Portico Fall 2020

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FALL 2020

Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning University of Michigan


A MESSAGE FR OM T HE DE A N As always, it was exciting to welcome students back to campus this fall, although it is a fall unlike any that we’ve ever experienced. It’s a tough time in our world and on our campus — and also at our college. Thanks to the dedication, energy, and talent of our faculty, staff, and students, as well as the support of our alumni, we are doing a good job of working through a massive and ongoing crisis. But our community is strained in countless ways. While mounting remote and hybrid instruction presents exciting opportunities, it also is hard. Our college navigated complex, difficult, dynamic circumstances to a successful reopening this fall. We made the changes needed to provide safely the physical, digital, and intellectual resources that faculty and students need to support their research, teaching, and learning at the high level that distinguishes the college — and we did this while respecting individual self-determination on the part of students, faculty, and staff to the fullest extent possible. The experimental mindset evident in our academic innovation initiatives in recent months has been invigorating. As you’ll read in the cover story, these initiatives present a roadmap for new ways of teaching and learning that extend beyond the pandemic. We were sickened by the events that sparked the Black Lives Matter protests this summer, and since then we have had many difficult conversations about practices within our society, our university, and our professions that perpetuate injustice. Taubman College has long been committed to advancing the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but it was apparent this summer how much work we still have to do. We are proud of our students

(Opposite, top) The Bachelor of Science in Urban Technology expands the college’s reach to undergraduates. (Opposite below) Social distancing protocols enabled a fall semester that mixed online and in-person instruction.

who have taken decisive action to push us in new ways to improve both our college and our professions to become more equitable and inclusive. Our students have shown themselves to be incredible leaders through Design Justice Actions, which you will learn more about in this issue. They give us all hope that we can create a more just, equitable, and inclusive profession that impacts our world and all people who inhabit it. Our work proceeds in tandem with a comprehensive anti-racism initiative at the university level. Amid the multiple crises we have faced and navigated, we have continued our work to expand what Taubman College is offering to our students. This year, we are proud to launch a new Bachelor of Science in Urban Technology, a first-of-its-kind degree in this new and dynamic field. This degree will prepare students to take on challenges in cities to make them more humane, just, and sustainable through a focus on the intersection of technology, urbanism, and design. Additionally, we have launched a minor in real estate development in conjunction with partners at the Ross School of Business and the School of Kinesiology. The minor offers a progressive approach to developing real estate and the built environment in the U.S. and worldwide. I am inspired by the creative spirit and passion of our college, in times of difficulty and always. Before the events of 2020, our guiding principles were to build compelling educational programs that draw students and empower them to promote the common good; to lead globally in generating innovative research and creative practice that address public priorities; and to increase the diversity and inclusiveness of our college and professions, encompassing a human-centered redesign of education that makes learning more affordable and accessible. Today, those objectives are more urgent than ever.

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




FA C U LTY + S TU DEN TS / 2 4

04 News from the Art & Architecture Building and Beyond 10 COVID through Your Eyes 12 Field Notes on Pandemic Teaching 13 SHoP Architects Gift Supports Efforts to Diversify Architecture

24 What Are You Thinking About? Bryan Boyer Joana Dos Santos

C OVER ST O RY / 14 14 Don’t Go Back to Normal



26 “Word-Banging” Dancing our imaginations … Thoughts by James A. Chaffers, M.Arch ’69, D.Arch ’71

28 An Experimental Practice and an Innovative Presidency Associate Professor Kathy Velikov challenges the status quo as an architect, teacher, and ACADIA president 32 Survival Kit for American Cities Lecturer Kit McCullough and alumni offer insights on how to reinvigorate post-COVID urban spaces


A L U MN I / 3 8 38 Don Hartwick, B.Arch ’68 A Commitment to Lifelong Learning Lives On 40 Gentrification Isn’t a Four-letter Word As head of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Ken Knuckles, B.S. ’73, led urban renewal through commercial development


44 A Safe Neighborhood Shouldn’t Be a Privilege Janell O’Keefe, M.U.P./M.S.W. ’11, is empowering residents to address vacancy in their neighborhoods 46 Living a Double Consciousness: The Complexities of Navigating White Supremacy While Black Thoughts by Christopher Locke, M.Arch ’16 50 Don’t Be the Silencer of Your Own Voice Khalilah Burt Gaston, M.U.P. ’08, says that drawing connections between the interpersonal and the systemic is the key to our path forward


52 What Is Art and Who Are Artists? As museums come to terms with racist practices, Lauren Bebry Kenter, M.Arch ’12, M.S. ’13, is helping the Met design the future 54 For Those Who Love the Built Environment: Anxiety of a Black Urban Planner Thoughts by Jermaine Ruffin, M.U.P. ’17

C L A S S N OTES / 5 7 I N MEMORI A M / 6 1


C L OS I N G / 6 2

“Reopening to Reorganization,” by Yiying Tang and Yue Lu, created for Taubman College’s 2020 Studio Redux competition.



New Degree Positions Taubman College as a Leader in Urban Technology Taubman College has launched a first-of-its-kind Bachelor of Science in Urban Technology degree that will matriculate its inaugural class of students in winter 2022. Urban Technology is an emerging field at the intersection of technology, urbanism, and design. As urban transformation is increasingly driven by private enterprises beyond familiar areas such as real estate development, investments in urban technology totaled more than $75 billion from 2016 to 2018, according to CityLab. The footprint and ambition of companies such as Airbnb, WeWork, Katerra, Tesla, Uber, Lyft, Bird, Amazon, and Sidewalk Labs operate outside of traditional built environment fields such as architecture and planning but have a clear impact in those realms. Students of this program will bring deep urban understanding to the design and entrepreneurship of initiatives such as these. Taubman College’s Bachelor of Science in Urban Technology will teach students how to mobilize data- and technology-based strategies that improve outcomes for city dwellers so that they can help businesses, governments, and communities address how technology enables us to see and understand cities in new ways—and how it could help us shape and inhabit cities in new ways. “In keeping with our mission as a public institution with a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we will teach our students how to design and create

technology that makes cities more humane, just, and sustainable,” says Dean Jonathan Massey. Taubman College’s bachelor’s degree program is unique in the United States. “No other undergraduate program combines technology, urbanism, and design as we do,” says Bryan Boyer, director of the program and assistant professor of practice in architecture. “We emphasize the role of design as the way of developing a vision for the future of urban services and the wherewithal to make that vision a reality.” Faculty teaching in the program mix experience in teaching and in real-world practice. Their research interests include participatory planning, informatics, urban systems, urban entrepreneurship, public sector innovation, digital culture and the built environment, how the internet and media shape cities, and the design and ethics of machine learning. “The University of Michigan’s breadth of expertise and passion for thinking in new ways uniquely position us to prepare students for the new and growing urban technology market sector,” says Boyer. “By harnessing our existing strengths and augmenting them with new and innovative coursework, our goal is to create students who are equally literate in questions of citymaking as they are in the development of technologies, not only professionally but as citizens of the world.” Through the program’s unique structure, students will begin classes during winter term. As students advance in their studies, elective Spring Term travel offers the chance to visit global centers of urban technology like New York, San Francisco, and Bangalore. The program will leverage partnerships with alumni and industry to show students how leaders in the field are reimagining city life. They will learn from companies working on smart cities, the Internet of Things, new mobility, and other areas of urban technology.

“Block’hood” by Jose Sanchez, who will teach in the urban technology program.



While urban technology is already changing cities in a big way, Boyer stresses that the purpose of the curriculum is not to build technology for its own sake: “Our curriculum is designed to help students identify a call to purpose that will guide them throughout their careers. As leaders who occupy the intersection of cities, technology, and design, our students will have what it takes to navigate the uncertainties of the 21st century.”

Associate Professor Sean Ahlquist won the 2020 Innovative Research Award of Excellence from ACADIA (Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture), which was presented during ACADIA’s online conference in October. He was chosen for his ongoing research in studying the potential for advanced computation and fabrication to benefit human behavior, inclusion, and community. Ahlquist is a leader in exploring the architectural possibilities of knitted structures by using stateof-the-art, large-scale computer numerical control (CNC) knitting machines and bespoke modeling software. His research spans writing and practice, seeking to push computational design and material fabrication past its technical challenges in order to engage in discussions of responsivity, sensorial feedback, and human behavior. In particular, his research involves the development of new technologies born of diverse collaborations within academia, with industry partnerships, and alongside community organizations. Projects involve architectural installations, such as “Sensational Equilbria” for the upcoming 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale, and the development of multifunctional material systems, as part of the ongoing partnership with the engineering, research, and design groups at General Motors.

Two capstone teams tied for the 2020 Outstanding Graduate Student Project Award from the Michigan Association of Planning, the Michigan Chapter of the American Planning Association. One project, “Self-Management Law, Now! Fostering Community-Owned, Permanently Affordable and Sustainable Housing in Brazil (Winter 2020),” developed a national educational and advocacy campaign for a draft bill that outlines a new legal framework for autogestão (self-managed) housing. The team is pictured during their March travel to Brazil. The other project, “Bridging the Gap: Planning for Neighborhood Quality of Life in Southwest Detroit (Winter 2019),” mitigates the harmful impacts of truck-traffic increases anticipated from the opening of the Gordie Howe International Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, in 2024. Taubman College student teams have won the Outstanding Graduate Student Project Award 11 of the past 13 years.

“This is not a case of all the boats rising on the same tide. The precision of our solutions needs to match the precision of the pain of those who were hit hardest.” — Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, on how to deploy resources to address COVID-19 response and recovery. He joined fellow mayors Lori Lightfoot (Chicago), Libby Schaaf (Oakland, CA), and Michael Tubbs (Stockton, CA) on a September 30, 2020, panel, “America’s Mayors on Crisis and Change,” hosted as a live online event by Taubman College with U-M Poverty Solutions.



“ The harsh realities of the pandemic have exposed many shortcomings in our healthcare system. But COVID-19 has also created an unprecedented opportunity to better align healthcare with design to creatively solve some of the most pressing issues of the day.” — Andrew Ibrahim, assistant professor of architecture, in an April essay in Fast Company. He is the chief medical officer of HOK’s healthcare group and a resident surgeon at the University of Michigan, where he directs the Design & Health Fellowship with the Department of Surgery and Taubman College.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Taubman College students and faculty members worked to ensure that the Art and Architecture Building courtyard retained its ability to be a community gathering space this fall. Jonathan Rule, Ana Morcillo Pallarés, Jacob Comerci, Anya Sirota, and Ishan Pal, M.Arch ’20, co-designed two large, health-informed work tables that each accommodate up to 12 people and adhere to health and safety guidelines. Students Gary Zhang, Adrian DiCorato, and Kristina Cantarero assisted with the fabrication, with additional support from the FABLab and woodshop. Additionally, faculty designed a “cabana” for the undercroft at the Art and Architecture Building that holds umbrellas, lawn chairs, and inflatables that students can bring to the adjacent hill, or “the beach” as it has been affectionately named, to use during study and conversation. A cleaning station is available to assure safety. 6


Lui Receives Exhibit Columbus Miller Prize Ann Lui, an assistant professor of practice in architecture and the founding principal of Future Firm, received the 2020–2021 J. Irwin and Xenia Miller Prize from Exhibit Columbus, which honors practices that celebrate design and a deep interest in research and making. Future Firm was selected for its commitment to the transformative power of architecture, art, and design to improve people’s lives and make cities better. One of the firm’s projects is the Night Gallery, a nocturnal exhibition space on Chicago’s South Side that features video and film works by artists and architects from sunset to sunrise.

“We are at a challenging time again, and I hope the center will continue to be a forceful force in promoting a positive, mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries.” — Lan Deng, associate professor of urban and regional planning, who in July became the associate director for the University of Michigan’s Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, a national leader in Chinese studies for more than 50 years.

College Announces Real Estate Minor

SOM Sponsors Innovative Thesis Studio

Taubman College, in partnership with the Ross School of Business and School of Kinesiology, launched a minor in real estate development this fall, allowing undergraduate students to supplement their major areas of study with broad knowledge of the fundamentals, formation, and finance of developments across the built environment.

Skidmore, Owing & Merrill (SOM) has committed an additional gift to Taubman College to support a thesis studio, Topology + timber.

“The program allows students to study across a variety of disciplines and learn on a number of different fronts related to real estate and development,” says Marc Norman, director of real estate initiatives and associate professor of practice in urban and regional planning. “No matter what a student’s degree program is, there’s a range of courses that align with their passions.” Norman also notes that the program offers students more than a knowledge of real estate fundamentals: “They’ll learn how to apply that knowledge on the ground, in cities and other environments with real people. They’ll think about how to make real estate and development equitable and how it can be something that really changes the way we live, work, and play.” The minor offers a progressive approach to developing real estate and the built environment in the U.S. and worldwide, focusing on creating sustainable, healthy places that reduce environmental impact, enhance choices for people of all incomes, and investigate possibilities for enhanced walkability and wealth building. The varied conditions of southeast Michigan provide lessons that can be applied widely. Students will learn and be engaged in debates and innovations about building sustainable places, minimizing ecological footprints, building a sense of place and motivating investors to care about the quality of the built environment. They will feel proud of their role in co-creating equitable places.

This fall, a group of recent undergraduate architecture graduates calling themselves Studio Kaleidoscape (Natsume Ono, Clare Coburn, Leah Hong, and Mitchell Lawrence) created a threedimensional streetscape in Ann Arbor as part of the ReVIVE All Zones project. Managed by the local Arts Alliance, the project commissioned four groups of artists to bring tactical urbanism to the city — a genre of art that is low-cost, scalable, and ties together community engagement, collaboration, and local understanding of neighborhoods. “Our education has prepared us for a lot of different experiences in the world … and this one was so much fun,” says Ono.

The partnership includes workshops, reviews, lectures, and expert consultation and provides M.Arch students with a unique experience rooted in experimentation and innovation.The year-long studio, which focuses on timber construction, aims to develop a built pavilion as part of the 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial. The public programming for the pavilion will have a social mission and be a collaboration with community partners within a South Side Chicago neighborhood. The research and design work focuses on how innovative timber fabrication and construction can have scalable impacts on the built environment. The studio is taught by Tsz Yan Ng, assistant professor of architecture, with links to the Advanced Robotics Seminar taught by Wes McGee, associate professor of architecture and director of the FABLab. A previous gift from SOM supported the studio Topology +, which focused on advanced computational design and fabrication for concrete forming. “Reimaging building elements with the help of emerging technology has the potential to catapult design and construction into a new era. The Digital Fabrication Lab at the University of Michigan is on the leading edge of this exploration, and we’re thrilled to continue our partnership,” says Scott Duncan, design partner at SOM.



New Faculty Expand College’s Expertise Taubman College welcomes three new faculty members for the 2020– 2021 academic year, as well as four who are continuing with the college in new roles. Several of these incoming faculty focus on technology in different ways, thereby deepening and extending Taubman College’s capacities through gaming and critical coding, as well as data- and technology-based design and planning. “These new members of our community combine virtuosity as makers with critical engagement in the politics of technology,” says Dean Massey. “We are thrilled to welcome them in the work of pushing our professions forward.”

 Catherine Griffiths,

joins the college as an assistant professor of architecture and digital studies. She is a media artist, designer, and researcher exploring critical code and algorithmic aesthetics in the context of machine learning ethics. By creating simulations, short films, and software applications, her hybrid practice-theory-based creative research attempts to make palpable invisible computational forces that shape power and social dynamics. Previously, she has worked for architecture, engineering, and arts organizations on visualization projects and technology pilot studies. Jose Sanchez joins the college as an associate professor of architecture. In his game design work and his forthcoming book Architecture for the Commons, Sanchez leads the discipline in both producing and



reflecting on online games as tools for learning about and engaging in urban design and planning. He uses gaming as a platform for collaborative design supporting emergent urbanism rather than top-down master planning. He has won awards from ACADIA and other leading peer review forums, and his game “Block’hood” has won gameplay and social impact awards. 

