Batture Reciprocity vol. 6
founding editor Ursula Emery McClure, FAAR, AIA, LEED AP
editors Frank M. Bosworth, III, PhD and Marsha R. Cuddeback, AIA, LEED AP LSU Office of Community Design and Development copy editor Vincent Cellucci, LSU A+D CxC Studio Coordinator
graphic design The LSU Graphic Design Student Office Student Designers: Yifang Cao, Kyle Baker and Nick LeBlanc under the direction of Faculty Advisor Courtney Barr
acknowledgments The editors would like to acknowledge the generous support of Ken Carpenter, Interim Dean of the College of Art and Design, Louisiana State University, and Jori Ann Erdman, Director of the School of Architecture, Louisiana State University.
editorial and business correspondence Batture: The LSU School of Architecture Journal. LSU School of Architecture, 136 Atkinson Hall, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 70803.
photo credits Cover: Marsha R. Cuddeback Copyright ÂŠ2010 Batture: The LSU School of Architecture. ISBN 0-9761980-5-3. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by an electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
Batture Reciprocity vol. 6
The Louisiana State University School of Architecture and College of Art & Design are pleased to present the theme issue, Reciprocity. As always, the Batture presents discussions relevant to the current context of the built environment and Volume 6 betters that effort. It is no longer debatable that the relationship between humans and their environment (built and natural) is changing and changing fast. It is also clear that if humans are going to continue to thrive on the planet, the way we relate to the planet must change. We must occupy reciprocally creating a mutual state of dependence, action, or influence where we support and maintain Earth just as it has for our existence. The articles presented here discuss actions of reciprocity within the design profession through the lens of community engagement. From David Perkes we get a call to arms and an advocacy for inclusion and civil good. Kathleen Dorgan gives a historic overview and presents both the benefits and the difficulties of community design. Ross King provides us with a synthesized list of the necessary components to be considered and Lisa Abendroth and Bryan Bell through SEED present a tangible system of measuring such components. William Willoughby argues for the reciprocal relationship between universities and their communities and this argument is then substantiated by the University of IllinoisÂ’ ESLARP (Lawson and Tigan) and the Louisiana State University OCDD (Bosworth and Cuddeback.) Summarily, Vincent Cellucci takes us into the university and speaks of the reciprocity between student and teacher while Michael Pyatok takes us into the professional realm and presents a case study of reciprocity between architecture, government, community, and developer. In more than one of these articles, Dean Tom Fisher, College of Design at the University of Minnesota, is referenced for asking Whatâ€™s next? The environment is not the only challenge that communities face. Are there other ways that design could make significant contributions towards progress in the many challenges we face around the world? In the current issue of Batture, the theme of Reciprocity binds together ideas and works to address these questions. All of these essays speak to citizenry and the role design education and the profession can play in promoting inclusion, collective practice, active engagement, and a community with others. The architectural profession can play a critical role in the future of habitation on this planet and act as agents for the greater good and a more viable future. The question is will we participate?
Ursula Emery McClure
Contents Sustainable Urban Design Reconsidered
Architec(ul)ture, Identity & Justice
Kathleen A. Dorgan
Defining a Movement: The Imperative for Social Justice, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation in the Classroom and Beyond
Lisa Abendroth and Bryan Bell
With Purpose like Deep Water: Repossessing the Polis through University-Community Engagement
William T. Willoughby
The Role of â€˜Pre-Designâ€™: Expanding Architectural Services
The Reflective Community of Practice: A Model for Design Studio Teaching
Frank Maling Bosworth III and Marsha R. Cuddeback
Designing for the Long Haul: Approaches to Address Mutual Benefit in the East St. Louis Action Research Project
Laura Lawson and Jane Tigan
Uncertainty is not a Problem to be Solved. It is the Working Space of Our Time.
The Trial of Livelihood: Using Textual Representation in Design Presentations
Vincent A. Cellucci
Sustainable Urban Design Reconsidered Ross King University of Melbourne, Australia
The climate change debate of the past decade has transformed the sustainability discourse beyond previous recognition. The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, Hurricane Katrina of 2005, the expanding Gobi Desert and Al Gore conspire to instil both a new, terrifying urgency and a geopolitical reality. The December 2009 Copenhagen Conference may have been a fiasco; however, it has brilliantly highlighted two inescapable realities: Armageddon beckons, and political leaders will always be dependent on advancing the interests of their own constituents over those of some other politicians’ constituents. President Obama cannot surrender the interests of Wall Street; President Hu Jintao cannot surrender the legitimacy of the CCP. Copenhagen also highlighted that, whatever else, there will be funding to buy off the developing (and never to be developed) societies – $100 US billion annually seemed to be the initial offer. Much of the Copenhagen debate rotated around questions of international monitoring, in part to ensure compliance and in part to ensure that the money is ‘well spent’ – that is, spent according to the ideas (ideology) of the developed nations which provide that funding. The transformation of ‘Third World’
societies is presumably to meet twin objectives: to reduce carbon footprints of local communities, and to enable them to delay their inevitable destruction (sandbagging the Ganges delta, importing water for Sub-Saharan Africa). These objectives will run up against rival objectives of ruling regimes in the offending countries (to beautify their glorious capital rather than to tackle its energy use or the deprivation of its citizens, or perhaps a new executive jet for their revered leader). Both donor and recipient-state goals may over-ride those of the local community in the cyclone’s path. In 1999 I published a paper, “Sustainable Urban Design”, which set out thirteen ‘rules’ for the design of urban space in the light of then-current sustainability debates.1 Much of its material related to Southeast Asian communities, while economic and social sustainability was argued to depend on the sustaining of local cultural practices. Sustainable urban design was thus seen as inescapably to rest on local community practice. Certainly the global dimension was acknowledged: issues of greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, toxic and radioactive waste disposal were seen to enter the wider area of discourse and disputation and, in turn, to become potent weapons
Sustainable Urban Design Reconsidered
of cultural repression and Realpolitik. The contours of that disputation and Realpolitik at that time were unclear. Now, however, we have the lesson from Copenhagen. At the risk of caricature, Copenhagen can be seen to have revealed a world of four mutually opposed and irreconcilable spheres: (1) Europe and its Kyoto Protocol allies insist on mandatory limitations on all nation states; (2) the USA (with no allies, these days, but with Congressional recalcitrance and corporate resistance) might like to join Europe’s insistence but not unless China and India also accept mandatory reductions; (3) China, India and allies argue that it is now their turn for carbon fuelled economic growth and it is the developed world that has caused the problem and must now cure it; then (4) there is the rest of the undeveloped world, Tuvalu its unlikely champion, blaming the other three, insisting on massive reduction from all three and compensation. Certainly many in the undeveloped world waver between these groupings. All that is agreed, however, is that there are to be new funds (the US$100 billion annually) to be bestowed on undeveloped countries, variously to buy them off, to compensate them for foregoing industrialisation, and fortify them
against seemingly inevitable – and possibly catastrophic – climate change. This funding, and the inevitable controls and monitoring that will come with it, provides the new context in which community-based, sustainabilitydirected urban design is going to proceed, most immediately in the undeveloped world but also, more indirectly and no doubt resisted, in developed-world cities. What follows is a return to the lessons, guidelines, ‘rules’ for a sustainable urban design practice explored in the earlier paper. Now, however, my theme is the inevitable, perhaps catastrophic clash between (1) the ideology of developed-world donors and their controls and monitoring, (2) the cupidity and self-glorification of local regimes and (3) the interests, wisdom and beliefs of the local communities that are to be affected either by impositions or neglect in the new world order. Even in the most advanced industrialised societies, forms of this tension will be unavoidable. The thirteen points of my earlier paper will, in the following, be ten.
The first task of urban design must be to make ecological realities manifest. As I argued in the earlier paper, a sustainable city form will be one where special attention is paid to the ecology of its site and broader region. The starting point will be the topography and hydrology of the area: how the rain falls, then flows from the buildings and road surfaces to the natural stream lines, then to retarding ponds (perhaps wetlands) where it is slowed, then to the small creeks, rivers and away from the city. There may be a focus on restoring pre-urban hydrological regimes; there will certainly be a focus on water re-use. This system is the first “structure” of the city and should be emphasised in good urban design so that we are continually reminded of the ecology of the city and of its fragility. The second “structure” will be the natural patterns of vegetation in the area. And so on. City design must highlight nurturing rather than use.
It is difficult to find a city exhibiting such principles, although bits of many cities come close. Rivers have been cleaned up and linear riverside parks developed in a multiplicity of cities – in the 19th century Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River and Fairmount Park, the Boston Fens, as examples. Prodigiously wet, Singapore’s elaborate drainage systems are omnipresent and even threatening in most streets and housing estates, an eloquent reminder of identity, topography and ecological reality; then, however, they disappear into the mostly hidden canals, to proceed to the still frequently polluted rivers. Parts of inner Jakarta also have those deep street drains; there, however, the canals are often widely respected and well landscaped, only to vanish into murky, polluted rivers. Ecological processes – ecological sustainability – cannot be respected and valued unless clearly represented in the city itself. Bangkok’s khlongs (Canal) have all but vanished. In the rugged terrain of Kuala Lumpur, still one of the world’s greenest cities, the extraordinary system of rivulets and larger streams is scarcely visible. The examples could go on. The goal of ecological restoration will be compromised by ecological destabilisation: ecological restoration will not protect New Orleans from the next Katrina nor Beijing from the advancing desert. Nowhere is this dilemma more problematic than in Bangkok: the old khlong (canal) system has all but disappeared, replaced by large-scale hydrological engineering in a seemingly vain attempt to halt the advancing sea and save the city from sinking into the delta mud. The interests of local communities, however, are local and nostalgic – local restoration confronts global transformation.2
Physical sustainability is also bound up with appropriate design for climate, to achieve human comfort and amenity with minimal expenditure of energy. In very cold climates there will be imperatives for compact urban forms and minimised exposures; paradoxically there are likely to be similar requirements in hot arid zones, but also with careful use of landscape, water and evaporative cooling (so note the inappropriateness of the sprawl of Los Angeles); then, in the wet tropics, the requirements might be for greater openness, shading, the capturing of air movement and so on (and, in that context, note the absurdity of Bangkok’s modern, dense forms). The Malaysian architect Ken Yeang is notable for his architectural expressions appropriate to the climatic conditions of his region and compatible with Malaysian culture. His is decidedly abstracted architecture and some of his references are oblique. It seeks to represent Malaysian traditions, shifting them to a different plane, rather than in any sense to replicate them.3 Somewhat similarly, the Dutch architect Henri Maclaine Pont in the 1920s designed an extraordinary campus for Institut Teknologi Bandung that attempted a fusion of Western technology, Sundanese/Javanese craft and technique, indigenous forms that had previously evolved as local responses to climate, all brought together in a search for a new architecture appropriate to both local and global institutions. The work of both Yeang and Maclaine Pont would be labeled hybrid: these are examples, from different instances in the modern era, of cultural invasion. Bandung is from the colonialist Age of Empire, albeit by an architect profoundly respectful of the culture that he was nevertheless trying to transform. Yeang’s work is from the more problematic present and the headlong rush by all decolonised states to embrace the signs and architecture of the newer economic colonisation. Both in a sense represent a resistance to a trans-Atlantic architecture and, at least in part, a resistance in the name of climatic difference – more representation in the case of Yeang, more actual in the case of Maclaine Pont. We await the reverse cultural invasion, when a future regime of greenhouse gas reduction compels even the USA to curb its air conditioning addiction and Baton Rouge is drawn to derive lessons from architects such as Yeang and, more radically, from other hothumid traditions – Bangkok, perhaps.
Sustainable Urban Design Reconsidered
Economic sustainability of a city is ultimately dependent on the creation of employment that is productive, humanly fulfilling, rewarding to the individual and low in both impact and resource use. Education – the production and dissemination of knowledge in all its forms – and its contingent cultural production come most immediately to mind. Tourism can be viewed as a sub-set of such education and production, albeit liable to subvert and erode it but also, it must be noted, able to enliven it. Tourism can be a good employer; it can also be a major polluter and destroyer. Not least, it can destroy the cultural richness and authenticity on which it feeds. At one level there is the case of Bali. Its Samur Beach area comes close to paradise (though other parts certainly rival it): the sea, luxuriant forest, wild profusions of the most subtle orchids and savage, gaudy bougainvillea, other flowers without name only rivalled for colour by the street life, cottons, batiks, flags and banners of the linear village that backs on to the resorts that front the sea. And it is all fake: the “villagers” live elsewhere, the handicrafts come from factories that could be anywhere, the tourists swim in (or look at) the hotel swimming pools rather than the sea. It is indeed an urban design. Another example: the long-gone landscape of small-town USA is replicated in Disneyland’s Main Street, to have been replicated in turn in the rehabilitation of Santa Monica’s Third Street – never a small town! There is no pretence to authenticity nor, by the time we get to Third Street, is there pretence of distinctiveness. To return to the example of Bali, while the village is part hybrid (something of an original village certainly persists) and part simulacrum (like Disneyland), and while the resorts are totally fake, it is still problematic whether the globalisation of tourism and the commercialisation of culture has destroyed the latter or helped its survival. Perhaps, without tourism, it would always have been threatened by the attractions that come, seemingly inevitably, with globalisation. At another level one can cite Paris. Nowhere is the invasion more intense although, here, the effect is more transformation than simple erosion: the Parisian resistance changes both institutions and customs, as the French insist upon – exaggerate – their “difference.” It is doubtful whether, without tourism, we would have seen such shifts as those represented in the Centre Pompidou or the Parc de la Villette – both the work of outsiders. To grapple with the dilemmas of an environment that displays difference, makes it accessible, yet safeguards it and enables its social trajectory, remains one of the toughest tasks of urban design.
During the 1960s and 1970s there was an increasing awareness in the urban literature that present cities, at least in Western countries, are more usefully to be seen as patchworks or collages of dissimilar bits, jumbled and tangled, rather than as the highly ordered structures that urban planners had dreamed of and planned for through much of the 20th century.4 To a certain extent this was a paradigmatic shift in the ways in which urban space was being perceived and explained. However, there was also a gathering argument that the space itself was changing: the migration of new ethnic, income or age groups into old districts – in part the effects of globalisation and economic restructuring but also simply of the ageing of previous populations – saw increasing cultural diversity which in turn would cross-cut with the physical restructuring of new highways and other intrusions, the decay and closure of old industries, deterioration and renovations and redevelopments. It was in this apparently fragmenting city that artists’ colonies, enclaves of people seeking “alternative” lifestyles, and also newly disadvantages groups could take root and begin to use urban space in new, innovative ways that might suit their preferences and needs. It is important to note the vitality of cities that are centres of both education and artistic production – Paris in the 1890s and the 1920s, New York in the mid 20th century, Los Angeles more recently, are examples. Beijing, Bangkok, Yogyakarta and many others, of course, have had their great artistic ages. Such cities seem characterised by a rich diversity in their local institutions, by freedom in argumentation and debate and, of course, by the financial security of artists, teachers and critics that can come from the demand for their work and ideas – their music, paintings, folk art and craft, and writings. The design of the city needs to recognise the relative chaos and untidiness that seems to characterise such “colonies” or sectors of the city. The tourists will want to visit these sectors but they can also over-run them and the market thus created can lead to mass production and degradation, rather than to artistic development – to the loss of local identity rather than its enrichment. The recent history of Los Angeles’ Venice Beach is a case in point: whereas cheap rents and a comfortable seaside in part accounted for its initial attraction to the artistic colonisers and the accompanying cultural fringe (“freaks” and “weirdos”), the invasion signaled it for the tourists, and then for the gentrifiers. Hence the artistic community simply moved on – in part it dispersed and in part shrank into privacy. New York’s SoHo, the Paris Left Bank, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, and Melbourne’s Carlton, have all followed somewhat similar paths. It is imperative to recognise the fragmented nature of urban space in the modern (post-modern) city and thence the role of urban design in mediating that fragmentation – either to celebrate and enhance it or else to heal the rifts and conflicts that can accompany it (for example in tragically divided cities of the likes of Mostar, Beirut or Jerusalem).
A catastrophic effect of both the actuality and the perceptions of restructuring has been a focus, in both public policy and design, on “centres” rather than “peripheries.” Attention has gone to office districts, shopping malls, monuments and ceremonial spaces, casinos and exhibition centres, museums and convention halls, airports and celebratory boulevards and up-market housing. Ignored, however, have been precisely those fragments of the city where more ecologically and economically sustainable practices are likely to be able to take hold – the enclaves of the unemployed, the rust belts, working-class suburbs, rural-urban fringes and other “margins.”5 It is a blindness that would seem to characterise Beijing or Kuala Lumpur as much as it does Melbourne or Los Angeles. The task is to recognise the potential, in those more peripheral fragments of the city (and indeed in more peripheral, Third World cities), for experimentation in ecologically and economically sustainable practices, also to recognise the potential of local community action in that creativity. Yet these are likely to be precisely those locales targeted for restructuring according to the ideals of ‘others.’
A fundamental aim in the location of housing, employment and services must be to reduce dependence on the private car and thereby to reduce consumption of fossil fuels. Reduced congestion and reduced greenhouse gas emissions are further effects. Fossil fuel use will also be reduced by better road management: coordinated traffic-light systems (so that less time is spent at intersections and there is less accelerating out of them), a system of road and congestion pricing, restrictions on automobile access to particular parts of the city and reduced car-parking opportunities. It is worth observing the case of Singapore with its combination of occasionally good urban design to improve pedestrian amenity, allied with infrastructure investment (in rapid public transport, road systems and their management), strong pricing policies (of access, road space, car permits, and fuel) and regulations. It seems to have been a highly successful combination. A number of European cities are using such policies, also with some success. There will certainly be a universal need for differential pricing to favour public transport use over the automobile; there will also need to be enforced restrictions contradicting presently accepted community rights. Such measures will impact differentially on different classes and individuals and equity issues will come into contention – the question of environmental equity (global issues versus local and individual rights) will become a bed of thorns.
Implied in these various measures, partly as an enabling condition and partly as a consequence, is a focus on localisation. While there is the danger that a turn to small-scale, local enterprises can go against the advantages of economies of scale, nevertheless it is in local initiatives that innovations arise and cultural richness and diversity is to be found.6 An effective urban design needs to provide opportunities for such activities; it needs to recognise spatial diversity and, certainly, the actuality and the perception of fragmentation. Services to individuals and households (shopping, schooling, recreation, libraries etc.) need to be as locally accessible as possible and characterised by a process of continual diffusion rather than the seemingly inevitable concentration. The diffusion of Los Angeles, with both its great successes and its failures, needs to be noted: in one sense it is multi-centred (Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, LA, Pasadena, Anaheim, the Inland Empire); in another it is non-centred (the boulevards constitute its nearest claim to a comprehensible reality as Soja has argued, or the freeways as Banham has suggested).7 Soja also asserts, however, that Los Angeles is simultaneously the most dispersed but the most centrally controlled of cities. Another of the great dispersed cities has to be Jakarta – or is it at least two, mutually invading cities: a global metropolis of boulevards, flows, freeways, shopping malls but no “centres” in any conventionally urban sense, and a world of kampung (traditional villages) and a local street life that also knows no centres? These come near to being paradigm cases of the forms that localisation takes in the modern world. It seems an inevitable conclusion that urban design must favour the local – the self-containment and local difference of the Los Angeles suburb, the thriving life of the Jakarta kampung and a myriad other forms of the fragmented city. The designer’s strategies will be as different as the situations they confront. There are, though, counter arguments: as Homi Bhabha has observed, a celebration of cultural diversity or “multiculturalism” (apartheid at the extreme) could perpetuate divisions rather than unity, by insisting on “absolute and ontological relations between cultures”8. Another criticism has been well articulated by a character in Hanif Kureishi’s novel The Black Album: “there’s nothing more fashionable than outsiders”.9 Nor anything more fashionable than multiculturalism (certainly in Australia) and so the “marginal” becomes part of the “centre”; the city becomes a theatre of new appropriation and neo-colonialism. Once again, urban design is invariably caught up in the process of the formation (transformation) of local culture although now, postCopenhagen, under new constraints of global structures and monitoring.
Sustainable Urban Design Reconsidered
To encourage people to walk or use bicycles to go to local services rather than drive their cars to distant ones, it is necessary in urban planning and management to improve both safety and environmental conditions. The bicycle cultures of Shanghai, Beijing and so many Chinese (and other) cities need continually to be enhanced rather than, as at present, destroyed. The streets additionally must be handed back to women, children, the handicapped and the aged. They must be made safe and their small scale restored. Again the eye can turn to Jakarta – spectacular, surging with life, yet a contender for the title of the world’s most pedestrian-unfriendly city. One has only to look into the remnant villages of the urban kampung, or at such a chaotically, tumultuously alive urban street as Yogyakarta’s Malioboro, to understand something of Indonesian street life (the streets are the real living rooms); yet in Jakarta all this is obliterated on the city’s heartland streets (Jalan Thamrin, as example), as what were once four traffic lanes have been expanded to six, then eight, until finally what little pedestrian space remains becomes a speedway for motorbikes. Kuala Lumpur’s Jalan Sultan Ismail does retain footpaths (and trees) but they are broken and constantly intersected by the privileged driveways to hotels, office blocks and shopping malls. One can walk, but dangerously. Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Road, another of the world’s great urban thoroughfares, is a paradox: it retains its sidewalks, street stalls, hawkers, beggars, a riot of colours and aromas; however, it also has 15 metre stanchions holding up an elevated railway and the sidewalk shops and stalls contend with five-star hotels and corporate headquarters. It is nearly a case study in coexisting, multiple transport modes and rival economies, the local and the global. Singapore’s Orchard Road can also be cited: clean, orderly, a showcase of the good urban designer’s tricks, a pedestrian paradise, but no streetstalls, hawkers, nor mess. It could be anywhere (although the street trees are certainly distinctive). It is also appropriately linked to an excellent urban rail system – underground, this time. New street forms may well find models in these wonderful, chaotic streets of Asian cities or, for that matter, in the mess of Manhattan. Not, however, in the sterility of downtown Dallas.
Urban density is always important: higher density development can reduce demand for infrastructure (roads, water supply, drainage, sewerage, telecommunications etc.). However, higher density can be achieved by means other than high-rise apartment blocks and it is necessary to investigate building forms that seem most appropriate to local history, culture and present lifestyles. More important than density of people will be density and richness of activities (and thereby of opportunities). The implication is for highly complex mixes of “land uses”; so we come again to the extraordinary richness of Sukhumvit Road or Jalan Malioboro. There is another dimension to the urban density question. While higher densities might favour efficiency in infrastructure use and can favour reduced travel times and fuel use, they can also inhibit changes in land and building use. Lower density usually delivers “looser fit.” At the limit, lower residential densities can facilitate flexibility in land use, ease of building change and reuse, localised food and energy production and greater ease in the generation of local employment. So once more there are no simple rules.
This last point leads to the need to investigate and experiment with appropriate building forms (new forms of housing, new forms of mixed-use buildings, new places of employment, education etc.) and new street forms (more human in scale, safer, greener, leading to higher densities of activities and opportunities). University campuses must take on a special role here. These are the logical places for experimentation and example to the broader society, in both new building forms, ecological design, low energy use, etc. They are also the logical venues for the support of artists’ colonies, cultural debate and the defence of diversity, also for the linking of education with cultural production. This is an extension of point 3 above. Experiments in new building forms will not be unproblematic. Take the case of culturally appropriate housing forms. Old Beijing is notable for its grids of streets lined with grey-walled, grey-roofed, red-doored courtyard houses, expansive for the more affluent and more compact and higher density for the workers. Old Shanghai also had higher-density and mostly lower-class housing; however, by contrast, this was typically in long rows of brown-brick walk-up forms, of two and three storeys. Ideas of one might well be translated across to the other; yet those ideas will then take root in a world of altogether different cultural practices and ways of living. Both the translated idea and the new context will thereby be transformed. The result could be an exciting new housing form or it might be an absurd monstrosity. In the event, in both cities, it has been the same high-rise blocks, from anywhere and nowhere and foreign to both cities, that have been translated.
