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FALL 2019

Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning University of Michigan

A PARTNE RSHIP FORGED IN GL A SS Taubman College and Guardian Industries are creating an innovative alliance out of an ancient material

A MESSAGE FR OM T HE DE A N One of the things that most attracted me to Taubman College was the experimental energy with which faculty forge new paths for architecture. Consider the installation that Associate Professors Catie Newell and Wes McGee created to showcase slumped glass, research into “auxetics and acoustics,” or the acoustical effects of materials that, paradoxically, thicken when stretched. Exhibited at the 2018 ACADIA conference, this suspended ceiling of curved pieces demonstrated that slumping glass to modify its acoustic properties could also generate gorgeous forms and visual effects. Slumped glass is but one example of our faculty’s fieldleading excellence in digital design and fabrication, using the best architectural robotics and fabrication facility in North America. Our culture of innovation and the facilities that give it legs allow us to advance faculty expertise and also student learning, both directly through participation as research assistants and indirectly through the teaching capacities that faculty gain. Experimental projects like Catie and Wes’s show us a future in which architecture enhances our experience and our lives in powerful new ways. To move from the FABLab out into the bigger world, however, where it can yield tangible change for people beyond our campus, architectural innovation needs pathways to deployment and partners from other fields. Some of these partners are on-campus collaborators from other U-M schools and colleges. In the case of Associate Professor Sean Ahlquist’s work, for example, which you’ll read about in the following pages, these came from the College of Engineering (home of his co-principal investigator, Professor Diann Brei), Michigan Medicine, and the School of Information. Other partners come from industry — the companies that build buildings, develop neighborhoods, and introduce new products and practices. In Sean’s case, General Motors has provided funding and equipment that have helped to make him the world’s leading expert on the structural and space-making capacities of digitally knitted (Opposite, top) Early slumped-glass work by Catie Newell and Wes McGee, including “Glass Cast,” piqued Guardian Industries’ interest in partnering with Taubman College. (Opposite, bottom) Students at a VINCI construction site near Paris as part of the studio the company sponsored in 2019.

textiles. The prototypes he has created, with students from the undergraduate, M.Arch, and M.S. programs, have been shown in exhibitions on advanced material research and tested as therapeutic environments in educational settings, supporting applications from automotive design and manufacturing to autism and inclusion. Working with Ford Motor Co., Associate Professors Geoffrey Thün and Kathy Velikov have developed prototypical designs for new mobility hubs, which aim to deliver urban access to food, health, and learning within the space of public transit. Their newest project with Ford examines the contested space of the street in a near-future era of curb management and autonomous vehicles, to develop strategies that leverage emerging technologies toward adaptive and responsive formats of public space. Other Taubman College faculty and students are working with Autodesk and VINCI Construction, whose sponsored studio we discuss in this issue of Portico. Catie and Wes’s recent slumped glass project, “Activating Curvature,” includes a co-principal investigator from Arcgeometer LC, and it has been supported since 2016 by Guardian Industries via their Innovations in Glass program. Their project, like those completed by colleagues Craig Borum, Jen Maigret, Kathy Velikov, and Matias del Campo, showed Guardian what’s possible when a building materials and assemblies company partners with Taubman College. As you’ll learn in our cover story, the result is the new Guardian–Taubman Research Alliance, a promising expansion of this productive relationship. All of this stacks up toward the goal of generating innovation in the building sector: realizing new architectural forms and qualities such as those prototyped in “Activating Curvature,” new ways of forming and deploying glass, and new assembly and construction methods. They demonstrate how our preeminent research university — with the largest volume of research among all U.S. public universities, according to the National Science Foundation — enhances student learning and the profession. We are grateful for the investment that Guardian Industries, Ford, GM, and other partners across campus and around the world continue to make in our work to better our built environment.

Jonathan Massey, Dean Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning University of Michigan



FA C U LTY & S TU DEN TS / 1 6

04 News from the Art & Architecture Building and Beyond

16 What Are You Thinking About? Lan Deng John McMorrough 18 Heavy Hitters A trio of high-profile studios during the winter 2019 semester brought students shoulder to shoulder with some of architecture’s best-known names

08 Longo International Interns Relish Transformative, Career-Affirming Summer

C OVER ST O RY / 10 10 A Partnership Forged in Glass Taubman College and Guardian Industries are creating an innovative alliance out of an ancient material



22 The Common Thread Working with Associate Professor Sean Ahlquist puts students on the stage, in an exhibition, and on new career explorations

A L U MN I / 2 6 26 From the Ground Floor of ZHA to 620 Feet Above Beijing Satoshi Ohashi, B.S. ’84, is leading Zaha Hadid Architects’ explosive growth in China


30 Crosswalks, Bikes, and Social Justice The way we move around touches every single part of our life, says Corinne Kisner, M.U.P. ’13, executive director of NACTO 32 Providing the Tools for Safe, Engaged Communities From public safety to housing and murals, Frank Romo, M.U.P. ’16, is leveraging GIS and his passion for communities to make Detroit better


34 The Airport Planning Bug Comes Full Circle Chris Johnson, B.S. ’09, M.U.P. ’15, keeps airports safely humming along at Passero Associates 38 Saving San Francisco’s Diversity Through Spatial Interventions Dominique Price, B.S. ’98, M.Arch ’00, is harnessing the influences of Bo Bardi, Bruder, and Gang to create social infrastructure in the City by the Bay

C L A S S N OTES & GI V I N G / 4 1


43 Purdy Scholarship Honors True-Blue Alumnus Friends of Larry Purdy, B.S. ’89, celebrate his life by helping future architects get their start

I N MEMORI A M / 4 7 C L OS I N G / 4 8


”Streaming New Educational Atmospheres,” by Professor Craig Borum, FAIA, and Associate Professor Jen Maigret, is one of several glass-focused research projects at Taubman College that has received funding from Guardian Industries.



10 of the last 12 Michigan Association of Planning Outstanding Graduate Student Planning Project Awards have gone to Taubman College urban and regional planning capstones, including 2019 winner “Bridging the Border: Collaborative Solutions to Enhance Kelly Road Retail.”

Clutter Appointed Architecture Chair Associate Professor McLain Clutter became chair of the architecture program on July 1. He succeeds Sharon Haar, who remains with the college as a professor of architecture. “Situated within one of the world’s top research universities, our architecture program is unique in its breadth and depth of strengths and progressive energy,” Clutter says. “We are as committed to foundational knowledge as we are to experimental pedagogies. We innovate in digital design and fabrication, while we examine technology through critical inquiry. We are passionately committed to the students within our walls, while we strive to make architectural education more accessible to those historically excluded. I look forward to leveraging our strengths to continue attracting the best and brightest students and faculty and shaping the future of the built environment.” Clutter joined Taubman College in 2009. As interim associate dean for academic affairs and strategic initiatives, he led the college’s five-year diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plan. He is a steering committee member of the Michigan-Mellon Project on Egalitarianism and the Metropolis and was instrumental in its recent $1 million grant renewal. Clutter’s work focuses on architecture within the multidisciplinary milieu of contemporary urbanism, as well as the interrelations between architecture, media, and digital culture. He is the author of the Imaginary Apparatus: New York City and Its Mediated Representation (Park Books, 2015) and received an Architect Magazine R+D Award and faculty design awards from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. He is a partner in the design practice EXTENTS with Associate Professor Cyrus Peñarroyo and previously practiced in New York and Chicago. “McLain’s strong record of academic achievement, creative practice, and administrative leadership makes him a compelling chair for our architecture program,” says Dean Jonathan Massey. “Faculty, staff, and students alike appreciate McLain’s insight, thoughtfulness, and clarity. These qualities will help him lead our pluralist community in building better futures for graduates and for everyone impacted by architecture and urban design.” 4


$1M The amount of the A.W. Mellon Foundation’s grant renewal for the Michigan-Mellon Project on Egalitarianism and the Metropolis, a program with U-M’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. The grant will continue to support ArcPrep, which introduces Detroit public high school students to architecture and design. In addition, the grant will support a university-wide partnership to broaden the urban humanities and bring together urban design, advanced digital technologies, and the voices and aspirations of Detroit residents. The college will work closely with the Detroit Public Library, the Detroit Historical Museum, and U-M’s Carceral State Project and Detroiters Speak program. “We are grateful for the Mellon Foundation’s continued support, which reaffirms the college’s national leadership in urban studies,” says Co-Principal Investigator Robert Fishman, professor of architecture and urban and regional planning.


“It feels very good to have the confidence of the participating institutions and the city — each willing to work with us on a process that will hopefully culminate in a response calibrated to many parallel and individual needs, while still retaining a sense of unity and place.” — Anya Sirota, associate professor of architecture and a member of the Agence Ter team — along with fellow architecture professor John Marshall and Harley Etienne, associate professor of urban and regional planning — that won an international design competition sponsored by the Detroit Institute of Arts and Midtown Detroit Inc. The competition challenged urbanists, urban planners, architects, and landscape architects to imagine what a cultural district might look like for Detroit, and to unify public space centered around the 12 disparate institutions that anchor the Midtown district.

EDRA Honors Wineman Jean Wineman, professor emerita of architecture, received the 2019 Career Award from the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) in recognition of her longtime commitment to teaching and researching in the field. She studies the relationships between the built environment and human behavior in spaces such as zoos, museums, and urban areas. Wineman also is a principal investigator of Spatial and Social Networks in Organizational Innovation, funded by the National Science Foundation, and is a co-principal investigator of Healthy Environments Partnership: Lean & Green in Motown.

“ There’s a good line from Hamilton that I like: ‘God help and forgive me; I want to build something that outlives me.’” — An incoming M.Arch student, as part of an anonymous exercise at new student orientation that asked participants to write their answers to Why Design? on notecards that were later hung in the Taubman Commons.



Innovative Excellence The Master of Science in Digital and Material Technologies (DMT) program received the 2019 Innovative Academic Program Award of Excellence from the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA), an international network of digital design researchers and professionals. Catie Newell, associate professor of architecture, serves as director of the program, which is an intensive, 10-month post-professional degree that invests in the technologies, materials, and production logics that are most drastically shaping and challenging our built world and its respective industries. At the ACADIA conference in October, Newell accepted the award on behalf of fellow DMT program faculty Sean Ahlquist, Matias del Campo, Wes McGee, Kathy Velikov, and Glenn Wilcox.

#9 The Master of Urban and Regional Planning program’s latest ranking in Planetizen, a leading online resource for the field of urban planning.

Re: Housing: Detroit Symposium The possibilities for medium density housing in Detroit, a focus of the M.Arch Systems Studio, was at the heart of the recent Re: Housing: Detroit symposium, which kicked off with a keynote address by architect Paul Karakusevic in Detroit and continued with panel discussions in Ann Arbor. Practitioners from cities including Los Angeles, New York, New Orleans, and Hong Kong shared pitfalls and successes. Panels discussed how introducing mediumdensity housing and rebuilding commercial corridors might inform nationwide development of accessible housing. They also discussed how identity, labor, digital technologies, and changing social structures impact domestic environments. Other panelists shared how architects can work with planners and policy experts to help cities meet 21st-century needs. Marc Norman, associate professor of practice, said banks, foundations, impact investors, cities, and corporations can combat housing disparities. “What if we valued housing’s social impact instead of just its economic value?” he asked. While the symposium highlighted Detroit’s breadth of challenges and opportunities, Sharon Haar, FAIA, professor of architecture and the symposium’s organizer, noted that the city’s commitment to experimentation and the strength of Taubman College’s engagement help to ensure that innovation will continue: “We hope to seed a new way of thinking in Detroit and elsewhere.” Re: Housing: Detroit was co-sponsored by the U-M Urban Collaboratory, the Graham Foundation, and the U-M Poverty Solutions Initiative.