Anthony Vanky joins the college as an assistant professor of urban and regional planning. His research considers the use of digital data and pervasive sensing technologies to design, plan, and evaluate urban environments, with implications for urban design, urban technologies, innovation studies, and public health. Previously, he was a founding team member of MIT designX, an academic accelerator dedicated to advancing innovation and entrepreneurship in design, cities, and the built environment. He also is co-founder of Social Studies, a consulting and research and analytics firm that offers perspectives on 21st century cities to government, businesses, and nonprofits. 

 Arash Adel, a former postdoctoral

fellow, is now an assistant professor of architecture. He is a leader in moving fabrication and computational work within academic research toward impacts on the building industry. As a doctoral student at ETH Zürich, he contributed to the widely published “DFab House.” He continued the work during his time as a Taubman Fellow, addresses complex robotic timber framing processes, augmented reality construction methods, and comprehensive computation methods for building design.

 Bryan Boyer

is now an assistant professor of practice in architecture and the director of the Bachelor of Science in Urban Technology program. He was the 2019–2020 Eliel Saarinen Visiting Assistant Professor of Practice. He is cofounder of Dash Marshall, where he runs the studio’s strategic design practice, working with clients to understand and envision the ways in which technology enables urban ways of life. Previously he was cofounder of Helsinki Design Lab, a design team within the Finnish Innovation Fund with a focus on policy issues such as carbon reduction, education, welfare services, and economic development.

Ann Lui is now an assistant professor of practice in architecture. She first joined Taubman College in the winter 2020 semester as a visiting assistant professor. Lui is the founding principal of Future Firm, a Chicago-based architecture and design research practice. Her work focuses on spaces of collectivity and the role of architecture in producing and intervening in paradoxical conditions of belonging. Future Firm designs spaces for clients who are changemakers in their own communities. The practice spans diverse scales, including residential, commercial, and cultural buildings and urban and civic speculations. 

Marc Norman is now director of real estate initiatives, in addition to his role as associate professor of practice in urban and regional planning. He oversees the graduate certificate in real estate and the new real estate minor for undergraduates. He is an internationally recognized expert on policy and finance for affordable housing and community development who has worked collaboratively to develop or finance more than 2,000 units totaling more than $400 million in total development costs. 

Hoey Named Fulbright Scholar Lesli Hoey, an associate professor of urban and regional planning, received a 2020 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award. Her research will examine how Bolivia’s Promotion of Healthy Food Law is affecting urban food systems planning, particularly the role that street food vendors play in shaping urban school food environments. She aims to offer a proof of concept for operationalizing the law based on an initiative carried out in the municipality of Montero. For more than 10 years, Hoey’s research has focused on grassroots movements and government-led strategies for creating more sustainable, health-promoting, and equitable food systems. She began studying nutrition policy in Bolivia as she tracked the implementation of the Zero Malnutrition program from 2007 through 2012. More recently, she was the co-investigator of a longitudinal study in the Bolivian cities of El Alto and Montero that compared factors affecting the double burden of malnutrition in urban, peri-urban, and rural environments. Through that project, she led food environment inventories and vendor surveys that mapped more than 1,000 food outlets across these sites in 2015 and again in 2017, findings which will be published this coming year.

“For me, the question isn’t, What can architecture as a profession do? The better question is, What is the nature of the profession? Why is it that other professions understand their role and duty to promote the well-being of the public, but architecture does not? This is the question we need to ask, because if we did understand our role and our duty, the streets would not be on fire.” — Craig Wilkins, lecturer in architecture, in a July 21, 2020, essay in Curbed



COV ID T HR OUGH YOUR E Y ES LAST SPRING, TAUBMAN COLLEGE invited students and alumni to share how the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing quarantine affected their daily lives. This is a sample of the responses.

“ The pandemic started for me in January. I have a close relative who suffered from a life-threatening illness, and after the first case of COVID-19 in my hometown, her hospital went on lockdown. With God’s blessing, she survived, and I was able to FaceTime with her during the final week of class. I am thankful for the challenge that I received this semester because it is preparing me to become a stronger and better person … and I am grateful for the positivity of my close friend at Taubman and my studio instructor. Without them, I cannot imagine how I would have survived in school this semester.” “As commercial landlords, hotel owners, and about to open a flexible office space, my team and I face gray areas understanding what liability exists; coming up with protocols and communicating that to our tenants/guests/ members is very difficult for a small business.” — Jamie Simchik, M.U.P./M.B.A. ’15 (Boston)

“[Alpha Rho Chi] decided to host a virtual game night via Zoom. We played a variety of games, and it almost felt like we were all back together again.” — Jared Freeman, B.S. Arch./A.B. International Studies ’22



— An M.Arch student from China who asked to remain anonymous

“I landed my first architectural teaching job as a first-year studio instructor at the beginning of the year ... and all the ways that one usually acquaints themselves with a new city are unavailable to me. I knew it then, but even more so now: being invested in and truly knowing a place requires physically being there, having that experience of walking, seeing, opening doors, etc.” — Megan Peters, M.Arch ’16 (Eugene, Oregon)

“The most remarkable thing about teaching an average class of 86 (!!) yoga students via Zoom is that I feel the class is more intimate than when I taught a pre-COVID class of 36 in a rec center. I have not yet made sense of that. Strange times.” — Clint Harris, B.S. ’72, M.Arch ’74, with Priscilla Harris, B.B.A. ’71, M.B.A. ’77 (The Villages, Florida)

“I was born and raised in conflict, but I never thought I’d be in a lockdown in the U.S. Coping with that has been tough!” — Madeeha Ayub, M.U.D. ’20

“The biggest challenge has been being in three fabrication classes and not being able to make anything in the FABLab. This is my at-home fablab to attempt to continue work for advanced prototyping.” — Mackenzie Bruce, M.Arch ’20

“I am cross training colleagues to become project managers for our internal COVID response task forces related to our commercial real estate, food manufacturing, and sports and entertainment industries. The spread of misinformation and lack of coordinated response is straining our efforts to plan. We know we can’t reopen our offices or tenant spaces/venues until adequate and accurate testing and monitoring can occur.” — Angela Fortino, M.U.P. ’11 (Detroit)

“Millions are at the brink of financial ruin, and millions literally fear for their lives — while other millions, those of us with paychecks and savings and good health, are experiencing a unique respite from the heavily scheduled pace of our lives and quiet time to reflect and relax. Those of us who find ourselves in Group B of this dichotomy need to reach out to Group A — we’re in this together.” — Duane Jonlin, M.Arch ’76 (Seattle) 11


F IEL D NOT ES ON PA NDEMIC T E ACHING IN THE SPRING, Places Journal invited faculty from leading architecture schools around the world to submit essays on the transition to online teaching in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to Dean Massey — whose essay served as the basis for his Message from the Dean in the spring issue of Portico — four faculty members published essays, which are excerpted below.

“Maybe it’s time to form digital salons, virtual open houses that will encourage debate, sociability, conversation, celebration — that will be positive alternatives to discrete containers of education and intellectual interrogation. Maybe dozens of online Gertrude Steins will find their voices in this new normal, and maybe — just maybe — we will get used to this new method of conducting education.”

“This semester, I’m teaching a doctoral seminar, Education as Co-liberation, that began in January with bell hooks’s Teaching to Transgress. “The classroom,” we read, “remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy.” What makes the classroom precious ... is that our need for sense-making has turned us from syllabus towards crisis and we’ve been able to think together about that crisis even as it has moved us online.”

— From Maybe, just maybe by Associate Professor Matias del Campo

— From an untitled essay by Associate Professor Andrew Herscher

“[For the] opening for this year’s fellowship exhibition, I sit down for a Zoom via YouTube stream with a cocktail in hand at the appointed hour along with more students, faculty, and visitors than I know I would have seen in person. ... The event now lives online and has had over 700 viewers to date, which accomplishes something necessary: the promotion of the work beyond the gallery walls. But I missed the social event, the social space of the opening, the intermingling, the casual conversation that becomes a political debate about the merits of the work, the jockeying and the joking.” — From The ‘pivot’ by Professor Sharon Haar “The playing field has never been so uneven. The students’ formatted presence on my screen conceals more than ever their disparate material conditions of production. They are especially polarized in their capacity to manage the resource that is time; between those who are able to harness every minute of it towards their own becoming, those who need to dedicate it to survival, and those who simply dissipate it into the unknown, because nothing has trained them for this. … Two weeks after the shift online, it is this absence of common ambient studio time that is most reflected in the students’ diverging rates of progress.” — From ZOOMONTOLOGY by Associate Professor Mireille Roddier 12


(From top) Discussion map, “Education as Co-liberation,” February 6, 2020. Zoom chat thread, “Education as Co-liberation,” March 26, 2020.


Gift Supports Efforts to Diversify Architecture NEW YORK-BASED SHoP ARCHITECTS has committed a generous lead gift to Taubman College to bring a greater diversity of talent into the field of architecture. SHoP Architects has made a name for itself for largescale projects that transform neighborhoods. Named in 2014 by Fast Company magazine as the “Most Innovative Architecture Firm in the World,” the firm also embraces the importance of transforming the profession, starting with access to education necessary to succeed in practice. “By investing in education, we aim to evolve the profession of architecture, and our firm, to better reflect the world around us,” says Gregg Pasquarelli, one of four founding principals of SHoP Architects. “We recognize that any attempt to do so starts with introducing young talent to the discipline.” SHoP Architects challenges long-held conventions within the architecture community. This predilection for changing perceptions and solving problems aligns with Taubman College’s goal to do the same as a leader in architecture and planning education. “We are pleased to partner with SHoP Architects in our pursuit of equity innovation: academic innovation that supports diversity, equity, and inclusion by making education more accessible to a broader range of learners,” says Dean Jonathan Massey. “Their support will help create a ladder of opportunities to invite a diversity of talent into the study and practice of architecture.”

Michigan Architecture Prep introduces Detroit high school students to architecture.

Over five years, the college will use the gift to integrate and strengthen programs for students from underrepresented backgrounds to learn about, engage with, join, and transform architecture and related fields. “One of the ways we address the disparities within our discipline is through pathways and mentoring programs at every stage, from high school through entry into the profession and beyond,” says Massey. A portion of the gift will support the online teaching materials for Michigan Architecture Prep (ArcPrep), Taubman College’s semester-long program that introduces juniors in Detroit public schools to architecture and urbanism. This will allow Taubman College to transition elements of this successful program into a scalable format adapted to online and hybrid educational delivery, thereby making the experience accessible to more students during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. “Michigan ArcPrep was the first program at the national level to offer a fully embedded, tuition-free, for-credit studio experience to public school students. At this critical inflection point, where the challenges of distance learning have ushered in new opportunities for growth and advancement, this gift will help us extend the impact of our goals,” says Anya Sirota, associate dean for academic initiatives and associate professor. The gift also will support efforts to create a continuum of engagement by connecting ArcPrep with ArcStart, the college’s on-campus summer program for high school students. By supporting ArcStart enrollment for some ArcPrep graduates, more students will experience firsthand how a design education prepares them to engage the world around them and continue their exploration of architecture and the built environment. Additionally, the gift will enable Taubman College to work with its chapter of NOMAS and other student groups to expand peer mentoring activities, as well as to expand career opportunities via workshops, externships, and internships. Taubman College students are leading the way in expanding opportunities by calling upon leadership to establish more resources that provide improved access to career opportunities, especially for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and undocumented students, in their formal education and post-graduation. “Our fervent hope is that this gift and our partnership with Taubman College will motivate others to join us in making a difference for many young students and our profession as a whole,” says Pasquarelli. “Imagine the impact we can have if we all join together.” — Kent Love-Ramirez 13




DON’ T GO BACK TO NORMAL By Amy Crawford, Julia Broadway, and Amy Spooner

WHEN DEAN JONATHAN MASSEY ADOPTED “don’t go back to normal” as a mantra in the spring, he was thinking about the necessary transformations in education that were accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just a few months later, the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked worldwide outrage and forced Americans — and Taubman College — to grapple with the origins and consequences of deep-seated systemic racism. “Don’t go back to normal” is now an apt rallying cry for a college at a crossroads in the wake of 2020’s monumental events. How do we embrace the changes necessitated by the pandemic in order to make lasting changes to the way we deliver education, in order to make it more inclusive? And how do we ensure that our community and our curriculum reflect the diversity of the world that we serve as planners, architects, and citizens? As you’ll read in the following pages, students are working alongside administrators to find answers.

“Reopening to Reorganization,” by Yiying Tang and Yue Lu, created for Taubman College’s 2020 Studio Redux competition.


A DVA NC ING R AC I A L EQUIT Y MANY PROFESSIONS PLAY A ROLE in shaping communities for better or worse, but few have as visible an impact as architects and urban planners. That weighty responsibility is always on Serena Brewer’s mind and came to a head when a studio course project took on the adaptive reuse of a building in her hometown. “It was a theater in a neighborhood in Chicago that was predominantly Latinx,” explains Brewer, M.Arch ’21. “Only a few of us were focusing directly on that community makeup, even though it’s integral to the neighborhood. We felt that it would be remiss not to consider the artistic development of people who are already there, and to integrate the architecture of whatever we’re proposing into the community. We were worried about gentrifying the space.” Brewer and her classmates recognized that they had a moral duty to consider the context of buildings and planning projects, especially when a marginalized community seeks to preserve its culture and prevent its history from being erased. “I feel that’s lacking in our education sometimes,” she says, “and it needs to be addressed at the beginning of the project, before you take on any of the other design aspects.” The nagging discomfort that Brewer had felt in the course, as well as issues that were arising for her fellow students of color, remained at the forefront of her mind as the COVID-19 pandemic forced U-M to hold classes online last spring — and, later, as Black Lives Matter protesters rose up against police brutality in cities around the globe. It was a historic moment, and Brewer and many of her fellow students saw in it an opportunity to fight for racial justice closer to home. Out of their conservations grew a student-led movement, Design Justice Actions, which is pushing Taubman College — and by extension, the professions of architecture and planning — toward a more just and inclusive future. “Students — mostly students of color — had been doing social justice work for a long time,” says Joana Dos Santos, Taubman College’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, whose job is to partner with students, faculty, and staff in efforts to make the college more inclusive of people with different racial, ethnic, and gender identities. “But there are still few students of color in our school, and sometimes their voices were drowned out.” 16


According to a report assembled by Dos Santos’s office last year, less than 11 percent of students identified as members of underrepresented minorities (Black, Indigenous, or Latinx), along with 17 percent of staff and just under 12 percent of faculty. Those numbers are far lower than figures for the state of Michigan and the nation as a whole, and they can make for a lonely experience for students whose backgrounds are different from the vast majority of their peers. It’s not just a Taubman College problem: studies by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards show that the discipline of architecture is marked by gaps in participation and advancement by gender and ethnicity, leading to a profession with pronounced disparities. These disparities begin at many accredited U.S. architecture programs, where the student body often skews toward white, male, and able-bodied people from affluent families. “It’s definitely difficult being a student of color at Taubman, just because you’re few and far between,” Brewer says, “but it’s not unlike many other schools of architecture across the country.” During the Black Lives Matter protests in June, Dean Jonathan Massey hosted a virtual town hall, open to the entire college, including alumni. The agenda was put together in partnership with students, faculty, and staff of color, mostly Black. “It was very clear, as a community, that we understood that we needed to do something about racial justice and anti-racism,” Dos Santos says. The town hall exposed deep pain and outrage that was difficult but motivating. “This is a time of compounded pain stemming from multiple traumas: not only police killings and repression of public protest,” says Massey, “but also the disparate impact of COVID on communities of color in and beyond Michigan. Our students, staff, faculty, and alumni are among those generating knowledge about structural racism and creating tools for promoting spatial justice, so personal pain and outrage is often linked to our intellectual and professional work. It was painful for me, and I think for most participants, to hear from our colleagues about the extent to which structural racism has affected them in the world and on our campus. This was also an essential step, though, in identifying the work we must do now.” In the wake of the town hall, Brewer was approached by her friend Emily Ebersol, M.Arch ’21, who is white, and they moved quickly to create Design Justice Actions. Ebersol says that early in her academic career she was “exposed to some incredible people in the field of architec-


ture and design who were at the forefront of these conversations,” so as she watched events unfold in Minneapolis and elsewhere this summer, “I always go back to this quote from Lilla Watson that says, ‘If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.’”

