CONTEXT - Fall 2022

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EDUCATION, DIVERSITY, AND JUSTICE Building Architectural Futures

Details from an interdisciplinary

FALL 2022
design studio at UPenn’s Weitzman’s School of Design .
Johns Hopkins Surburban Hospital; Batlimore, MD 540.341.4988 ACOUSTICS • AUDIOVISUAL • IT • SECURITY • THEATER SYSTEMS


Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107




Public Schools as Equity Infrastructure:

Interdisciplinary Design Studio at UPenn’s Weitzman School of Design. by Eduardo Rega Calvo

Leaders of the New School by Clifford Fordham

JADE: Fighting Inequality in Architectural Education by Rob Fleming

AIA Philadelphia | context | FALL 2022 1
Suggestions? Comments? Questions? Tell us what you think about the latest issue of CONTEXT magazine by emailing A member of the CONTEXT editorial committee will be sure to get back to you. FALL 2022 IN THIS
, we explore alternate architectural futures founded on education, diversity, and justice. DEPARTMENTS 13 EDITORS’ LETTER 14 COMMUNITY 18 UP CLOSE 34 DESIGN PROFILES ON
Cover Art by Eduardo Rega Calvo. CONTEXT is published by A Chapter of the American Institute of Architects 1218 Arch
The opinions expressed in this – or the representations made by advertisers, including copyrights and warranties, are not those of the editorial staff, publisher, AIA Philadelphia, or AIA Philadelphia’s Board of Directors. All rights reserved. Reproduction in part or whole without written permission is strictly prohibited. Postmaster: send change of address to AIA
1218 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107 Published SEPTEMBER 2022 EDUCATION, DIVERSITY, AND JUSTICE Building Architectural Futures UPenn’s Weitzman’s School of Design


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Kofi Boone Sara Bronin

Tara Dudley

Anna Dyson

Michael Fichman David Getsy

Rania Ghosn Steven Holl Rosanna Hu Mikyoung Kim Bryan C. Lee, Jr.

Melvin Marshall Ryan McNamara LiLy Milroy Na Mira

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Laura Wolf Powers Michael Schnuerle

Shuchi Talati

Vicky Tam Franca Trubiano Cecilia Vicuña

Ed Wall

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6 FALL 2021 | context | AIA Philadelphia Undergraduate | Graduate | Pre-College | Summer Intensives Study Architecture, Community Development, Facilities Planning, Landscape Architecture, City and Regional Planning, and more in an inspired, transformative learning environment.
The Design Excellence Award 2022 Honoring DRIFT Saturday, November 19 | 5:30 – 9 p.m. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Main Building For more info and to join Collab visit Ticket purchase required for lecture and party. Discount for members of Collab. presents Courtesy of DRIFT: Fragile Future (2007) for Moments of Connection, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, 2021. Photo by Henning Rogge.

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This year’s Forum will be held at the Center for Architecture and Design, 1218 Arch Street

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Jeff Goldstein, FAIA, President

Rob Fleming, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, President-Elect

Robert Shuman, AIA, LEED AP, Treasurer

Soha St. Juste, AIA, Past President

Rich Vilabrera, Jr., Assoc. AIA, Secretary

Brian Smiley, AIA, CDT, LEED BD+C, Director of Sustainability + Preservation

Phil Burkett, AIA, WELL AP, LEED AP NCARB, Director of Firm Culture + Prosperity

Erick Oskey, AIA, Director of Technology + Innovation

Erin Roark, AIA, LEED AP, Director of Equity, Diversity + Inclusion

Fátima Olivieri - Martínez, AIA, Director of Design

Kevin Malawski, AIA, LEED AP, Director of Advocacy

Fauzia Sadiq Garcia, Director of Education

Timothy A. Kerner, AIA, LEED AP, Director of Professional Development

Danielle DiLeo Kim, AIA, Director of Strategic Engagement

Michael Johns, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP, Director of Equitable Communities

Clarissa Kelsey, AIA, At-Large Director

Sophia Lee, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP B+C, At-Large Director

Scott Compton, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, AIA PA Representative

Mike Penzel, Assoc. AIA, Director of Philadelphia Emerging Architects

Ross Silverman, Assoc. AIA, LEED Green Associate, SEED, Director of Philadelphia Emerging Architects

Tya Winn, NOMA, LEED Green Associate, SEED, Public Member

Kenneth Johnson, Esq., MCP, AIA, NOMA, PhilaNOMA Representative

Rebecca Johnson, Executive Director



Harris M. Steinberg, FAIA, Drexel University

Todd Woodward, AIA, SMP Architects


David Brownlee, Ph.D., FSAH, University of Pennsylvania

Julie Bush, ASLA, Ground Reconsidered

Daryn Edwards, AIA, CICADA Architecture Planning

Clifton Fordham, RA, Temple University

Fauzia Sadiq Garcia, RA, Temple University

Timothy Kerner, AIA, Terra Studio

Milton Lau, AIA, BLT Architects

Jeff Pastva, AIA Scannapieco Development Corporation

Eli Storch, AIA, Looney Ricks Kiss

Franca Trubiano, PhD, University of Pennsylvania

David Zaiser, AIA, HDR


Rebecca Johnson, AIA Philadelphia Executive Director

Elizabeth Paul, Managing Editor

Jody Canford, Advertising Manager,

Anne Bigler,, Design Consultant

Laurie Churchman, Designlore, Art Director

12 FALL 2022 | context | AIA Philadelphia
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EDUCATION, DIVERSITY, AND JUSTICE Building Architectural Futures

FRANCA TRUBIANO, PhD, University of Pennsylvania CONTEXT Editor

CLIFTON FORDHAM, RA, Temple University CONTEXT Editor

We are fortunate to finally witness a substantial degree of interest in altering the course of architectural education in the twenty-first century. Schools across the region are instituting much needed changes in the organization and delivery of knowledge, information, and skill sets of service to future designers and builders of the built environment. Equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are amongst the productive benchmarks of much-needed revisions in the culture and content of architectural education. Whether of use when hiring new faculty, when promoting and tenuring existing faculty, or when setting student recruitment and financial aid goals, EDI initiatives have significantly con tributed to a re-evaluation of the values we hold when building architectural futures.

Indeed, EDI initiatives have impacted what we teach and how we teach. Studio briefs have been reinvented to introduce alternate voices, critical positions, collaborative engagements, and community input. Situated knowledge is valued and complex visioning encouraged. All of which contributes to important transformations in the definition of what is design. This issue of CONTEXT affords us a view into several such initiatives.

An interdisciplinary design studio at the Weitzman School of Design gathered architects, city planners, landscape architects, and artists, in collaboration with PennPraxis and West Phil adelphia High School to design “counter-hegemonic political imaginaries and future design projections.” An Opinion piece by Andrew Phillips, long time instructor at CHAD (The Charter High School for Architecture and Design), and current Chair of the School of Design at String Theory Schools, champions K-12 education founded on aspects of design thinking central to ‘maker’ cultures for students visually and spatially skilled in building. And the continued success of NOMA, (National Organization of Minority Architects) and its affiliates has empowered the creation of JADE-PHL (Justice Alliance in Design Education) and contributed to the professional development of our Up Close feature Tiffany Millner.

We share with you these early forays into alternate architectural futures founded on edu cation, diversity, and justice. We have much yet to accomplish.

AIA Philadelphia | context | FALL 2022 13

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Happy Fall 2022 everyone. This issue of CONTEXT is particularly special for us as our partner organization, the Center for Architecture and Design, is really focused on two major programs: DesignPhiladelphia and our Architecture and Design Education program, or as we are calling it ADE. The impact of design education on students — whether or not they pursue a career in design or a related field — is still significant. The research that Andrew Phillips teases here in this short piece is remarkable — design education in the K-12 space is beneficial beyond simple “career exposure.” The legacy of design education in Philadelphia is deep and broad, and we are excited to continue and expand that legacy, year after year.

This past summer we released an RFQ to hire an AIA Philadelphia member firm to complete a feasibility study and master plan for our home at 1218 Arch Street. That work will be completed by the end of this year and I look forward to sharing how the next version of the Center for Architecture and Design will focus on inviting the general public into our space in different and meaningful ways. It’s an exciting time – still lots of money to raise and work to do, but we are motivated to creating transformational change for the lives of young people in Philadelphia who participate in our programs and ultimately – for the profession.

