Portico Fall 2022

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Scholars and practitioners at Taubman College are working in, for, and with Detroit towards inclusive recovery and more equitably distributed prosperity

FALL 2022
Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning University of Michigan (Above) As part of “The Detroit River Story Lab,” students from Detroit high schools, colleges, and youth-serving organizations ride the Inland Seas schooner along the Detroit River. (Below) The University of Michigan Architecture Preparatory Program (ArcPrep) is a semester-long immersive college preparatory course in architecture, urbanism, and studio design for Detroit Public School juniors.


When Detroit communities gather to discuss new devel opment projects or neighborhood plans, residents fre quently express concerns about gentrification, the process through which economic development leads to the dis placement of long-standing residents by wealthier new comers. Yet by many measures, gentrification is far from the most salient issue facing the city, which has tens of thousands of abandoned properties, an infrastructure whose investment needs far outpace the revenue gener ated by its tax base, and is still losing population.

The Egalitarian Metropolis project goes to the heart of this tension. Funded by the Mellon Foundation, this research and teaching project follows a hypothesis: that the very extremity of Detroit’s challenges gives residents, allies, scholars, and practitioners the chance to develop and test recovery strategies that decouple investment and economic recovery from gentrification and displacement.

Detroit is a dire case of disinvestment and abandonment, processes that affected many cities. The magnitude of its rise and fall makes it exceptional — can this also be true of its revitalization? In an era of neoliberal redevelop ment, which all too often proceeds through privatization, can Detroit model pathways to greater prosperity that is more equitably distributed?

The city government of Detroit is pursuing an agenda of inclusive recovery, supported by Mayor Mike Duggan with city planning director Antoine Bryant and his predecessor, Maurice Cox. As our cover story illustrates, Taubman College faculty are at the forefront of this work, in part nership with other organizations and Detroit residents.

The Egalitarian Metropolis project has spurred numer ous additional research projects that are furthering and expanding on the original project’s aims. The Detroit River Story Lab is co-producing and disseminating historically nuanced, contextually aware, and culturally rooted narratives telling the story of the Detroit River in the lives of adjacent communities from an equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist perspective. Racializing Space — a project I have had the privilege of working on with fellow faculty and students — maps data from censuses and surveys to show how policies and processes of predatory exclusion and inclusion have linked race with housing inequality in Detroit and southeast Michigan. Students in our Systems Studio design proposals to

incorporate affordable housing into mixed, market-rate developments; their work sparks innovation among prospective developers and demonstrates how housing can contribute to the social and economic restructuring process of the city. And the Detroit as a Carceral Space initiative works alongside communities to create eco nomic opportunities, transform the justice system, and promote equitable and just cities. These are just a few examples of the many branches that have sprung from the roots of the Egalitarian Metropolis project.

Much of my own scholarship has concerned US singlefamily houses and homeownership as practices of citizen ship and self-fashioning, place-making and economic participation for individuals and families. For me, partici pating in the Racializing Space research project has been an opportunity to understand in detail, and in Detroit specificity, the processes of predatory exclusion and inclusion through which homeownership built white supremacy and racial inequities in wealth, educational outcomes, and life opportunities. This work feeds into the growing conversation about community-based repa rations, a domain that U-M colleague Earl Lewis is lead ing, with a large team and partners across the country, in another Mellon-funded project.

As the Egalitarian Metropolis project concludes, the work here at Taubman College continues. Our Michigan Architecture Prep Program provides Detroit Public School juniors with an immersive, semester-long college prepara tory program; they leave equipped to be city-makers, empowered in shaping this better future. Our AntiRacism Hiring Initiative project, Racial Justice and the Urban Humanities, has been awarded funding, and we are preparing to recruit new faculty who will advance the work in unforeseen ways. The March 2023 confer ence, The Egalitarian Metropolis: Towards an Inclusive Recovery for Detroit, will bring together leading thinkers in architecture, urban planning, history, geography, litera ture, economics, social work, and more, along with Detroit community members and civic organizations, to imagine an innovative and inclusive future for Detroit. Even as Robert Fishman retires, thanks to his collabora tive efforts we have the opportunity to recruit and support the next generation of scholars and practitioners as we seek to pilot an inclusive recovery in, for, and with Detroit.

2 FALL 2022 TAUBMAN COLLEGE AROUND THE COLLEGE / 04 04 News from the Art & Architecture Building and Beyond 08 Welcome New Faculty and Fellows FEATURE STORY / 10 10 Detroit’s Path to Inclusive Recovery Working toward a fairer future requires untangling legacies of displacement, segregation, and inequity in Detroit FACULTY & STUDENTS / 16 16 What Are You Thinking About? Jared Freeman, Joanne Huang, Maria Garcia Reyna, Odiso Obiora 18 A Day in the Life An In-Depth Exploration of Urban Centers / Learning Mexico City Through Its Built Environment 20 Global Lessons in Real Estate Development and Affordable Housing Professor Lan Deng encourages cities to learn from one another in order to find a more balanced approach to housing challenges 22 AI is Here, is Architecture Ready? Associate Professor Matias del Campo is ready for AI to change the way we build 24 ON AIR: Faculty Work 2020–2022 26 Work Spotlight Robotically Fabricated Structure (RFS): Assistant Professor of Architecture Arash Adel, ADR Laboratory CONTENTS 10


The 1951 Sanborn fire insurance map of Black Bottom and Paradise Valley is georeferenced above the current geography. Nearly 50,000 people, upwards of 90% of whom were Black, were displaced over decades for land that is now mostly vacant, parking lot, or interstate highway. President Biden’s infrastructure package has set aside $100 million for the demolition of the highway interchange shown and the reconstruction of the neighborhood along principles of new urbanism.

28 Quotable Taubman College

29 Gradient Journal

An online platform for architecture and urbanism from Taubman College



Ensuring a More Equitable Future for Architecture

Randy Howder, B.S. Arch ’99, and his husband, Neal Conatser, are supporting the next generation of architects and critical thinkers with their $2.75 million pledge to the Howder-Conatser Architecture Scholarship Fund

34 Not the Only Player: Future-Focused Collaboration Kartik Desai, B.S. Arch ’99, works to foster interdis ciplinary thinking in architecture and real estate

36 Laying the Foundation for a New Generation of Change Makers

Brian Adelstein, B.S. Arch ’89, supports Taubman College students’ grand aspirations


Working With, Not Against, Nature Lizzie Yarina, B.S. Arch ’10, knows climate adaptation planning is full of trade-offs

38 Public Space, Personal Relationships

Kristen Conry, B.S. Arch ’99, M.Arch ’01, wants people to feel at home anywhere they work or travel

40 Living between Idea and Reality

Justin Mast, M.Arch ’12, is an entrepreneur who thinks like an architect

42 Community Conversation: Dignity through Design

Kyle Schertzing, B.S. Arch ’05, principal at Safdie Rabines Architects, in discussion with Taubman College student Mirabella Witte, B.S. Arch ’23




18 40

Addressing Brazil’s Affordable Housing Deficit

A team of Taubman College graduate students, led by Ana Paula Pimentel Walker, associate professor in urban and regional planning, collaborated with commu nity members in São Paulo, Brazil, this summer to help combat Brazil’s severe affordable housing deficit and promote environmental stewardship.