As part of a national movement, in June, students outlined 12 Design Justice Actions to address inequities at Taubman College.

Brewer and Ebersol were soon joined by a few dozen other students, along with faculty and staff advisors. Their subsequent letter to college leadership was a true group effort, says Ebersol. “We had a document that was open for community edit — a huge Google doc where everyone could contribute ideas.” Out of that process emerged 12 shortterm and long-term demands, which the students listed in a June 22nd letter to the college’s administration and faculty that has so far been signed by more than 200 members of the Taubman community. The demands aimed not only to create a more welcoming campus environment for 17

students of color but to reimagine architecture and urban planning education in a way that would help Taubman graduates work toward racial justice and better serve diverse communities in the 21st century. “The existing pedagogies, curriculum, and general instruction of these disciplines were bred out of outdated social, cultural, and economic structures and have failed to fully evolve with society,” the students wrote. “Our education impacts our ability to seek justice in our professions and the communities we shape. For Taubman College to promote public good through academic excellence and ‘build tomorrow,’ we must first rebuild our foundations from within.” Of the 12 demands, five are earmarked as early priorities, based on their potential for quick action, as opposed to demands like increased hiring of faculty of color, for example, which take longer to execute and are more dependent on external factors. Each of the five priority actions has a dedicated working group of students, faculty, and staff who are further researching, investigating, and reforming the existing structures of that point. The five priority actions are to embed these actions within a revised DEI strategic plan that establishes anti-racism as a principle; to include BIPOC voices and the history of spatial injustice in the core curriculum; to institute a seminar requirement for all Taubman College students that discusses unjust development processes and theories that negatively impact BIPOC communities; to create more curricular opportunities for BIPOC community voice-in-process so that students gain agency in the built environment; and to transform the college’s review culture to promote a diverse and inclusive environment in the panels. 18


The students’ final list of demands, Ebersol says, was heavily influenced by Design as Protest, a nationwide coalition of designers that, in its own words, works to “dismantle the privilege and power structures that use architecture and design as tools of oppression” and envisions “racial, social, and cultural reparation through the process and outcomes of design.” With these ultimate goals in mind, the Taubman students sought more funding to invest in Black faculty, staff, and leadership, as well as for grants, scholarships, and fellowships geared toward diversity, equity, and inclusion. They asked the college to “formulate a central ethos” that aimed toward social justice and requested that white administrators not only collaborate with Black communities and people of color but also proactively lead anti-racism efforts. And they sought a curriculum that would integrate not only the voices of people of color and community stakeholders but also examine the ways in which design has historically contributed to injustice. “It’s important to get the knowledge of practices like redlining and urban renewal, which have undermined people of color, into the minds of young architects and planners,” Brewer says. “These things are really crucial to how you work in cities, and how you deal with the built environment in general.” Brewer and Ebersol got to know each other last fall, when both took a class on design activism and social justice with lecturer Craig Wilkins. An award-winning Black architect who serves as creative director of the Wilkins Project,

Serena Brewer (second row) and Emily Ebersol (top row) participated in “New Grounds for Design Education” with students from other leading schools in July.


“Our education impacts our ability to seek justice in our professions and the communities we shape. For Taubman College to promote public good through academic excellence and ‘build tomorrow,’ we must first rebuild our foundations from within.” — Taubman College Students for Design Justice which provides architecture and urban planning services for projects that further social justice goals in Detroit, Wilkins helped students explore ways in which what is taught — or not taught — can influence whether design is effectively racist or anti-racist. “The course is specifically designed to catalyze thinking about the discipline and profession and how students might shape careers in ways that address issues most concerning to them,” says Wilkins. “Inherent in that search is not only an interrogation of the structures that prevent a full blossoming of such agency in the academy, the profession, and the built environment but also serious and sustained discussions with peers about how such frameworks might be reimagined.” He adds that he is “not at all surprised” that Brewer and Ebersol are leading Design Justice Actions efforts: “They were part of a particularly engaged and highly motivated cohort last fall, deeply connected to the larger justice movement across the country. It was a joy to learn with them then and remains so today.” “We did a lot of critical thinking in that course,” Ebersol says, explaining that the work of Design Justice Actions, although energized by a larger societal shift, is building on an effort that was already underway at Taubman, through courses like Wilkins’s as well as the school’s strategic plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion, now in its fifth year. “There are so many people that have been working on design justice for years — we’re by no means the beginning of these conversations.” That meant that the institution was receptive to Design Justice Action’s agenda, and faculty and staff quickly joined student-led work groups to begin addressing the demands. Over the summer, they developed a process that would help faculty review their syllabi and figure out ways to broaden the long-standing canon of white male architects, planners, and designers. They also meet with the college’s alumni relations team to brainstorm ways to get alumni involved, whether by supporting Design Justice Actions’ work financially, mentoring the group’s

student leaders, writing articles for the new biweekly newsletter, Racism Review, or speaking about racial justice on campus. “Taubman alum Christopher Locke was involved from the beginning and helped shape and energize the Design Justice Actions you see today. We are looking to widen our involvement in this initiative, especially to include more alumni,” Ebersol says. Meanwhile, Dos Santos led a weeklong racial equity workshop to help students, as well as faculty and staff, think through the ways in which they could bring anti-racism not only into their classrooms, but into their lives. “We are trying to expand the lens by which we teach and work,” Dos Santos says. “For architecture and planning, this is mostly a white male lens. The goal is to add other lenses by unlearning some of the harmful aspects of architecture and planning and learning new lenses that can bring a more holistic approach to the built environment. We need to add lenses from people of color, women, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups that may not be represented in the fields.” The positive response from faculty, administrators, and other members of the Taubman community has been gratifying, the students report. And although the changes they are seeking will take years of work, by fall the atmosphere on campus had already shifted. In a reprise of her first semester at Taubman, Brewer is working on another Chicago project for a studio course. This time, however, the whole class had to treat community, identity, and context as foundational. “We did a deep dive into the cultural, racial background of the neighborhood that we’re working in,” Brewer says. “In any city, every neighborhood has a long history like that, and it’s important to understand that, to be able to provide a solution to a societal and/or environmental problem. And that’s what architecture does, right? We build solutions.”




But by early March 2020, it was clear that in terms of well-laid plans, all bets were off — for Taubman College’s students and the professors who teach them.

Adapting education within social distancing protocols and public health standards is extra difficult in design education, which relies heavily on collaborative, spontaneous, and interactive exchanges in studio and classroom environments. The college’s academic innovation team — led by Sirota, Jacob Comerci (academic innovation project manager), and Pal (Sirota’s former research assistant who signed on after graduation) — launched several grant programs, competitions, and cross-campus partnerships at the start of the summer.

So instead, Pal is helping Taubman College’s academic innovation team “try new things and new platforms,” including one that “has a huge potential to transform education,” he says.

The goal: maintaining the highest levels of academic excellence while advancing the conversation on what design education could look like in the pandemic and beyond.

Moving classes online in March because of the COVID19 pandemic required faculty to “quickly translate the individualized, embodied, and immersive learning that Taubman College does best into a stop-gap measure for virtual delivery,” says Anya Sirota, associate dean for academic initiatives and associate professor of architecture.

“We saw an opportunity to innovate and create spaces for collective learning and experience, and to evolve our culture of place, given the challenges posed by the pandemic — and we recognized that our community needed to lead that innovation,” says Sirota. “We wanted faculty and students to drive a smarter, more nuanced, and more inclu-

IF THINGS WERE GOING ACCORDING to plan, Ishan Pal, M.Arch ’20, would be in an office in Detroit right now, diving into post-graduation life at an architecture firm.


Beyond the immediate crisis, the college recognized the need to build on new knowledge about the challenges and opportunities of going virtual.


sive reentry strategy; at the same time, we wanted to ensure a continuity of our college’s culture and simultaneously engage as many people as possible in the co-creation of tools, methods, and strategies for a more humane and playful and engaged way of being together in this kind of space.” Though the four design competitions and other initiatives had their own unique purpose and point of view, a unifying thread was the engagement and involvement of Taubman College students. In total, close to 25 percent of the student body participated in one or more initiatives, gaining opportunities to work and build their portfolios in a challenging time for employment and travel. The summer innovations also provided a roadmap for the future, says Comerci: “By calibrating our recent teaching and learning experiences to offer greater flexibility, social connection, and experimentation, they suggest an opportunity to combine in-person and dispersed learning scenarios in productive and liberating ways.” One of the largest initiatives was Spatializing Digital Pedagogies, a grant program that invited students, alongside faculty and staff, to suggest ways the college can make the hybrid educational experience more compelling, either through utilizing existing tools or methodologies in a unique way, or building something entirely new to address the needs of distance learning.

(Opposite) “The beach” allowed students to safely gather this fall. (Above) channel TWO is one of 10 Spatializing Digital Pedagogies grantees.

One of the 10 projects awarded funding is channel TWO (Taubman Workshop Online). Guided by faculty members Julia McMorrough and John McMorrough, a team of five M.Arch students sought to translate elements of Taubman College’s culture and student experience that would typically take place in the Art and Architecture building, to an on-screen format. The first phase is a series of videos for incoming students who are new to a design school environment. These videos can also fill gaps for continuing students who miss the daily in-person exchanges that take place throughout the college — in essence, helping to build a stronger sense of community and connection in the face of social distance. One set of videos, entitled “How to,” tackled normally impromptu discussions like “How to make a lot of study models” and “How to make your drawing come alive.” “Not only did this project offer me work when opportunities were bleak, but it offered a chance to address the reason for opportunities being bleak: both academia and practice have long been dependent on communicating in person, and this project was born to initiate a rethinking of this apparent prerequisite,” says team member Tejashrii Shankar Raman, M.Arch ’21. “It has been insightful to be a part of a flagbearer initiative rooted in adaptability for changing times.” Another Spatializing Digital Pedagogies project, “Rigging Videography,” considered how to teach fabrication and prototyping work to dispersed students and created a duo-perspective video cart that captures lectures and demonstration videos for both synchronous and asynchronous teaching. Led by Assistant Professor Tsz Yan 21


Ng, a trio of digital and material technologies students developed the mobile recording studio, which they describe as “essentially a cooking show setup that promotes heuristic knowledge through making, an element that can be lost in remote teaching settings.” Since the video cart is webcam-ready, students can communicate live during Zoom calls to discuss their projects during remote desk crits. “It is about seeking to improve beyond what we are currently doing and being agile in adjusting to unexpected complex circumstances,” Ng says. Along the way, Pal — the 2020 graduate who joined Sirota’s academic innovation team because “the work was going to be extremely creative and exciting” — has been providing technical support and design flair. He first helped launch the Taubman College Care Package, a series of online teaching tutorials for faculty. From there, he supported Spatializing Digital Pedagogies and the other summer competitions, including serving as emcee for their concluding awards ceremonies, which were streamed on Twitch and are archived on Taubman College’s academic innovation website. Now his activities include beyond-Zoom lecture streaming. “Our goal is to make online lectures a lot more interesting than just sitting on a Zoom call,” he says. Pal has been working with Associate Professor Thom Moran to enhance lectures for the graduate architecture representation course; he also has been working with Eric Dueweke, lecturer in urban and regional planning, to digitize Dueweke’s annual bus tour of Detroit. In addition, he recently worked with Ellie Abrons and Meredith Miller, both associate professors of architecture, on an online lecture at the Cooper Union in which their avatars walked through virtual renderings of their work. “People lose concentration on Zoom because it’s so static on a screen,” Pal says. “I want to push education to the level of movies or social media, where you get the feed at the rate that your brain wants it or needs it.” Part of enhancing Taubman College’s digital community is giving it a hub. Launched just before final reviews in the spring, that’s the purpose of CMOK. Pronounced as an acronym, CMOK refers to the CMYK third-floor review space, one of Taubman College’s primary meeting spaces, and renders a hopeful message: “SEE-EM (I’M) – OK.” Associate Professors John McMorrough and Julia McMorrough came up with the title as a way to create empathy in the space between the real and the virtual. “In an age of COVID-19 constraints, we conceived the online site as way to create a new space of connectivity, community, energy, intellectual cross-pollination, and 22


serendipitous social encounters that are characteristic of our studio and commons spaces,” says Kathy Velikov, an associate professor of architecture who was part of the group leading the effort. By leveraging web-rendering technology combined with map-like operability, the website looks more like a game than a collaboration platform. Users can pan through the virtual “city” of objects and furniture to see what is happening at Taubman College; they also could drop in to active studio webinars to hear the conversation or follow the links to website galleries. Each object presents the opportunity to join a different part of the Taubman community and participate in the work they are doing. “In many ways, the modular and dynamically sortable space is a kind of calendar app. However, CMOK gives us something that calendars and emails cannot: a restored sense of place,” say Velikov and Oliver Popadich, M.Arch ’18, a Chicago-based designer, software developer, and engineer who was the site’s lead designer. “At a time punctuated by grids of floating heads, moving through the site’s landscape offers a sense that another big thing is happening just around the corner, and that all are invited to partake in the buzz at Taubman College.” During architecture final reviews in April, CMOK hosted the usual mix of faculty, students, and guest reviewers, but

(This page) The duo-perspective video cart was created with a Spatializing Digital Pedagogies grant. (Opposite) “Back to School,” by Adrian DiCorato, Waylon Richmond, Danrui Xiang, and Gary Zhang, took first place in Studio Redux, one of several design competitions that reimagined education in the pandemic and beyond.

“Our goal is to move from emergency remote instruction to resilient teaching, which sustains the imaginative discovery and peer-to-peer exchanges that enrich the design studio, but discards the challenges that traditional architecture education poses for many of our students — current and prospective.” — Dean Jonathan Massey it also offered outsiders a glimpse into the review process. Several M.Arch thesis reviews had 60 to 80 attendees listening in — including parents, alumni, and admitted students around the world — while the Thesis Super Jury had 456 unique logins. Other reviews were live streamed via Facebook for an even broader reach. Cyrus Peñarroyo, an assistant professor and coordinator of the spring 2020 thesis studios, says that even though the online format pushed students to think differently during a stressful time, they rose to the challenge: “Instead of aspiring to the typical pinup, my students took on the challenge of reformatting their work for the screen/ the internet by creating websites, videos, and other forms of interactive content that could live on after the review.” The university’s Office of Tech Transfer is working with Taubman College to develop future partnerships with industry to scale and replicate CMOK for a breadth of institutional and academic applications. Dean Jonathan Massey says that’s an important illustration of how tech-

nology can enhance education. The work of the academic innovation team this summer is another. Massey has been an advocate for reforming architecture education since he came to Taubman College in 2018 and says the pandemic has accelerated the need to deliver education in ways that are not only resilient in times of crisis but also lower barriers to entry for a diversity of talented students. He is excited by how the college’s recent innovations can be adapted in the future: “Our goal is to move from emergency remote instruction to resilient teaching, which sustains the imaginative discovery and peer-to-peer exchanges that enrich the design studio but discards the challenges that traditional architecture education poses for many of our students — current and prospective.” Pal, who has been knee-deep in the work, adds that the advantages of the new digital platforms ensure they will be part of educational delivery even when pandemicrelated necessity has passed: “From the momentum I’ve seen in the way things are going, I don’t think we’re ever going to go back to exactly how it used to be.”