“Boomers are looking to age in places with transportation options so they aren’t trapped by an inability to drive.” — Kit McCullough, lecturer of architecture, in a WalletHub story accompanying its July 2019 ranking of best big cities to live in. Virginia Beach, Virginia, took the top spot.




New and Visiting Faculty, Fellows Join College Taubman College welcomes established practitioners and emerging talent for the 2019–2020 academic year, enhancing the college’s boundary-pushing approach. “Many of the colleagues joining us this year work at the intersection of architecture with entrepreneurship and industry, helping our students find leverage points to change the world through design,” says Dean Massey.

 Mania Aghaei Meibodi,

assistant professor of architecture, develops computational design methods and innovative ways of employing digital fabrication to create smart building elements, including using additive manufacturing for building construction. She holds a Ph.D. in architecture from KTH and is the founding principal of meonia, an architecture and development practice in partnership based in Stockholm and Toronto. She previously was with ETH Zurich.

 Laida Aguirre — a former Muschenheim Fellow and, most recently, lecturer of architecture — is now an assistant professor. Aguirre, director of stock-a-studio, redesigns the cir-

culation of materials and commodities to intervene in the politics of aesthetics, logistics, and media.

the challenges and opportunities of working closely with project partners. She has extensive experience providing cross-sector planning, strategy, and evaluation services to organizations in Detroit and beyond. In addition to the new 2019–2020 fellows, Bryan Norwood continues with the Michigan Society of Fellows, Arash Adel continues as the Taubman Postdoctoral Fellow, and YoungTack Oh, M.Arch ’15, remains as the Michigan-Mellon Design Fellow.

Again this year, early career practitioners and researchers share their expertise as faculty fellows — including the new Fishman Fellowship in Urbanism, held by Eduardo Mediero.  He is a licensed architect and founder of HANGHAR, an architecture practice based in Madrid that works on the confluence between architectural precedents and financial organizational models. Jacob Comerci is the 2019–2020 Muschenheim Fellow. His research and design work transforms models for collective life and work through the interior fit-out of existing real estate with furniture-scaled domestic equipment. He previously worked with Bureau Spectacular in Chicago and Los Angeles and with MOS Architects and LTL Architects in New York. The Sanders Fellow is Matīss Groskaufmanis. He redesigns architecture’s relationship to political and economic ideologies, with a particular focus on the emergence of global architecture practice. He works on research, publishing, and building projects as part of Rotterdam-based practices OMA/ AMO and MVRDV. As the Sojourner Truth Fellow, Jane Fran Morgan will co-teach a workshop that reviews the recent history of community engagement in Detroit neighborhoods and helps students understand

Visiting professors also bring new perspectives from practice to the classroom and studio this year. Andrew Moddrell (PORT) and Clément Blanchet (Clement Blanchet Architecture) return to teach studios that examine urban design relative to Chicago’s grid and the future of work, respectively. Adam Koogler and Jesse Ganes from WeWork are leading a seminar that explores how tech culture is influencing traditional spatial practices, probes for opportunities to incubate new forms of professional agency, and examines how the confluence of these forces is transforming the design of our cities. Bryan Boyer (Dash Marshall) is leading a thesis seminar and studio, Civic Futures, in which students are designing micro institutions. Gina Reichert (Design 99 and Powerhouse Productions), a Detroit-based artist, architect, and community developer, is teaching an undergraduate design course that works through often “unseen” elements of place to design a public amenity on the site of Chicago’s redeveloped Cabrini-Green neighborhood. Ann Lui (Future Firm) is teaching an M.Arch Propositions studio looking at the Great Lakes as a border region, a potent space for speculating on future forms of citizenship — both problematic and optimistic. 7


Longo International Interns Relish Transformative, Career-Affirming Summer THE INAUGURAL LONGO INTERNATIONAL ARCHITECTURE FUND interns, Lucas Denit and Jamie Lee, spent three months this summer in Kigali, Rwanda, with MASS Design Group. Denit, M.Arch/M.S. ’19, worked on several projects in the competition stage and on the concept for a new project that will convert an elementary school into a coworking space for East African entrepreneurs. Lee, M.Arch ’20, spearheaded the standardization of construction administration protocols, worked on the implementation plan for the redevelopment of unplanned settlements in Kigali, and managed the market research to establish a new database of subcontractors. While their work was different, an overarching takeaway was the same: gratitude for an immersive experience in an international practice. “I feel exceptionally fortunate to have been provided this opportunity,” says Denit. Adds Lee, “I extend my sincere appreciation to everyone involved in giving me this transformative, life-changing experience.” The program is made possible in part through a generous gift to create an endowed fund at Taubman College, which has since been strengthened with a significant bequest to establish the Longo International Architecture Internship Fund.

Denit and Lee experienced Rwanda’s varied topography through excursions to the savanna in the east, rainforest in the south, volcanoes in the north, and lake country, including Lake Kivu (pictured), in the west. “Some of my favorite moments include the places and countless adventures we had with our colleagues. There was a seductive charm and tranquility of the mountainous landscapes of Rwanda and the character of rural life,” says Lee.

Urban sprawl in Kigali. “Growing up in the developed landscape of Singapore and working in the developing country of India illuminated the importance of quality space and equitable development for social well-being and public health. I have chosen to practice in the field of architecture and urbanism not simply because of passion, but also because of a strong belief in championing for activism, spatial justice, and sustainable development to secure a robust habitat for humanity. The global perspective and maturity that I gained in Rwanda have strengthened my belief and vision,” says Lee.



Farmers working in the fields at the base of the Gahinga volcano. “This summer has been career-affirming. In the face of climate change, architects can be leaders in a global effort to reduce material consumption and disposal, rethink energy expenditure, and adapt construction labor to a shifting economy. Being in an office where these concerns are explicitly addressed showed me that empowered, determined individuals can effect system changes. And living in a place with fewer financial resources than the U.S. brought into clearer focus the reality of life for so many people around the world, and was instructive as to how we might shift our own culture to reduce consumption,” says Denit.

Lee and Denit traveled to finished MASS Design Group projects and active construction sites around Rwanda, including Munini District Hospital (pictured). “Spending the summer with MASS, whose business model is so unique, clarified the importance of financial literacy and business protocol for architects. Particularly among students, we prefer to ignore the business of the discipline and focus on what first drew us to the practice. I now see that to have the level of agency we would like to have as practitioners, we need to have a firm understanding of the realities of business management,” says Denit.



A PART NERSHIP FORGED IN GL A SS Taubman College and Guardian Industries are creating an innovative alliance out of an ancient material By David Wilkins

MANY FACTORS AFFECT THE well-being of the modern workforce — office design, commute time, and the omnipresence of technology, to name a few. And glass, says Robert Adams. “Workplace stress essentially kills us,” says Adams, associate professor of architecture and director of Taubman College’s Master of Science in Design and Health program. “It travels with us endlessly through our devices and the demands of the work itself.” Through a new 18-month research project funded by Guardian Industries, Adams and a team of faculty will explore how glass-intensive assemblies, composites, and architectural products can promote health and workplace wellness by complementing organizational systems to de-stress the cognitive aspects of the contemporary work-sphere. “Emerging applications of glass-based building materials have the potential to reduce environmental pressures on cognitive labor, encourage cognitive flow, and promote well-being across myriad psychological and physiological factors,” Adams and his team wrote in their project proposal. “We believe the visual, biometric, and environmental properties of glass applications can promote healthy and productive work environments.”

“Streaming New Educational Atmospheres,” by Associate Professor Jen Maigret and Professor Craig Borum, FAIA, explores how glass can transform educational settings. By inserting a dichroic glass “light-well room” between the corridor and classroom, they believe schools can improve light quality, energy performance, and learning outcomes.





“Glass blurs boundaries between the inside and outside, becoming the medium for light, view, and nuanced human interactions. There is an opportunity to see wellness through the lens of glass — identifying new opportunities, while reframing existing conditions,” says Upali Nanda, associate professor of practice who is working with Adams. The team notes that existing research doesn’t fully grasp the correlation between stress, wellness, and the work environment. By exploring the role that glass can play, they want to help bridge the knowledge gap: “The health of an individual contributes to the health of a workforce and its organization. This informs a need for an architecture of health and well-being for the 21st-century workplace.”

Reimagining the Industry–Academia Bridge Guardian Industries began as Guardian Glass Co. 87 years ago, producing 100 laminated windshields a day in a plant on Detroit’s lower east side. Today, it produces thousands of tons of high-performance glass daily in 25 manufacturing facilities on five continents — relying on robots, advanced technologies, and scores of scientists and engineers to stay ahead of the global building industry.



As part of this focus on the future, Guardian Industries and Taubman College created a new research alliance exploring topics as varied as building envelope systems, the acoustical properties of curved glass, and the impact of the built environment on workplace wellness. Both organizations sense something special in the relationship’s potential. “If I am allowed a metaphor, it’s like we have been out on a few dates and decided to get more serious. It’s a partnership full of hope and excitement,” says Sheldon Davis, vice president for research and development at Guardian Glass, a Guardian Industries company. “From the Guardian side, we believe that Taubman will make us better. We seek better insights and understanding around architecture and the work of architects. We want to gain deeper knowledge so that we can play our role and make buildings better for everyone.” For Geoffrey Thün, associate dean for research and creative practice, the Taubman-Guardian relationship holds the promise of a new kind of deliberative, collaborative alliance between academia and industry. “We are reimagining how we engage companies and how we think about new ways of pursuing these kinds

of research relationships together,” Thün says. “We want to co-create trajectories that produce mutual benefit, produce new knowledge, provide advanced training for our students, create an opportunity to engage our alumni network — which includes many leading practitioners around the globe — and translate new findings into the world, into the built environment.” Adams and other Taubman College faculty who have received funding from Guardian say the company is leveraging their research to explore, inform, craft, and advance a long-term strategic vision, not for quick-turnaround product development. For example, since glass is central to Adams’s research project and Guardian’s bottom line, he was surprised when the company told him not only to consider commercial applications but to look for design opportunities beyond glass applications. It was an exciting directive for his first collaboration with an industry sponsor. “It has been overwhelmingly positive,” Adams says. “They’ve kept us sharp and are incredibly generous and supportive in helping us speculate beyond what we thought we could do.”

(Opposite) The first iteration study model for Maigret and Borum’s “Streaming New Educational Atmospheres.” (Above) “Robotic Glass Blowing,” by Associate Professor Matias del Campo, Assistant Professor of Practice Sandra Manninger, and Associate Professor Wes McGee, explores how the precision and predictability of robotic fabrication could enhance glassblowing.