This fall is full of opportunities for us to connect and to continue to work on Advancing Architecture and Design, Prioritizing Equity and Justice, and to Lead on Climate Action. I hope you will continue to engage with our community online and in person. Enjoy your fall and I wish you and your families health, happiness and safety this fall season.

AIA Philadelphia Center / Architecture + Design

School might have been out for the summer, but the Architecture and Design Education program was still in session. Partnering with several outside organizations to provide programs to campers, the ADE staff and volunteers were busy all summer long.

• CraftNOW Create and Philadelphia’s Department of Parks and Recreation

With two sessions covering the “gap” weeks in June and in August, ADE teamed up with CraftNOW to offer programming to Philadelphia Parks and Recreation summer camps.

• Portside Art Center and Fabric Workshop Museum

Portside Art Center brought summer campers to Arch Street to participate in programs hosted at Fabric Workshop and Museum and the Center for Architecture and Design.

• The Wondering Studio at the Oval XP

Using the Wondering Studio as an outdoor classroom, the ADE program hosted pop-up design education projects in the Imagination Space at the Oval XP.

• Lunch + Learns with Volunteers and Schoolteacher Discovery Meetings

In addition to all the summer programming, the ADE team hosted two lunch and learns to attract new design volunteers and a “discovery” meeting with schoolteachers in the fall session to find out how we can work together to make the ADE program successful.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for the ADE program or would like to find out more information, please contact our Director of Design Education, Michael Spain at

14 FALL 2022 | context | AIA Philadelphia COMMUNITY

The Forum on Architecture + Design will take place on November 9-11, 2022. Visit the AIA Philadelphia website for more information and to register. Early bird discount ends September 30. Let’s meet the keynotes anchoring this year’s programming

Angie Brooks, FAIA, LEED AP, BD+C, ENV SP

Angie Brooks is co-principal of the firm Brooks + Scarpa and a leader in the field of environmental and social-equity design and her firm has received over 200 major design awards. Angie was the first woman to win the AIA State of California Maybeck Award for exemplary achievement in architectural design and ‘a different kind of legacy’ as an advocate for issues that extend beyond buildings. Angie and her partner Larry recently received the 2022 AIA Gold Medal, the AIA’s highest honor, for their “pioneering brand of architecture that profoundly enriches the human experience.”

Felecia Davis

Felecia Davis, Associate Professor at the Stuckeman Center for Design Computing in the School of Architecture at Pennsylvania State University and the director of SOFTLAB@PSU, is also principal of FELECIADAVISTUDIO, a design firm recently awarded a 2022 Emerging Voices Award from the New York Architectural League. Featured by PBS in the Women in Science Profiles series and was part of the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition Reconstruction: Blackness and Architecture in America, her work in computational textiles questions how we live and she re-imagines how we might use textiles in our daily lives and in architecture.

Roberto de Leon, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP

Roberto de Leon is a partner and co-founder of de Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop (DPAW), a collaborative design studio focusing on public projects with a cultural, civic, or not-for-profit basis. His work is recognized for its contextual sensitivity, innovation in material applications, and the holistic integration of sustainable strategies rooted in regional specificity. His research operates at a range of scales and environments — both urban & rural — while exploring relationships between local & global building traditions. Roberto holds a Master In Architecture from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts In Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley.

Claire Weisz, FAIA

Founding partner of WXY, whose work as an architect and urbanist focuses on innovative approaches to public space, structures, and cities. Claire was awarded the Medal of Honor from AIANY in 2018 and was honored with the Women in Architecture Award by Architectural Record in 2019. Her firm, WXY, is globally recognized for its place-based approach to architecture, urban design, and planning, and has played a vital role in design thinking around resiliency. Among its award-winning projects are the SeaGlass Carousel and the Spring Street Garage / Salt Shed. In 2019 Fast Company named WXY one of the World’s Most Innovative Architecture Firms ”


DesignPhiladelphia runs October 12 – 23 with hubs at Cherry Street Pier and the Center for Architecture and Design (Center). After a smaller, but lively, 2021 COVID friendly comeback festival, 2022 promises to be a celebration of the local designers making an impaact on a regional, national, and international scale. Just over 100 programs and exhibits will be happening throughout the city and at the two hubs during the 12-day festival.

Here is a sampling of some of the can’t miss events, to see the full calendar and event details, please visit the DesignPhiladelphia website.

designers to transform public spaces that are not explicitly just for children, such as bus stops, libraries, and parks into hubs of playful learning.

The exhibition will showcase Playful Learning projects at both venues, Cherry Street Pier and the Center, with additional interactive experiences at Cherry Street Pier.


October 12 - 23, 2022 | Cherry Street Pier

This signature exhibition is a new spin on DesignPhiladelphia’s Best in Emerging Design competition. We’ve removed the competition and focused on inviting young and emerging designers to take advantage of prime public space to display their work. This year’s showcase includes furniture, lighting, landscape design, graphic and branding design, and floral design.


October 12 - 23, 2022 | Cherry Street Pier


October 12, 2022, 5:30 – 9:00 PM | Cherry Street Pier

Party attendees can see the launch of the Emerging Design and Playful Learning exhibitions and experience immersive installations by Jefferson, Drexel University, Temple University, Artesano Iron Works, Steelcase, Corporate Interiors, Designtex, American Institute of Architects, Philadelphia Chapter, Tuft the World, and more. Enjoy eating and drinking in the open-air venue on the Delaware River. The Kickoff Party raises critical dollars to support the year-long programming and planning of DesignPhiladelphia. General Admission, Student, and VIP Design Advocate tickets are available at


October 12 – October 23 | Cherry Street Pier and Center for Architecture and Design

The Center, with funding from the William Penn Foundation, is curating and installing a new exhibition that explores projects led and supported by the Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network (PLLAN). Using the five principles of how kids learn — make it fun, make it active, make it engaging, make it meaningful, and make it socially interactive — PLLAN has worked with community groups and

This signature exhibition is a new spin on DesignPhiladelphia’s Best in Emerging Design competition. We’ve removed the competition and focused on inviting young and emerging designers to take advantage of prime public space to display their work. This year’s showcase includes furniture, lighting, landscape design, graphic and branding design, and floral design.


October 15 – 16, 2022 | Cherry Street Pier

The 2022 edition of Kids Fest is sure to bring all the kids to the pier with workshops by Pal Socks, Fleisher Art Memorial, Stick-lets, Playful Modern Kids, Project Play, and Playful Learning. Workshops will be divided with programs suitable for younger children in the morning and while older children can participate in the afternoon.

16 FALL 2022 | context | AIA Philadelphia COMMUNITY
PHOTO: CHRIS KENDIG PHOTO: CHRIS KENDIG PHOTO: CFAD STAFF Design is Inclusive Exhibition and Panel DesignPhiladelphia

For many, fall in Philadelphia is marked by vibrant orange and yellow foliage. From the ginkgo trees in Laurel Hill Cemetery to the dogwoods at Bartram’s Garden, the colors signal a change in season, and remind us to look up and reflect on our physical environment. The changing colors of autumn also expose a less beautiful reality of the inequities that exist in our city. While many of Philadelphia’s higher income neighborhoods have tree canopies of 40% or higher, other less affluent areas have canopies of less than 10%. These unjust statistics, and many others, fuel the Community Design Collaborative’s commitment to expanding the reach of community-cen tered programs that utilize guiding principles in equitable design.

This fall, the Collaborative is thrilled to be implementing our new Strategic Plan and Roadmap. It represents a deep commitment to our mission: to partner with communities to envision the envi ronments where they live, work, play, and thrive. We’ve been hard at work defining precisely how we’ll do that, mapping out a strategic vision with specific initiatives and goals, and embedding our vision of equity by design in each objective.

The plan is built on three core principles:

Community Development

We support communities in designing and shaping their environments based on their visions for these spaces and, by extension, tackling the critical issues that matter to them.

Economic Development

We partner with community organizations in actualizing their economic development goals that promote neighborhood resilience and vitality.

Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

We advance design justice by recognizing inequity in design access, its impact on historically disenfranchised people, and the part we can play in shifting power back to communities.