“These community members have built, over genera tions, a profound knowledge about the cities [they live in] and combining that knowledge with the professional background of our students is mutually beneficial. So we’ll advance both: the struggle for adequate housing and the careers of our students,” said Pimentel Walker.


Agora Journal of Urban Planning and Design Wins Douglas Haskell Award

The Agora Journal of Urban Planning and Design has been awarded a Douglas Haskell Award for Student Journals from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). This prestigious award supports student journalism on architecture, planning, and related subjects and fosters regard for intelligent criticism among future professionals. “We are so honored that Agora received this recognition from the AIA. Agora is lucky to have an incredible, dedicated team of authors, staff, and photographers who helped make Agora 16 a success,” said Caroline Lamb and Laura Melendez, the publication’s editors-in-chief.

Peñarroyo Named Akademie Schloss Solitude Fellow

SPLAM Timber Pavilion Awarded AIA Small Project Award

A collaboration between architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and Taubman College is one of thirteen architectural projects from across the United States honored as part of this year’s American Institute of Architects (AIA) Small Projects Awards. Wes McGee, associate professor of architecture, and Tsz Yan Ng, associate professor of architecture, collabo rated with SOM to design and build SPLAM Timber Pavilion utilizing robotic fabrication techniques for EPIC Academy in Chicago’s South Shore neighbor hood. The outdoor pavilion was constructed from sustainably sourced timber and showcases an optimized structural layout using spatial laminated timber to produce a more sustainable and efficient slab to inform design and con struction processes. Located at EPIC Academy, SPLAM also functions as an outdoor classroom and an event and performance space for students and teachers.

Cyrus Peñarroyo, assistant professor of architecture, has been named a 2022–2024 Akademie Schloss Solitude Fellow in the Spatial (architecture and design) category. Established in 1990, the fellowship supports young artists, scientists, and cul tural workers. Fellows complete a residency at Akademie Schloss Solitude, where they can devote themselves to their research with the benefit of material support and favorable intellectual condi tions. The wide-ranging fellowship program promotes the interrela tionship of art and science across disciplines. Peñarroyo is one of 58 fellows selected from a pool of 2,903 candidates for the 2022–2024 period. His work examines the urbanity of the Internet — how networked technologies shape urbanization and how media spheres influence built environments.


Trandafirescu Named Institute for the Humanities Fellow

Anca Trandafirescu, associate professor of architecture, has been named a 2022–23 Institute for the Humanities Faculty Fellow. Trandafirescu will spend September 1 to May 31 as a fellow pursuing her research titled “Constructed Revisionism: The Monumental Potentials of Past Mistakes.” Across the world, mon uments are torn down and cast away as if they never existed. Trandafirescu’s work asks what is lost when we choose to forget who we once were and what should be done with the monuments around us that no longer represent our col lective memory. In addition to her research and participating in the weekly seminar, she will present a lecture in the Institute for the Humanities’ FellowSpeak series.

— Anya Sirota, associate professor of architecture, on Acts of Urbanism (AOU)/Entre Actes d’Urbanisme. Held in June 2022, the week-long FrancoAmerican collaboration explored place-based approaches to urban activation in Banglatown, Detroit.

Detroit is a city whose image precedes it. Visitors often come with strong ideas about its shape, challenges, and possibilities. Some arrive with preconceived solutions. Acts of Urbanism worked to deconstruct common public misconceptions and biases by inviting a range of urban actors and design professionals into a space of frank conversation and collective experimentation.”

Duggal Named Interim Director for Real Estate Development Activities and Weiser Center

Melina Duggal, ACIP, MUP ’95, will serve as the interim director for real estate development activities at Taubman College and the interim director for the Weiser Center for Real Estate at the Ross School of Business. Duggal is currently a visiting assistant professor of practice at Taubman College, where she teaches courses in real estate. She brings more than 25 years of real estate industry experience as a practitioner. She has also taught real estate courses at George Mason University and the University of Maryland. As President of Duggal Real Estate Advisors, Duggal conducts feasi bility studies, market analyses, financial analyses, and redevelop ment strategies for real estate projects and clients.

AIA College of Fellows Welcomes Five Taubman College Alumni

From left to right: AIA Fellows Amy Gilbertson M.Arch ’01, Jeff Hausman M.Arch ’81, Kurt Haapala M.Arch ’94, Tod Stevens M.Arch ’91, and Dorian Moore M.Arch ’88 pictured at the AIA Taubman College Alumni Reception in Chicago.

Goodspeed Wins 2022 Curriculum Innovation Award

Robert Goodspeed, associate professor of urban and regional planning, has been recognized by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) for his course Scenario Planning. Each year, the Curriculum Innovation Award honors four courses for designing accessible, engaging, and effective learning experiences for students in the urban planning field. Scenario Planning is a semester-long intensive on scenario planning methods, one of the only urban planning courses that combines the explicit teaching of the method with hands-on techniques. The course consists of a seminar series and a hands-on, collaborative project designed to mirror real-life scenario planning practices. It is structured to encourage students to take on a reflective practice toward urban planning and provide the technical skills for students to implement their ideas in a professional setting.


Welcome New Taubman College Faculty

Taubman College welcomes new faculty members who, along with established faculty, will offer students a wealth of learning and professional development opportunities.

Oksana Chabanyuk

Intermittent Lecturer, Architecture Chabanyuk’s academic interests include standardization and early industrialization in the USSR, the related influ ence of foreign specialists, prefabrication in industrial construction and housing, post-socialist housing, social housing, and regeneration of residential areas.

Emily Kutil, M.Arch ’13 Lecturer I, Architecture Kutil’s research investigates the intertwined social struc tures, material structures, and power structures that shape our world. She makes drawings, publications, installations, models, and other story-machines, often using collective, interdisciplinary processes.

Charlie O’Geen Lecturer I, Architecture O’Geen’s research investigates the utilization of existing site conditions for use as building systems, in opposition to conventional building practices which are materially consuming. Unconventionally, O’Geen’s work moves off paper and into the full-scale realities of site and material and looks to explore and expose the opportunities of existing material energy.

Gina Reichert

Lecturer III, Architecture Reichert is an artist, architect, and small-scale commu nity developer. Her practice is rooted in developing strat egies and self-initiated projects in her immediate Detroit neighborhood, defining opportunity in overlooked spaces, and using the resources at hand.

