distillery information of
Architects, Besides Being the Designers of Buildings, Artifacts, and Objects, Can Also Be the Designers of an Investigative Collaborative Practice.
The Distillery of Information Architects, Besides Being the Designers of Buildings, Artifacts, and Objects, Can Also Be the Designers of an Investigative Collaborative Practice. by Lindley Bynum
Thesis document submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture at Portland State University Portland, Oregon June 2013
PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE COLLEGE OF THE ARTS The undersigned hereby certify that the Masters thesis of Lindley Bynum has been approved as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture
Thesis Committee: Chair: Clive R. Knights Professor of Architecture and Chair of the School of Architecture
Aaron Whelton Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture
“courage is a decision. Be encouraged.”
acknowledgements I am writing this on the last day of six years of struggles, failures, and relapses. Today, I can say that I have truly received the grace and mercy that I do not deserve, that has shown me a different type of wisdom. Because of this I have been graced with many academic achievements and have had the honor of working beside many talented professors and colleagues. In particular, I would like to thank Sergio Palleroni and Clive Knights for a summer that I will never forget, full of innovation, learning, and recognition for the programs that I have been diligently and painstakingly researching and building a repertoire for. I would also like to thank Dustin Buzzard, a friend whose talent and respect I greatly appreciate. To Karen, you have gone above and beyond to help make my writing and archiving what it is today. This could not have been done without the love, patience and grace of my dar, Arlen, and my family, thicker than blood. You are the ones who deserve the praise and the glory because what you represent and what you have shown me has been my saving grace through all of the highs, mediums and lows of the last six years. I am giving thanks for the privilege it is to write and present this thesis and to graduate with a Masters of Architecture because has caused me to grow in all areas of life and I would never take it back.
architects, besides being the designers of buildings, artifacts, and objects, can also be the designers of the investigative collaborative process.
ABSTRACT My hope is that by providing an alternative method of practice, which is grounded in research, this thesis will make it easier for the profession to liberate itself from the conventional points of view and ideologies, and to confront contemporary conditions of a diversity of scales and issues in a positive light. This method does not pretend that it could or even should supplant the traditional architectural practice solely designing buildings. It is about the ‘and’ or the ‘alternative’ – questioning what else, what are we missing, where could we be supplanting our practice in the need for design thinking outside the built environment.
The method proposed is not ‘one-size-fits-all’. It is simply a flexible framework for a strategic collaborative architectural process – not a magic formula. It is meant to evolve, to be innovated. Other insights in more specific practice of this method will arise that will be relevant, given its process, not product, driven nature. Parts may even be discarded that don’t apply to the specific topic being addressed. It will act as a synecdoche, or stand in, that can be used to test ideas and ultimately enable decision making among the collaboration. As Helsinki Design Lab says, “Even the best strategy evolves when put to the test.”
of the role of the authorship and the centrality of the architect in curating the creative process becomes evident. Where there is an importance of informal and collective creativity, there also needs to be a role of creators and directors. We take the necessary role in shepherding and enabling the vision. That doesn’t mean controlling the process or the output but a choreography of voice and editing processes to shape the ideas.
Conclusion: An alternative practice model is possible that offers solutions beyond the obligation of a building and levels the playing field for other potentially more meaningful solutions. To avoid project failures resulting from a narrow vision of a problem, an investigative collaborative process can instead enable an informed response to the project issues. Those who would not traditionally be involved in the process, or sometimes even the product, feel ownership and earn the tools to do something with what they have been a part. That can be empowering.
In general, I have discovered that many architectural practices are attempting to address architectural problems differently and many are even working in problems formerly unrelated to the practice. However, the methods of these practices are very uneven and range from extreme intervention to small changes in pedagogy. In the text that follows, I suggest some of the areas where intensive further study is needed. However, my primary aim has not been to define topics for future research. I believe my charge is best served by analyzing the three firms identified: Helsinki Design Lab, Center for Urban Pedagogy, and Estudio Teddy Cruz, and by indicating the implications of their work for the future of the architectural practice as synthesized through the Distillery of Information.
The distillery of information: an Investigative Collaborative Process:
Strategic architectural thinking is important because it acts as the glue in an investigative collaborative process. Architectural methods and thinking provide us opportunities to see issues and possibilities in a fresh way. Visualization can be used to escape prose and numbers that use repetitive approaches to problem solving. At the Distillery of Information, this is where the practice of demystification
table of contents Abstract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg ix Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg 53 Thesis Statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg X Helsinki Design Lab (HDL) Thesis Question . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg xiii Estudio Teddy Cruz (etc) Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) Forward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg xv Manifesto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg 17 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg 77 research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg 19 list of figures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg 81 Co-Production of Knowledge Architect as the Design Lead Why the Architect? Traditional Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg 23 pruitt-igoe new columbia Critique of Traditional Method Method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg 29 Project People place Process The Distillery of Information (doi). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg 45 early Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg 48 xi
How can an alternative model of practice encourage a collective design process that can provide insights into a diversity of scales and issues?
forward In investigating methods of practice, information, and the role of the architect, I have followed several different paths simultaneously, using the research techniques that were most appropriate for specific problem areas.
research, this thesis will make it easier for the profession to liberate itself from the conventional points of view and ideologies, and confront contemporary conditions of a diversity of scales and issues in a positive light..
For example, in dealing with traditional practice, I have mainly analyzed transcribed lectures collected from several architecture professionals in Portland, relating those lectures to information published by the American Institute of Architects.
The Distillery of Information is a fictional firm created for the purpose of illustrating the investigative collaborative method of architectural practice I have proposed. It acts as an example of whatâ€™s possible and investigates the actuality of an architecture method.
In considering the role of collective knowledge in a collaborative process, I have relied on definitions of information, understanding, and knowledge from Merriam-Webster measured against other dictionary sources for accuracy, studies of epistemology including the perceptions of great thinkers like Kant, Newton, and Descartes, and data collected from methodologies of architects practicing collaboration and histories of the profession. My treatment of organizing the method into people, project, process, and place, and creating graphic representations, is based on material obtained from Helsinki Design Lab and Center for Urban Pedagogy. A good deal of the information reported is based on an interview with Teddy Cruz, representing Estudio Teddy Cruz. In general, I discovered that many architectural practices are attempting to address architectural projects differently and many are even working in projects formerly unrelated to the practice. However, the methods of these practices are very uneven and range from extreme intervention to small changes in pedagogy. In the text, I suggest some of the areas where intensive further study is needed. However, my primary aim has not been to define topics for future research. I believe my charge is best served by emphasizing the three firms identified: Helsinki Design Lab, Center for Urban Pedagogy, and Estudio Teddy Cruz, and by indicating the implications of this information for the future of the architecture practice. My descriptions of the role of the architect frequently differ from the assumptions in terms of how architects talk about their practices, present themselves to clients, and portray the life of an architect to their students. My hope is that by providing an alternative method of practice, which is grounded in
â€œThere are many reasons why architects, like members of other professions, cling to an outmoded or anachronistic conception of social reality. To acknowledge its true character is to shatter several myths concerning the power, freedom, and autonomy of the profession. At the same time, events of daily life and recent theories popular in the discipline disclose the force of contemporary practice all too clearly. I hope therefore, that despite the understandable inclination to promulgate an idealized version of an architectural life, most architects will recognize substantial truth in my description.â€?15 forward / xv
Strategic design in architecture began as a critique of practice addressing issues in the generic and abstract. Architecture has become a consultancy to other architectural entities, to city officials, and to decision makers because so many institutions are so embedded in conventions that have been perpetuated and that have remained dysfunctional and opaque in their inability to absorb the complexity of the urban realm across environmental, social-economic, cultural, and political logics. This consultancy pertains to other types of strategic design looking at the way things work, not the products and at the protocols of conditions that are not really engaging the tectonic or formal design strategies and traditions. This is whatâ€™s at stake in the project - which might have spatial consequences. We should begin to act more as urban curators of those fragmented practices in a different form of consultancy. We need to be able to re-examine, re-think, and re-design systems inherited from the past.
â€œWe have been educated out of the centrality of problem solving, we produce a question and want to answer it but sometimes the tools we use in order to engage an answer to a question are imbedded in the conventions of the problem we are trying to answer. We need to be able to retool ourselves, in that sense, we take a detour and we have to contact other domains that are peripheral but are in fact central to the question.â€?37
What we should be looking at are issues around a closer and more project specific look into what the core conflict is. Practice should be process driven, free from the obligation to build. The centrality of the core conflict in any given project should organize the way of thinking and fragmented knowledge will begin to be reorganized domains of expertise. Practice needs to be collaborative strategic design - the coproduction of ideas.
manifesto / 17
“I have seen further standing on the shoulders of giants.”
“One who develops future intellectual pursuits by understanding and building on the research and works created by notable thinkers of the past.” -Issac Newton referencing Bernard of Chartres
Co-Production of Knowledge
There needs to be an exchange of knowledge across specialized practices and those daily engaged, between specialized knowledge concerned with the economic issues and more creative, ethical knowledge of communities that have been in cooperation and participation with the issue. Partnerships become a large part of the work and the construction of systems and interface mechanisms to enable that knowledge. Domains of expertise are important to each other but often not directly engaging one another. What is necessary is a collaborative that emphasizes a common body of knowledge for addressing a diversity of design projects. With a creative collaboration, architects are able to engage the bottom-up, where traditional practice tends to be specialized and disengaged. Understanding the dynamics of similar challenges in an entirely different context can provide insights otherwise overlooked by experts or traditional practice. In the co-production of knowledge comes an alternative co-production of strategies. We should address the need for new interfaces between the practice and public and engage new systems of communication and exchange by using the tools that architecture has taught us.1 Successful design is not only about creative thinking. It also involves implementation and ensuring that key ideas maintain their integrity during that process. The architect must be involved over the duration of change processes, providing constant expertise and feedback to identify, test, and deliver durable solutions.
The Architect as the Design Lead
This is where the practice of demystification of the role of the author and the centrality of the architect in controlling the creative process becomes evident. Where there is an importance of informal and collective creativity, there also needs to be a role of creators and directors. Someone must take the necessary role in shepherding and enabling the vision. There will be variations and degrees of nuance management over those processes and ideas. That doesn’t meaning controlling the process or the output but a choreography of voice and editing processes to shape the ideas.
Why the Architect?
Strategic architectural thinking is important because it act as the glue. Architectural methods and thinking provide us opportunities to see issues and possibilities in a fresh way. Visualization can be used to escape prose and
numbers that use repetitive approaches to problem solving. This quantitive nature of problem solving suggests that there is an answer already and to work directly on the path to that answer. Projects then become generic and abstract, where many projects are solved with the same product, despite the scale of the issue, the context, or the problem. Architects, besides being the designers of buildings, artifacts, and objects, can also be the designers of the investigative process which includes reorganizing and integrating different domains of expertise around a specific project. That doesn’t meaning controlling the process or the output but a choreography of voice and editing processes to shape the ideas.
Tools - Understanding
Architecture works through ethnography, the users of services, social movements, constituents, and other means to work within the fine grain of daily life. We work with the specific, the focused, the nuances versus looking at large scale and generic results and then translate them into a set of actions.