From these principles, we’ve identified 35 initiatives that reflect input from our wide-ranging community: clients and partners, volunteers, and peer nonprofit organizations. They honor and build on the first 40 years of the Collaborative’s history of providing preliminary pro bono design services, creating engaging volunteer opportunities, and raising awareness about the role of design in amplifying resilient neighborhoods.

To take on our ambitious goals, we’re pleased to welcome new team members to the Collabo rative staff. Our expanded Design Services team now includes:

• Jesse Blitzstein, Economic Development Director

• Julia Marchetti, Program Manager, Design Services

• Diana Nguyen, Program Manager, Design Services

• U. Sean Vance, Consultant, Design Services

These exciting additions allow us to operationalize our implementation roadmap and roll out new volunteer opportunities. We look forward to collaborating with the design community to amplify the power of our neighbors in their own neighborhoods, and to advance equity through design.

AIA Philadelphia | context | FALL 2022 17 COMMUNITY
Jesse Blitzstein Julia Marchetti Diana Nguyen U. Sean Vance



There are just over 500 registered female black architects out of approximately 120,000 registered architects in the United States. As the 233rd registered female black architect, Tiffany Millner has a perspective on what it takes to be part of a rarefied group. Tiffany’s career, which has spanned the worlds of practice and service, has recently led to a leadership position at the AIA where she is Man aging Director of Knowledge and Strategies. Her journey in ar chitecture, mostly centered in Philadelphia, is both inspirational and informative.

A career in architecture is often predicated on a turning point. As a high school student in Linden, New Jersey, Tiffany was in terested in art and problem solving. She was also a musician in the school marching band when the drum-major said she wanted to go into architecture. Tiffany thought the idea of architecture sounded interesting and cool. Fortunately, a guidance counselor in her suburban high school suggested she take vocational classes including CAD. Positive experiences in those classes, led her to enroll at Temple University.

Transitioning to architecture school, particularly studio culture, was a culture shock. At school, Tiffany found that many women


and minorities lacked connections to summer jobs in industries relat ed to the built environment. To counter this, she forged friendships with other architecture students of color, forming an informal group called Aspiring Black Architects. Those social ties helped her manage the challenges of architecture school since the National Organization of Architecture Students (NOMAS) was not on campus at the time. In hindsight, Tiffany wishes she knew more about opportunities, like

internships, she was missing and how to build a network sooner.

During her final year at Temple, Tiffany was fortunate to land an internship with VITETTA, working in their healthcare studio. After graduating, she worked for two more years as an architec tural designer at the same firm, which entailed its own form of culture shock including a shortage of diversity. Work at a large firm was siloed, so she transitioned to a younger mid-sized firm now named JKRP Architects. The firm offered a wider variety of project work and the familiarity of graduates from Temple. Some projects were small enough that Tiffany was able to see them through from beginning to end. She grew quickly as an architect, including developing relationships with clients.

JKRP was involved in the ACE Mentor Program for high-school students. Tiffany signed on and became a Team Leader. Each of the fifteen weeks of the ACE program focused on a different phase of a project. Students might theorize a project, like in de sign school, or reimagine a project that was already happening in an office. Design-build projects were also created and funded. This provided experiences, and most importantly an opportunity for students to develop networks. They also learned soft skills that helps them engages with intimidating situations.

While Tiffany progressed in the firm and management respon sivities piled up, she became increasingly distanced from the activ ity of design. As the project manager for a commercial client, she developed the relationship and trained others to manage parts of the portfolio. The client insisted on working with one project manager, not Tiffany, and the firm obliged. (There was little dia logue about EDI at the time.) She ultimately realized a culture of delegation took her away from what made her most satisfied in practice. Following a long tradition of moonlighting in architec ture, Tiffany founded the design consultancy AUX Collective, and decided it was time to leave employment in practice.

The next phase of Tiffany’s career involved a full-time move to ACE Mentoring in Philadelphia. A couple of months after leaving the firm, the position of ACE Executive Director opened up and

18 FALL 2022 | context | AIA Philadelphia

she was hired. As Director, Tiffany developed relationships with firms, schools and champions within the schools. The effort was complicated by the fact that many schools in Philadelphia lack guidance counselors and that some students have after school family obligations. Working at ACE in a leadership role gave Tiffa ny freedom and allowed her to become a role-model. It allowed her the opportunity to apply what she had learned as an organizer and problem solver. The position also provided access to connec tions across traditional built environment disciplinary boundaries.

Throughout her career, Tiffany learned that architecture is slow to accept diversity compared to other fields. This has prompted her move to AIA National, where she is focused on developing path ways to the profession. Tiffany supports leadership preparation,

development and retention at the local, state, and national levels. This includes working with identity based affinity groups and other partners to curate the tools that have been already created, but are underutilized. She is also currently looking at how to find synergies that exist between EDI and climate action. Looking back, Tiffany believes in the value of an architectural degree, augmented with more professional exposure and networking experiences at school, as a foundation for fulfilling careers such as hers. n

Clifton Fordham, RA, NCARB is an Associate Professor at Temple University with over a decade of experience in the design and con struction industry. A graduate of the Yale School of Architecture, he has held positions in the offices of award winning firms including KieranTimberlake Associates, Voith & Mactavish Architects, Rafael Vinoly Architects and Genlser.

AIA Philadelphia | context | FALL 2022 19


In an on-line conversation held on May 27th, 2021, as part of the Strike MoMA Working Group, American activists and scholars Stefano Harney and Fred Moten discussed how universities and museums—as western gatekeepers of culture and knowledge—contribute to oppressive structures of power.1

Comparing these institutions to ‘shredding machines,’ Harney noted that they can turn co operatively produced knowledge into individu alized commodities. Considering this character ization, our interdisciplinary team of educators and students at the University of Pennsylvania, working alongside West Philadelphia commu nity members and local youth, asked whether a design studio that originates within the university can carve a space, however small, for rehearsing a reversal of this condition. Can pri vate institutions of higher education contribute to a sustained program of reparations to those who have been systematically marginalized, displaced, and dispossessed? What does a design studio at the Weitzman School of Design focused on education justice in Philadelphia look like, and how does it address, oppose, and reject the normalization of violence against its black, brown, and working-class neighbors? Can design studios interrupt, if only momen tarily the reproduction of power dynamics that typically delivers knowledge, disciplinary expertise, and skills one-directionally from teacher to student? 2 And, can design studios

refuse to reproduce the asymmetrical relations of a traditional corporate practice?

What follows are reflections on these questions via student work completed during a recent design studio titled Studio+, Public Schools as Equity Infrastructure, an advanced level interdisciplinary design studio held during spring 2022 and taught by architect Eduardo Rega Calvo, landscape architect Abdallah Tabet, and artist Ernel Martinez. The studio was part of a larger communi ty-engagement and interdisciplinary design initiative organized by PennPraxis, the center for applied research, outreach, and practice at the Weitzman School whose mission includes bringing together civic organizations, faculty, and students from all departments at the School of Design—Fine Arts (FNAR), Archi tecture (ARCH), City and Regional Planning (CPLN), Historic Preservation (HSPV), and Landscape Architecture (LARP).3

Course offerings, summer building and education programs for community youth, and work-study opportunities for Penn students are all part of PennPraxis initiatives.

The spring 2022 interdisciplinary design studio was inspired by and based on ongoing research conducted by Weitzman assistant professor in City Planning Akira Drake Rodri guez, whose course Planning Public Schools as Infrastructure (Fall 2021) introduced students to local organizations such as the Our City Our Schools (OCOS) Coalition, the Philadelphia Student Union, the Philadelphia Home and School Council (PHSC), and others, to develop planning recommendations and frameworks for the creation of a “Philadel phia Public Schools People’s Facilities Master Plan” (

Using the Peoples Movement Assembly Organizing Handbook developed by labor activist Ruben Garcia as inspiration for the studio’s methods, Studio+, Public Schools as Equity Infrastructure created a space to speculate, design, and rehearse a self-orga nized interdisciplinary agency and cooperative practice model for introducing the values of design justice in real-world design-build projects.4 Studio+ was at once a critical form of spatial practice, a vehicle for students, faculty, and outside collaborators to collectively imagine more equitable worlds, and a means for operating concretely and immediately while acknowledging the contradictions of working from within institutions adjacent to West Philadelphia’s disenfranchised population. The studio allied itself with diverse community or ganizers, teachers, and local youth to advance spatially determined social justice projects, in clusive of the large scale of systems, institutions,

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and infrastructures, of the neighborhood, and of built furniture and urban artifacts of use in and out of school buildings. Material implemen tation of Studio+ design projects took place during late spring and summer 2022, led by in terested students hired and supported through PennPraxis’s Design Fellows program.