Torri Smith, M.Arch ’22 Intermittent Lecturer, Architecture Smith’s investigations span from environmental justice and design biology to storytelling and urban placemaking. She currently researches the intersection of environmen tal justice, urban activism, and design while simultane ously exploring the ways in which ecological regeneration can address systemic racial inequity.

Łukasz Stanek

Professor, Architecture Stanek’s scholarship seeks to understand worldwide urbanization processes since World War II beyond their reduction to the consequences of the colonial encounter with Western Europe and the impact of Westerndominated “globalization.” In particular, he studies how urbanization in post-independence West Africa and the Middle East was shaped and reshaped by resources circu lating in networks of socialist internationalism, the Non-Aligned Movement, and various forms of SouthSouth collaboration.

(First row, from left) Oksana Chabanyuk, Emily Kutil, Charlie O’Geen, Gina Reichert, Torri Smith. (Second row, from left) Łukasz Stanek, John David Wagner, Elizabeth Gunden, Elisa Ngan, Jermaine Ruffin.

John David Wagner

Intermittent Lecturer, Architecture

Wagner is a design consultant, design researcher, and licensed architect with over a decade of experience cata lyzing change in the built environment through design, social advocacy, and material assemblies. From concep tual to visionary, his work has assisted clients to outline, prototype, and realize built projects that deliver innova tive, inclusive spatial designs, user experiences, and educational programs.

Elizabeth Gunden, M.U.R.P. ’19

Intermittent Lecturer

Gunden is a planner at Beckett & Raeder, Inc., a plan ning, landscape architecture, and civil engineering firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Liz is a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). She also has a background in graphic design, and much of her work focuses on representing planning data and information in a visual and graphic way.

Elisa Ngan

Professor of Practice, Urban Technology Ngan’s research centers on creating data inter ventions for long-tail problems at the end of the product life cycle, cross-pollinating with topics of category theory, industrial cybernetics, and epistemic injustice to reveal the broken relationships of industrial maintenance and repair invisibly affecting the lives of marginalized persons and communities.

Jermaine Ruffin, M.U.R.P. ’17

Intermittent Lecturer, Urban & Regional Planning Ruffin is currently the vice president of neighborhoods with Invest Detroit. He has held various positions in the fields of community and economic development, includ ing roles with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Most recently, he was the associate director for equitable planning & legislative affairs (planning & development) with the City of Detroit.

Hello Fellows!

Welcome to our three new fellows joining us for the 2022–2023 academic year.

Stratton Coffman Architecture Fellow

Coffman uses the multi-facing tools of architecture to explore how capital, institutions, and design discourses conspire to produce material, social, and epistemic bod ies. They are co-instigator of the architecture research and design working group Proof of Concept with Isadora Dannin.

Salma Mozaffari

ADR Postdoctoral Research Fellow Mozaffari holds a Ph.D. in Structural Engineering from ETH Zurich. Her research experience includes computa tional structural design and optimization, algebraic geom etry, and signal processing for structural dynamics and health monitoring applications. She is interested in inter disciplinary research at the interface of digital fabrication and resource-aware construction.

Alina Nazmeeva Architecture Fellow

Nazmeeva examines entanglements and overlays between physical and digital spaces and objects and their cultural, economic, and political implications. Using gaming engines, CGI software, machinima, found footage, and installations, she exposes and examines the increasing oscillation between cities and video games, images and spaces, life and animation.

Salam Rida, M.Arch ’17

Michigan-Mellon Design Fellow

Rida’s research and practice, situated at the intersection of architecture and urban design, explores multidisci plinary approaches to tactical interventionism, environ ment sustainability, and equitable economic development.

(From left) Stratton Coffman, Salma Mozaffari, Alina Nazmeeva, Salam Rida.

Detroit’s Path to Inclusive Recovery

EIGHT MILE ROAD MARKS the border between the city of Detroit and the suburbs of Oakland County. But this multilane thoroughfare, which carries traffic past sprawling shopping plazas and neighborhoods of modest single-family homes built during the prosperous years after World War II, represents more than a geo graphic boundary. It’s also a stark line between a Black city and its white suburbs, between a community with a median household income that hovers around half the national average and one of the wealthiest counties in the United States.

“When you see it on a map, you start to see how people in Detroit really lost out on building wealth,” says Larissa Larsen, associate professor and chair of Taubman College’s urban and regional planning program.

Detroit is an extreme example, but nationwide Black families still have about a tenth the wealth, on average, of their white counterparts, primarily because of a gap in rates of home ownership. “Certainly there’s structural racism baked right in there,” Larsen says. “And we, as architects and planners, worked for a century building American cities — so we’ve participated in making that happen.”

History shapes cities in myriad ways: through deliberate planning and government policy, the rise and fall of indus tries, war, disaster, and migration. The ways in which urban denizens are displaced, segregated, and cut off from resources today are also rooted in the past, and rectifying these inequities requires untangling those legacies. That need is at the heart of an emerging field of research known as urban humanities, which at Taubman College

has centered on a grant program called the MichiganMellon Project on the Egalitarian Metropolis. First funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2013, the Egalitarian Metropolis was led since 2017 by Taubman College’s Robert Fishman, who retired in June as a profes sor of architecture and urban and regional planning, and by Angela Dillard, the Richard A. Meisler Collegiate Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies and cur rent chair of the history department at the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. Now in its concluding year, the project is evolving into an Urban Humanities Initiative at the University of Michigan, which will con tinue to connect humanities researchers, planners, and architects, along with community leaders outside the university, as they work toward a fairer future.

Robert Fishman grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, a train ride away from Manhattan, where the strata of history can often be found close to the surface.

“I was one of the bridge-and-tunnel people, as they’re called,” he says with a laugh. “For us, New York was even more of an ideal and a revelation than it was for the peo ple who were actually living within the city — I keep coming back to New York as my archetypal metropolis.”

As a teenager in the 1960s, Fishman took frequent trips into the city, spending long hours exploring its renowned art museums. But he also became fascinated by New York itself and by the extremes of wealth and poverty that were often on display. His curiosity led him to The City in History, a now-classic book by the historian Lewis Mumford, first published when Fishman was in high school. Mumford’s lyrical study of how the Western urban form has changed over time — from the ancient Greek

Working toward a fairer future requires untangling legacies of displacement, segregation, and inequity in Detroit

In this 1939 redlining map, green represents suburban and largely white neighborhoods that were considered safe investments for home mortgages. Red represents urban neighborhoods with Black, Jewish, and ethnic white communities.


Clockwise from top left: Ford Motor Company Highland Park plant, 1914. A Black family traveling during the Great Migration, 1940. Workers at the Ford Rouge plant, 1936. Black children standing in front of a wall near Eight Mile Road; this wall was built in August 1941 to separate the Black section from a white housing development going up on the other side.


city-states and cathedral towns in medieval Europe to the modern capitalist metropolis — would prove a lifelong influence.