Arguably the most significant shift in the debates on architecture and urban design, over the last decades of the 20th century, are related to the urban conservation movement. Both academic and popular discourse and political confrontations have spread from issues of saving a historically significant building to concern for whole streets, or districts of some special character (perhaps to sustain local cultural practices), or individual buildings simply because they are old and interesting in an otherwise less interesting street. Especially in Europe, North America and Australia, this has led to a massive movement of building re-use: factories or old office blocks converted to housing or to mixed shopping and housing, factories or warehouses converted to offices or hotels as economic restructuring leaves industrial areas empty, old churches to houses or offices (or, in Melbourne, to mosques), and the list could go on.10 The result is a plethora of new building forms which might be seen as “experimental” almost by accident. They are, nevertheless, very important as experiments. In particular, new models emerge for the sustainable use of old streets and sections of cities and we get new, hybridised building forms, street forms and even district forms: urban conservation areas will be found in a wide range of cities. A common feature of such transformations is gentrification – the middle-class take-over of previously working-class domains: old culture might be lost (virtually the opposite of sustainability), while new populations with new aspirations will demand new services, design changes to streets, parks, schools, shopping areas and the like. The point is that an economically sustainable city is likely to be one of great and rapid cultural transformation that might indeed appear as the opposite of cultural sustainability.
Endnotes 1 Ross King, “Sustainable Urban Design.” Sustainable Cities in the 21st Century, ed. A.F. Foo & B. Yuen, (Singapore: National University of Singapore, 1999): 78-97.
The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (Oxford: Basil Blackwell) (1989).
2 On Bangkok see Ross King, “Bangkok space, and conditions of possibility.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 26, (2008): 315-337.
5 There are, of course, exceptions, represented in movements such as urban homesteading and community gardens. Attention could usefully be drawn to Rachel Bagley’s Philadelphia Community Rehabilitation Corporation, with its reappropriation of the decaying city for gardening, self-help and local employment literacy and reemployment programs. R.L. Bagby, “Daughters of growing things.” Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism, ed. I. Diamond & C.F. Orenstein, (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1990): 231-248.
3 Ross King, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya: Negotiating Urban Space in Malaysia (Honolulu: Hawai’i University Press) (2008). 4 Important texts in this debate are Michael Dear, “Postmodernism and Planning.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 4, (1984): 367-384; David Harvey,
Sustainable Urban Design Reconsidered
Finally... The argument emerging from these ten points, guidelines, questions was easily summarised. The dilemma of sustainable urban design resides in a tension between (1) the global imperative of a universal restructuring, in all nation states, of all aspects of life to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thereby to avert catastrophic climate change, and (2) the ultimate dependence of such universal transformation on local practice and creativity. This second element of the contradiction is confronted by the continual fragmentation of the local. Human genius flies apart; globalist agencies, however, imagine conformity.
Ross King is a Professorial Fellow in the Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne, and from 1995 to 2002 was Professor and Dean in that Faculty. The main area of empirical research has been urban property markets, specifically in Melbourne for the period from the 1930s. Market shifts have been observed in the context of economic and broader cultural changes and linked to changing ideas in architecture and the design of cities. This work is complemented by an interest in the nexus between architectural and urban design theory on the one hand, and social theory and literary criticism on the other; it has been summarised in his 1996 book Emancipating Space: Geography, Architecture and Urban Design (New York: Guilford). Subsequently the focus of both research and teaching has shifted to these and related issues in the specific context of East and Southeast Asia. The present focus of research is the question of contested identities in the cities of Asia, and the roles of urban planning, urban design and architecture in such contestations. The work is in large measure building on experiences as a frequent visitor to East and Southeast Asia. Present interests are research on Bangkok (“the Bangkok of everyday life”) and Kuala Lumpur. Relevant to the latter is the recently published Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya: Negotiating Urban Space in Malaysia (NUS Press and NIAS, 2008). A book, Reading Bangkok, is due for publication late 2010. A current project is a text on Asia and Utopia: “Dreams and Anti-dreams of Urban Asia.”
6 Ricoeur argues that it is in local culture that we find “the creative nucleus” on the basis of which we interpret life; so “[t]here is the paradox: how to become modern and to return to sources, how to revive an old, dormant civilisation and take part in universal civilisation”. Paul Ricoeur, “Universal civilisation and local cultures”, History and Truth, (Evanston: North-western University Press, 1965): 277.
8 The quotation is from Bart Moore-Gilbert, Postcolonial Theory: Contexts, Practices, Politics (London: Verso, 1997): 126.
7 Edward Soja, “Taking Los Angeles apart: some fragments of a critical human geography.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 4, (1986): 256-272; Reyner Banham, Los Angeles: Architecture of the Four Ecologies (Harmondsworth: Penguin: 1973).
10 An interesting text on these issues is Stewart Brand, How Buildings Learn: What Happens after they are Built (London: Phoenix Illustrated, 1997).
9 Hanif Kureishi, The Black Album (London: Faber, 1995): 145, cited in MooreGilbert, Postcolonial Theory, 198.
Architec(ul)ture, Identity & Justice Kathleen A. Dorgan, AIA, LEED AP
For a time I introduced myself as a â€œrecovering architectâ€? in order to acknowledge my addiction to the intoxic of designing and building new structures that are recognized by my peers. This focus on building and creating signature buildings is often at conflict with the real needs of clients, the public and the environment. In addition, the drive to build new signature buildings rather than to repair and retain often results in poor quality construction, sprawl, social isolation and unnecessary public and private expense. Although, Iâ€™ve re-embraced the title of architect and now proudly dangle AIA behind my name, I recognize that to an embarrassing extent I still define myself and my work through the antiquated and socially and environmentally unproductive measures of success that are employed by my peers and society as a whole. I am still struggling to fully internalize the justice-based measures of success employed by the public interest ethics of the community design movement. This struggle needs to be won in order for the promise of architecture and architects to make a difference to be fulfilled. Perhaps as no other time in the history of the United States, there is an opportunity for the
design professions to collaborate to solve contemporary challenges from the loss of social capital to global warming. However, in order to do so, designers will need to embrace a role as a member of an interdisciplinary team contributing to incremental sustainable change over time rather than that of a Howard-Roarklike author of an individual monument. As law enforcement has embraced the reduction in crime as a more important measure than spectacular arrests, and medicine has embraced health over heroic intervention; architecture must value sustainable communities over photo ops at groundbreakings. Future portfolios may include user satisfaction over time, mortgage repayment rates, and the evolution of neighborhood streetscapes rather than artistic photos taken before properties are occupied. New measures of success are required because too many of the structures constructed from drawings stamped by an architect, from production housing to malls to schools to public parks, are sadly recognizable to almost everyone within and outside of the profession as distinctly lower in quality by almost every measure than structures designed by architects a hundred years ago. Environmental degradation has hastened as cookie cutter
energy-wasting structures are scattered across seas of asphalt. It is difficult to identify with a profession that serves the interests of only 2% of the population and which often leaves issues of justice and equity to others. The disciplinary lens employed by the profession of architecture includes an undeniable disconnect between the generally professed commitments to environmental quality, high aesthetic standards, socially equitable impacts, and professional action, which is evidenced by the buildings constructed in each of our neighborhoods and municipal centers. Reform for the architectural profession will require reconceptualizing the way in which decisions about the built environment are considered and finalized. Fortunately, there is a legacy of engagement by activist architects that can be mined for lessons immediately applicable to all practice. Furthermore, there appears to be an emerging wide-scale interest in doing so as the environmental and social ramifications of design decisions become much more apparent to the general public. For the results of collective practice to improve, designers and their clients need to reform archi(cu)lture.
Architec(ul)ture, Identity & Justice
Pruitt-Igoe, 03 March 1968. Photograph Courtesy of the U. S. Geological Survey, Public Domain.
To understand the relationship between the profession of architecture and the public interest it is useful to review some of the history of the profession’s formal organization within the United States. Mary Woods’ From Craft to Profession, traces the difficult and ongoing struggle by architects to define and elevate their status through professional associations. It is not surprising that in 1889 when the Western Association of Architects (WAA) merged with the American Association of Architects (AIA) to pursue their mutual interest in government commissions “[t]hey validated only the traditional concept of architect as artist and planner on a grand scale and demeaned the modest incremental role architects might play in community welfare.” Although, there were modest experiments by the AIA and its members in providing services for an expanded constituency during the Great Depression including a plan book service for middle-income families and interdisciplinary planning for poor communities, interest in these programs effectively ended when the economy recovered. Again the AIA resumed its focus on establishing a professional monopoly for its members. Reoccurring charges against architects of elitism, restraint of trade and anti-democratic privilege were countered by claims of protection of the public health, safety and welfare. The practice of architecture was conceptualized as the search for a commission leading to a new building and ending at the completion of construction. The full implications of the tension between the commercial role of the architect as an agent of a private owner or a public agency, and their broader role as guardians of the public welfare, remained largely unexplored until the 1960s when young, primarily minority, architects began forming community design centers to work directly for and serve as vocal advocates for the civil and environmental rights of poor segregated communities. This movement was adopted by the AIA following Whitney Young’s convention speech and an internal struggle.
However, unlike other professions, such as medicine and law, which actively support public interest careers, architecture largely fails to recognize community design, the architectural equivalent of legal aid and public interest clinics, as a “real job,”or to embrace the role of activist. In 1970 AIA Chicago Chapter Executive Director Wilbert R. Hasbrook reminded his colleagues that architects as advocates “is not really new… From time immemorial every architect has practiced advocacy planning and design except in the case of the poor. If your designing a $100,000 residence [expensive at the time], you make damn sure the client has a big piece of the action; he states his requirements in no uncertain terms. But with the poor it hasn’t happened; the profession often seemed to take the position they didn’t know what was good for them.” The press and journals are also culpable for creating and maintaining inappropriate measures for architectural achievement by paying homage to projects that follow the latest “fashion” trends, while ignoring the impact of a structure on neighbors, users, and the environment. Andrezej Piotrowski, a scholar of representation and knowledge in architecture at the University of Minnesota, asserts that “[n]ew buildings are frequently designed to meet one primary requirement: to be photogenic. In these cases, instead of designing a building for the way people interact with it, an architect designs for, and benefits from, the effect the building’s image produces.” The “celebrity system” in architecture tends to elevate a few private practitioners that produce sculptural projects for established cultural institutions and wealthy individuals at the expense of other important forms of practice. As a result most decisions about the environment remain largely invisible in the media. Therefore, most of the construction in the places people live, work and play remains unexamined resulting in a detriment to both the profession and the public.
Architec(ul)ture, Identity & Justice
In considering the appropriate role for architects in reshaping policy and the environment, it is important to be mindful of both the promise and the hard lessons of mass housing developments and urban renewal that developed from the socially motivated concepts of the Congres International d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) and others. Architect and founding member LeCorbusier famously called for “Architecture or revolution” as he and his co-conspirators looked to overthrow a social order that relegated most of its members to slums and the few elite to entombment in stuffy cluttered drawing rooms. CIAM’s vision of a more equitable architecture grew out of progressive notions of the application of scientific methods to solving social problems. They advocated for an international style that would not discriminate on class, national origin or history, in contrast to the nationalistic approach of emerging fascist forces. The group’s theories for improving the quality of life also included segregating uses to mitigate the impact of industrial pollution and raising housing towers on platforms to create a secure oasis and accommodate the new convenience of the private auto. Aesthetic theory included eliminating ornament, expressing structure and honest use of simple materials. In many cases, this search for order and equity was translated to unrelenting sameness, sterile environments and spaces that instead of
belonging to the public became no man’s land. The CIAM design parti along with the more pragmatic interests of imitators in limiting costs and obtaining simple solutions to complex problems led to the construction of high rise towers in empty fields and the reshaping of cities in ways that are now considered to be disastrous. If theory had not become dogma, if early innovators had actually employed the scientific methods they espoused to measure the successes and failures of their experiments, and if there had been real opportunities for taking advantage of community knowledge during the design process, the legacy might have more closely matched the aspirations, and mainstream architecture might be engaged in continuing the quest for democratic design. However, instead of turning to reflection and systematic scientific analysis, the academy, the design press and the profession have recently chosen instead to largely ignore issues of justice. Neither Marxist philosopher Manfredo Tafuri’s dark analysis of the potential of architecture to achieve any social impact and his defense of “sublime uselessness” or environmental design proponent Amos Rapoport’s defense of an architecture based solely on research that argued “a good design may be one the designer personally hates – his tastes are totally irrelevant” provide encouragement to designers searching for the appropriate role
for activist practice. In contrast, the enticing call to an avant-gardism unbounded by political concerns “remains a primary and unquestioned path for much of architecture’s critical and practical elite.” For example, The Harvard Guide to Shopping, produced by starchitect Rem Koolhaas’s studio, accepts that “the twenty-first century will be remembered as the point where the urban could no longer be understood without shopping.” Ironically, while eschewing CIAM’s vision of the public role of architecture, the architectural establishment has embraced CIAM’s accomplishments in breaking barriers of convention and embracing light and openness, while ignoring its failures in shaping public spaces, accommodating diversity and responding to the users who inspired its creation. In turn, critics of
contemporary modernist design largely fail to acknowledge its successes and separate them from its failures. This compartmentalization precludes the dialogue that would allow true innovation and choice. Practitioners, who embrace an activist role, attribute past failures to a top-down approach in design, planning and policy. Participatory, transdisciplinary and reflective praxes are advanced as the solution to elevating socially motivated practice. However, even the adherents of a more nuanced incremental approach to community building are understandably tempted by simple replicable solutions that bypass the complex, multidisciplinary participatory process and long-term engagement.
The Community Design Ethos [Community design centers that assume responsibility for a neighborhood or other geographic jurisdiction.] As a result success is measured by incremental community improvement rather than by the publication of a specific building feature. Community designers generally rearrange the conventional steps and the players’ roles in the design process. Community members collectively participate in the explorations that lead to the discovery of the unique solutions that will meet community stakeholders’ needs and preferences and which can be achieved with resources that can be created through a collective community initiative. Community designers then work with community members to build the necessary partnerships to implement visions over time. In order to achieve these objectives, it is necessary to fuse community organizing, development, planning, architecture and landscape architecture.
The practice of community design is by its nature transdisciplinary. Techniques, strategies and theory are drawn from politics, education, communications, real estate, sociology, computer science, social work, engineering, ethics, environmental psychology, participatory art, mediation and an ever expanding circle of influences. Most community designers retain a sense of identity with the discipline within which they studied or obtained their professional qualifications. In fact, for a number of community design practitioners, this is their primary professional identity group. Most community designers think of community design as a movement, equating it with civil rights or environmentalism. However, none of the organizations supporting community design have ever had the kinds of resources needed to support that grand vision on a similar scale.
Architec(ul)ture, Identity & Justice
In sorting through contradictory theories of architectural advocacy, it is important to examine both an ethical framework for practice as well as the impacts of various practices on the practitioner and on society. The position of the ethical practitioner is based on the belief that each person benefits from their membership in society and therefore has a responsibility to contribute to the public good. The benefits that accrue to each citizen are true for professionals as well, as demonstrated by their special privileges to practice. In turn, professions, such as architecture, have a specific reciprocal responsibility to give back to society in the areas of their expertise and to continually evaluate the way in which their privilege is employed. Thus, collectively and individually, architects have a responsibility to envision and implement architecture in the public interest. Activist practices are a necessary element in the innovation and leadership necessary for the profession to meet these obligations. Yet, in undertaking these public obligations, it is also critical to acknowledge the limits of the profession and of an architectural or any disciplinary lens. The exclusive professional privileges enjoyed by licensed architects, and the resulting limitations imposed on those who do
not have access to the services of an architect, bring with them obligations. First there is a responsibility to ensure that the profession is open to all so that the best expertise is available to the community and that a full range of voices and experiences is brought to practice. Second, there is an obligation to develop deep specific knowledge within the profession. Third, systems must be established to ensure that those without financial or political capital are provided with access to architectural services. Finally, there is a responsibility to recognize the limits of training and “expertise.” Architects must welcome those with vernacular and other knowledge into decisionmaking. As Sharon Ergretta Sutton explains, “An enriched mission of architecture would emphasize process, embrace and build on its emerging intellectual foundations …and draw from other disciplines that have been working to develop the values and practices of a socially just multicultural society.” By embracing a leadership role, architects, with the support of the AIA and associated organizations, could translate the lessons of activist practices to a larger political and social agenda that could in turn improve the quality of life for all residents of the United States.
Evolving Community Design Practice?
Although the core of community design is the conversations within the community, community design has benefited from a rich dialog and interchange with and among the design and other professions. This exchange is valuable and increasingly blurs the lines between some of the most progressive and ethical conventional practices and the justice-based practice of community design. (One distinction is the transparency of community design vs. the proprietary nature of the private offices and proprietary not-for-profits.) Community designers have particularly benefited from the work of other socially motivated practitioners in the environmental, smart growth, and civil rights. In some cases economically motivated practitioners have adopted practices from community design, refined them and then passed them back to community design. Of course, in some cases this interchange results in the partial adoption of techniques and vocabulary from community design without its overarching commitment to the representation of those who face discrimination and other forms of injustice. Henry Sanoff warns that the term community design has been co-opted by “design of communities not design for communities… inclusionary techniques are appropriated for exclusion.” There is a growing practice of implementing faux community participation practices, which are actually advertising rather than deliberative informed community visioning and planning. Often these practices result in less rather than more justice for traditionally oppressed groups and the structures present a false sense of choice. Questions such as, ‘Do you want option ‘a’ with the units arranged in a crescent or ‘b’ with the rectangular common? Should the median strip decorated with brick pavers or wild roses?’ are substituted for explorations of larger questions. The availability of affordable housing, jobs, transportation, public housing and entrepreneurial opportunities may remain unexplored as community members involved in making trivial choices are distracted from pursuing real opportunities for community control and advancement. Too often those implementing the process for public input are not genuinely committed to long-term sustainability.
Professionals may be constrained in the choices they present by their developer client or their employment within a design firm with a narrow, some might even say formulistic, design palette. Others may be focusing on the requirements of a tenure committee, a course or a funder rather on those of the community. All projects have resource and time constraints. While some conflicts are unavoidable, it is important that architects work to understand and divulge those that apply. Sherry Arnstein’s Ladder of Citizen Participation is a valuable tool for practitioners to employ in reflecting on the level of engagement achieved within their projects. Equally important is making sure that all communities have access to education about alternatives for decision-making impacting the built environment and design advocacy. Finally, professionals must refuse to offer services in cases where they are asked to misrepresent impacts or available options. Ron Shiffman argues that community design is a discrete profession situated within the design professions, which is as valid for the investment of a career as any other, although not as financially rewarding as some. According to Shiffman, “the distinct character of community design is that it is participatory and pluralistic; practice includes a process of mutual dialog and education between practitioners and the community. Community designers must listen to and engage with everyone including minority voices. For example, by using the term NIMBY we give ourselves license not to listen to the people. We need to have clear open discussions about issues and the different ways in which different people interpret the same facts. One gains a greater understanding by talking to everyone. The best way to accomplish this changes place to place and within different cultures. Different communities have different ways of communicating and therefore need different languages and approaches. Real innovation comes after research and long-term evaluation.”
Architec(ul)ture, Identity & Justice
Beyond Community Design
Community design is not the only, nor should it be the only way in which design professionals committed to justice are involved in public service. In fact having good designers and design awareness in a variety of positions from political office to civil service to professional leadership to private practice is critical to the success of community design. The success in reconceptualizing the way in which federal buildings contribute to the landscape and communities required the leadership of architects at the GSA. There is a glaring deficit as designers have been drained from agencies such as HUD. Initiatives like the Design Advocacy Group of Philadelphia to create lively debate, commentary and journalism about the built environment complement the work of the Penn Praxis community design center. There is particular value to the exchange that results from careers like that of Maurice Cox, which includes engaged praxis, the mayoralty, teaching and a term as director of the Design Arts at the NEA. There is a need to support other designers in similar explorations and to make sure that the design arts are represented within the organizations where important decisions affecting cities, rural communities and the middle landscape are forged. In order to achieve the promise of community design practice and the design profession’s role in shaping the world, the profession needs to constantly assess and innovate in its work. The profession’s greatest gift – imagination – should be the starting point. A logical starting point or renewal is Ambassador Andrew Young’s keynote speech “Forty Years: The Anniversary of Whitney Young’s Presentation” to the Institute on May 17, 2008 in Boston. He confronted those in attendance with “an America divided on the haves and have nots” with “lonely islands of poverty in oceans of wealth” and our legacy of having “violated the planet for so long.” He reminded the assembly of our responsibility to the global village and especially to the needs of the continent of Africa.
He challenged that, “We’ve got to get our heads and hearts together.” Citing AIA president Marshall Purnell he asked the assembly, “Can you conceive of ways that we can conceive of a future that is inclusive?” Following the allocution Purnell reminded the gathering of those who “never had an opportunity to be touched by our art…” thereby seemingly reopening a dialog at the AIA about community design and those it was intended to engage. As an advocate for community design, the author is also aware of the limitations to current practices and the need to examine community design within a framework of the profession’s national commitment tied to a global need to follow more sustainable practices and achieve more systemic change quickly. Community design has proven capable of creating examples and models of excellence in both design and community development. However, we still have a very long way to go in order to have meaningful impact. The movement has failed to come to scale creating change that is of both high enough quality and large enough scope to matter. Until we figure out how to do this we cannot fulfill the profession’s obligations and promise. It is time to re-conceptualize community design in a way that will provide resources to all underserved communities instead of a few places and projects. We need to take seriously the evaluation of quality, quantity, process and continuity. In order to accomplish this goal we need to turn to new technologies and ideas. We have to be critical of our own work and invest in evaluation and measurement. BSA President and Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture winner Diane Georgopulos suggests that, “We need to freshen our outlook to spawn renovation and redevelopment. Young people have a different sense of social justice that is vastly underused. We need to reawaken the sensibilities that make our life joyful.”
Perhaps author J. K. Rowlings says it all:
“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”
Pruitt-Igoe Collapses. Photograph Courtesy of the U. S. Federal Government, Public Domain.
Endnotes 1 The author would like to thank Connie Chung and Jody Beck for their advice and counsel.
8 Rappoport, Amos, “The Invisible in Architecture”: An Environmental Behavior Studies Perspective.” In Invisible in Architecture, edited by Ole Bouman and Roemer van Toorn (1994) London:Academy Editions. 66-73.
2 Protagonist from Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead 3 Jack B. Fraser, “People Are the City: How Can Architects (Through Community Development/ Design Centers) Help Return It to Them?” Vital Questions (Washington D. C.: American Institute of Architects, 1969): 2.
9 Sharon Egretta Sutton. “Reinventing Professional Priviledge as Inclusivity: A Proposal for an Enriched Mission of Architecture” in The Discipline of Architectue (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2001):201. 10 Henry Sanoff, Interview, June 17, 2008.
4 Andrzej Piotrowski. “On the Practice of Representing and Knowing Architecture” in Andrzej Piotrowski and Julia Williams Robinson, Ed. The Discipline of Architecture, (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2001): 56. 5 Manfredo Tafuri. Architecture and Utopia: Design and Capitalist Development(Cambridge,MA: MIT Press, 1976): ix. 6 Rappoport, Amos Rappoport, “The Invisible in Architecture”: An Environmental Behavior Studies Perspective.” In Invisible in Architecture, edited by Ole Bouman and Roemer van Toorn (London:Academy Editions, 1994): 70. 7 Michael Stanton. “Disciplining Knowledge: Architecture between Cube and Frame” in The Discipline of Architecture Andrzej Piotrowski and Julia Williams Robinson, editors (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2001): 25.
11 Sherry Arnstein, “A Ladder of Citizen Participation,” Journal of the American Institute of Planners Vol. 8, No. 3(July 1969) in The City Reader, Third Edition, Richard T. Gates and Frederic Stout (eds) (New York: Routledge, 1996): 244-255.. 12 Ron Shiffman, Interview, July 1, 2008. 13 Interview Diane Georgopulos. 14 J. K. Rowlings. “The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination, (Harvard Magazine, 2008), http://harvardmagazine.com/go/jkrowling. html (accessed September 1, 2008).