Guardian Glass focuses on two research priorities — creating products that people value and that create value for society and improving how those products are delivered. “Creating products is a broad, overarching statement, but it applies most to our research alliance with Taubman College,” Davis says. “First, we focus on understanding people’s needs. While this is a simple and oft-spoken corporate mantra, the building construction value chain is composed of many ‘people.’ The industry constructs buildings for occupants and owners through a multi-step supply chain. As a supplier, we consider all perspectives and needs in order to provide products that are valued.” Davis adds that product innovation — and innovation in general — is a key capability for the business: “We know that businesses must continue to innovate in order to succeed. Employees throughout the company, including those beyond our R&D capability, take pride in our innovations. We push to find new ways to create value for society and to reduce the resources used to do so.”

A Cross-Campus, Interdisciplinary Model Research pursued through this venture is reaching beyond Taubman College. Guardian Industries also actively collaborates with U-M’s College of Engineering and Stamps School of Art and Design. “Guardian is a company that relies on complicated science and engineering to deliver discrete products into a complicated value chain,” Davis 13

ing industry-university relationship that began in 2012. At that time, Guardian sponsored a paper by Velikov titled “The Benefits of Glass: A Literature Review on the Qualitative Benefits of Glass on Building Occupants,” in which she outlined the state of the art in research examining the qualitative environmental, psychological, and health benefits of glazing systems.

explains. “These products build the homes and offices that make up our lives, towns, and cities. Guardian lives at the intersection of architecture, design, and engineering. With regard to our involvement with the University of Michigan, Taubman College completes that picture.” Thün notes that the faculty research team for Adams’s workplace wellness project includes experts in information science, industrial design, architectural history and theory, and health care architecture. Another Guardian-funded project, “Design Ecologies of Glass,” is led by architecture faculty Kathy Velikov and Matias del Campo but includes team members with expertise in industrial ecology, sustainability, lifecycle analysis, advanced robotic construction, and building system and energy analysis. “At Michigan, we have more than a hundred top 10 graduate programs,” Thün says. “We’re not just engineering or medicine, we’re everything. There is incredible strength in our interdisciplinary research capacity. When we’re developing a relationship with an industry partner, we have this capacity to explore what the innovative new frontiers are for their material supply streams and then connect new thinking about new material systems with a significant group of practitioners.


In 2016, the Innovation in Glass Design Research program provided seed funding for three Taubman College projects focused on new architectural applications of glass as a material system, including acoustic glass, robotic glass forming, and dichroic glass daylighting systems. “Activating Curvature: Modulating Transparency and Sound Performance across Curving Glass” was led by Catie Newell and Wes McGee (along with collaborator Zackery Belanger of Arcgeometer); “Streaming: New Educational Atmospheres” was led by Jen Maigret and Craig Borum; and “Robotic Glass Blowing” was led by del Campo, McGee, and Sandra Manninger. Newell and McGee’s “Activating Curvature” is Taubman College’s longest-running project funded by Guardian. The pair began exploring the production, performance, and aesthetics of curved glass years ago, when they realized digital fabrication methods were transforming most building materials — but not glass. “We simultaneously recognized that glass was falling behind,” Newell says. Guardian has shared its technical expertise and participated in problem-solving with the research team. “Having their input has really helped us think about how to deploy this on an architectural scale,” McGee says. “We are extremely grateful for the support,” adds Newell. “It feels like a partnership.”

“When I think about the multiplicity of benefits to a corporate partner working with Taubman, it’s more than just the innovative research our exceptional faculty undertakes,” he says. “It’s also these robust networks of additional expertise — drawn from all corners of the University of Michigan campus — that we can bring to complex problems.”

The latest initiative, called the Guardian-Taubman Research Alliance, is an effort to “open up new avenues for the glazing sector to expand its markets and applications, while simultaneously revealing new possibilities for innovation in the design of the built environment,” Guardian said in the award announcement. Through the alliance, Guardian is funding two projects. The first is Adams’s study, “Biometric, Communicative, and Environmental Interfaces: Expanding the Functional Integration of Glass in Promoting Health and Wellness in the Workplace,” with Associate Professors Joy Knoblauch, Upali Nanda, and John Marshall, as well as faculty from U-M’s School of

The Guardian-Taubman Research Alliance The funding for the new studies led by Adams and Velikov and del Campo are the latest collaborations in a burgeon-

(Top) Detail from Maigret and Borum’s “Streaming New Educational Atmospheres.” (Opposite) Detail of curvatures induced by slumping auxetic patterns in “Slumped Glass: Auxetics and Acoustics” by Associate Professors Wes McGee and Catie Newell and Zackery Belanger (Arcgeometer LC).



Information. The second is “Design Ecologies of Glass,” led by Velikov and del Campo. “The process of developing this program was very much in the spirit of co-authorship,” Thün says. “The goal was to align questions and challenges most urgent for Guardian with the interests and capabilities of our faculty.” In “Design Ecologies of Glass,” Velikov and del Campo are exploring how the design and construction of buildings intertwine with production systems, manufacturing technologies, regulatory and economic frameworks, and cultural and societal contexts. “This project will position glass building envelopes within their contemporary and near-future ecologies of manufacturing, production, and performance,” Velikov and del Campo said in the project proposal. Specifically, the team will explore how increased thermal resistance for glazing can lead to new building envelope systems made of glass and new glass-skinned building typologies. “The goals are to understand current paradigms for glass in buildings, and to explore where these paradigms can be redefined for future envelope systems and building typologies based in emerging envelope technologies,

uses, fabrication, and construction techniques, in order to identify new design and market opportunities for high performance glazing systems,” the team said in the proposal. This approach includes creating opportunities to bring thought leaders into dialogue with the Guardian and Taubman teams through engagement as external expert advisers. In September, the team brought envelope industry icon Marc Simmons, a founding principal at Front Inc., to campus for a project meeting and public lecture on the frontiers of envelope design. The researchers hope to sketch a big-picture beyond and not focus on specific buildings, materials, or industries. “As architects, you can start to have more agency and understanding of the broader built environment,” Velikov says, “and how we can transform buildings for the future.” That aligns nicely with Guardian’s goal for its alliance with Taubman researchers. “These projects seek to explore key issues in architecture,” Davis says. “In one, we want to challenge building design and technology in order to deliver better buildings for society. In the other, the team is pushing for deeper insights into how buildings can be designed and built for better health and wellness outcomes. We want to have meaningful impacts on both these issues.”



A. The global housing affordability crisis.

Q: What Are You Thinking About?

Why Is This Interesting to You? I have been studying housing in both the U.S. and China for about two decades. In both countries, housing unaffordability has risen up to be a major challenge, a result of housing being increasingly treated as an investment good instead of a basic human need in the global economy. Unfortunately, government efforts to address this challenge have not been sufficient either in China or in the U.S. I am interested in this because housing unaffordability could have serious consequences for both individual households and the general economy. High housing cost can force households to cut spending on other necessities, which compromises their welfare or life opportunities. Excessive housing cost burden can also trigger instability in the economy, which we saw in the U.S. during the last mortgage foreclosure crisis. In fact, it is not just a U.S. or China issue, but truly a global challenge today.

Lan Deng



What Are the Implications? Recognizing this as a global challenge means that countries can learn from each other on how to address it. This is especially important for planners and architects, since we are action-oriented. I see this from my years of studying affordable housing programs in the U.S., especially the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, and my recent work of examining Chinese housing polices and housing markets. The history of affordable housing development in the U.S. provides many critical lessons for countries like China who look to expand such efforts on a massive scale. Likewise, the much stronger role of the Chinese state in enabling policy changes to address housing and urban problems can offer valuable insights for the U.S. My research seeks to identify those different policy approaches and what makes them work or not work, which hopefully can help expand the global toolbox toward tackling this challenge.

Lan Deng is associate professor of urban and regional planning and the faculty director of the real estate development graduate certificate program. She also is a faculty associate for the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan and serves on the management board for the leading international journal Housing Studies. In 2019, she was lead author of an article in Housing Studies that evaluates the performance of China’s housing provident fund program and another article in Journal of Urban Affairs that examines the role of markets and state in shaping new housing investment in China. Her ongoing work examines the reservation of the LIHTC projects in the U.S.


Q: What Are You Thinking About?

Architecture and representation. Why Is This Interesting to You? More than the study of buildings (still a primary reference, if not always of particular interest), architecture (at least academic architecture) has returned, again and again, to questions of representation. Ever an issue (yet never resolved), the twin topics of architecture and representation have, in short order (and over a long history), transitioned between being a technical problem, a disciplinary issue, and a cultural question. It is not only a dilemma of embodiment (its style, or medium, or format) but also of significance (its means, use, value). The same way each building is unique, the topic of representation and architecture in each iteration defines both discrimination and speculation. As a topic, the obscure ubiquity of architecture and representation has come to define the scholarly debate, a tendency which has clear manifestations here at Taubman College, where generations of students and faculty have dealt with the same questions by alternating means (as drawings, as fabrications, as histories, as post-digital and virtual realities).

John McMorrough What Are the Implications? While abstract questions about architecture and representation seem arcane (and, admittedly, in some sense they are), the issues nonetheless connect to the world (in ways particular to architecture). Architecture’s representation is not only a representation of architecture (as a drawing of a building) or the representation of society (of those who built it, or those it houses) but also the representation of design itself (a metaphor of order and plan). In this manner, as architecture is defining and defined, representation and representing, it operates to delineate — amidst a process of itself being designed. Architecture’s representation is its value, to show a world that is, and a world that could be, at the same time.

John McMorrough is a theorist of architectural practices, a principal architect of studioAPT (Architecture Project Theory), and associate professor of architecture.



HE AV Y HI T T ERS A trio of high-profile studios during the winter 2019 semester brought students shoulder to shoulder with some of architecture’s bestknown names By Amy Crawford



PERHAPS MORE THAN ANY other type of building, America’s 1,800-plus prisons place function over form. And one function has historically predominated: keeping people in. That was obvious to Rinika Prince, M.Arch ’20, when she visited the Queensboro Correctional Facility, a minimum security prison in New York City, as part of a winter semester studio called Architecture of Incarceration. The studio was taught by MASS Design Group, the nonprofit, mission-driven architectural firm best known for the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Alabama. “It was yet another assemblage of highly controlled spaces that were arranged and organized for the purpose of establishing control over the behavior and movement of people,” Prince says. The prison houses men nearing the end of their sentences, but she realized that its design did little to improve their chances of a smooth transition to the outside world. For her final project, she imagined a new type of restorative facility that felt less like confinement and more like a bridge to freedom.

“Prison design is a sub-sector of our industry that has received little academic or professional scrutiny — it is taboo, even,” says guest instructor Michael Murphy, founding principal and executive director of MASS Design Group, which is jointly based in Boston and Kigali, Rwanda. The studio, Murphy says, helped students “wrestle with the role that architecture and the design process play in perpetuating injustice, and conversely, with the potential for architecture to effect a radical re-imagination of justice.” That potential, in one way or another, was on the minds of many of the students who took part in a trio of winter 2019 design studios that brought some of architecture’s brightest stars to Ann Arbor. In addition to MASS Design Group’s critical exploration of incarceration, French architect Clément Blanchet took his class to Europe to explore how new construction technology is making buildings more efficient and accessible. Meanwhile, Sir David Adjaye OBE, who designed the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and is one of the most acclaimed architects working today, guided a group of students in the pursuit of true silence.