The studio rehearsed an alternative design practice inspired by and reflective of egal itarian values and cooperative principles held by grassroots organizations and social justice movements [Figure 1]. It asked how we might embody the cooperative princi ples of social justice in our own practice as designers? How might we incorporate diverse backgrounds, disciplines, skills, struggles, and motivations for justice into the way we design and build together? The hope was that this search for answers would result in more thoughtful, multifaceted, complex, and relevant outcomes.

Seeking to meaningfully contribute to a collective project for justice, the studio prioritized standing in solidarity and estab lishing connections with social organizations within and beyond UPenn’s campus. These included grassroots initiatives and counter-in stitutions that have historically fought for justice and practiced equitable and collective world-building processes, including the North Philadelphia and West Philly Peace Parks, the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the New Africa Center, Youth United for Change, the Penn for PILOTS petition, and the Philadelphia Rent Control Coalition.5 These movements for justice inspired our political outlook and helped conceptualize our design strategies.

During the first four weeks of the course, and through weekly assemblies, studio members organically self-organized into three working groups. The first group, Education Justice, Outreach, and Communication was charged with formatting the studio’s research and design work for sharing with above mentioned organizations and movements. The second group, Design Engagement, developed and prepared the participatory design workshops held with local youth partners from West Philadelphia High School (WPHS). Lastly, Design Strategies, focused on translating the collective imaginaries of our participatory design workshops into compo nents of a design-build project destined for a

public school in West Philadelphia.

The studio used maps, dia grams, and other forms of spatial visualization to communicate various scales of socio-spatial research focused on the school district, corporate forces, private interests, and the history of classist and racist public policies in the neighborhood. The work critiqued structures of power that have con tributed to the disinvestment and closures of public schools in West Philadelphia, while it offered tools and methods for their dismantling. It focused on the presence of cooperative networks of mutual aid and resource redistri bution to avoid the design project becoming yet another tool for gentrification.

In parallel, the studio studied and devel oped tools and methods for participatory design with public-school students and teach ers. Teams of Weitzman students facilitated workshops on a weekly and bi-weekly basis alongside students enrolled in West Philadel phia High School’s Architecture Career and Technical Education program (CTE). Work

shops encouraged local youth to discuss how they experienced their neighborhood and its possible transformation, how design could become more accessible and democratic, how play could be used to acquire skills for design and spatial analysis (from measuring their environment to guerilla gardening), and how engaging in collaborative visioning sessions could help them express and give shape (via

1 Diagram of Studio+ working methods 5 Possibilist Porch


POSSIBILIST PORCH AND GREENHOUSE, PROJECT ONE: Ziying Huang (LARP), Pedro Medrano (ARCH), Jackson Plumlee (CPLN), Marissa Marie Sayers(CPLN), Youzi (Olivia) Xu (LARP).

GARDEN DESIGN AND BOOK, PROJECT TWO: Siran Chen (LARP), Kathryn Dunn (LARP), Elizabeth Servito (LARP), Catherine Valverde (LARP).


FURNITURE, PROJECT FOUR: Hadi El Kebbi (ARCH), Daniel Flinchbaugh (LARP), Jamaica Reese-Julien (ARCH+CPLN).

drawing, writing and collage) to their desires for transforming their school and neighbor hood [Figures 2, 3, above]

Following workshops with Architecture CTE teacher Ms. Jessica McCollum and her students, Studio+ translated collages, drawings, and con versations into a design-build strategy for the school. Interdisciplinary teams of students were formed to develop in greater depth four projects including a possibilist porch, a garden design, a ground mural, and outdoor furniture [overview, Figure 4, right]. As described by the first project team, the possibilist porch covering the opaque southern facade of the school’s gymnasium, “adapts the neighborhood porch into a social space at the transition of school and commu nity, offering a hub for gathering, refuge, and celebration at the school’s main entrance [shown at top of Figure 4 and inset, Figure 5]. The porch comprises three key spaces: a production greenhouse, an elevated wood deck, and a climate-controlled greenhouse. Together, they provide a flexible range of open to enclosed spaces as an expansive infrastructure for the school’s curriculum and events. The structures utilize different combinations of off-the-shelf greenhouse and scaffolding kit components and simple timber framing, allowing for a phased construction to expand and reconfigure spaces in tandem with the school’s programs and capacity.”6

The project’s simple assembly techniques means that students, teachers, and community members can all participate in the construction phase of the project, led by Penn Praxis Fellows during summer 2022.

The garden design project proposes a ground transformation and planting strategy along

the axis between 50th street and the school’s courtyard [Figure 4 bottom right] As described by team members: “A ramp from 50th street invites the community into the entryway garden and gives students a place to relax under the trees. The ramp runs between two retention basins, reinforces the existing cistern’s wall, and captures rainwater. The meandering path’s variable width allows for places of rest and congregation to explore the school-spirited planting and edible gardens. The courtyard integrates many native ornamental and edible plants, encouraging student exploration and curiosity. Integrating a workbook [below left, Figure 6] into the school’s curriculum, “Our Edible Garden, [... is a] guide for growing and harvesting food, cooking meals tied to local cul tures, and connecting with local food-oriented organizations. This workbook can be updated yearly as the garden evolves or can be adapted to neighboring school garden designs.”7

The third project addresses the hard surfaces of the school’s grounds, reconceived as a canvas and invitation to artistic expression for students and neighbors alike [bottom right, Figure 4] The graphic pattern of the ground mural de sign covers the asphalt and brick bringing co hesion to a driveway, parking lot, sidewalk, and courtyard. It also suggests with lines and marks that a parking lot can be a playground and a sports court, and that sidewalk and courtyard can act as a canvas for local youth to paint. The ground mural is also framed as a way-finding tool, giving “an indication of directions leading to points of access, entrances, garden features and the greenhouse.”8

The final project is focused on furniture, a fast, accessible, and rewarding scale to learn and practice design and construction at the 1:1 scale [inset below right, Figure 7] Furniture design exposes students to diverse fabrication techniques that include steel-pipe bending, concrete casting, and woodwork ing. These construction methods are easy to acquire, require simple fabrication tools, and contribute to building skills that can be applied within and beyond the school. They encourage a high degree of design-build agency in defining bent steel angles, concrete textures, formwork patterns, and wood treat ments. The design strategy facilitates a variety of combinations of modular units to enable multiple uses that include outdoor classrooms, eating areas, and spaces for gathering, per forming, assembling, rehearsing,

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and resting. Garden design, Project Two. 7 Furniture design, Project Four. SCHEMATICS: EDUARDO REGA, WEITZMAN SCHOOL OF DESIGN 2 Studio+ engagements with WPHS students. 3 Studio+ design and spatial analysis engagements with WPHS. 6 Edible Garden Workbook, 2 3 6

Modular units of furniture include benches, chairs, desks, and sunbeds.

All four design projects are meant as vehicles for learning-through-building. Thinking collaboratively about the steps needed to build the various design components was at the core of the studio’s design decisions and process. This impacted material selections, fabrication techniques, formal strategies and forms of rep resentation including the making of manuals for the various methods of construction and assem bly. The goal was not only to propose a series of structures, but to offer the building tools and fabrication skills for high school students, teachers, and Praxis summer fellows to build said structures during the summer. In addition, the studio proposed a 3-year plan that included a strategy for shared stewardship of the site by UPenn and West Philadelphia High School (WPHS), in support of a cooperative network for justice and equity in West Philadelphia.

Studio+, Public Schools as Equity Infra structure has created a space that combines diverse skills, interests, cultural, and disciplinary

backgrounds: a space that collectively draws counter-hegemonic political imaginaries and future design projections, that learns from so cial justice movements how to practice design differently, that operates both within and be yond the institution of the university, and that engages public schools in West Philadelphia in education justice. n

Studio+, launched during spring 2022, was taught by Abdallah Tabet (LARP), Eduardo Rega (ARCH) and Ernel Martinez (FNAR). The studio’s theme, Public Schools as Equity Infrastructure, was inspired and based on research conducted by City Planning assistant professor Akira Drake Rodriguez and on the content of her course Public Schools as Infrastructure. The building phase will follow the design studio in summer 2022. Studio+ is part of a series of annual studios, organized by PennPraxis’s executive director Ellen Neises, coordinated by Dyan Castro, and supported by the Weitzman School of Design and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships.