A. In-betweens.

Q: What Are You Thinking About?

Why Is This Interesting to You? Despite the depth of our knowledge and experience as planners and architects, sometimes intervention from these angles is not the most urgent or important thing a community needs. An urban farm can help feed a community, more careful policy and creative subsidies can set the conditions for success, but are these the only tools we have? Today, communities also use technology to address urban needs. Apps like Lyft, data streams such as Open Street Maps, and new hardware like electric scooters are encroaching on urban practices that were previously left to traditional built-environment practices. Even when the outcome is not brick and mortar or policy and regulation, shouldn’t the voice of urban stewards like those who graduate from Taubman College be helping society navigate the in-betweens?

Bryan Boyer



What Are the Implications? In the future, the person who is designing the app that helps you catch the bus in your hometown may know as much about urban form as a planner and have as sensitive an eye for design as an architect. Our students will graduate with cities as their domain, technology as a skill, and design as their practice. Instead of buildings and urban spaces, they’ll be designing services that knit together our digital and physical lives to address some of the most important issues: housing, mobility, energy, governance, and more. Our students will balance an entrepreneurial spirit with a commitment to the importance of the public sector. Their work must balance bits and atoms, profit and purpose, speed and reflection. That’s the in-between I’m excited about. Bryan Boyer is an assistant professor of practice in architecture and director of the new Bachelor of Science in Urban Technology degree. He also is cofounder of the architecture and strategic design studio Dash Marshall, where he works with clients such as Google, Sidewalk Labs, IKEA, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Museum of Modern Art to understand and envision the role of technology in humane, just, and sustainable cities. He started his career in technology by designing and programming user interfaces for a number of early stage startups, and previously was cofounder of Helsinki Design Lab, which focused on policy issues such as carbon reduction, education, welfare services, and economic development. Follow his urban technology blog at urbantechnology.substack.com.


Q: What Are You Thinking About?

Transformational culture change and healing. Why Is This Interesting to You? I believe that we can live in a world where all people are treated like human beings. In our society, we have created systems that advance some people at the expense of oppressing many, dehumanizing us all in the process. My background is in racial justice community organizing. I have dedicated my career to working with organizations and communities to change these systems. Particularly, I’m interested in identity theory and how our intersectional identities play a role in access to resources and the value we assign to people. How can we use that access to make our systems more equitable so they can work for all? This requires that we look internally, healing from generational and cultural trauma. We must recognize and reconcile this trauma, individually and collectively. As we explore how professional culture is changing and will change as we work and learn from home, this is even more relevant. What Are the Implications? Professional culture is an extension of our societal values. With renewed attention to social movements, especially Black Lives Matter, and the way COVID-19 disrupted the way we learn and work, we have an opportunity to evaluate which values we want to change. At Taubman College, we are engaged in a comprehensive review of institutional policies and practices that may have

Joana Dos Santos

caused harm and perpetuate systems of oppression (such as white supremacy in organizational culture) in our college community. We already started by developing a racial equity framework, built on the past four years of our DEI strategic plan. Now, we are exploring how we can change norms such as perfectionism, sense of urgency, and defensiveness, for a more equitable value system built on appreciation, balanced work and timeframes, and vulnerable conversations. This can have a ripple effect, not only at the college, but in the professional practice of urban planning and architecture. Joana Dos Santos is the chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer at Taubman College. She is a DEI consultant and strategist with 15 years of experience working with organizations and communities to create social and systems change.



“Word-Banging” Dance? No Dance? or

Why re-imagine? By James A. Chaffers, M.Arch ’69, D.Arch ’71

IN EARLY-SUMMER OF 1993, I returned from a one month stay of research and study in Durban, South Africa. A national policy of Apartheid was in full force. As it would be, I returned to South Africa in the summer of 1995. A new constitution had officially ended Apartheid in 1994 and all conversation referring to intended policies for governing South Africa’s future centered around one of two phrases, ‘anti-Apartheid’ or ‘post-Apartheid.’ Twenty-five years later, I distinctly remember saying to myself that the answer to policies of Apartheid cannot include the word, “Apartheid.” Meaning, something of a conceptual leap would be required to provide a genuine ‘point of departure’ from the old. Fast-forwarding to Taubman 2020, I am disturbed by similar references to “racism.” Specifically, establishing “anti-racism” as a primary principle for going forward. If my assessment is reasonably accurate, ‘our crisis’ will not yield to labels, old or new. Nor, will it yield to ‘convenient thinking’ rooted in new, ‘old words.’ Rather, our old/new task, foremost, will require tapping our Taubman ‘talent well’ in ways never before asked (or imagined). Specifically, I see our task now, as not one of “problem solving”; nor is our present task a question of reordering priorities — reshuffling curriculum, et al. 26


Rather, the overriding challenge at hand becomes one of collectively re-examining and re-defining fundamental aims and purposes. Ultimately … “what is education for,” will surface as the simple question to be answered. A more personal, second question will also arise … “what is education in Taubman for?” Addressing this latter question, each of us sharing unequal love for this College will need to take pause and reflect deeply on what uniquely personal talent we might bring to matters at hand. In any event, in the end, an unprecedented ‘leap in imagination’ coupled with an unprecedented ‘leap in trust’ will be required. In balance with leaps in trust and imaginative dance, there is also need to make parallel leaps in creative thinking. With thinking understood as the ‘insightful dialogue’ we each hold with ourselves. And ‘words,’ as the medium through which we think. Connecting a few dots, what we need for our Taubman task is a trusted shared language. A, “DJA•wordMap” coded with commitments to dream-sharing, Earth-caring, and mutual em(power)ment — a pool of shared word•rhythms for a genuinely new ‘Taubman hip-hop’ to calibrate a genuinely new Taubman Compass.

A yet unsprung, un-contaminated “rap-hop(e),” springing forth from a fundamental understanding that America’s “racial problem” is not a problem of race. An insight that arises from our deeper understanding that ‘race’ is not a condition; rather, ‘race’ is an imposition. Meaning, the guidance of a shared ‘Taubman rap’ will lead us to talking more openly and honestly about matters of bigotry, brutality, pain, and privilege. Meaning, there is potential for a post-masking, poly­ cultural dance, but only if genuinely ‘in tune’ with two deeply anchoring pillars: a fundamental pillar of “Taubman trust” — requiring a personal, daily exercise of accountable ‘truth-speaking’ — and a fundamental pillar of “opportunity” ensuring equitable access to Taubman’s uncommon well of imagination. Tapping my forthcoming, SpaceSpirit WordAtlas: Design Compass for Millennium Visionaries, I offer four (of 24) wordMaps to further plumb our expanding well of conversation. 'krī-səs\ cri•sis n. 1. not to be confused with an “emergency” or with the pressing realities of a natural catastrophe. 2. a highlystressful (often, highly contentious) reality of ‘people-made’ relationships reflecting unique danger; but, also offering unique “opportunity.” J. Chaffers©

'kəlCHər \ culture n. entirely, people-made (entirely, ‘us’-made); sometimes enlarging, sometimes diminishing, never final … always “learned.” J. Chaffers© di•ver•si•ty \ dī'vərsədē v. 1.a. a verb. b. exercising our

personal “em(power)ment” in ways that sustain ‘larger’ connections between ourselves and others. c. not about being different ‘from’ others; rather, a celebration of being different ‘with’ others. J. Chaffers©

leadership \ 'lē-dər-ship” n. 1.a. not about “being led” or “leading others.” b. an inspiring act of (personal) caring; a compelling act of you and I investing as deeply as we can in the value of personal dreams and in the unique spirit(uality) of another or others — inspiring all. J. Chaffers© See you on the other side … James A. Chaffers is active emeritus professor of architecture and former founder-director of StudioAFRICA, Detroit ‘Storefront’ Studio, Basement Studio-Ann Arbor, Community by Design Studio-Taubman, 14-year senior design consultant, MLK National Memorial, Washington DC, ‘Invested’ Fellow, FAIA, American Institute of Architects, principal of jChaffers-Studio. 27


An Experimental Practice and an Innovative Presidency Associate Professor Kathy Velikov challenges the status quo as an architect, teacher, and ACADIA president By Julie Halpert

K ATHY VELIKOV VIEWS ARCHITECTURE as a tool for fostering inclusion and a diverse range of voices. Velikov, an associate professor of architecture, has spent much of her career focused on increasing diversity in her field. As the current president of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA), she has made attracting women to the organization a priority and views herself in a position to begin implementing change. “I advocate for diversity across its spectra of voices — gender, gender identity, racial, cultural, economic — as I believe that this makes for a more vital and vibrant design culture, community, and profession,” she says. Being a white cis female and an immigrant born in Bulgaria has shaped her identity “through specific forms of privilege, as well as discrimination.” Velikov, who was raised in Canada, has won numerous accolades, including the Architectural League Prize for young architects and the Canadian Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture. She started a private research-based practice called RVTR in Toronto in 2007 with three partners, including Geoffrey Thün, the associate dean for research and creative practice at Taubman College, who is her life partner as well. They specialize in using computational and materials technologies, experimenting with architectural materials and surfaces to respond to the environment and work on urban and territorial design and analysis. She and Thün now operate RVTR as a design research group within Taubman College. Velikov first came to the University of Michigan as an Oberdick Fellow in the 2006–2007 academic year, then returned as a full-time faculty member in 2009. Since RVTR was conceived of as a platform to pursue design research, teaching seemed to align with these aspirations. “It was incredibly enriching for me to be in the midst of vibrant intellectual conversation,” she says, adding that she’s “constantly inspired by the students” and the way that they see the world.



“Latitudo Borealis,� a hyper-local cold-climate wall assembly that combines new passive opaque building envelope technologies with exterior shading.


One of Velikov and Thün’s recent projects, along with Associate Professor Lars Junghans, is “Latitudo Borealis,” a hyper-local cold-climate wall assembly that combines new passive opaque building envelope technologies to heat a building during winter, with exterior shading to mitigate overheating during summer. The research encompasses the physical testing and optimization of high-performance envelope assemblies, the use of computational evolutionary algorithms in the design of highly tuned climate-informed shading configurations, and new tools and processes for precise robotic heat bending of wood. A paper about the project earned 2020 honors from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Velikov was introduced to ACADIA by colleagues in computational design. Since attending her first conference in 2011, she’s returned every year. She co-chaired the conference when the University of Michigan hosted it in 2016 and began serving on its board of directors that year. She took the helm as president in January 2018 and was re-elected twice. She has spent much of her time focusing on attracting more women to the typically white male-dominated field of computational design — something she’s seen firsthand. Though the makeup of her architecture school was 50 percent women, she began to see the gender inequities once she entered professional practice and even more so within specialization in computational design and technology. She was the only woman running for ACADIA’s 30


board in 2015, while only 25 percent of conference attendees were women from 2012 to 2015. Interested in establishing a climate that would discourage discrimination and harassment, one of her first moves was to develop codes of ethics and conduct to establish expectations for increasing inclusive and welcoming behavior in interactions in the organization. The goal, she says, was to create an infrastructure that supported systemic change. Velikov is particularly concerned by what she sees as “incredible inequity encoded within our systems,” adding, “I think that the computational design community needs to start to look at that a lot more seriously.” She used the 2020 virtual ACADIA conference in October as an opportunity to radically change the format, bringing voices into architectural discourse that have not been incorporated in discussions, those slightly outside the field of computational design. The conference focused on projects that demonstrate resilience in the computational design community in the face of crisis. Discussions encompassed the relationships between ecology and ethics, data and bias, automation

(Above) A composite image for “Latitudo Borealis” that summarizes the multi-domain research framework. (Opposite) A composite of 2020 ACADIA keynotes illustrates the predominance of female speakers.


“I advocate for diversity across its spectra of voices — gender, gender identity, racial, cultural, economic — as I believe that this makes for a more vital and vibrant design culture, community, and profession.” — Associate Professor Kathy Velikov

and agency, culture and access, labor and practice, and speculation and critique. Instead of the traditional keynote speeches, there were conversations among multiple speakers; 18 of the 21 speakers were women. Beyond considering equity in the programming, Velikov also worked to assure more equal access among participants. ACADIA worked with its longtime sponsor, Autodesk, to enable free registration for all students globally, as well as grants to enable the participation of under-represented students and faculty in the tech space workshops, in partnership with NOMA (the National Organization of Minority Architects). Velikov also partnered with schools of architecture in Mexico to provide student grants for the workshops. More than 850 students registered globally, many of whom have not been able to attend ACADIA conferences previously. Though a virtual conference means a loss of in-person interaction, it enabled “much more accessibility to a much wider

and much more diverse global constituency,” she says. “We’re very excited about that.” Her goal is to have women and people of color in positions where they influence topics, goals, and directions of the organization. “I think we won’t be able to tell how this might make durable change and tilt the needle for a few years,” she says. But she believes that this year’s conference “is going to be a powerful catalyst.” Diversity is important for the field of architecture’s sustainability, she says. “It’s essential that these things are not decided by a select few” and that there are more voices and perspectives. She’ll be stepping down from the president post this year, assuming the role of vice president, and is grateful to mark the end of her tenure with the conference. “It’s a really important initiative that I think will be quite significant for the future of ACADIA and hopefully for the larger discipline of architecture.” Velikov has brought her inclusion initiatives to Taubman College, as well. For the past two years, she’s been chair of the Studio Innovation Task Force, which is looking at ways to make the design studio more accessible and more equitable. With a colleague in the Department of Sociology, she recently won a grant from the university’s new Arts Initiative. Their project, called “Envisioning Real Utopias,” will involve a series of charrettes to facilitate discussions with faculty and students collaborating to design for the problem of inequality in wealth and housing. Even though her ACADIA presidency is ending, she plans to continue advocating and pushing for equity and inclusion in her field. “I feel like my work is only just beginning,” she says. 31


Survival Kit for American Cities Lecturer Kit McCullough and alumni offer insights on how to reinvigorate post-COVID urban spaces By Claudia Capos

MERE DAYS AFTER THE coronavirus caused governments to impose stay-at-home orders, once-vibrant downtowns became desolate. As those orders have been lifted and many businesses have reopened, albeit with new social-distancing and public-safety protocols, cities face their greatest challenges — and opportunities — in recent decades. Municipalities, business districts, and neighborhood groups are turning to architectural and urban designers, such as Kit Krankel McCullough, for help in reinvigorating urban spaces. A lecturer in architecture, McCullough has designed and directed revitalization projects for cities as diverse as Washington, D.C., and La Grange, Georgia. “In many ways, the coronavirus shutdown accelerated changes that were already under way in American cities,” says McCullough, who has a private consulting practice and teaches urban design, neighborhood development, transportation, and urban economics at Taubman College.

During the spring peak of the virus crisis in April, for example, telecommuting and distance learning skyrocketed while traditional commuting plummeted. Many cities closed off streets to vehicles, allowing more space for residents to walk and bike. Home delivery of food and other items burgeoned. Downtown parking spots were redeployed as pickup and delivery zones. The pandemic also brought unexpected benefits, such as a reduction in traffic deaths, rush-hour backups, and air pollution. Cities saw their cleanest air in decades. Yet McCullough and other urbanists are concerned about the long-term viability of American cities. She wonders whether hard-hit urban areas will experience a coronavirus-driven exodus reminiscent of white flight in the 1960s. “Before the pandemic, downtowns were ascendant and growing because people wanted to live, work, and play in densely populated urban spaces with lots of activities,” McCullough says. “If people no longer feel safe coming downtown and mingling with large crowds, I’m worried our cities will suffer.” What American cities need now more than ever, she says, is a survival kit to repair the damage wrought by the pandemic and to speed the recovery process.

