this heightened emphasis on technology, the role of the architect has frequently come into question. While the human component of architecture can never be replaced, many of the once-manual processes can. Architecture and its practitioners must be willing to embrace the migration towards a wholly digital design experience. Adaptability, flexibility, and early adoption of new technologies and procedures will ensure that the collaborative minds at the center of the profession remain a fundamental component of archite
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
It’s not easy to raise a family in a big U.S. city—but it’s not any easier anywhere else in this country

In January, a young mother wheeled her stroller into a New York City subway station that—like most New York City subway stations—had no elevator. As many city parents have done out of desperation at one time or another, she picked up the stroller and carried her baby down the dozens of stairs to the platform. The 22-year-old mother, who had a history of heart problems, fell to her death. Her 1-year-old survived.

This tragic event epitomizes how American cities are openly hostile to families, and it was the only thing I could think of when I read a story in The Atlantic this week that opens with a New York City mom trying to get her two kids and a stroller up a staircase.

“The mom would fold the stroller to the size of a boogie board, then drag it behind her with her right hand, while cradling the younger and typically crying child in the crook of her left arm,” writes Derek Thompson in “The Future of the City is Childless.” “It looked like hell—or, as I once suggested to a roommate, a carefully staged public service announcement against family formation.”

Thompson’s essay addresses what’s become an obsession for urbanist writers, including the writers at his own publication: For all the people, attention, and money currently pouring into U.S. cities, it turns out that few of those resources are being devoted to raising the next generation of city-dwellers.

The narrative presented by Thompson is that young adults who move to big cities end up facing unsurmountable debt and housing costs, wait longer to have kids, then voluntarily leave once they decide to procreate.

San Francisco, which is cited in the story, is the most notorious example. In 2017, only 13 percent of the population was under 18, the lowest percentage of any major U.S. city. There are officially more dogs than children in San Francisco.

That statistic seems shocking until you consider a few other city stats, like the fact that one out of every 100 people in San Francisco doesn’t have a home.

Across the country, many Americans are spending too much on housing to contemplate the added expense of having kids: Over 11 million Americans—the populations of New York City and Chicago combined—spend more than half of their paycheck on housing costs. San Francisco might get all the headlines, but this is not a city-specific problem. There’s not a single county in the U.S., urban or rural, where a person making minimum wage can afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment and have enough money left over to purchase basic necessities for living—let alone the necessities for two or three additional people.

In Los Angeles, where I live, rising rents and a shortage of affordable units mean that the number of families who are homeless went up again last year, even as the city’s social services placed a record number of families in supportive housing. According to a Los Angeles County report, families headed by women are more likely to be evicted, forcing them to live in overcrowded apartments, in vehicles, and on the streets.

Those families aren’t leaving cities. They’re getting left behind.

Sure, affluent parents might opt to pack up the SUV and flee to the suburbs, but the truth is that most people in this country who have children do not have that type of economic mobility. In 2016, the percentage of Americans who moved to another home during that year fell to all-time low of 11.2 percent—about half the rate of domestic migration in 1965.

At the same time, America’s suburbs are also failing families. In a recent Los Angeles Times series, columnist Steve Lopez spent weeks at an elementary school located in a corner of the San Fernando Valley lined with ranch-style homes, grassy yards, child-friendly dining options, and box-store parking lots filled with minivans. Yet a quarter of the school’s children are homeless—living in garages and motels.

In his piece, Thompson poses a handful of solutions that might spark an urban baby boom. “Surely, downtown areas can be made more family-friendly,” he writes. “Mayors can be more aggressive about overcoming the forces of NIMBYism by building affordable housing near downtown areas. The federal government can help.”

But it’s not just a laundry list of kid-friendly amenities that families need, it’s giving parents the financial breathing room to enjoy them. Within
DLR Group
Michael Graves’s famous Portland Building is undergoing a renovation so extensive, it may be de-listed from the National Register of Historic Places.

On a recent afternoon outside the Portland Building, the massive copper Portlandia statue sitting atop its entrance was still encased in scaffolding—the marine goddess’s outstretched hand poking the edge of its white plastic sheathing—as part of an ongoing $195 million renovation and reconstruction.

Despite being a famous landmark designed by architect Michael Graves, and one of the first major Postmodernist buildings in America, the building (owned by the City of Portland) was ultra-value-engineered when it was constructed in the early 1980s, and leaked practically from the start. A few years ago, the city decided renovation was critical if it was to have any functional future.

Although it’s on schedule to reopen at the end of the year, an audit critical of the renovation process is assuring that this seemingly always-controversial design story adds another chapter. City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero found a lack of transparency as the budget has grown to $214 million, and that equity grants to improve the diversity of the construction workforce had not been spent.

Perhaps most notably, the June 12 audit noted the city was “on track to meet the baseline renovation goals but will fall short of other aspirations.” In particular, “the exterior design chosen to address water leaks will result in the circa-1982 building’s delisting from the National Register of Historic Places.”

That actually remains to be seen, for de-listing is a lengthy process that would only commence after construction is complete. But the audit is a reminder of how much this major work of Postmodernist architecture is being transformed. Indeed, the city’s most recognized building has now been given an entirely new facade in a different material. An aluminum over-cladding will completely cover the original painted concrete (which was not removed because it serves in a structural capacity).

The Portland Building’s darkly shaded windows, which contrasted against the cream-colored facade paint, have been replaced with clear glass to add natural light on the interior. Its ground-floor loggias, meant for retail, will now become part of the lobby, glassed in for further light.

While the changed glass unmistakably alters the building’s exterior, it’s the over-cladding that has particularly drawn preservationists’ ire—much as the changes proposed in 2017 by architecture firm Snøhetta for the postmodern AT&T Building in New York City did (those were later nixed as the building was given landmark status by New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission).

“If you cover the character-defining features, how is that historic preservation?” said Kate Kearney, president of the Oregon chapter of Docomomo, an organization that advocates for the preservation of modern architecture. “Personally, I don’t think that holds up. I just find it very odd that these high examples of an architecture movement are really being altered or completely erased from our architectural heritage.”

The audit’s release included a written response from Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler which disputed some of the financial findings, arguing that the equity grants were always intended for release at the end of the project and citing a series of City Council briefings on budget changes. But the matter of the Portland Building’s National Register listing and potential de-listing is left unaddressed.