“I’ve assigned it in literally every course I’ve ever taught,” Fishman says. “Mumford’s way of looking at the city, his deep understanding of the impact of culture, has certainly shaped my work more than anyone else.”

Fishman went on to study history in college and graduate school, spending the first half of his teaching career in traditional history departments. When he came to the college in 2000, recruited as part of a new master’s pro gram in urban design, he found a student population eager to incorporate historical context into the study of design and planning.

“To be an urban designer, you really have to love the city, which means trying to grasp what is unique about each city,” Fishman explains, “and to understand what is unique about it you really have to look into the past, into the urban biography that has shaped every city.”

Fishman was part of the original team of faculty and students, led by Taubman College Associate Dean Milton Curry, who won the six-year, $1.3 million grant for the Michigan-Mellon Project on the Egalitarian Metropolis. Initially the project compared three cities — Detroit, Rio de Janeiro, and Mexico City — through a framework that assumed the inherent worth and equality of all the people who called each home. What were the most challenging contemporary issues facing these different communities, they asked, and how did their causes and solutions con nect to history, economic and political forces, architec ture, and urban design? The wide-ranging effort resulted in a series of courses, exhibitions, and symposia, which brought together academics with community leaders from the cities themselves.

In 2019, a second, $1 million grant allowed the project team to take a deeper look at a single city: Detroit, which — more than almost any other in the United States — has seen its fortunes rise and fall on the tide of larger historical forces. After Curry’s departure to be dean of architecture at USC, the project was now jointly headed by Fishman and LSA historian Angela Dillard. Fishman couldn’t imagine the Project without this close collabora tion. “I’m something of an outsider to Detroit. Angela grew up as a Black Detroiter, daughter of a prominent clergyman, and someone whose life and scholarship

A house located two blocks east of the long-abandoned Packard plant, 2014.

have been deeply engaged with Detroit. She brings a perspective that I couldn’t alone.”

“The Mellon Foundation,” he adds, “had observed that there is an unfortunate separation between schools of architecture and the humanities, and both architecture and humanities could benefit greatly by working more closely together,” Fishman says. “And the other part of the urban humanities concept was the need to include the diverse voices of the city itself, to really engage with the lives of our great cities.”

Detroit was first settled by French colonists in the early 1700s, but the history of the modern city begins in 1910 when Henry Ford opened his Highland Park plant and began churning out Model Ts on the world’s first automo tive assembly line. The growing automobile industry drew new populations of workers, including Black Americans, who fled the Jim Crow South as part of what became known as the Great Migration. By 1950, the city’s popula tion was eight times what it had been in 1900, and Detroit was among the most prosperous cities in the world. Over reliance on a single industry proved dangerous, however, and Detroit’s economy and population cratered beginning in the late 20th century as the auto industry decentral ized. Due to the legacies of white flight and redlining, the decline hit Black Detroiters especially hard.

“Detroit is an interesting case because the highs were high and the lows were so low,” says Larsen. “A 100 years ago, it was Silicon Valley, and the wealth is still there — it just went to the suburbs.”

Larsen, along with Fishman, Dean Jonathan Massey, and Josh Akers, an associate professor of geography and urban and regional studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, leads “Racializing Space: Housing and Inequality in Detroit, 1930–2020.” An outgrowth


Inspiring Budding Architects, Shaping the Future of Cities

Michigan-Mellon’s renewed Egalitarian Metropolis cycle of funding focuses on the city of Detroit and ways that creative practice and the urban humanities can equitably address urban recovery. In tangible ways, The University of Michigan Architecture Preparatory Program (ArcPrep) is already doing just that: creating a sense of optimism and agency for Detroit public high school juniors interested in design and its affiliated fields.

Through an intensive, semester-long studio taught by our Mellon Fellows in Architecture, young designers learn to critically discern Detroit’s complex spatial histories as they explore ways to shape the city’s possible futures. The program takes the students’ talents, creativity, and expertise very seriously, nurturing an inclusionary pedagogical model based broadly on egalitarian educational ideals. In the process, we bring together a network of Taubman College faculty and students, Detroit institutions, community and government organizations, and professional enterprises into conversation and collaboration with students. In the past, ArcPrep has partnered with the Detroit Public Library, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Cultivator Community Land Trust, and the Sidewalk Festival, to name a few. With each partnership, we situated culturally contingent, place-based design exercises for students to directly engage with the city and its leaders.

This year’s program promises to be very exciting. We will be working with Cornell University College of Architecture, Art and Planning, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and a group of Detroit-based artists to critically engage with the city’s cultural institutions and civic spaces in order to define what constitutes a new model for equitable cultural infrastructure. The students never cease to dazzle with their unbridled imaginaries, and I’m certain they will come up with inspiring takes on this instigation.

of the Egalitarian Metropolis, the effort involves mapping data from decades of censuses and surveys to show how Detroit’s regional segregation and racial wealth gaps developed.

Mapping plays a role in much of the research currently funded by or related to the Egalitarian Metropolis project. Doctoral student Christine Hwang, for example, is work ing on a dissertation that focuses on how the Catholic Church, with its parish-based organizational structure, influenced the development of Detroit’s neighborhoods.

“The Catholic parish was much more important in Detroit than in Catholic countries,” Hwang explains, “because it became a place of refuge for Catholics, as well as an ethni cally defined space. It was kind of a paradox — the parish was a place of refuge, but only people who spoke Polish or Italian, for example, really felt welcome in the neighbor hood that it defined.”

Black Americans, who were mostly Protestant, often sought to enroll their children in parochial schools because they were seen as offering a better chance at upward mobility. Hwang’s next big question is whether those parishes that welcomed Black families acted as an antidote to redlining (the phenomenon in which Black families were confined to the poorest neighbor hoods and denied mortgages when they tried to break the “color line”).

Myles Zhang, a Ph.D. candidate in architecture at Taubman College, has also studied religious institutions — specifically, medieval cathedrals. But his more recent research involves less lofty institutions, beginning with the architecture of prisons and extending to places of punishment that lie far beyond their walls.

“It’s looking at carceral spaces that do not at first glance look like carceral spaces,” Zhang says, referring to urban areas that “are spaces of confinement, perhaps through lack of access to resources, like good transportation or job programs, or histories of underinvestment, or stigma associated with those people and places.”

Such topics can make a person pessimistic, Zhang admits, but the Egalitarian Metropolis — indeed, the whole urban humanities approach — is concerned not only with the burdens of the past, but with how their lessons can shape the future.

“These historical questions don’t always point themselves toward solutions,” he says, “but they provide an impetus, a motivation, to use the built environment as a tool for social equity.”

— Anya Sirota Associate Dean for Academic Initiatives / Associate Professor of Architecture

The spirit of the Egalitarian Metropolis will continue at Taubman College, notably through the latest iteration of U-M’s Anti-Racism Hiring Initiative, which will fund three new faculty positions in the urban humanities, including one at the college focused on urban design, another in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies in LSA, and a third position that the college will share with LSA’s Digital Studies Institute.