Tools - Prototyping
Throughout our history we practiced by making – operating out of the best way to learn is to do. We work small, fast and real then test, question, and compare versus spending years focused on the same generic question. We work with precedents, knowing that there are some questions that have already been thought of. We stand on the shoulders of giants, the giants being- in our case- a vast history of making, testing, questioning, and comparing. From these shoulders we can see further back and further forward. Architects have always transformed abstract ideas into tangible, built and meaningful reality. Our architectural forefathers practiced in multiple realms of design and making from the master builder to the priestly architect to the knowledgeable artist. The first recorded use of the word ‘architecture’ was in Cicero’s “De Officiis” when he was talking about what architects do. Therefore, architecture was what architects do. They worked with and operated in the fields of philosophy, sculpture, playwriting, theory, painting, governance, masonry and almost every profession that might inform the complex issues that architecture tries to address, constantly. (Kostof) What can we see in the future? How has collaborative design been able to address larger design issues beyond the need to build and how has the architect? What’s wrong?
research / 19
middle ages: islamic
900 - 1566 ad
Uqba ibn Nafi, Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir tools
Prepared drawings for buildings Inscriptions on the buildings commend primarily the patron.
Close identification with the religious establishment was not the case as it was in the West. The rate of completion of buildings, even big ones, tended to be fast. Patrons were rich citizens and the church.
“mechanicus” social standing
Inscriptions on the buildings commend primarily the patron. Close identification with the religious establishment was not the case as it was in the West.
Architects had little theoretical training Started out in one or more crafts – masonry, cabinet making, faience, metalwork, and the like.
“The ultimate compliment, was to have one’s hands chopped off upon the completion of a masterpiece (if not to be killed outright), so that the design could not be repeated for another patron.” fig 5
Tools - Systems Mapping And Thinking or Information Design
Navigating between opportunity and ambition, understanding becomes a path, not a point. Itâ€™s a path of connections between thought and thought; patterns over patterns. This is why process oriented thinking is inherent to architectural practice. It is not the things themselves but the meanings or patterns we associate with them that determine our understanding.9 We look at connections and causes, asking the right questions and not taking things at face value. Architects gather information and turn it into understanding which produces knowledge.40 When we take this information we can only understand it in relation to something else.4 This is provoked by learning and tested by praxis and performance level â€“ where architectural process uses making, testing, questioning, and comparing. Design thinking lays in the appropriateness between two realms of science: observing the facts of the material world and interpreting the complexity of human experience. We take the real world and human aspirations. This path to knowledge is limited to the amount of information we receive â€“ our ability to collect relatable truths from reason or experience. It also limits us from adaptation, retrofitting, and misses things that are usually off the radar. In order to have a more cohesive body of knowledge around a particular topic, which will enable us to better be informed, architectural practice must become more collaborative.
research / 21
“We need clients who can believe in the power of a reality that doesn’t yet exist.” -AIA39
TRADITIONAL PRACTICE Architecture cannot be done alone or apart from the people who are neck deep in what’s at stake. The relationships between traditional firm and their clients are very disconnected and disparate. In the description of the contract relationships, the client hires an architect to create a plan for a building, who then hires consultants for specific plan issues. In some cases the client will separately hire a Construction Manager or a General Contractor, who reviews the plans the clients has given them, that the architect created, further removing each person involved in the process from each other. 43
philosophy as a whole. Bristol concluded:
Le Corbusier was instrumental in promoting that one of the roles of the architect is to plan. Plans address ambitions that are appealing but can also lead the world in the wrong direction, as if the world is only subject to planning.8
Often clients are completely removed from the creation of the plan. The architect updates the client through meetings, gets input on the update, and then moves into the next stage of planning. This process removes the ability of the client, or any other outside contributor, to contribute an innate sense of reality or knowledge that comes from embodying the issue at hand.43 The consultants of the architect are also often uninvolved in the larger picture. By not being directly involved with the client, they are removed twice over from the reality mentioned above.
“By placing the responsibility for the failure of public housing on designers, the myth shifts attention from the institutional or structural sources of public housing problems. Simultaneously it legitimates the architecture profession by implying that deeply embedded social problems are caused, and therefore solved, by architectural design.”12
In the case where architects should have stepped in but they didn’t we have New Columbia. In 1994, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) began the HOPE VI program to redevelop “severely distressed” public housing. HAP sought a $35 million grant to revitalize Columbia Villa, which by then was among the oldest public housing developments in the nation. When demolition began in 2003, two-thirds of the residents did not want to leave. In 2001 Housing Authority of Portland received $35 million grant from HUD to redevelop Columbia Village. Michael Willis Architects designed the new residential buildings, Mithun, Inc. and Robertson Merryman Barnes designed the mixed-use buildings. As the Willamette Week pointed out,
Pruitt-Igoe In the case where the architect’s knowledge alone and lack of collaboration with constituents and other socially involved parties we have Pruitt-Igoe in St Louis, designed by the World Trade Center architect Minoru Yamasaki. Designed as 33 11-storey-high blocks of apartments, Pruitt-Igoe was completed in 1954 but suffered such a rapid decline that just 15 years later it had become a notorious crime-infested complex and was immediately demolished. As Charles Jencks says in his book The Language of Post-Modern Architecture: “Modern Architecture died in St Louis, Missouri on July 15, 1972, when the infamous Pruitt-Igoe scheme, or rather several of its slab blocks, were given the final coup de grâce by dynamite.”17 Katherine Bristol accounts for the lack of strategic thinking in her essay, “The Pruitt-Igoe Myth.” Her study of the ill-fated development considers nonarchitectural factors, such as chronic cost-cutting and reduced amenities, steadily declining occupancy rates due to changing demands in the housing market that further affected the estate’s already poor level of management and maintenance. She found that these socio-economic issues had more impact on the demise of the estate than any particular design flaw (though there were some, such as the skip-stop elevators), and least of all, high modernist design
“It’s a place whose 462 households earn, on average, just over $10,850 a year. It’s where a quarter of residents survive only with the help of federal and state aid, and where more than 100 adults have no source of income. It’s home to the most diverse census tract in the state, No. 40.01, nearly equal parts black, white and Hispanic residents with a smattering of Asians, Eastern Europeans and Native Americans, where snippets of conversation drift by in Maya and Hmong.” 27 You can no more expect to concentrate an overwhelming number of at-risk, under educated, socially stressed, poverty pressed HAP clients and expect peaceful coexistence than you can expect to turn the medieval tribal society of Afghanistan and its heroin based economy into a modern American style secular democracy. Both efforts are futile and full of self-delusional fantasy. Johnson was a founding member of the Columbia Villa Crips, one of the first black street gangs in Portland. His first tour through the state prison system was for lodging a bullet between a rival gang member’s heart and lung. The second was for armed robbery. The third was for attempted assault. Now he runs Take III, a non-profit gang outreach group. We have to do more. We have to care more about the communities we are working in. While HAP came in and recognized the work they had in front of them given
traditional practice / 23
“It’s a place whose 462 households earn, on average, just over $10,850 a year. It’s where a quarter of residents survive only with the help of federal and state aid, and where more than 100 adults have no source of income. It’s home to the most diverse census tract in the state, No. 40.01, nearly equal parts black, white and Hispanic residents with a smattering of Asians, Eastern Europeans and Native Americans, where snippets of conversation drift by in Maya and Hmong.” 27
No plan for the community to start sustaining itself No plan for public safety No plan for decentralizing known gang affiliates No plan for community organization or leadership 27
a history of failure with the relocation and housing projects involved in building the Legacy Emmanuel and the Memorial Coliseum campuses, the firms that worked on New Columbia Villa had no involvement in talks that had to do with anything other than building logistics. We need to learn how to listen and learn: to what an organization is about, who is their community and what are their needs, to understand: communicate an understanding of actual needs vs. perceived needs, to co-design: engage in a collaborative design process, to implement: develop and oversee production logistics and implementation, and to create an impact matrix: create an impact matrix for future success.
Critique of Traditional Method
Strategic design in architecture began as a critique of practice addressing issues in generic and abstract. Traditional definitions of architecture often focus on a distinct solution â€“ the building â€“ and works towards this solution in a rigid framework that does not vary greatly from project to project. What if the best solution is not a building? This product-oriented thinking does not allow a more strategic process. Many institutions and clients have fallen into this trap of the architect where their principles become undermined when they believe that the building is the answer to a particular project they are facing and without questioning, analysis, or a strategic thinking process, the architect hands them the plans for a building. This is, more often than not, the case in many projects that firms label as Public Interest Design.
traditional practice / 25
“Maybe, architecture doesn’t have to be stupid after all. Liberated from the obligation to construct, it can become a way of thinking about anything - a discipline that represents relationships, proportions, connections, effects, the diagram of everything.” Rem Koolhaas, AMO-OMA and &&&
doi looks for a particular opportunity that could benefit from their method of practice and diversity of resources
issues a call for curators that need to examine a particular problem but donâ€™t have the resources to do it
selects a opportunity to address builds a network around that particular project collaboration
once network is established
a challenging brief which they make available to
people who like design
people who need to know
people who want to know
choreographs and hosts collaborators who together address the topic while consulting with
through the strategic framework
Where are we now? where do we want to go? How do we get there? Now what? resulting in
d into suppo lugge rt s NS p yst TIO support support system a system D
an architecture of solutions
support system B
upport by ds
champion support system D
h continue wit
support system C
visual work and documentation
is made available to people who like design
people who need to know
people who want to know
PROJECT / PEOPLE / PLACE / PROCESS At the end of the day it’s people that make things happen, so it has to be people that are going to carry the project through, and every time there’s an obstacle, they’re going to push through it and make sure it keeps going forward. When it is a project that really matters, there are people that don’t just try to go it alone.
There is no such thing as a perfect client, a perfect site, or a perfect program. There is never enough money no matter how much money there is. Architecture comes out of the limitations and we learn resourcefulness out of limitations. The key to effective collaboration and growing out of limitations is to consider the reason for design.
Think about human experience: who are the people who live, play, and work in a place who know it best and stand to be affected by changes to their physical environment. You can design the most flawless systems on paper, but without taking into consideration the dynamic and quirky dimension of people, you’ll never get it right. That’s why “human-centered design” is a cornerstone of design thinking. It’s based on the premise that empathy for the user is critical—all systems that intersect with human beings have to cater to human dimensions and experiences. Otherwise they’ll fail. When then selecting a project to engage there are a few topics to keep in mind. With the ability to address a diversity of scales and issues, many projects will come through the door but prioritizing them will be key to ensure that the practice only engages in areas that could use their services the most. In order to break from generic and abstract problem-solving, look at project through a critical lens.
Is it too broad or too specific? Can it be realistically implemented?
Choose analogous illustrations: pick projects that are comparable in certain respects, typically things that might make clearer the nature of a broader project. Understanding the dynamics of similar challenges in an entirely different context can provide insights otherwise overlooked by experts.
extremes Look at the extremes instead of the norm: norms are consistent and could prove to take a more rigid framework that is hard to break out of. By looking at extremes we may be able to pick up on instances of relativity that could inform us more about the nature of the project. Typical studies only look at really successful cases in isolation and draw best practice solutions from them. This is useful, but it doesn’t really clarify whether something worked because of a particular variable or despite it. Overall the practice must listen and learn to what an organization or project is about, who is in the community and what they need. Have an open mind: listen for when they communicate an understanding of actual needs vs. perceived needs.
Importance Does the topic matter and to whom? Is the topic conventional or unconventional? Does it look at extremes rather than norms?
Relevance What/whom might the project inform? (a guiding process but also an exchange of knowledge)
“The complex systematic challenges we face today actually necessitate frameworks that are intrinsically capable of generating and testing entirely new approaches, and learning from their introduction into existing structures.”11
Is there a strong network of consultancy or stakeholders? (who are daily engaged and the specialized practices)
project / method / 29
y of informati r e l l on i t is
â€œA delicate combination of pragmatism with imagination: research through prototyping, learning from execution, communication through tangible projects, strategic intent with iterative action, systems thinking and human-centeredness, all underscored by an optimistic belief in progressive change.â€?11
PROJECT / PEOPLE / PLACE / PROCESS Architect Being a leader means knowing when to listen and when to ask for help, and being able to break deadlocks by making a confident decision. It means exhibiting these qualities and being comfortable working in a subject area on which they do not necessarily possess any specific expertise. The architect’s job is to keep the collaboration focused and moving. In some cases this includes stepping in to make decisions when differing opinions amongst collaborators are inhibiting the synthetic process. In this manner, the architect’s role is more active than that of a facilitator. The architect is the design lead of the collaborative.