When asked whether there was any explicit requirement that the listing itself be maintained, auditor Tenzin Gonta, who works under Caballero, cited project records “that reference historic integrity being part of scope. Each references the listing on the National Register as background about the building but not maintenance of that status as a specific goal.”
Alexander C. Kafka/Flickr via Creative Commons license
Aaron Betsky on how our Western treasures can inspire us to be better architects.

It is the season to see things bigger than buildings. Summertime is when Americans, despite their ability to go anywhere at any time virtually, hit the road to get some real experiences: mountains, forests, lakes, deserts, and wetlands beckon us away from the grid and the boxes where we live, work, and play, to see structures and spaces at the very edge of human imagination, in both senses of the word.

What draws us above all else is spectacle, and that—no offense to you East Coasters—you’ll find mainly in the West. The canyons, from the Grand one to Bryce, the ranges and valleys around the Tetons, Rockies, and the Coastals are where we can feel most removed from the human scale or our usual sense of purpose. To get to the best views, to feel truly overwhelmed, you have to leave much of your technology behind and hike beyond the crowds. It is a reminder of the limits of both the beauty and the blight that normally surrounds us in our (sub)urban settings, and its very difference should inspire our work as architects.

This last month, I had the pleasure of spending a day in Zion National Park. It was not nearly enough, and I never did get away from those crowds, but still the experience of feeling so small in the face of such grandeur was exhilarating. It was a much needed antidote to my obsession with both architecture and politics.

I will not try to describe the peaks that rise out of the gorge that the Virgin River has cut through the rocks of southern Utah. I took no selfies. I just let the grandeur of it all whisk me away. In truth, I was just as much taken by the sheer violence of the place. Which makes sense: When Edward Burke first defined the notion of the sublime to describe a passage he took through the Alps in the 1750s, his fear of falling off a cliff or being overwhelmed by a storm made him feel just as removed from himself as the beauty of the peaks themselves.

That sense of ecstasy, or standing outside yourself, is what we seek in nature. It is a sensibility that we try to replicate through art or, these days, through chemical or virtual means. Yet there is another sense in which the sublime operates: as something that reminds you not only of your own fragility, but also of the instability of the supposed bedrock of our country. The Virgin River carved its way through something solid over the millennia and, as you survey what the water laid bare, you can see the opposing lines of rocks that were long before lifted up or thrust down in cataclysms of a scale few humans in recorded history have ever experienced.

That movement of plates, those eruptions of volcanoes, those floes of icebergs as tall as skyscrapers, and the floods that must have inspired the tales of global inundation so many cultures tell, have shaped our continent, and give us the America we know today. Our history is violent and profound. That “deep” history, taking place in “geological time,” as the writer John McPhee referred to it in his 1981 book Basin and Range, is usually only visible in less geologically dramatic areas to trained eyes. What makes national parks such as Zion so amazing is that we are confronted with a history of the places that we think we have shaped to our wants and needs, but that reach far beyond us in scale and time.

We should not just build, as Antoine Predock, FAIA, used to be fond of pointing out, on the thin layer of human detritus and loam, but on and with all the layers of our earth.

It should inspire us to rethink our role as architects. Good architects try to respond to a project’s context, shaping their buildings to accept and shed rain and snow, water and heat. They might use materials found on site, transforming them from rough rocks into sheets of veneer or from mud into bricks. But do we ever respond to what lies below and before us, to our larger context? We should not just build, as Antoine Predock, FAIA, used to be fond of pointing out, on the thin layer of human detritus and loam, but on and with all the layers of our Earth. Is there some way to express the instability of the land, its depths, its deep materiality?

The pilgrimages we take to national parks are part of what has made us a community; our family trips to these preserves and the moments of great beauty we have experienced there together have united us. On my hikes, I saw people of all ages and all colors, and I felt I was part of that commu
Amos Chapple
A Mythology of Technology: Stemming from the Greek mythos, meaning “story of the people,” mythology has guided mankind for millennia. Three hundred years ago, intellectuals of the European Enlightenment constructed a mythology of technology. Influenced by a confluence of humanism, colonialism, and racism, the mythology ignored local wisdom and indigenous innovation, deeming it primitive. Guiding this was a perception of technology that feasted on the felling of forests and the extraction of resources. The mythology that powered the Age of Industrialization distanced itself from natural systems, favoring fuel by fire.

Today, the legacy of this mythology haunts us. Progress at the expense of the planet birthed the epoch of the Anthropocene—our current geological period characterized by the undeniable impact of humans upon the environment at a global scale. Charles Darwin, the scholar and naturalist who is seen as the father of evolutionary theory, said “extinction happens slowly,” yet 60% of the world’s biodiversity has vanished in the past 40 years. Coming to terms with an uncertain future, and confronted by climate events that cannot be predicted, species extinctions that cannot be arrested, and ecosystem failures that cannot be stopped, humanity is tasked with developing solutions to protect the wilderness that remains and learning how to transform the civilizations we construct. While we are drowning in an Age of Information, we are starving for wisdom.

Ancient Wisdom

Only a sliver of the technologies that existed at the time of the Enlightenment were valued and shepherded through to the present. Meanwhile, an alternative mythology of technology has been with us since well before the Enlightenment. It is unacknowledged, at the far ends of the Earth, with its contributors deemed “primitive” for centuries. While “modern” societies were trying to conquer Nature in the name of progress, these indigenous cultures were working with it.

Indigenous technologies are not lost or forgotten; they are only hidden by the shadow of progress in the remotest places on earth. Even as society values and preserves the architectural artifacts of dead cultures, like the 4,000-year-old pyramids of Giza, the living are displaced, like the 6,000-year-old floating-island technology of the Ma’dan in the southern wetlands of Iraq. Extending the grounds of typical design, Lo-TEK is a movement that investigates lesser-known local technologies (Lo), traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), indigenous cultural practices, and mythologies passed down as songs or stories. In contrast to the homogeneity of the modern world, indigeneity is reframed as an evolutionary extension of life in symbiosis with nature.