Architec(ul)ture, Identity & Justice
Kathleen Dorgan, AIA, LEED-AP, principal of Dorgan Architecture & Planning in Storrs CT, and an adjunct member of the faculty at Roger Williams University, is a practitioner of comprehensive sustainable community development. Trained in architecture (Rensselaer) and urban planning (Pratt), she contributes to the development of incremental strategies for neighborhood-renewal and community-building. Her projects are featured in Good Neighbors: Affordable Family Housing, The Design Advisor, and Design Matters and the National Building Museum’s exhibit Affordable Housing: Designing an American Asset. Past-president of the Association for Community Design, her areas of expertise include participatory and green design. During a Loeb Fellowship she conducted research on community design. As a HUD Community Builder Fellow she coordinated Livability, University Partnerships, Homeownership, Healthy Homes, Brownfield Redevelopment and Smart Growth Initiatives. During her tenure as Executive Director of the Capitol Hill Improvement Corporation in Albany, NY, over 1500 buildings were renovated or constructed and a rich variety of programs for area residents and merchants were developed. Ms. Dorgan is active in volunteer groups and is a frequent speaker, instructor and writer about design and community renewal. She is a member of the Design School at Harvard’s Alumni Council and UMASS’ Architecture + Design Advisory Council.
Bibliography Bragg, Melvyn, Architecture and Power, In Our Time (October 31, 2002), BBC, http:// www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/inourtime_20021031.shtml, July 10.2008. Kostoff, Spiro,The Architect: Chapters in the History of the Profession (1977), New York: Oxford University Press. Lewis , Roger K., Architecture? A Candid Guide to the Profession Revised Edition (1998), Cambridge,MA: The MIT Press. Mehrhoff, W. Arthur, Community Design: A Team Approach to Dynamic Community Systems, Cities & Planning Series, Ed., Robert J. Waste, Margaret Wilder and Roger W. Caver, London: Sage Publications,1999. Piotrowski, Andrzej and Julia Williams Robinson, editors The Discipline of Architecture (2001) Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Rappoport, Amos, “The Invisible in Architecture: An Environmental Behavior Studies Perspective.” In Invisible in Architecture, edited by Ole Bouman and Roemer van
Toorn (1994), London: Academy Editions. 66-73. Toker, Zeynep, Recent trends in community design: the eminence of participation, Design Studies (2007), doi:10.1016/j.destud.2007.02.008. Woods, Mary N. From Craft to Profession: The Practice of Architecture in Nineteenth-Century America (1999), Berkley: University of California Press.
Defining a Movement: The imperative for social justice, economic development and environmental conservation in the classroom and beyond Lisa Abendroth and Bryan Bell
In March 2009 at the Converge Exchange Symposium in Chicago, Tom Fisher, President of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, posed this question: Are we creating a new profession in architecture to serve communities? He suggested that the required curriculum for accredited schools of architecture is so full that teaching the additional skills needed to effectively serve communities cannot fit. This conflict poses a great challenge to the current educators of architecture, and to the educators of all design professions. How can we revise what we teach to enable graduates to serve the greater community through design, in a way they are currently not prepared to do? This answer is anything but clear. However what is clear is that the current practice of architecture, of all the design professions, has failed to provide the value of design to the majority of the general public. Design has the potential to be a tool for communities to participate in shaping their own future, and in addressing their most critical challenges. However today most people consider design a luxury that they might pay a little more for order to make a building, clothing or an object more aesthetically pleasing. This perception of design is not the public’s fault, although many designers who are unwilling to take the responsibility for this lament that the public doesn’t understand the value of design. In fact it is the failure of designers to demonstrate a greater value of design. But changes in attitude and in actions show that this potential
can be realized. Only recently has the relationship between design and the environment been made clear, with the important result that both the public and designers are creating green design that no longer is part of the problem but is part of the solution. Green design—design that promotes environmentally conscious decision-making—has demonstrated to both the public and design professionals that design can be much more than a luxury service afforded only by the wealthiest. Change can happen quickly. Only ten years ago, the claim that the environment and design were connected was only a vague concept. What made the difference? First the term sustainability entered the public discourse. Sustainability is generally understood to mean the ability to endure. It can also refer to “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”1 Once this concept reached a critical understanding by the public, actionable tools were developed to understand the relevance of choices made and the positive or negative impact of design products. It was this act of evaluation with measurements that became important. These metrics used a standard ranking to rate the relationship between design products and the environment, with the primary example being LEED created by the US Green Building Council. This act of measuring results provided the accountability and standardized format that allowed green design to become a widely understood and used tool.
Defining a Movement
Butaro Hospital, Burera District looking north towards Uganda. Built by MASS Design Group, Partners In Health, and The Government of Rwanda.
A Global Movement The triple bottom line philosophy is part of a worldwide movement. The breadth of this movement is demonstrated by the European Union that formulated “three pillars of sustainability” at its Copenhagen Summit and with the Treaty of Amsterdam of 1997. “Known as the ‘three-pillar model of sustainability’, the principle states that sustainability not only comprises the natural heritage we pass on to the next generation but also the economic achievements and social institutions of our society... Sustainable development thus rests on an ecological, an economic and a social pillar. If one of the pillars gives way, the ‘sustainability building’ will collapse.” 2 The mission further supports the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for 2015 and directives under the U.N. Division for Sustainable Development, which broadly envisions increased awareness of and access to quality of life essentials such as water, energy, food, education and healthcare among other critical issues.3, 4 With the belief that design
can be a part of this movement, and play a valuable role in addressing the triple bottom line, the organization Social Economic Environmental Design—SEED—was founded during a meeting in 2005 at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Architects, designers, and other diverse experts convened to evaluate how design could respond to the triple bottom line call to action. Representing over 100 organizations, these design advocates and social activists were determined to strengthen the role of design in low-wealth communities that struggle with a myriad of challenges. From this initial meeting emerged the SEED Network. Five subsequent meetings held around the United States with open participation, have shaped SEED into what it is today. SEED believes truly life-changing design happens when society, economics, and environment are engaged in an integrated and cohesive gestalt that positively promotes healthy development and long-term sustainability of community.
Photo Credit: Garret Gantner
Photo Credit: Ebberly Straithairn
creating meaningful solutions to profound problems? Employment, disease, and access to safe drinking water are examples of other issues that are as critical as the preservation of our environment. In fact, every community faces a unique combination of challenges—social, economic as well as environmental. Together these are known as the triple bottom line of sustainability and it is this very concept that is shaping an entire movement devoted to positive change.
Photo Credit: Ebberly Straithairn
With this success, some contemporary designers as well as leading educators such as Tom Fisher are asking the question: What’s next? The environment is not the only challenge that communities face. Are there other ways that design could make significant contributions towards progress in the many challenges we face around the world? When assessing design’s contribution to people’s lives, are not social justice, economic development and environmental conservation equally significant in
SEED’s mission is to advance the right of every person to live in a socially, economically and environmentally healthy community. Thus SEED connects the growing community design movement with this triple bottom line approach. In so doing, it allows at the onset of a project for more effective multi-disciplinary collaboration. Terms such as “community design” and “public interest architecture” are less effective in communicating the goals of those activities. Alternatively, the SEED name states unambiguously and explicitly that design is integral to the myriad of issues and challenges people face on a daily basis.
SEED encourages a holistic approach when looking comprehensively at the social, economic and environmental health of a community design project. SEED guides communities in the prioritization of actions stemming from the needs and goals they face. It can also allow communities to seek out or develop a project that can meet several needs at once, for example education and job creation, or hunger and affordable housing. When these needs are addressed separately, a community fails to use often-limited resources most effectively for the greatest impact. An integrated approach however can create opportunities for multi-leveled outcomes that serve a variety of strategic needs.
The following describes SEED issues and goals. 5 S.
Social issues relate to matters affecting human welfare. SEED seeks social equity through a design process that recognizes diverse values and social identities.
Social issues that are design related include: Empowerment, Political Activity, Political Planning and Policy, Freedom, Equality, Education, Women/Gender/Marginalized Groups, Human Rights, Civic Engagement, Equity, Strengthening Community, Prejudice/Discrimination, Empowerment, Crime and Safety; Accessibility and Mobility; Water, Water Access, Water Management, Rain Water Management; Housing/Shelter, Emergency, Transitional, Permanent, Homelessness; Health, Well-Being, Wellness, Food Security/Hunger, Organic Gardening, Green Gardening; Education, Learning; Child Care, Elder Care; Cultural Heritage, Local Identity; Gathering Spaces, Recreation/Play. Economic issues relate to the production, development and management of material wealth. SEED seeks economic vitality for communities through projects that build and retain value in local communities. Economic issues that are design related include: Employment, Job Security, Job Training, and Living Wages; Cooperative Ownership, Green Collar Jobs; Access to Mainstream Financing, Micro Lending, Debt Relief; Access to Products, Access to Services; Economic Education and Training, Business Training, Entrepreneurship, Enterprise; Economic Development; Affordable Housing. E.
Environmental issues relate to external elements that affect and influence the physical health of living organisms. E. SEED seeks environmental stewardship through designs, which conserve resources and minimize waste. Environmental issues that are design related include: Public Transportation; Biodiversity, Alternative Energy, Green Energy, Access to Energy; Sanitation; Environmental Sustainability, Functional Eco-systems, Access to Nature, Conscious Consumption, Smart Growth, Local Sourcing, Preservation of Nature, Preservation of Wildlife, Other Environmental Metrics: LEED, Energy Star; and Environmental Education. D. Design is a tool that allows people to be involved in the decisions that shape their lives. Used sensitively, communities can engage in a design process of participatory decision making to build consensus, establish their priorities, and defines their goals. While aesthetics can be a factor in the positive results of a design product, it is specifically the public participation in design that is measured in the SEED evaluation.
Defining a Movement
A Usable Framework for Design Education How are the SEED issues and goals above made into useable tools that transcend professional practice and the needs of design pedagogy? How can educators specifically leverage the SEED methodology for purposes of â€œbest practicesâ€? and precedents that allow for a common language with which to evaluate design results towards social, economic and environmental goals? How can SEED facilitate communication with communities so that a participatory design process is honored? Internalized discussion with inaccessible jargon is unacceptable if the field is to become inclusive and serve the greater public. These questions address many of the same concerns plaguing both professional practice and education across the fields of design. While the SEED methodology was originally created with the design professional and local community in mind, it is possible to consider it in a framework that would inform pedagogy. The design
process (see Planning a SEED Project below) and imperative for inclusivity, working with marginalized audiences, identifying critical issues that are balanced by triple bottom line considerations, research and data collection, setting benchmarks and measuring performance resultsâ€”all point to a different type of design profession. In order to create change tomorrow, we need to suggest a useable framework today. Students and educators may in fact provide the most direct and immediate impact of the change and the SEED methodology is responsive to that need. The SEED Network, along with the authors of this article and Eric Field at the University of Virginia, has crafted design project evaluation tools that empower both designers and communities via shared knowledge. This webbased communication tool, called the SEED Evaluator, allows communities and a design team to define goals for design projects and then measure the success in achieving those goals. This open structure allows for participatory conversations around project planning between the project leads and those being served in the community. The SEED Evaluator tool provides criteria for the measurement of success in achieving stated triple bottom line goals. This tool presents a method and framework for pursuing projects that require a balanced vision for developing work that is in tune with desired social, economic and environmental outcomes. It offers the means to shape an informed practice where the requirement for multiple levels of success in a project is imperative. This is often the very type of engagement required within the rigors of an educational setting. Completion of the SEED Evaluator can lead to the SEED Certification process, which allows communities to develop their leadership and
Durham Performing Arts Center, City of Durham. Szostak Design, Inc. Photo Courtesy Bryan Bell.
decision-making from within while using a proven method and recognized standard of success. Obtaining SEED Certification means that a project is recognized as having achieved levels of success within the qualitative and quantitative measures set forth within the SEED evaluation process. Being certified requires that minimum thresholds of the SEED mission and principles be met by the specific goals set within the project and that the project has met determined benchmarks. When a project is awarded SEED Certification, it demonstrates compliance with SEED standards at an exemplary level. Communities that achieve this recognition leverage their accomplishment not only for their own goals but also for that of moving forward a process of inclusion and informed decision making in design. Obtaining SEED Certification is the standard that community organizers, leaders, designers and funders alike can use to document their significant and valued achievements. Because of the certification component, SEED is similar to the U.S. Green Building Council’s
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System in terms of measuring impact.6 But unlike LEED, it does not use a predetermined point system for evaluation and it is applicable to a variety of design disciplines. The SEED Evaluator acts more like a guide for a process that allows communities to make their own decisions alongside the professional expertise of a designer. It creates a platform for collaboration and consensus building. Completion of specific phases of the SEED Evaluator can add validity and “proof” of a project’s successes, from concept, through design, creation and implementation. Progress and challenges can be documented with evidence through each project phase. As a tool developed for architects, industrial designers, landscape architects, communication designers, urban designers and urban planners the SEED Evaluator provides guidance through a strategic matrix of questions that critique the social, environmental and economic viability of each phase of development.
Why Evaluate? Evaluation involves “the process of determining whether a program and policy goals have been achieved. This often entails a systematic search for explanation of program success or failure.”7 • • • •
How were goals defined and accomplished? What was done well and what wasn’t? Did appropriate project-planning cause the intended effects? What proof of accomplishment demonstrates that goals were met as anticipated in the project? 8
Educators are required to evaluate the success of work produced in a classroom setting. However, strangely enough, that focused evaluative process tends to end there. Designers and others have a need to assess the outcome of their work just as clients and communities have a need to assess how goals were achieved for purposes of defining community benchmarks, plotting progress toward common goals and applying for grant funding. SEED evaluation provides a road map, a directional pointer that can indicate vital strengths and weaknesses. The SEED Evaluator builds in an assessment component to its process because it is something we urgently need—designers and communities need to understand the impact of the work being produced and we need to be able learn from and leverage results in any given project.
Defining a Movement
Planning a SEED Project
Planning is an essential aspect of any project. Starting a project that anticipates use of the SEED Evaluator necessitates that the project and SEED tools be coordinated in tandem. This simply means that SEED highly encourages projects start and end using the SEED Evaluator so that the entire scope of project may be assessed relying upon SEED mission and principles. Determining and stating project goals, the process to achieve goals and results in advance can help guide your SEED Evaluator application. Setting performance measures that reinforce the SEED vision can further narrow the spectrum of potential solutions. Developing a defined timeline and underscoring the timeline with benchmarks, research and data collection can support the SEED application with needed facts. The following details each of these steps: Identifying critical issues: Critical issues are the challenges that define life struggles, both day-to-day, and during crisis. These broad categories help clarify the unique priorities of every community. They can be generally categorized and defined by societal, economic and environmental considerations. Critical issues provide the link between design and communities as one of the first steps in defining needs that direct the purpose of the design project. Issues can also be the “call-to-action” that prompt the project and bring vested parties together for collaboration. SEED has generated a comprehensive list of critical issues that can be referenced in the SEED Evaluator application. SEED encourages selection of up to three issues that embody the scope of the project. Applicants may alternatively define their own issues specific to their project, should appropriate options not be available. Defining goals: Goals define the broad purpose toward which a project is directed. Goals address what the project should achieve over the life of the project in relation to community needs and look at the “big picture.” The process defines how the goal or goals will be accomplished. Timeline, tasks, methods, and activities all contribute to defining the process and ultimately reaching identified project goals. Project planning and preparation for the SEED application requires that goals and process be stated and defined in advance of initiating a project so as to be incorporated into the SEED Evaluator. It is recommended that project goals be identified and defined in a collaborative framework that allows feedback and communication from the variety of project participants.
Setting benchmarks: Benchmarks are reference points for design or standards that establish performance goals for purposes of evaluation, measurement or comparison. Benchmarks can be used within a project to define direction and indicate ideals and may be set during project planning. Inclusion of community determined benchmarks might likely prove significant in project development and in meeting goals. Performance measurement: Performance measurement involves the regular quantifying of benchmarks built into a project plan. These measures document and verify accomplishment of incremental goals towards social, environmental and economic results (not just what it took to accomplish them), while providing a common language for communication of strategy. The SEED Evaluator is structured in a way that regularly requests documentation of accomplished goals. This system of verification supports the requirement for evaluating the success of met goals relative to designated project benchmarks. Developing a timeline: A timeline is a tool that can communicate progress throughout the various phases of the project. It provides evidence of the anticipated schedule and criteria for project planning, development and implementation. A timeline that references specific dates and aligns with goals and benchmarks can aide in accomplishing project intent. It is recommended that the timeline and benchmarks be considered together and be established prior to initiating the SEED Evaluator. Engaging community participation: An inclusive and transparent path towards project goals and results is something SEED encourages. Determining ways in which to engage stakeholders and community participants is significant to the SEED Evaluator application as questions addressing input are frequently asked.9 Because SEED believes in the power of participatory decision-making communities can engage in a design process of participatory decision making to build a consensus, establish their priorities, and defines their goals. How have the community and/or relevant stakeholders been involved in defining the social, economic or environmental challenges and identifying the goals?
Examples of participatory input or field research verified by the community may include the following: • Community Charrettes • Interviews • Discussion Groups • Photo or Video Ethnographies • Asset-based Development • Asset-based Design • Public Forums • Local, Regional, State or National Government Support • Stakeholder Advisory Group • Coordinated with local comprehensive plan • a Priority set by local government
will help ensure a more seamless submission process. Because evaluation is one aspect of the outcome, it is even more critical that data submitted as a part of a SEED Certification process be accurate and supportive of project goals, process and results. Evaluation measures successes, challenges and failures that can be strategic in funding applications or in attracting new projects or partners. Results bring us closer to understanding how goals were accomplished. When reporting results in the SEED Evaluator, we are interested in specifics. Cite time, place, participants, context, methods and numeric results as appropriate. Broad generalizations are of little help in reporting—instead, prepare for reporting tangible evidence that came about through research or design processes. Inclusion of images, which document results, can often provide necessary evidence. Refer to the section on technical specifications for more on file upload size restrictions.
Research and data collection: The requirement to demonstrate and measure performance is inherent to the SEED Evaluator process. Documentation gathered through a defined research process is highly recommended. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods are encouraged. Qualitative research encompasses the realm of asking the question “why”—“why do people do what we do?” Qualitative processes tend to include in-depth analysis of life through a variety of means including observations, interviews, photography, video and written or oral documentation. Quantitative research on the other hand, is based on empirical data, quantities, numeric references and evaluation or measurement of this data to establish broad connections. The SEED Evaluator requires information about research and data collection in order to demonstrate the specific qualitative and quantitative methods used in the project. The method and the data gathered as well as participant involvement should be clearly described. SEED recognizes that data collection can be (but often do not need to be) a time consuming and costly process. Results must be documented if success is going to be claimed. The reflections of a stakeholder, a casual observation, phone conversation or discussion may qualify as a form of research so consider the scope of relevance before responding. Reporting results: The act of reporting is essential to SEED. Understanding how to achieve the desired project results while using the SEED guidelines
The SEED Field Manual (forthcoming in 2010-2011) is a published guide that provides example strategies for achieving the SEED mission and principles in specific community based design projects. Including case studies, essays and a critical examination of the SEED Evaluator, the SEED Field Manual documents significant SEED projects that achieved levels of success in achieving their triple bottom line goals. Within the Field Manual, examples of effective tools such as behavioral mapping are presented to aide in determining the level of success garnered in any given section of the Evaluator. The Field Manual can be instrumental in terms of defining case studies as examples of best practices in diverse fields of design and can help define the path a project takes through its many phases to completion, implementation and use. The SEED case studies will feature how communities and designers have been using the SEED Evaluator as a tool in building sustainable, inclusive practices. Projects selected for inclusion are chosen from exceptional demonstrations of design in action and will provide important references to social, economic and environmental design in the classroom setting. As the SEED Network grows, case studies will feature a wealth of exemplary project submissions and demonstration studies from the field including narrative texts and documentary photography, diagrams as well as interviews as available. The SEED Evaluator itself will be available at the SEED Network web site: www.seednetwork.org
Endnotes 1 Presidio Graduate School, The Dictionary of Sustainable Management, “Sustainability”. http://www.sustainabilitydictionary.com/s/sustainability.php (accessed on November 28, 2009).
4 United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “Sustainable Development in Brief”. http://www.un.org/esa/desa/aboutus/dsd.html (accessed November 30, 2009)
2 Goethe-Institut, “Sustainability – From Principle To Practice”. http://www.goethe.de/ges/umw/dos/nac/den/en3106180.htm (accessed November 30, 2009).
5 Many of the issues listed can cover more than one area. For example, mass transportation could be economically, environmentally or socially relevant. Issues become clearer when the resulting outcomes to be measured are defined. If the measurement were an increase in number of people using buses at rush hour, the issue would be economic as this suggests people are using it to go to work and earn a living. If the measurement is the cost of a mile of automobile usage vs. bus fare/mile (cost of using bus per mile that an average bus rider’s trip divided by
3 United Nations,“End Poverty: 2015 Millennium Goals”. http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/ (accessed November 30, 2009)
Defining a Movement
Lisa M. Abendroth is a Professor and Coordinator of the Communication Design program at the Metropolitan State College of Denver. She earned a BFA in Communication Design from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1991 and an MFA in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1995. Seeking a balance between design research and classroom pedagogy, Lisa works across disciplines in order to embrace what can be broadly referred to as community-based design focused on issues of social equity towards marginalized audiences. This area of study manifested in a multi-year research endeavor culminating in the Fall 2007 international design exhibition entitled, “Substance: Diverse Practices from the Periphery,” which Lisa curated, organized and designed. Extending the spirit of the “Substance” exhibition, Lisa’s research continues to focus on design that addresses under-served people, places and problems. She is a collaborator on the interdisciplinary public interest project entitled SEED: Social, Economic, Environmental Design. SEED proposes an evaluative tool for the diverse disciplines of design, promoting a transparent and productive dialogue between designers and communities that supports triple-bottom line goals of social justice, economic development and environmental conservation. Her Fall 2009 research sabbatical was devoted to developing this body of work. In her professional practice, Lisa promotes projects for culture and collaboration through her firm Culture/Language/Dialogue. A result of her diverse research, Lisa has presented, exhibited, and published nationally and internationally.
Bryan Bell has spent nineteen years “in the trenches” working to make architectural services available to a greater part of the general public. In 1989, after degrees from Princeton and Yale and a year at Steven Holl’s office, Bell started working with non-profit agencies that specialized in serving the very low-income. His first experience was in 1985, working as Project Director with Sambo Mockbee on three houses for rural families in Mississippi. The project received a Progressive Architecture Award in 1986. In 1991 Bell founded a non-profit agency, whose mission was “to provide the benefits of architecture to those traditionally unserved by the profession.” His work with migrant farm workers has been an ongoing exploration into a participatory design process and into economic materials and production systems. He also provides an individual design service for low-income families called Direct-to-you Design. From 1998 to 2000, Bell taught at the Auburn Rural Studio teaching twenty-two thesis students for twelve design/build projects including the Greensboro Children’s Center and the Mason’s Bend Community Center. He has also held a chaired position in ‘Activist Practice’ at University of Chicago, Illinois and has taught three design/build studios at NC State University. Bell has also started an internship program with the AmeriCorps national service program for young designers interested in the social application of architecture. His effort to share ideas with the newest generation of architects led to series of conferences hosted at universities. Structures for Inclusion has been a forum for students and recent graduates to learn about grass roots efforts making architecture more accessible. Selected presentations from these have been presented in two publications: Good Deeds, Good Design, was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2003 and Expanding Design: Architecture as Activism, published by Metropolis Press in October 2008. Bell was selected for the ID Magazine Design 50 and Metropolitan Home Design 100. In 2007 he received a National Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects. His work was featured in the US Pavilion of the 2008 Venice Biennale.
fare), that would also be an example of an economic outcome. If the measurement were related to a reduction in car usage and resulting decrease in C02, then public transportation would show an environmental outcome. Social goals might also be involved. Measuring an increase in student use of the bus, for example, would address the social issue of education. Therefore this list is intended as possible examples to show the range of issues that design can address. Specifics will always depend on each community. 6 U.S. Green Building Council, LEED, “LEED Rating Systems”. http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=222 (accessed on February 12, 2010).
7 Dorothy Gamble, Marie Weil, Nicole Kiefer, and Sarah Covington. Measuring a Movement: Evaluating Outcomes in Community Sustainable Development. (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Social Work, 2005): 88. 8 Ibid., 88. 9 Stakeholders are individuals or organizations who represent an interest in the success or failure of a project. These groups can play a dominant role in a project and that role must be assessed when analyzing the anticipated outcome of a project relative to its goals. Stakeholders can include a range of individuals including community members, designers, local business owners, government officials and related project developers.