Core competencies of the Architect Integration
Good ideas are easy to come by: implementing the right ones is not. In recent years, the emphasis on “design thinking” has powerfully demonstrated the value of applying creativity in a business context. But successful design is not only about creative thinking. It also involves implementation and ensuring that key ideas maintain their integrity during that process. Architects must be involved over the duration of change processes, providing constant expertise and feedback to identify, test, and deliver durable solutions.
Architects are taught to quickly develop multiple strategies and blend strategic intent with a focus on the quality of execution. This can present a potentially valuable tool for addressing the future with sensitivity and ambition. They must be able to identify the thread that connects critical dimensions to redesign their systems of delivery.
Because key decision makers sometimes only see the parts rather than the whole of a problem, they may be blindsided by the unintended consequences of their choices. The naturally integrative approach of design helps illuminate the complex web of relationships— between people, organizations, and things—to provide a holistic point of view.
It is necessary to be predicated on optimism – a firm belief that current conditions are changeable for the better, that the present can be transformed into multiple positive futures. Then architects can generate plausible prototypes of new approaches, systems and services. This offers an alternative to the common kind of decision making based on analytics.
By working across different areas of expertise, strategic design outlines the “architecture of the problem,” highlighting key opportunities for improvement in all aspects and outcomes of a problem.
Architect must alsouse deeply and imaginatively research of the past and present in order to project into the future. It is imperative to understand people, communities, and societies because architects work in a practical capacity with real constituents attached that will greatly be affected by their work.
The switch from Roman to Arabic numerals allowed the West to handle numerical complexity in an unprecedented manner, causing a profound transformation of civilization. Today, the challenges we face have reached a new level of complexity and uncertainty, for which spreadsheets and other familiar analytical tools are insufficient.24 Fluent in visual representation, the strategic designer uses this skill as an important and iterative means of communicating complex, even contradictory, relationships—which would be difficult or impossible to explain in text and numbers alone.
Collaborators Collaborators work together on an equal basis in the overall conception, elaboration, and revision of the project. Each ultimately bears full responsibility for all aspects of the project that they develop together. 14 Collaborators work as the main team of designers and are innovative partnerships that are created in order to manifest an efficient and effective “set of actions”. They do not work independently from the group. Instead, collaborators work to provide insights otherwise overlooked by experts, therefore they do not have to be experts on everything but they have to know enough information about the problem to offer up a “set of actions”.
people / method / 31
Those who would not traditionally be involved in the process, or sometimes even the product, feel ownership and earn the tools to do something with what they have been a part. That can be really empowering. fig 10
Contributors fully grasp your intentions and aspirations and contribute particular expertise to the project, based on your prompts. Ideally they provide contributions that surprise you, exceeding what you initially specified. Responsibility for provoking, guiding and perhaps eventually rejecting their work lies with the collaborators. 14
The audience or end-users of the product of the collaboration, whose perceived needs, expectations, and desires may well shape the project’s means and goals. Constituents are not always physically present during the collaboration—yet their presence, real or imagined, presses upon the creative direction of the work produced. 14
Contributors can be the footmen of the process – they can provide depth of research, practice of actions, and testing of ideas for which collaborators need elaboration. They are commissioned by the collaborators to elaborate on specific prompts, but they do not step inside the role of envisioning and ownership that the collaborators do.
The people who live, play, and work in a place know it best and stand to be affected by changes to their physical environment. A community is strong and resilient when the people of that place are informed and effectively understand the local decision making. Design can be a powerful tool for civic engagement as long as the people are aware of the problems and process that are addressing their community need.
Contractors Identify and solve domain-specific problems, never straying from the exact bounds you set. Contractors are typically only as good as the specifications they get. In contrast to Contributors, Contractors cannot surprise you (except unpleasantly). 14 Contractor expertise is both directly and indirectly related to the problem – they hold knowledge that is essential to understanding a particular piece of the problem. They can be used in any point in the process as advisors, fact-checkers, and informers. Their responsibility is to be competent, not creative. Typically, the contractors know firsthand about how the problem is currently addressed according to their expertise (however this can inhibit them from conception and elaboration).
Curators The person who may have initiated or sponsored the project, but who then turns over its execution to the collaborators (whom he or she may have helped to assemble, fund or provoke). Curators have no role within the creative collaboration itself, but can greatly influence its relation to (and reception in) the outside world. 14 They are the problem provokers. Curators understand that there is an important problem that needs to be addressed and thus brings that to the group with full understanding of the process and abandonment of ideal outcomes. What they can expect is a collaboration that is dedicated to finding the best “set of actions” to address the need presented in the problem.
Rules for Collaborative Design
Engage those already in the issue primarily
Traditional practice tends to be specialized practices working within the conventions of the problem. Engage the actors and the agencies that are articulated in the conflict.
Two heads are better than one
When there is a co-production of knowledge, there is more to draw from.
Fewer heads are better than too many
The collaboration needs to be able to be productive and creative within the topic of engagement without too much bother around logistic of the collaboration. Too many heads can also distract from the essence of the opportunity.
Set yourself free
Don’t allow conventions to take ahold of the decision-making. Feel free to be creative, to think out of left field, to try new things or unrelated things
Past predicts future
Standing on the shoulders of giants or learning from the past is a great advantage.
people / method / 33
â€œthe unified front you present to the world gives your decisions their forceâ€?14
Learn from the past and what it influenced but also use this opportunity to look at the future from the lens of the present. When the project tis completed, it will be in the past – what will it influence?
Bad ideas can lead to good
We’ve all learned from our mistakes so don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t discredit someone’s idea even if it’s a bad one.
Beware the good idea
Be supportive but be critical within the collaborative. Intuition can be a great tool to catch problems before they become a problem.
Run a relay race
The collaborative will have members that are more knowledgeable in one area than another. That is a benefit of the collaborative, when inadequacies happen, when the going gets tough, when you need a break, others can step in.
Set the bar higher
When the collaborators or other members of the collaboration break off from the group to work on more focused or specialized work, the group energy sometimes lags, with some falling behind or not creating the quality of work they are capable of. Healthy competition and inspiration within the group can provoke collaborators to do and keep doing great work. Posting up drafts or complete pieces that are great work can keep the collaboration motivated.
Defeat the status quo
Throw out accepted wisdom and question everything. The collaborative will be innovative and fresh with a little doubt of whether they got it right. Creating something for the group to fight against or work against, legalistic and generic standards in some cases, creates a desire for change that will cause the collaboration to get creative and think strategically.
Embrace the opposite
Be the strongest critique of your work and the devil’s advocate. The collaborative’s work will be greatly different and challenging for others to accept. By reversing course and looking at alternatives to the choices made, it can greater justify them or create an opportunity to change.
Don’t split the difference
When disagreements arise, you don’t want a divided team. Be willing to work through the hard stuff and come to a consensus. It is ok for some members of the group to disagree but the collaboration should always be a unified front. What is not ok is to split the difference – which leads to watered down and unquestioned ideas that create an unstable foundation moving forward.
Keep a trace
Write down and keep track of the decisions that were made and why they were made. If later those decisions are called to question, the collaborative can easily retrace their steps and either confirm or rethink what’s in question.
Foster diversity inside
Birds of a feather, flock together. Don’t allow those who share the same training, experience, or social identity to lead the group. Creating diversity and spreading the group power around will cause a more expansive and informed search for solutions.
Present a unified front outside
As an entire collaborative is made of many parts, it is important for each part to represent and support the whole – the ideas, the reasons, the purpose, etc. Using “we” language can be very helpful. Each part of the whole must be clear and be able to consistently be ready to give a testimony of the strength of the product and the legitimacy of the process. With strength in numbers, tested with a diversity of players, unity will tell the world that this collective is seriously capable of taking on any project that comes at them and that they produce results that work.
Speak your mind
Appreciation and a healthy respect is a rule of thumb for the collaborative. Much of the collaborative process will be fast paced with a multitude of ideas being put on the table that are either met with concession, denial, or a change to the next idea. This can seem intimidating at first but each collaborator must remember
people / method / 35
â€œA self-sustaining creative collaboration works best when it is setting its own standards for its work internally rather than relying on outsiders (bosses, clients, teachers, users, constituents).â€?14
that the group is working towards the best solutions. So speak your mind and be ready to not take things personally – there is a reason each member of the collaborative is there.
Pay attention to tension
Tension can be the product of a fast paced, innovative studio or it can point to something larger if it persists. The design lead must be intuitive enough to spot the reason for tension and whether or not it is healthy. A reordering or reminding of roles, a short break to relax, or a time to look at the “now what?” cards may be in order.
File your future
Working collaboratively in an integrated way does not always come easily – it can be emotionally and physically draining. This is why the environment of the studio is important.
people / method / 37
PROJECT / PEOPLE / PLACE / PROCESS Focus on the quality of work and the deliverables instead of being bothered by the lack of creature comforts or missing tools. If your participants are not happy and comfortable, then they are not functioning at their highest levels. The ability to shift scale and pace – bring agility whilst engaging in richness and depth – this makes strategic design necessary and valuable.
should adapt to fit the need whether it be a community meeting on a new school being built or a meeting with two business owners branding their new café.
Key to the studio is given to the Design Lead to illuminate ownership over the space. Make it memorable: the place must enable the collaboration to share a special experience and to foster chemistry of the group and create a lasting reminder of the studio experience. Moments that allow the collaborative a chance to bond socially are an investment in the collaborative’s ability to collaborate fluidly. You want the people working with the practice to feel like they belong and to want to return to work there again someday.
A place where small groups can be encouraged to chat and socialize apart from pressing group issues.
The design space must be really conducive to social interaction and interface. These spaces are not all necessary (they are listed in order from most important to least important) but all of them are worth considering in a highly intimate process.
A Space for Chit-chat A Space for Relaxation
A small area to step out to make a quick phone call or to have a brief but important rest from the busyness of a collaborative studio.
The Ability to Be Nomadic
Sometimes the sites of relationship are the places themselves, whether it’s an informal settlement, the office of the activist, or city hall. It is necessary for the practice to be close to the project. This might mean setting up temporary offices or taking your work out into the field.
A Space for Collective Work
This space should not have cubicles but a long table where everyone can work collectively in relationship to more private places. A table where everyone shares the same space and there is no hierarchy – constantly looking at each other in a collective realm. It is ideal that this table be round. There should be a variety of chairs including mobile chairs that are easily rearranged to fit the needs of the collaborative. Around the room, a strip of chalkboard/white board and a pin-able surface for the entire collaboration cinematic horizon for storyboarding and notations.
A Space for Interface
A space adjacent to the collaborative space with tools that enable communication with others outside of the collaboration. It should be transparent enough to allow the visitors to feel connected to the collaboration’s efforts. Graphics and layout
place / method / 39
You can design the most flawless systems on paper, but without taking into consideration the dynamic and quirky dimension of people, you’ll never get it right. That’s why “human-centered design” is a cornerstone of design thinking. It’s based on the premise that empathy for the user is critical—all systems that intersect with human beings have to cater to human dimensions and experiences. Otherwise they’ll fail. -Mossayeb fig 14
PROJECT / PEOPLE / PLACE / PROCESS
Where are we now?