Continuing the conversation on vernacular architecture as popularized in Bernard Rudofsky’s Architecture Without Architects exhibition at MoMA in 1967, Lo-TEK explores the intersection of design and radical indigenism. Coined by Princeton professor and citizen of the Cherokee Nation Eva Marie Garoutte, “radical indigenism” argues for a rebuilding of knowledge and explores indigenous philosophies capable of generating new dialogues. The concept of radical indigenism takes its name from the Latin derivation of the word “radical”: radix, meaning “root.” Design by radical indigenism imagines a movement that rebuilds an understanding of indigenous philosophies in relation to design, to generate sustainable and climate resilient infrastructures. This Lo-TEK movement fills a void at the intersection of innovation, architecture, urbanism, conservation, and indigenism. Once hybridized and scaled, these indigenous technologies could offer a new path to exponentially shrink the ecological footprint of humankind and mitigate the forecast collapse. While the action of individuals is important, it is action at the scale of infrastructures, designed with a mythology that connects individuals to an ecosystem, that can catalyze a global shift.

Lo-TEK is a movement that orients us toward a different mythology of technology, one that evolves humanism with radical indigenism. In the book of the same name, this mythology is told in a compendium of over a hundred indigenous innovations from four ecosystems across the globe: mountains, forests, deserts, and wetlands. A nexus of peoples, places, and practices is explored at the material, module, structural
Edmund Sumner
Why Aaron Betsky loves the new Hong Kong West Kowloon Station by Andrew Bromberg at Aedas.

Sometimes a good building that I nevertheless probably shouldn’t like for all kinds of reasons just bowls me over. That’s the case with the new Hong Kong West Kowloon Station, designed by Andrew Bromberg, FAIA, a global design principal at Aedas. It is not modest; it is not critical architecture. It swoops, it soars, it arches, rises, and spreads. Rarely in recent years have I seen a project with more expressive power than this multi-billion-dollar terminus to a line that is—for better or worse—tying Hong Kong closer to the Chinese mainland. It evokes the excitement of travel and the anticipation that comes with arriving or leaving a city.

For several years I have watched the station's design and construction, which has been hampered by delays, by ever increasing security concerns, by mediocre construction, and by worse station management. So it was a pleasure to finally see the building completed when I was in Hong Kong this spring. Visiting it on a rainy day I missed the full effect of the skylights and clerestories in the station’s main hall, and I was left to scamper around the wet pavement outside, but it was still a delight. Towards the north, the building’s arches flip up above a jagged glass façade, which opens up to a view of Hong Kong Island—a feature that has already drawn comparisons to a dragon. Even in the rain, the building seemed to be continually in motion.

The building is essentially a low-lying arch. A series of giant, stretched trusses, bundled together for strength and braced by branching columns that slot in between the tracks and the spread out, give lateral support to the main roof. But Bromberg also conceived of a simple yet clever twist. Rather than having the arches run at right angles over the main station area to the end of the tracks, the tradition in train termini ever since Euston Station in 1837, he ran them in the same directions as the trains. The result is a visual representation of this superfast mode of transport. It also leaves large openings to the east and the west, the directions in which most people entering or leaving the station will pass.

The various levels of the station undulate both up and down and forward and back to accommodate the different modes of arrival and departure (car, taxi, or bus drop off, and the subway and pedestrian paths to the nearby mega-developments). The terminal serves about 1.5 million travelers a month, who can now travel to Shanghai in a few hours and to Beijing in a day.

As an added bonus, the layers of arches also create an elevated park on top of the station; you can walk up and, more than 80 feet above the ground, enjoy a panoramic view across the harbor of Hong Kong Island. Already, the park has become a site for joggers and selfie takers; the hope is that further development in the area, including the Herzog & de Meuron-designed M+ Museum, will make the public space even more vibrant.

On the inside, Bromberg had originally designed the hall to start at the tracks themselves, so travelers could glimpse the bottom of the arches as soon as they arrived. The cost of a transparent fire barrier made that impossible, creating the same problem that plagues many airports and other transportation nodes: passengers get the best view when leaving or before going through security. After clearing customs, you can still see the some of the spectacle above while waiting for your train, but you have to remember to look up. Travelers who head directly into the subway, meanwhile, will never even enter the hall.

Soon, the station will be surrounded by apartment and office towers that will help pay for the cost of its construction. I believe that Bromberg had hoped to design these as well, but they will be put out for tender separately, so there's not much chance that he can create a large version of the fully integrated transportation hub that Ben van Berkel designed for the station in Arnhem, the Netherlands.

There is a more serious question about the West Kowloon Station that does give me pause. It successfully represents the achievements of a state that is using this very infrastructure to further suppress Hong Kong’s freedom and quasi-independence. Much in the way of Rem Koolhaas, Hon. FAIA’s convoluted design for the Chinese state’s central propaganda machine, CCTV, in Beijing, one has to ask if the project helps perpetuate social and economic injustices.

The Architects' Journal
Architecture firms are rallying to the climate change cause with an 11-point action plan. But have they understood the transformation in practice this will commit them to? Will Hurst reports

Three weeks ago, something momentous happened in British architecture. Seventeen winners of the RIBA Stirling Prize, including Foster + Partners, David Chipperfield Architects, Zaha Hadid Architects and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, issued the Architects Declare call: a plea for practices across the country to join them in recognising the twin crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss and the ‘paradigm shift’ now required in the construction industry to tackle these looming threats.

Since then, practices of all sizes and types have flocked to the Architects Declare banner. At the time of writing, 429 practices have signed, including about two-thirds of AJ100 firms – 80 per cent of the top 50 and every firm in the top 10. The call to action was mirrored by an open letter from architecture schools, headed ‘Architecture Education Declares’.

Building on the momentum in the profession created by the Extinction Rebellion protests, Parliament’s declaration of a climate emergency, and the AJ’s own ‘Wake Up’ issue on the crisis published in February, the speed and scale of the response has surprised those behind the campaigning initiative.

"Do these firms realise this is not a simple bolt-on, but a fundamental rethink of the design process? "

Yet, as with the government’s more recent commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, actions will speak louder than words. The 11 pledges within the campaign are far-reaching and sound almost improbable, coming from design studios famous for their carbon-hungry towers, mega airports and swooping concrete structures.

Assuming the signatories are sincere, most now face the task of transforming their working practices, their business models and indeed their entire approach to architecture in a very short space of time. As Simon Sturgis asked in the immediate aftermath of the declaration: ‘Do these firms realise this is not a simple bolt-on, but a fundamental rethink of the design process? BREEAM 2018 is not sufficient.’