With Purpose like Deep Water: Repossessing the Polis through University-Community Engagement William T Willoughby
“The function of the university is not simply to teach bread-winning . . . or to be a centre of polite society; it is, above all, to be the organ of that fine adjustment between real life and the growing knowledge of life, an adjustment which forms the secret of civilization.” —W.E.B. Du Bois1
As an architect and veteran of community design, I have come to make some general notes and offer some reflections on the role of universities in their communities. Over the years I have led, participated in, and observed my colleagues and our students engage in community partnerships of all sorts in our surrounding region: master planning, conceptual design, grant assistance, design/build, etc.. The arc of these ongoing interactions would make for a good story in itself, but my aim in these pages is to address the fundamental question of why university-based architecture programs should participate in the life of their community. This is not to suggest that architecture programs situated in universities must engage their communities similarly, or that each community design center should be cast in the same mold. In fact, each effort will be shaped by the conditions of their locale to such a degree that there should not be any strict uniformity in approach to community design or citizen engagement.
We must dispel any solutions that would attempt to fix the specifics of a community upon a Procrustean bed. When it comes to community engagement, all effort winds up being uniquely incremental, and nothing should be taken as categorical. Having included this cautionary note, I plan to proceed by sketching out some moral observations as to why architecture programs should assist their local communities. Architecture is a service offered by professionals to clients who yearn for, or are able to articulate the need for, spaces to be planned, designed, and built. Architecture is among the bare minimum of physical human needs. Potable water, food, clothing and safe habitations are refined from nature and made suitable by human intellect and action. Buildings are an intercessory world in addition to the natural environment—a mesocosm we set between ourselves and the universe beyond.
With Purpose like Deep Water
A Person’s Purpose
“The purpose seems to be to ennoble the common, to endow worldly things with hieratic beauty; to attune the comparative to the absolute, to associate the detail with the whole, to adapt our own being with its plurality, conflicts and contradictions, to the all-transcending unity, to the holy.” —Abraham Joshua Heschel2
After recognizing the place and purpose of architecture, a more basic question begs an answer: what is the place and purpose of people? The inner purpose we all carry within, or an external purpose someone else might put us to—or impose upon us? To what purpose can a person be put to? Technically speaking, a person is a material thing, an activity, and a sentience. There are purposeful things that a person’s materials can be applied to: the average person can supply enough saltpeter to propel a small rocket, the phosphorus to make 8 boxes of kitchen matches, the carbon for 400 sketch pencils, the fat needed for 7 bars of soap, the amount of iron required for two or three 10-penny nails, enough water to fill a ten-gallon aquarium, and enough sulfur to kill the mites on a dog. Should a person’s purpose ever be extracted from the materials of their body? Can a person be made purposeful through their actions—defined as the labor performed by their muscles? Can we ever righteously reduce a person down to materials or labor alone? The fact that a person might be put to these purposes only illustrates how the absurdities of reason can estrange us from that which we are most familiar.3 We cannot meet humanity in the abstract by dividing body from labor, or labor from sentience. We would revolt against being reduced to no more than electrochemical reactions coursing through a meaty carriage. Instead, we demand to be understood as sentient beings that seek affirmation of our right to exist freely. If we consider a person to be a relational
totality, then we can only accept a person as their own determinate subject—as a microcosm inseparable from the broader macrocosm. We should only envision another person as a living, indivisible being. A person’s purpose is poetry: to live it, and through it create a human universe. Another purpose of people is to form a dialog—a community with others. When we speak of the human, it is not necessary to point to the individual; instead, we should point to the community through which we may be known as individuals. People come to be through being part of a community and a place. Poet Frederick Turner concluded that the secret principle for William Carlos Williams’ long poem Paterson was that a person was themselves a city.4 Likewise, architecture is a communal hat we all wear—buildings express our tacit agreement to be taken as human.5 Paraphrasing Aldo van Eyck, as prime maker of a community’s places, an architect must be the ally of all people or no people.6 Our other and most important purpose is to help each member of the community along. A person’s purpose winds up being vast. Do not underestimate the human capacity for generosity or depravity. In turn, we must also attest to the possibility that generosity and depravity may commingle in the same act.
The Megalopolis of Detached Denizens “O foolish a person to seek
O cruel intellect that chills
salvation in an ordre logique!
his natural warmth until it kills the roots of all togetherness!” —W. H. Auden7
Erich Fromm coined the term “homo consumens” to identify contemporary humanity’s compulsion to consume.8 As consumers, we behave like micro-scale capitalists, amassing goods and consuming products at a frenetic pace. The avarice and self-interest instilled by consumerism divorces us from each other and from the places we live. Our contemporary world is kept to superficialities by a nearly inescapable panoply of advertisements. In the linear logic of consumerism, we no longer make or repair things ourselves—we purchase, use temporarily, then discard to the landfill. We all participate to some degree in the global industries of the megalopolis; a sprawling urban morass produced by industrially derived building and expansive layers of transportation systems and urban infrastructure. The megalopolis extends as far as freeways, utility hook-ups, and broadcast network limits will allow. Without a preponderance of locally made items (or a social system where the consumer participates in the life of the producer), commodities supplied through the vast reach of global supply chains overshadow the waning traditions in a given locale. So everyplace becomes a homogenized no-place of globally distributed products, lacking regional variety, influence, or a tinge of local dialect. We have all become specialists in the incidental—experts on some meager instrument of civilization. As experts, we do not understand our community on the whole and therefore cannot be part of it as fully participating human beings. As a society we conduct ourselves like engineers specializing in a particular component, but without knowing the behavior of the total mechanism—savants of the particular, idiots when faced with the whole. Our contemporary built environment offers the truest picture: we know how to design environments but not how to make those designs appeal to the simplest yearnings of humanity.
A population must be capable of affecting change in order for them to transform their place. If you deprive a populace of their ability to participate, then you set up the conditions of enforcing control. Societies without proximity, communities of the social network, become collections of detached denizens. We construct a parody of community when exchanging short messages and perusing each other’s personal effects asynchronously on social networks such as Facebook. The characterless exchanges of Internet communities expand in the absence of a true and fortifying public realm. For over 200 years, the public realm has been increasingly co-opted by the ubiquitous presence and concentrated influence of multinational corporations operating at a distance from the citizens living in a particular place. Therefore the individual citizen, let alone the entire populace of a place, is impotent to affect change in their communities. By becoming passive consumers, we have lost the places where people gather. Yet how do we replace pseudopublic spaces such as the mall, the shopping center, big box retail, and digital telecom with a civic realm that expresses the health and wealth of the people that live there? There exists a latent political resistance to the megalopolis when a building is fit to its place’s topography, climate, and tectonic traditions.9 By addressing local considerations, we can decide the direction and shape that our public places take; especially as architects embrace the public realm with their skills, not as hired guns, but as active citizens with a vested interest in their community’s well-being. To make a place synonymous with the people that live there, we must replace instrumental reason with a more generous motive. Pascal wrote that, “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing: we know this in countless ways.”10 The heart has the potential to vacillate from rational self-interest to acts of mercy and justice.
With Purpose like Deep Water
In the megalopolis, property rights do not include a responsibility for the well being of those on adjacent properties. There is a disengaged public who see change as inevitable but do not stop to imagine that their input could direct the city’s future. There is the chance to demonstrate to student-architects that they can get involved, influence change, and recover the role of the architect as citizen of the polis. Community means knowing that the interests of one member affect the lives of another. When I choose as a citizen, I choose not only for me, but for my fellow—the plight of another is my plight too: that is community.
In W. H. Auden’s long poem of 1940, “New Year Letter,” he wrote that the chilly intellect acts in accord with an ordre logique, dividing totalities into parts in order to discriminate, measure, and inevitably suppress our imaginative potential. But the charitable heart transcends all divisions. Auden completes the page with the aspiration to:
“Establish a real neighborhood Where art and industry and mœurs Are governed by an ordre du cœur?”11
A Return to Polis: From Passive Consumers to Community Actors “ a house these days so much somebody else’s, especially, Congoleum’s” —Charles Olson12
Our affluence is our weakness—the endless availability of goods packaged for consumption make all participants in our commodity culture passive. Advertisements redirect our attention from local traditions to the self-proclaimed innovations of commercial products.13 From palliative advertisements we learn that our lives are inadequate and backwards—that we must join the trend or fall behind. Passivity does not mean inaction; instead it means a person can only react, not act on their own accord, and therefore lacks the creative engagement with their community or environment.14 Our actions are adverted through consumerism. Our society produces not only goods but also needs—producers must first manufacture a need and then advert our desire to fill that need with a product packaged for immediate consumption.15
Affluence means to flow freely; but our society’s affluence is extractive and imposes an irrecoverable strain on natural resources. In our current economic and industrial system, our natural affluence is diminishing rapidly—we replenish ecologies with less than we harvest, and disrupt ecological conditions in one part of the world at the expense of providing some temporary manufactured satisfaction for another. If we are made anxious about our lives as consumers (never knowing the producers or the consequences of our consumption), then perhaps we should be anxious. Anxiousness is the correct and sane response to a precarious and exploitative situation.16
In a society of mobile goods and mobile lives, the major question we all must grapple with is to be part of a place or to move about without roots: to be a citizen or denizen? A denizen is a person who lives somewhere but does not participate actively in the life of the community, never enacting their rights to participate; whereas, a citizen is an enfranchised and contributing member of their place. An architect should never choose to be a denizen—being left impotent and without the right to input in their community. So an architect must be a citizen, a contributing member of their locale, and make its physical places better for all. As the professionals responsible for designing our environments, architects must work to reverse the trend of consumer passivity and redress the process by which most of our pseudo-public places get developed and built. It is a political act to redefine your place, to adhere to it, to improve it, and to care about it. To decide to dwell somewhere is to determine that you will participate in it—to be a citizen, and practice your craft as a contributing member of the polis. The motive behind university-community endeavors should be to acculturate the student-architect in becoming an active member of the community. Communities can be laboratories for student learning and for the implementation of faculty expertise. This combination benefits the community by tackling projects that envision the future shape of the community—or, as in the case of design-build projects, to actually construct the community in the present tense. Addressing the design needs of community partners becomes a service that the university provides, an outlet for faculty leadership and expertise, and the chance to offer students two experiences that traditional studios lack. The first experience is interacting with the public on a project of real and earnest interest to the community. And second, exposure to the notion that an inherent good gets imparted to the public when assisting the community, regardless if one is getting paid or not. An architect, whether working for a paying client or conducting pro-bono work, should be a community advocate—an agent of improvement committed to imparting one’s expertise where it can benefit their community the most.
This is the essence of being a citizen and professional. What students take away is the knowledge that the role of the architect is to engage the community in which they live, and to assist others as their talents allow. The emerging talents of student-architects should not be confined to the campus. The true ties between theory and practice are made through actions that link moral and ethical behavior to a particular problem. What better impulse, ethic, or moral could there be than to act on behalf of another without expecting a reward?17 Ultimately, an activist is a participant in the political process, a member of the community who wishes to be heard and enact improvements to their place. The road to solidarity passes necessarily through the world of action.18 What is pertinent in the Biblical “Parable of the Talents” is not the sum given to each servant, or the amount the faithful servants earned, but the effort applied by those given the talents.19 What matters is that the talents were put to fruitful work. The servant given the least talent—out of fear, resentment, jealousy, selfishness, or other perjurious feelings—hid the talent and let it come to no gain. If the talent had been used in spite of any risk, then as the parable indicates, even a servant given little could apply their talent in a manner profitable to others. Today, ‘talent’ means a nuanced ability and an inclination for certain work. A talent is a gift; and those with a talent are called “gifted.” As members of a community, we must apply our gifts and talents for the benefit of others—even though we may not always like those we serve, and may even fear failure, or shy away from the hard hand that will eventually account for the merit of our works. An architect’s work should be seen as a public asset. If we share our skills in order to improve our community, then we raise not only our own profile but also the profile of the profession. Throughout architectural education and university-community partnerships, one must realize that the point is not to make a generation of architectural activists willing to sacrifice their livelihood for a life of servitude to others—but instead, to ensure that future practitioners of architecture will leave the academy with the experience and ethic of contributing their time, attention, and energy to the benefit of their community.
With Purpose like Deep Water
University as Citizen: Serving the Polis as a Wellspring for Doing “An American is a complex of occasions, themselves a geometry of spatial nature.
All art springs from the local—but most especially architecture.21 Portions of universities should be reapportioned from “ivory tower” research, and made into a service-oriented “wellspring for doing” aimed at engaging our communities. For students in architecture schools, one apparent lesson should be that when designing something, you design it for a specific community in a certain location. These two things, people and their place, should form the major inspiration for the final work. Any true work of architecture is a contribution to the polis; and by endeavoring to understand the people and their place, the student should become a compelling part of the polis. A university is composed of students, faculty, and facilities. The city has two definitions: an arrangement of buildings and a meeting of people.22 Louis Kahn said the city is the place of assembled institutions.23 Institutions, including the university, originate from aspirations within the community. For Kahn, the city was where human agreements were expressed through architecture; this defines architecture as a dialog between an architect and the aspirations of their community. Architecture should never be a detached and isolated act of planning divorced from the community. A true polis is made up of individuals involved in the making of their community, and sharing in the fruits of mutual agreements.
I have this sense, that I am one with my skin
Plus this – plus this: that forever the geography which leans in on me I compel
Bringing students together with a community partner is to witness the emergence of each student’s character—the instructor can see the individualizing mark of the student emerge. The qualities of a person become apparent when set upon the background of the community. Each participant takes on of a specific role in a social situation so that each individual may know another’s character through dialog. This opposes the alienating confines of the megalopolis, which favors anonymity and obliterates the possibility of unmediated participation between citizens. Community design work must take on the stance of resistance, by repossessing a public mode of place-making essential to reenacting the polis. Places are as much a physical situation as a collection of historic decisions made by the populace. The decisions people make individually and in aggregate shape the city. Hence, the polis can be once again made up of the enfranchised decisions of the people that live there. A participatory democracy is at once a political system wherein the constituent citizens are capable of improving not only themselves but their whole community. The community-minded architect knows that the improvement of any one component of the polis has positive repercussions on the whole. Aldo van Eyck wrote that, “City implies ‘the people that live there,’”24 not a loose collection of denizens whose only choices entail which
backwards I compel Gloucester to yield, to change Polis is this” —Charles Olson20
product to consume, but as citizens deciding in solidarity with other members of their community. Property ownership is the equivalent of buying into one’s place; it is the first action of a body politic. A polis is made by those who stand there. What we hold in common cannot be bought or sold; and what we contribute to the city becomes a part of our common wealth. No price can be placed on the polis; no estate can sell it since it is basic to our identity. To give student-architects the experience of designing their community is to pass along an indelible lesson that seeks to establish the life-long behavior of community engagement—the benevolent contact between practitioner and community given as fundamental to most every architectural endeavor. In the end, do the people possess the place, or does the place possess the people? I recommend that an architect be sedentary. Reside in one place and become a participating member of that community—and voluntarily help to shape that particular place for the betterment of all its citizens. It will take a lifetime to achieve since it means investing the time and patience to make your work and character known to others. Hence, this is an architect’s main task: to make places better and matter more to people than before he or she came onto the scene. What is an architect if not a poet of their place?
In Bonds of Charity: Community, University and the Benevolence between the Two “So, love can only be kept by being given away, and it can only be given perfectly when it is also received.” —Thomas Merton25
The role of the architect is to assist in conjuring a human universe and to lessen our estrangement from the world. As a service, student-architects can learn their role by being directed beyond the university’s doorstep and engage their local community. University-community design partnerships are a way to avoid the perception that architectural services are a guarded and expensive commodity. When offering services as a component of a student’s learning, the work should be undertaken as a pro-bono agreement, and provided to the neediest members of the community. Students should recognize that through university-community engagement, architecture should always be benevolent, and that an architect should serve the community with their conscience. Charity, and not selfishness, is the perfection of freedom. The freedom to give something away is greater than the freedom of sole ownership.26 Thoreau wrote that a person who gives themselves fully to the state is a laggard and a ward, but a person who gives of themselves partially is called a benefactor or a philanthropist.27 Charity is never weak or blind. Like mercy, charity is prudent, just, temperate, and strong. Charity is not true unless all the virtues are present in its offering. Our charity is not genuine unless we first love the truth of the situation in which charity is given. The point of charity is purposeful action aimed at assisting another along in achieving a fulfilling destiny. We all must offer and accept charity in our lives, out of respect for another, and in the spirit of love. Charity is dependent on trust and friendship; charity is never hungry. It is a bond of assistance; a mutual yoke we share together. Charity is the act of giving over our ability and attention to another—and in doing so, we gain a deep and lasting purpose which selfishness could never satisfy.28
But with every gift of charity there must also exist prudence: we must know how much is enough to give. Without charity, knowledge is fruitless. Just as well, the acquisition of knowledge is fruitless without its application in charity. Charity demands equity and equality for all—it is the effort we must make to curb the insatiable appetites of iniquity and injustice. It is written in the Old Testament that, “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.”29 An architect should be considered more than skilled by their community; they should not be known for the surface effect of their talent, the dappling on the water’s surface, but for the deep waters of their real purpose: to ennoble the common and thereby improve their community for all. When our actions are guided by our heart, the action comes from a deeply set purpose. The proverb above suggests two men in dialog—but cannot the two be one and the same person? When purpose is put into action, then understanding will follow. Theory and practice are conjugated by action; and both are consecrated when brought together in charitable service to others. Understanding follows from action; when we later reflect on what we did, we have the potential to draw forth lasting wisdom. The goal of charity should be this: when encountering dire iniquity there should emerge the desire to act and put in place a “foundation of decency,” as stated by Samuel Mockbee, from which a just life may grow.30 We should seek in this relationship the reciprocal gift of friendship, because charity always deepens relationships between people. In the end, the goal of charity is the eventual meeting of equals. To quote Martin Buber, “The unavowed secret of humanity is that each person wants to be confirmed in both their being and
With Purpose like Deep Water
existence by their fellows and each person wishes their fellows to make it possible for that person to be confirmed by others . . . in the course of neighborly encounters [there appears]. . . a mutual sympathy: the one gives the other to understand that one affirms the other’s presence. This is the indispensible minimum of humanity.”31 Architects, architectural educators, and student-architects should work toward the extraordinary good. The basic sympathy occurring in daily encounters where we do for another what we would like done for ourselves, as in the parable of the Good Samaritan. An extraordinary good becomes an epiphenomenal act of assistance that recontextualizes all other human exchanges. There are invaluable lessons within charity. Service to others is the essence of architecture. Inside charity is where we all dwell; charity is the extraordinary good in which we all seek shelter. University-community partnerships must be more than temporary assistance—the commitment should be lasting and permanent, encompassing activities spanning a lifetime of mutual involvement. Most dwellings are constructed with the help of others. As with a community barn-raising, a building comes to be because others come together in order of their talents. We must set the scales with our charity in inverse measure to our selfishness. But we must not lose ourselves totally in charitable acts for others; we should give freely, but also be prudent and preserve ourselves in the exchange. Do good, but do not claim that good for yourself; you become by surpassing yourself.32 We are instruments of mercy. Through our acts of charity we inaugurate the human universe. To quote Buber, “If the world of human relations is to become a human world, then immediacy must rule between people, and thus also between human house and human
house . . . architects must be set to the task of also building for human contact, building surroundings that invite meeting and centers that shape meeting.”33 Community leadership is inherent in the act of design. Be more than the denizen, disengaged and complacent. Be what Samuel Mockbee called a “citizen architect;” someone whose actions are creditable and who can lead others to contribute their honest talent to improving the commonwealth.34 In the future, our students will harbor the memory of their community assistance; recalling later their effort to bring into being a vision for a community, a conceptual design for a community partner, the repair of a deficient residence, assistance on a grant, or the physical act of building their design for the community. The work will remain a part of the community, and the result of this pro-bono work will live onward in each student’s psyche, heart, bones, and actions. Thomas Merton wrote, “The gate of heaven is everywhere.”35 Once the gate is recognized in even the poorest of quarters, then it is through our service to those with less that we may lift the gate’s latch and pass forward a little patch of heaven on earth.
Endnotes 1 W.E.B. Du Bois, “Chapter V: Of the Wings of Atlanta,” from The Souls of Black Folk (Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1903) 16. 2 A. H. Heschel, I Asked for Wonder: A Spiritual Anthology, edited by Samuel H. Dresner (New York: Crossroad, 1990) 102. 3 This paraphrase of Heraclitus has many sources. I will cite two. First, “Man is estranged from that with which he is most familiar,” as the epigram to Charles Olson, The Special View of History, edited by Ann Charters (Berkeley: Oyez, 1970) 14; and a second source translated by Charles H. Kahn as, “And they are at odds with which they most constantly associate.” From Charles H. Kahn, The Art and Thought of Heraclitus (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987) 31. 4 Frederick Turner, “Of Local Interest: William Carlos Williams’s In the American Grain and Paterson,” from Spirit of Place (Washington, D. C.: Island Press, 1992) 300. 5 The image of architecture as a communal hat, or roof, is derived from Leon Battista Alberti and Aldo van Eyck. Alberti tell us that roofs and walls first drew in and later kept people together in communities. Alberti, On the Art of Building in Ten Books, translated by Joseph Rykwert, Neil Leach, and Robert Tavernor (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989) 3 and 8. Aldo van Eyck, says much the same thing when describing an image of what appear to be six men transporting a roof above their heads: is it a hat for six, or a roof for a single dwelling? Aldo van Eyck, “Aldo van Eyck at indesem 1967, Delft,” from Collected Articles and Other Writings, Volume 2 of Aldo van Eyck, Writings (Amsterdam: SUN, 2008) DVD of a lecture introduction.
influence of the megalopolis and exert the power to retain their city as a distinct and gratifying place. Frampton concludes his point by stating that, as a strategy of resistance to ubiquitous placelessness, Critical Regionalism acknowledges that we should not “discount the latent political and resistant potential of the place-form.” 10 Blaise Pascal, Pensées, translated by A. J. Krailsheimer (New York: Penguin Books, 1966) 154. 11 W. H. Auden, “New Year Letter,” from The Double Man (New York: Random House, 1941) 32, and Auden’s “Notes” on pages 99-103. 12 Charles Olson, “The Songs of Maximus: Song 3,” from The Maximus Poems (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1983) 18. Congoleum began in Scotland as a cheap floor covering—an inexpensive improvement to dirt floors. Its advertised qualities, inauthentic manufacture, and its petty bourgeoisie appearance probably attracted Olson to invoke it in this poem. Also, William Carlos Williams described it in his book, The Great American Novel, “You’ve seen this fake oilcloth they are advertising now. Congoleum. Nothing but building paper with a coating of enamel. ¡O vida tan dulce!” William Carlos Williams, “The Great American Novel,” from Imaginations (New York: New Directions, 1971) 227.
6 Aldo van Eyck, “Wasted Gain,” from Architecture in the Age of Scepticism; compiled by Denys Lasdun (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984) 235.
13 I am reminded here of John Berger’s story, “The Value of Money” from Pig Earth (New York: Pantheon Books, 1980) 75-79. In part of the story, Marcel, a French peasant farmer, uses traditional methods and a mare to farm. His son Edouard, a citified salesman, purchases his father a used tractor for use on the farm. His father is resentful, envious, and angry as he looks over the farm equipment brochure, which advertises its products with the slogan, “LIBERATOR avec encore plus de confort”. . . “False promises!,” Marcel shouts.