The culmination of the Michigan-Mellon Project, however, takes place next spring, with “The Egalitarian Metropolis: Toward an Inclusive Recovery for Detroit,” a symposium that will bring together U-M researchers and people who are working every day to make Detroit’s recovery equitable and inclusive.

“We need to look to history to understand where to go in the future, how to navigate similar issues, and how to avoid making similar mistakes,” says architectural historian Anna Mascorella, Taubman College’s current Fishman Fellow. “I think it’s critical to understand deeply how our cities came to be where they are today, and to ask ourselves who was — or wasn’t — at the table when these decisions were being made.”

To that end, the conference will be “a project of the urban humanities,” says Mascorella, who is working

Racial dot maps of Detroit, generated by Myles Zhang, show how the city remains racially and spatially segregated. More at racializingspace.org.

closely with Fishman to develop it. “It merges the aca demic disciplines of architecture, urban planning, history, geography, literature, economics, and social work with Detroit community members and civic organizations in order to truly foster critical conversations about Detroit’s future as an egalitarian metropolis.”

The path toward that future may not yet be clear, but Detroit is also not alone in its struggle to be a more inclusive place for humans to live, work, and grow.

“What happened to Detroit is profoundly engaged with deeper global forces,” says Fishman. “It’s these forces, including de-industrialization and changing global division of labor, that lead us to the divided metropolis, to increasing inequality all over the world.”

Global tides shift, however, and the college’s engagement with Detroit has revealed certain advantages — housing, for example, is “naturally affordable” in Detroit, even as other cities experience soaring home prices and rents.

“It was not too long ago when Detroit was seen as a warn ing about the future for every American city,” Fishman says. “But I think the very difficulties Detroit has faced might lead to better outcomes.”

After all, Detroit’s urban biography is far from complete. And whether the next chapter will be one of egalitarian ism or division is up to the next generation of architects, planners, policymakers, activists, and the everyday people who call cities home.



What Are You Thinking About?

A: Inclusivity as an architectural methodology.

Why is this interesting to you? My architectural education has been as much about understanding archi tecture as it has been understanding the design process. In my opinion, the most nuanced and innovative designs arrive from the pressure of various programmatic, environmen tal, and contextual constraints. We are being taught to design with intentionality and to have agency over our design choices in order to solve the design puzzle at hand.

My introduction to the study of inclusivity in architecture was through the lens of physical accessi bility. It is one thing to know about code compliance, but it is another to work accessibility into a space from its inception. We can improve our designs by thinking of accessibility (in all senses of the word) as a con straint and a principal design factor.

Accessibility in architecture seems like the ultimate constraint. It is also the most fundamental. Architects are space makers, and what is the point of space making if people can’t access the space? Being able to enter a space is one of the most basic rights that all individuals should have.

Exclusivity in space making is hierar chical, discriminatory, and ableist. Whether intentional or not, we are making spaces that prevent people from entering, understanding, and feeling welcome in our architecture. Not only are we neglecting our responsibility as architects to be the patrons of space making, but at the same time, we are holding ourselves back from wonders of design that result from an inclusive design meth odology and the opportunities those constraints present to us.

A. How to bridge virtual and physical space with AR and VR.

Why is this interesting to you?

There is a fundamental disconnect between the virtual and physical space. The average American spends over seven hours looking at a screen each day. We might not remember the wall’s texture around us, but we remember the website’s brand color. Can virtual or physical space extend to the other to eliminate the gap?

What does the physical space for VR users look like? How can the physical space and VR experience design facilitate each other? Take Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a ride in Universal Studios, as an example. Players sit in a pod, and the machine carries them flying through all the scenes. The path players go through is the spatial sequences we often use in architec

ture design, while the screens play ing enhance the emotional value of the spatial experience.

AR is an interactive experience that overlays digital content in the physical world. For architecture, this digital content can be used as a new element to provide information in the form of graphics and text. Some similar use cases we have already seen are video walls, signatures, and environmental graphics. Imagine all of these become intractable and floating in the air; how will this change the space design?

It’s fascinating to think about what space will be like in the next generation, especially integrating with powerful VR and AR tech nology. If you are interested in get ting in touch and learning more, feel free to visit my website: www.joannehuangdesign.com.


A. The evolution of technology in a world of digital divide.

Why is this interesting to you?

Digital technologies are advancing at a rapid (and sometimes alarming) rate. Meanwhile, there remains a rift between those who have access to newer technology and those who do not. Being a student during the pan demic opened my eyes to how dam aging a digital divide can be. Some students had access to the infra structure and resources that made distance learning easier. Other stu dents — especially those who lived in underserved communities — had to deal with additional barriers such as unreliable internet connections and outdated technology. These bar riers resulted in increased learning gaps that will impact students for years to come.

A. Resilience in cities starts with individuals.

Why is this interesting to you?

One of the biggest buzzwords cur rently part of the urban planning vernacular is “resilience,” specifically in reference to cities. Resilience against climate change, public health challenges, and political shifts requires the response from cities to adapt and grow. However, the term “resilience” results in a more zoomedout approach as it focuses on an overall city. Perhaps it doesn’t quite encapsulate the importance of look ing directly at people who are being forced to adapt, change, and, hope fully, grow. Every challenge is differ ent, and it’s clear that, even though everyone is affected, the distribution is uneven.

My strongest interest and focus, as reflected by my various forms of involvement within my communities, has always vacillated to and from a

big-picture approach. However, it is a zoomed-in level focus on individual people that I keep coming back to. It is a lens I take with me with each project I participate in and one that I hope to continue to take with me in my career as I prepare to graduate and enter the field full-time.

I have had the opportunity this past summer to see individuals do this firsthand: first, working with the City of Detroit’s Census recount challenge, and then seeing the small but mighty staff at Community Development Advocates of Detroit work to bring folks together to strengthen their communities. I have had the chance to see them distrib ute necessary information about resources and organizations that could mutually benefit from one another. These actions require patience and persistence. They are possibly the hardest thing a person in this field can practice, and it has the potential to result in resilience.

Urban technology will undoubtedly affect our future as well. However, since it is a relatively new discipline, it is difficult to predict what the future of urban technology looks like. How will these innovations be applied to a digitally divided society? Can technology respond effectively to the educational challenges and other issues exacerbated by the digital divide? During the Urban Technology spring intensive earlier this year, we examined how technol ogy can be used to improve cities, thereby improving the lives of resi dents. Hopefully, we can help build technology and infrastructure that improves the lives of all residents, regardless of where they may live.