Creating 20-Minute Neighborhoods

The trend toward telecommuting has led to a renewed focus on neighborhood surroundings and local amenities. To attract and retain urban dwellers who want the convenience of living close to shops and services, cities are creating “20-minute neighborhoods.” The concept, first popularized in Portland, Oregon, involves embedding small businesses in residential enclaves. These “urban villages” are designed so residents can walk or bike to restaurants, coffee shops, and stores within 20 minutes. “The value of walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods became evident during the coronavirus lockdown, when people suddenly needed the ability to access goods and services locally,” McCullough says. To encourage the evolution of 20-minute neighborhoods, cities may have to modify their zoning ordinances to allow mixed-use development with sufficient housing density to support retail shopping. Other proactive measures include



offering economic incentives for small businesses, installing new pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and ensuring any new development is architecturally compatible with the surrounding area. Real estate developer Alex DeCamp, M.U.P. ’12, and his partner, Reimer Priester, are co-owners of Villages Property Management. In the Villages of Detroit, they have completed three mixed-use redevelopment projects along the revitalized Kercheval Avenue and restored numerous duplexes and single-family homes as well as two apartment buildings. “We believe in walkability and embrace the concept of the 20-minute neighborhood,” DeCamp says. Investments in residential and retail development in the Villages, he says, have improved the amenities for residents, increased property values, attracted additional in-fill development, and bolstered tax revenues needed for enhancing infrastructure, parks, and public safety. “Previously, the Kercheval corridor lacked any development and had a lot of crime,” says DeCamp. “Now it’s a pleasant destination where parents can feel safe walking with their kids.”

Fostering Missing Middle Housing

Recent trends in urban-housing design also have accelerated in the wake of the pandemic. “The popularity of single-family homes has been softening for decades,”

(Above) Student project for Northwest Detroit by Corey Blaskie, Adrian Bonnin, and Frank Gibase.

McCullough says. “And post-COVID, I don’t see a great demand for high-rise residential towers anymore.” Many residents who were cooped up in shoebox-size apartments or condos due to stay-at-home orders are reevaluating their living situation and looking for alternatives, just in case similar orders are issued in the future. In recent years, McCullough has seen a significant rise in market demand for “missing middle housing,” which falls midway between single-family homes and multi­ family high-rises. “If people are working from home, they want to live in a small apartment building, duplex, or townhouse with more square footage, a private entrance, a balcony or terrace, and outdoor green space,” McCullough says. These types of missing middle housing, she adds, can be inserted into single-family neighborhoods to add enough density to sustain small, local businesses while retaining the neighborhood’s original character. Urbanists call this “gentle densification.” Missing middle housing faces headwinds, however. Typically, real estate developers prefer to build large-scale housing projects that attract public-private investment and yield hefty returns. In addition, many cities’ zoning laws prohibit the construction of apartment buildings in single-family neighborhoods. But that is beginning to change. “Last year, Minneapolis revised its zoning ordinances to allow developers to build up to three residential units on any parcel of land zoned for single-family homes,” 33


“Before the pandemic, downtowns were ascendant and growing because people wanted to live, work, and play in densely populated urban spaces with lots of activities. If people no longer feel safe coming downtown and mingling with large crowds, I’m worried our cities will suffer.” — Lecturer in Architecture Kit Krankel McCullough McCullough says. “Other cities are looking to do a similar thing to meet the increasing demand for this scale of housing.”

disconnect, according to Kumon, has been exacerbated by demographic shifts, such as the shrinking size of American households.

At Minneapolis-based Incremental Development Alliance, executive director Jim Kumon, B.S. ’05, and his staff are providing training and technical assistance to help developers, cities, and nonprofit groups ramp up small-scale real estate developments nationwide.

“People now want to live in places with walkable neighborhoods and small-scale housing,” Kumon says. “We’re trying to help individuals and cities rediscover the lost art of developing these places.”

“Missing middle housing is the fabric of our legacy cities and one of the building blocks of our neighborhoods,” Kumon says.

Small retail stores and family-owned restaurants were shuttered for weeks during the pandemic, with many suffering catastrophic losses.

Over the last 60 years, the relentless development of massive multifamily complexes and sprawling single-​ family subdivisions has left the U.S. with a mismatch between the small-scale residences people need, want, and can afford and the existing housing stock. This



Leveling the Playing Field

“The shutdown illustrated what is essential to the functioning of our society ― the layers we ignored or that were somewhat hidden, such as transit, deliveries, groceries, supply chains, schools, and the public health care system,” McCullough says. “I’m concerned many local retailers and

restaurants won’t survive. Do we really want a world where all of our needs, including groceries, are only obtainable on Amazon?” To retain the unique local flavor of downtown shopping and dining districts, cities may need to level the playing field for family-run businesses that are competing with deep-pocketed chain stores. For instance, McCullough suggests capping the size of downtown retail space to make smaller-footprint stores available and affordable for small business owners. Coronavirus-driven limits on the number of customers permitted in shops and sit-down restaurants could be eased by allowing local businesses to expand outdoors into parking lots, streets, and plazas. In addition, farmers markets selling local produce and handicrafts could be relocated to airy public parks to encourage safe distancing.

Redressing Social Inequities

Substantial evidence indicates that the coronavirus has disproportionately affected low-income minority residents in urban areas. “We have known that the structural racism in our society is spatial ― literally in the structure of our cities ― but the pandemic has laid this bare,” McCullough says. “African Americans have been contracting and dying from COVID-19 at a far greater rate than whites.”

and obesity because they live in food deserts with higher levels of air pollution and industrial contaminants. “In Detroit, there are people who can’t wash their hands because their water has been shut off,” McCullough says. “Some of my Taubman students were unable to continue their studies online because they lacked access to robust internet service in their neighborhoods.” McCullough cautions that conditions are likely to worsen without decisive action to mitigate long-standing social inequities. “I hope the pandemic will finally provide the impetus we need to address these issues comprehensively.”

Looking to the Future

McCullough remains cautiously optimistic that American cities can survive the coronavirus pandemic, achieve greater resilience, and resume their growth. “If you think about New York City in the 1980s or Detroit in the 2000s, when conditions were so dire, there were cool things happening in music venues and restaurants,” she says. “Rents were affordable, and people had more leeway for creative pursuits.” With perseverance and luck, cities may once again experience a renaissance driven by hardscrabble innovators, entrepreneurs, and artists.

Spatial conditions, like limited access to health care, nutritious food, clean water, and reliable transportation have increased the vulnerability of disadvantaged communities. Many urban dwellers also suffer from asthma, diabetes,

“In the aftermath of the coronavirus lockdown, people have come to appreciate the value of the public realm and the social interaction our cities provide,” McCullough says. “I think this realization will incentivize us to invest in our cities, neighborhoods, and social structure.”

(Opposite and above) Student project for North Corktown, Detroit, by Sara Alsawafy, Erin Bolin, and Zhenkun Zhang.

This story originally appeared in Michigan Alumnus, the magazine of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan. 35

HEL P US BU IL D TOMORR OW Born and raised in Arizona, Isabelle Borie, M.Arch ’22, knew she wanted to pursue her graduate education in a different climate. As an undergraduate at Arizona State University, “most of our projects centered on the desert environment and trying to keep things cool. I wanted to get my M.Arch at a place where I’d be exposed to new environments and challenges,” she says. Ultimately, receiving a scholarship helped her choose Taubman College. “Out-of-state tuition is so expensive, and to have such a prestigious school give me that type of opportunity to continue my education was exciting. It was my ticket to get the different experiences I had been hoping for.” Once on campus, Isabelle joined the Architectural Representative Committee as their sustainability liaison, expanding on an interest she had developed through earning her LEED Green Associate certification. She also took advantage of opportunities to engage with Taubman alumni, a habit she formed as a prospective and admitted student. “I had a few informational interviews with alumni, and I really enjoyed getting to know them and hearing about their Michigan experiences,” she says. “After being in the workforce for a couple of years, I knew how important and valuable those type of connections are.”

A gift to Taubman College supports the next generation of leaders in architecture and planning. Visit taubmancollege.umich.edu/give.






A Commitment to Lifelong Learning Lives On DON HARTWICK, B.ARCH ’68, was a passionate lifelong learner. His daughter, Kim Reinsch, remembers, “Dad was always about the constant evolution of learning and asking questions and wondering.” He taught his three children to expect the best for themselves and to value education and community. When Don passed away in 2016, his children wanted to honor his legacy in a way that felt authentic to how he lived his life. To daughter Jill Ham, A.B. ’90, establishing a scholarship in his honor at Taubman College was an easy decision. “It’s a way of staying connected to my dad,” Jill shares. “I know we are fulfilling something my dad would be so proud of.” Don’s children, along with their aunt, Dianne, created the Hartwick Family Scholarship to support undergraduate architecture students. To the Hartwicks, the University of Michigan is more than just their dad’s alma mater — it’s part of their family history dating back to 1914. Don followed his father and grandfather to U-M, a legacy he was incredibly proud of. After he passed, his kids found a letter Don wrote to his father during his first year at U-M, documenting his excitement and pride at experiencing the university he had grown up hearing about. And Don was excited to bring his children into that generational tradition, too. Don’s son, Chad, remembers, “Saturday afternoon growing up as kids was Michigan football Saturday.” After graduating with his B.Arch, Don built a long and respected career practicing architecture in the Lansing area. His kids remember his high professional standards and immense pride in his work. Throughout his life he remained highly invested in his community, actively serving on zoning boards and as treasurer of the AIA MidMichigan. Everyone in the family knew that Tuesday

True Blue: Don Hartwick, B.Arch ‘68, followed his father and grandfather to U-M, a legacy he was incredibly proud of.



mornings were reserved for Rotary Club. He loved his family and went above and beyond to fuel his kids’ passions — whatever they may be. Chad recalls his father, a terrible golfer, taking dozens of books on golf out of the library to encourage his son’s growing love of the sport. This idea of fueling others’ passions is a lesson from their dad that the Hartwick siblings wanted to keep alive. Establishing the Hartwick Family Scholarship in his honor at Taubman College was the perfect way to do this, and they’ve found that the experience has affected them all in profound and surprising ways. Says Jill, “This was a way of staying connected to Michigan. I feel like I got out of it so much more than what I gave.” The three siblings have taken opportunities to connect with the students the scholarship supports, taking pride in their work and rooting for their success — the way Don taught them to.

“This is what the man cared about — fueling your passion — so let’s help somebody else fuel their passion.” — Chad Hartwick, son of Don Hartwick, B.Arch ’68 Don’s children describe conversations with their dad on topics he was passionate about as some of the best of their lives. He was thrilled to learn new information — especially when it was one of his kids teaching him something new. His passion for learning and architecture will live on with every student who receives the Hartwick Family Scholarship. As Chad put it, “This is what the man cared about — fueling your passion — so let’s help somebody else fuel their passion.” From its beginnings in 1914, the Hartwick family legacy at U-M will continue. — Maya Fehrs



Gentrification Isn’t a Four-letter Word As head of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Ken Knuckles, B.S. ’73, led urban renewal through commercial development THE HARLEM AND BRONX of Ken Knuckles’s childhood looked very different than the Harlem and Bronx of today. Knuckles, B.S. ’73, is a big reason why. The passion for equity that fueled his career took root in the times he grew up in. He was raised in adjacent Mt. Vernon, New York, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement and amid the middle-class migration from the cities to the suburbs. As a result of neglect and many years of economic disinvestment, Harlem — the once-vibrant epicenter of Black culture — fell into disrepair. The Bronx, for similar reasons, did too — long before the country took notice during the 1977 World Series when broadcaster Howard Cosell intoned, “The Bronx is burning,” as he observed fires from abandoned properties near Yankee Stadium. In 1965, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Knuckles joined the Army at the age of 17. He later earned an architecture degree at Michigan and a law degree at Howard University during the 1970s, a time when he says racial and economic equity was a chief concern on the country’s landscape. “I always thought that my lot in life, given the opportunities that I’ve been given, was to be an activist in the realm of economic opportunity,” he says. “There are people who do heroic work in the streets. But it’s left to those of us who have access to the lever of government, and those of us who have access to capital, to formulate policy that is in furtherance of the activism that is being executed in the streets.” Knuckles has leveraged access to both the government and capital during his career, with the goal of making New York’s neighborhoods — especially those that are home to the city’s most vulnerable populations — better.

Ken Knuckles, B.S. ‘73, on 125th Street, the heart of Harlem, which has seen an influx of commercial development in recent years — including the first major-chain hotel in a half century.





“Without the investment that the Empowerment Zone has made, Harlem and Upper Manhattan would not have moved forward in the way that they have.” — Ken Knuckles, B.S. ’73

Most recently, during his 15-year tenure as the president and CEO of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ), Knuckles focused on economic development as a catalyst for job creation — the idea being that local jobs for local residents result in housing security and stronger neighborhoods. UMEZ is one of nine Empowerment Zones that the Clinton administration created in 1994 to assist areas that had the highest concentration of poverty based on the 1990 census. Then-Representative Charles B. Rangel, the long-serving Congressman representing Harlem and its adjacent neighborhoods, convinced New York City Mayor David Dinkins and New York Governor Mario Cuomo to each match the federal government’s $100 million appropriation to New York City; as a result, the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation had a seed fund of $50 million and UMEZ’s was $250 million. As UMEZ began its mission of job creation through private investment, “the pivotal decision was to not grant or gift all the funds, but rather to lend a good portion of them,” says Knuckles, who took the helm of the organization in 2003. “As a result, our Empowerment Zone was not only the largest and most successful, as a result of repaid loans, it is still in existence.” By the time Knuckles retired in 2018, UMEZ had invested almost $242 million as loans for mixed-use real estate development, commercial businesses, and small-business enterprises; tax-exempt bonds for real estate development projects; and grants focused on arts and culture and workforce development. The investments have leveraged more than $1.1 billion of private capital invested in Upper Manhattan, which, in turn, has created nearly 10,000 direct jobs. “Without the investment that the Empowerment Zone has made, Harlem and Upper Manhattan would not have moved forward in the way that they have,” says Knuckles. For example, Knuckles spearheaded a $10 million loan 42


behind substantial investment from Goldman Sachs to build a Marriott hotel on Harlem’s iconic 125th Street. When it is completed, it will be the first major-chain hotel in Harlem in more than 50 years — and will bring a couple hundred jobs with it. “The average hotel worker in New York City earns $53,000 a year. Those are good jobs. Our mission is to make sure as many Upper Manhattan residents as possible get those jobs,” Knuckles says. He acknowledges, however, that forward progress can be controversial. The hotel soars above the historic Victoria Theater; a Banana Republic outlet sits next to the legendary Apollo Theater. With the influx of commercial development, housing prices and rents in Upper Manhattan have skyrocketed. And the ensuing influx of non-traditional residents, namely affluent Caucasians, has caused critics to lament the gentrification of the area. “The challenge is to now make sure that those who weathered the storm can afford to be there to enjoy the resurgence. But I believe that challenge is better than the ones we faced when I left for the University of Michigan in 1969 — when things in these neighborhoods were really dire,” Knuckles says. He points to the 2017 opening of a Whole Foods in Harlem as an example of how commercial development can enhance a community. While the corporation did not apply for UMEZ assistance — “It was private development that I couldn’t have stopped if I’d wanted to,” Knuckles notes — it did talk with Knuckles about employment opportunities for local residents, as well as how to create an in-store presence for local entrepreneurs like Sylvia’s Restaurant. “They’ve been good neighbors,” Knuckles adds. While not the focus of the Empowerment Zone’s investments, housing also plays a major role in neighborhood revitalization. Knuckles saw that relatively early in his career, when he left his role as counsel to the New York City Civil Service Commission to join the city’s Depart-

ment of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). Just two years later, in 1987, he jumped at the chance to become deputy Bronx borough president under Fernando Ferrer. A decade after that infamous World Series, the Bronx was no longer burning, “but it was still smoldering,” says Knuckles. Thousands of “in rem” housing units lay abandoned, with the city as de facto landlord. Ferrer tasked Knuckles to work with HPD on programs targeting the borough’s nearly 30,000 units of abandoned housing. A year later, when Mayor Ed Koch reallocated $5 billion from the city’s capital infrastructure budget toward housing restoration — a move necessitated by the Reagan administration’s disinvestment in urban housing nationwide — “we made it our business to be first in line,” Knuckles says. He and his team plotted out critical areas where they could align city revitalization funds with in rem housing in the borough. The first target: the I-95 corridor, heavily used by commuters, truckers, and tourists alike. “Traveling through the Bronx on I-95, you’d see nothing but gutted-out buildings,” Knuckles notes. “If we were going to reverse the ship, that image needed to change.” Today, with some 200,000 units of rehabilitated housing, “the Bronx still has challenges, but abandoned housing is no longer one of them,” he says.