7 W. H. Auden, “New Year Letter,” from The Double Man (New York: Random House, 1941) 32.
14 Erich Fromm, “Affluence and Ennui in Our Society,” from For the Love of Life (New York: The Free Press, 1986) 9.
8 Erich Fromm, “Affluence and Ennui in Our Society,” from For the Love of Life (New York: The Free Press, 1986) 6.
15 Erich Fromm, “Affluence and Ennui in Our Society,” from For the Love of Life (New York: The Free Press, 1986) 19.
9 Kenneth Frampton, “Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance,” from The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, edited by Hal Foster (Seattle, Washington: Bay Press, 1983) 24-26. In point 4 titled, “The Resistance of the Place-Form,” Frampton contrasts the megalopolis with the polis. Using a long quote from Hannah Arendt, Frampton suggests how the collective political will of the citizens, a power that remains in the hands of the people living in a particular place, possess the potential to resist the homogenizing
16 Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1886) 21. 17 This is consistent with the AIA 2007 Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct. Under “Obligations to the Public,” architects should provide “public interest services” which include pro-bono services and assisting people who cannot afford architectural service (such as indigent persons or in the cases of disaster or
With Purpose like Deep Water
William T. Willoughby (Bill Willoughby) is a tenured Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at Louisiana Tech University where since 1998 he has taught design, architectural history, theory, urban design, computer visualization, digital fabrication, community service, and professional practice. Since 2005, he has served as Associate Dean and Director of Research and Graduate Studies for the College of Liberal Arts. Previously, he taught in various capacities at Kent State University and as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In 1991 he received a Master of Architecture from Kent State University. He has been a registered architect in the State of Ohio since 1993, and has maintained NCARB Council Certification since 1995. He has worked in various architecture and design practices in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Louisiana. Since 1993 he has authored over 25 publications and conference papers on such topics as design methodology, place theory, and architectural education. He has attended over 25 conferences, presenting research throughout the United States, Canada, and in Finland. From 2000 to 2005, he served as founding coordinator of the Community Design Assistance Center (CDAC) for the School of Architecture, which assists communities with design needs in North Louisiana. In Fall 2004, William began the University Design Assistance Center (UDAC) serving as design assistance for the campus of Louisiana Tech University.
emergency). And architects should accept “civic responsibility” and involve themselves in civic activities as citizens and professionals.
to.” From, The Logia of Yeshua, translated by Guy Davenport and Benjamin Urrutia (Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1996) 43.
18 I paraphrase Dag Hammarskjöld in his posthumous book, Markings (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974) 122. The original text is phrased, “In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.”
27 Paraphrased from Henry David Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience,” from Walden and Other Writings (New York: Bantam Books, 1982) 87.
19 Versions of The Parable of the Talents and its close alternate, the Parable of the Ten Minas, can be found in the Gospels of Matthew (25: 14-30) and Luke (19:12-27); The Holy Bible, New International Version (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1982) 919-920, 973. Leo Tolstoy includes a combined “Parable of the Ten Talents” with an interpretation of the parable’s meaning in his book, The Gospel in Brief (Mineola, NY: Dover, 2008) 52-54. Last, see The Logia of Yeshua, translated by Guy Davenport and Benjamin Urrutia (Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1996) 31-32. 20 Charles Olson, “Maximus to Gloucester, Letter 27 [withheld]” from The Maximus Poems (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1983) 185. 21 “Of only one thing relative to a work of art, can we be sure. It was bred of a place . . . It is the particularization of the universal that is important.”—William Carlos Williams. Cited in Frederick Turner’s, “Of Local Interest: William Carlos Williams’s In the American Grain and Paterson,” from Spirit of Place (Washington, D. C.: Island Press, 1992) 300. 22 I take this to be a good definition of polis. Attributed to Alberti in Ann M. Pendleton-Jullian’s book, The Road That Is Not a Road and the Open City, Ritoque, Chile (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996) 125. 23 Paraphrased from “Silence and Light: Louis Kahn’s Words” in John Lobell’s book Between Silence and Light: Spirit in the Architecture of Louis I. Kahn (Boston: Shambhala, 1985) 44-45. 24 Aldo van Eyck, “place and occasion,” from Progressive Architecture, September 1962 (New York: Reinhold Publishing Corp., 1962) 155. 25 Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978) 4. Musician Bruce Cockburn sang something similar in his song, “When You Give it Away,” from the CD, Breakfast in New Orleans . . . Dinner in Timbuktu (Salem, MA: Rykodisc USA, 1999). The lyric is, “I’ve got this thing in my heart / I must give you today/ It only lives when you/ give it away.” 26 An extrapolation of the wisdom saying, “It is better to give than to be given
28 Many of the statements on charity herein derive from three essays of Thomas Merton’s, “Love Can Be Kept Only by Being Given Away” and “The Measure of Charity,” from No Man is an Island (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978) 3-13 and 164-187; and “The Good Samaritan” from A Thomas Merton Reader, edited by Thomas P. McDonnell (Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1974) 348-356. Both essays look at charity, mercy, and the question, “Who is my neighbor?” a question which for an answer Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). In “Love Can Be Kept Only by Being Given Away,” Merton describes charity as a “juge convivium” or perpetual banquet whereby when feeding another we are fed ourselves. 29 Proverbs (20:5), The Holy Bible, New International Version (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1982) 605. 30 Samuel Mockbee, “The Rural Studio,” from Architectural Design Profile, No. 134, The Everyday and Architecture, edited by Sarah Wigglesworth and Jeremy Till; Architectural Design, Vol. 68, 7-8/1998 (London: Architectural Design [John Wiley & Sons], 1998) 79. 31 Martin Buber, “Community and Environment”, from A Believing Humanism, translated by Maurice Friedman (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967) 95. 32 A paraphrasing and conflation of sayings of Jesus. See The Gospel of Thomas, translated by Hugh McGregor Ross (London: Watkins Publishing, 2006) 33 (logia 42). The Logia of Yeshua, translated by Guy Davenport and Benjamin Urrutia (Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1996) 20, 22, 59-60 (logia 40 and 46). See also the Gospel of Matthew (6:1-4), The Holy Bible, New International Version (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1982) 897. 33 Martin Buber, “Community and Environment”, from A Believing Humanism, translated by Maurice Friedman (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967) 95. 34 Samuel Mockbee, “The Role of the Citizen Architect,” from Good Deeds, Good Design, edited by Bryan Bell (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004) 153. 35 Thomas Merton, A Thomas Merton Reader, edited by Thomas P. McDonnell (Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1974) 347.
The Role of ‘Pre-Design’: Expanding Architectural Services Michael Pyatok, FAIA Principal, Pyatok Architects, Oakland CA Professor Emeritus, University of Washington, Seattle
In the midst of the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown saw a golden opportunity. Mere blocks from City Hall and practically visible from Brown’s office, was a historically neglected area called “Uptown.” Little more than a patchwork of parking lots, it was prime real estate for redevelopment. With the right combination of market-rate apartments and nightlife, Oakland could become the “place to live” for all the dot-comers who worked in high-priced San Francisco but wanted more reasonably priced housing near major public transit. The Uptown area could be the key piece of Mayor Brown’s 10K Initiative, his cornerstone political campaign to bring 10,000 new residents to downtown Oakland.
Within a year, Mayor Brown found a developer to take on the project (due in no small part to the $65 million subsidy that Brown promised). Forest City Enterprises proposed building about 800 units of hip, attractive, market-rate dwellings that would serve as the centerpiece for the new Oakland Arts and Entertainment District. Oakland looked like it might be the next hotspot for urban living in the San Francisco Bay Area. What Mayor Brown did not see from his office was the community resistance that would rise against his plan. Within months of the announcement of his 10K Plan, a group called the Coalition for Workforce Housing (CWH) formed, ready to fight efforts to gentrify downtown Oakland. In 1999, the CWH submitted their demands to the City Council: if the Uptown area was to be developed, at least 25% of it must be affordable housing for working individuals and families. The people of Oakland were not going to be pushed aside by sweetheart deals for developers that wanted to serve only well-off up-and-comers. For the next few years, the battle was on. In 2001, the CWH organized a “gentrification tour” that built opposition to the market-rate development. In the same year, Oakland’s City Council called Mayor Brown on the carpet to debate the need for affordable housing in the Uptown development. In 2003, with the assistance of architects and non-profit developers,
The inside courtyard of Fox Courts Apartments,
The Role of ‘Pre-Design’
the CWH submitted an alternative development proposal showing how much affordable housing was really possible on the Uptown site. The politically volatile nature of this role by architects requires sometimes, as in this case, that those who participated in these efforts remain unnamed. Needless to say, their role was crucial in supporting the assertions by advocates that it was physically possible to achieve comfort and workability with a mix of incomes and at the levels of density required for financial feasibility. The pressure on Mayor Brown continued as supporters wrote op-ed pieces, mailed hundreds of postcards to the City Council, attended several City Council meetings en masse, and marched on Mayor Brown’s home in protest. In November of 2003, the CWH’s efforts were rewarded. The City Council and
Mayor Brown agreed to set aside 27% of the development for affordable housing, a third of which would be a stand-alone, serviceenriched building in a prime location next to the historic Fox Theater. The next year, Resources for Community Development and Pyatok Architects were chosen through a highly competitive process as the developer and architect of this new affordable home for working individuals and families. Fox Courts, an 80-unit affordable housing development for individuals and families, is the product of that struggle for housing equity. When Fox Courts opened in 2009, it marked the culmination of a decade-long battle for convenient, attractive, and affordable housing. Today, as families settle into this vibrant, downtown neighborhood, it stands as a symbol of the community, with dedicated support from design professionals, standing up to powerful development interests – and winning.
The community gathers outside Fox Courts Apartments.
Mike Pyatok has been an architect and professor of architectural design for more than 40 years. Since starting his practice in 1984, Mike has designed more than 35,000 units of affordable housing in California, Washington, and Arizona, as well as master planning communities in Hawaii, the Philippines, and Malaysia. At the heart of Mike’s work is the participatory design process he uses to deeply involve residents, community members, and stakeholders in the revitalization of lowincome communities. Using hands-on modeling exercises, Mike helps communities identify their core needs and plan how to meet those needs through quality design. Mike has served as a professor of architecture and design at the University of Washington, Harvard University, and Arizona State University. In 2001, Harvard appointed him its Buchsbaum Visiting Professor of Affordable Housing. From 2004 to 2007, Mike served as the Founding Director of the Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family at Arizona State University, leading their efforts to develop demonstrations of sustainable design and affordable housing. In 2009 and 2010, Mike has directed the Cal Poly Summer Design Studio in Oakland, CA. Mike continues to teach at the University of Washington as a Professor Emeritus. Mike has received numerous awards for his work and contributions to the field of affordable housing design. In 2002, Pyatok Architects was chosen as the Architecture Firm of the Year by "Residential Architect" magazine. In the same year, "Professional Builder" magazine recognized Mike as one of the "Thought Leaders" in the field of development and affordable housing. In 2007, "Builder Magazine" and the National Association of Home Builders selected Mike as one of the 50 most influential people in the development industry.
The Role of ‘Pre-Design’
The Reflective Community of Practice: A Model for Design Studio Teaching Frank Maling Bosworth III, PhD Professor, Louisiana State University School of Architecture Marsha R. Cuddeback AIA, LEED AP Director, Louisiana State University Office of Community Design and Development
In return for access to their extraordinary knowledge in matters of great human importance, society has granted them [professionals] a mandate for social control in their fields of specialization, a high degree of autonomy in their practice, and a license to determine who shall assume the mantle of professional authority. But in the current climate of criticism, controversy, and dissatisfaction, the bargain is coming unstuck. When the professions’ claim to extraordinary knowledge is so much in question, why should we continue to grant them extraordinary rights and privileges?” We expect them to police themselves, based on their special potential for contribution. We expect them to contribute to the common good of society. -Everett Hughes, in Donald Schön’s book Educating the Reflective Practitioner
The benefit of community engagement and service learning to a student’s education is well documented; however, the effects of structured community outreach offices that focus on student-involved community engagement in academic programs of study are not. In this paper we will discuss how the Louisiana State University (LSU) Office of Community Design and Development (OCDD) developed from a research and outreach endeavor to an integrated component of the LSU BArch curriculum, and how, along the way, its research on teaching and learning led to the development of innovative teaching and learning strategies, new perspectives on student learning outcomes, and finally to an immersion learning experience that fully integrates best teaching practices, peer instruction, sustainable design for communities, and exposure to
the world of professional practice. In this case, the immersion learning experience employs an innovative curricular strategy that contextualizes the principles of sustainable design through creation of a team of students and a community partner to work collaboratively and develop viable adaptive reuse strategies and proposals to transform Main Street Districts into sustainable cores for their communities. The learning experience is inclusive, reaches out to underserved communities and is designed to engage a diverse cross-section of community participants. At the conclusion of the experience students have been exposed to best practices in design, professional practice, connections between learning and practice, transfer of knowledge through peer interaction, and the efficacy of reflection to facilitate learning.
The Reflective Community of Practice
Students are introduced to critical issues for city redevelopment. McComb Studio, 2009. (Photo Credit: Cuddeback)
The Office of Community Design and Development, established in 1999, is a university based interdisciplinary community outreach center that connects students with Louisiana’s communities in an effort to improve the quality of the built environment and the lives of citizens across the state and beyond. Its mission is to provide design and technical assistance to communities in Louisiana and the region, by enriching the education of students through pre-professional practice, undergraduate research, civic engagement, and service learning. In doing this, OCDD supports LSU’s land-grant mission of teaching, research and extension service by focusing on geographic areas and communities that either lack expertise and knowledge in design, sustainable community planning, and preservation, or do not have access to opportunities for improving the quality of their built environment and implementing positive change. This work is funded through grants and sponsored research, and is produced by faculty, undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Architecture, School of Landscape Architecture, and the Department of Interior Design. OCDD operates a permanent teaching and learning laboratory in LSU’s School of Architecture where activities are based on the pedagogical assumption that civic engagement promotes student learning in multiple dimensions. Collaboration and active learning are central to the working philosophy of OCDD, serving a range of communities at varying scales of population and land area, with diverse ethnicity, age, and income levels. Research and project work relies on teams comprised of community partners, students and faculty to ensure successful outcomes for the community while meeting curricular objectives. Students are presented with the contextual realities of practicing in the public realm and are given opportunities to apply their learning and develop collaboration skills to meet the demands of contemporary practice. As a result of this agenda, OCDD has provided the content for service-learning projects in the fourth year design studio, the research topics and project content for courses required to earn a Minor in Community Design, and supervision for architecture students earning training hours for the NCARB Intern Development Program. The achievements in teaching, research, and service facilitated by OCDD support the School of Architecture’s curriculum and student-learning outcomes required by the National Architectural Accrediting Board, Inc. In addition, OCDD provides the resources and structure for reducing the disparity between architectural education and practice cited in the “2007
Practice Analysis of Architecture,” and the “NCARB Position Paper for the NAAB 2008 Accreditation Review Conference,” authored by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. Student learning outcomes are facilitated through knowledge and skill development, technical and design assistance for non-profit organizations, state agencies, and underserved communities that do not have access to design services through the private sector. Offices similar to OCDD have been present on campuses of major universities across the country since the 1960s (and in some cases earlier) and continue to be an integral component of contemporary architectural education. As such, OCDD facilitates critical elements of contemporary architectural education that are not easily achieved in the traditional curriculum. Through its best practice teaching and learning laboratory, OCDD offers students opportunities for pre-professional practice experience, undergraduate research, and community service, prior to graduation. Within three years of its inception, OCDD originated activities were fully integrated in the BArch curriculum As a result, OCDD has contributed to the educational experience of every student in the School of Architecture’s undergraduate professional degree program from AY 2002-03 through 2009-10. During that period every fourth year student enrolled in the on-campus program participated in an integrated service learning experience. During its formative years, OCDD focused on developing grants and sponsored research that resulted in providing opportunities for focused student employment, but these activities were not directly integrated into the BArch curriculum. After two years it became apparent that the students who had participated in the work of the Office were exposed to opportunities to develop confidence, augment what they were learning in classes, and experience working in interdisciplinary teams not typically experienced in a traditional studio setting. In its third year, OCDD relocated to facilities in the School of Architecture, and, while continuing to pursue grants and sponsored research, the co-directors focused on restructuring the operation of the office so its project work could be seamlessly integrated with the learning outcomes for the BArch curriculum. Fundamentally, the restructuring relied on service learning as a teaching strategy to involve students with some aspect of community engagement. This was typically a studio project that was based on work developed by OCDD, a common approach among schools with outreach offices. OCDD augmented the concept by having student employees of
The Reflective Community of Practice
the office take the work completed in the required 4th year design studio and develop it further. While the actual implementation of this idea was relatively straightforward, it required rethinking how we teach and how students learn. The result was a teaching model that merges theories of architectural professional practice with theories of learning. The model draws heavily on a process for professional practice that Donald Alan Schön (1931-1997) described in his book the Reflective Practitioner, as well as the conceptual framework for teaching he developed in his 1996 book Educating the Reflective Practitioner: Toward a New Design for Teaching and Learning in the Professions. These ideas were augmented by contemporary practices in service learning1 which rely on reflection as the primary modality for student-understanding of what they learned, and how. Schön’s work is relevant today because the dilemma he postulated in 1983 as the “technical-rationality” problem, or the grounding of professional knowledge in the technical at the expense of artful doing, remains central to the discourse on teaching architecture. The challenge for us as educators is to develop an alternate epistemology in which the knowledge inherent in practice is to be understood as artful doing.2 As practitioners we make sense of unfamiliar and unique situations by seeing them as something already present in our repertoire. Schön describes it this way. “To see this site as that one is not to subsume the first under a familiar category or rule. It is, rather, to see the unfamiliar, unique situation as both similar to and different from the familiar one, without at first being able to say similar or different with respect to what. The familiar situation functions as a precedent, or a metaphor, or … an exemplar for the unfamiliar one.”3 Students, as a component of their education, must develop the ability to draw upon their personal experiences in a manner that allows for different ways of understanding a situation because it is critical to their ability to become a creative practitioner; however, as educators we frequently expect more. Our expectation is that they will respond appropriately in any situation by filtering the good from the bad, and by developing a worldview that is grounded in a sense of what might make for the universal good.4 This is a continuous process of considering one’s life experiences and learning from them, which leads to a deeper understanding of self and ultimately, greater effectiveness as an architect.
To accomplish this, introducing students to the concept of a reflective practice is beneficial. As described by Schön, reflective practice is the process of “thoughtfully considering one’s own experiences in applying knowledge to practice while being coached by professionals in the discipline.” Schön’s work in this area was significantly influenced by John Dewey’s (1859-1952) theory of inquiry, as well as his earlier collaborative work with Chris Argyris in which they posited that it is previous experience, not theories of action, that direct our performance. In Schön’s words, “As [inquirers] frame the problem of the situation, they determine the features to which they will attend, the order they will attempt to impose on the situation, [and] the directions in which they will try to change it. In this process, they identify both the ends to be sought and the means to be employed.”5 In other words, the interaction between our knowledge driven and sensory processes, the ways we plan, implement and review our actions, are directed by our cognition, which ultimately informs our actions. 6 In his 1983 book The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action Schön describes a professional’s decision-making as a process of reflection-in-action while operating under conditions of complexity, uncertainty, uniqueness, and value conflict. In two subsequent books, Schön advocated for a reflective practice following the tradition of the design studio in Architecture - The Design Studio: An Exploration of Its Traditions and Potentials7, and Educating the Reflective Practitioner: Toward a New Design for Teaching and Learning in the Professions.8 Further work in this area after his death in 1997 by McAlpine and Weston9 added a third phase of reflection, reflection-for-action (reflecting before acting) to the two Schön identified-- reflection-in-action (reflecting while acting) and reflection-on-action (reflecting after acting).
Experiential Learning and Reflective Practice
One of the most important things I learned from this experience was learning how to work in a group. I’ve been on a lot of teams in my life, but learning how to work in a group in this environment was probably the most important thing I learned; learning when to throw in my opinion and when not to, and when to compromise. Chase Williston This intersession class exceeded my expectations. I didn’t really know what to expect going in. I thought I would get a feel for community design and design with real clients that could be implemented in real life, but I learned a lot from the people on my team, more than I thought I would in the beginning.I definitely learned about the design process from other people in upper level studios and the landscape architecture students, so I think I’ll be very much more prepared for next semester in time management and the design process.Working in vertically integrated teams was a really good idea. At each year level you have something different to bring to the table and I think that combining those ideas and all of that knowledge really comes out with a good product in the end. Adrienne Trahan
The concept of learning by doing is one of the fundamental building blocks of both formal and informal learning. The idea that learning from experience, can and should be distinguished from theories of cognitive learning has been discussed by many philosophers and theorists, most notably Dewey and Piaget.10 In 1975 Kolb and Fry11 created a model of experiential learning that articulated the process as taking action, observing then understanding its effect so that it is possible to anticipate the effect of another action taken in the same circumstances, and finally arriving at an understanding of the general principle of the action and its effect. The architecture studio, at its best, follows this model of experiential learning. Borzak augmented the description by concluding that experiential learning is a “direct encounter with the phenomena being studied rather than merely thinking about the encounter, or only considering the possibility of doing something about it.”12 A second type of experiential learning occurs as a result of “direct participation in the events of life.” In this model, learning is informal and a product of reflection upon everyday experience.13 Teachers as reflective practitioners are constantly studying their teaching methods and determining what works best for their students. Students, as reflective practitioners, engage in the learning process by associating the development of new knowledge from their experience with the goal of becoming autonomous, well-qualified, and self-directed professionals. The context for learning also plays a significant
part in the acquisition of knowledge. In fact, each design studio becomes a community of practice that is defined by three crucial elements: domain, community and practice.14 First, its identity is defined by a shared domain of interest and competence in architecture that distinguish its members from others. Second, members engage in collaborative activities and discussions that promote learning from each other, and third, members are practitioners because they have sustained interactions and develop shared resources, experiences, and strategies for resolving recurring problems.15 Wenger points out, that learning is basically a social process (situated learning), where members construct their identities in relation to the community of practice. What we can conclude is that meaningful learning needs to be contextualized; it is difficult for people to learn when information is abstract, or independent of a community of practice16 - a frequent condition in formal academic settings. As OCDD continued to develop its teaching model, it became clear that student learning as an outcome of engaging in this work is different from student learning as an outcome of experiences in traditional studio settings. The result is an academic model for teaching and learning design that augments the traditional studio. The model, which we call the Reflective Community of Practice, merges the best practices of traditional studio teaching with teaching and learning strategies developed in OCDD.
The Reflective Community of Practice
The Reflective Community of Practice
Building upon the characteristics of a reflective practice the concept of a reflective community of practice was developed by combing them with best practices for teaching and learning. This
Characteristics of Reflective Practitioner
Student/ Apprentice Outcome Framework for Teaching and Learning
Professional Practice â€“Reflective Practitioner
Traditional academic studio setting
Table Two Dimensions of Community of Practice by Educational Setting
Learning takes place in a real-world setting
Learning results from work on authentic tasks in real-world settings
Framework for Teaching and Learning
Characteristics of a Reflective Community of Practice
Learning is embedded in the social and physical context where the knowledge is to be used
Learning is situated in the activity in which the learners undertake
Wenger18 describes the three essential characteristics of a community of practice as: 1) it is identified by its members having a shared domain of interest, 2) members build relationships among themselves that enable them to learn from each other by engaging in collaborative activities and discussions, helping each other, and sharing information, and 3)members are practitioners and develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, and ways of addressing recurring problems. The traditional studio, however, does not exhibit all the characteristics of a reflective practice, as can be seen in Table One, but both the OCDD and the immersion experience do.
Table One Comparison of Reflection Potential by Educational Setting
All learning involves reflection-for-action, reflection-in-action, and reflection on action
on two basic assumptions, first, that adopting the principles of a reflective practice as an integral component of architectural education will ultimately produce reflective practitioners, and second, that teaching is most powerful and learning more profound when students are active participants, the subject matter is contextual, and it has meaning in their lives. As Lave and Wenger point out, this approach is in contrast to most classroom instruction which is abstract and out of context.17 It was possible for the authors to create a Reflective Community of Practice because they had developed a reflective practice in OCDD, through the teaching and learning laboratory and integration into the professional degree curriculum. The goal of merging the concepts of a reflective practice and a community of practice was achieved with the implementation of an immersion learning experience. While the components of a community of practice are present in the traditional studio environment the immersion experience provided the opportunity to develop an experience grounded in the principles of a reflective practice.
Teachers are coaches and members of the practice community
The Reflective Community of Practice model was constructed
Professional Practice Reflective Practitioner
Traditional academic studio setting Independent Work
resulted in a community of reflective practice exhibiting the following six characteristics: 1) teachers are coaches and members of the practice community,19 2) all learning involves reflectionfor-action, reflection-in-action, and reflection-on-action,20 3) learning is situated in the activity which the learners undertake, 21 4) learning is embedded in the social and physical context where the knowledge is to be used,22 5) learning results from work on authentic tasks in real-world settings,23 and 6) learning takes
place in a real-world setting. Comparing these 6 characteristics to the same frameworks for teaching and learning as used in Table One, Table Two indicates that to fully meet the characteristics of a reflective community of practice, and improve the quality of student learning, the traditional studio model would benefit from a variety of teaching and learning models, including the immersion learning experience.