“Having Sir David Adjaye in Ann Arbor was a humbling experience and a unique opportunity to observe the working/thinking method of someone who is so well respected internationally,” says Misri Patel, M.S. ’19. The students’ immersion in Adjaye’s distinctive methods began with the first page of the seminar’s course brief, a polemic on modernity’s erasure of true silence: “It’s nearly impossible to find. The world is screaming with audible and visual distractions. Noise, calls, crowds, construction, cars, echoes, reflections, rings, tweets, texts, whistles, madness, and life. We’re suffering from the burden of hearing too much. We’ve lost it; silence.” Architecture, Adjaye asserts, can offer respite from this modern

(Opposite) Michael Murphy, founding principal and executive director of MASS Design Group, worked with students on reimagining the architecture of incarceration. (This page) In pursuit of elusive silence, Sir David Adjaye’s seminar examined how materials absorb sound.





cacophony. But first he and Associate Professor Catie Newell, who co-taught the seminar, challenged students to figure out just what “silence” means by seeking it out in the real world and learning about how different materials work to absorb sound. “We realized that silence is subjective,” says Maryam Alhajri, M.S. ’19, who collaborated with classmate Shan-Chun Wen, M.S. ’19, to design a sound-muffling screen that transforms into a nest-like enclosure, offering total auditory and visual privacy. “Silence can be visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tangible, or intangible,” Alhajri says. The instructors were impressed by the range of their students’ responses to their unusual proposition. “Students worked extremely hard on developing intricate and clever constructions that allowed for a space of meditation and calm,” says Newell. “Working with David advanced the stakes. The students knew that all of their design decisions and proposals were going to be evaluated by someone with an incredible amount of experience and talent, so they pushed themselves, knowing the evaluation of their work was to be expert and generous.” On its face, the topic of the studio Clément Blanchet co-taught with Jono Sturt, lecturer in architecture, was a bit more everyday. Organized in partnership with VINCI Construction, an international firm based in France, the studio asked students to imagine a fully prefabricated apartment building for a suburb of Paris. It had to be aesthetically pleasing, of course, but students also were required to take socioeconomics into consideration. “Working within an academic setting, we were confronted with larger-reaching social conditions such as urbanization, overpopulation, and affordable housing,” explains Maksim Drapey, M.Arch ’20. “One of the most valuable, interesting, and at times frustrating aspects of the studio was the real-world constraints that had to be considered.” Like any good architect, Drapey used the constraints to get creative. His final project, a collaboration with classmates Zhipeng Liu, M.Arch ’21, and Cameron Williams,

(Opposite, top) Christoph Allaz of VINCI Construction, center, and Clément Blanchet, left, at end-of-semester studio reviews in April. (Opposite, bottom) As part of the VINCI studio, “More with Less,” by Lovejeet Gehlot, Shahryar Beyzavi, and Austin Wiskur, re-aligns core wet walls to create more open space while decreasing construction cost.

“Working with David advanced the stakes. The students knew that all of their design decisions and proposals were going to be evaluated by someone with an incredible amount of experience and talent, so they pushed themselves, knowing the evaluation of their work was to be expert and generous.” — Associate Professor Catie Newell M.Arch ’20, was called “Vertical Neighborhood,” an assemblage of 50 modular units and several common spaces, which, he says, sought to avoid the anomie that can plague tower living and “encourage a more socially active urban condition.” Each studio asked students to consider the people who would be living in or with their creations, and many found pre-design work to be the most valuable aspect of their experience. The MASS Design Group studio, for example, involved workshops with current and formerly incarcerated people and staff members at Michigan prisons, and the class researched alternatives to incarceration, as well as the history of the prison business. “I knew conditions in prisons were terrible, but to visit these facilities and to read firsthand accounts of the mistreatment that occurs inside was infuriating,” says Maggie Cochrane, M.Arch ’20. “We were often overwhelmed by the political, social, economic, and ethical implications of the problem at hand, but by the end we used this as momentum to arrive at resolution.” It was a difficult experience, she acknowledges, but ultimately she was able to pour it into re-envisioning the Queensboro Correctional Institution with new glass walls, a facility that functioned more as a site for true rehabilitation — and which could one day be reused as something else, should the current system of mass incarceration be abolished. “I’ve found that there is not enough emphasis placed on architecture that has the power to heal and change lives,” Cochrane says. “This is what I want to devote my career to, and that’s why I was so excited about the opportunity to work with MASS this semester. It was far and away the best studio that I’ve ever been a part of.” 21


The Common Thread FOR ALLISON BOOTH, M.ARCH ’20, working alongside Sean Ahlquist is about more than practicing cutting-edge design.

Working with Associate Professor Sean Ahlquist puts students on the stage, in an exhibition, and on new career explorations By Eric Gallippo

Although she’s drawn to the scale and novelty of his textiles-based work, it’s a specific audience Ahlquist has been designing for — children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) — that made her want to get involved. ASD currently affects one in 59 children, causing challenges with social interaction, communication, and behavioral regulation. Booth’s older brother is autistic, and that led her to take Ahlquist’s seminar course in winter 2019. “I like Sean’s direction and focus of research, and how the goal is to make something that benefits kids with autism and disabilities through architecture and new technology,” she says. Ahlquist, associate professor of architecture, is a leader in exploring the architectural possibilities of knitted structures by using state-of-the-art, large-scale computer numerical control (CNC) knitting machines and homegrown modeling software. He and his team have developed applications ranging from educational environments to the automotive industry, including an ongoing partnership with General Motors. The work is theoretical and groundbreaking, but also very personal. Ahlquist is the father of a 10-year-old girl who has autism and is nonverbal, common for up to 35 percent of those with ASD. For the last several years, he has been using his knits to build multisensory, tactile environments for children who — like his daughter — experience the world, and even communicate with it, through touch. Made from stretchy fabrics that are modeled, programmed, and knitted in the digital fabrication lab (FABLab) at Taubman College and stretched across curved, fiberglass-rod frames, these playscapes often include multimedia projections that help draw children into the experience. The springy materials, which can



(Opposite) Allison Booth works the technology that makes “POND” come to life. (Top) Sean Ahlquist and students build at Taubman College’s Liberty Research Annex. (Bottom) Ara Ahlquist enjoys a test performance of “POND.”


include “smart” environmentally and structurally responsive fibers, are designed to be touch and pressure sensitive and provide a rich and adaptable sensory experience. And they make for some unique student projects. In June, Ahlquist and a team developed interactive set pieces for a multisensory theater workshop with collaborators from the Michigan State University Department of Theatre, aimed at engaging children with ASD. Booth was part of the team and helped design three textile environments and an array of visual projections in response to the scenes, songs, and characters in a play titled “POND.” In August, Booth joined Ahlquist and four other Taubman College students to install his largest, most complex knitted architectural installation yet — for Exhibit Columbus in Columbus, Indiana. Standing 20 feet by 12 feet by 8 feet and scheduled for a three-month-long outdoor installation, the structure needed to support more weight and withstand the elements, as well as visitors’ interactions, while still providing a dynamic multisensory experience.

Prior to Exhibit Columbus in August, Ahlquist and students spent weeks assembling Playscape in Ann Arbor. See the build at



“The idea was to take the environments we’ve been designing for children with autism and look at them more as an environment for inclusive play in a public setting,” Ahlquist says. The new demands called for new materials, knitting patterns, and framing structures. Ahlquist relied heavily on a team of students and former students now working as researchers to get it all done on deadline. “Each team member takes on very diverse roles,” Ahlquist says. “One might be more focused on specialized digital modeling, while another is focused on advanced methods of fabrication. It involves a steep learning curve for the students and coordination to pull everything together at the high level of precision that is required.” Depending on their roles, team members operate sophisticated fabrication tools — including the knitting machine itself — plot intricate knit patterns, develop algorithms that translate 3D models to knitting programs, and work with different fibers and yarn manufacturers to test and develop new materials. “These different strands of research pull together to form a cohesive project that works, materially, and offers opportunities as a therapeutic, inclusive environment,”


“When multiple things are evolving, each student’s contribution becomes more critical because they’re having to think through how to design it, fabricate it, test it in and outside of the lab, and subsequently redesign it based on the information gathered.” — Associate Professor Sean Ahlquist Ahlquist says. “When multiple things are evolving, each student’s contribution becomes more critical because they’re having to think through how to design it, fabricate it, test it in and outside of the lab, and subsequently redesign it based on the information gathered.” As part of her initial coursework, Booth helped explore the potential of knitting with more robust materials in preparation for Columbus. Three months later, she helped install the resulting structure. Through her previous experience with traditional architectural offices, Booth knows design can take years before anything is built. She enjoyed the smaller scale and turnaround time of working with textiles and now is learning to operate the CNC knitting machine to help expand Ahlquist’s research and possibly incorporate it into her thesis studio. “There’s so much freedom in this line of work and working with Sean,” she says. “He’s good at letting us have control over the design and explore our ideas.” The collaborations often cross disciplines, too. For the Exhibit Columbus installation, Ahlquist collaborated with Maria Redoutey, a Ph.D. candidate in civil engineering, and her adviser, Assistant Professor Evgueni Filipov. After taking a class with Ahlquist in fall 2018, Redoutey saw parallels to Filipov’s work in the theoretical field of origami-inspired, foldable structures, and the teams have been exploring collaborative opportunities. For Exhibit Columbus, Redoutey helped develop a bracketed rod system that could bear more weight than the previous single and bundled rod systems. Compared to her engineering background, where the focus is on planning, Redoutey says seeing her work become a reality was satisfying: “Working with Sean and his lab has been the most legitimate structural engineering experience that I’ve ever had. I’ve learned a lot in class, but being able to put it to

use and see a physical structure come out of it has been really cool. And having the architecture brains in our group push the envelope and go for more novel ideas has been really fun.” For this autism-related work, Ahlquist says students who connect to it on a personal level bring something unique to the project. “Even if they aren’t a perfect technical fit, it’s valuable to recognize that they can comprehend the larger vision of the research and have compassion for how challenging and extensive the pursuit of that goal can be. There’s often a more obvious commitment beyond the satisfaction of making,” he says. Last spring Ahlquist added his first team member with ASD: Martin Gregaro, a Master of Science in Information student who has Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning diagnosis of ASD. Gregaro learned about Ahlquist’s multisensory work for children after reading an article online and contacted him about summer work. He says Ahlquist got back with him the next day. Gregaro was part of the Michigan State theater colla­ boration, then he oversaw the use of one of the playscape prototypes at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum for the month of August. He helped conduct preliminary research and form hypotheses on how children would engage with the different aspects of the structures. During workshops and other test runs with visiting children, Gregaro recorded data and helped evaluate what worked well and what didn’t. “Growing up on the spectrum, I have a sense of the social issues these kids face,” Gregaro says. “Sean’s approach to creating sensory environments to help kids build better social and communication skills works really well.” Gregaro previously planned a career as an archivist, preferably in a museum setting. He likes researching topics and presenting his findings. But now he’s thinking of changing that a little. He sees an opportunity to expand his work with Ahlquist into that space by creating interactive exhibits that are more inclusive for visitors with ASD. Because much of the work is done with unknowns about how it will be received, Booth says seeing the payoff of children interacting with the structures is gratifying — such as watching kids who had never met before engage with one another at a theater workshop through the textiles, visuals, stories, and characters she had helped create. “You work very hard making these unique knits and projections, and you’re not sure if it will trigger a positive response,” she says. “When you see it out in the world and the positive reactions, it’s really rewarding.” 25