At UMEZ, Kunckles focused on economic development as a catalyst for creating jobs that benefit local residents.

A year before Knuckles became the head of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, he was appointed vice chair of the New York City Planning Commission; he still serves in that role today. It has provided an important lens through which to see the bigger picture of equity in New York. “The solemn truth of development in New York is that you cannot build housing, certainly privately, for only low-income people. It’s just not financially viable. So in order to build housing with affordability, you’ve got to cross-subsidize affordable units with market-rate units.” He points to the city’s zoning laws as exemplars, noting that developers cannot have their land parcels up-zoned unless they provide at least 25 percent of the planned units at a rate that is affordable to the city’s average median income earner. “I think New York City has done more than virtually any other city in the United States to offset the impact of gentrification by providing housing subsidies,” he says. Yet at the same time, he gets the argument, affordable for whom? “I certainly understand that it’s a real challenge, and to some degree a byproduct of the activity that UMEZ has stimulated in Upper Manhattan,” Knuckles says. “But I don’t think it’s a zero-sum game. In order to have renewal, you need economic integration — and you need some level of gentrification to bring that about.” — Amy Spooner


A Safe Neighborhood Shouldn’t Be a Privilege Janell O’Keefe, M.U.P./M.S.W. ’11, is empowering residents to address vacancy in their neighborhoods



GROWING UP IN AN AFFLUENT, primarily white neighborhood that borders Detroit, Janell O’Keefe witnessed one of the starkest city/suburb divides in the country. She recalls becoming aware of the situation when she was in middle school, not understanding why people who looked more like her lived on one side of the border and those who did not lived on another. She’s grateful for the privileges stemming from a financially comfortable household, a quality education, and life in a safe neighborhood. But she remained troubled that just a few blocks away was an abundance of vacant homes. “A safe neighborhood shouldn’t be a privilege,” she says. O’Keefe, M.U.P./M.S.W. ’11, has spent the bulk of her career trying to address the systems that enable these fault lines. “So many of our current real estate and land use policies and systems create and perpetuate inequity,” says O’Keefe, who is also a licensed realtor in the state of Michigan. As the program officer for Michigan initiatives at the Center for Community Progress, she works with


“This is where my passion and skills intersect. I feel fortunate that intersection involves work that can help make life more equitable for everyone.” — Janell O’Keefe, M.U.P./M.S.W. ’11

communities to help them change their systems in order to address and prevent vacancy. “It is a key puzzle piece in getting to a place where everyone lives in an equitable community with real opportunity,” she says. Places suffering from large-scale vacancy are often historically redlined communities, typically populated by people of color who experience other inequities like lack of access to nutritious food, clean air, and healthy drinking water. The Center for Community Progress works with the key policy tools that can reduce vacancy, like strategic code enforcement, property tax systems, land banking, and vacant land reuse and management. Land banks, for example, can be a tool for returning properties to marketability by eliminating title liabilities and transferring them to new owners. With the appropriate equitable, effective, and efficient policies and systems in place, the goal is that everyone can live in communities where they can be safe, be healthy, and thrive, O’Keefe says: “We want people to live where vacancy is no longer a problem, where kids walking home from school aren’t worried about the empty house next door.” The related goal is that residents lead the way in reforming their neighborhoods. “Community Progress is focused on giving people the knowledge and resources that they need to affect change,” O’Keefe adds. O’Keefe previously worked for Keep Growing Detroit, an urban agriculture organization she co-founded, where she supported gardeners and farmers in land acquisition and navigating local zoning policy related to urban agriculture. Additionally, she worked for the U-M School of Social Work Technical Assistance Center, and while there, she worked with Peter Allen, a U-M lecturer, to develop Real Estate Essentials, a course that taught Detroit residents the basics of real estate development so they could become developers in their neighborhoods. Now known

as Better Buildings, Better Blocks, the program won a $150,000 Knight Cities Challenge grant in 2017, which allowed O’Keefe to transition the program to Building Community Value, a Detroit-based organization, and for them to take the program to scale. O’Keefe currently serves as a technical adviser, along with three other Taubman College alumni. To date, more than 300 Detroit residents have participated; many are buying houses on their blocks and living in or renting them. “It’s inspiring to see how people have leveraged the knowledge,” O’Keefe says. O’Keefe believes that as a person with privilege, it’s her responsibility to speak up and elevate the voices of others: “White people created and perpetuate these issues. It’s our responsibility to help dismantle them.” She’s intent on using the “fantastic education” that she received “at one of the best universities in the world” to help others who don’t have the same opportunities. After living for several years in Detroit, today O’Keefe lives in a suburb that is 91 percent white — not as diverse as she would like. But, she says, “I am probably more useful living in a place with white people who don’t always think like me than I am in a place with more like-minded residents.” She points to a local initiative to fund transportation systems; it passed in her county by only 23 votes, including hers. O’Keefe recognizes that addressing racial inequity is a big and complex problem and says that the planning field as a whole “still has a lot to grapple with when it comes to equity.” She sees her professional contribution continuing to be centered on vacant property. “This is where my passion and skills intersect. I feel fortunate that intersection involves work that can help make life more equitable for everyone.” — Julie Halpert 45


Living a Double Consciousness: The Complexities of Navigating White Supremacy While Black By Christopher Locke, M. Arch ’16, Design Activist, Filmmaker, Black Man Co-Founder of Designing in Color + Designer Egan Simon Architecture

THE PREVALENCE OF WHITE SPACE is a suffocating phenomenon. Omnipresent and ominous, in many circumstances the trauma it inflicts will leave its victims at the mercy of gasping for air. I’ve had to evade it during my time in school — yes, including Taubman College — and in my professional career. In architecture, the arrangements of its spatial hierarchies, formal languages, ignorance, and consistent pressures of cultural erasure, for and sustained by white people and contrary to the belief of some designers, is not just an issue dependent on the configurations of poorly designed modernist buildings. Instead, it explicitly relies on the preservation of white supremacy and complicity of reinforcing racist policy found in racialized space. White space is characterized by its consistent exclusion and harm of minoritized identities. As of October 2020, black people have accounted for 28 percent of those killed by police despite being only 13 percent of the population in the United States. Quite frankly, for me, white space is terrifying. Weaponized as a tool to suppress and violently erect experiences that dehumanize black people, architecture is an apparatus of brutality. The tools of this trade have existed for centuries and have continued to participate in the building of racism. While the patriarchal whiteness of the profession will likely remain an overwhelming presence in my life, I will never submit to it or become a scapegoat for black tokenism to make anyone feel comfortable. That is a necessary, vulnerable work of an Afrofuturist design-activist. I have decided to write this piece not to address the sensitivity of white fragility. Nor fulfill the need of approval for white allies seeking the praise of white saviorism. The reality is black people are not in need of saving. In fact, 46


we have been conditioned to consistently be in a state of survival to protect the growth of black excellence. This fight-or-flight awareness is well described by W.E.B. Du Bois as living in a double consciousness. “It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness, an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife — this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost.” — W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (Dover Publications, 1903) Living with the burden of a double consciousness is exhausting. It requires the self-preservation of one's identity and the survival of your humanity in white space. It is Black America’s coping mechanism for the constant feeling of living in fear of racism. This awareness has been ingrained into the African diaspora since the inception of some of the first racialized spaces aboard the ships of the Middle Passage. For those unaware, this was the fatal and excruciating journey enslaved Africans had to endure on their unwilling path to the Americas. If you survived the consistent brutality of white tradesmen and handlers, you were stripped of your native tongue, separated from your tribe, and sold

as a tool who would be forced to build the racist structures that centuries later would continue to dehumanize your existence and ability to simply ... breathe. In 2020 we find ourselves in a place where white space needs to be deconstructed, decolonized, and dismantled in order to obtain any progression for liberation of black and brown people. White allies and co-conspirators must prioritize the work of unbuilding the racism that has existed in academia, the practice, and historically silenced communities. It is as much a spatial issue as it is policy reconstruction, and the reason why my organization Designing in Color exists today. ABOLITIONIST DESIGNERS OF CULTURE Designing in Color (DCo) is an Afrofuturists’ manifestation. As a black-centered and led organization, we emulate the innovations of liberation as realized by the virtuous ambitions of Harriet Tubman. As one of the greatest Afrofuturist and spatial justice designers within the African diaspora, Harriet Tubman not only imagined a world in which blacks would be freed, she created it. Constructed via a network of safe spaces, the Underground Railroad enabled the possibility of freedom for hundreds of enslaved blacks. It is in many ways a foundational project for understanding what designers, planners, and policymakers can achieve in endless pursuit of unbuilding racism in a built environment. This is the root in which DCo anchors its growth.

Assembled in the fall of 2016, months after my graduating from Taubman College, DCo launched on a mission unpopular to architecture. As an award-winning collective of Abolitionist Designers of Culture, our mission is to diversify the way architecture is taught and practiced to amplify marginalized communities who’ve been historically silenced and erased throughout the design process, all while dismantling the systemic racism built into the education and practice of architecture. Our work prioritizes the redevelopment of design pedagogy that positions the realization of decolonizing Eurocentric critical thinking through the liberation and distribution of power to those excluded from the public process of building space. Performed through organizing workshops, educational programming, digital initiatives, and community responsive projects, our platform is intrigued by the intersectionality of diverse processes that result in spatial justice that changes lives. We do not subscribe to the endless exercises of form making or design explorations embedded within the irresponsibility of modernism. Practiced by the likes of Le Corbusier and the controversial architect and author of the essay “Architecture of the Third Reich,” Philip Johnson, modernism was one of the first translations of building white supremacy into U.S. cities in the early 20th century. As Michael Ford, aka the Hip-Hop Architect, has vividly stated, “Hip-Hop is the post-occupancy evaluation of Modernism.” The resilience of impoverished black and 47

brown neighborhoods are the conditions that Hip-Hop culture has rhymed about in an effort to narrate the trauma, neglect, and brutality of racialized spaces. The cadences and rhythmic hooks are the architectures of a spatial language that details the inequities that lie present at the feet of Eurocentric design ideologies created by white men in power. It is this same foundation of ideologies that are responsible for the pedagogies of design education till this day in academia. The reverence for white male architects has continued to dominate how the curriculum is constructed to teach students how to rationalize and decide who can contribute to the theory of space. This endless cycle often results in unconscious exclusion. This is one inequity DCo is fighting to decolonize. The vision and goals of the organization were the culmination of my negative experiences of living a double consciousness in the predominantly white design curriculum of the architecture design education. In my case, this revolved around my time at the University of Michigan and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. As one of about six black students in a class of about 140 students who graduated from Taubman College’s Master of Architecture program in 2016, there was always a crude reminder of the white space that dominated the school. I had two roles to play: assimilate to be embraced by the likes of my white colleagues or stand out as one of a few black students who stood for justice and liberation. Traversing dual roles proved to be an impossible task in a school of very few black professors. It is why I was one 48


of two co-leaders of ARC, a predominantly white student space, and involved in NOMAS, a predominantly studentof-color space. The same divide in students was present in the faculty, where the critique of the contributions of black-centered work was scrutinized as not being foundational to historical architecture methodologies. The practice of disregarding the contributions of black educators to the profession is present in the studio and classrooms, where the multicultural identities of students are suppressed at the expense of preserving the rhetoric of white educators. In my case, this resulted in my ideas and concepts of dismantling the politicized space of architecture being misunderstood or stricken down. This was true of my thesis, final reviews, theory courses, or even in my interactions outside of the rigors of studio. Positioning the powers and privileges of white educators as the center of design education and the outcome of student work devalues the development liberation of marginalized identities and cultures of non-white space that exist in the country. Currently, to solve this issue, the response of the institutions and organizations in practice is to move swiftly to Band-Aid decades of unjust decisions. My associates and I at Designing in Color think this process is neither sustainable nor yields measurable results. Channeling the wisdom of the Afrofuturist Harriet Tubman, DCo developed the Designing with Action (DwA) program, a series of workshops that prioritize the implementation of design justice at firms, community organizations, and universities. It begins by using DCo’s three-step core process of challenge, collaboration, and create. Community organizing and capacity building at any scale involve a critical understanding of the systems

(Left) “Streaming Blackness,” from 2015’s Wet the Ropes studio, taught by Robert Adams. (Right) The Designing in Color team, from left to right: Olga Bracamontes, Jonathan Sharp, Rubin Quarcoopome, Opalia Meade, Locke, and Brian Wisniewski.

that need to be challenged, the people who are often excluded from collaborations, and innovative processes of creating content or space for quieted voices. We center the program on the question, What does it mean to practice as an anti-racist or a complicit racist designer? We believe a critical component of design activism involves the accountability of understanding how individuals play a role in sustaining injustices. This includes white firm owners and tenured members of faculty who have the privilege of ignoring the results of the racist policy at the expense of perpetuating a cycle of exclusion. By unpacking the history of racialized space and the exploitative practices of European imperialism and colonization, architects and educators can understand how the profession has played a pivotal role in building white supremacy in America. Through the understanding of this research, we work with our partners in developing and implementing key strategies that put liberation and justice at the forefront of their practices. One of those strategies starts at the scale of an individual's responsibility to enact safe space around themselves. Inspired by W.E.B. Du Bois, we call this building a spatial consciousness. On a daily basis, racism systematically operates similar to the structure of an iceberg. Imagine this as a section-cut: the most heinous and egregious crimes are visible above the surface; however, beneath the white thin layer lies an endless abyss of microaggressions that reinforce racist policy. Building a spatial consciousness begins to dissolve the impact of how individuals who harness power and privilege can impact the space and people around them. When thinking about this strategy, consider four key items. When Designing and Organizing Space I Should … Actively Practice a Double Consciousness How do I live in fear of the impacts of my power, positions, and privilege as it relates to social and racial injustices? White people must continuously build an awareness of their presence in space and its impact on others. Black people have done this to survive. White people must do this to disarm racism. Identify Racialized and Discriminatory Space How do the spaces I inhabit and design create racialized space? How are people around me oppressed as a result? Identifying possible exclusion is a key step at undoing harm to silenced voices. What Are My Ability Biases? An ability bias is a tendency to solve a problem while using your own abilities as a baseline. Identify your

biases and actively understand how they can be an asset or detriment to those around you. By doing this, it will be possible to undo the colonization process of building white supremacy and Eurocentric ideals into space or curricula. Practice Interdependence Interdependence is the matching of complementary skills and mutual contributions. It is often a key component of disability justice. Identifying and integrating key systems of projects and staff that are dependent on each other can increase the likelihood of success for everyone. It is a village mentality. Examples of these four key strategies only begin to build the accountability and responsibility of one's self in space and the process of creating just environments with communities. ONWARD Commodifying hostile spaces is engraved into the historical injustices of this country. How do we dismantle them? Like a fish out of water that is unaware of its environment for the entirety of its existence, white people are conditioned to benefit from racism, whether it is realized or not. For decades, black people have had to fight for space equity at the risk of their lives, jobs, or sense of security. The 1965 Watts Riots, the 1919 Chicago Race Riots, the murder of George Floyd, the assassination of Breonna Taylor, or the thousands dead from COVID-19 are all occurrences that weaken the collective body of Black America. No matter the circumstance, there is always a feeling of loss. To my former white professors, colleagues, allies, and conspirators, unbuild your own racism. This requires relinquishing some of the power and privileges you’ve been awarded since birth. Be an agent of change who raises the bottom line of equity for the humanity of all spectrums of life. Blacks have always led civil rights movements in this country. We have made progress, but yet we sit here traumatized by the blatant disregard this country has for our lives. We are said to be liberated but yet are still treated like three-fifths of a person. We are thought of as having contributed to the architectural profession but have not received any of the 41 Pritzker Prize awards. While many of us remain stuck at home, the time for change is now and white leaders are needed to not only support the movement, but help lead it. Not as saviors of the system but people who have power and influence to make generational change. Again, black people are not in need of saving. But damn, would we sure like to breathe peacefully at night, ‘cause navigating white space while black sure ain’t easy. 49


Don’t Be the Silencer of Your Own Voice Khalilah Burt Gaston, M.U.P. ’08, says that drawing connections between the interpersonal and the systemic is the key to our path forward IN 2020, MANY PEOPLE HAVE had insomnia. But while most lay in bed with anxious thoughts on an endless loop, Khalilah Burt Gaston got to work. “It was born of curiosity,” she says of the 4 a.m. query she lobbed out on social media, seeing if anyone wanted to participate in a Detroit version of Share the Mic Now. “I wondered if there were women who were ready to be brave and enter into hard conversations.” The answer was yes.