Adding Value of Traditional Studio Model I’ve worked with the instructors for a number of years, and I really think that what you get from doing the community design work that they focus on is something that is invaluable in the students’ learning process and the kind of collaborative design that is fostered in this type of studio.It’s going to be a lesson in “catching up” to the project and that’s going to be really interesting. I think the other thing that will be interesting is seeing the participants learn how to work collaboratively, learn how to relegate tasks based on knowledge, and try to figure out who is best to be doing what thing at what time and coordinating those things together. Those kinds of organizational things become really important being one of the older students in the class. Jonathan LeJune
The traditional approach to design studio is based on the apprenticeship model that has its origins in the guilds of the Middle Ages, and while we like to consider the studio approach vastly different from the way our colleagues work in other disciplines, it is fundamentally similar; a highly structured, top down approach to teaching, tightly controlled by the studio critic. It is an instructor driven process where students are seen individually, their progress is reviewed, feedback is provided, revisions are suggested (that the instructor believes will result in a better solution), and the student is expected to test these ideas by revisiting his or her solution. This approach works well when students are able to work independently and the studio problems are in the students’ zone of proximal development (ZPD),
a concept developed by Lev Vygotsky (1896 –1934) defined as “…the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving.”24 Over the course of the studio sequence the studio critics model the desired outcome or task, as the students take more advanced studios the studio critics gradually shift more responsibility to the students, ultimately developing the capacity to work independently. Unlike the traditional studio, the immersion learning experience emulates a reflective community of practice that cultivates reflective practitioners and creates a structure for more profound learning.
The Reflective Community of Practice
Immersion Learning and the Reflective Community Practice
The immersion learning experience is an approach to design education that integrates a local practitioner, community partner, and stakeholders in the student’s learning process, and centers the responsibility for learning and critical evaluation on the students. It is a service learning experience that takes place in a practice-like setting and is facilitated in an architect-practitioner’s community. For the duration of the experience students work, study, and live in the community where they are working, and the studio critics function as facilitators of the process. This approach is based on the underlying assumption that meaningful learning is a product of the teaching activity because students are engaged in work on authentic tasks in real-world settings.25 The experience has been conducted twice since May 2009 during three consecutive weeks, and students were not permitted to take any additional courses, or work outside of the program. The success of the experience is directly related to the previous studio experiences of the participants. There are six primary goals in the immersion learning model and they differ from, but augment the traditional studio experience. In an immersion learning experience the studio project is a vehicle for students to: 1.
3. 4. 5. 6.
Develop skills, abilities and knowledge through work on architectural projects guided by direct contact with a client and architect practitioner, Work collaboratively in interdisciplinary teams with coaching from the architect practitioner and guidance from their community partner, Understand the processes involved in the development of sustainable communities, Understand the impact of socio-cultural context in project design, Improve time management skills and, Enhance their knowledge of the building design process and construction methods.
The students collaborate in vertically integrated, interdisciplinary teams, and work closely with their client to develop a program and preliminary budget for a project. The team is expected to respond appropriately to client feedback throughout the design process. The program’s architectpractitioner provides guidance to all student teams, and the role of the
Site visit, field measurements, and an impromptu drawing table. Walhall Hotel adaptive reuse. Left to right: Sean Chaney, Michael Trahan. McComb Studio, 2010. (Photo Credit: James Catalano)
studio critic is to facilitate the process and ensure that the curricular content is delivered and conforms to course requirements. At the conclusion of the program all teams participate in a public meeting to present their projects and receive feedback from their client and other community members. The student teams establish their own “offices,” within a larger studio setting located in the business district of the community. Each team is expected to work closely with the architect practitioner, community partner, clients, and studio critics from initial client meetings through completion. In addition to the design and technical work undertaken, the experience introduces students to: the environment of professional practice, design education, integration of education and practice, leadership through team and cohort collaboration, environmental stewardship for existing buildings and community development, the economic impact of globalization on small towns, and issues of cultural diversity. This experience allows the participants to focus intensely on all aspects of their project work without distraction, develop a penchant for critical reflection, and participate in a mentor relationship with the architect-practitioner and studio critics.
Conclusion The immersion learning experience has been well received among the students and community partners. The Office of Community Design and Development has been recognized nationally for this initiative through the award of a National Council of Architectural Registration Boards Prize, and the OCDD Director has received a regional award from the Gulf South Summit for outstanding contributions to service learning directly related to the immersion learning experience and efficacy of integrating service-learning in the 4th year design studio curriculum. The following student reflections extracted from exit interviews are typical of most responses. This class has similar aspects to studio; all the technical things, producing a final product on a deadline, working with a professor – but there was so much more to it. Working with a client, working with the older students, working with a team; we got so much more done and we got to produce a product that we actually wanted to do - not simply finish for a grade. The driving force behind it was so much better than just (working for) my own personal grade. This project is a great example about how things can be done in a studio, and probably should be done in a studio. (rising 2nd year student) These projects are different than (traditional) studio projects and working with a team was the best part of the experience. There are a lot of things that are similar but working with a client with specific needs is something that is really rewarding; and when you see their excitement after you have worked on their project, well, the most exciting thing for me (was) to have that fulfillment at the end of a project. There are definitely more strengths than weaknesses working in a vertically integrated team. I think being the team leader and the oldest one in the group I learned a lot from teaching and trying to understand what I needed to teach my
team members. In architecture school we should definitely do more vertically integrated studios because it is very fulfilling as a class format. It was great. (rising 4th year student and team leader) This experience has been offered twice in the City of McComb, Mississippi during spring intersession. Students earned 6.0 hours of academic credit that could be applied to the professional elective requirements and earning a minor in community design. We are currently working with the State of Louisiana Main Street Program, and will be conducting an immersion experience in December 2010 focused on the intersection of preservation and economic development in the city of Minden, Louisiana, sponsored by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Our next step in developing this approach to immersion learning will be to build future experiences around specific topics that support sustainable community design and development in areas such as energy conservation and production, adaptive reuse, design/build, and environmental justice issues as they relate to the making of architecture. Ultimately, the goal is to support the broader pedagogical objectives of the LSU School of Architecture and related disciplines. Although we have not attempted this approach with students from other disciplines we are confident that the approach is easily transferable, and we will be integrating students from other disciplines into the project teams in future experiences. It was a confluence of ideas that that emerged from our work in the OCDD that ultimately shaped the development of the immersion experience. However, it is the reciprocal arrangement between the students and their community partners that makes this a meaningful learning experience for all involved.
References 1 See for example: Robert Bringle and Julie Hatcher, “Reflection in Service-
7 Donald Schön, The Design Studio: An Exploration of its Traditions and Potentials
Learning: Making Meaning of Experience,” Educational Horizons 77.4. 1999 :
(London: RIBA, 1984).
179-85 and Larry Wolfson and John Willinsky, “What Service-Learning Can Learn from Situated Learning,” The Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 5.
8 Donald Schön, Educating the Reflective Practitioner: Toward a New Design for
Teaching and Learning in the Professions (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1987).
2 Donald Schön, The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action
9 Lynn McAlpine and Cynthia Weston, “Reflection: Issues Related to Improving
(New York: Basic Books, 1983) and Robin Usher et al. Adult Education and the
Professors’ Teaching and Students’ Learning.” Instructional Science 28. 5-6. 2000:
Postmodern Challenge. (London: Routledge, 1997).
3 Schön Reflective Practitioner 138.
10 See Harry Beilin and Peter Pufalle, eds. Piaget’s Theory: Prospects and Possibilities (Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum) 1992.
4 See Mark Smith, Local Education (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1994) 142-145.
11 David Kolb and Roger Fry. “Toward an Applied Theory of Experiential Learning.” Theories of Group Process. ed. Cary Cooper (London: John Wiley)1975.
5 Schön, Reflective Practitioner 165. 12 Lenore Borzak, ed. Field Study: A Source Book for Experiential Learning 6 Chris Argyris and Donald Schön, Theory in Practice: Increasing Professional Effectiveness (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1974).
(Beverley Hills: Sage Publications, 1981).
The Reflective Community of Practice
Frank M. Bosworth is a Professor of Architecture and a University Service Learning Fellow. He is a founding co-director of the Office of Community Design and Development, the LSU School of Architecture outreach office, and currently works in the office as a research associate. Frank holds a Ph.D. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Environmental Design and Planning, and a BArch, and BS in Building Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In addition to teaching a variety of architecture courses, he has extensive administrative experience as Program Director of the Architecture and Environmental Design program at Bowling Green State University, Ohio; Dean of the School of Architecture at Southern University, Baton Rouge, and most recently Director of the LSU School of Architecture. Prior to beginning his career in the academy, he owned a twenty‐person architecture firm in Clearwater, Florida specializing in planning and housing design. His primary research interest is in teaching and learning in architectural education, most recently focusing on communitybased immersion learning workshops for which he was a co-recipient of a NCARB award for the integration of education and practice. Until recently, Frank team-taught fourth year design and is currently teaching in the second year design studio. Frank also teaches Urban Design and Planning, and is working on the next phase of the immersion learning workshops through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Marsha R. Cuddeback is Director of LSU’s Office of Community Design and Development, a Professional-In-Residence in the School of Architecture at Louisiana State University, and partner in the firm Desmond Cuddeback Architects. She holds degrees in Architecture and Applied Arts from the Boston Architectural College, Boston, Massachusetts and Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario. Marsha is a registered architect, LEED Accredited Professional, and the State’s Intern Development Program Coordinator. Prior to relocating in Southeast Louisiana, she practiced in the office of Kallmann, McKinnell & Wood, Architects, Boston, Massachusetts, was Associate Director of Academic Affairs at the Boston Architectural College, and Career Advisor for the Career Discovery program at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University. In 2005, Marsha facilitated an interdisciplinary Community Design Minor at LSU, and teaches the fundamental courses required to earn the minor. In recent years she developed and taught the first credit bearing LEED structured course in LSU’s School of Architecture, Sustainable Design through LEED, and LSU’s Continuing Education program, Sustainable Design Practice for High Performance Buildings. She has received university funding that supports integrating service‐learning in coursework and the curriculum, and co‐teaches the required service learning fourth year design sequence that integrates sustainable community design, planning and practice. Marsha has received numerous awards including a 2010 NCARB Prize for Creative Integration of the Practice in the Academy, the 2010 Gulf South Summit Outstanding Service-Learning Faculty Award, the 2009 Grassroots Grassroots Excellence Award for Component Outreach Communications from the American Institute of Architects with AIA Louisiana, and the 2009 LSU Outstanding Service‐ Learning Faculty Award. Marsha is an advocate for integrating issues related to sustainable design and environmental stewardship in all aspects of the curriculum and participated in the Sustainability and Curriculum: Workshop for Campus Leaders sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Recent grant awards include the National Endowment for the Arts, Louisiana Sustainable Communities Project, LA Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration, Brown and Caldwell, Outreach and Engagement Strategic Plan, and LA Department of Transportation and Development, Context Sensitive Solutions Implementation Plan.
13 Cyril Houle, Continuing Learning in the Professions (San Francisco: Jossey-
20 Schön Reflective Practitioner and, Educating the Reflective Practitioner.
Bass, 1980). 21 Dewey, John. How We Think, (New York: D. C. Heath 1933) and Schön 14 See Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral
Reflective Practitioner and, Educating the Reflective Practitioner.
Participation (Cambridge: University Press, 1991). 22 John Brown, Allan Collins, and Paul Duguid. “Situated Cognition and the 15 Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott and William Snyder, Cultivating
Culture of Learning.” Educational Researcher 18.1. 1989: 32-42.
Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press, 2002).
23 William Winn, “A Constructivist Critique of the Assumptions of Instructional Design.” Designing Environments for Constructive Learning. Eds. Thomas Duffy,
16 Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity
Joost Lowyck, and David Jonassen (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1993).
(Cambridge: University Press, 1998). 24 Michael Cole et al. eds. L. S. Vygotsky Mind in Society: The Development of 17 Lave and Wenger Situated Learning.
Higher Psychological Processes (Cambridge, Massachusetts: University Press, 1978, 86).
18 Wenger Comunities of Practice. 25 Winn “A Constructivist Critique.” 19 Lave and Wenger Situated Learning.
Designing for the Long Haul: Approaches to Address Mutual Benefit in the East St. Louis Action Research Project Laura Lawson and Jane Tigan
Residents and students working side-by-side to build a new playground, students presenting GIS maps at a community meeting to show the correlation of vacancy with a failing storm-water system, place-based design proposals for new housing to reinvigorate a depopulated neighborhood—these are some of the satisfying results that spur ongoing efforts in community-based design in East St. Louis. Collectively, they suggest the very real impact of sustained community-university partnerships. The general philosophy is to encourage a mutually beneficial partnership between the university and a community, with faculty and students providing needed service to a community that in turn provides rich, applied learning experiences for students and rewarding applied research for faculty. Those writing about the pedagogy behind this engagement use a range of terms to emphasize various aspects of mutuality, such as service learning, civic engagement, and community-based learning. For the environmental design fields, this engagement typically occurs through a design studio that links the skills of a design department with the concrete needs of a community. While mutual benefit is encouraging, there is murkiness when one considers how to balance the partnership so both parties see benefit in its continuance. According to The American Heritage Dictionary, a partner is “A person associated with another or others in some activity of common interest,” with references made to business, marriage, dance, and sport —all strong allusions that convey a range of motivations and ways to
evaluate success, including sharing profits, building a family, practiced routines, and coordinated plays. Reading further, the entry confirms that partner “implies a relationship, … in which each has equal status and certain independence but also implicit or formal obligations to the other or others” (emphasis added). One of the intrinsic measures of a successful partnership, then, may be a balance of self-interest and obligation. When considering the inherent differences in power, privilege, and needs of a university and a community—often one that is seeking assistance because of lack of resources—keeping the promise of mutual benefit may be best seen through how the partnership evolves to both party’s satisfaction over a period of sustained engagement. The environmental design disciplines have been important contributors in many university-community partnerships.1 For urban planning, architecture, and landscape architecture in particular, community engagement builds on traditions in advocacy planning and participatory design. Paul Davidoff’s charge to the planning profession to advocate for the needs of the urban poor profoundly influenced environmental design fields and curricula. In reaction to the many ways participation might be framed—from manipulation to citizen control—methods have been developed to provide a more active and equal role for community.2 Through participatory processes, advocates argue, success can be seen in place-based projects that often address a range of social, environmental, and economic ends, rather than simply design ends.3
Designing for the Long Haul
For design curricula, the engaged studio, like one involved in a community-university partnership, is an opportunity to not only teach participatory design approaches, but also to engage students in “real world” problems and work with diverse populations.4 While acknowledging that engagement in the design process has many benefits for community and students, the challenge for a sustained program is to figure out how to progress beyond design. In many cases, the ultimate goal for the community is to build the project, yet the reality for many students and faculty is that engagement is a semester-by-semester situation limited by course-based structure and other academic demands. In addition, the skills needed for the subsequent phases, such as economic analysis or construction management, are often beyond the scope of student and faculty. Handing over a visionary but expensive design or plan to a limited capacity community with no development prospects raises ethical questions about the return on investment by community who have given their time and expertise to the partnership.5 Repurposing vacant land into a new park might be very exciting and potentially beneficial, but who is going to maintain it? In the context of a sustained community-university partnership, assuring the community’s goals suggests rethinking the engaged studio beyond design or planning proposals and the need for interdisciplinary engagement, staff follow-through, and other resources to assure sustainable, mutual benefit.
This article investigates the complicated process of sustaining relationships between university and community as both their needs and demand on the partnership change and evolve, and how the engaged design studio reflects this change. Drawing from the experiences of the University of Illinois’ East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP), one of the oldest and most respected university-community partnerships in the nation, it also investigates the way planning and design can adapt to particular partnership needs and integrate into a larger context of engagement.6 ESLARP was initially grounded in the work of faculty and students in Urban and Regional Planning, Architecture, and Landscape Architecture, with much of the engagement and work occurring through design studios and planning workshops as well as general volunteerism. Today, ESLARP is a college unit that supports engagement by faculty, students, and staff from multiple disciplines across the university campus and over 30 community organizations. While the mission has remained consistent—to establish and nurture mutually enhancing partnerships between community-based organizations in distressed urban areas, and students, staff, and faculty at the University of Illinois—the changing needs of both partners have resulted in changes to design and planning approaches, scale of inquiry, and outcomes. The authors posit that these changes, while often difficult, were possible because of a commitment to sustained engagement and attention to mutual benefit.
Design as Bridge Between Two Communities
The partnership between the University of Illinois and East St. Louis is a reflection of both need and hope. While it would be naïve to ignore the harsh realities of unemployment, poverty, depopulation, and environmental degradation that face residents in East St. Louis, it would be unpardonable for those engaged with ESLARP not to highlight the passion, commitment, and pride that many residents have for their community which impels them to action. In this context, design and planning have served essential roles in not only documenting conditions of the often harsh realities of the place, but also helping to form and make manifest a vision that expresses the passion and pride of the residents. At the same time, the many personal relationships that are built through the process also instill a sense of responsibility to make real the promises and resources envisioned. To understand the evolution of ESLARP’s partnership and the role of planning and design as an engagement tool, it is important to understand the physical, political, and intellectual context for both parties in the partnership – the community and the university.
The current landscape of interstate exchanges and railroad rights-of-way, industrial brownfields, and largely vacant residential neighborhoods are persistent reminders of the East St. Louis’s origins as an industrial hub vitally linked to the nation’s transportation and industrial development. Established in the 1790s as a ferry landing across the Mississippi River, East St. Louis’s trajectory was quickly realized as ferries gave way to railroads and highways that now crisscross the city. Industrial employment opportunities attracted a diverse population that came to reside in neighborhoods of varying status, making use of the local parks, schools, and other civic amenities. However, the pro-business agenda of the local government limited investment in social improvements and led to machine politics, organized crime, and minimal social reform.7 Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the City was affected by the rise and fall of industry, but ultimately the deindustrialization that occurred throughout the Eastern and Midwest regions of the United States in the 1950s and 60s put the City into severe financial and social distress. The decline in job opportunities resulted in population loss and demographic change. While
Designing for the Long Haul
many people left to seek jobs elsewhere or moved to expanding suburban areas around the city, others who were financially unable to leave found few opportunities and inadequate social services. Although the city had long had a substantial African American population, it was during the industrial decline that its population shifted from being predominantly white to African American, due to both “white flight” and the migration of African Americans to East St. Louis from Southern states. By the 1950s African Americans represented the majority. Seeking solutions to economic and social change, city officials, like officials in many cities across the nation at this time, turned to planning and design professionals as well as to researchers from several regional universities to conduct studies, propose broad changes, and seek federal funds for large-scale renewal projects.8 Throughout the 1960s and 70s, city administrators applied for and received federal funds for urban renewal and revitalization projects; however while money was spent on studies and site clearance, few final projects were realized. Meanwhile, as the city’s tax base steadily declined, it began to eliminate many services, including not only its planning department
but also garbage pick up from 1987 to 1992. It was in this context that a relationship between the city of East St. Louis and the University of Illinois began. While linking one of the poorest communities in the state to the state’s flagship, land-grant university made sense, there were challenges to be faced, including the 175-mile separation and finding the right fit between service needs and the research and teaching agenda of the university. The first known engagement was by Architecture professor Ernie Clay in the mid-1970s and again in the early 1980s. The engagement solidified in 1987 when the state representative from the East St. Louis area, Wyvetter Younge, worked with university administrators, in particular Architecture Director Alan Forrester, to fund what was known as the Urban Extension and Minority Access Program (UEMAP). The program was designed to provide technical assistance to agencies and organizations working on community revitalization efforts, train neighborhood residents and officials in community planning and design, and offer students hands-on design education.
From Urban Redesign to Neighborhood First
The first phase of engagement involved primarily architecture studios investigating opportunities for riverfront and downtown development. In 1988, Architecture professor Carolyn Dry’s studio goals were to “propose projects that would develop the physical environment, provide jobs, and catalyze social and economic development.”9 The students began their engagement by first visiting the city and meeting with the city politicians, real estate developers, planning groups, and others. Students developed designs with big impact, such as a central Recreation and Trade Center, high-rise apartments and offices along the waterfront, and a modular housing factory. Faculty from other departments, including urban planning, civil engineering, and landscape architecture, started to become involved as well. From 1989 to the early 1990s both Dry and Clay worked with city officials on a number of commercial and economic development concepts, including an analysis of the economic development impact of a riverfront casino. In 1992, Mayor Gordon Bush formally adopted the development goals and agenda of a report by Clay and his students. However, while the work was solid and professional, with the exception of the construction of a riverfront casino, no projects progressed beyond the proposal phase for several reasons, not the least of which was shortage of resources at the City level. The project transformed to become the East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP) in 1990 as the focus shifted to community-based design and empowerment planning. A story that persists in ESLARP’s lore is that of a meeting with a neighborhood pastor who, when talking with some of the faculty, pointed to a shelf with several binders and publications on it and, explained, “We’re tired of you guys coming down here. Your students get to graduate, you get to be promoted, and we get these reports.”10 A critical change occurred as faculty shifted focus from larger scale, city-supported projects to neighborhood-based projects. Pivotal to this evolution was the participation of professor Ken Reardon, from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, who was trained in the labor organizing movement and turned toward direct action organizing techniques. The motto became “Neighborhoods First,” with a
A 1988 student team proposal for a domed recreation facility to include casinos, resturants, shopping, and aquarium.
A 1988 student team proposal for covenetion center across from Jefferson National Momument in St. Louis.
focus on faculty and students working alongside community groups on small-scale projects. This model relied heavily on the commitment of individual faculty members Ken Reardon (Urban Planning), Mike Andrejasich (Architecture), and Brian Orland (Landscape Architecture) for whom the 350-mile roundtrip drive was often a more than weekly commute in order to attend community meetings, meet with leaders, or conducting fieldwork. The design and planning projects during this time reflected both the direct need for community activism and an optimism that these efforts would lead to overall economic development. Central to this approach was the pre-existing and emerging resident organizations focused on addressing the immediate needs of neighborhoods. With a financially strapped and overburdened municipal
Designing for the Long Haul
government that lacked resident trust and credibility due to a legacy of corruption and ineffectualness, neighborhood organizations started working on local problems, such as illegal dumping, localized flooding, abandoned properties, and safety. While the majority of neighborhood organizations remained small volunteer-run groups, some with initial buoying by ESLARP faculty and students support were able to expand into staffed organizations that could acquire grants to further economic and community development objectives. In addition, ESLARP also partnered with churches and not-for-profit organizations that provided social services and support of community revitalization efforts. Much of the early effort involved an ongoing collaboration with the Emerson Park Development Corporation.11 In Fall 1990, Reardon, his research assistant Isaq Shafiq, and ten students began a neighborhood planning process that included bi-weekly meetings with community representatives and multiple visits. Reardon estimated that students worked roughly 20 hours per week on the project, with costs absorbed by the University.12 According to the report: The purpose of this project was to develop an action plan for the Emerson Park neighborhood of East St. Louis. Through resident empowerment, it is hoped that living conditions in Emerson Park would be greatly improved. A participatory research methodology was used in order to address the concerns and needs of area residents and to involve them in the planning process. Past plans often failed because of lack of resident involvement. All planning activities were therefore carried out in consultation with the Emerson Park Development Corporation Steering Committee comprised of community residents. (page 1) The resulting 140-page draft plan was presented to Emerson Park residents for review in early December of 1990 and ultimately approved in January 1991. This document presented specific programs aimed at achieving the following five objectives: beautification, housing rehabilitation and development, substance abuse and public safety focus, economic
Professor Ken Reardon working with residents and students in early 1990s.
development and job generation, and community organizing. In 1991, the plan was awarded American Institute of Certified Plannersâ€™ Outstanding Student Plan of 1991. During the next semester, Reardon continued work with a new class to develop the Emerson Park Community Safety Plan. With ongoing support from ESLARP, these plans guided future actions by EPDC, including proposals for new housing that ultimately resulted in 174 affordable housing units being constructed, park clean-up and revitalization, and successful lobbying to get a station on the regional MetroLink light rail line placed in the neighborhood, which dramatically improved access to employment in the larger St. Louis region.13 Similar engagement that started with intensive neighborhood planning process occurred in the neighborhoods of Lansdowne in 1992 and 2001, Winstanley/Industrial Park in 1992, Edgemont in 1995, Olivette Park in 1996, Alta Sita in 1999, and the South End in 2003. The resulting plans required substantial work by graduate research assistance, students in courses, faculty overseeing final plan reports, and, of course, the time and costs associated with frequent travel back and forth between the Champaign-Urbana campus and East St. Louis. Ongoing engagement was framed as part of the commitment to the residents who were assured that the university would stay involved to help realize tangible results from the planning process.