Identify the People
The studio’s success is dependent on casting the right roles for the group. Studios comprised of less experienced individuals tend to lack a realistic understanding of plausible causality between hunches and their potential impacts. Experienced studio members, however, are better able to evaluate the causality of hunches and their anticipated impact and can therefore make better decisions about which to choose and which to jettison.
Identify the Opportunity
Opportunities are individual building blocks that together form an architecture of solutions. These solution-oriented actions should be amongst ideas that make strategic opportunities actionable today. 1. 2. 3. 4.
Importance Network-abilty Relevance Scale
Overview 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
Top-down: Specialized Practices Time Investment Project Costs Scale of Impact Bottom-up: Seeing the reality on the ground: getting out and seeing the realities first-hand, share insights and assess emerging themes and questions Questions for Investigation Themes Observed Insights: how we might handle the design process, lectures or presentations of background for the project, time to digest. Invisible Dynamics: What is the essence of the project and is it easily understood? How can we increase the understanding of how the systems that affect the project work? What needs to be broken down into simple, accessible visual explanations?
Where Do We Want to Go?
Sketching Group Insights: together the group synthesizes experiences, findings, and expertise through speaking or sharing, illustrates thoughts through drawing or diagramming, and formulates theories. Use Theme Sheet: develop multiple themes as a group. This is an opportunity to think big, small, outside-the-box, inside-the-box, around-the-box, etc.; the time to be selective will come but for now put all possibilities out there.
Pulling Things Together
1. Time Factor: factor in the inertia and maintain the focus on strategic issues: some of them have more inertia than others. 2. Scale: the extent to which the project can be realized unilaterally. The effort required implementing an idea. 3. What Will it Take?: resources needed in order to make the project a reality 4. Be Selective: the outcomes of the collaborative are intended to be a solid starting point, so while the thinking must be articulated and compelling, it does not have to be exhaustive or rock solid. Working within an artificial numerical constraint will introduce a useful degree of rigor to the selection process. The act of making tough choices is an important part of the synthesis process, gently forcing the studio to take a position on what is important and in which order.
Sites of Investigation: hunches and concepts are developed
1. 5 is not the magic number, select the right amount of themes that can be easily split into workable groups according to the type and number of people working. 2. Identify Opportunites for Each Theme: this will give the collaborators ideas of what to investigate futher – what’s possible? 3. Split into Focus Groups: list the collaborators working on each theme
How Do We Get There?
Take a Position
1. Collaboration comes back together 2. Create a Minifesto: It’s time to look at the opportunity chosen, the sets of
process / method / 41
actions proposed and the reasons why action is necessary. Be critical. Be urgent. It is mini- versus mani- because it is not based on complete facts but a status quo and holds through situations involving doubt, risk, and uncertainty as well as in the predictable.
There might be circumstances that change over the course of the project. This is a time to double-check for any changes or inaccuracies that need to be addressed. Contractors and contributors will be very useful here because they can come back to the project with fresh eyes and knowledgeable minds. 1. Importance a. Does the topic matter and to whom? b. Conventional or Unconventional? c. Extremes or Norms? 2. Network-ability a. Is there a strong network of consultancy or stakeholders? If not, can we build one? 3. Relevance a. What/who might the problem inform? b. Is it relevant outside our immediate sphere? 4. Scale a. Too broad or too specific? b. Can it be realistically implemented? c. Can it be broken down to an assessable scale?
1. 2. 3. 4.
Sharing: collaboration comes back together and reports on findings. What Worked? : Findings What Didn’t Work? : Bumps-in-the-road What Was Learned? : New developments What’s Still Missing? : Further development needed
Other Insights: sketches, diagrams, blurbs, thoughts, connections, etc. Who to Ask? : contractors and contributors
Documentation of Ideas
1. What will we illustrated? 2. How will we illustrate it? 3. Translation of Invisible Dynamics: some topics of engagement might not have ever been visualized in a clear and concise way, or even at all. Some topics might have never been engaged through design thinking. This is an opportunity for new models of representation and for the systematic process to really flex its design muscles – to turn information into understanding. 4. Production of Visual Communications: Every project results in a piece of visual communication. This is how design makes information accessible, enjoyable, and meaningful. The piece may be purely informative but is better when it is useful in the real world.
Tune In and Represent Ideas
1. Action Areas: this is intentional time is set aside to make changes after receiving feedback from contractors, contributors, and other collaboration members a. How much time do we have? b. How much time will it take? 2. Constituents a. Who will be the champions of the work? b. Who will be affected the most? 3. Resources a. How many people? b. How much time? c. How much money? d. What do we need? 4. What’s Still Missing? a. What else needs to be done? b. What should we think about moving forward?
Follow-up 1. 2. 3. 4.
Champions / Affiliation Place Tools Itinerary a. Months Before b. Weeks Before c. Time for Review d. Afterwards
process / method / 43
the distillery of information (doi) The Distillery of Information is a fictional firm created for the purpose of illustrating the investigative collaborative method of architectural practice.
Projects Projects that the firm had been working on or had completed were created and made available as examples of what the possibilities of engagement were for this method of practice. Projects varied from large scale community interventions with big business partners to small group efforts to communicate community needs. Two featured projects were the Grocery Revolution and the Community Asset Corp.
The Grocery Revolution
The Distillery of Information created a clear and easy program, Pledge PDX, that enabled Portlanders to deliver food to people in need and rewarded them with benefits, including free bike rental. Project: There are a lot people without access to a supermarket or grocery store. Programs and institutions (such as Meals on Wheels) deliver food to some of them. However, most of these people in need are not benefiting from the food delivery institutions because of age. Opportunity: Create a program that incentivises people to get food to anyone who needs it.
The Community Asset Corp
the community and to youth placed back into community.
People The Distillery of Informationâ€™s first collaborative included an architect to lead the collaboration : Lindley Bynum, collaborators : visiting critics, curators : the School of Architecture, contractors : outside thesis advisors, contributors : thesis advisors and advising professors, and constituents : practicing architects and clients.
Place The DOI was launched with the creation of a digital interface that included social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Behance Network and Issuu. This was a successful effort to get a following and awareness behind DOI and what we are up to. Everything from our inspirations, process, scheduled events, and other pieces in the development of an alternative architectural firm were made available to the general public at large as well as offered up for viewing to traditional practices and potential collaborators. The headquarters of the Distillery of Information became the 211 suite at Shattuck Hall on Portland State University campus. This enabled the DOI to be connected to not only the university resources but also located in the center of downtown Portland with easy access to public transportation - an ability to be nomadic is important to the Distillery of Information. Following the essentials of place in the method, the distillery had 5 different areas set up including a round table in the space for collective work where collaborators came together in a critique of the Distilleryâ€™s method of practice.
The Distillery of Information looked at the youth and recovery housing entities in the context of the neighborhood rather than the context of downtown, looking specifically at how services could enable communities to care for their needs. Project: Community-sufficiency becomes the ultimate goal of neighborhoods that strive to socially and economically sustain themselves. In communitydemocracy, ultimate freedom becomes an identity not dependent only on what an individual can and canâ€™t do but on the responsibility of accountability for neighbors who hold each other up as they live life and become more intimately responsible for each other. This works against an architecture of self-sufficiency, breaking out of the downtown institutionalized programs and generic blanket of solutions and into specific and personalized, or neighborhood-ized, prevention and recovery. Opportunity: Place a variety of services in neighborhoods that are available to
the distillery of information / 45
space for chit-chat
info point space for interface
equiptment and supplies report table
space for collective work
space for studio work
kitchenette space for relaxation
the distillery of information / 47
a : definition
a : procedural
“understanding is a path, not a point. it is relationships.”
“I know how to do it.”
(1) : the path between information and knowledge (2) : provoked by learning and interest and tested by praxis and performance level (3) : the connection of information relative to other known information
(1) : the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association (2) : acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique
b : Personal
b : for example “you can only understand something relative to something else.” (1) : Information : I have a handbook on how to build a house. (2) : understanding : I know how a house is built... but I don’t know how to build a house. (3) : knowledge : I know how to build a house.
“i have experienced it and know about it.” (1) : the fact or condition of being aware of something (2) : the range of one’s information or understanding
c : Propositional “i know facts/information about it” (1) : the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning : cognition (2) : the fact or condition of having information or of being learned
truths attained by reason or experience aided by scientific method.
where knowledge comes from
experience is necessary for knowledge, reason is necessary for processing experienceinto coherent thought. -Immanuel kant
“when information is by itself, it tells us little about itself or the information it engages” 4
information as it applies to architecture
In a world of highly educated consumers, there is much that we understand or are aware of but how much do we understand it? When we say Portland has 2,260,000 people living in it, how can we possibly know what that means? What do we have to compare it to? What sort of implications does that fact have on our design decision? When information is by itself, it tells us little about itself or the information it engages. However, when paired with similar information as a comparison, it becomes familiar, relatable, interesting, and is affirmed. The more you are familiar, less explanation is needed but with more familiarity, our expectations become more complacent.
in-for-ma-tion noun \in-fer-’mā-shen\
a : definition
How can we make interpretive comments as designers, based upon the information we know about our city? Defamiliarization is thrown around to make us disrupt the complacent but refamiliarization is a necessary process to place us back into the context we come from.
“it is cold outside.” or “47 people were at the transit station.”
Using Richard Saul Werman’s method of organizing information: alphabet, time, location, continuum or magnitude, and category, we can create juxtaposition to ask questions and reveal suggestions.
“it is 30 minutes past noon.”
The revealing, interpretation, and design of this information will help us edify, not persuade, and exchange ideas, not foist them. It will highlight and shorten the thinking between designers and users to engage an interactive nature of communication about our city.
(1) : relateable truths obtained from reason or experience (2) : facts, data (3) : intelligence, news
b : organization (1) : Alphabet (2) : time (3) : Location (4) : continuum or magnitude (5) : category
information / early research / 49
71+13+214Z 80+11+41Z we live with our families
WE donâ€™t move often or move from far away
71+13+214A 71 % live with family 71+13+214A 12.8 % live with non-family 71+13+214A 2.3 % live in group quarters 71+13+214A 13.7 % live alone
80+11+41A 79 % stayed in same house 80+11+41A 10.7 % stayed in same county 80+11+41A 3.6 % stayed in same state 80+11+41A 3.3 % from another state 80+11+41A 0.6 % from abroad
data collected over 5 yrs from 2010 ACS study of geographic mobility in Oregon fig 21
Who & where research Traditions unchanged, habits unchallenged. There is a sort of security that comes from living with the family - security in repetitiveness - knowing the family will come around the dinner table in the evening to eat, referring to the same collective hobbies in the downtime, and turning to the same support system in the hard times.
Collective memory Information can be found digitally (via the internet, technical instruments used for measurement, etc) in any place inside and even outside our world (which cannot be placed on a map). Connections between information can lead to more information.
No one place or one person is immune to experiencing information, so placing information gathering is also impossible. However, places where multitudes of information is gathered is possible to place – in the case of written information – I have mapped out all of the bookstores, libraries, and schools in Portland. The result of this mapping led to the discovery that even placed information is distributed widely without concentration areas. Thus, there is no particular place where information cannot be discovered, gathered, or shared. Why Portland? When conducting a critical thesis, it was important for me to place myself as much into the context as possible. So I started looking into the re-communication between architects and consumers right in the midst and depths of the city I have experienced externally, as a visitor, and internally, as an invested resident. This city is also in the middle of compiling a plan that will have a large affect on how it deals with issues of design in the public context, where architects will have to be great communicators with the public and could potentially gain back relevancy by people who call them architects.