In the wake of George Floyd’s murder in June, celebrity women began amplifying the voices of Black women through their social media platforms. The campaign, known as Share the Mic Now, grew to include locally produced, interracial conversations between women in cities across the United States. Gaston’s original goal for Share the Mic Now: Detroit was to host five conversations; she and her team ended up hosting 26 involving more than 50 women during 10 days in August. Thousands of people viewed the conversation videos on social media and can continue to do so on Facebook.

“It was born of curiosity. I wondered if there were women who were ready to be brave and enter into hard conversations.” — Khalilah Burt Gaston, M.U.P. ’08 “It exceeded my expectations tenfold,” says Gaston, M.U.P. ’08. Gaston, for whom racial equity has been the underlying thread of her career, was eager to talk about race when she first moved to Detroit after graduating from Michigan. She says she was naïve about the region’s deep-seated dynamics and that others were equally naïve about the need to have such conversations. In a time when young professionals flocked to the city to be part of its rebirth, “I think a lot of people believed that since they moved to Detroit they were inherently more progressive, and that just their presence in the city would create a different outcome than previous generations,” she says. “I believed that we had to be more intentional in order to produce more equitable outcomes, and I pulled back from a lot of tables in frustration.” Twelve years later, the COVID-19 pandemic has helped to make the ground more fertile for such dialogue. As people sheltered in place instead of socializing or vacationing, “Racism and state-sanctioned violence had a captive audience this summer,” Gaston says. “And I think a number of people were shocked that this is still happening, even in a pandemic. It really let America know that racism, lack of understanding, and indifference is our pandemic as a country.” Gaston says her training as an urban planner taught her how to understand policy and how it produces certain outcomes within a community. She believes that frank conversations are the starting point that will result in policies that dismantle systemic racism, and beyond leading Share the Mic Now: Detroit, she sees those conversations as an important part of her business.

Gaston is the founder of Glidepath Strategies, a boutique consulting firm that helps organizations fulfill their mission through effective practices, strategic clarity, and trusted counsel. Her work includes strategic planning, meeting facilitation, and leading conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion. She also recently facilitated a two-day retreat for a Detroit nonprofit that has been representing activists who were arrested in conjunction with Black Lives Matter protests. “Our team at Glidepath is committed to supporting passionate leaders as they step up in these moments, to help those organizers and activists on the front line.” Her urban planning background and career in community development work give her a unique lens for working with her Glidepath clients. Before making Glidepath a full-time venture in 2019, Gaston spent four years as a program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, where her work included leading the design and launch of Hope Starts Here: Detroit’s Early Childhood Partnership — the city’s first comprehensive framework to support young children and their families. Her earlier career included three years at the State of Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority, where she led efforts to deploy $223 million in federal funds through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “Amid the economic turmoil of that time, for those of us working in housing, it was a period of innovation,” she says. She envisions planners stepping up now in conversations about how to reverse systemic inequalities: “The conversation about defunding the police isn’t just about reforming policing in our country; it’s about reinvesting in communities in a more wholistic manner, and planners should be front and center in those efforts.” Gaston’s work with Share the Mic Now: Detroit showed her that tough conversations can open minds, which makes her hopeful for real change. She cites her own conversation with a beyond-middle-aged woman who shared how she had come to see the justness in paying reparations to descendants of enslaved people — something she had once opposed. “She is not a young adult, but she’s still growing, still asking questions, and admits that maybe her belief needed to change. That encouraged me.” — Amy Spooner 51


What Is Art and Who Are Artists? As museums come to terms with racist practices, Lauren Bebry Kenter, M.Arch ’12, M.S. ’13, is helping the Met design the future LIKE THE REST OF AMERICAN SOCIETY, the art world and museums are facing a moment of reckoning. It’s a reckoning that predates the events of summer 2020 but has intensified in recent months. “Returning to work now is more important than ever — to contribute how I can, make changes, learn what my new role is, and help create a more inclusive experience,” says Lauren Bebry Kenter, an exhibition designer at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art whose recent parental leave spanned the continued fallout from the COVID19 pandemic as well as the nationwide protests against police violence toward Black Americans. Because she helps to create public-facing experiences at one of the world’s most famous museums, Bebry Kenter’s work is high profile. Like other institutions, the Met has grappled with an uncomfortable past. But as it looked ahead to its 2020 sesquicentennial, the Met decided to lean into that discomfort.

Bebry Kenter, M.Arch ’12, M.S. ’13, is part of a team who worked for nearly two years on “Making The Met, 1870 – 2020,” an anniversary exhibition with more than 250 objects organized around 10 seminal moments in the museum’s history. The last gallery, “Broadening Perspectives,” focuses on the museum’s efforts to expand the global reach of its collection and represent cultures and geographics that were previously overlooked. “This show was conceived to chronicle the evolution of the museum and its ambitions, including examining gaps in its collection and acknowledging steps taken and goals to fill those gaps; for example, curatorial initiatives to better represent women artists, artists of color, and artists from different cultures,” Bebry Kenter says. In July, the Met’s leadership established a multimilliondollar fund “to support initiatives, exhibitions, and acquisitions in the area of diverse art histories” as part of a 13-point plan that also includes mandatory training for all staff, hiring a chief diversity officer, increasing diversity in middle and upper management, paying all interns, and drawing nearly all high school interns from Title 1 schools. As the museum addresses its internal practices and inequities, Bebry Kenter is energized by the opportunity to break traditional patterns: “From a design perspective, it’s exciting to engage with different curatorial intentions and narratives, and to rethink how we can communicate this to our audiences.” Bebry Kenter calls the work she’s doing now “my dream job,” although she didn’t have a clear dream in mind when she came to Michigan. She had taken a few undergraduate history of architecture courses at Brown University and loved them, subsequently landing a job doing public relations for Skidmore, Owing & Merrill. Being around architects and interpreting their work for a mass audience struck a chord, so she decided to pursue her master’s at Michigan. She stayed on to be part of the inaugural Master of Science in Digital and Material Technologies cohort



because she loved digital fabrication. “I’ve always enjoyed being hands on,” Bebry Kenter says. “So a program that focused on making while also being at the forefront of technology was exciting.” She credits studios and assistantships with Catie Newell and Anya Sirota with helping solidify her plan. “They impacted me a great deal when I was in school,” she says of the associate professors. “I didn’t know what I was doing or how to do it, but both took a chance on me at different times. Through working with them, I figured out what I loved.” Bebry Kenter’s first exhibition was at the end of Sirota’s spring travel studio in France, a display of the studio’s work at a local gallery. “That’s when I knew I wanted to keep doing exhibitions,” she says, “because it was so much fun and had such an impact on our community.” As a student, she also worked for then-Dean Mónica Ponce de León on an installation at the University of Michigan Museum of Art; after graduation, she joined Ponce de León’s practice, MPdL Studio. During her five years there, her projects ranged from an installation for a Montana courthouse to one for the 2016 Venice Biennale, among others. Recalling conversations with exhibit designers in Venice, Bebry Kenter was intrigued when she saw an opening at the Met in 2018, work she calls the flip side of installations: “With installations, I was creating something for a space; now I take other artists’ work and figure out how best to display it so that people can experience it.” For a medium-size show at the Met, 30 to 50 people work for more than a year to create an experience that will last for a few months. For a large show, it can be more than

150 people. Curators develop a list of items and a story they’d like to tell, and then Bebry Kenter and her fellow exhibition designers use modeling software to configure the space based on the exhibition’s narrative, the artwork, and their display requirements. Some can’t be exposed to air; others have light specifications; optimal display heights vary. The designers also must plot touch-distance requirements to prevent damage to the pieces. They work with art conservators, builders, lighting designers, and security, among many others. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they also must consider public health. The work is about designing the physical space — how people will pass through the show and experience the objects on display. It involves a lot of back-and-forth with people who have different perspectives, says Bebry Kenter. “We understand that the way you display artwork demonstrates a contextual hierarchy beyond the object’s physical presence, telling a story,” she says, “and as designers we bring these objects into their physical space. We help make sure visitors can safely pass through the space and learn from, be inspired by, and enjoy the art. The process is incredibly collaborative.” What first hooked Bebry Kenter on exhibit work at the end of her studio in France still thrills her today: seeing people interact with that which she and her team worked so hard to create — and hopefully learn from and be inspired by it. That’s also the crux of the influence that museums can have amid the tumult of 2020 and beyond, she says: “The best way that people can connect with what they see is to feel like they are a part of it, that it speaks to their history or culture. Having new types of things on display will help feel connected — and our cultures will be celebrated in different ways.” — Amy Spooner 53


For Those Who Love the Built Environment: Anxiety of a Black Urban Planner By Jermaine Ruffin, M.U.P. ’17

I HAVE RESISTED TALKING about my personal and professional anxiety during these turbulent times because my internal voice always told me the timing wasn’t right. I convinced myself that I would be looked at as a pariah if I did not take the time to think out properly every syllable of what I wanted to communicate. I use my space and platform to discuss issues and opportunities within my profession, as well as highlight Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) who are working, fighting, and thriving in urban spaces. I am deeply committed to ensuring our voices are heard in a light that magnifies the issues, without romanticizing or “hero worshiping” the challenges and those staring them down every day. The effort of ensuring I met these self-imposed standards has often overwhelmed me to the point where I ended up doing nothing, because I simply didn’t want to fail. Ironically, my anxiety used to drive me towards my goals; it also helped keep me alive and free of prison growing up in the PJs (projects). Being on high alert at all times, thinking through multiple ways to get home, avoiding house parties, and knowing every exit in every place I entered so I stayed alive was all too real for me. My anxiety forced me to better understand my neighborhood and city in an effort to make it to the next day. Understanding the impacts of poverty, crime, poor education, housing security and tenure, food deserts, hidden economies, and tactical placemaking were my Boy Scout badges. My lived experience shaped me personally and my passions professionally. Yet I have long struggled with divorcing or healing from the trauma that informed those areas of my life. It took therapy, openly acknowledging the trauma, and this step that I am taking with you: sharing it. I now realize that my experience is similar to a lot of BIPOC built-environment professionals and activists. These people, my people, who approach the work with a level of passion informed by the trauma we experienced





in our neighborhood. We take that same lived experience along with our fears, frustrations, anger, and passion to rectify these issues for future generations and set the standard for those BIPOCs who love the built environment. This may not be why you entered into the urban planning space, but it is an all too real reason why many Black and Brown planners are in our field. We are mad as hell, not just at the current state of our profession, but of the world we have to continuously both fight against and fight within 24/7 of our existence. James Baldwin once said, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost, almost all of the time — and in one’s work.” This perfectly encapsulates the Black and Brown experience in urban planning, as well as the other built-environment professions. Most of us are extremely aware of the battle against our rage and distress at bad urban policy on our communities. Yet we believe in the greater opportunity to make a difference in challenged neighborhoods and cities across the world. We have to often take on the task of explaining to our colleagues who may not see or understand the harm those previous policies caused, while we inherently know or have experienced the harm directly or indirectly. The consciousness of BIPOCs can become both enlightened and enraged in university classrooms. We must simultaneously learn the racist policies that powered our respective community’s social and economic devastation (often for the first time). Then we must reconcile this affirmed knowledge with our lived experience, which can be directly linked as an outcome of those policies. We learn this history in order to eventually wield that power in a righteous way, for our community’s collective progress. We must maintain the passion and promise that we can be the difference to preserve and increase BIPOC spaces and quality of life, where urban planning policies caused instability. As a profession, we must be as deliberate in dismantling systemic oppression as those who set the stage for the negative impact of policies that continuously show up in Black and Brown communities. The built environment academy and profession should acknowledge these negative impacts were the direct outcome of an era we must never repeat. Then make it clear that all the work moving forward, for all built environment professionals, will be consistent and purposeful to dismantle these systems. This intentional work must clarify, once and for all, that Black Lives Matter in every space and in every way. The fatal experiences of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Saundra Little, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and so many others happened in the built environ56


ment. At the hands of law enforcement “protecting and serving” the people in the built environment. We need to be truthful as a profession of the roles of urban planners, architects, civil engineers, and other built-environment professionals of yesteryear (and some still today) in creating spaces, zoning ordinances, covenants, housing, and investment policies that provide fertile ground to perpetuate state violence against BIPOC neighborhoods and cities. This acknowledgment, along with intentional steps to increase representation of BIPOC in our respective professions, as well as developing adaptive tools for communities impacted by poor policy decisions, should be our remedy.

“I sincerely believe the builtenvironment professions need BIPOCs to lead now more than ever. The voices of Black and Brown planners and our allies will shape the future of this country’s neighborhoods and the world.” — Jermaine Ruffin, M.U.P. ’17 I sincerely believe the built-environment professions need BIPOCs to lead now more than ever. The voices of Black and Brown planners and our allies will shape the future of this country’s neighborhoods and the world. I intend to be a part of this change, no matter how much my anxiety tells me the time isn’t right or you don’t have all of the “right words” to bring clarity yet. That same excuse is used by actors in urban spaces who are averse to new ideas or changing our profession to be more representative of the cities and neighborhoods we serve. We must speak and act in a way that ensures equity and dismantles systems that oppress Black and Brown people. I’d rather make mistakes on my way to support our greater community freedom than to sit idly by while our profession continues to hinder the progress of BIPOC neighborhoods and cities throughout the world. I have never forgotten that anytime, anywhere, or anyplace that the streets are planning, so we must as well. Jermaine Ruffin, M.U.P. ’17, is director of development– west region for the Detroit Department of Housing and Revitalization. His essay originally appeared on Medium.com in July 2020.

Class Notes 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 taubmancollegeportico@umich.edu or complete the online form at taubmancollege.umich.edu/alumni.

1970s George Kimmerle, M.Arch ’76, earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Planning and Public Policy from Rutgers University in May. He is licensed in more than 40 states and founded his architectural, urban design, and planning practice (based in New York City and New Jersey) in 1990. His recent initiative — the Community Design Workshop of Eastern Connecticut — supports neighborhoods, communities and nonprofits in the southern New England region. Urban design and community redevelopment and repositioning is a central theme of his dissertation and past academic research efforts.

 Jeff Hausman, B.S. ’79, M.Arch

’81, received the 2020 Gold Medal from AIA Detroit in recognition of his service to the theory and practice of architecture. He is a senior vice president and director of the Detroit and Pittsburgh offices of SmithGroup Inc., where his team has been recognized with more than 300 design awards. His work includes nationally recognized projects at the University of Pennsylvania, Univer-

sity of Illinois, University of Cincinnati, Miami University, Oakland University, and Michigan Technological University, as well as the $262 million Biological Sciences Building at the University of Michigan. He also is a champion of the profession through scholarships and his leadership of a Boy Scouts of America program to introduce high school students to architecture.