From the Ground Floor of ZHA to 620 Feet Above Beijing Satoshi Ohashi, B.S. ’84, is leading Zaha Hadid Architects’ explosive growth in China IN THE EARLY DAYS of his career, Satoshi Ohashi went to work for an unbuilt architect he met through mutual acquaintances — foregoing the pursuit of a master’s degree at Harvard GSD because he liked the architect and thought that helping build her first projects would be an immersive way of learning. Working in her studio — an unheated former school gymnasium in London — and occasionally getting laid off when there wasn’t enough work might have caused Ohashi to second-guess that choice once in a while. But his gut feeling was correct: being the fifth employee of Zaha Hadid Architects turned out to be a solid foundation for launching his career. “It was a time of intense experimentation,” Ohashi, B.S. ’84, says of those early days with one of the world’s most celebrated architects. “Because of that mindset, as well as Zaha’s incredible leadership and persona, we’ve been able to grow.” That firm of five employees is now some 450 employees located around the world, bolstered

in part by Hadid becoming the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize, in 2004. Ohashi is the director of the firm’s China office, based in Beijing. And those early days of sporadic workflow are a distant memory. Since opening the office in 2008, ZHA China has built the most square footage of any office in ZHA’s history. The office has built four major projects for one client, SOHO, more or less in parallel. SOHO, an acronym for Small Office Home Office, is one of the most influential real estate development firms in China. In 2014, Fortune magazine called SOHO CEO Zhang Xin and Hadid “the women transforming Beijing’s skyline.” Ohashi has served as project director on each of the four SOHO–ZHA collaborations, beginning with SOHO Galaxy, an office and retail space that

Galaxy SOHO (opposite), the first collaboration between the Chinese developer SOHO and Zaha Hadid Architects, puts a modern spin on Chinese courtyards.



opened in 2012. As described by ZHA, SOHO Galaxy’s four curvaceous, connected volumes “are a reinvention of the classical Chinese courtyard.” At the time, it was the biggest project the office had ever done and was completed in 30 months, plus about a year of design time. The team was fine-tuning the design even as the foundations were being built. “This being our first big project in China, we realized very quickly that the scale, the speed, and the technology were still developing. So we faced challenges, but we were fortunate, and continue to be fortunate, that our clients have great vision and understand the value of design,” Ohashi says. In rapid succession, Ohashi led the Beijing office on two mixed-use projects that both opened in 2014: Wangjing SOHO and Sky SOHO. The fourth project, Leeza SOHO, opened in November 2019. Its 46-story towers anchor Beijing’s new Fengtai financial district in the southwest of the megalopolis and boast the world’s tallest atrium. The superlative stems not from a desire to be recordsetting but rather from the considerations of the site, Ohashi notes: “It’s never our goal to be the biggest or the

Under Ohashi’s leadership, Zaha Hadid Architects completed two major projects in Beijing in 2014: Wangjing SOHO (below) and Sky SOHO.



tallest. Every project we do is a response to the specific conditions that we’ve been given — site conditions, economic conditions, sometimes political conditions, and the overall needs of the client.” For Leeza SOHO, since a new subway line runs underneath the site, ZHA designed two towers to straddle the tunnel. The towers twist as they ascend, so that they are reoriented to look toward the center of Beijing; the 620-foot atrium connects and encloses the two towers. “The building integrates sustainable design that promotes energy efficiency and clean air, while the atrium unifies the structures as one building with a mega-window that is paying respect to the city,” Ohashi explains. The atrium also allows daylight to flood the building and provides a wow factor for visitors and tenants. “So it creates value while becoming a beautiful new symbol of Beijing,” he adds. But SOHO isn’t the firm’s only client; in tandem with the four SOHO projects, Ohashi has been managing an ever-growing portfolio of work that includes Beijing’s new airport. When it opened this fall, Beijing Daxing International Airport, located in the southern part of the capital, became the world’s largest single-terminal airport. By 2040, the terminal is projected to accommodate 100 million passengers per year, on pace to be one of

Opened in November 2019, Leeza SOHO features two structures connected by the world’s tallest glass atrium.

the world’s busiest. “When we opened the office, we also immediately began expanding ZHA’s portfolio and the typology of work on both small and large scales,” Ohashi says. “The airport is a good example of that and has been an exciting project to be a part of.” Under Ohashi’s leadership, ZHA China also has been working on master plans for China’s next wave of planned cities. The challenge lies not only in the scale but in the many demands that must be met, Ohashi says: “They must alleviate congestion and pollution, be green and sustainable, and be places where people will be happy to work and live, while integrating artificial intelligence to truly make them smart cities.” Fortunately, Ohashi’s training under Zaha Hadid allows him to fluidly switch between project scales: he previously won international awards for both lighting and interior design. “Zaha’s approach has always been to zoom in and then zoom out,” Ohashi says. “To meet the needs of our clients and show new clients why they should want to work with us, we have to be able to understand the details but also the big picture.” During his career, Ohashi also has honed that big-picture perspective by working on projects on several continents,

including Hadid’s first major works, Moon Soon Restaurant in Sapporo, Japan, and Vitra Fire Station in Germany. He also led ZHA’s Tokyo office, a tenure that saw exciting builds and stalled projects when Japan hit an economic recession. Ohashi says that the firm’s longstanding commitment to research has always put them ahead of the curve: “As architects, we believed anything was possible, and that’s how we approached design.” The same is true today, and Ohashi acknowledges that being the director of a rapidly growing office in the center of the world’s fastest growing economy has challenges. Completing Leeza SOHO involved training the construction companies and fabricators to use the 3D tools essential to executing the design. Construction of the airport was delayed when Qing Dynasty tombs were uncovered. A blogger accused Wangjing SOHO’s design of having bad feng shui. (SOHO won its libel suit against the blogger earlier in 2019.) At the same time, Ohashi says leading ZHA China puts him at the center of exciting work amid a studio culture that hasn’t changed from those early days: “The DNA of our firm — our collaborative style and our passion — is the same even though Zaha is no longer with us,” Ohashi says, referring to Hadid, who died in 2016. “ZHA is still about talented people coming together to explore unlimited possibilities.” — Amy Spooner 29


Crosswalks, Bikes, and Social Justice The way we move around touches every single part of our life, says Corinne Kisner, M.U.P. ’13, executive director of NACTO WHEN CORINNE KISNER VISITS a new city, she’ll probably notice the landmarks and attractions. She definitely will notice how people are getting from place to place, if there’s any public life in the street, and whether there is an inviting outdoor space for people to sit and eat a sandwich or play with a child. “I notice things intellectually that a lot of people will notice viscerally, like how much greenery has been incorporated into the city,” says Kisner, M.U.P. ’13. “I’ll notice nerdier things, too, like crossing distances and curb radii.” As executive director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), Kisner is one of the foremost voices in the country speaking out about the importance of building safe, sustainable, accessible, and equitable cities. And that means being well-versed about everything from, well, curb radii to the ways that automated vehicles could change city life to the importance of creating bicycle infrastructure that is accessible to people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. NACTO has grown rapidly in recent years, from about two dozen member cities and transit agencies when she began as a fellow in 2013 to 81 now. Notably, Kisner’s career path has followed a rapid trajectory during that timeframe as well, culminating with her appointment as executive director early in 2019. “It’s been a period of a lot of growth. We were a three-person team when I started at NACTO,” Kisner says. “I was able to build on a lot of strong early work, and we now have 31 employees.” In her time at NACTO, she has helped to shape the narrative about transportation in cities. The organization promotes the idea that transportation infrastructure should 30


serve the public good and that the public sector should advocate for the needs of all users in designing streets and transit. “The way we move around touches every single part of our life. Streets in particular, and transportation systems more broadly, have a major impact on our lives, yet they’re often designed such that the people using them are an afterthought,” Kisner points out. “We have many places where streets are designed just to move vehicles. There’s a huge opportunity for city streets to be a vibrant experience, but not if we’re designing them exclusively for cars.” Kisner is leading NACTO during a particularly interesting era in city transit. Micromobility — the use of shared bicycles and electric scooters, for instance — is a visible trend in cities large and small. On-demand connectivity and autonomous vehicles are changing the landscape as well. Kisner says she is seeing “a lot of energy” related to the trend of moving people efficiently to and through cities, something that is particularly important due to the increasing effects of climate change. “We’re at a really interesting inflection point with policy right now,” she says. With the growing prevalence of ride-hail services and the emergence of automated vehicle technology, “there is a potential to repeat a lot of the car-focused mistakes we made in cities in the 1950s.

But there’s also an outcome where we think about what’s the city we want to see and work backwards to implement policy to achieve that vision.” A key focus of Kisner’s policy work is ensuring that city leaders consider social justice when they design transportation systems. “There is a lot of systemic racism built into the way our transportation systems have been designed. It perpetuates in a lot of damaging ways. Poor transportation systems have meant limited access to jobs and opportunities for communities of color. Literal highways built through communities is a clear example of that.” She points to a bike share program in Philadelphia as an example of a conscious improvement in this area. Stark divisions along class and race lines tend to be a feature of bike share programs, so people who run the program in Philadelphia have made an effort to speak with low-income and minority residents and provide bike share stations where the residents say they would be most useful.

Recent NACTO projects include “Blueprint for Autonomous Urbanism,” which was developed with a steering committee from member cities and transit agencies and details the concrete steps needed to ensure equitable, people-first cities.

“My ideal city is one where I can walk or bike comfortably to lots of places. One with dense, vibrant street life. One where I can have an enjoyable commute that doesn’t have too many stressors, such as, Is a car likely to hit me when I cross the street? Is the air pollution harming my lungs? Are public transportation and bicycling among the options that people can choose?” — Corinne Kisner, M.U.P. ’13 They also have provided access plans and cash-payment options for low-income residents. As a result, 45 percent of pass-holders are from nonwhite groups and 35 percent have incomes less than $25,000 a year. Kisner’s views about equity in city transportation are, in many ways, rooted in a class she took at Taubman College: Social Justice and the City, taught by Kimberley Kinder, associate professor of urban and regional planning. “That class informed how I think about equity,” says Kisner. “Transportation is a means to something else, yes, but it also intersects with all of these parts of urban life.” — Katie Vloet 31


Providing the Tools for Safe, Engaged Communities From public safety to housing and murals, Frank Romo, M.U.P. ’16, is leveraging GIS and his passion for communities to make Detroit better


improved a once beleaguered 911 system and updated technical systems and processes within the city’s fire department, EMS, 911 communications, and Department of Homeland Security. The work is one element of what drives his passion for urban planning and GIS — giving communities resources to make their constituents’ lives better.

THEY ARE WORDS no one wants to hear when making a phone call: “911, what’s the location of your emergency?” But if Detroiters must make that call, Frank Romo is helping them get assistance as quickly as possible.