1. “A Conversation with Sandy Grande, Stefano Harney, Fred Moten, Jasbir Puar, and Dylan Rodriguez,” May 27, 2021 (1:47:15). Strike MoMA Working Group of IIAAF. 2:09:39.

2vzhwn-jy4s. See also Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, The Undercommons: fugitive planning & black study (Minor Compositions, 2013).

2. Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the oppressed. (New York: Herder and Herder, 1972).

3. PennPraxis ( is led by Ellen Neises (Professor of Practice in Landscape Architecture and Lori Kanter Tritsch Executive Director) and Dyan Castro (Architecture and Landscape Architecture graduate and coordinator of the Studio+initiative).

4. Ruben Garcia, Seth Markle, Foluke Nunn, Emery Wright, and Stephanie Guillord, Peoples Movement Assembly Organizing Handbook (2016), wp-content/uploads/2020/05/PMA-Handbook.pdf

5. See the following websites, https://www.,,, https://www.,,

6. Project description by Ziying Huang, Pedro Medrano, Jackson Plumlee, Marissa Marie Sayers, Youzi (Olivia) Xu

7. Project description by Siran Chen, Kathryn Dunn, Elizabeth Servito, Catherine Valverde.

8. Project description by Huiyi An, Yuhan Wang, Zhong (Clara) Xin

Parking segment of ground mural design, Project Three.

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4 Overall view of design components for WPHS projects.
Possibilist Porch and section, inset left, Project One. SCHEMATICS: EDUARDO
7 5 4
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Filigree House, MOTO Designshop


Philadelphia’s architectural lineage runs through Frank Furness, Paul Cret, Louis Kahn, Venturi, Scott Brown, and Kieran Timberlake. Now, DIGSAU, MOTO, and Bright Common are cementing their reputations as some of the leaders of the Philadelphia school of architecture. Like their predecessors, the principals of the three latter practices have strong connections with lo cal architecture schools as teachers. The editors of this issue asked principals of DIGSAU, MOTO and Bright Common their thoughts on issues related to architectural education and Philadelphia that they see impacting the practice of architecture going forward:

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS of the current state of architectural in Philadelphia? What distin guishes work in the city from work outside, and at the center vs. in the rest of the city?

[DIGSAU] There is a lot of in teresting work happening in Philadelphia right now. We are inspired by projects ranging from large scale urban initia tives such the Rebuild Program and the development of the Navy Yard, to adaptive reuse and preservation work building on the city’s rich architectural heritage. While Center City may be yielding many of the more conspicuous work, neighborhoods such West Philadelphia, North Phila delphia, Northern Liberties, and South Kensington have all seen a number of transformative projects. The proliferation of multi-family housing throughout the city has an uneven lev el of quality which, over time, may present some unforeseen issues. However, overall we are very enthusiastic about the current state of architecture in Philadelphia.

[MOTO] There is substantial construction going on in the center of the city. Much of it residential mid and high rise. It is an exciting time and there is a lot of ambition. Much of the projected work in west Philadelphia is substantial and driven by developers that have partnered with institutions, such as Drexel and Penn. There is some concern these projects have a generic architectural language. However, we have seen mo ments that have been gems, such as the Cira Green rooftop.

The opportunity for many of the projects outside of the center of the city is to address social spaces public space.

[BRIGHT COMMON] Philadelphia has a vibrant design scene with multiple subcultures. Its only when we started showing our work outside the city that we began to appreciate how uniquely inspiring it is to work in Philly’s [post-everything urban infill] context for the past few decades. We recently presented a net positive energy rowhouse development under construction and someone from Canada commented, “Wow, what’s in the water in Philly?!” There is an abundance of good work coming out of this place that is taking on both the climate and hous ing crises. We are finally seeing people make the connections between a holistic and healthy lifestyle and equitable, durable, beautiful, climate-conscious housing.

WHAT HAS CHANGED over the last decade that causes you to reassess the relationship between archi tecture and the academy?

[DIGSAU] Issues of equity, social jus tice and sustainability have clearly become much more critical over the past decade. Architecture sits in a unique place at the interface between society and the environ ment. As such, architects have amazing capacity to be advocates in addressing these issues. The focus of the academy needs to continue to shift towards pressing current issues and preparation of the next generation of architects to make an impact.

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[MOTO] There are a number of things. One of the great things I have seen is students’ sense of empowerment. This generation clearly understands the magnitude of the climate crisis. Additionally, their experience and required ability to handle significant extreme events, such as the pandemic, has forced them to think beyond the traditional approach to architecture. They are thinking, talking and reacting to real life world events. This has both made them more re silient and more aspirational. The academic world has at times pushed passed the accepted techniques and tools that practice employs. It is interesting that students come into practices with skills that are new to the practice. Things are changing so much and so quickly, even practicing architects from a decade ago feel behind at times.

[BRIGHT COMMON] The most obvious change is the long overdue social justice reckoning of 2020 and its intersection with the Climate Crisis. There is a widening delta between the rich and poor, with less and less access to the benefits that good design can bring to society. There is a disturbingly viral and disconnected nature to capital ‘A’ architecture which has colluded with wealth, “progress”, and political aloofness for decades. Philadelphia has a real opportunity to teach placebased resilient design as we face the reality that the climate has already changed and will continue to do so. And our activities as architects have contributed to this. As difficult as it is to look into that mirror, I believe the academy has an enormous oppor tunity (and responsibility) to radically reposition itself to educate a new generation of architects for the challenge that is already upon us. To do anything else seems almost comical.

WHAT QUALITIES do you seek in new hires? Please elaborate in “soft” and “hard”skills? Can you relate this to your teaching?

[DIGSAU] Hard skills, such as a com mand of digital tools for both visu alization and architectural produc tion remain an important quality in new employees, as is a sound un derstanding of construction tech nology. However, soft skills such as the ability to think critically and communicate effectively are perhaps the most essential. To be truly innovative, critical thinking entails being both a problem seeker and a problem solver. Effective communication entails listening as much, if not more, than it does speaking.

[MOTO] We look for people who can problem solve, while also being able to think conceptually, holistically and abstractly. We would call these soft skills. In regards to hard skills, we be lieve that if they have the above, in their approach and thinking, they can easily learn certain hard skills, such as Revit, graphic software, etc. We have always found that someone who has a good eye can learn the hard skills to necessary to be successful.

[BRIGHT COMMON] Curiosity, which is unteachable. Either you have it or you don’t. Those that have it can’t imagine not finding the new idea, the new version, the next material, etc. We also look for people who sketch, a lot, and have a lot of ideas to share. It takes dozens of terrible sketch es to get to anything worth talking about. It seems like some students don’t enjoy this process or are afraid to fail. Failure is the only way to success in design. Its iterative and messy. Digital technology has made this harder, but it’s just another

tool. Use the tool, don’t let the tools use you. This relates di rectly to collaboration. We believe that no individual’s work is precious, so allowing ideas to merge, to create something we could never have done alone, yields the best results. We also value critical thinking skills. An Architecture degree teaches you a process for solving problems. You will need to apply that ‘design process’ to every task. This is the core of design thinking. It cannot end when you graduate. It’s easy to say “this is how it’s always been done.” That’s not what the in dustry needs, and that’s exciting. Now more than ever there are opportunities to change the industry. It’s a great time for young people with new ideas to jump in.

HOW SHOULD RECENT graduates be equipped to make a difference, immediately and long term, with Philadelphia practice in mind? What should the academy do more of?

[DIGSAU] We believe that open ness to meaningfully engage ment across industries and within communities is vital to contem porary practice. Making a differ ence in addressing the pressing issues of our time will not be ac complished as solitary architectural acts. Architectural education should continue to build advocacy, expertise in sustainable design and dramatic carbon reduction, and encourage collabora tion throughout every level of the planning, design and con struction processes.