Design-Building and Technical Assistance
Based on needs and opportunities identified through the neighborhood planning process, various types of design projects emerged for affiliated Architecture and Landscape Architecture studios to work on. In some cases, the design work was exploratory, but in other projects either the community organization or ESLARP was able to acquire funding for implementation. As a result, the process evolved into a design-build strategy that was grounded in student engagement and volunteers from campus and community.14 A specific example is the development of a farmers’ market on an abandoned used car lot that was made possible through a HUD grant. In regular discussion with residents involved in the Winstanley Industrial Park Neighborhood Organization (WIPNO), planning students prepared a plan for the market and a training workshop series for new vendors, Architecture students designed and built affordable vendor stalls and repaired the marketplace’s structures, and Landscape Architecture students prepared a site plan for vendor use and other activities, including seating and a performance stage. During a single spring semester, the site went from a state of disrepair, through conceptual design, to opening and operation. Unfortunately, this was a short-lived project due to internal organization politics and disagreements over land ownership and control. Another longer term example is the development of the Illinois Avenue Playground in the Winstanley/Industrial Park neighborhood. The neighborhood organization, WIPNO, was eager to expand community support by developing a tangible project that met residents’ concerns and could be completed relatively quickly. Few of the neighborhood parks had play spaces for toddlers, so the construction of such a playground was a suitable project. Initial involvement of a landscape architecture studio produced GIS maps showing vacant land and sites most amenable to acquisition and assembly; however, when presented to the community, residents disregarded the GIS-selected sites for one that met community needs for safety and proximity as opposed to ease of assemblage. Students and residents continued to engage in a participatory design process to develop a site plan. Once the site was acquired, ESLARP faculty
and students coordinated donation of materials and volunteer events to complete the playground’s construction. ESLARP remained involved with the Illinois Avenue Playground for many years, assisting in cleanups and organizing for neighborhood involvement as the initial resident organizers, mostly seniors, were no longer able to care for the site. The planning and design projects developed in this model were intended for implementation by the community on a minimal budget. As such, they were often relatively basic designs meant to be easily built during several volunteer events involving students, community members, and others. Given this ultimate goal of non-professional construction, faculty and students had to sometimes grapple with the seeming contradiction in theoretical design explorations involving innovation and experimentation and the ultimate need for pragmatic simplicity and efficiency in materials and labor. In some cases, this intention was at odds with other aspects of design pedagogy that prioritized theoretical and award-winning concepts. Faculty often faced criticism when work looked ordinary, particularly when compared to other
Illinois Avenue Playground Site Design Proposal, developed by students and community residents, 1993.
Designing for the Long Haul
engagement efforts like Rural Studio that focused on use of innovative materials and had a longer period of student residency for construction. The intention to assist community construction projects also led to increased emphasis on engaging volunteers and creating service projects. While a studio might be engaged in a design project, hundreds of other students also participated through what became known as “ESLARP Outreach Weekends,” occurring 2-3 times per semester as an overnight service trip to assist in construction projects, conduct neighborhood clean-ups, conduct door-to-door surveys, and other projects identified by community partners. Students typically received an orientation tour and then broke up into smaller groups to work with residents, convening back together for meals and other social activities. Volunteers also participated in “Blitz Build” projects that were more intensive efforts at quick, larger-scale construction projects. For instance, in 1998 ESLARP coordinated student involvement in a “Blitz Build” that resulted in the construction of two houses in a 3-week period. That same year, the Katherine Dunham Artisanal Village Hut Blitz Build was a 3-day event to construct 6 thatch huts and pavilions that involved over 100 volunteers. In 1995, ESLARP’s ability to assist neighborhood groups received a substantial boost when it was awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Outreach Partnerships Centers Program (COPC) to expand its ongoing work in neighborhood planning and organizational development, as well as establish a center in East St. Louis to assist community groups. The resulting Neighborhood Technical Assistance Center (NTAC) office opened in 1998 with a staff of four professional planners and architects who provided technical assistance to neighborhood groups and local nonprofit service providers, including grant writing assistance, organizational capacity training, non-profit incubator, and planning and design consultation. This project lasted for seven years, during which time faculty and students relied on NTAC staff for much of the ongoing engagement while staff often identified emerging projects that would work
well for a studio. By having a physical office in East St. Louis, ESLARP had a place for students and faculty to meet or to stage service events, while residents also had an easy place to go for internet access, copy machines, and strategy sessions with staff and others. At its peak, NTAC worked with nearly 80 neighborhood organizations. Unfortunately, reduction in external funding, difficulty supervising the center, and concerns about its link to academic mission, led to NTAC’s closure in 2005. With NTAC’s closure, a challenge arose how to meet the technical assistance expectations of community partners. Understandably, NTAC’s closure caused community concern that the university was abandoning the project. While ESLARP leaders allayed those concerns, changes in faculty participation, ESLARP staff, and departmental support made a return to the pre-NTAC model unrealistic. A new approach was necessary that could maintain university presence in East St. Louis so that new opportunities could be identified and older projects supported and sustained, while still operating under new constraints. A new structure for the partnership emerged that relied on two supporting offices – one campus office that included an administrative assistant to manage logistics of outreach weekends and other university needs and a cadre of graduate research assistance providing course and research support, and a small office in East St. Louis, housed in the County Cooperative Extension office, consisting of a full-time Community Liaison position held by a long-term East St. Louis resident who could attend community meetings, provide orientation tours for first-time visitors from the university, and serve as a conduit for residents to learn about campus opportunities. These two offices, in constant communication, took over much of the organizational management that had been done by faculty and the previous NTAC staff and sought to keep a balanced perspective in the partnership.
Service Learning and Design Scholarship
While work continued on various projects with committed local partners, changes in the academic focus began to manifest in how design studios and planning workshops were structured and taught. Part of this re-focusing occurred when key tenured faculty stepped away from ESLARP and new tenure-track faculty joined. Eager to engage with community partners in an established program that already had connections in the community, new faculty hired in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning nonetheless had other challenges to face, particularly increased scholarly expectations for promotion and tenure and departmental and personal responsibilities that hindered travel. At the same time, increased academic discourse on service-learning suggested new models that relied less on unstructured volunteerism and suggested new opportunities to connect with research and teaching opportunities beyond the specific design or planning project.15 Responding to these multiple pressures, new faculty increased evaluation of student learning, particularly self-reflection on the meaning of engagement and multicultural competency, a notable shift from the technical assistance model. While anecdotal evidence from years of involving students suggested powerful learning occurred through ESLARP-affiliated courses and participation in Outreach Weekends, there was an ongoing undercurrent of concern about what it meant
to bring hundreds of students, often predominantly middle-class and white, to witness firsthand the poverty and lack of resources in East St. Louis. From a disciplinary perspective, ESLARP design studios and planning workshops had influenced some students toward careers in public service, even in some cases working for EPDC and other development agencies in and around East St. Louis—but it was unclear how most students fit this experience in their overall professional education as designers and planners. Reflecting on his own work with ESLARP, Ken Reardon noted that students who did not reflect on their experiences might continue to hold stereotypic beliefs and paternalistic attitudes about the community residents with whom they are working. “While such service may enhance the students’ feeling of self-worth and moral virtue, it may contribute little to their intellectual and practical understanding of social justice and racial inequality.”16 In light of this concern, new ESLARP faculty turned to scholarship in multicultural education for teaching models that explicitly address issues of race and class differences between students and community.17 Several faculty began evaluating student learning as a scholarly research project, in some cases revealing alarming findings about paternalistic attitudes and persistent racism that led to important changes in teaching to incorporate reflection exercises, community discussion forums, and other activities to
Designing for the Long Haul
Residents, students, and faculty in 2008 strategic planning meeting to discuss future engagement opportunities between campus and community.
encourage multicultural education.18 The focus on service learning led to structural changes in how students engaged. Increasingly, campus activities focused on courses rather than student voluntary service. Outreach weekends shifted from general volunteers to serving an array of courses from not only Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture, and Architecture, but also Recreation, Sports, Tourism; History; Education; and other disciplines. In addition, the Outreach Weekend format was changed into a 1-credit course that required an initial information meeting, a tour and service project in East St. Louis, and a reflective discussion session the following week on campus. This evaluation was one expression of the need to solidify a stronger research and scholarship
record to validate individual faculty time spent on engagement, particularly given increased expectation of published work as part of promotion and tenure. In addition, new faculty developed multi-strained research trajectories that were based on particular community-based projects and studied in terms of service-learning pedagogy, theory, and larger academic discourse. For example Architecture Professor Lynne Dearborn was able to stay engaged in several housing-related issues faced in East St. Louis through design studios looking at neighborhood planning, senior housing, and other housingrelated issues; funded research in predatory mortgage practices that was able to be used in court testimonies on 24 cases of code violation, and award-winning scholarly publications.19
New Directions, Community Informatics and Global Action Research
While computer-enabled data collection and analysis had been important since the early stages of GIS mapping as part of neighborhood assessment and planning in the 1990s, the role of digital technology expanded exponentially with the involvement of faculty, staff, and students from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science and development of the Digital ESL Collaborative. The Digital ESL Collaborative was established in 2000 to expand access and training in digital technology in the East St. Louis metro area, after community members requested ESLARP begin working on it. It was clear to many residents that lack of access to technological shifts and advancements was widening an already wide gap between East St. Louis residents and much of the rest of the nation. Graduate students and faculty worked to narrow the “digital divide” by providing computer workstations and training at over twenty locations in and around East St. Louis. They also sponsored youth program aimed at teaching youth, ages 14-18, computer hardware, software diagnostics, and business entrepreneurship skills. Community informatics has also led to new opportunities to expand engagement to other communities and contexts. One unique connection was made by a previous ESLARP staff member who was originally from the African island nation of São Tomé and Principe who returned to his native country and approached ESLARP to begin engagement there along the same model. Initial work involved information technology and training and several masters’ theses in Urban Planning and Architecture that addressed airport expansion and address conflicts with an adjacent housing settlement. During 2010, an interdisciplinary design project began that involves an Architecture and Landscape Architecture studio working on several community-identified projects in São Tomé City. Students and faculty visited for 2 ½ weeks during spring break to talk with
Students meeting with residents in São Tomé.
residents and conduct fieldwork, with ongoing conversations supported via web and email, made possible by the previous work to improve computer access and training on the island. Again, the commitment is longterm to continue engagement to facilitate community capacity building, visioning, and implementation of projects. Recognizing that the 23-year commitment in one community has taught important lessons on process and partnerships that can be expanded to new communities, ESLARP is currently approaching a new phase in its development to become the Illinois Global Action Research Project (IGARP). While work with partners in East St. Louis continues, the intention is to facilitate dialogue amongst faculty and students involved in sustained action research in multiple communities, from the local to the global.
Designing for the Long Haul
Evaluating the Partnership— the Long Haul
With the resources of staffed offices on campus and in East St. Louis, course-based outreach weekends facilitating reflection, and courses following a service-learning pedagogy, ESLARP’s current approach serves university objectives, yet there were also concerns raised as to its responsiveness to community partners’ needs, particularly given the shift away from the NTAC model of direct technical assistance. This concern led to a strategic planning process in 2008 to discuss future directions for ESLARP. The first meeting, held in December 2008 in East St. Louis, was attended by 30 faculty, students, and staff from the University and 30 representatives of community organizations that had been or were still active partners. Discussions revealed an ongoing interest in the partnership to continue existing forms of engagement, such as outreach weekends engaging students and residents in neighborhood clean-ups and construction projects, studios and workshops helping address planning and design opportunities, and ongoing development of technology and youth computer training. In addition, there was interest in economic development, community history, health and nutrition, and education and jobtraining opportunities. Whereas in the past some residents were skeptical of the benefit in
scholarly academic research, several community organization representatives expressed interest in data and academic research related to persistent problems in hopes to use that data in grant requests. This meeting confirmed that, even though the approach had changed, there were still ways to keep the partnership useful to the community. Based on this feedback, ESLARP sought out expertise on campus and supported research to evaluate the public school system, migration and economic patterns influencing the region, community food security, and other studies. Not only do the studies, made public on the ESLARP website, provide data for residents to use, but they also encourage more faculty and students who may not be ready for the full commitment required in applied engagement to learn about the community organizations and their work in East St. Louis and contribute in their own way. As many ESLARP-affiliated faculty attest, “Once you begin working with residents in East St. Louis, you are hooked.”
Conclusion ESLARP’s evolution reveals, that there is no one way for design and planning to be used in a sustained community-university partnership. Moreover, ESLARP’s experience shows that no one portion of the partnership—community, faculty, students, staff, university administrators—holds the reins on the main engagement method of that time. Multiple pressures, objectives, and constraints within engagement affect the work being done at a given time. That the University of Illinois has maintained a steady presence and active design and planning capacity in East St. Louis is due largely to the institutionalization of the program community-university organization. Sustained engagement suggests that both partners are benefitting, while the evolution reveals a very dynamic balance of needs and results. In some cases, it has been a faculty member who engages and his/her training and research/teaching objects determine the process. In other cases, it has been the sustained commitment with a partner has shown changing capacity and needs that research, courses, and outreach weekends can help facilitate. Changes in funding internal and external to the university, in the needs and direction from community members, in university personnel from upper-level administrators to staff—all conspire to create perpetual shifting in the communityuniversity partnership. To meet these changes, no one school of thought – designer as expert, as participant, as facilitator—is sufficient to respond. The engaged studio, then, if it is to sustain through a long-term engagement with a community must be flexible enough to respond to changes while seeking that balance of self-interest and obligation to the community in order to achieve its multiple objectives.
Endnotes 1 For examples of design-based community-university partnerships, see: Bryan Bell, ed., Good Deeds, Good Design: Community Service through Architecture (New York: Princeton University Press, 2004), Cheryl Doble, Paula Horrigan, and Tom Angotti, eds., Erasing Boundaries Supporting Communities: Service Learning in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Planning Programs (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, forthcoming), National Endowment for the Arts, University-Community Design Partnerships (New York: Princeton University Press, 2002). 2 See Sherry Arnstein, “A Ladder of Citizen Participation,” American Institute of Planners Journal July (1969), Paul Davidoff, “Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning,” Journal of the American Institute of Planners 31, no. 4 (1965), Randolph T. Hester, Community Design Primer (Mendocino, CA: Ridgetimes Press, 1990). 3 For examples of place-based design, see: Randolph T. Hester, Design for Ecological Democracy (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007), Jeffrey Hou and Michael Rios, “Community-Driven Place Making: The Social Practice of Participatory Design in the Making of Union Point Park,” Journal of Architectural Education 57, no. 1 (2003). 4 For other examples of service-learning studios addressing cross-cultural or multicultural learning outcomes, see: Ann Forsyth, Henry Lu, and Patricia McGirr, “Service Learning in an Urban Context: Implications for Planning and Design Education,” Journal of Architectural and Planning Research 17, no. 3 (2000), Margarita Hill, “Teaching with Culture in Mind: Cross-Cultural Learning in Landscape Architecture Education,” Landscape Journal 24, no. 2 (2005). 5 See Frank Fischer, Citizens, Experts, and the Environment: The Politics of Local Knowledge (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000).
6 Much of this paper is based on interviews conducted in 2009 by Jane Tigan. Interviewees included faculty and staff who had been involved in ESLARP since its inception. For more information on the East St. Louis Action Research Project, please see our website: www.eslarp.uiuc.edu. The website includes many of the plans and design proposals mentioned in this article. 7 For a history of East St. Louis, see Andrew Theising, East St. Louis: Made in the USA: The Rise and Fall of an Industrial River Town (St. Louis: Virginia Publishing Company, 2003). 8 Mary Edwards and Laura Lawson, “The Evolution of Planning in East St. Louis,” Journal of Planning History 4, no. 4 (2005), Dennis Judd and Robert Mendelson, The Politics of Urban Planning: The East St. Louis Experience (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1973), Robert Mendelson et al., “East St. Louis: Studied and Restudied,” in RUD Report (Edwardsville, Illinois: Regional and Urban Development, Southern Illinois University, 1969). 9 School of Architecture University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, “East St. Louis Revitalization Project, Vol. 2,” ed. Carolyn Dry (Urbana University of Illinois, 1989). Quote p. 6. 10 Quoted from interview with Brian Orland, 2009. 11 The Emerson Park Development Corporation started in 1985 as an informal group of concerned citizens that was led by Ceola Davis. The group met in the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House, on 13th St. Emerson Park Development Corporation (EPDC) initially met because of residents’ concern about missing
Designing for the Long Haul
Laura Lawson is Professor and Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Rutgers University. From 2002-2010, she was an active participant in the East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP) at the University of Illinois and served as Director from 2008-2010. She received her PhD in Environmental Planning and MLA from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research includes historical and contemporary community open space, with particular focus on community gardens and the changing roles of parks in low-income communities. She is author of City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America (University of California Press, 2005) and co-author, with Jeff Hou and Julie Johnson, of Greening Cities, Growing Communities: Urban Community Gardens in Seattle (University of Washington Press, 2009). She has instructed students in interdisciplinary, service-learning studio courses working with community groups in East St. Louis and Chicago.
Jane Tigan worked with the East St. Louis Action Research Project from 2008 to 2010 on community outreach, researching challenges to developing contaminated land and the history of the engagement between the University and the East St. Louis community. In 2010, she received her Master of Urban Planning from the Department of Urban and Regional and Planning, having studied challenges of planning in depopulating post-industrial cities. She now works the Detroit Vacant Property Campaign at Community Legal Resources doing vacant property planning. Originally from Minnesota, she received her BA in International Studies in Spanish at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.
manhole and broken streetlights. The group became incorporated in May 1989 and took on the name EPDC. In 1995 the Emerson Park Development Corporation was granted 501(c) 3 IRS tax code status and hired its first full time employee. EPDC continued to work with ESLARP, producing a 1999 revitalization plan and another plan in 2005. 12 Dept. of Urban and Regional Planning University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Neighborhood Planning Workshop, “Emerson Park Neighborhood Improvement Plan,” (1991). 13 Kenneth M. Reardon, “An Experiential Approach to Creating a Community University Partnership That Works: The East St. Louis Action Research Project,” Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research 5, no. 1 (2000). 14 Key faculty contributors during this period, from roughly 1989-2000, were Michael Andrejasich and Robert Selby (Architecture); Brian Orland and Gary Kesler (Landscape Architecture); and Kenneth Reardon and Varrki Pallathucheril (Urban and Regional Planning). Other faculty were involved in particular projects or studios, including Kathryn Anthony and Ernest Clay (Architecture), Doug Johnston and Amita Sinha (Landscape Architecture). 15 Barry Checkoway, “Reinventing the Research University for Public Service,” Journal of Planning Literature 11, no. 3 (1997), Susan A. Ostrander, “Democracy, Civic Participation, and the University: A Comparative Study of Civic Engagement on Five Campuses,” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 33, no. 1 (2004), Linda Silka, “Paradoxes of Partnerships: Reflections on University-Community Collaborations,” Research in Politics and Society 7 (1999).
16 Kenneth M. Reardon, “Undergraduate Research in Distressed Urban Communities: An Undervalued Form of Service Learning,” Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 1 (1994). Quote p. 53. 17 John T. King, “Service-Learning as a Site for Critical Pedagogy: A Case of Collaboration, Caring, and Defamiliarization across Borders,” Journal of Experiential Education 26, no. 3 (2004), Carolyn O’Grady, ed., Integrating Service Learning and Multicultural Education in Colleges and Universities (Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000). 18 Lynne Dearborn, “Action Research: Investigating, Reflecting, and Applying Service-Learning Principles in Professional Practice,” in Erasing Boundaries Supporting Communities: Service Learning in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Planning Programs, ed. Cheryl Doble, Paula Horrigan, and Tom Angotti (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, forthcoming). Laura Lawson et al., “Is It Professional or Personal? Engagement, Race, and Reflection in the East St. Louis CommunityBased Design Studio.” in Erasing Boundaries - Supporting Communities: Supporting Communities: Service Learning in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Planning Programs, ed. Cheryl Doble, Paula Horrigan, and Tom Angotti (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, forthcoming). 19 Lynne Dearborn, “Ameliorating Local Impacts with Architectural Research: Subprime Mortgages & Housing Quality,” ARCC Journal 2, no. 2 (2010).
Uncertainty is not a Problem to be Solved. It is the Working Space of Our Time. David Perkes
The first generation of community design activists came from a time when civil rights efforts were shining a light on miserable innercity living conditions and racist planning practices. Urban renewal was a battle ground of controversy, dubbed “Negro Removal” by the novelist James Baldwin. Universities were the stage for young people to face the inconsistencies of what they called “adult values,” decrying the gaps between what America preached and what it practiced. In the summer of 1968, the civil rights leader Whitney Young gave a speech at the National AIA Convention. Young was the director of the National Urban League and delivered a challenging call for change. The most famous of his comments to his audience of architects is: “you are not a profession that has distinguished itself by your social and civic contributions to the cause of civil rights, and I am sure
this does not come to you as any shock. You are most distinguished by your thunderous silence and your complete irrelevance.”1 Stories of civil rights struggles can make us feel an uneasy sort of nostalgia for a time when liberal causes seem to have had clarity, being propelled by rightful moral outrage. We are inspired by heroic civil rights leaders who, like Whitney Young, channeled outrage into a call for change. In closing his speech to the AIA, Young offers a path for such needed change:
An ancient Greek scholar was once asked to predict when the Greeks would achieve victory in Athens. He replied,
“We shall achieve victory in Athens and justice in Athens when those who are not injured are as indignant as those who are.” And so it shall be with this problem of human rights in this country.