Romo was completing a post-graduate data fellowship with the Detroit Police Department in 2016 when the city asked him to overhaul its 911 system. He implemented a plan to modernize its GIS and redesign the mapping technology powering one of the state’s largest emergency management systems. “When I first saw the state of the data, I realized that our team needed to start from scratch,” says Romo. “Using advanced geographic techniques, I improved the accuracy of the 911 system and established protocols to create a safer city for residents and first responders.”

As the public safety and cybersecurity technician for the City of Detroit, Romo, M.U.P. ’16, serves as the sole geographic information systems (GIS) specialist for the City of Detroit’s Department of Public Safety. He has

New developments, renamed streets, razed houses, and decades of inconsistent reporting had created gaps in the data that limited emergency service delivery. To offset these issues, Romo continuously updates points of inter-


est, changes outdated addresses, and visits new developments to input data. He also trains operators on the proper protocol for entering street-level information and on how to use the 911 software. “My work supports our call takers, the first leg of a very important relay race,” Romo says. “When they pick up the phone, the person at the other end is already in distress, so seconds count and precision and accuracy matter.” As part of this work, he tracks historical response times to identify how agencies can more efficiently and equitably deploy resources. He says the software supports first responders in real time and sheds light on previously unseen problems in deployment practices: “The amount of institutional knowledge in these departments is astounding. My job is to download that knowledge from our longtime call takers and dispatchers into our technical systems, so new operators have the same information and decision-making tools as our veterans.” In order to support interagency communication, Romo also uses the updated GIS software to coordinate with Detroit’s neighboring public safety agencies and Wayne State University to ensure that 911 calls near the city’s border and on the college campus are referred correctly. In addition, Romo configured emergency management apps for the Department of Homeland Security and Detroit Fire Department that allow officers and firefighters to create emergency plans using their smartphones, which then update in real time to support staff at the emergency response center. He also has worked emergency preparedness projects for Little Caesars Arena, the new Gordie Howe International Bridge, and the Detroit River. Romo’s passion for community building and improving lives extends beyond public safety. As the founder of consulting firm RomoGIS Enterprises, he provides technical solutions to empower and inspire residents to make an impact in their local communities. Through RomoGIS, he works on projects that align with his vision of serving disenfranchised communities that are negatively affected by urban inequalities. He works on a variety of projects, from preparing neighborhood master plans to creating full-scale GIS and mobile apps to support community initiatives. “We are using urban tech to advance the health and safety of Detroiters through research, technology, and advocacy,” he says.

As the public safety and cybersecurity technician for the City of Detroit and founder of RomoGIS Enterprises, Romo (opposite page) is using GIS to build a safer, more vibrant city, including mapping the city’s art murals (top).

Through his recent endeavor, Murals in Detroit, Romo uses GIS as a tool for civic engagement. With RomoGIS colleagues, he developed an interactive web platform that captures and celebrates Detroit’s expansive outdoor gallery of murals and street art. The Murals in Detroit app, which was part of the 2019 Detroit Design 139 Inclusive Futures Exhibition, uses GIS and crowdsourced data to establish an archive of public art within the city. “By integrating social media, we inspire residents to seek murals, contribute images, and build a community repository that reinforces the importance of art and artists in Detroit.” Beyond the powerful tool of technology, Romo sees brick and mortar as a vital tool for community empowerment and longevity. That’s why in 2019, he founded the Detroit Developers Group, a real estate development company that owns, operates, and rents six units that he rehabbed on Detroit’s Eastside. As a developer, he seeks to reverse a longtime trend of landlords being detached from the needs of the residents and wants to offer high-quality housing options. “Real estate is an important way to impact the urban environment because it is one of the foundational building blocks of neighborhoods, communities, and social life,” he says. “Development excites me because everything comes together. I can use my GIS knowledge to build maps, my urban design skills to do renderings, and my analysis skills to evaluate the market.” Romo’s roles as a real estate developer, social entrepreneur, and civil servant might seem disparate. But the common thread is his passion for urban environments and improving livelihoods, and his all-in approach to life rooted in his East LA upbringing and his hard work as a first-generation college student. “I enjoy working alongside residents to improve their lives and their communities in any way possible, and I believe my contributions as a grassroots organizer, technologist, and researcher do just that,” Romo says. “I was taught to give 100 percent to everything I do when helping others because when you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity, you have to make the most of it — for yourself and for others.” — Amy Spooner 33


The Airport Planning Bug Comes Full Circle Chris Johnson, B.S. ’09, M.U.P. ’15, keeps airports safely humming along at Passero Associates AS AN ARCHITECTURAL design intern at Jacobsen Daniels Associates in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Chris Johnson, B.S. ’09, M.U.P. ’15, walked by the airport planner’s office one day and inquired about a maze of circles on an airspace plan on the wall. Johnson’s colleague explained that the circles denoted airspace restrictions around an airport. “It was a happy accident that the airport planning bug bit me,” Johnson says. “I never looked back.”

thought and planning that goes into making that magic, like the safety clearances around runways; the location of parking garages and rental car facilities; and the flow of travelers through security, the terminal, and on to their destinations. “All of these things are strategically thought out to make sure the system works cohesively, because one error or issue in the system can throw off everything else,” says Johnson.

Today, Johnson’s work centers on those circles, along with other considerations that help airports remain safe and run efficiently. Johnson, now an airport planner in the St. Augustine, Florida, office of Passero Associates, says he is a longtime fan of airports. Like most travelers, though, he did not give much thought to their layout and operation. “I’ve always thought airports are magical. Somehow, everything works.” Now, he understands the careful

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations protect airspaces around airports — those circles that first hooked Johnson — and determine the length of runways and taxiways. These regulations also help determine the placement of airfield facilities on airports. Johnson’s initial work incorporated these regulations to determine the location of potential aircraft hangars, parking aprons (also referred to as tarmacs), and taxiways/taxilanes. In 2010, Johnson was promoted to an airport planner position and began to specialize in airspace analysis. In 2013, Johnson saw the need to return to Taubman College to learn the skills that a masters in urban and regional planning could provide. “The broad education showed me how the different aspects of my work fit together,” says Johnson, who worked as an aviation planner for the Georgia Department of Transportation after he earned his M.U.P. degree. “Because of my education, I know how to incorporate elements from a comprehensive plan into my airport work, and there’s nothing on a comprehensive plan that stumps me.” Comprehensive planning is more important to airports than ever. The International Air Transport Association forecasts a 3.5 percent growth in passenger enplanements, and in the past 20 years, passenger enplanements have surged from approximately 1.4 billion in 1998 to nearly 4 billion in 2017. Most of Johnson’s work involves revamping existing airports to meet increased demand. “What worked for an airport five to 10 years ago may no longer



“All of these things are strategically thought out to make sure the system works cohesively, because one error or issue in the system can throw off everything else.” — Chris Johnson, B.S. ’09, M.U.P. ’15 work today,” he says. “We forecast airport growth so that we can think about the number of new hangars we’ll have to build, by how many feet we’ll have to extend runways to accommodate larger aircraft, stresses on aging infrastructure, and other considerations.” In developing and revamping airport master plans, Johnson leans heavily on his training in land use planning and law. Poles, trees, and other obstructions near runways can cause safety hazards. Therefore, airport owners want to own as much nearby land as possible in order to mitigate those obstructions. If land acquisition is not possible, airport owners can pursue avigation easements. With the rise of multimodal transportation, airport planning initiatives should be incorporated with rail and highway planning initiatives to create an efficient transportation system. This is especially important during airport expansion, which can lead to increased aviation activity and, potentially, increased roadway congestion. “We often work on airport master plans as part of municipal master

Johnson’s work on conceptual airport plans, like this one for a northeast Florida airport, considers obstructions, land rights, and intermodal transportation, among other factors.

plans, thinking about rights to the land around the airport, as well as alternative ways to get to the airport during peak traffic times,” Johnson says. While congestion on the surrounding roads can be a headache, congestion at airports can have catastrophic results. Disaster can obviously strike if two planes collide on a runway. However, a pilot’s incorrect perception that a collision is possible may result in an aborted takeoff, severely impacting passengers and airport operations. Johnson says one of the proudest moments of his career came when he stood in the air traffic control tower at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, looking out at an end-around taxiway (EAT) visual screen. Pilots use EAT visual screens to minimize aborted takeoffs because the screens help them differentiate between aircraft taxiing around the departure end of a runway and those entering the departure end of the runway. The Detroit project had been Johnson’s first time determining the size, height, and location of a visual screen on an airfield. “The controller said the EAT visual screen was fantastic, and I was thrilled. Sometimes as planners, our work is very future-focused. So to see something come to fruition and know that I’m doing my part to protect people energizes me.” — Amy Spooner




800 Feet




Clay County Port Inc. 1065 Bulkhead Rd.

Green Cove Springs, FL 32043

Passero Associate 13453 N Main St. #106 Jacksonville, FL 32218


(904) 757 www.passer

Andrew M. Hole

Project Manager

Chris John

Designed by

Chris John








Airport Feasibility Study

Airport Development Pla Public-Use Airport (5-10+



HEL P US BU IL D TOMORR OW Kevin Raley, B.S. ’13, M.Arch ’19, wanted to return to Taubman College for his M.Arch but had to “weigh the financial burden with the opportunities I’d get in return.” Scholarships eased his concern and allowed him to pursue research and travel — including studies of water infrastructure at the U.S.–Mexico border and the rapid redevelopment of traditional courtyard housing in Tianjin, China. Raley also did work under his own sole proprietorship, thanks to a connection he made through Taubman College’s Career and Professional Development team as an undergraduate. He was introduced to a Detroit developer for whom he built a model; years later that developer — who still had the model on his desk — called Raley about a new project. “Every line afterward on my resume, I have that job and person to thank for it,” Raley says. After graduation, Raley knew he wanted to live in Los Angeles and had faith in the value of his degree and alumni network. “Taubman College’s prestige is recognized across the country. I knew I could go anywhere and get a job.” Drawn to small firms, he accepted an offer from Poon Design, a six-person firm, a week after moving. He is excited to establish himself as a designer and understand the history and complexities of his new city. “I’m able to incorporate the values I developed from my education into my work every day.”

A gift to Taubman College supports the next generation of leaders in architecture and planning. Visit





Saving San Francisco’s Diversity Through Spatial Interventions Dominique Price, B.S. ’98, M.Arch ’00, harnesses the influences of Bo Bardi, Bruder, and Gang to create social infrastructure in the City by the Bay WHEN DOMINIQUE PRICE FIRST STUMBLED upon architecture, as an undergraduate enrolled in a different program, she was drawn to its abstract nature — different from the there’s-only-one-answer approach of other disciplines.

looking intently at the larger cultural and urban impact of the work. It requires everyone on our team to be able to think on every level of architecture.”

It’s one of the things she still loves about the work today.

That passion for social infrastructure draws from her study of Lina Bo Bardi, an Italian-born Brazilian modernist architect known for emphasizing the social and cultural potential of architecture and design. As an early career architect with Will Bruder in Phoenix, Price fell in love with Bo Bardi’s work and won a Booth Traveling Fellowship from Taubman College in order to follow her footsteps in South America. Her affinity for the architect also teed up the next step in Price’s career: when the fellowship ended, she went to work for another admirer of Bo Bardi’s work, Jeanne Gang, at Studio Gang Architects in Chicago. “Lina Bo Bardi created social infrastructure by mapping her design and her architecture in the people and the place, and those same values are present in Jeanne’s approach, as well,” says Price.