Odiso Obiora
in Urban Technology
Maria Garcia Reyna M.U.R.P. ’23

A DAY IN THE LIFE: An In-Depth Exploration of Urban Centers

The two-month Cities Intensive helps students in the Bachelor of Science in Urban Technology program understand cities in depth through trips to Detroit and other important urban centers. Between field trips, they complete hands-on design workshops to experi ment with how they see, shape, and experience urban life.


A DAY IN THE LIFE: Learning Mexico City through Its Built Environment

Yojairo Lomeli’s spring travel course took students to Mexico City, a metropolis that offers unique, timely lessons for architects and producers of cities rethinking the scope and responsibility of architecture, planning, and design. Students learned from community organizations, designers, and architects working to address the metropolis’s complicated relationship to water and the various scales of challenges it faces.


Global Lessons in Real Estate Development and Affordable Housing

LAN DENG HAS SPENT her academic career examin ing how government interventions work in improving housing affordability. Now, she’s completed the first paper that examines the changes in China’s real estate develop ment industry since 2000 and what that means for local housing production. Deng, a professor of urban and regional planning and the associate director for the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, is a leading researcher focused on better understanding how China’s housing system has evolved to create obstacles to afford able housing.

Deng explains that gaining a deeper understanding of how housing is produced and the dynamics of the Chinese housing markets “can help us identify the right strategies to address the country’s housing challenges.” She said that the real estate industry in China has “grown tremendously in the last two decades,” from a small sector dominated by state-owned enterprises to a “trillion-dollar industry” pop ulated by a large number of private firms, with recent evi dence pointing to a growing concentration of development activities among the country’s largest real estate develop ment firms. Deng recently finished a paper, co-authored with two Taubman College students and a colleague in China, which examines the factors that have been driving those industry changes and what these changes mean for local housing production.

The paper, currently under peer review, is one of the first to study the organization of China’s real estate develop ment industry. “There has been very little scholarly

Professor of Urban and Regional Planning Lan Deng encourages cities to learn from one another in order to find a more balanced approach to housing challenges

research on how the real estate development industry works,” she said. “I argue that we need to look into how the industry works because the structure and behavior of the industry have consequences.” When their paper is published, Deng hopes it can open a whole new area of research.

Deng’s research shows how the organization of China’s real estate development industry has been shaped by the country’s public landownership system, which squeezes developers’ profits and prompts them to expand across markets. Since companies are expanding far across the country, the formulation of market monopoly and manip ulation of local housing markets aren’t occurring. Yet as real estate development has become less of a local busi ness, Deng is curious about what this means for local communities. She points to an oversupply of housing in less developed regions.

“There has been a phenomenon of ghost towns in China, where projects were built and few people moved in,” she said. “I am worried that it could turn into blight” like what Detroit has experienced, she said. Deng has been researching the factors that led to affordable housing issues in Detroit since 2010. “I feel that my Detroit research helps me see those problems, the issues that China is also likely to encounter in the future.”

There are many shared challenges among countries. Deng thinks it’s important for them to learn from each other. Last summer, she helped organize a panel on shrinking cities — former industrial cities in both the U.S. and China that are losing population. She brought together scholars from the two countries to “have a direct conversation on this global phenomenon and share expe riences on what works and what does not in the govern ment responses to it.”

Working with a colleague from Tsinghua University, Deng has recently co-edited a special issue in the journal Housing Policy Debate that looks at the recent shifts in Chinese housing policies. By showing how China has sought to rebalance social equity with economic develop ment in its housing policy-making, Deng and her coeditor hope that this special issue can help elevate the debate on what governments can do to address the chal lenges of housing affordability and rising social inequality that have become pervasive among cities across the world.

Deng believes that increasing the supply of housing while curbing the speculative demand from an oversupply of capital will be critical to addressing the housing afford ability challenge in the U.S. Housing construction in the last decade has not kept pace with demand, she said. Add to that supply chain issues, restrictive land use regu lations, and the low interest-rate environment and “it’s a perfect storm. There are so many factors that contribute to this crisis.”

On the horizon, Deng wants to conduct research that directly compares the housing policies and markets of the U.S. versus China. Housing policymaking in the two countries has been heavily influenced by their ideological context, she said. In the U.S., the culture is to reject gov ernment intervention. Yet in China, there’s too much state control. “The two countries can learn from each other to figure out a more balanced approach to these housing and urban challenges,” she said.

There has been very little scholarly research on how the real estate development industry works. I argue that we need to look into how the industry works because the structure and behavior of the industry have consequences.”
— Lan Deng, professor of urban and regional planning

AI is Here, is Architecture Ready?

Associate Professor of Architecture Matias del Campo is ready for AI to change the way we build

MATIAS DEL CAMPO MADE productive use of his time when COVID put some of his projects on hold, writing one of the first books on the use of artificial intelli gence in architecture. As an associate professor at Taubman College and founder of the Architecture and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, launched in January 2021, he’s considered a pioneer in bringing AI to the practice of architecture.

AI is “changing the design processes. It’s going to very likely change how we build.” He explains that AI lets architects harness the power of data to enhance the way they design spaces. The vast amounts of information gathered through AI can help architects to improve the planning of spatial layouts as much as the structural properties and aesthetics of their designs.

His book Neural Architecture: Design and Artificial Intelligence (ORO Editions, 2022), features several exam ples of how to use AI in architecture and discusses the cultural, political, and economic implications that archi tects need to consider as they use these new methods. He also explores how to address the fundamental shifts that AI will create. For example, if AI-assisted robots are used on construction sites, what happens to those who currently work on those sites?

“There’s a huge political implication,” he said. “Do we introduce universal basic income,” so working on the construction site isn’t necessary? Or should it become a collaboration between humans and machines?

Another major issue posed by the use of AI is how much agency architects have over their projects and the impli cations for copyrights. AI holds the possibility of entirely shifting the traditional concept of top-down architecture design methods. He suggests that there’s merit in moving away from the idea of the “architect as the genius who makes a napkin sketch that magically transforms into a built project.” Architecture, del Campo says, doesn’t operate that way; it’s a collaborative process.

“Now the question is: Do we open up to the idea that AI becomes a collaborator rather than thinking of it just as a tool?” He believes architects should view AI as help ing to expand their creativity — harnessing the power of data to make better architecture. Though the ultimate decision will remain with the architect, the advantage of AI is that it will provide hundreds of variations of plans in minutes, giving the architect far more choices in a short time.

Del Campo hopes his book will be pathbreaking in pro viding information on the opportunities that AI provides. Many, he said, view it just as a basic technology tool for architects. But he points out that AI is pervasive in every day life, including the way that Amazon learns to recom mend books for you based on your previous purchases. This technology “is so global, in terms of how it infuses so many parts of our life,” he said. “It has become an inte gral part of how we design and how we make art and how we make music even without us noticing. It is deeply ingrained in our contemporary age.”