Who in Portland? The repetitive, the forgetful, the complacent – these are all of us who are placed into a world of great information consumption where our minds have become disinterested or complacent about the city around us. For example, when we are a city where 71% of us live with our family, where tradition can remain unchanged, habits unchallenged, with a sort of security in repetitiveness – knowing the family will come around the dinner table in the evening to eat, referring to the same collective hobbies in the down time, and turning to the same support system in the hard times, we become complacent. Or, when 79% of us stayed in the same house for at least the past year where our physical environments are not altered very much, we have the same routes of transportation, the same faces next door, at the grocery store, and at the coffee shop, we become complacent. However, it doesn’t take very much to cause a surprise.
who & where / early research / 51
â€œOur objective is to provide a platform for the strategic design community to share experiences, and weâ€™re particularly interested in design as a driver for innovation in the public sector.â€?32
methodology There are a number of examples of practice that engage collaborative and strategic design. In choosing case studies, I looked at practices that we recognize nationally and internationally for the way they address larger design issues beyond the need to build. All of these practices look at issues directly related to social needs and unapologetically address the need for design thinking to be applied outside of the graphic or built environment.
Helsinki Design Lab (hdl)
About: Helsinki Design Lab is an initiative by Sitra, The Finnish Innovation Fund, to advance strategic design as a way to re-examine, re-think, and re-design the systems we’ve inherited from the past. They advance knowledge, capability, and achievement in strategic design using three main tools: HelsinkiDesignLab.org: Their website is built for sharing like-minded work happening around the world. In addition to the HDL case studies, their blog is a source for the latest conversation about the discipline of strategic design, and the changing role of design in the world. The goal of this site is to help expand knowledge about strategic design methods and opportunities. HDL Global: This event provides a forum for a global community of government stakeholders and strategic designers to gain insight into strategic design and its methods of delivering results. Invitation event. HDL Methods: These include the HDL Studio Model: Within Finland, Helsinki Design Lab occasionally develops its own experiments that bring leading strategic designers together with content experts to create applied solutions for real problems currently faced by government. They call these gatherings “studios.”32
meet the challenges of tomorrow. Helsinki Design Lab accelerates the integration of design and government by establishing strategic design as a core discipline in supporting governmental decision making and service delivery. During the summer of 1968, Sitra sponsored the Industrial, Environmental, and Product Design Seminar, which was largely responsible for introducing integrated product design to Finland. This opened the door for a broader discussion between designers and industry and is part of Finland’s recognized legacy of design leadership. Forty years later, in collaboration with the Tapio Wirkkala - Rut Bryk Foundation, HDL 2008 was held in commemoration of that event to discuss the potential of design in our contemporary era. Noting that industry and design can work together harmoniously, they’ve now turned their attention to challenges at a new scale: government. Since 2009, Helsinki Design Lab has expanded beyond its previous event focus and now operates as a mission-driven initiative powered by Sitra, in collaboration with an evolving group of global partners. “Our objective is to provide a platform for the strategic design community to share experiences, and we’re particularly interested in design as a driver for innovation in the public sector.” Helsinki Design Lab helps government leaders see the “architecture of problems.” We assist decision-makers to view challenges from a big-picture perspective, and provide guidance toward more complete solutions that consider all aspects of a problem. Our mission is to advance this way of working—we call it strategic design.
Method: “A delicate combination of pragmatism with imagination: research through prototyping, learning from execution, communication through tangible projects, strategic intent with iterative action, systems thinking and humancenteredness, all underscored by an optimistic belief in progressive change.”11 “The complex systematic challenges we face today actually necessitate frameworks that are intrinsically capable of generating and testing entirely new approaches, and learning from their introduction into existing structures.”11
Governments (and large organizations) face tremendous transformation challenges if they want to maintain viability in the future. The challenge today is to develop pathways to systemic & strategic improvements that affect how decisions are made. To successfully make improvements happen, governments will engage the monumental task of redesigning both the boundaries of complex problems and the ways they deliver solutions.
By offering an integrated approach to defining problems and developing solutions, strategic design is an essential capability for governments that aim to
Traditional definitions of design often focus on creating discrete (separate or distinct) solutions—be it a product, a building, or a service. Strategic design
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“The collection of opportunities are likely to be well-informed guesses more than detailed proposals, but articulating them – even as hunches – is a way to avoid the generalities and abstractions that strategic conversations often get lost in.”11
is about applying some of the principles of traditional design to “big picture” systemic challenges like health care, education, and climate change. It redefines how problems are approached, identifies opportunities for action, and helps deliver more complete and resilient solutions. This is only possible when design is integrated into the DNA of organizations, creating new opportunities for designers with a strategic aptitude to migrate from studios and ateliers to integrated positions, embedded within organizations and governments. Helsinki Design Lab seeks to expand the practice of design beyond of the realm of cultural affairs. Although many of them have backgrounds in architecture or other fields of traditional design, HDL’s work is focused on honing the skill set and mindset of the designer to help solve the challenges faced by the interdependent world.32 They select projects against these questions: 1. 2. 3. 4.
Importance: Does the topic matter and to who? Relevance: Is the topic broad/narrow enough to engage a good team? Networkability: Is there a strong network of consultancy or stakeholders? Scale: Is it too broad or too specific?
PEOPLE Helsinki Design Lab is made up of a core team that includes Bryan Boyer, Justin Cook, and Marco Steinburg along with a rotating team of studio assistants. When addressing a challenge, HDL pulls in experts from around the world to address issues on a systematic level but they see design as the glue in a collaboration so are always selecting a design lead that is an architect, designer, or some other creative mind. They are always looking for: 1. 2. 3. 4.
The right mix The right expertise The right people The right attitude
highlights opportunities. They do this through the following agenda: 1. Settling In: Meeting socially, understanding the people and place 2. Getting to know the system (top-down view points): Look at what does success look like, how we might handle the design process, lectures or presentations of background for the project, time to digest. 3. Seeing the reality on the ground (bottom-up view points): getting out and seeing the realities first-hand, share insights and assess emerging themes and questions 4. Beginning to Sketch: synthesizing experiences, findings, and expertise, scribbling thoughts on the white boards, erasing them and looking puzzled, formulate a working theory or proposition (not comprehensive but a start). (Design lead will be really busy setting up what the collaboration needs or has requested such as additional meetings with stakeholders or experts. 5. Pulling things together: Split up into smaller groups to divide and conquer to focus on specific hunches or concepts (Design lead will be very busy today translating between various points of view and helping the team organize their ideas into one thesis. They will also need to remind the team that they are human – making sure they get fresh air, have coffee, eat) 6. Sharing: last bit of time to tune and represent their ideas, re-assess work, and make last-minute changes. Production of documentation of ideas. Time to collect thoughts (Design lead should help studio by asking them to presents an abbreviated ‘dry run’ of their final plan. Divvy up presentation responsibilities.) 7. Final Review: a. Review guests: about five guests who have a deep understanding of the big picture or key parts of it and are positioned to become champions of the work. Committed to the topic and aware of the nature of the challenge. b. Start strong: Introduction to relationships and goals. Design lead as MC for framework, team member speak to action areas. c. Focus on conversation: presentation over, informal interaction and discussion. d. Shift gears: sharing a meal to allow conversation to be more casual Outcomes or deliverables could be a framework for strategic improvement or a set of ten opportunities.
Indirectly the Studio can be thought of as a vehicle to build momentum and influence within your network by providing an engagement with meaningful content.
Helsinki Design Lab wants to articulate a clear vision or framework for strategic improvement describing the ecology of the problem. Before each project, a brief is made to sum-up the problem at hand. Through a week long charrette with outside guests, Helsinki Design Lab proposes an architecture of solutions that
Participants generally leave the Studio with an invigorated sense of the possibility of working in a cross-silo team and a deeper understanding of systemic challenges.
hdl / methodology / 55
Case Study: Instrumental Design
Creating new opportunities and exposing hidden risks in the healthcare ecosystem By Bryan Boyer & Justin W. Cook
PLACE Working collaboratively in an integrated way does not always come easily – it can be emotionally and physically draining. This is why the environment of the studio is important. Focus on the quality of work and the deliverables instead of being bothered by the lack of creature comforts or missing tools. If your participants are not happy and comfortable, then they are not functioning at their highest levels. They desire an ability to shift scale and pace – bringing agility whilst engaging in richness and depth – this makes strategic design necessary and valuable.14 Helsinki Design Lab wants to make themselves memorable: to share a special experience and to foster chemistry of the group creating a lasting reminder of the studio experience with moments that allow the team a chance to bond socially are an investment in the team’s ability to collaborate fluidly. 1. Location and Quality: connected to challenge potential for pleasant and refreshing breaks, good square footage 2. Room to Relax: Casual space to step out really fast to make a phone call 3. Coffee & Chit-chat: A small kitchen stocked to encourage the team to chat in small groups 4. Furniture: Easily reconfigured to support big groups, multiple small groups, etc., Diversity of seating options: window sill, sofa, stools, etc. 5. Equipment & Supplies: There will be a lot of list making, sorting of ideas, relationship-mapping, sketching and diagramming – much of it is better suited to a larger format than a sticky note. 6. White boards are critical because they are naturally large–format. The necessity to erase and redraw. 7. Large format screen for digital presentations (keep the lights on to prevent sleepiness and to set a more conversational tone) 8. Printer close to hand and easy to operate. 9. Info Point: one wall, preferably next to the entrance or kitchen, for posting the latest schedule of the week, short biographies of the collaboration, and essential details (such as the wifi password).
Creating new opportunities and exposing hidden risks in the health care ecosystem. Modern health care systems are as vast and complex as they are essential to the existence of a healthy society. Eliminating risk in this context is not only a
moral imperative but also a prudent business decision and a precondition for establishing general trust in the system. Developments in medical treatment, devices, and procedures are subject to high levels of scrutiny so as to avoid reckless risk-taking at the expense of someone’s quality of life, or their life itself. Yet this calculus does not account for an important factor—the status quo. By slowing down the innovation cycle we also extend the life of existing solutions which themselves carry risks. From a broad perspective, HHC used design to escape the perils of “sub optimization.” Whereas previous cycles of product design had resulted in parts of the hospital ecosystem being meticulously designed as individual “sub” components, HHC’s work focused on illuminating the relationships between these bits –including people, things, and processes – and beginning the design process from the insights gleaned. Although HHC’s work resulted in specific product designs, these were informed by rigorous research and were robust enough to fundamentally redefine relationships and in effect, begin a redesign of the ecosystem from the bottom up.
Critique: Helsinki Design Labs’ focused target of governmental leaders does not coincide well with the fact that they are governmentally funded. Although the Finnish government sets themselves in a position to be innovative and open to strategicthinking, given they have programs like Sitra whose purpose is just that, they limit the ability to change and adjust when given critique because of the bureaucracy embedded in governmental systems. This circumstance has led to the closure of Helsinki Design Lab despite the success of their work. This is why the topics chosen by Helsinki Design Lab to address are limited to the trajectory of the organization, an internal factor. This is also apparent in the amount of separation Helsinki Design Lab gives itself from the collaborative, acting as an outside, behind-the-scenes support. Other restrictions include the inability to be flexible in their process timeline – every project that Helsinki Design Lab takes on goes through the same week long process that brings in outside collaborators to tackle an issue through an intensive week long charrette-like process that is guided on the front-end, in the middle and on the back-end by Helsinki Design Lab. The products that Helsinki Design Lab produces are proposals that get handed off to be actualized or stand as a conversation starter that needs further development outside of Helsinki Design Lab. These products are neither made available to everyone nor is Helsinki Design Lab in continual relationship with all of the parties involved, so there is no guarantee that the essence of the product will remain over time.
