Date: May 5, 2017
Location: District Architecture Center
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Carrie Parker, AIA LEED AP BD+C & Mary-Margaret Stacy, AIA LEED Green Assoc.
When the profession is more inclusive, our clients and communities benefit. A talented group of speakers shared their experiences in working toward a more balanced gender, socio-economic, and culturally diverse profession.
Kathryn Prigmore encouraged scholars to push for more diversity in practice and in leadership roles. Prigmore shared the story of the Reeves Municipal Center designed after the area sat vacant for two decades following the riots of 1968. The design process of the Reeves Municipal Center engaged the community and still hosts vibrant community activity today. “Communities are revitalized when you embrace diversity,” says Prigmore. She highlighted opportunities through the Women in Architecture series, and the AIA Women’s Leadership Summit.
Randy Steiner shared her experience defying coworker expectations working as a female architect in a time when that was rather uncommon. She encouraged scholars to look past our preconceived notions and stereotypes when looking to hire young designers. Steiner has a passion for teaching, a perfect combination of design and psychology. She founded to Coalition of Community College Architecture Programs and advocates for the diverse strengths and passions that community college students bring to the profession.
Dr. Whitney Austin Gray brought the unique perspective of a public health expert studying the effects of buildings on people’s wellbeing. Gray encouraged scholars to get comfortable in spaces where they don’t know the answers, and to push themselves to ask questions of those with varied backgrounds. Gray outlined the importance of prioritizing diversity of thought. She encouraged designers to create buildings that are welcoming to all, stating, “when you design for the minority it benefits everyone.” Gray sees health and wellness as an architecture topic that’s here to stay. She recommended investigating the WELL professional certification as a way to gain more insight on the topic.
Jason Winters shared his innovative approach to practice. As an young architect, he was once told that he’d need to choose between the firm, and family. In an attempt to create a better balance, he started Kezlo group. Kezlo Group sees the firm as including not only its employees, but the families of its employees as well. The firm encourages working remotely and prioritizes work life balance. Winters’ ideas about the changing practice are outlined in the article “Balancing Act: How Firms are Adapting to the Modern Employee.” As adjunct faculty at University of Maryland School of Architecture Planning and Preservation, and the Architecture and Interior Design Department at Anne Arundel Community College, Jason teaches his approach to design process. He enjoys teaching at University of Maryland as a creative outlet, and sees teaching as a great balance to project work in the office. In both school and practice, Winters helps foster a strong diversity of design ideas as well as a diversity of design platforms.
The Internet of Things, and a multitude of apps are combining to automate technical processes in many fields. Brad Lukanic discussed ways this will impact how we practice. Perhaps in the future, applications will calculate code compliance and provide layouts for things like bathrooms and stairs. He encouraged scholars to examine new typologies as workplace and housing models shift. Lukanic recommended that scholars find workplaces willing to let them take on large amounts of responsibility, and take the leap and move on if they weren’t getting what they needed from their current offices.
Carl Elefante, the 2018 AIA President, closed the session with an inspiring discussion on the future of the profession. He encouraged scholars to recognize that it’s design impact that matters, not just the design itself. We must show the value of our designs, and we must value our environment. Life cycle assessment tools are making it easier to evaluate the carbon impact of our proposed buildings and renovations. We must show empathy and work to create healthy built environments for all.
Thank you to CertainTeed Ceilings and Mosa for sponsoring the session.