So what should we make of Architects Declare and how did it come about? Is it truly the start of a profound change of direction for British architecture or panic-driven sloganeering by a sector that has finally got the memo? Moreover, where do those practices who have signed up to the declaration go from here?

Architects Declare has no leaders nor designated spokespeople and each signatory is expected to speak for his or her own organisation. One of the people most active in it is Steve Tompkins, co-founder of RIBA Stirling Prize-winning Haworth Tompkins. Tompkins works on housing, higher education and masterplanning schemes but is best known for his work on cultural buildings, and was named the most influential person in British theatre by The Stage magazine in January. In recent months he has been pondering how architecture should respond to the climate emergency, and hosted a low-carbon focus group organised by the AJ in February. This involved several of those architect-campaigners who later worked behind the scenes on Architects Declare, including Julia Barfield and Waugh Thistleton co-founder Andrew Waugh.

"Many observers point to the yawning gap between the rhetoric and the ongoing work of some of the best-known Stirling winners"

‘The idea was born out of a conversation with [architect and author] Michael Pawlyn in the early part of the year,’ Tompkins recalls. ‘We were both frustrated by the lack of urgency within the construction sector around the climate and biodiversity crises and were discussing how the UK architecture profession as a whole – as opposed to the familiar pioneers who have been quietly working away for years – could find its voice.’

Architectural consultant Caroline Cole then facilitated a meeting of Stirling Prize-winning practices to discuss the idea of a joint public statement or open letter and it soon became clear that all those present agreed in principle on the need for action. The association with the Stirling and the extraordinary coming-together of an otherwise disparate group of leading architects gave the open letter added impact.

Tompkins is heartened by the response, which, he says, confirms his recognition that many architect colleagues ‘share both a deep anxiety about the environmental realities we face and an unmet desire to find ways to work together to respond’.
HKS Urban Food Studio
“How’d you get THAT job?” is a question I hear a lot. In many ways, HKS is a traditional large firm – we are 1,400 people strong with 23 offices around the world and projects that span every geography and market sector imaginable. However, what sets HKS apart from many large firms is our approach to public interest design (PID), defined as design grounded in the belief that every person deserves to live in a socially, economically and environmentally healthy community.

Five years ago, I founded Citizen HKS, based on the 1% Solution (now The 1+ Program), in which we committed to donating one percent of our billable hours to pro bono projects. Though we had signed on to the program years prior, we were not doing an especially good job of managing that time, being thoughtful about how we selected and approached projects, and we were not celebrating the stories of how design work positively impacted the lives of people. In the five years since, we have completed a maternity ward in rural Uganda, an urban food studio in Washington DC, and a sensory wellbeing hub for students on the autism spectrum in Chicago, just to name a few. In addition, we have a robust pipeline of projects currently in design that span the globe from Afghanistan to Detroit to our backyard in Dallas. Internally, Citizen HKS has morphed from “just another initiative” to a foundational pillar of who we are and a source of pride among our leadership and staff.

However, this didn’t just magically happen overnight. There have certainly been – and continue to be – missteps and lessons learned along the way. Early on, we struggled to find projects of the scale and impact we were looking for. At the same time, it was difficult to turn down projects that, while worthwhile on some level, were not a great fit. Staffing selected projects proved challenging in unexpected ways. It was difficult to compete for resources against projects that had “real” clients and were bringing money into the firm. At the same time, it was also hard to engage everyone who expressed a passion for PID when the percentage of actual design work was very small.

Though still a work in progress, Citizen HKS has more than lived up to the expectations set for it. Working with a small steering committee of other passionate PID advocates across the firm, I understood early on that we needed to create a program with demonstrable value if we expected it to be sustainable long term. Even the most altruistic, well-intentioned company will not continue to provide a service if they see no benefit in return. In our case, the benefit was unlikely to be monetary, so we set our sights on other ways we could create value. Externally, we looked for projects that would enable our non-profit partners and us to tell compelling stories about how architecture positively affected the trajectory of a community. I’m proud to say that Citizen HKS projects tend to outperform others in terms of media placements and website hits, coming in second only to our NFL stadiums. Internally, we’ve seen employees cite Citizen HKS as one of the “pros” of HKS on Glassdoor, and our hiring manager says that Citizen HKS is the number one thing he gets asked about when recent graduates interview. So, while it is true that Citizen HKS doesn’t generate revenue, the often elusive intangibles – brand enhancement, public relations, employee engagement, and recruitment potential – have assuredly affected our bottom line.

I think it’s important to both acknowledge the challenges as well as embrace the opportunities that traditional for-profit firms can provide in the realm of public interest design. Though I admire them greatly, I realize that we will never be a MASS Design. That doesn’t mean that HKS – and every other firm like it – can’t do well by doing good. This is becoming increasingly important as our profession addresses the social and environmental impacts of our work. As we grapple with the most pressing issues of the 21st century, it is clear that a business-as-usual approach will eventually render us obsolete. We can no longer serve the top 10% of the global population that can afford access to our services and continue to stay relevant. And therein lies the opportunity. We must demonstrate how design thinking can contribute to solving some of the world’s most systemic challenges, such as access to healthcare, equity in education, and affordab
Los Angeles Times
To our dismay, we in Los Angeles have become increasingly familiar with homelessness. But some of the things we “know” about the phenomenon are simply untrue. Dealing with the problem requires knowing the facts and dismissing the myths.

It also requires understanding why those myths persist.

Begin with the falsehood that most homeless people come from out of town, drifting here from colder climates or meaner streets in order to live a life of relative ease on L.A. sidewalks and freeway medians.

Not true. The official counts and companion studies of L.A.’s growing homeless population have consistently shown that most homeless people have lived in Los Angeles for at least 10 years. These are our longtime neighbors who were priced out of their apartments by rents that are rising faster than their incomes, or who were struck by some crisis that rendered them unable to keep a permanent roof over their heads. It may have been a job layoff, a divorce, a cataclysmic and costly health breakdown, an addiction.

The proportion of homeless in L.A. who are in fact relatively new arrivals pretty much tracks with the numbers in other big cities around the nation. Homeless people do not flock to L.A. for the sunshine.