Uncertainty is not a Problem to be Solved
We might ask: “What are the problems of our time that should lead us to be indignant of the injuries of others?” We still have injustice, racism, and various forms of discrimination. So, why are such injuries to others less likely to propel us to action today? Could it be because the concern of inequality has been in part replaced by an overall awareness of risk for us all? Threats of various sorts are increasingly becoming shared by all, and the notion that injury is linked with inequality is being replaced by a general sense of universal risk and uncertainty. In other words, we are less likely to be concerned about injustice to others when we are worried that we may be found among the injured. The language of civil rights is framed by a concept of inequality and a belief that conditions of inequality, like a mathematical operation, can be solved by a sort of ordering logic, a logic which assumes that with the right moves the equation can be put in balance. However, the equation does not function when the distribution of wealth is replaced by the distribution of risk, when questions of order are replaced by questions of uncertainty. The large problems of our time such as climate change, global terrorism, and health risks from industrialization affect all people and require us to learn to work with uncertainty. The effects of such global problems are not evenly distributed however, and human rights issues are complex in a society shaped by risk. We can see already that much of the work of this century is destined to address the side effects of modernization, hazards that were once not known, and to proceed with the realization that we will continue to produce side
The Gulf Coast Community Design Studio has worked with various partners to build over 120 new houses in Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina. Many of the houses, such as the house shown here for the Tran family in East Biloxi, are elevated as required by revised flood maps. Hurricane Katrina increased the public awareness of environmental risk on the Gulf Coast and is the context of a design practice shaped by uncertainty. Photography by Alan Karchmer
effects with risks that are currently not known. The simple diametric model of knowledge versus lack of knowledge has been replaced by gradual degrees of non-knowing. Uncertainty can no longer be seen as defining those things that will be known once we have better methods of inquiry. The threatening risks from the once unknown effects of industrialization are accumulating at a pace that does not give us time to wait for science to clear up confusion and disagreement. Making decisions in the twenty-first century requires the ability to function within different types of non-knowing in order to manage the effects of what we know
and to proceed with caution, knowing how to mitigate the risks of what we don’t know.2 Nevertheless, uncertainty should not be confused with probability. John Maynard Keynes, the interventionist economist who has become more relevant in the past year, defines such a notion of uncertainty. He states: By “uncertain” knowledge…I do not mean merely to distinguish what is known for certain from what is merely probable. The game of roulette is not subject, in this sense to uncertainty . . . The sense in which I am using the term
is that in which the prospect of a European war is uncertain, or the price of copper and the rate of interest twenty years hence…About these matters there is no scientific basis on which to form any calculable probability whatever.3 Today, the primary work of community design is not civil rights. This is because the overall working space of our time is not injustice; it is uncertainty. The needs and opportunities of community design are to invent modes of practice that can work in a context of uncertainty by working beyond the limiting self-interests of private ownership. The general public is becoming increasingly aware of the fact that individual actions, the things we do with and on our own property, can cause injury to others. Civil rights efforts are a remedy against political injustice. Today’s problems call for remedies against self-interest actions that impact others. Most twentieth century architects and planners were able to work within clear project boundaries, often finding formal energy in defining those boundaries. However, twentyfirst century problems are largely due to the consequences of industrialization on people and on ecologies beyond project boundaries. While Marx was predicting that “all that is solid will melt into air” the persistence of private ownership continued to fix the boundaries of building sites, making the dream of the open work more poetic than pragmatic. Capitalism proved to be a stubborn container. Striving to work beyond the boundaries of private ownership leads to alternative modes of operation. Three typical responses emerge to mitigate the social, economic and environmental impacts of private ownership. These are regulation, cooperation, and subsidization. Of these three, subsidization has the most
promise as a model for community design. Regulation will proceed with or without community design efforts. The reflexive modernization of our time depends in part upon regulation to compensate for capitalism’s self-interests. For example, energy use is becoming a primary part of building codes. In this way, building codes are evolving beyond addressing public safety to establishing ways to force private property owners to limit the impact of their buildings on other people and on other species. Likewise, many landuse zoning rules function as compensatory regulations, limiting the impact that a property owner’s actions have on their neighbor. Cooperation is another way to replace the control of private property by changing the conditions of ownership away from competitive private ownership toward municipal or collective ownership. In such cooperative models the mitigation of impacts of property use on others is accomplished by policy instead of regulation. Subsidization is the pragmatic tool of capitalism. It is more interested in outcomes than in ideology. It is a “both-and” type of arrangement, in which we can both have private enterprise and compensate for capitalism’s self interest. A subsidized design practice mitigates the self-interests of private ownership by replacing the simple two-point model of the architect working for a client, with a three point model of the architect, the user, and a separate funding source. Subsidization can compensate for capitalism’s self-serving tendency by paying to do things that would not happen with the cost efficiency of private enterprise. Community design has traditionally aimed at bringing design services to segments of the population that are not able to pay. In the past, simply bringing design assistance to
Uncertainty is not a Problem to be Solved
low-income communities was enough of a cause to justify the effort, because bringing professional services to under-represented groups fit well within the work of civil rights. However, in the working space of uncertainty bringing design services to under-served communities is only part of the work, because the impact on low-income residents as well as the impact of any project beyond its own boundaries should be taken into account. A subsidized practice is able to take such a view. Even though different words are used, the aims of subsidizations are familiar to architects and planners because the design process typically operates with a degree of subsidization. For one thing, the design professional brings knowledge from other projects into the process. In addition, the architect or planner is trained to look beyond the project boundaries, to see all buildings in their public dimension, to consider the context, to anticipate the future, to factor in probable uses. However, the function of subsidization is manifest the most when designers pursue motives beyond simply satisfying the client’s program. These motives may be the ongoing formal or technical inquiries that drive a practice from project to project; they may be a social aim for the public’s interaction with the project. In a standard practice the non-programmatic design motives are often discussed in the design studio more than they are discussed with the client. In fact, sometimes these non-programmatic issues make clients suspicious of the designer’s motives; the client may wonder whether the project is for the architect or for the client. These non-programmatic motives fit awkwardly within the standard two-point architect-client relationship because the clients pay for a service and expect to get what they pay for. Likewise, obligations to clients can have a
dampening effect on the architect’s effort to address social concerns. In his address to the AIA, Whitney Young pointed to these obligations as a “nice easy way to cop out.” He states, “You have a nice, normal escape hatch in your historical ethical code or something that says after all, you are the designers and not the builders; your role is to give people what they want.” Architects should reflect on the words of a civil rights champion suggesting that “giving people what they want” is not socially responsible. Even in community design, merely pleasing a client is a low standard of success. In other words, there is more at stake in community design than to merely replace a paying client with a non-paying client. The problems of our time require work that gets beyond the limited interests of any client. In an openly subsidized practice, the user and the sponsor are distinct, and the non-programmatic motives can be explicit. The user’s needs are still primary, but the sponsor’s goals are also addressed. There are many advanced models of such outcome-oriented sponsorships. For example, Enterprise Community Partners has been very successful with their Green Communities Grant Program. The program provides grant funds for housing projects to improve the project’s environmental performance by requiring projects to meet their Green Communities Criteria. Enterprise Community Partners, project architects, and owners generally realize that the grant is a subsidy that is intended to award the project team for meeting a performance standard. The funding typically pays for the added cost of the increased energy performance; but it is not intended to lower the owner’s construction cost. Such outcomebased subsidies are an effective way to enable
projects to get beyond the interests of the client and at the same time influence the client’s values to become more socially oriented. University-based community design programs are well suited for subsidized modes of practice because universities are proven structures of subsidization. Nearly every service and activity within a university functions with a degree of subsidization, especially university research. Nevertheless, many university-based community design programs limit their work to providing discounted or free design assistance to a community group as a way to create opportunities for students to work with people on actual projects. While such activities are generally good for students, they don’t make full use of the potential of the university to support the creation of new modes of practice that are able to address the complex needs of our time better than standard professional practices. In a recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Thomas Fisher, the Dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota and past president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture calls for architectural education to respond to the growing need for designers to take on the challenge of working beyond the traditional paying client model. Fisher states, “The world desperately needs a design
version of public health, and so do architecture schools and the profession itself. . . This design-for-all philosophy would certainly demand a new business model and new forms of architectural education.”4 We can expect the new business models to be subsidized to varying degrees, supporting architects and planners to extend the reach of design beyond meeting the program needs of paying clients. The opportunities and challenges for such new modes of practice are in every city. Many service organizations that work in partnership with architects and planners are well versed in subsidized work and can be collaborators and guides. The current generation of community design activists should learn to combine the familiar design school encouragement to have a broad view of a project, with the pragmatic function of subsidization to address today’s complex problems. The work of such community design practices would be propelled and funded by explicit social and environmental objectives that would be able to advance beyond the self-interests of typical clients. These new models of community design practice would do more than merely provide design assistance to underserved populations; they would lead the effort to invent ways to use design to address the risks and uncertainties of our time.
Uncertainty is not a Problem to be Solved
In the closing words of Whitney Young:
“We shall achieve victory in Athens and justice in Athens when those who are not injured are as indignant as those who are.” And so it will be as we learn that risks are shared by us all.
David Perkes is an architect and Associate Professor for Mississippi State University. He is the founding director of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, a professional outreach program of the College of Architecture, Art + Design. The design studio was established soon after Hurricane Katrina and is providing planning and architectural design support to many Mississippi Gulf Coast communities and non-profit organizations. The design studio has assisted in the renovation of hundreds of damaged homes and over one hundred and twenty new house projects in East Biloxi and other communities. The Biloxi house projects were awarded an Honor Citation from the Gulf States Region AIA in 2007, Terner Award for Innovative Housing, and a Mississippi AIA Honor Citation in 2009. Before creating the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, David was the director of the Jackson Community Design Center and taught in the School of Architecture’s fifth year program in Jackson, Mississippi for seven years. Under his leadership the Jackson Community Design Center assisted many community organizations and received numerous national and local awards, including a Mississippi AIA Honor Award for the Boys and Girls Club Camp Pavilion. David has a Master of Environmental Design degree from Yale School of Architecture, a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Utah, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Utah State University. In 2004 David was awarded a Loeb Fellowship from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Endnotes 1 Whitney Young’s keynote speech to the 1968 National AIA Convention is printed in the September 1968 issue of the AIA Journal. 2 Theories of knowledge and non-knowledge are part of Ulrich Beck’s description of “Reflexive Modernization,” in his influential 1992 book Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity, and his later writings, especially Reflexive Modernization, 1994, and World at Risk, 2009. Beck compares linear theories of knowledge in which nonknowing is not relevant, to non-linear theories in which the “types, constructions,
and effects of non-knowing constitute a key problem in the transition to the second, reflexive modernity.” See Ulrich Beck, World at Risk, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2009, page 125. 3 John Maynard Keynes, “The General Theory of Employment,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1936, page 213-214. 4 Thomas Fisher, “Needed: Design in the Public Interest,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, volume 55, issue 34, page B6.
The Trial of Livelihood: Using Textual Representation in Design Presentations Vincent A. Cellucci
Before writing starts problems, writing starts out as a problem. The problem lies in the symbolic process of words meaning or at least representing concepts or thoughts. Any designer knows that words are just as much visual representations as sketches or pictures. Design projects and presentations are multimodal, containing written, oral, visual, and technological components. Teachers of design students must approach both sides of the “word problem”—the symbolic word problem is identical to the word as a visual form with an intrinsic meaning. Textual representation exists as a necessity for design communication and this article assumes students’ skills at visual arrangement of text; but how do we, as instructors, get design students to value significance in their textual representation as much as they value visual representation? When designers struggle with words, they struggle to defend their design communities, and when professors demand their students struggle with words, they defend the design community. Students have a range of academic fears. At the smallest scale (although immediacy sometimes dramatizes the significance), they are scared of getting bad grades on class projects. On larger scales, they are scared, as they should be, of the future job market—a market that is currently highly competitive, making it difficult to find
even an internship at a reputable design firm, or grant money for public projects. As much as students fear bad grades and a poor job market, however, they appear to be more terrified of words. And words are not the problem. Check students’ iPhones for texts galore, or their Facebook walls for surveys, status updates, and comments that could mortar a digital Babel gig upon gig with words. The pressure for words, the pressure for meaning, and ultimately consequences of both are where their fears reside. Without our help this fear paralyzes their presentation processes, at least where textual representation is concerned. That is what interdisciplinary academic programs like Louisiana State University’s Communication across the Curriculum (CXC) are for—to motivate students’ engagement with their community while elevating their multi-modal communication skills.1 In the College of Art + Design, I have noticed that the work on the ground level, appointments with individual students and with classes, begins conceptually.
The first problem is students’ concept of the task. As design students stand at the threshold of their syllabi now, their perspective of the design project is design dominated: research,
The Trial of Livelihood
sketches, models, and renderings compiled on a board to support the design. The presentation in front of professors, peers, practicing designers (something LSU does well ensuring), and community partners demands minor trepidation while the textual representation, is, in every case, an afterthought. While our program works intensively with students on their design presentations, advice on that subject is abundant across the web as well as on CxC’s resource page2. I want to focus on the writing. Which leads us to the second problem: pounding out the words—the right words, right, not being a moral or political disposition, rather a principal of pertinence. These right words pertain to the designer’s presentation. So often, descriptions of student projects read as a recapitulation of the assignment as opposed to the personal interpretations exhibited in the presentation. If students endeavor at the challenge of writing about their specific work to their specific audience and recognize textual contributions to the visual then we, as instructors, put the course back into our university courses. I have an analogy that diminishes the fallacious text as afterthought concept and gives instructors advantages in improving textual
representation in design courses. I use the analogy of a courtroom to explain the purpose of textual representation in design presentations. This analogy is used because of its success; it’s so accessible, it’s a readymade. The courtroom drama is in no short supply; we are so familiar with courtroom proceedings that our popular dramas have shifted focus to the criminal investigators because as an audience we’ve built up a tolerance to the suspense of courtroom proceedings. Interestingly enough, most shows still result in the judicial process. We hold this process dear because it controls our liberty, the profound principle this nation derives its significance from. The rights of workers and citizens to make a living and build communities are substantiated by the judicial process. The courtroom analogy stresses the codependency of visual and textual representation while it enforces the purposes of both. This analogy draws from a year of observations and critiques in design presentations in the Architecture, Interior Design, and Landscape Architecture departments. Almost every one of these posters (and these comments pertain to digital “posters” or presentations as well) contains hours and hours of design work. The advanced visual communication on display
and graphical superiority of these designs is obvious, but unbalanced when a reviewer examines the text. Typos abound; a fluorescent signifier of the absence of revision and hasty text composition (often times solely in Adobe or other visual software). My concerns don’t reside in typos which are easily polished up with the aid of a copy, paste, and spell check. My concerns, and I believe we share these, are the utter lack of connection between graphics and text and the non-utilization of the textual representation as an advantage for the students and for their projects’ shareholders. The courtroom analogy instructs our young designers to add significance to textual representation in presentations and I call this analogy the “Trial of Livelihood.” This title inserts the value of “well-being” into the analogy.3 In the respective design fields, groups or companies present their proposals with competing design professionals to get selected for funding. Receiving the client’s positive response is crucial to designers’ livelihoods because proposals don’t pay. Students need to see the classroom critique as a microcosm of this process. Their presentations defend their livelihoods—both in long-term economically as in the short term in the sense of high GPAs, internships, etc.
Courtroom When a designer’s livelihood is on trial, designers need to argue. Argue what—that your design is the best one on the wall and deserves to be selected. I tell students, “Your design is your argument.” Students have spent hours innovating, sketching, modeling, and thinking creatively, resulting in the visual communications that dominate our design majors’ presentations. Arguments abound and many of our students excel in their visual arguments, but that lone simple argument will not suffice; every member of our society knows arguments need evidence. Just as the graphic representation is the designer’s arguments, textual representation is her evidence.
What are the types of evidence a designer needs to emphasize? In the simplest and less “creative” scenario, a designer can list the issues of a design in bulleted text and then identify and explain how their design successfully addresses site specifications. Other areas textual representation advances design presentations include highlighting site sustainability, explaining innovative components of their design, establishing a hierarchy of information and orientation points, and providing a hook of some sort, which in the best-case scenario leads into a narrative or theme that unifies the design. The typical defense in a courtroom is a narrative, where were you on the night of… I was at home… Narratives are substantiated with alibis and/or expert opinions. In the design presentation, a designer may choose to interview shareholders and/ or users of the site and incorporate their concerns into the resolution of their design.4 These would be the alibis to support the narrative of the future site.
Textual representation is used to guide, reinforce (analogous to the extended metaphor in this article), and recall the narrative a designer presents. Text establishes important visual clues as to the sequence of the oral presentation accompanying presentation materials that students can use to aid their memory of the proposal. For example, one could present text boxes clockwise around a rendering that displays the site phenomena of shadows at a particular site throughout the daylight hours. Textual representation acts as the expert witness and establishes authority if used correctly. It can also contextualize the site’s history, inspirational sources, and cultural sources that evidence credibility and knowledge of the designer and/or group. One must caution students against incorporating too much, if any, design jargon into the text; details yes, jargon no. Jargon alienates the audience/jury when a defendant wants to convince them. The tactic of over using jargon also distracts its audience; distraction
The Trial of Livelihood
may win a case or two but it is no way to be relied upon in a successful courtroom record. Too forcible of a demand for textual representation can be entrapment on the professor’s part because the text and visual need to form a circuit where they interact (inform and re-inform) with each other. Abundant unrelated text is akin to the jargon distraction technique. Both detract from the design. Remind students that if the text doesn’t apply to the graphic nor the graphic the text, chances are students selected the wrong material to represent. Details that are pertinent to the design often are glossed over in presentations, requiring actual ekphrasis for textual representation—instead of a recapitulation of the project description on a syllabus. What do I mean by ekphrasis? I call this text generative process “swearing in.” Again, I want to recall the principle of pertinence. Students must literally stare at their work and put it into their words—not what they were assigned to design but what they actually designed. I say, “describe your visual design in text to me as if I was blind.” Their complete answer will not be included in the final proposal but this ekphrasis is the source from which they will draw their details and determine which ones are important. The student process of collecting evidence is akin to collecting their project’s words. Selected details are used to add strength. Creative writers know the power of image and concrete language; designers have an advantage because they envision first and then can craft their words around that knowledge and then present both. The strength of image is in its appeal to the empirical, and the empirical tantalizes an abstract design (proposal) with the physical. These descriptions will not be comparable to slogans or advertisements but they do have to have significance to accurate representation.
Textual representation also abrogates a lack of ownership displayed in projects. I see design proposals by the dozens that display so little claim from the designer to the point where these projects are not even named. “Apartment Complex” by Kristen Smith. “Cancer Treatment Center” by John Wares. “Perkins Road Overpass Project” by a student that proposal completely transformed what currently is a gravel parking lot into a health and recreation project for the neighborhood that introduced text messaging into a modern means of coordinating activities and space usage! Naming something is the first act of ownership. If you want to see students increase their stakes in their projects, demand they name them, and as teachers running a proper critique we must name our students defendants of their progress as designers. There are many other ways to use textual representation, but the one this article concludes with is text as a preemptive strategy. As lawyers anticipate the breaching of future laws that makes their client guilty, so must designers use textual representation to anticipate and prevail over challenging questions. Similarly, students struggling to decide which visual data needs to be evidenced by text can record their conversations with their peer reviewers and select answers to recurring questions and misunderstandings to represent with text. Students begin to see the advantage of using textual representation. An easy example is that in a tight spot textual representations can actually be used as a disclaimer to point out a design flaw that is not yet perfectly resolved. If the designer formulates questions to ask the “prosecutors,” she effectively flips a flaw in the work into an engaging discussion with her audience and shareholders, using their stakes as collaborations for future—which I might add, continues the project from a team perspective of client, user and designer.
Students that utilize the power of textual representation enter the workforce equipped to defend their livelihoods and the livelihoods of the people they design for. This article recognizes an abundance of outstanding graphic work required to excel at proposals but also suggests that visual argumentation needs to be evidenced by textual representation. Professors and instructors succeeding in achieving multi-modal course content goals know it is not enough to stammer “text is a problem; you need improvement.” I view this article as relaying an analogy that has helped me shift student views regarding textual representation from a problem to a tool that bears using—a tool that gives them (and their projects) leverage. The courtroom analogy also serves as a model to discuss relevant textual issues (the second layer of the problem in textual representation) that writers constantly address, such as selection and representation of information, audience, narrative, authority, specificity, and meaning. I am sure of the analogy’s applications to visual communication as well. The modes of communication have already fused and are codependent. Programs like Communication Across the Curriculum witness and enhance student and professorial synthesis of established and emerging communication modes. More and more students and communities seem to understand that their livelihoods are in some form of a trial. This may not always be true, but as teachers, we want to acknowledge existing climates and realities in our communities as well as professional and academic sectors and teach students to defend themselves and their works, with the arms of critical citizens: words. Our work is continual and incomplete but pertinent. We want our students to teach us too. They are our investments in the future of communication. And if we transfer the reciprocity of text and image between students and professors, that will lead to more reciprocity between the livelihoods of designers and their communities.
The Trial of Livelihood
Vincent A. Cellucci is the College of Art + Design’s Communication across the Curriculum Studio Coordinator at Louisiana State University. He received his MFA from Louisiana State University and went to Loyola University New Orleans for his bachelor’s degree in writing. This past spring he presented the poster “Teaching Architects Text” at ACSA and he is currently working on an IDEC Teaching Forum presentation with professor Jun Zou on the subject of improving design concept statements in studio course as well as collaborating with the Louisiana Division of the Arts to develop Artist Communication Workshops. He has a background in studio arts and creative writing and he has been published in Exquisite Corpse, moira, New Delta Review, The Pedestal, and Presa. His book of original New Orleans verse, An Easy Place / To Die will be released November 15th from CityLit Press (Baltimore).
Endnotes 1 Distinguished Communicator criteria requires students participate in an internship, research, or study abroad experience related to your field in which they exhibit strong communication skill and serve in a leadership role on campus (student organization or service-learning opportunities) or within the community. 2 http://cxc.lsu.edu/Resources.html
3 The word livelihood derived from Old English, lifad, “course of life”— which also refers again to the metonymy active in differentiating college courses (life instruction) from classes. 4 One could argue that the process of understanding and being sensitive to the current narrative or a site should be a mandate.
Contributions Corporate Sponsored Gifts
Gifts from Individual Sponsors
Gifts of $15,000+ PageSoutherlandPage Gifts of $5000 + AIA-Baton Rouge Coleman Partners Architects Trahan Architects, APAC Gifts of $2500+ Bradley, Blewster & Associates J.F. Day & Company Grace & Hebert Architects Tipton Associates
Gifts of $80,000+ Martha Smith in Memory of Thomas B. Smith
Gifts of $2,000 WHR Architects, Inc. Gifts of $1,000+ Acme Brick Company Chenevert Architects, LLC Cockfield Jackson Architects LaBiche Architectural Group, Inc. Randall D. Broussard Architect, LLC Gifts of $1,000- Charles J. Collins,Jr. , Architect Blitch Knevel Architects, Inc. Kevin Harris, Architect, L.L.C Remson Haley Herpin Architects The Sulzer Group, LLC Verges Rome Architects WHLC Architecture, LLC
Gifts of $15,000+ John N. Cryer, III Gifts of $5,000+ Robert M. Coleman III Gary D. Gilbert Marvin “Buddy” Ragland Dale M. Songy Victor F. “Trey” Trahan Gifts of $2,000+ Charles D. Cadenhead Gerald “Jerry” Hebert Kenneth “Ken” W. Tipton,Jr. Gifts of $1,000+ Winston “Carroll” & Mary “Elise” Blewster Carol “Lynn” Bradley Randall D. Broussard Ken & Mary Alice Carpenter Norman J. Chenevert David L. Cronrath Stephen P. Jackson Norman L. Koonce Dohn H. LaBiche Michael D. Robinson & Donald J. Boutte’
Gifts of $1,000- Cynthia Belisle Ron Blitch Daniel Bruce, Jr. Michael Burrichter Peter R. Byrne Karen S. Campbell Jesse Cannon, Jr. Charles J. Collins, Jr. Cody N. Farris Wenfei Feng Rachel Gillis William “Barry Graham Kevin L.Harris J. Ashley Inabnet Louis “Kent” Lancaster Paul R. Lentz Ronald L. Leone Richard “Rick” Lipscomb Danny H. Magee Lori Westrick Merrill & Howard E. Merrill George McConnell Glenn C. Morgan Michael P. Nidoh Dianna P. Odom Trula Haley Remson James T. Robinson David A. Sanderson Linton L Sarver Donald A. Shaffer
Alumni Gifts Ernest E. “Ernie” Verges Norman L. Koonce Peter R. Byrne Linton L. Sarver, Jr. Glenn C. Morgan George T. McConnell, Jr. Danny H. Magee William “Barry” Graham Ronald L. Leone Thomas B. Smith Carol”Lynn” Bradley John N. Cryer, III Randall D. Broussard Jesse D. Cannon, Jr. Charles J. Collins, Jr. James T. Robinson Louis “Kent” Lancaster Robert B. Swan Charles D. Cadenhead
BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch
54 56 65 65 66 67 67 68 68 68 71 71 72 72 72 73 74 74 75
Norman J. Chenevert Michael P. Nidoh Kevin L.Harris J. Ashley Inabnet Paul R. Lentz Robert B. Wilson Winston “Carroll” Blewster Stephen P. Jackson David A. Sanderson Donald A. Shaffer Richard “Rick” Lipscomb Howard E. Merrill Marvin “Buddy” Ragland Gary D. Gilbert Lori Westrick Merrill Dale M. Songy Ken W. Tipton, Jr. Karen S. Campbell Helen C. Sneider
BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch BArch
75 76 77 77 77 77 78 78 78 78 80 80 80 81 81 81 81 82 82
Cynthia Belisle Dohn H. LaBiche Victor F. “Trey” Trahan,III Christopher G. Remson Gerald “Jerry” Hebert Trula Haley Remson Karen M. Sulzer Daniel Bruce, Jr Dianna P. Odom Wenfei Feng Judith A. Verges Brett Spearman Khemsuda Spearman Daniel W. Solis Peter J. Spera, III Cody N. Farris Rachel N. Gillis
BArch 83 BArch 83 BArch 83 BArch 84 BArch 85 BArch 90 BArch 90 BArch 92 BArch 92 MArch 93 MArch 97 BArch 99 BArch 99 BArch 02 BArch 04 BArch 06 MArch 09
Helen C. Schneider Thomas A. “Tom” Sofranko Daniel W. Solis Brett & Khemsuda Spearman Peter J. Spera, III Karen M. Sulzer Robert B. Swan Ernest “Ernie” & Judith A. Verges Robert B. Wilson Warren D. Wood
School of Architecture
Louisiana State University
LSU Office of Community Design and Development
Annual LSU Architecture publication designed by Kyle Baker, Yifang Cao and Nick LeBlanc