This summer, del Campo began working on a project with the University of Michigan Robotics team to evalu ate the use of machine vision for demolition at construc tion sites to allow the easy separation of materials for reuse. Separating materials like glass and concrete is a time- and labor-intensive process, and training a robot to separate the material would be far more affordable. He sees this as particularly advantageous in reducing the amount of waste generated during the lifecycle of a build ing. Speeding up the process and reducing the cost could help ensure that AI-driven building recycling would be widely used, he said.

Del Campo continues to encounter long-held skepticism and widespread suspicion of the tool from fellow archi tects. He believes that’s motivated by the fear that machines will displace humans. “They’re afraid they’re going to be out of a job or become obsolete or that they’re too old to get up to speed with technology”— none of which del Campo feels is true. He hopes more architects embrace AI instead of pushing it away since it can be a huge asset to the field.

“It is a train in motion,” he said. “If we as architects do not engage with this paradigm shift, somebody else will do it for us, robbing architecture of the opportunity to shape the trajectory that this development will take — and thus the impact it will have for the discipline.”

[AI] has become an integral part of how we design and how we make art and how we make music even without us noticing. It is deeply ingrained in our contemporary age.”
— Matias del Campo, associate professor of architecture

ON AIR: Faculty Work 2020–2022

From March to September 2022, more than 60 examples of inspiration and innovation, including research, professional practice projects, publications, and other creative works, were on display in an exhibition of Taubman College faculty work from the past two years. The exhibition was planned and curated by Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Creative Practice Kathy Velikov. It featured a playful new event infra structure of large inflatables and stands designed by Taubman College Architecture Fellows Adam Miller and Leah Wulfman, in coordination with Velikov and a team of Taubman College architecture students. The new infrastructure was conceived as a deconstructed bounce house that can be played with and rearranged to serve future events, symposia, and exhibitions at Taubman College.


Robotically Fabricated Structure (RFS): Assistant Professor of Architecture Arash Adel, ADR Laboratory

Robotically Fabricated Structure (RFS) is a robotically fabricated timber pavilion that explores responsible and precise methods contributing to sustainable and lowcarbon construction outlooks. This structure is designed with the help of custom algorithms developed specifically for this project and built through state-of-the-art humanrobot collaborative construction. Situated in the Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, Michigan, it is designed for public engagement, acting as a defined gathering point located within the framework of a public conservatory while still maintaining an open-air condition.


Quotable Taubman College

The reason that urban design keeps coming back to the linear city is that it really does have a functional logic.”

One financial [factor] that many people fail to take into consideration in choosing where to live is the cost of their commute. We become compla cent about long drives when gas is cheap. Then when gas prices spike, we find we can no longer afford to drive long dis tances yet we have no alternative means to get to work and other daily needs. The housing may be more expensive in walkable neighborhoods or close to transit and employment centers, but if you factor in transportation costs it may be more affordable to live in neighborhoods where you are not dependent on your car.”

— Kit Krankel McCullough, lecturer in architecture, in WalletHub article “2022’s Best States to Live In”

— Robert Fishman, professor of architecture and urban and regional planning, in Fast Company article “What’s the Point of Saudi Arabia’s Giant Sideways Desert Skyscraper?”

In order for the beach to stay the same, it has to be able to change. It has to be able to move and shift and grow and decrease over time as lake levels go up and down as conditions change. That’s the paradox of beach dynamics.”

— Richard Norton, professor of urban and regional planning, in Yahoo News article “As Lake Michigan Shoreline Vanishes, Wisconsinites Fight Waves with Walls”

While it’s popular, and maybe even accurate, to claim that architecture is for everyone, such claims find less acceptance when it comes to cultural institutions. No matter their location, collections, and entry fees (if any), the cultural cen ters of the world are not welcoming to every person; not everyone is comfortable in these spaces.”

— Craig Wilkins, associate profes sor of architecture, in Arch Daily article “Breaking the Dead Paradigm for Design Exhibitions”

The safer states have implemented a bundle of policies that are ori ented toward controlling the motor vehicle, while the dangerous states are more oriented toward accom modating it. The difference between the two suggests that policies that encourage driving make the trans portation system more dangerous simply by exposing people to more travel.”

— Jonathan Levine, professor of urban and regional planning, in the Midland Daily News article “Michigan Named Eighth-Worst State to Drive In”


Gradient Journal

GRADIENT IS AN ONLINE PLATFORM for archi tecture and urbanism from the University of Michigan Taubman College. Organized in “feeds” rather than “issues,” the journal aspires to lean in to the potentials of digital media formats, elevating nascent disciplinary conversations at Taubman College and beyond. Feeds might be semi-defined topics, compelling misfits, or fragments of latent conversations: dim when first launched, but clarified over time. Each feed will remain active after its launch, welcoming responses and sub missions in any format — image, video, text, and more. Conversations will stay active until they resolve them selves, lose relevance, or just fade away into the endless digital ether — the Gradient. Gradient Feed #2: Inflections is a series of contributions on topics pertain ing to the role that technology plays in relation to how we conceive, build, experience, and teach architecture.

You can’t be a lone genius. That’s actually impossible. I think there’s something nice about being able to just escape that trap of thinking about any of us working in isolation, because it’s always been fiction.”

The 2019 hearings for the Right to Repair movement demonstrate how corporate exclusionary practices have a monopolistic agenda and, far from protecting the consumer, instead disrupt a pluralistic economy.”

Rocking Cradle: Interactive Urban Furniture for Environmental Attunement,” a vessel that acts as nursery planter for nascent seedlings, teeter-totter that provokes play, and mechanism for promoting stewardship between a community and its urban biome.

I think that ‘prototyping’ is a tricky word for me. I’d like to use the word ‘shaping.’ Because shaping refers not just to producing shapes, but also to producing impacts, having a relationship with things, having imprints toward matter and non physical things, having shaped one’s life and thecommunity around you.”

— DANA CUPKOVA , “Material Excerpts: A Conversation”

Read the latest Gradient feed: taubmancollege.umich.edu/ gradient-journal

Block West, AUAR Labs, 2020. The IM_RU Pavilion addresses the relationship between architecture and public space, where an individual is simultaneously confronted with a multiplicity of individual and collective perceptions.
— JOSE SANCHEZ, “The Politics of Tectonics”
— SHELBY DOYLE, “Authorial Asymmetries: Computational Feminism, Access, and Cooperation in Digital Knowledge Creation”


“I went to a small high school and a small undergraduate program so I was eager to go to a larger school. When I’m designing things, I feel like my creativity is height ened when I’m surrounded by more voices,” says Iman Messado, M.Arch ’23. After studying economics and art as an undergraduate, she decided architecture was the ideal way to combine her artistic skills with interests like infrastructure development in West Africa and colo nialism and its latent effects. “I like the way art engages the average person to take more agency in crafting their built environment,” she explains.

Messado has found Taubman College welcoming and supportive. “I’d heard warnings about some schools’ studio culture, competition, and harsh criticism, but my time at Taubman has been full of patience and compas sion. And I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed any skill or com petence. I’m intellectually challenged but not hurting myself to get there.”