Certification. Farr previously won the AIA COTE® Top Ten Award for the design of the Chicago Center for Green Technology, the world’s third LEED Platinum Certification and the first Platinum renovation.

1980s  Doug Farr, FAIA, FCNU, B.S. ’80, and his firm, Farr Associates, received a 2020 COTE® Top Ten Award from the AIA, the highest honor bestowed for sustainable design excellence. The firm received the award for the University of Chicago’s Keller Center. The building preserves and restores a midcentury masterpiece; the jury cited the project’s comprehensive approach to equitable design, active living, reclaimed materials, energy and water efficiency, renewable energy, bird-safe glass, and circadian lighting as the basis for the selection. The project has received extensive recognition, including LEED-Platinum and Living Building Challenge Petal

 Marc Spector, FAIA, B.S. ’87,

M.Arch ’88, the principal and owner of Spectorgroup, has received the 2020 American Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies. The award, which is the nation’s most prestigious for cutting-edge design, is for the Audible Innovation Cathedral in Newark, New Jersey.

1990s Kevin Benham, M.Arch ’95, an assistant professor of landscape architecture at Louisiana State University, has received a 2020 57


Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome. The fellowship will advance his research on transhumance, or the migrations of shepherds and their sheep. He plans to buy a herd of sheep and travel with them 100 kilometers toward Rome while documenting the process through a collection of drawings and photographs. “I’m taking something which is a rural tradition and transferring that into an urban context,” he says. “I’m sure there will be many problems, and what I like to do with any of those problems is turn them into opportunities. I’m excited because I have no idea what I might run into.”

 Jennifer (Kowalewski)

Henriksen, B.S. ’95, is now principal in Quinn Evans’s Ann Arbor office. Her portfolio includes complex historic preservation and adaptive use projects throughout Michigan for public- and privatesector clients, including the restoration of the Garden Theater in Detroit, the modernization of the Croswell Opera House in Adrian, the renovation of the City Opera House in Traverse City, and directing preservation efforts on Michigan Central Station in Detroit. Maureen Kraemer, M.Arch ’95, was named to the 2020 Notable Women in Design list by Crain’s Detroit Business. She co-founded Kraemer Design Group with her husband, Bob Kraemer, B.S. ’90, M.Arch ’92, in 1996 and launched hospitality and contract procurement firm Intramode in 2000.



Some of her notable architectural projects include Google Ann Arbor and Birmingham, Ford Estates, Greektown Casino, the Detroit Athletic Club renovation, Shinola Hotel, the David Stott Building, and the 108-year-old Birch Lodge Inn and Motel. She says she is most proud of her work with Bridgepointe on La Alacena, a school food pantry in Southwest Detroit that serves more than 100 families in need. Alec Brebner, B.S. ’96, became the executive director of the Crater Planning District Commission in September. Based in Petersburg, Virginia, south of Richmond, the regional planning agency focuses on transportation, economic and small business development, and environmental issues, as well as convening major military-related discussions among the region’s communities. Previously, he worked for the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments located in North Charleston, South Carolina, and spent five years as manager of planning and zoning for Dorchester County, South Carolina.

 Suparath Valaisathien, M.Arch

’97, is the dean and a member of the faculty of the Montfort del Rosario School of Architecture and Design at Assumption University — a Catholic university based in Bangkok. He also is principal and managing director of At1studio Co. Ltd., which provides architectural design and engineering services for residences; hotels and resorts; public, commercial, and office buildings; shops and showrooms; and factories.

David Bennett, B.S. ’99, M.Arch ’01, has rejoined THA Architects Engineers in Flint, Michigan, as an architect/project manager. He joined THA as an intern and became a fulltime employee after graduation. He became a licensed architect in 2008 and worked on many of the THA’s major projects, including the Wade Trim building, and numerous educational projects in the Middle East. In 2014, he left THA to pursue an independent career in residential architecture. Randy Howder, B.S. ’99, was quoted in a July 2020 story in The Atlantic entitled, “The End of Open-Plan Everything.” He is a co-managing director of Gensler’s San Francisco office and discussed how open-concept offices postpandemic will balance safety, functionality, and aesthetic in ways that are “neither an office nor an open environment.” Anne (Dibble) Venezia, M.U.P./ M.P.P. ’99, became housing director for Arlington County, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., in April. In this role, she is responsible for creating and preserving affordable housing and oversees the county’s investments, including those made possible by the Affordable Housing Investment Fund. Most recently, she served as the acting housing director and was the housing finance manager for four years prior. She joined Arlington County in 2008.

2000s Caitlin Cain, M.U.P. ’01, became director of Rural LISC, the $1 billion rural investment arm of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), in June. Rural LISC fuels housing, businesses, health, and jobs in more than 2,000 counties nationwide. Previously, she led her own New Orleans-based social investment firm and prior to that served

as CEO of the World Trade Center of New Orleans and economic development director at the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission. In her new role, she will oversee the day-to-day work of Rural LISC and help fulfill its Rural Promise — an aspiration to produce 20 percent of its community development impact in rural areas by 2023. Karl Kowalske, B.S. ’02, M.Arch ’04, recently joined the Kalamazoo, Michigan-based architectural firm Seven Generations Architecture & Engineering as its president. Previously, he spent six years with Progressive AE, most recently as director of practice development. At Seven Generations A+E, he will be responsible for the firm’s overall operations and drive its upward trajectory in terms of new business, client services, and team development, including managing more than $50 million in federal contracting secured during the last four years.  Laurie Hughet-Hiller, B.S. ’04, M.Arch ’06, received the 2020 Young Architect Award from AIA Detroit. She is a senior associate at McIntosh Poris Associates. She began her career in Los Angeles, before returning to her home state of Michigan and joining McIntosh Poris Associates. She left the firm to spend two years as a design director at Gensler before rejoining McIntosh Poris Associates as a senior associate in 2019. She also is currently a Detroit director on the AIA Michigan Board of Directors.

Stephanie Leedom, M.U.D. ’04, began serving as director of the park planning and development division of the Fairfax County (Virginia) Park Authority in August. Her previous capital planning experience includes serving as acting division chief for the Western Hemisphere region of the U.S. Department of State. She also has served as division director in land development, contract procurement, design, and construction of U.S. embassies and consulate compounds, where she oversaw more than 50 projects in numerous countries. She is a licensed architect. Karin Neubauer, B.S. ’06, M.Arch ’10, has been promoted to associate in the Ann Arbor office of Quinn Evans. She has extensive experience in the design and modernization of cultural and civic facilities, in particular libraries, and also is a Fitwel Ambassador with expertise in the design of healthy buildings. She was a member of AIA Detroit’s 2019 Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program. Sam Zeller, M.Arch ’06, has been promoted to chief operating officer of Zeller, a Chicago-based commercial real estate investment and development firm. He has worked there in various roles since 2013; prior to that, he practiced with Goettsch Partners and John Ronan Architects. He also was an assistant professor of architecture on the tenure track at Kansas State University. Aaron Clausen, M.U.P. ’07, was appointed principal planner for the City of Lynn, Massachusetts, in April. He previously served in planning and development roles for the nearby cities of Beverly and Lowell. “It is an exciting time for the City of Lynn; I believe this moment presents an opportunity to build on renewed interest and investment in the city to ensure a comprehensive and inclusive approach to develop-

ment that will benefit the broader community. I look forward to jumping in and facilitating the creation of a comprehensive vision for the whole city,” he says. Rebecca Morello, M.Arch ’09, a project architect at Open Concept Architecture Inc. in Portland, Oregon, is now a licensed architect in Oregon. She joined the firm in 2018 and has led new and adaptive reuse projects involving commercial and residential structures. She is leading the ongoing development and maintenance of the company’s interior standards for hospitality, winery, and brewery projects.

2010s Stephanie Austin Redding, B.S. ’10, has been promoted to associate in the Ann Arbor office of Quinn Evans. She is a landscape architect with expertise in the planning and design of historically significant sites and cultural landscapes nationwide.

 Lindsey May, B.S. ’10,

won the AIA | DC 2020 Architect + Educator Award (as the inaugural awardee) for her work through her Washington, D.C., practice, Studio Mayd, and her teaching and leadership at the University of Maryland. In April, she was appointed a clinical assistant professor of architecture at the University of Maryland, and in May she became the architecture program’s assistant director. She also received the 2020 Dean’s Award and the 2020 Outstanding Teaching Award through the UMD Architecture Department. 59


Lisa Sauve, M.Arch ’11, M.S. ’14, is one of Crain’s Detroit Business’s 2020 Notable Women in Design. She is CEO, principal, and cofounder (with her husband, Adam Smith, M.Arch ’11) of Synecdoche Design Studio, which is based in Ann Arbor. In addition, she is active in the community as planning commissioner for the City of Ann Arbor and in her work at the Ann Arbor Art Center, where she is a critical member of the Art in Public initiative that is working to install 10 murals by national, regional, and local artists in the city’s creative district. Daniel Johns, M.U.P./GradCert ’13, has joined the City of Madison, Wisconsin, as a housing development specialist. Previously, he spent seven years at Vandewalle & Associates, where he worked on economic redevelopment plans, tax increment financing districts, retail gap analysis, placemaking, and other services for client cities throughout the Midwest, with an emphasis on coastal communities along Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shoreline.

for their clients and company. She and her team also support Creativity & Innovation Program projects, ensuring that employees with good ideas have the technological support to be innovative. Jake Gottfried, M.U.P./Grad.Cert ’14, is now senior project manager at Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation, an organization that sponsors, arranges, and provides affordable housing to low-, moderate-, and middle-income residents in New York City. Previously, he served in project manager and senior project manager roles, first at Neighborhood Restore HDFC and then at the Mutual Housing Association of New York.

 Michael Abrahamson, Ph.D. ’19,

 Andrea Springer, M.S. ’13,

was named director of digital technology and innovation at Stantec Inc. in March. She is based in Denver. She oversees a diverse team of experts who work with a range of technologies — including geomatics, GIS, virtual reality, computational design, data analytics, and more — that help Stantec provide the best solutions



won the Society of Architectural Historians’ Founders’ Award, which annually recognizes an emerging scholar for an article published in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians that exhibits excellence in scholarship and presentation. He was honored for “‘Actual Center of Detroit’: Method, Management, and Decentralization in Albert Kahn’s General Motors Building,” JSAH 77, no. 1 (March 2018). His research explores the materiality of buildings and methods of architectural practice in the 20th century. In addition to his article on Kahn, his Ph.D. dissertation centered on the important late modernist architectural firm Gunnar Birkerts and Associates. In these and other research projects,

he explores the systems of creativity, subordination, and legitimation that have enabled the creation of architecture in the twentieth century and beyond. He is currently a visiting assistant professor of architecture at the University of Utah. Salvador Lindquist, M.U.D. ’19, is an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska College of Architecture, where he teaches an under­­graduate design studio and site systems in landscape architecture. In addition, he is a founding partner of Context Research Collaborative, a design and research practice that explores context-building representational techniques as a way to provide contextually driven urban research through exhibition and project work. Andrew Moss, M.U.R.P. ’19, was named operations manager at Advance Plumbing & Heating Supply in August. He joined the Detroit-based company, which was founded by his family a century ago, in 2014 as a marketing consultant. He also was a 2019–2020 Challenge Detroit Fellow, where he worked on neighborhood revitalization projects under sponsorship from DTE Energy. India Solomon, M.U.R.P./GradCert ’19, is now an associate at Greatwater Opportunity Capital LLC, a real estate private equity investment management and development firm focused on emerging urban markets in the United States, including Detroit’s neighborhoods. Previously, she was a program officer at Enterprise Community Partners, where she developed the $2.5 million Community Development Organization (CDO) Fund in partnership with the Kresge and Ford Foundations and managed $4 million in federal and philanthropic grants to 27 Detroit-based community development organizations.

In Memoriam Tunney Lee, B.Arch ’54 Passion and Compassion in Community-based Design

Shiv Sangar, M.Arch ’66 April 14, 2020

Tunney Lee, B.Arch ’54, died in July at the age of 88. He was a professor emeritus of urban planning and former department head at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Nancy Berla, M.U.P. ’72 May 10, 2020

Lee emigrated from China in 1938 and was raised in Boston’s close-knit Chinatown community, which influenced his focus on community-based design and his particular interest in high-density urban settings. His approach to urban planning and architecture emphasized how these fields could be harnessed to empower and enhance the lives of people. Lee viewed the built environment through the lens of how individuals would construct, use, live, and interact with the creations of planners and architects. “We would fail if we didn’t inculcate in our students the necessity for understanding the institutional arrangements at the same time as we talk about designs,” Lee once said. He practiced what he taught, using design to empower citizens and strengthen community-led efforts. In the 1950s, he assisted neighborhood groups who successfully resisted Inner Belt, an interstate highway planned to run through Boston and Cambridge. “That effort exemplified everything he did, combining the passion of the ‘good fight’ with the compassion of truly working with and caring for others,” says his colleague Chris Zegras. Lee founded what is now the School of Architecture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He wrote that its educational philosophy should emphasize “a basic concern for the quality of people’s lives and respect for all those involved in planning and creating buildings, including the people who will inhabit the buildings, coworkers, construction workers, as well as the owners, developers, and fellow colleagues.”

John Haro, B.Arch ’50 April 9, 2020

Paul Salditt, B.Arch ’56 August 30, 2020

Nicholas Lesko, B.Arch ’51 May 19, 2020

James Nagy, M.Arch ’58 May 3, 2020

Richard Millman, B.Arch ’51, M.Arch ’62 July 8, 2020

Roger Zucchet, B.Arch ’58 July 18, 2020

James Meacham, B.Arch ’53, M.Arch ’54 May 7, 2020 Tunney Lee, B.Arch ’54 July 2, 2020

David Siler, B.Arch ’64 August 1, 2020 Carl Hribar, B.Arch ’66 April 26, 2020

John Sugden, B.S. ’72, M.Arch ’74 April 22, 2020 Robert Arthur, B.S. ’77 April 24, 2020 Daniel Meyers, M.U.P. ’85 August 20, 2020 Keith Sobczak, B.S. ’85, M.Arch ’87 March 26, 2020 Bradley Wheeler, M.Arch ’87 August 3, 2020 Garland Lewis, M.U.P. ’86 May 17, 2020

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 taubmancollegeadvancement@umich.edu 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.


“We find ourselves standing here at the crossroads of enlightenment and reconciliation. If truth and facts had been the basis of our history, we would be standing here today celebrating the development of this great nation created by a group of people called only as Americans, and Justice would be colorblind.” — Ed Jackson Jr., D. Arch ’93, from his essay, “America, Americans, E pluribus unum.” Dr. Jackson served as the executive architect for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project in Washington, D.C. His involvement with the project began in 1996, when he was asked to serve as chair of the design committee responsible for the development and management of the largest-ever international design competition in honor of an American citizen.



P ORT ICO VOL . 19, NO. 2 FA L L 2020 University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning 2000 Bonisteel Blvd. Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2069 USA taubmancollege.umich.edu

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 Senior Graphic Designer

Contributing Writers: Julia Broadway, Claudia Capos, James Chaffers, Amy Crawford, Maya Fehrs, Julie Halpert, Christopher Locke, Kent Love-Ramirez, Jermaine Ruffin, and Amy Spooner Image Credits: Jacob Cofer (inside front cover, bottom + p. 36), Eric Bronson/Michigan Photography (pp. 2 + 6 + 20), Max S. Gerber (p. 47), Nick Hagen (pp. 3, middle + 44 + 55), Sam Hollenshead (pp. 40 + 43), Metropolitan Museum of Art (p. 53), Justine Allenette Ross (inside front cover, top)

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