[MOTO] Students have the opportunity to make a differ ence immediately. Their skill sets, such as with augmented reality, virtual reality, facile abilities with multiple types of media, allow them to connect the profession to the current world and even help propel architecture into leadership in affecting bigger pictures, such as climate change. The acad emy should embrace the self-empowerment of this gen eration and continue to nurture it through embracing the necessary agility required to navigate continuously changing media and technology. This means making sure the make up of a faculty provides a balance of required knowledge but openness to different forms of media, information and speed of change that is inherently part of this generation of students.

[BRIGHT COMMON] The rudiments of design thinking and decision-making skills still need to be honed, preferably at the beginning, without the complexities of digital tech nology. Eighteen year-old brains need more development prior to diving headlong into AI, but technology is important in later years when students are less resistant to laziness. Academia needs to expose and prioritize students to real world design problems (e.g. carbon use reduction) at an earlier stage with a little less focus on the giants of mod ernism. We need to ask why sustainability, resiliency, climate consciousness, and poverty eradication aren’t the very DNA of an Architecture program post-2020. We all talk about the Architecture 2030 Challenge- that’s less than eight graduat ing classes from now! Design institutions need to radically address their curricula and syllabi to meet this challenge. And last but not least, we need full student loan debt for giveness. You cannot ask the next generation to solve for global warming when they’re saddled in lifetime debt. n

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PHOTOS: SAM ORBERTER, TOP. COURTESY OF DIGSAU, BOTTOM. Alone House, Bright Common, below. Bigham Leatherberry Wise Place, Digsau.


There is widespread agreement at schools of architecture that more needs to be done to address the long standing and devastating effects of social inequity in architecture education. Scores of talented students never graduate from accredited architecture schools and the profession of architecture. Fur thermore, students of color who can navigate through school find themselves once again facing the same challenges at work. There is little doubt that efforts have been made to address the situation. However, they often take the form of grandiose letters of com mitment to “do better”, defensive pronouncements at heated meetings with students, or one-off DEI events with little follow up. Even more robust moves such as recruiting more students and faculty of color are prone to failure because the root causes of the problem have not been systemically addressed. As a result, students and faculty of col or often find themselves in existential crises as they attempt to survive the gamut of microaggressions, indifference, outward hostility and marginalization. This is not an ab stract matter. Real people are struggling in real time. This reality requires deep levels of empathy, not just affective empathy which allows us to feel the pain of another, but cognitive empathy which allows us to assume the perspective of another person. It is the context that led to the creation of the Justice Alliance in Design Education (JADE-PHL).

JADE-PHL comprises seven Philadelphia Area Design Schools and seven Philadelphia area non-profits and industry associations. The alliance was formed in 2019, prior to the George Floyd killing, to address long standing issues of social inequity in architec

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AIA Philadelphia | context | FALL 2022 29 JADE PHL Phila. AIA Education Committee CCP Drexel PSU Temple Penn CMU TBD TJU PHILANOMA CFAD Architecture + Design Education ACE Mentors Green Building United Phila. AIA EDI Committee Franklin Institute Future Partner Seven Philadelphia Area Design Schools and seven Philadelphia area non-profits comprise JADE-PHL, an alliance formed in 2019.

ture schools. Founded by AIA board members

Tya Winn and Rob Fleming with strong support from the Philadelphia AIA, PhilaNOMA, The Center for Architecture and Design, and ACE Mentors, JADE-PHL is built to change systems and cultures in our schools that have denied or penalized people of color for generations. To date, over one-hundred academics, leaders and practitioners have attended at least one JADE-PHL meeting, with a core group of twenty-five consistent members who attend twice monthly meetings. Strong and consistent participation from area architecture schools has meant that the guiding principles, goals, and activities that were co-created, and agreed upon, have the potential to have real impact in the schools. An ambitious and permanent tactical plan was co-created and financially supported by all schools in the alliance.

This support has led to the launch of city-wide pro gramming to catalyze the cultural and structural changes needed in our schools. As a result of all the support, , JADE-PHL hosted a live studio based “Learn-in” in the Fall of 2021, delivered and developed by Dark Matter Uni versity. (Dark Matter University was founded to work in side and outside of existing systems to challenge, inform, and reshape our present world toward a better future.) The event garnered over five-hundred participants from the six schools. The second event, the first Annual JADEPHL Symposium signifies the culmination of two years of hard work to develop the first ever city-wide design stu dio. Before discussing that initiative, it is critical to look at some of the co-created key principles that underscore JADE-PHL.


Social equity has been addressed in design schools, but often as a reactive measure to brewing discontent, a sig nificant transgression, or perhaps the absence of BIPOC candidates for new faculty positions. School administra tors are often placed in the stressful position of being on the defensive, promising to be more sympathetic and do better. Reactive measures are better than nothing, but the positive effects are typically short lived, and often per ceived as hollow or inadequate responses to issues that are systemic in nature. In contrast, JADE-PHL is a proac tive initiative that started prior to the George Floyd kill ing. It continues to provide programming regardless of well-meaning, but inconsistent, efforts by administrators and faculty in design schools.


Second, JADE-PHL is a multicultural initiative. Rather than People of Color shouldering the burden of advocating for social equity, JADE-PHL reflects an important shift in that White leaders are actively and consistently working to part ner with BIPOC leaders in efforts to change the system. Of course, this is by no means a panacea. But an argument can, and should be made that conditions for students of color in primarily white design schools will never change unless White leaders serve as partners, and allies, to People of Color in the quest for social equity.


Third, a socially equitable learning environment benefits the entire architectural community. White students get to witness, and participate, in a process of creating a socially equitable school. This increases the likelihood that they will become active allies to BIPOC students. White faculty and White administrators set the tone for the levels of cultural competency in the schools. Now that some administrators have stepped up to provide consistent leadership in JADEPHL, conditions for authentic and meaningful change at these schools is more likely.


In May of 2022, the first annual JADE-PHL symposium was held. At the event, local community members shared their frustrations about the lack of a comprehensive reciprocity in broader initiatives. The pain and frustration that local com munities experience while working with architecture stu dios was conveyed. It was evident that a sense of reciprocity is missing, and that many studios end up being transaction al rather than transformative. There is often a short-term emphasis on issues of race, quickly followed by a reversion to focus on aesthetic expression and design resolution. Part of this problem is structural, with semesters being short, and the ever-present demand for product over process in schools. However, issues are also cultural since faculty and students engage communities with implicit biases.

We also heard from prominent professors of color (Ma ria Villalobos Hernandez from IIT, Rashida Ng from Penn and Craig Wilkins from Michigan) who have developed authen

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The Pathway to Architecture Philadelphia Version

tic community engagement studios. Some key takeaways from their panel session included an emphasis on process over product. For example, the need for balanced work effort across the entire semester, instead of in frenzied all-nighters; the need to host uncomfortable, but critical conversations with the students on race; and the need for architects to con sider their primary motivations as the advocacy for health, safety, and welfare over aesthetics. In short, proactive, and on-going DEI work in design schools can, and should ,play a critical role in shaping the curriculum. JADE-PHL is in a unique and strategic position to address this call to action.

The signature initiative of JADE-PHL is the creation of a city-wide design studio, dubbed Studio Jawn. It will launch in the Spring of 2023, with opportunities for all seven de sign schools to participate in a new community engagement model. Innovations will include opportunities for commu nities to request university participation in their plans, and financial support for community members and leaders. It will also embed a range of process-oriented tools to help stu dents build their empathic capabilities to address their own biases proactively and become a self-aware leader. Eventual ly, only after demonstrated success, Philadelphia can be mar keted as a destination city for design students interested in learning in an intentional city-wide community of students,

professors, staff, and administrators with a new goal of an intentional and imperfect community seeking to do better.

Ultimately, JADE-PHL is relatively new and has a lot to accomplish. There are also a host of other forms of bigotry and hatred that would benefit from similar efforts such as sexism, anti-Semitism, and LBTQ hate. Despite this, there are some examples of real impact. The authors of the Ed mund Bacon Competition engaged the JADE-PHL team to help reconsider the fundamental approach to commu nity-based competitions. Stewardson Competition leaders engaged with JADE-PHL to think more deeply about the inherent nature of the competition, which favors and re wards more privileged students. Perhaps most importantly, JADE-PHL is focused on forming a holistic approach embod ied in a kindergarten through practice pathway to architec ture. The figure above emerged from working with Michael Spain, from the Architecture + Design Education Program which is part of the Center for Architecture and Design. It reflects the goal of working across the continuum of design education to open more pathways for students of color to enter architecture schools and the profession. n

Rob Fleming, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP, LFA is the Director of Online Innovation at UPenn Weitzman School of Design and is a co-founder of JADE.