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â€œThe projects carried out by Estudio Teddy Cruz start with issues of scarcity and economic failure, using as inspiration the inventive everyday practices found in these situations of crisis. They propose bottom-up solutions in collaboration with local NGOs and other nonprofit organizations in an approach that shows the emancipatory potential of architecture as well as acknowledging its inherently political context. Their work is disseminated as builtform, but also as workshops, lectures and exhibitions; they have participated in the Venice Architecture Biennale and take part in the annual InSITE public art programme at the Tijuana/San Diego border.â€?10
“Where there is an importance of informal and collective creativity, there also needs to be a role of creators and directors. Someone must take the necessary role in shepherding and enabling the vision.” –ETC38
Estudio Teddy Cruz (etc)
About: Teddy Cruz is a professor of public culture and urbanism and was the distinguished visiting professor to Portland States Department of Architecture for the last two years. His practice works outside of the obligation to build, some of their work is purely policy reform or funding reform, and is very process-oriented. “Estudio Teddy Cruz combines practice and research, with Cruz himself having taught at Woodbury University in San Diego, as well as his current position at University of San Diego California. The practice’s method expands the role of the architect, carrying out research into systems and materials, socio-political phenomena, as well as engaging in the political and legal issues related to the built environment. These spatial practices of densification and hybrid use were not supported by obsolete planning and zoning policies, proving Cruz’s point that buildings, and architecture in its traditional sense, cannot advance without the modification of political and legal structures.”10
Mission: Estudio Teddy Cruz believes that people in traditional practice are a part of problem of why an under-served population of people are not being addressed with architectural thinking. They look at conflicts or problems through a critique of practice addressing issues in generic and abstract. What they believe we should be looking at is the specific like institutions, conditions of urbanization or looking at political, socioeconomic, environmental. They believe it is the architect’s role to sequence and choreography of those conditions. Estudio Teddy Cruz starts by finding the centrality of the problem and organizes the way of thinking between what’s fragmented and begins to be reorganized domains of expertise. They look at places that are physical but non-places like institutions. Then questions emerge such as the role of informal – informal economies, informal densities. They think it is important to engagement of bottom-up, where traditional practice tends to be top-down.
Estudio Teddy Cruz sees a conflict and engages it. Their sites of investigation look at sectors of scarcity, marginalization. This is their mission. Estudio Teddy Cruz hopes for a different future organized based on organizations of adaptation, retrofit, things that are usually off the radar. Through engaging the actors and the agencies that are articulated in those conflicts - who they call the bottom-up. Estudio Teddy Cruz wants to enable community representation, coproduction of knowledge, and coproduction of strategies
Method: Problem Problems might inform education – guiding process but also exchange of knowledge, which begins to rethink education and role of information. Estudio Teddy Cruz works in urban pedagogical models asking questions central to practice. They want to address the need for new interfaces between the practice and public and engaging new systems of communication and exchange. Through visualization of political and translation of invisible dynamics, Estudio Teddy Cruz offers new modes of representation in cities (i.e. map of southern California zoning) that show complex systems. They see this as the service or product – mediating tools to translate dynamics into new political and economical frameworks. This pertains to other types of strategic design looking at the hardware, not software, of protocols of conditions that are not really engaging the tectonic or formal design strategies or traditions. This is what’s at stake in the building which will have spatial consequences. Estudio Teddy Cruz works to organize the design of process itself using methodologies necessary for rethinking policy.
People Using the coproduction of ideas, Estudio Teddy Cruz demystifies the role of the author and the centrality of the architect in monopolizing the creative process. Where there is an importance of informal and collective creativity, there also needs to be a role of creator and directors, someone must take the necessary role in shepherding and enabling the vision. They use variations and degrees of nuances management over those processes and ideas. That doesn’t meaning controlling the process or the output but a choreography of voice and editing processes to shape the ideas. Through an exchange of knowledge across topdown and bottom–up, between specialized knowledge concerned with the economic issues and more creative, ethical knowledge of communities that have
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â€œIt is Not just the design professional who calls the shots but enables other voices.â€?38
been in cooperation and participation of the issue, they create partnerships. Partnerships is a large part of the work Estudio Teddy Cruz uses construction of systems and interface mechanisms to enable that knowledge Estudio Teddy Cruz is always looking for a more specific team and believes that practice is nomadic. It might displace itself in the centrality of the office to occupy the non-profit, activist stage in the neighborhood. It is a researchbased entity where there is a circulation of actors from different fields such as graphic designers, community scientists, architects, engineers, etc. looking for a variety of approaches. They try to keep the core team very small, with a circulation of interns and impermanent teams. Ideally, they work with a more diverse demographic however they believe that design is important and central to the process. They are always looking for systems thinkers who can look at the ecological and complexity of things like urban ecologies of urbanization. When the practice is research-based, the focus of the work is not only on the product but on the designing of processes. Estudio Teddy Cruz is constantly asking: How do we draw in the social? How do we represent the economical? How do we experiment with the tools themselves? They act as a consultant to entities, to city officials, to policy because so many institutions are so embedded in convention that have been perpetrated and that have remained dysfunctional and opaque in their inability to absorb the complexity of the urban realm across environmental, social-economical, culture, political logics. So they begin to act more as urban curators of those fragmented chunks as a different idea of consultancy.
The environment is important in Estudio Teddy Cruz. Nomadism is important as it occupies different spaces and environments. Sometimes the sites of relationship are the places themselves, whether it’s an informal settlement, the office of the activist, or city hall. They have design spaces that are really conducive to social interaction and interface. Teddy learned this from the cognitive scientist he worked with in order to enable thinking for engaging problems. Estudio Teddy Cruz has moved from cubicles to a long table where everyone can work at a collective table in relationship to more private places. They also have a table at the Center for Urban Ecologies where everyone shares the same space and there is no hierarchy. Studio affiliates are constantly looking at each other in a collective realm - around the room a strip of chalkboard like a cinematic horizon for story boarding and notations. They have a room for collective work, a room adjacent that is transparent for public meetings, and a technology that enables a communication with neighborhoods is essential. Teddy believes every practice should have a room for interface. Architectural offices should act as corridors of knowledge exchange. Estudio Teddy Cruz establishes relationship of practice to universities. Their practice is imbedded in university to triangulate practice, pedagogy and policy. They have a cross subsidizing of support systems. Since there isn’t a typical model of profit in the traditional practice, they have more flexibility in projects and methodologies
Estudio Teddy Cruz uses a process of reorganizing and integrating different domains of expertise. They look at detours- having been educated out of the centrality of problem solving, they produce a question and want to answer it but sometimes the tools architects use in order to engage a to answer a question are imbedded in the conventions of the problem they are trying to answer. Architects need to be able to retool themselves, in that sense, they take a detour and we have to contact other domains that are peripheral but are in fact central to the question. Detours might be to factories, include actors, conditions of labor and production. These have become the place of engagement not the informal settlement which is where architects would immediately want to engage.
Casa Familiar consists of living rooms at the border of Mexico and America with senior housing with childcare.
The back-and-forth movement of materials, people, and ideas across the United States–Mexico border between San Diego and Tijuana has long been an important focus of Teddy Cruz’s practice. In 2001 Cruz began working with the community-based nongovernmental organization Casa Familiar to develop a pilot housing project for an area of San Ysidro, an American city just north of the border. According to Casa Familiar—which advocates for and assists the marginal community in such areas as immigration services, education, and job placement—some two-thirds of San Ysidro’s homes are multifamily; the median income for residents is sixty percent lower than it is in the rest of San Diego County. In addition to providing a new type of affordable housing, the team
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“I think broadly I would say it’s visual communication skills, but really maybe it’s a little bit deeper than that. What we really help do is break down really complex policy and planning information to just even the verbal parts of it, we’re really breaking it down into simple, accessible language and really making it visual. It’s great particularly in a lot of the communities we work in because you’re talking about people having other languages we their first language or having a lower educational level, it’s sort of just meeting people where they’re at and making information accessible to them in a way they can really do something with it. That can be really powerful in a lot of these communities.”29
sought to stimulate political, economic, and social transformation. Having studied a variety of ad hoc uses of land in this formerly homogenous suburban area, Cruz aimed to create a complex system of housing, with integrated shared space that would acknowledge and exploit the dense, multiuse, and often illegal development that is standard there. This decade-long undertaking has resulted in the incorporation of alternative zoning categories in San Ysidro, appropriate to the city’s density and its citizens’ income levels, as well as designs for two small-scale projects to be constructed on abandoned or underutilized lots beginning in 2011: Living Rooms at the Border and Senior Housing with Childcare. Connected by pedestrian alleyways, the two projects will integrate affordable apartments with community centers and highly flexible multiuse indoor and outdoor spaces. In a radically pragmatic and integrative approach to architecture, Cruz has sought to understand the fabric of the neighborhood and create projects that institutionalize it.3
Critique: Estudio Teddy Cruz is often criticized for their inconsistency in actualizing projects into a built-reality. They have created multiple proposals for built intervention that haven’t been built, but the essence and reason behind their work lies in the process and advocacy for a more inclusive process. If Estudio Teddy Cruz were to put more emphasis on production of ideas and products that result their work, their ability to make a larger impact and influence would greatly increase. Estudio Teddy Cruz works in between the real and figurative borders of practice. Their practice is making real change in the reordering of policy and economics in reference to need, especially in the field of architecture. This might not all be physically built realities but they are a restructuring of the process that leads to built realities. What Estudio Teddy Cruz offers is specialized knowledge that engages particular groups of people. This limits the types of products the studio works on. This also means that they are always asking similar questions and looking through similar lenses in each project, albeit different lenses than what would typically be viewed through. There shouldn’t be a hierarchy of interests and expertise. Estudio Teddy Cruz flips the traditional top-down model but to the extreme where specialized groups have less say, not equal say so the power comes from the bottom. The hierarchy is then not dispersed but displaced keeping with a vertical model. The collaboration needs to be able to be productive and creative within the topic of engagement without too much bother around logistics of the collaboration. Too many heads can also distract from the essence of the opportunity.
Center for Urban Pedagogy (cup)
About: CUP was founded in 1997 by Damon Rich with co-founders Jason Anderson, AJ Blandford, Josh Breitbart, Stella Bugbee, Sarah Dadush, Althea Wasow, and Rosten Woo, who drew on their backgrounds in art, architecture, history, public policy and political theory, and graphic design to collaborate on projects investigating how the city works. They made publications, videos, and exhibits on topics like urban renewal, housing subsidies, and the history of public housing. Over time, they brought more and more collaborators, from more varied backgrounds, into their projects. In 2001, CUP organized Building Codes, an exhibition at Storefront for Art and Architecture on the 100th anniversary of New York City’s Tenement House Act that used multiple methods to investigate and represent the politics of urban development. The next year, CUP conducted its first Urban Investigation project, Garbage Problems, where CUP collaborated with students to look into waste management and then create posters, models, and a video about what we learned. Then in 2004, CUP began to develop some of the partnerships that have become core to our practices. That year, CUP began to hire project-based teaching artists, expanding our circle of collaborators and spreading our impact. That year, CUP also partnered with a community-based organization for the first time, Public Housing Residents of the Lower East Side (PHROLES), to create Public Housing Television, a visual tool for popular education and organizing for residents of public housing in New York City. This was one of CUP’s first Technical Assistance projects. CUP began to create more structured collaborative frameworks for advocacy organizations, designers, and CUP staff in 2007 with the introduction of Making Policy Public. Over the years, CUP has worked to take the core methods developed in projects like the Building Codes exhibit—stakeholder interviews; collaborations with students, organizers, advocates, educators, and visual artists; and the use of visuals to break down and communicate complex policy and planning issues — and developed a series of programs that meet specific community needs. Though we don’t make exhibits any more, we continue to use print, video, and other media to create visually-based projects that help communities all over New York City (and beyond) to understand and be a part of the decision-
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making that shapes their communities. Their overall mission is to use the power of design to improve public participation in shaping the city and shaping the places they live. The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) is a nonprofit organization that uses design and art to improve civic engagement. CUP projects demystify the urban policy and planning issues that impact our communities, so that more individuals can better participate in shaping them. They believe that increasing understanding of how these systems work is the first step to better and more diverse community participation. CUP projects are collaborations of art and design professionals, communitybased advocates and policymakers, and our staff. Together they take on complex issues—from the juvenile justice system to zoning law to food access—and break them down into simple, accessible, visual explanations. Organizers and educators all over New York City use the tools they create and beyond to help their constituents better advocate for their own community needs. The way that the work is consistent is that they see design as a tool of power, and that we as designers have the opportunity to dislocate or relocate that power. They can put that power in the hands of communities and help them use it. They believe it’s about increasing the capacities of communities to advocate for themselves by outing the power of design in their hands, helping them to have the drawing to put up there and to be recognized visually in that conversation. The work CUP does is similar in that they’re going and helping communities have these visualization tools that they can then use to advocate for themselves. CUP works in that way where it is about not trying to address need without directly working with the communities that actually have the need and having them be part of the conversation They don’t have an agenda in creating their tools, they just think people should know how things work.