But there are two points about supposedly newly arrived homeless that require attention. One has to do with homeless youth. Los Angeles, particularly Hollywood, has long been a destination for young people who feel shunned or mistreated by their families and leave their homes in other parts of the nation. The latest homeless count showed a troubling jump in youth homelessness, including kids from out of town. Deeper study is required to understand and respond to this phenomenon.

The second point is that some people are coming to L.A. from other parts of Southern California. As The Times recently reported, some L.A. officials are accusing neighboring municipalities of pushing their own homeless populations across city limits, dumping their problems on Los Angeles.

This is an old problem. More than a decade ago, the county’s first comprehensive response to homelessness completely fell apart because cities like West Covina and Santa Clarita would not participate and instead encouraged their homeless to go to L.A. Los Angeles itself has had a profoundly inadequate and untimely response to homelessness, but some neighboring cities have been even more irresponsible and must be held accountable.

Another homelessness myth is that most people are on the street because they are mentally ill. Again, not true — although it’s easy to see why the misunderstanding persists.

Counts and studies consistently find that between a quarter and a third of homeless people are seriously mentally ill or have serious substance abuse problems. But substance abusers and the mentally ill are the most visible face of homelessness because their behavior draws the most attention. And mental illness is more prevalent among people living on the street — and in public view — than among their homeless counterparts who are couch-surfing or living in cars or shelters.

The nation broke its promise to provide community-based care and treatment for the mentally ill following the closure of state mental hospitals beginning in the 1970s. It’s a promise that ultimately society must keep, and for which it must pay.

If we were to house all seriously mentally ill homeless people in Los Angeles (and we should), homelessness would immediately become less evident. But of the more than 100,000 people in the county who were homeless at some point last year, two-thirds were not dealing with serious mental health problems or addiction problems, but fell into homelessness because of the widening gap between wages and housing costs.

Another myth: L.A. isn’t doing anything about the problem. Also not true. The city and county housed more than 20,000 last year, including people who had fallen on economic hard times and many who could not care for themselves because of mental or physical health problems.

But it’s clearly not enough. As people were lifted out of homelessness, more fell in. The net increase was about 17 per day.

It is exasperating, and it leaves the region to wonder whether the proper next step is to double down on current solutions, or somehow change course.
United Nations Photo/Flickr., CC BY-NC-ND
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared that skyscrapers made of glass and steel “have no place in our city or our Earth anymore”. He argued that their energy inefficient design contributes to global warming and insisted that his administration would restrict glassy high-rise developments in the city.

Glass has always been an unlikely material for large buildings, because of how difficult it becomes to control temperature and glare indoors. In fact, the use of fully glazed exteriors only became possible with advances in air conditioning technology and access to cheap and abundant energy, which came about in the mid-20th century. And studies suggest that on average, carbon emissions from air conditioned offices are 60 percent higher than those from offices with natural or mechanical ventilation.

As part of my research into sustainable architecture, I have examined the use of glass in buildings throughout history. Above all, one thing is clear: if architects had paid more attention to the difficulties of building with glass, the great environmental damage wrought by modern glass skyscrapers could have been avoided.

Heat and glare
The United Nations Secretariat in New York, constructed between 1947 and 1952, was the earliest example of a fully air conditioned tower with a glass curtain wall – followed shortly afterwards by Lever House on Park Avenue. Air conditioning enabled the classic glass skyscraper to become a model for high rise office developments in cities across the world – even hot places such as Dubai and Sydney.

Yet as far back as the 19th century, horticulturists in Europe intimately understood how difficult it is to keep the temperature stable inside glass structures – the massive hot houses they built to host their collections. They wanted to maintain the hot environment needed to sustain exotic plants, and devised a large repertoire of technical solutions to do so.

Early central heating systems, which made use of steam or hot water, helped to keep the indoor atmosphere hot and humid. Glass was covered with insulation overnight to keep the warmth in, or used only on the south side together with better insulated walls, to take in and hold heat from the midday sun.

The Crystal Palace

When glass structures were transformed into spaces for human habitation, the new challenge was to keep the interior sufficiently cool. Preventing overheating in glass buildings has proven enormously difficult – even in Britain’s temperate climate. The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park – a temporary pavilion built to house the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in 1851 – was a case in point.

The Crystal Palace was the first large-scale example of a glass structure designed specifically for use by people. It was designed by Joseph Paxton, chief gardener at the Duke of Devonshire’s Chatsworth Estate, drawing on his experience constructing timber-framed glasshouses.

Though recognised as a risky idea at the time, organisers decided to host the exhibition inside a giant glasshouse in the absence of a more practical alternative. Because of its modular construction and prefabricated parts, the Crystal Palace could be put together in under ten months – perfect for the organisers’ tight deadline.

To address concerns about overheating and exposing the exhibits to too much sunlight, Paxton adopted some of the few cooling methods available at the time: shading, natural ventilation and eventually removing some sections of glass altogether. Several hundred large louvres were positioned inside the wall of the building, which had to be adjusted manually by attendants several times a day.

Despite these precautions, overheating became a major issue over the summer of 1851, and was the subject of frequent commentaries in the daily newspapers. An analysis of data recorded inside the Crystal Palace between May and October 1851 shows that the indoor temperature was extremely unstable. The building accentuated – rather than reduced – peak summer temperatures.

These challenges forced the organisers to temporarily remove large sections of glazing. This procedure was repeated several times before parts of the glazing were permanently replaced with canvas curtains, which could be opened and closed depending on how hot the sun was. When the Crystal Palace was re-erected as a popular leisure pa
In his essay “Paris Not Flooded,” Roland Barthes asks us to see the great flood of January 1955 as a creative force that erased roads and sidewalks. It forced Parisians to row to the grocer and priests to enter churches in canoes, “making disaster itself provide evidence that the world is manageable.”

If Barthes were to write “Notre-Dame Not Ablaze,” he might ask us to see the April 15 fire and its aftermath as evidence of something useful like a lesson or a sacrament. It will be a long while before that evidence is revealed in full, but the dangers of faulty wiring, a smoldering cigarette near highly combustible materials, or failed fire suppression safeguards were all causal frontrunners at press time.