“Clients come to us when they’re looking at difficult problems for which the answers aren’t already known,” Price says. “A lot of our work centers on developing emerging typologies and bringing architecture to projects and situations that may otherwise be outside of the discipline.” Price, B.S. ’98, M.Arch ’00, is the founding principal of AS-IS, a female-owned San Francisco-based architecture and interiors firm. As the city faces income and housing disparities, she is inspired by the challenge of making it a sustainable place for a diverse society to live in. “Diversity is one of the things that makes San Francisco so special,” she says. “We are at risk of losing that if we don’t find new solutions for making the city work.” Price describes AS-IS as a spatial intervention practice and says she and her team focus on the developing objectives of architecture that emerge from a context as-is, not just the object/form. Their web address alludes to their establishment as an integral architecture studio, interior studio, and urban studio. “We practice simultaneously as an architecture and an interior studio, always

Price’s work, including Airbnb’s headquarters (opposite, top) and co-living projects in San Francisco (opposite, bottom), balances familiarity and the unexpected so that “places act as a ladder.”

The goal? “Creating social infrastructure,” she says.

When Price felt the tug back to the West, San Francisco was a natural landing spot. The Great Recession was a challenging period for making a move, but it was also a time when society was hungry for new ideas. At Will Bruder Architects and Studio Gang, Price had worked on a lot of community projects like museums and libraries, but the economic downturn meant funding for many projects of that ilk was lacking. She saw that workplaces often filled the social infrastructure void. “Particularly in San Francisco, where so many people are coming from other places and are without family, offices became the center of their social networks. The genre of the workplace became very appealing as territory for a new form of public space.” 39

During this period, Price worked as design director with Gensler and with MMoser Associates, two companies focused on workplace design, and she led the design on projects ranging from the emerging typology of coworking to mega-scaled corporation headquarters at locations across the globe. Throughout this time, however, she simultaneously began building a part-time practice focused on community-oriented projects in the spirit of Bo Bardi. “It allowed me to work on projects that required more intimacy than I could provide in a corporate setting,” she says. It also narrowed the leap she would make when she went out on her own. “Instead of ripping off a Band-Aid and diving in blindly, I slowly built my practice to a point where I had plenty of projects, a base of largescale experience, and a clear agenda for our work.” AS-IS, now a team of 10, focuses on what Price calls cultural projects that span genres. They include an urban cultural center, co-living projects, and a residence that is “not a house” but a kind of summer retreat that allows for spontaneous co-habitation intended to strengthen human connections. She also continues to be intrigued by the idea of public-private spaces: That notion of workplaces acting as agents of community-building that captured her imagination when she first moved to the Bay Area has expanded into retail, education, and housing. At Gensler, her projects included Airbnb’s headquarters. When she and her team did a site analysis of the newly emerging area of the city where it would be built, they realized the city didn’t plan space for the public to coalesce. So the centerpiece of the Airbnb design became a massive atrium designed as an interior plaza. “It fits Airbnb’s business model of embedding travelers into neighborhoods. And it helps them to be a great neighbor,” she says. Price sees more mutually beneficial public-private opportunities happening in the future, co-existing with traditional public gathering places like plazas. “I think they can support and provide more diversity in the options that are available to people in cities,” she says of the public-private model. “At my firm, we create urban interiors — moments where you let the city in.” She is excited about several projects in the pipeline, as well as the process of making them a reality. “We’re using the design process and its deliverables to fuel our souls as creatives in addition to developing the design; we try to weave that approach into everything we do.” And harking back to that open-ended way of problem solving that drew her to architecture in the first place, Price says it’s

A diagram of the social loop intervention in a San Francisco co-living project designed by Price’s firm, AS-IS.



very much a team effort. “I’m not going to drop a sketch in the hands of others and tell them to make it happen. Our product is the result of our merging of talents and interests, and that’s what keeps it fresh.” The University of Michigan was where that idea first hit home for Price, who says the institution is a ladder that allows people to build on who they are and emerge into a different place — a concept mirrored in her co-living and social infrastructure projects. “My work thinks about how architecture can, from one perspective, have a familiarity that allows it to be accessible, yet introduces the unexpected so as to advance what we already know. These are the practices that allow us to share in one another’s culture, and in architecture, the places that act as a ladder. That’s what Michigan was for me.” She also says Michigan’s team-based educational model produces the kind of colleagues that make her collaborative approach more effective. “Michigan teaches students to be able to jump onto a team, navigate the waters together, and support each other. Some new architects enter the workforce just wanting to be told what to do or, on the other end of the spectrum, are devastated that they’re not sole authors. Michigan teaches you to succeed as a team and to adjust when myriad forces come at you and change the scope of the problem.” Clients want to shift direction, building codes evolve, budgets shrink, and short project schedules are a new norm, Price notes: “You need to know how to stay tenacious, buoyant, and be resilient, while keeping the objectives of the work at the forefront. Schools that train their graduates to navigate the complex climate of building culture will better enable them to build architecture that contributes to both society and the discipline.” — Amy Spooner

Class Notes

Distinguished Alumnus Gordon Carrier, B.S. ’79, M.Arch ’81, receives Taubman College’s highest alumni honor

Gordon Carrier, B.S. ’79, M.Arch ’81, is the recipient of Taubman College’s 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award. He is the design principal at Carrier Johnson + Culture, an award-winning firm based in San Diego. “As a practicing architect of 40 years, I am proud to say that the University of Michigan architecture program afforded vital exposure to design inspiration and the necessary pragmatism required of ongoing professional practice. This balanced sensibility has served me well through all these years,” Carrier says. Dean Massey presented the award to Carrier during Homecoming Weekend festivities in Ann Arbor in October. 41


Share your news with your fellow alumni in a future issue of Portico. Send your class note (along with a high-resolution photo, if you would like) to or complete the online form at



Glenn Wynn, M.U.P. ’77, received the 2019 Macomb County Beacon of Economic Development award. He retired in June after 22 years as planning director for Shelby Township, Michigan, and 42 years as a professional planner. He is relocating to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Matt Rossetti, FAIA, B.S. ’83, M.Arch ’86, is the president of ROSSETTI, the firm that designed Louis Armstrong Stadium, the winner of a 2019 Prix Versailles Special Prize Interior (Sports). Located in Flushing Meadows, New York, Louis Armstrong Stadium is part of the United States Tennis Association’s National Tennis Center, home to the U.S. Open. The stadium’s design allows play to continue during the rain while naturally conditioning the space for spectators and players. ROSSETTI is based in Detroit.

 Michigan spirit was strong during

a recent Danube River cruise, which included a stop at Melk Abbey, a baroque-style Benedictine abbey founded in 1089 above the town of Melk, Austria. The architects in the group also were careful to note that the abbey’s architect was Jakob Prandtauer. Pictured in the front row, left to right, are Jim Sellgren, A.B. ’73; Tim Casai, FAIA, B.S. ’73, M.Arch ’75; Carl Roehling, FAIA, B.S. ’73, M.Arch ’74; Kirk Delzer, B.S./M.Arch ’75; Tom Mathison, FAIA, B.S. ’73, M.Arch ’75; and Gene Hopkins, FAIA, B.S. ’74, M.Arch ’75. Pictured in the back row, left to right, are Shirley Sellgren, Jan Casai, Barb Roehling, Marilyn Delzer, Jane Hopkins, and Dee Mathison.



John Ronan, FAIA, B.S. ’85, the founding principal of Chicago-based John Ronan Architects, has been selected to design a new visitor and education center for the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, adjacent to Wright’s home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois. The center will allow the trust to deepen its educational impact, increase indoor and outdoor capacity by more than 20,000 square feet, and enhance the experience of the site’s 90,000 annual visitors.

Pavement Technical Working Group, which is producing guidelines for maximizing pavement longevity and reducing the ecological footprint of our nation’s roadways.  Dan Kirby, FAIA, M.Arch ’91,

M.U.P. ’92, is chair of the Orange County, Florida, Design and Infrastructure Subcommittee, part of the mayor’s Housing for All Task Force. He is principal and client services leader for the Jacobs Engineering Group’s buildings design practice for Florida and Puerto Rico. He has been engaged in projects blending the building environment with technology, including the SunTrax Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Testing Facility in Polk County, Florida, and Vertical Medical City in Orlando, Florida, which will blend advanced artificial intelligence with vertical farming to redefine healthy and sustainable senior living in a high-rise urban environment.

1990s Janet Attarian, B.S. ’90, M.Arch ’92, has joined the Detroit office of SmithGroup, where she will work with its urban design practice to drive the creation of smart, sustainable urban environments and transform the way mobility is implemented. Previously, she was with the cities of Detroit and Chicago as deputy director of planning and development and complete streets and sustainability director, respectively. She also serves on the Federal Highway Administration’s Sustainable

Ed Jackson Jr., D.Arch ’93, executive architect of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project, has published The King Memorial: Thousands of Ideas Bound by a Single Vision. Available in the Apple Store, the memoir chronicles the planning, design, and construction decision-making process.


Scholarship Honors True-Blue Alumnus THE PEOPLE WHO KNEW HIM BEST say that Larry Purdy, B.S. ’89, was one of the proudest University of Michigan alumni anywhere. So when Purdy died of a heart attack in June 2018, they knew that the best way to honor him was to establish a scholarship fund in his name. “Larry passionately loved the University of Michigan and was proud to have graduated from the architecture program,” says his wife, Trish Purdy. “He would be pleased and honored to have a scholarship in his name helping other students.” Beyond his love for the university, the scholarship also speaks to the idea of paying it forward, says lifelong friend Brad Swanson, part of the group who is establishing the fund: “Larry attended Michigan with the help of scholarships. So we decided that memorializing his name at U-M would be great; memorializing his name in the architecture program would be even better; and doing it in a way that supports students would be the best.” Swanson, Larry Purdy, and three others became friends as third graders in Pinckney, Michigan. The five came together to the University of Michigan, where they all lived on the same floor of Bursley Hall as freshmen and shared a house as upperclassmen. Purdy was the only architect in the group, a path he pursued after a high school teacher instilled in him a love of drafting. Purdy was drawn to the duality of precision and creativity that architecture required, Swanson says: “Architecture allowed Larry to express himself in a productive, challenging way. He liked the artistry but also the constraints born from the fact that he had to create something usable.” Although Swanson recalls Purdy spending late nights in the studio and obsessing over his models — one of which he glued to his mortarboard at graduation — he says his friend never wavered from his love of architecture. He hopes that future Purdy Scholars will have a similar blend of dedication and whimsy. “They should be independent thinkers with a great work ethic and respect for education.

Purdy, center, with his arm around his wife, Trish, and surrounded by friends at their annual tailgate in Ann Arbor.