Method: Problem CUP takes two approaches to improving public engagement through civic education: youth education programs in which students work with teaching artists to investigate some aspect of how the city works and create final products that educate others about what they learned; and community education programs that bring together designers and advocates to produce tools, workshops, and publications that explain complex policies or processes for specific audiences.
With community education, CUP works with advocacy organizations, policy experts, and designers to produce publications, workshops, and other teaching tools that explain important policy issues for the people who most need to know. CUP publications and teaching tools are made for and with specific groups in specific places, but they reach a national audience of people interested in civics education and graphic and information design. CUP’s Envisioning Development Toolkits are workshops built around interactive tools that teach people about basic land-use terms and concepts, enabling them to participate meaningfully in neighborhood change. For example, the Affordable Housing Toolkit teaches participants about income demographics and the technical definitions of affordable housing to help them analyze proposed developments in concrete terms of units, rents, and incomes. The toolkits are developed in close collaboration with community organizations throughout New York, such as Good Old Lower East Side, the Fifth Avenue Committee, the Municipal Arts Society, and Tenants & Neighbors. Through their Technical Assistance program, community organizations and advocacy groups can hire CUP to create custom outreach and organizing tools. For example, they are working with the Participatory Budgeting Project and Community Voices Heard, along with designer Glen Cummings, to produce outreach and educational materials, as well as maps and ballots for a citywide effort to engage public participation in City Council budget decision making. In Youth Education, CUP partners with schools and afterschool programs to produce experiential, project-based curricula that get students out of the classroom to interact with New York City and the people who make it work. Their education programs vary in length from one day to one semester and reach over 500 students each year – from the Bronx to South Brooklyn and everywhere in between. CUP’s Urban Investigations projects ask basic questions about how the city works and answer them over the course of a semester. Where does our garbage go? Where does our water come from? Who built public housing? Students make site visits and conduct interviews while working with artists, designers, and CUP staff to produce award-winning videos, exhibitions, magazines, and other media that communicate what they’ve learned to a wide audience. These products are screened in theaters, exhibited at museums, and used by advocacy organizations to educate others. For example, the Sewer in a Suitcase, a working model of a city streetscape and combined sewer system developed by CUP with students from City-as-School, has been featured on the Design Observer website and at the Proteus Gowanus gallery, and is currently being used by educators at organizations like The Harbor School and the Lower East Side Ecology Center to teach people about wastewater management and combined sewer overflow.
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“we try, we think of our work in a lot of ways as capacity building work, we so often partner with groups that are doing really great organizing or advocacy work already and we’re just bringing them another set of tools they can use in that work. We want to build on their really great skills and their connection to communities and their ability to communicate with the constituents they have. We always want to make sure their tools are helpful to them. So we look for those kinds of structures we can fit into.”29
City Studies projects are in-class and afterschool, project-based curricula for high school students, from semester-long projects to single-session workshops. For example, CUP recently developed a curriculum with a teacher at the Academy of Urban Planning in Bushwick to help students understand how to use information graphics in their persuasive writing. After conducting an on-the-street survey on a proposed soft drink tax, students created their own figures, charts, and graphs to help them develop arguments for or against the tax. CUP also provides Teacher Trainings, professional development workshops for teachers and administrators that help educators connect students to their communities through art and design. They develop custom programs to meet the needs of a particular group, from a two-hour site assessment project to a weeklong set of workshops.
Process Visual communication. Every CUP project results in a piece of visual communication. CUP works with artists and designers to create everything from documentaries to posters to comic books to contraptions, all with a strong visual presence and a focus on making information accessible, enjoyable, and meaningful. CUP projects have been featured in art museums, design magazines, film festivals, and other venues, including the Venice Biennale and the CooperHewitt National Design Museum’s Design Triennial; publications like Print, Good, and The New York Times; and venues from Exit Art to the New Museum for Contemporary Art. Fun and funny. CUP is serious about civic engagement, but they think it works better when it’s fun. They find these topics inherently interesting but they know they can often be intimidating. They think it’s easier for people to engage with projects that capture their imaginations, make them laugh, or give them a chance to play. CUP’s process is never recognized because a lot of it is pre-development, and it is a very important, participatory processes and empowerment processes, and setting people up to be ready for doing a built project and setting them up for doing more built projects. In other words, leaving them with a whole set of skills to engage in physical, environmental projects, but that’s not something you get published. They don’t have an agenda in creating their tools, they just think people should know how things work. CUP tries to judge the impact of their work. They go back in and talk to people especially with the tools we’ve produced about how they’re using them and how they’ve connected to their campaigns and things like that. They think with the housing tool they did a series of interviews last summer after people had them
for a few months just to say hey, how are you using it, how many workshops do you do, who usually comes, which parts of it are useful? CUP tries to find that time where they’re checking in on those things. They’re always trying to figure out better ways to make it an ongoing part of our work, so it’s always feeding back in.
People All of CUP’s projects use design and art to improve civic engagement. They offer unique and unexpected collaborations. CUP is committed to bringing individuals from different fields together in creative dialogue. All CUP projects include CUP staff, artists or designers, community-based or advocacy organizations, and the people directly affected by the issues we address. Products that are useful in the real world. CUP projects produce visual tools designed to be used by constituencies that can most benefit from the information. These audiences include community organizations, who use the products in their own organizing efforts; educators, who use the products in their classrooms; and other constituencies addressed in particular projects, such as New York City street vendors or residents of public housing. People, we have a really incredible staff of really committed people who are all working hard to do this. We’re always plugging away at it and finding the people that we should be connecting to on the ground and making sure we’re out there talking to people all the time. CUP uses a bottom-up approach. They are constantly asking themselves: Are you working with those people? Do you know them? Do you know they think it’s a need? They try to make sure they’re working with groups that are actually already working on these issues or have been trying to figure them out or are coming from a place of real need that isn’t just an abstract idea, that there might be a need for something, so we try to look for supporting information that shows that.
Place For us at CUP it’s not just about having the designer work on this project, it’s about making sure the people that are on the ground in the community that are really struggling with that issue come to the table and bring their knowledge of the issue and bring the challenges they’ve seen, and that their constituents are going to look at the project and give us feedback and make sure it’s doing the thing it’s meant to do and it’s going to meet the need on the ground. It’s about making sure all of those right people are part of the equation. I think that’s really a key piece of it.
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CUP projects work through a hub and spoke model that places our staff at the center of a large network of collaborators from numerous disciplines. Our staff run the organization from day to day and initiate and manage our projects. The spokes are individual project teams, made up of artists, designers, educators, activists, and researchers, who collaborate on the individual projects. It’s definitely not just one community I would say. It’s a lot of different ones and overlapping ones, but we work really directly in a lot of different neighborhoods around New York City and certainly in our youth education programs we work primarily in New York public high schools. Sometimes we also work in middle schools or occasionally with younger students. We’re going out to these schools all the time, and we’re bringing students out of the classroom or in actual programs really bringing them out into the neighborhoods and having them look critically at the places they live so we’re helping connect them to those places and helping them look at them in different ways. So we have these relationships with different schools and with students all over the place. That’s kind of one piece of community that we’re connected to, thought again, it’s many communities.
Making Policy Public
CUP’s Making Policy Public series facilitates close collaborations between policy experts and design professionals to produce foldout posters that make complex policy issues accessible. For example, The Cargo Chain helped 10,000 longshoremen understand their place in the global shipping network, and is also a bestseller at art and design bookstores in New York. Collaborators have included designers like Candy Chang, MTWTF, Alice Chung of Omnivore, and Thumb Design with organizations such as the Brennan Center for Justice, Community Voices Heard, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. While the effects of public policies can be widespread, the discussion and understanding of these policies are usually not. CUP’s Making Policy Public (MPP) poster series aims to make information on policy truly public: accessible, meaningful, and shared. They want to create opportunities for advocacy organizations to reach their constituencies better through design and for designers to engage social issues without sacrificing experimentation. Once a year, CUP issues a call for groups working to explain complex policy issues to a particular constituency. A jury of design and policy leaders selects four projects that would benefit from a visual explanation, and that would contribute to a positive social justice impact. CUP then issues a call for designers who would like to collaborate on these topics, and the jury selects the final teams.
Over the next several months, CUP manages the collaborative design process, provides art direction, research assistance, and an honorarium for the collaborators. The resulting publications are used by the organizations to better reach their constituencies through innovative design. Because they are portable and use visual explanations to break down complex issues, the publications make policy accessible and interesting to non-experts. Publications are distributed directly by advocacy partners to their constituents and to other advocates working on the issue. In addition, CUP distributes the posters to audiences interested in art and design. Over 40,000 MPP’s have been distributed to date, directly to the people who most need to know about these important issues, from longshore workers to juveniles who have been arrested. The publications are contributing to policy wins and more effective public participation for groups from public housing residents to street vendors. They have also been lauded as models of socially-engaged design at such venues as the Cooper-Hewitt’s National Design Triennial.
Critique: Center for Urban Pedagogy, like Helsinki Design Lab, separates themselves greatly from the creation or elaboration of projects. They give people the tools and the resources, creating partnerships to better advocate for the needs of a community, but they are indirectly involved in the work they produce. All of the work falls under the name of Center for Urban Pedagogy, as a collaborative creation but there are often only a few people that carry out the ideas and innovations into a physical reality. Where the Center for Urban Pedagogy started as way of rethinking processes, it developed into a teaching pedagogy. When the architect acts as a design lead, the design is not handed off without further guidance so that the responsibility for the project remains partially on the architect. This creates a sense of security and collaboration within the community or organization that is partnering with the practice. Seeing the project all the way through to it’s finish is more empowering than giving the tools, program and/or a pamphlet. The amount of projects the studio is able to take on is dependent on the scale of the topics and the scale of the studio and the selection of project should be a collaborative effort. Center for Urban Pedagogy has a set number of projects they engage and a specific selection process that creates a diversity of project types but not a diversity of project scales. With the ability to address a diversity of scales and issues, many projects will come through the door but internally prioritizing them will be key to ensure that the practice only engages in areas that could use their services the most.