French authorities, represented by the Ministry of Culture, are still assessing the damage at Notre-Dame, which is part of a larger UNESCO World Heritage site that includes the surrounding Île de la Cité and, as such, is subject to special preservation mandates. The Ministry of Culture is also receiving advice from a dedicated UNESCO team, which includes representatives from ICCROM and ICOMOS International, according to Paris-based Mechtild Rössler, director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

“Notre Dame is like a history book illustrating the evolution of the construction and different approaches to restoration over time,” says Rössler. “The UNESCO team experts were chosen by their institutions for the specific expertise required, especially in risk assessments and knowledge on conservation and rehabilitation, and they are at the disposal of the French authorities.”

President Emmanuel Macron’s promise to rebuild within five years (in time for the 2024 Olympics in Paris) elicited strong responses from several observers. Meredith Cohen, associate professor of medieval art and architecture at UCLA, called it “simplistic bravado.” Conservative pundit Anne-Elisabeth Moutet called the promise “the arrogance of an unpopular president trying for wokeness.” (To Moutet’s chagrin, Macron’s popularity gained three points between March and April, which pundits attributed to his post-fire commitment to rebuilding.) But, reading between the lines of Macron’s vague promise, the real question is how much of Notre-Dame’s recovery will be a restoration, renovation, or something else entirely, which seems to be a philosophical question as well as a technical one.

Thanks to advances in digital imaging and virtual modeling over the last decade, we know nearly everything about the measurable aspects of Notre-Dame. The late Andrew Tallon, associate professor of art at Vassar College, reportedly logged one billion data points on the structure in an extensive survey. French video game developer Ubisoft also owns a substantial cache of digital models created for its 2014 game “Assassin’s Creed: Unity.” In addition, Paris-based graphic design consultancy Art Graphique et Patrimoine (AGP) and surveyors Géomètres-Experts (GEA) partnered to model Notre-Dame in recent years; like Tallon’s scans, their measurements detail the cathedral in millimetric terms—a granular level that’s hard for the naked eye to discern, much less remember. These scans, in other words, will be critical to any future effort to rebuild any part of the cathedral.

Will Rourk, a cultural heritage data specialist at the University of Virginia (UVA) Library Scholars’ Lab, specializes in 3D documentation of artefacts and buildings using scanners and photogrammetry. He’s scanned a range of historic buildings, including Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village at UVA and Monticello, south of Charlottesville, and supplied the data to architects and preservationists to aid in reconstruction or repair. Rourk’s work centers on what he calls infomatics, or leveraging technology to record and remember structures slated for demolition or to re-create elements of them for repair work. That level of documentation, notes Rourk, used to be achieved with a ruler, a profile comb composed of metal teeth, mylar sheets, and ink pens. Now, laser scanners can create data points that combine to form point clouds and then export it all to CAD and BIM software to create 3D models. “That means that if the reconstruction of Notre-Dame was to be faithful to the original,” says Rourk, “then the data could be used to help with this reconstruction, and the efforts towards authentic recon
Wikipedia Commons
In the short history of computing, an ongoing research project is human-computer interaction (HCI). We know the results of this research as the ever-expanding catalog of input devices developed since the 1950s for interfacing with computers. A few successful and obvious ones are: the keyboard, the mouse, the trackpad, the touchscreen, the pen, and the joystick. If most of design labor today is produced with mice (and/or pens), why are there so few discussions on those instruments? In a field bombarded with debates on the digitization of design, I’ve found everyday devices to be the most fascinating, yet overlooked, subject. So in lieu of reviewing the latest touchscreen, VR controller, or AR app, I’d like to talk briefly about mice and pens.

When it comes to drawing on a computer, designers are quite comfortable with these two instruments. They are tools that embody an elegant balance of ergonomics, precision, and intuition. The mouse, with its hand-cradling design, is by far the most common. It can be manufactured cheaply and has an average of three buttons. The pen, on the other hand, is not as ubiquitous. It is often expensive due to its pressure sensors, and it requires a compatible surface. But this was not always the case. Though we typically associate the mouse with personal computing, it was the pen that paved the way for dynamic interfaces.

The computer mouse was invented at the Stanford Research Institute between 1963 and 1964, and it was debuted in 1968 at what is now referred to as “The Mother of All Demos.” This event introduced the world to an interactive screen and its possibilities: word processing, file storage, and graphics. The mouse was a central component as it allowed the demonstrator and research director, Douglas Engelbart, to move around the 2-dimensional, X-Y plane of the screen seamlessly. Most of the demonstration was, of course, slow and glitchy, but the reason for its matriarchal label is simple: many of the highlighted behaviors are still in use today. We type text on word processors, navigate from window to window, and mouse movements still correspond to X-Y coordinates.

Before the mouse, however, there was the pen; and before the pen there was the gun. This is largely because the pursuit of drawing on a lit screen was first taken up, unsurprisingly, by the military. Project Whirlwind, a 1945 Department of Defense research project conducted at MIT, would gain notoriety in the history of computing for its pioneering work on computer memory and real-time processing, but it was also responsible for developing the first handheld computer-screen interfacing device: the light gun. Though much of the focus was on the design of a physical computer, the Whirlwind machine itself required a means to interact with the operator. The solution was a large, round cathode ray tube (CRT) screen with a handheld electron gun (think: a precursor to Nintendo’s 1984 game Duck Hunt).

A light gun works like this: it contains a light sensor which, when pointed at a CRT, generates a signal each time the electron beam raster passes by the spot the tip of the gun is pointing at. The point is then stored in the computer’s memory and can be retrieved at any time. If a dot on the screen represents an airplane, the gun can retrieve data about that object. The gun eventually morphed into a pen, a much more benign accessory. The pen invited one to draw—rather than target—objects. This would in turn provide the framework for Ivan Sutherland to develop Sketchpad, the first CAD program, which used the pen as the core input device. After Sutherland and Engelbart, the history of mice and pens is a bit more familiar. Apple and Microsoft enter the picture and mice become household items, while pens are adopted by the professional graphics industry.

But this abridged story of mice and pens sheds little light on their physiological effects. These devices are as much a part of our emerging digital behaviors as the images on our screens. The sheer variety of ergonomic designs and accessories available to treat side-effects of their daily usage signals their very real imprint on our physical bodies.