But at the same time, if they’re really like Larry, they won’t take themselves too seriously. They will find humor in being in the studio until 3 a.m. and having class at 8 a.m., and have the commitment to pull that off.” Purdy spent most of his career in the construction industry, where Swanson says Purdy’s architecture training helped him excel: “I think Larry’s colleagues appreciated that because he was an architect, he could understand complex plans and the types of materials that should be used.” Purdy’s parents, Fred and Judy, add that his University of Michigan degree opened doors throughout their son’s career. “He always told us that when he mentioned he graduated from U-M, employers were impressed from that point on,” Judy Purdy says. Larry Purdy’s career took him to California, Florida, and Maryland, but regardless of whether he was overseeing construction of ultra-high-end homes or running his online bookshop, he always followed Michigan football, basketball, and hockey — and called his dad on Sundays to break down the games. He also organized an annual reunion of the “Pinckney Crew” during a football weekend, a tradition that has continued after his death. Fred and Judy Purdy travel from northern Michigan with their large RV, perfect for hosting a tailgate for lifelong friends. “The game is great, but what we care about most is that we are all back in Ann Arbor together,” Swanson says. Larry’s absence leaves an indelible hole, however. “He could talk to anyone for hours and make them feel like family. That’s one reason he was so beloved,” Fred Purdy says. “And he always ended with, ‘Go Blue!’”



tor position to gain stronger leadership, a consistent presence, and a louder voice to promote the architecture profession in West Michigan in order to have a bigger reach in the community, drive workforce development, and promote diversity in the industry.

 Chris Knapp, B.S. ’97,

a former professor at Bond University in Australia, rejoined the institution in May as head of the Abedian School of Architecture. In the interim, he was the inaugural chair of architecture at Western Sydney University, where he was responsible for developing a new architecture and urban transformation program, including undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. At Bond University, he was instrumental in establishing the architecture program. He has practiced in Australia since 2005 and is a co-director of the digital fabrication and design practice Studio Workshop, based on the Gold Coast.

Erin Perdu, M.U.P. ’98, has been elected to the APA board of directors. She is the community planning and economic development director for WSB, a Minneapolis-based engineering firm that primarily focuses on transportation infrastructure and planning. Prior to joining WSB in 2014, she spent seven years as the community development director for the City of Howell, Michigan, and founded the consulting firm ENP & Associates.

2000s Pamela Danckaert, M.Arch ’01, became the first executive director of the Grand Rapids, Michigan, chapter of the American Institute of Architects in January, after most recently serving as the LEED project administrator for Design Plus. The chapter created the executive direc44


 Fernando Luiz Lara, Ph.D. ’01,

currently is serving as chair of the Ph.D. program in architectural history at the University of Texas at Austin. In the spring, he was promoted to professor. His research interests revolve around 20thcentury architecture of the Americas with emphasis on the dissemination of its values beyond the traditional disciplinary boundaries.

of the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles chapter’s health care committee.  Kelly Weger, B.S. ’02, the lead service manager for energy and sustainability programs at Purdue University’s Technical Assistance Program and Manufacturing Extension Partnership, has designed Indianapolis’s first entirely ICF residence, the Schweger Haus. Designed with LEED and Passiv Haus principles, this structure breaks from typical residential design by incorporating uncommon passive ventilation strategies, including a tower designed as an unconditioned space, with no active heating or cooling, that leverages the thermal mass of the concrete walls to create a constant degree of comfort. “Every architect’s dream is to get to build their dream home. This architect gets to make history at the same time,” she says.


 Parini Mehta, B.S. ’01,

has been promoted to associate principal at CO Architects in Los Angeles. She has managed projects for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, and several private developers. At CO Architects, she guides the planning and design of high-performance buildings for leading health care organizations and currently serves as co-chair

Joel Batterman, M.U.P. ’12, and a current doctoral student, is a graduate student fellow in the U-M Institute for the Humanities for 2019–2020. His dissertation, “A Metropolitan Dilemma: Race, Power and Regional Planning in Postwar Detroit,” is a historical account of metropolitan planning and governance in greater Detroit. Through the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, the regional planning organization for (continued on pg. 46)

CONNEC T W I T H US Taubman College hosts alumni events around the country, as well as annual Homecoming and milestone reunion celebrations in Ann Arbor. Learn more at or call 734.764.4720. You also can view events online at and see photos from past events on our Flickr page.

Recent alumni events (clockwise from top left): Homecoming Tailgate at Liberty Research Annex, Alumni-Student Speed Networking, Milestone Reunion Dinner in the Taubman Commons, reception at the AIA conference in Las Vegas, reception at the NOMA conference in Brooklyn, U-M Pan-Asia Reunion in Hong Kong, and an entrepreneurship panel in Ann Arbor.



the seven-county greater Detroit region, he examines how race, power, and inequality influence how institutions govern issues that span the boundaries between central cities and their suburbs. Aaron Goodman, M.U.P. ’12, recently joined the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department, where he is responsible for managing the Community Benefits Ordinance process for large developments receiving public subsidies. Previously, he worked for six years for Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) — an association of community development organizations, neighborhood associations, and block clubs. He led CDAD’s community engagement work, most recently as the community engagement director. Justin Kollar, B.S. ’12, a researcher, planner, and urban designer at Sasaki, based in Boston, contributed an essay to a new book, From the South: Global Perspectives on Land-



scape and Territory. The collective effort by members of the International Landscape Collaborative contains essays from authors representing eight nations and five continents. The essays offer diverse perspectives on contemporary models of landscape planning, management, and design across scales. His piece, “Democratizing Control over the Landscape: A Genealogy of Taiwan’s Territorial Planning,” focuses on democratic community engagement in urban planning.

gram and feel truly blessed for the opportunity to give back to Detroit communities,” he says. 

Andrew Pozniak, B.S. ’12, is part of the Ford Fund’s 2019 Thirty Under 30, a philanthropic leadership course that matches young employees with nonprofits to address challenging social issues. He is working with Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation in northwest Detroit. At Ford Motor Company, he is a digital sculptor of interior and exterior A-side surfaces within product design studios. “I am honored to have been selected into this philanthropic leadership pro-

 Alan Lucey, M.Arch ’16,

was part of the design team that installed NEST, an interactive playscape located on the rooftop terrace at Brooklyn Children’s Museum (BCM). Inspired by the nests made by the baya weaver bird, an example of which is featured in the BCM collection, NEST uses reclaimed NYC water tower cedar wood to create a woven landscape with a climbable exterior, circular hammock area, and permeable interior space for open and creative play.

In Memoriam Arthur L. Held, B.Arch ’41 March 14, 2019

W. Frank Laraway, B.Arch ’63 March 22, 2019

Garfield H. Laity, B.Arch ’43 February 4, 2019

Wayne G. Bredvik, B.Arch ’65 April 25, 2019

Peter B. Frantz, B.Arch ’49 March 13, 2019

Thomas Dzon, B.Arch ’67 August 9, 2019

Robert W. Soulen, B.Arch ’50 March 16, 2019

John L. Wacksmuth, B.Arch ’67, M.Arch ’68 May 23, 2019

Erfan A. Hashem, B.Arch, ’51 April 5, 2018 John A. Lindquist, B.Arch ’51 March 15, 2019 Richard Prince, B.Arch ’51 December 12, 2018

Edward A. Lynch, B.Arch ’68 September 12, 2018 Marcia B. Pederson, B.S. ’76, M.Arch ’78 January 8, 2017

Vernon C. Bryant, B.Arch ’52 June 7, 2019

Enyinnaya C. Nwabara, B.S. ’77, M.Arch ’79, M.U.P. ’81 September 24, 2019

William F. Sellers, B.Arch ’54 May 22, 2019

Kenneth S. Lee, D.Arch ’81 July 15, 2019

Floyd M. Zarbock, B.Arch ’54 February 25, 2018

Jack D. DeBruin, B.S. ’84 November 16, 2018

Rex E. Willoughby, B.Arch ’55 July 21, 2019

Josef Stagg, D.Arch ’84 August 6, 2019

Carl B. Heller, B.Arch ’56 March 16, 2019

Tip A. Scott, M.Arch ’86 February 28, 2017

Richard Messenger, B.Arch ’58 January 29, 2019

Saba Mahmood, M.Arch ’87, M.U.P. ’88 March 10, 2018

Norman R. Burdick, B.Arch ’59 April 25, 2019 John E. Crouse, B.Arch ’59 February 19, 2019 John L. Seaborg, B.Arch ’62 May 1, 2019

Scott V. Winkler, B.S. ’94 April 16, 2017 Kai Orion, B.S. ’02 February 20, 2019

Leave a Lasting Legacy Including Taubman College in your estate or financial plans is one of the easiest ways to make a lasting impact. You can even generate income for yourself and your family while benefiting the college and generations of students. Types of planned gifts include gifts from a will or trust, beneficiary designations, and property. Making a planned gift is a rewarding way to support the causes you care most about while providing for yourself and your family. Contact the Taubman College Advancement Team at 734.764.4720 or to learn more about leaving a planned gift for Taubman College or to let us know if you already have included the college in your will or estate plans.


In August, incoming graduate students in the architecture, urban and regional planning, urban design, and digital and material technologies programs gathered for a group photo as part of their orientation week activities. A far cry from the Class of 1914 (seen in the bottom photo), the Taubman College student body today (including undergraduates) is 53 percent female.



P ORT ICO VOL . 19, NO. 2 FA L L 2019 University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning 2000 Bonisteel Blvd. Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2069 USA

Jonathan Massey Dean Cynthia Enzer Radecki, A.B./B.S. ’87, M.Arch ’88 Assistant Dean, Advancement Kent Love-Ramirez Director, Marketing and Communications Amy Spooner Editor Liz Momblanco Graphic Designer

Contributing Writers: Amy Crawford, Quinn Doran, Eric Gallippo, Amy Spooner, Katie Vloet, and David Wilkins Photo credits: Bentley Historical Library (p. 48), Eric Bronson/ Michigan Photography (pp. 3, middle + 22-23, bottom), Lucas Denit (p. 9, top), Max S. Gerber (p. 36), Nick Hagen (pp. 3, bottom + 32), Jaime Lee (pp. 2 + 8), Peter Smith (pp. 3, top + 18-20)

Portico is a semiannual publication for alumni and friends of Taubman College, produced by the Office of Advancement. This issue was printed by University Lithoprinters.

We welcome alumni news, letters, and comments at You also can submit class notes online at: Has your address or email address changed? Submit your new contact information online at or call 734.764.4720.

Postage paid at Ann Arbor, Michigan. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Editor, Portico, University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, 2000 Bonisteel Blvd., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2069 USA

© 2019 Regents of the University of Michigan The Regents of the University of Michigan Jordan B. Acker, Huntington Woods Michael J. Behm, Grand Blanc Mark J. Bernstein, Ann Arbor Paul W. Brown, Ann Arbor Shauna Ryder Diggs, Grosse Pointe Denise Ilitch, Bingham Farms Ron Weiser, Ann Arbor Katherine E. White, Ann Arbor Mark S. Schlissel, ex officio

Nondiscrimination Policy Statement The University of Michigan, as an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, complies with all applicable federal and state laws regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action. The University of Michigan is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions. Inquiries or complaints may be addressed to the Senior Director for Institutional Equity, and Title IX/ Section 504/ADA Coordinator, Office for Institutional Equity, 2072 Administrative Services Building, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1432, 734.763.0235, TTY 734-647-1388, For other University of Michigan information call 734.764.1817.


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Portico Fall 2019  

Portico Fall 2019