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Justice Alliance for Design Educaton



A problem is something met with which bars my passage.

It is before me in its entirety.

A mystery, on the other hand, is something in which I find myself caught up, and whose essence is therefore not before me in its entirety.

— Gabriel Marcel, Being and Having, 1949

The kind of making formerly found in art and shop classes, once a staple in American public K-12 education, has re-emerged within school classrooms. It has returned under the banners of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineer ing, Math), STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math), Project Based Learning, Makerspace, Design Thinking, and Design Education. Each of these pedagogies link design thinking with mak ing-centered technologies in situated communities of practice to weave complex patterns of explorative learning.

Twenty-first century skills are often referred to as ‘problem-solv ing’ skills, which require a fluidity and flexibility in how one ap proaches inquiry. They use an abductive mindset rather than a de ductive or inductive one. Instead of seeking a specific answer to resolve a stated problem, a problem-solving mindset nimbly seeks possible solutions, with the preferred response refined through it erative acts of inquiry and reflection. This is essentially the design thinking process, whose methodologies, advocates claim, build problem solving skills in students and teachers alike.

‘Design Education’ pedagogies, however, go further than merely deploying design thinking. They borrow from professional design practices and emulate their problem-finding processes to articulate ‘designerly stances’. British design researcher and educator Nigel Cross has written extensively about design education in his efforts to introduce its practices as a third academic platform in the British education system. In “Designerly Ways of Knowing,” Cross argues that design education complements traditional math/sciences and

humanities platforms while addressing a gap in teaching critical thinking skills. His term for describing this third problem-solving mindset, is ‘designerly ways of knowing’.1

It is my belief that re-designing education in the twenty-first cen tury benefits from incorporating acts of tangible making—drawing and modeling—like those practiced in the professional design fields. In these practices, making is more than part of the problem-solving process. It is the primary conduit for inquiry, evaluation, and commu nication. Its artifacts are externalized evidence of a thought process, produced within a situated culture, and reflective of investigative dialogues between a maker’s mind, hand, and eye. The material ar tifacts which result are thus imbued with thought, inscribed by the maker into the object through the act of making.

The US Secretary of Labor’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills developed a set of core competencies and dispositions, known as 21st Century Skills. They promote both engaged learning and problem-solving acumen, at the center of which are the ‘4 Cs’: crit ical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication. These prin ciples underpin multiple literacies including information manage ment, media and technology skills, flexibility, leadership, initiative, productivity, and social interaction. ‘Design Education’ advocates claim its methodologies and practices support student attainment of these competencies and dispositions because they are inherently transdisciplinary as they engage open-ended questions and ‘wicked problems’. Design Education is a signature pedagogy able to culti vate twenty-first century critical thinking skills. Its transdisciplinary curriculum is fundamentally different from cross-disciplinary curric ula, such as STEM and STEAM. These retain the separate teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math; however, a trans disciplinary curriculum is the point of origin, the center from which inquiries extend toward what needs to be learned and understood. Rather than a Venn diagram of overlapping interests, Design Educa tion is a hub, with spokes into other academic subject areas. Inquiry is driven by need rather than mandate.

For example, in my 8th grade applied arts class, students in

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terview an adult about a small, meaningful object. The students then proceed through a design process to create a container for this object. Over time, and through an iterative process of draw ing, sketching, and prototype model building, they encounter and address a host of criteria and problems: dimensions, fastening methods, material behaviors, physical and optical access, the story of opening and closing the container, making technologies (both analog and digital), and graphic representation. Each of these in quiries, in turn, extends toward an academic subject be it math, material science, biology and ergonomics, literacy, or technology.

Fortunately, during the last three decades, design thinking and education practices have emerged in several K-12 settings, including the Fallingwater Institute, design-ed ( org), Design Learning Network (, Design Research Society, and the Design Interest Group (DIG), a special interest member group within the National Art Education Associa tion (NAEA). All advocate for the capacity of Design Education to support the learning of 21st Century Skills. Yet, their message has not found broad acceptance in mainstream K-12 settings. In April 2021 the American Institute of Architects (AIA), recognizing both the need for a more diverse pipeline and the educational benefits of introducing the profession in K-12 settings, released two in formative guides targeting students and school counselors. Albeit useful, these guides offer young students limited direct experien tial understanding of the profession. Moreover, in the absence of more holistic guidelines, contemporary Design Education curricula remain local, ad hoc, and organic. Offerings are either an excep tion to the school’s main curriculum or a boutique pedagogy pro vided by external consultants, operating parallel but not integral to the standing school curriculum.

There is much enthusiasm for re-designing education by adopt ing design thinking, even if there remains a lack of clarity in how to do so. This makes existing programs vulnerable to a fate like CHAD’s (The Charter High School for Architecture + Design). Founded by the Philadelphia chapter of the AIA in 1999, CHAD’s mission was to increase the number of minorities in the design fields so that our professions might start to resemble the world at large, rather than remain a privileged, white, male dominated enclave. From the corner of 7th Street and Sansom Streets, for 20 years, CHAD served over 600 students annually from 53 zip codes. Teaching at CHAD for 11 years and as Director of Design Education, my faculty and I built a robust curriculum. Most students arrived in the 9th grade with no prior design experience; often their Philadelphia middle schools did not offer art. They arrived testing between 4th and 6th grade levels for math and literacy and CHAD was expected to elevate their proficiency to grade level. This insurmountable task was part of the Philadelphia School District’s ill-conceived rationale for closure.

Without portfolio or application requirements, many students did not enroll into CHAD for the design curriculum. Yet, thrust into a de sign-based curriculum, students discovered a different intelligence— that of their hands, found through making. By their senior year, students majored in Architecture, Fashion Design, Fine Art, Graphic

THE MOSH PIT. Miranda Davis and Santino Borgesi prepare their final models for dDay presentations. Kyla Fox and Kayla Goodwin finish fabrication on their container for a precious object. Frank Farmer, Simon Morris, and Michael Landy build exhibit panels for dDay. Julia Rudi and Samantha Di Angelo are also pictured. Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School, 21 May 2022.

Design, Industrial/Product Design, or Photography. They matricu lated into college design programs around the country, often with substantial financial aid or full scholarships. Alumni are now contrib uting members of society in or parallel to design professions: Quinta Brunson, of the acclaimed television series Abbott Elementary; Quil Lemons, celebrity and fashion photographer; Sean Canty, Assistant Professor of Architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

The Philadelphia School District (PSD) gave little credit to CHAD for fulfilling its equity-centered mission: to increase access to de sign education for immigrant communities and communities of color both of whom remain significantly. In 2020, mid-pandemic, the PSD closed CHAD, in part based on test scores. With the clos ing of CHAD, this access no longer exists in Philadelphia.

Should the K-12 design education movement continue to grow, which appears likely, engaging how best to integrate its practices and requirements into existing K-12 settings is essential. No wide ly accepted guidelines or frameworks exist in the United States for adopting design thinking and education in K-12. The workings of a typical secondary education, whose day is governed by class periods and bells, inhibits adoption of such practices. Because the benefits of design education remain unclear to those outside the field, it is un persuasive to the very schools and districts whose students may most gain from this way of learning. These impediments harm underresourced schools which perpetuate antiquated technocratic curricula and schools highly constrained by secondary education high-stakes testing. Clarifying its practices, illuminating design education’s pedagogical utility, and identifying impediments to broader adoption will enable a re-designing of education, offering more students the opportunity to think with their hands. n

1. Nigel Cross, “Designerly Ways of Knowing,” Design Studies, 1982 3 (4), 221-227.

Andrew Phillips is the Chair of the School of Design at Philadelphia Per forming Arts Charter School and was the Director of Design Education at the now defunct Charter High School for Architecture and Design.