Consider the photographs taken by Howard Schatz at the 2000 Olympics. Here professional athletes are placed side by side and one can easily see the effects of physiological specialization. While designers may not have an optimized body type, I know plenty of them with
Dmitri Kessel/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
A sympathetic view of the city might be the healthiest way to shape—and preserve—the built environment

Perhaps it’s New York City’s ability to transform itself so rapidly that makes those of us who love it so sensitive to the restaurant that closes, the hardware shop that shutters, or the building that comes down. Too often their replacements—shiny, new, shop-ified—seem to lack soul. For all its acclaimed verticality, Hudson Yards has drawn criticism that it isn’t much more than a glorified mall. CBGB decayed and was reborn as a John Varvatos boutique. Alphabet City has a Target. In Downtown Brooklyn, a skyscraper just went up complete with a rooftop pool. (Admittedly, the view is spectacular.) But even among those of us who appreciate convenience and style, there’s a wistfulness for the bygone Bohemian grit that emanated from certain neighborhoods.

The response to these overly polished, sterilized cityscapes is driving a new wave of urban nostalgia. Two recent New York Times features—one on capturing every block in the city in the 1980s, another recollecting the demolition of Penn Station—embody everything there is to love about seasoned urban architecture, especially as we see it disappearing. And then there is Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York blog, “a bitterly nostalgic look at a city in the process of going extinct,” run by Jeremiah Moss.

Often nostalgia “gets a bad rap in our future-fetishistic current culture,” says Moss, a psychoanalyst who also authored the book Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul. But sentimentality may be healthy, he says. Empathic people tend to be less afraid of their own mortality, which he equates to this type of yearning. “People who do feel anxious about death tend to be bigger consumers—shopping and eating can soothe that anxiety.”

In his 2017 book, Moss (who writes under a pen name) predicted that Hudson Yards would be “a dreamworld of exclusion,” with rarified zombie shoppers Instagramming their way through a set of global clichés. He worries that urban landscapes—particularly public spaces—are becoming increasingly homogenized, overly tidy, and heavily commodified, leaving less room than ever for the unexpected qualities and encounters that generate a sense of place, those interactions that Jane Jacobs eloquently called a “sidewalk ballet.” That our eyes are glued to our smartphones while we walk through them probably doesn’t help.

These are streets built for super-consumers, says Moss, and our pristine, new buildings literally and figuratively reflect us. On the other hand, he says, old, weathered buildings “remind us that we are mortal [and] vulnerable.” Demolishing brick and stone and replacing them with glass boxes, argues Moss, is a way of denying that vulnerability.

There have been other waypoints along the recent timeline of New York’s architectural nostalgia. The demolition of Penn Station in the mid-1960s has left many of us forever pining for McKim, Mead & White’s elegant arches and columns (even if the building had become decrepit and dysfunctional). The next two decades also dramatically changed neighborhoods and the city skyline. As municipal policies moved away from social democracy and increasingly incentivized corporate welfare and tourism, an era of gentrification began. (Hello, Trump Tower!) By the early aughts, New York itself was declared a “luxury product.”

By then, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, had left another indelible mark on our collective psychology. Suddenly, the entire country was nostalgic for the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, while New Yorkers began dissecting their emotional and physical relationships to the urban fabric.

Emily Hagopian
In under-resourced communities, the disproportionate investment in infrastructure for our punitive justice system illustrates how the built environment embodies many of our society’s gross inequities—but architects can help change this paradigm.

The reimagining of prisons and jails is a task in which the firm I co-founded with Kyle Rawlins is often asked to participate—and one that is a misguided use of our time and energy. In the last decade, books such as Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow (The New Press, 2010) and social justice movements like Black Lives Matter have helped to raise the country’s consciousness around mass incarceration and push us into an age of criminal justice reform. Though our country still has the world’s highest incarceration rate, jail admission rates have dropped by 25 percent since 2008, and national prison admission rates have come down by 24 percent since 2006, according to the 2018 Vera Institute of Justice report “The New Dynamics of Mass Incarceration.”

With the movement toward decarceration set in motion, we will need to address a series of pressing issues, including the planning and building of infrastructure, such as housing, in underinvested communities to which citizens are returning; the need to cultivate restorative reinvestments in these communities; and the adaptive reuse of defunct and vacant criminal justice infrastructure in our city centers and rural lands.

Policy Implications on the Built Environment
Little thought has been given to the role that the built environment plays in supporting the success of criminal justice policy changes and programs created to support decarceration. In California, for example, Assembly Bill 109, which supports early release from jail, and Proposition 47, which reduces penalties for certain lower-level drug and property offenses, have led to more citizens returning to their communities amid gentrification and—in cities like San Francisco and Oakland—a housing crisis. The scarcity of affordable housing have an already challenging transition back into society nearly impossible.

My firm is working with local black churches in Oakland, Calif., to transform their assets into re-entry infrastructure for released prisoners. For example, we’re turning a charter school building owned by the Center of Hope Community Church into the Hope Re-Entry Campus. There, up to 40 individuals will have access to job training, a place to spend time with families, and therapeutic resources as they find full-time employment and the necessary permanent housing to stay out of prison.

Obsolete Criminal Justice Infrastructure
The move to decarceration has led accordingly to closures of detention facilities. From 2011 to 2016, 94 state prisons and juvenile facilities were closed or announced imminent closure in more than 20 states, according to the Sentencing Project's 2016 report “Repurposing: New Beginnings for Closed Prisons.” New strategies for repositioning these facilities are required. For example, the population of the Atlanta City Detention Center has dropped from 1,314 detainees to about 100. Yet the nearly empty building still costs about $33 million annually to operate. Community activist groups, including the Racial Justice Action Center and Women on the Rise, are garnering local support to transform the structure into a center for freedom and wellness while advocating for policy shifts to release the remaining 100 detainees.

When facilities are not repurposed efficiently, they can lead to safety, public health, and economic concerns in the surrounding neighborhoods, with taxpayers footing the bill to cover their substantial operating costs. Or worse yet, the facilities may reopen as places of incarceration with the opportunity for restorative development lost.

"When facilities are not repurposed efficiently, they can lead to safety, public health, and economic concerns in the surrounding neighborhoods, with taxpayers footing the bill to cover their substantial operating costs. Or worse yet, the facilities may reopen as places of incarceration with the opportunity for restorative development lost."
Building Design + Construction
Generation Z learns and connects in unique ways. As they move from higher ed to the workplace, companies that depend on the productivity of a youthful workforce should take note.