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white : not an influence to method grey : influence to method
having a process for choosing a topic is important but should not be limited to the trajectory of the organization
matching possible studio topics to the vision and trajectory of the organization identify the right mix, the right expertise, the right people, and the right attitude with design (or the collaborators) as the glue
selects a problem to address building network around studio theme
H.D.L. very much separates itself from the collaborative and acts as an outside, behind-the-scenes support
e ativ or
once network is established
it is important to be able to briefly articulate what the challenge at hand is and how the studio might create a clear vision or framework for strategic improvement
a challenging brief which they send to
the brief should be available to all The time line should be flexible
who then meet for a week to address the topic through
introduction to how things are â€˜supposed to workâ€™ getting to know the system (top-down) seeing on-the-ground reality (bottom-up) sketching and synthesizing findings formulating a theory or proposition
develop multiple themes as a group. This is an opportunity to think big, small, outside-the-box, inside-the-box, around-the-box, etc.; the time to be selective will come but for now put all possibilities out there.
focus on concepts resulting in
a strategic framework and architecture of solutions not just handed off but a continual relationship over time
that is presented and handed off to
have a deep understanding of the big picture or key parts of it and are positioned to become champions of the work
HDL / METHODOLOGY / 71
crisis identified What estudio teddy Cruz offers is a specialized knowledge that engages particular groups of people. This limits the types of projects the studio works on.
engage conflict through the lenses of 1 development
identifying partners but primarily with those embedded in the issue
There shouldnâ€™t be a hierarchy of interests and expertise. E.T.C. flips the traditional top-model upside down but to the extreme where specialized groups have less say, not equal say.
er TOP-DO lop WN ve municipality
e.t.c. engages both the top-down institutions who are primarily concerned with economic capital and the bottom-up agencies who look at social capital in an approach that shows the collaborative potential of architecture as a Co-production of knowledge and co-production of strategies.
non-profit bottom -up
conflict addressed by looking at
protocols of conditions such as
Estudio teddy Cruz works within a particular group of concerns. This means that they are always asking similar questions and looking through similar lenses in each project albeit different lenses than what would typically be viewed through.
siting the informal new zoning categories facilitating permit process mediating economic process which produces The act of making proposals is an important part of the synthesis process.
multiple proposals of change als charretted wit pos h Pro municipality
The collaboration needs to be able to be productive and creative within the topic of engagement without too much bother around logistic of the collaboration. Too many heads can also distract from the essence of the opportunity.
products disseminated as built-form, but also as workshops, lectures and exhibitions.
d into suppo rt s lugge s) p yst ct( support support system a system D
white : not an influence to method grey : influence to method
non-profit support system D
support system B
Product(s) of the studio are handed off to support systems.
support system C
ETC / METHODOLOGY / 73
cup method white : not an influence to method grey : influence to method
issues a call for groups working to explain complex policy issues to a particular constituency The selection of projects should be a collaborative effort
Selection of topic
Jury selects four projects that would benefit from visual explanation and that would contribute to a positive social justice impact 1
The amount of projects the studio is able to take on is dependent on the scale of the topics and the scale of the studio
Issuing a call vs. choosing from a group of individuals already involved in the topic
issues a call for advocacy groups
collaborations with students, organizers, advocates, educators, and visual artists; and the use of visuals to break down and communicate complex policy and planning issues
who submit topics to
With the ability to address a diversity of scales and issues, many projects will come through the door but internally prioritizing them will be key to ensure that the practice only engages in areas that could use their services the most.
of design and policy leaders
team who collaborates with
C.u.p.â€™s role of the firm or practice who takes the necessary role in shepherding and enabling other voices. They practice this through Variations and degrees of nuances management over those processes and ideas.
to make C.U.P. HAS A SPECIFIC TYPE OF PRODUCT AND BEING PORTABLE IS A PRIORITY OF THEIRS BUT NOT OF THE D.O.I.
a portable product which is distributed to people who like design
people who need to know
people who want to know
Products, despite the form they are in, will be transparent and available as information to anyone who might want to understand or use it.
CUP / METHODOLOGY / 75
bibliography Journals 1. A. Ross, ‘Housing, Immigration and Fairness: Learning from San Ysidro’, Harvard Design Magazine, (27)(2007): 22-29. 2. Gibson, K.J. “ The Relocation of the Columbia Villa Community: Views from Residents.” Journal of Planning Education and Research. 27:1 (2007): 5-19. 3. M. Falkowska, ‘Casa Familiar, Living Rooms at the Border, San Ysidro, California: Estudio Teddy Cruz’, Praxis: Journal of Writing + Building, (3) (2001): 28-33. 4. Wurman, Richard Saul Hats, (1989)
Lectures 5. Anderson, Kelli. “Kelli Anderson” Creative Mornings. Jul. 2012. Lecture. CreativeMornings/NewYork . Creative Mornings, Jul. 2012. Web. 2 Oct. 2012. <http://vimeo.com/49143415>. 6. Anderson, Kelli. “Kelli Anderson: Design to challenge reality” TED Conference. Nov. 2011. Lecture. TED: Ideas Worth Spreading . TED, March 2012. Web. 2 Oct. 2012. 7. Cruz, Teddy. “Rethinking Shelter.” Rethinking Shelter. Mercy Corp, Portland. 05 Oct. 2012. Lecture. 8. Epp, G. “Emerging Strategies for Revitalizing Public Housing Communities. Housing Policy Debate 7:3 (1996): 563-88. 9. Werman, Richard Saul.“Richard Saul Werman” TEDx. May 2010. Lecture. TEDxEast. May 2010. Web. 15 Oct. 2012. <https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=pWG3ddHkssY>
Books 10. Awan, Nishat, Tatjana Schneider, and Jeremy Till. Spatial Agency: Other Ways of Doing Architecture. Abingdon, Oxon [England: Routledge, 2011. Print. 11. Boyer, Bryan, Justin W. Cook, and Marco Steinberg. In Studio: Recipes for Systemic Change : Helsinki Design Lab. Helskini: Sitra, 2011. Print. 12. Bristol, Katharine G. Beyond the Pruitt-Igoe Myth: The Development of American High-rise Public Housing, 1850-1970. Berkeley: University of California, 1991. Print. 13. D. Bratton, ‘Estudio Teddy Cruz’, Architectural Design, 74(1)(2004): 117-124. 14. Downie, Marc, Shelley Eshkar, and Paul Kaiser. Creative Collaborations. Helskini: Sitra, 2011. Print. 15. Gutman, Robert. Architectural Practice: A Critical View. New York: Princeton Architectural, 1988. Print. 16. Jacobson, Robert E. Information Design. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2000. Print. 17. Jencks, Charles. The New Paradigm in Architecture: The Language of Post-
modern Architecture. New Haven: Yale UP, 2002. Print. 18. Kieran, Stephen, and James Timberlake. Refabricating Architecture. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003. Print. 19. Landa, Robin. Graphic Design Solutions. Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2011. Print. 20. Poyner, Rick. The Graphic Edge. N.p.: North Light, 1995. Print. 21. Stone, Terry Lee., Sean Adams, and Noreen Morioka. Color Design Workbook: A Real-world Guide to Using Color in Graphic Design. Beverly: Rockport Publischers, 2008. Print. 22. Sullivan, Jenny. Graphic Design America 3: Portfolios from the Best and Brightest Firms from across the United States. Gloucester, MA: Rockport, 2005. Print. 23. The Portland Plan. City Council. The City of Portland, Oregon. Apr 25, 2012 24. Tufte, Edward R. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Cheshire, CT: Graphics, 2001. Print. 25. Wurman, Richard Saul, Loring Leifer, David Sume, and Karen Whitehouse. Information Anxiety 2. Indianapolis, IN: Que, 2001. Print.
Magazine or Newspaper Articles
26. Cordell, Kasey, ed. “Who We Are.” Portland Monthly 20 Sept. 2012: n. pag. Print. 27. Curl, Aimee L. “BLASTING THE GHETTO.” BLASTING THE GHETTO. Willamette Week, 12 Mar. 2003. Web. 01 May 2013.
Web 28. Arbuthnot, S., and Wilhelm, R. Imagining home: Stories of Columbia Villa. Film by Hare in the Gate Productions. http://www.hareinthegate.com/, 2007 29. Center for Urban Pedagogy : http://welcometocup.org 30. Estudio Teddy Cruz : http://estudioteddycruz.com 31. Fastco Design : http://www.fastcodesign.com/1670796/a-former-iphone-uidesigner-defends-apples-fake-leather-design-philosophy 32. Helsinki Design Lab : http://www.helsinkidesignlab.org 33. Morla Design : http://morladesign.com/designisms/ 34. Simple Honest Work : http://www.simplehonestwork.com 35. The Noun Project : http://thenounproject.com/mission/
Videos 36. ‘Architecture + Art: Teddy Cruz and Pedro Reyes’, Vimeo, http://vimeo. com/6418279. 37. ‘Border Cities: Tactics of Encroachment’, YouTube, March 31, 2008, http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0saEe0caJ8&feature=youtube_gdata.
bibliography / 77
Interviews 38. Cruz, Teddy. “Methods of Estudio Teddy Cruz.” Personal interview. 18 Feb. 2013. 39. Cohen, Arthur, and Allison Jones. “Practicing ArchitecturePracticing Architecture.” AIArchitect. The American Institute of Architects, 08 Feb. 2013. Web. 02 May 2013.
Dictionaries 40. Merriam Webster Online, Merriam Webster, n.d. Web. 13 June 2013. 41. Oxford Dictionary Online, Oxford Dictionary, n.d. Web. 13 June 2013. 42. American Heritage Dictionary Online, American Heritage Dictionary, n.d. Web. 13 June 2013.
43. Demkin, Joseph A. The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice. New York: J. Wiley, 2001. Print.
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list of figures fig 1: DOI REVIEW, KAREN O’DONNELL STEIN
fig 30: ETC METHOD DIAGRAM, LINDLEY BYNUM
fig 2: DOI WEBSITE SHOT, HDL STUDIO GUIDE, IDO CORDA
fig 31: CUP METHOD DIAGRAM, LINDLEY BYNUM
fig 3: DOI WEBSITE SHOT, LINDLEY BYNUM fig 4: RESEARCH, LINDLEY BYNUM fig 5: RESEARCH, LINDLEY BYNUM fig 6: LE CORBUSIER’S HAND, http://strates.revues.org/5573 fig 7: DOI WEBSITE SHOT, LINDLEY BYNUM fig 8: DIAGRAM, LINDLEY BYNUM fig 9: DIAGRAM, LINDLEY BYNUM fig 10: STUDIO WITH TEDDY CRUZ, LINDLEY BYNUM fig 11: DOI REVIEW, KAREN O’DONNELL STEIN fig 12: HDL STUDIO GUIDE, IDO CORDA fig 13: HDL STUDIO GUIDE, IDO CORDA fig 14: HDL STUDIO GUIDE, IDO CORDA fig 15: RESEARCH, LINDLEY BYNUM fig 16: DOI REVIEW, KAREN O’DONNELL STEIN fig 17: DOI REVIEW, LINDLEY BYNUM fig 18: DOI REVIEW, LINDLEY BYNUM fig 19: DOI REVIEW LAYOUT, LINDLEY BYNUM fig 20: RESEARCH, LINDLEY BYNUM fig 21: RESEARCH, LINDLEY BYNUM fig 22: HDL STUDIO GUIDE, IDO CORDA fig 23: HDL STUDIO GUIDE, IDO CORDA fig 24: HDL BOOK COVER, HDL fig 25: ETC WEBSITE fig 26: ETC WEBSITE fig 27: CUP WEBSITE fig 28: CUP WEBSITE fig 29: HDL METHOD DIAGRAM, LINDLEY BYNUM
LIST OF FIGURES / 81
The Distillery of Information is a fictional firm that acts as an example of a method of practice developed in my graduate thesis.