AIA Philadelphia | context | SUMMER 2021 33

Erdy McHenry Architecture

The primary intervention erodes the plaza perimeter to reduce the tunnel-like ex perience of the underpass. Two small existing courtyards, formerly separated by a looming overpass, are united into a grand court that establishes a properly scaled entry plaza to the College of Liberal Arts. A transparent sculptural volume is in serted into the void of the plaza to connect the two campus levels with a major event space and lobby that serves as a primary gathering space for the College. An elevator, monumental stairways and a bleacher stair connect the street level to the elevated terrace above. Ultimately, this project presents a new, centralized event venue and activities hub for every student at the University while providing unique views of Temple’s iconic Bell Tower. Anderson Hall Lobby is visible from afar, offering a renewed prominence, and added functionality for a previously neglected part of campus. This new building at the College of Liberal Arts is at the center of the University’s student life and is designed to accommodate social, professional, educational, and community functions. n

34 FALL 2022 | context | AIA Philadelphia
PROJECT: Anderson Hall LOCATION: Philadelphia PA CLIENT: Temple University PROJECT SIZE: 10,000 sf PROJECT TEAM: Erdy McHenry Architecture (Architect) WRT (Landscape Architect) ENV (Structural Engineer) DEDC (MEP Engineer) BEAM ltd. (Lighting Consultant)



SMP Architects

SMP Architects collaborated with the Academy of Notre Dame to create a new Center for STEM Education in support of the school’s institutional mission and curriculum goals. The design sensitively responds to the traditional architecture of the historic campus while introducing a forward-looking facility that embraces 21st century science education. This vision strikes a creative balance between a focus on Notre Dame’s future, through con temporary active learning lab classrooms and team collaboration breakout spaces, and a strong respect for its past, in the contextual massing and materials. Anchoring the southern edge of campus to define a new academic quad, the facility is the cornerstone project in the realization of a new master plan. n

36 FALL 2022 | context | AIA Philadelphia
AIA Philadelphia | context | FALL 2022 37 PROJECT: Center for STEM Education LOCATION: Villanova, PA CLIENT: Academy of Notre Dame De Namur PROJECT SIZE: 33,000 sf PROJECT TEAM: SMP Architects (Architect) Viridian Landscape Studio (Landscape Architect) Momenee & Associates (Civil Engineer) CVM Engineers (Structural Engineer) Bruce E. Brooks & Associates (MEP Engineer) David Nelson & Associates (Lighting Consultant) Metropolitan Acoustics (Acoustic Consultant) HERA (Lab Planner)


Zimmerman Studio LLC

“A deep and lasting desire for learning, a willing ness to ask questions and pursue skeptical, inde pendent inquiry” is the mission of St. Andrews School of Delaware. This mission was at the fore front of the project team’s thoughts during the re-imagining of Amos Hall, a 29,000 sf science and math facility. Transformation, collaboration and connection were the tenets of the project. Amos Hall was in good condition but its organi zation reflected outdated learning methodologies and provided few spaces for informal learning. Zimmerman Studio LLC worked collaboratively with the faculty, students, and administration to develop a program that supported current and fu ture needs with a more flexible and active learning environment. The primary goal of the renovation was to provide students with an open, flexible and stimulating environment for academic and social engagement.

The reconfiguration inserts open corridors and flexible classrooms and laboratories within the footprint of the existing building. Using the same space more effectively resulted in areas dedicated to a variety of learning spaces. The reconfiguration created dedicated space for computer science, robotics, and collaborative project rooms in addition to laboratories and classrooms. Glass walls and partitions enhance a sense of community and put “science on dis play” at several scales. One long exterior wall was replaced with high-performance glass which brings views of the 2,200-acre campus into the building. Interior glazed partitions provide visual connections between spaces, to make science and math more accessible. Private faculty offices were replaced with shared departmental offices. This has in creased collaboration among faculty members and fostered a department-wide sense of purpose. n

PROJECT: Amos Hall Additions and Renovations

LOCATION: Middletown, DE

CLIENT: St. Andrew’s School of Delaware

PROJECT SIZE: 29,000 sf


Zimmerman Studio LLC (Architect and Interior Designer)

Ground Reconsidered (Landscape Architect)

Keast & Hood Company (Structural Engineer)

Entech Engineering (MEP Engineer)

KMK Technologies (Technology Consultant)

38 FALL 2022 | context | AIA Philadelphia

The Benchmark School Innovation Lab, also referred to as a makerspace or FabLab, is an educational facility optimized for the use of new tools and technology to enrich project develop ment and academic lessons, such as 3D modeling, visualization, and fabrication. The Innovation Lab is conceived of as a tool to pro mote inspiration, foster creativity, support collaborative approach



es, and enable problem-solving through trial, failure, and success.

An undulating, custom fabricated wood slat ceiling and ex terior metal cladding exemplify the ideals of such design pro cesses through the use of technology to innovatively and eco nomically customize everyday building materials in a dynamic manner. n

AIA Philadelphia | context | FALL 2022 39 PHOTOS: SH o P ARCHITECTS
PROJECT: Innovation Lab LOCATION: Media, PA CLIENT: Benchmark School PROJECT SIZE: 5,500 sf PROJECT TEAM: CICADA Architecture/Planning, Inc. (Architect-of-Record and Planner) SHoP Architects (Design Architect) Orndof and Associates (Structural Engineer) Bruce Brooks and Associates (MEP Engineer)
40 FALL 2022 | context | AIA Philadelphia H E A L T H C A R E E D U C A T I O N C O M M E R C I A L C O R P O R A T E I N S T I T U T I O N C O M M U N I T Y R E S E A R C H M A N U F A C T U R I N G C H E M I C A L / P R O C E S S 3 0 S . 1 7 t h S t r e e t S u i t e 8 3 0 P h i l a d e l p h i a , P A 1 9 0 2 6 2 6 7 8 0 4 7 2 8 6 w w w d e d c - e n g c o m Engineering, Design, and Consulting Commissioning Services (DEDC Cx) Engineering Evaluations Sustainable Design Energy Audits and Modeling Utility Master Planning Our Services (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Structural, Fire Protection)

Calling All Professionals in all Design Disciplines

1981, CFAD’s Architecture in Education program


School District of Philadelphia

deliver free programming

the value

and design.

Architecture and Design Education program relies on a dedicated group for volunteers to partner with classroom teachers

deliver high-quality educational content to K-12 students in the Philadelphia region.


AIA Philadelphia | context | FALL 2022 41 Proud to be a part of Anderson Hall providing consulting & supply of acoustical wood ceilings for 34 years Steve Schultheis (484) 885-9259/(800) 777-0220 Proud member of AIA, CSI, IIDA Your Single Source for Ceilings, Walls & Facades
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42 FALL 2022 | context | AIA Philadelphia Proud to be part of the design team for the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur STEM and Benchmark Innovation Center projects. © 2022 Halkin Mason Photography LLC HVAC Plumbing Electrical Life Safety Photo courtesy of SHoP Architects OCT. 12 - OCT. 23
AIA Philadelphia | context | FALL 2022 43 Presentation, Panel Discussion, Tour Designing a Remote First design philadelphia 2022 Headquarters Our panel will share the journey, strategies & challenges faced during the planning of Rite Aid's newly-unveiled Collaboration Center. Location: Rite Aid HQ The Navy Yard 1200 Intrepid Ave Philadelphia, PA 10.13.2022 4:30p - 6:30p Certified Glazing Contractors, Resources, and Education For All Interior and Exterior Glass Applications Learn why certified glazing contractors and craft workers make a difference.
44 FALL 2022 | context | AIA Philadelphia 938 Lincoln Avenue | Springfield, PA 19064 | | 610.328.5353 A third-generation, family-owned firm, W.S. Cumby Construction offers Construction Management, General Contractor, & Design Build services. Working in: • K-12 • Higher Ed • Religious • Historic Preservation • Non-Profit & The Arts • Country Club & Recreation Facilities • Multifamily Residential • Senior Living and Continuing Care • Private Residential • Corporate Rediscover the Many Benefits of Concrete Block. YOUR LOCAL CONCRETE PRODUCTS GROUP PRODUCER: Single Wythe Concrete Masonry is not only innovative, it’s also fire safe, affordable and beautiful. Visit our online Design Resource Center for the very latest in masonry design information - videos, BIM resources, design notes, and CAD and Revit® tools.
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