I came to Hanbury in 2017, after designing and managing workplace interiors projects for more than a decade. So naturally, I've observed the higher ed students we design for through a slightly different lens—not just as students but as the next generation of knowledge workers. I can't help but think of how their unique behaviors and preferences will shape the workplaces to come.

Generation Z is heavily influenced by technology. Technology, although cultivating broad social and cultural connections through social networks, also sometimes creates isolation. In the learning environment, face to face interaction is key in developing a sense of commonality, purpose and learning. Collective learning, where students are taught to learn through group engagement helps to create a sense of community and adds to diversity of thought and experience. In keeping with this trend in the education sector, collaboration has also become the preferred method of working. Physical engagement and the "making of things" has become the foundation of educational process. Students gather with their peers in groups ranging from clusters of three to five and sometimes larger. When in large group learning, the group sizes ebb and flow as members break off into clusters to focus and engage, creating spontaneous interactions and opportunities for engagement, periodically rejoining the larger group for discussion.

Spaces that support this transitional collaboration require flexibility to turn large spaces into small spaces, and to connect small spaces into larger spaces. These amorphous spaces work best as casual environments that empower people to move and use furniture in ways that suit their particular needs at that moment.

Companies should consider furnishing office workspace with groupings of comfortable and easily movable pieces that can accommodate both smaller clusters and large groups. These spaces should also have plenty of opportunities to plug in as these gatherings often gravitate to where power is available. Depending on the nature of the work, places where clusters of people can mock up, prototype, and test their ideas might also be useful.

The education environment today is both physical and virtual. In universities today, I would wager that most students would consider YouTube as their secondary learning environment. Online classes and supplemented learning is increasingly common. Recent graduates are accustomed to taking their digital preferences and work progress with them from device to device, from office to car to home. Due to easy access to digital information, continual learning and augmented learning of class material outside the classroom is the norm. Just as students are learning everywhere, the young knowledge worker will have a fluid relationship with where work is done and information is acquired.

The cloud and the Internet of Things (IOT) are increasingly important to young workers. Hoteling desks feel instantly personalized when lighting, chairs and other connected devices automatically adjust to their pre-set preferences. As technology continues to improve, interconnected devices that read one's preferences, condition, location and interest will become ubiquitous in the work and home environment. Access to information from different devices and sources, untethered to a physical space, creates new opportunities for learning.

Turning inward for reflection, alone time and even recreation is part of the Gen Z culture. In large open spaces, students use headphones and goggle monitors (for Augmented Reality) to provide private focus in public environments, either for work or play. While accommodating the gaming preferences of young staffers may not be appropriate in a work setting, privacy is important. Small spaces separated by glass provide privacy and noise reduction while allowing a visual connection to what is happening in the collaborative spaces.

Work life balance is a driving force for Generation Z. The office is looked at as a place to gain autonomy, learning, social engagement and purpose. The trend to create spaces of play is being substituted with places of creativity, where making things and collaboration are promoted. Corporate recreation lounges of today may become less and less attractive as younger employees look to their offices a
Pablo Enriquez
Few occupations require as rigorous a set of academic courses and professional exams while promising so little by way of remuneration as architecture. And, for early-career architects, salaries can be precarious—and in some cases nonexistent—while emerging designers chase dream commissions, and prioritize prestige over pay when taking jobs.

Recent questions about the internship practices of this year’s Serpentine Gallery pavilion winner, Junya Ishigami, have again brought the topic of competition compensation to the fore. Shortly after the February announcement of Ishigami’s selection, designer Adam Nathaniel Furman circulated an image purporting to be a screenshot of an e-mail soliciting unpaid work at the firm. Although Ishigami’s office could not be reached for comment, the Serpentine Gallery later issued a statement requiring Ishigami to pay all those working on his commission for the annual summer pavilion. (The same issue arose in 2013 when fellow Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto won the Serpentine commission.)

In the United States, unpaid work is illegal. Federal law prohibits employment without a minimum wage, which varies from state to state, but student internships offer a loophole, allowing non-employee interns to receive on-the-job training or school credit in lieu of payment.

The AIA’s official stance on internship payment is as hard to pin down as its exact definition of an intern. “If you, as an AIA member, want to run for office or want to submit a project or your firm for an honor or award, you have to state that you do not employ, or have not employed, working students or unpaid interns,” said AIA deputy general counsel Terence F. Canela in a video for the organization. Beyond that, the AIA’s Code of Ethics requires its members to follow federal laws, which are murky on the subject at best.

Design competitions also remain a complex realm within the profession. Many offer more in the way of prestige and recognition than they do in prize money. Some open competitions are criticized for soliciting thousands of hours of design work with pay reserved for a small group of finalists. Other invited competitions offer build budgets and travel stipends, but leave employee overhead to be covered by the firms.

There’s no doubt in the mind of 2017 Young Architects Program (YAP) winner Jenny Sabin that designing Lumen for MoMA PS1’s annual summer pavilion is one of the biggest highlights of her career. According to the museum’s press office, the year Sabin won, the YAP began offering finalists $5,000 to develop their designs and produce an exhibition model; the ultimate winner receives an additional $15,000 toward design development, and $100,000 for build-out. But even with those designated funds, Sabin says that “part of the creative maneuvering of producing the design is finding ways to bolster the budget in support of the project.” YAP winners are not allowed to fund-raise, but “there are ways of thinking creatively around the budget,” Sabin tells record. “You have to organize a team of professionals, such as structural engineers and contractors, and because of the size of their companies, many of those people are able to do pro bono work.”

A relative newcomer on the American competition circuit originated with Exhibit Columbus, the annual program in Columbus, Indiana, celebrating art, architecture, and community. Named for the philanthropists who helped shape the city’s notable architectural legacy (in 30 square miles, one can find works by Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Cesar Pelli, Kevin Roche, I.M. Pei, and others) and meant to encourage the next generation of architectural creativity, the J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize offers $70,000 build budgets to each of five winners. But Richard McCoy, who is director of Landmark Columbus, the organization behind the Exhibit Columbus program, admits that organizers have never verified a firm’s accounting for Miller Prize–winning projects. “We offer to help the winners find local fabricators and people to build or work with them, and we’ve had a tremendous amount of in-kind donations to all of the installations,” McCoy tells record. “But I also recognize that some studios don’t view this as a profitable enterprise,” he adds. “They all do it for the love of the art, and because it’s a chance to experiment in an interesting context.”

While, generally,