As a mentor to high school students through the Equity in Architectural Education Consortium (EAEC), she’s helping the next generation succeed as well. She says, “I would have appreciated a mentor like me, and it was fun to interact with the students and see their perspec tive since they were new to architecture and design.”

As a Taubman scholar and the inaugural Cass A. Radecki and Cynthia Enzer Radecki Scholarship recipient, Messado has a solid foundation to pursue her studies. “The scholarships helped affirm my place here. They let me know people were looking out for me and were want ing me to succeed,” she says.

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



Ensuring a More Equitable Future for Architecture

Architecture Scholarship Fund

RANDY HOWDER HAS SPENT a great deal of time thinking about where people feel comfortable. He’s managing director and principal at Gensler’s San Francisco office, and, since the pandemic, he’s been considering what draws people back into public spaces after spending so much time at home.

“You go for the sensory excitement of the smells, the lighting, the din of the crowd, and getting out of your pajamas. You want to be around other people. I think the workplace is going through that same experience; people are gravitating to high-quality environments where they feel better having been there than if they hadn’t been there,” he says.

The San Francisco Gensler office has been strategic about finding new ways to facilitate in-person collaboration. Howder says, “Architecture is sometimes mythologized as this individual genius who comes up with these brilliant ideas, but in reality, it is a social activity designing a building or a space, anything that involves a lot of collab oration with colleagues. Every person on the team has something different to add.”

Returning to the office doesn’t mean a return to the status quo. Howder believes considering factors like the neuro and physical diversity of employees and making work accessible to employees from diverse locations, back grounds, and circumstances when balancing collaborative and individual work time is paramount. “I think architec ture is becoming a more sensitive profession, a more diverse profession. Remote work and having distributed teams helps us bring and keep more diverse participants in the profession,” he explains.

He sees Taubman College embracing and advancing the inclusiveness of the profession as well. “The college has really pushed forward diversity in a profession that has historically not been diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, all of the above. There’s definitely

been a shift from when I was at the college. I think stu dents being a part of that kind of diversity is making their work more interesting. They’re more aware and sensitive to some of the challenges facing the world, and it’s show ing up in their work, which is exciting.”

Howder and his husband, Neal Conatser, a successful Bay Area real estate agent, want to ensure that as many students as possible have the opportunity to experience the high-quality education they benefited from with the added diversity of thought Taubman College students are a part of today. In 2021, they established the HowderConatser Architecture Scholarship Fund at Taubman College as one way to make sure more people find their place in architecture. Now they’re reaffirming that com mitment with a pledge of $2.75 million through their estate to support Taubman College undergraduate architecture students, focusing on those with financial need and those who are the first in their families to go to college.

While Howder’s parents both went to college, Conatser was the first in his family to pursue higher education. Howder says what they shared is “the good fortune of being in these robust institutions that gave us a new per spective on the world and helped us see the world through others’ eyes.” Both see education as an answer to some of the world’s difficult challenges, like addressing climate change or transitioning to a more equitable economy.

“Income inequality is what’s driving a lot of political and social challenges in this country. I think it takes a college education to be really successful. It’s like table stakes now if you want to become part of the middle class or beyond. Someone who may not have the financial means to come to a world-class university like Michigan, if we can help however many people it is through the life of this scholar ship, that’s a small part we can play in helping the world, this country, and the state of Michigan be a better place,” Howder says.

Randy Howder, B.S. Arch ’99, and his husband, Neal Conatser, are supporting the next generation of architects and critical thinkers with their $2.75 million pledge to the Howder-Conatser

As an Alumni Council member, he has seen that Taubman College students are aware of and ready to tackle the world’s challenges. “They really value trying to solve some of these systemic issues that architecture, in particular, has often avoided because, historically, our clients are wealthy. Often people think don’t think architecture can affect those systemic issues, but it’s such a fundamental part of shaping society that it really does. Architecture communicates values.”

The tenacity and social consciousness of Taubman College students is one reason Howder and Conatser established their scholarship fund. “The experience at Taubman, no matter what your career track is, teaches that ability to learn how to follow a concept through to completion and then explain that clearly to others and bring them along; that’s the key to making the world a better place as far as we’re concerned,” says Howder.

He adds that he and his husband are thinking about the long term with their planned gift to Taubman College. “Our legacy, rather than being direct descendants, will be all of these architects and designers. Even if they’re not architects, they’ll be folks who can think critically and make progress on sticky issues and make the world a better place.”

He also hopes alumni realize gifts and support of all types and sizes make an impact on Taubman College students. “Giving back doesn’t always have to come as a large monetary amount. It can be volunteer time that helps graduating students find a job, being a guest critic at a studio, opening your office to students during spring break. No gift is too small. Give what you can when you can but stay connected to the college. Increasing the cohesiveness of the alumni network makes us all more valuable to the outside world and the profession.”

Someone who may not have the financial means to come to a worldclass university like Michigan, if we can help however many people it is through the life of this scholarship, that’s a small part we can play in helping the world, this country, and the state of Michigan be a better place.”
— Randy Howder, B.S. Arch ’99

GIVING: KARTIK DESAI, B.S. ARCH ’99 Not the Only Player: Future-Focused Collaboration

KARTIK DESAI DOESN’T WANT to work in a silo.

“When you’re in architecture school, you’re very aware of the magic of creating and designing buildings. What you only have an inkling of is that you’re not the only player. There are owners, clients, engineers, and everyone else. I realized I was also interested in some of the other aspects of what makes a building a building,” says Desai.

When Desai founded D&A Companies in 2018, it was an opportunity to do a hybrid of real estate development and architectural design while leveraging the talent, skills, and cohesion of his longtime team of colleagues and friends.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to have written the recipe, baked it, and then served it up,” says Desai, who is a firm believer that understanding both real estate and architecture leads to a better built environment.

“What we aim to do is create places where people want to live, want to be, and want to work. We’re making places for people. It’s not just designing for design’s sake. To envision it, then to see it gradually come to reality over a number of years, and then to see people occupy it. There

are all these different thrills along the way. Of course, it’s interspersed with all the stresses, trials, and tribulations of getting a project done. But we get to conceive it, have a strong hand in designing it, and have a strong hand in actually executing it.”

Two such projects share a campus in Birmingham, Alabama. 2222 Arlington is the redevelopment of a modernist landmark into a class A office building. The Tramont is a luxury residential project — the city’s first concierge residence of its kind — with skyline views, a pool terrace, and a wellness facility.

Another project, Fall Park, is a mixed-use community in Gardiner, New York. A variety of houses and apartments, along with commercial, recreational, and agritourism facilities form clusters spread out over 100 acres to pre serve most of the picturesque Hudson Valley property. “It’s not often the right ingredients come together to build something special at this scale,” says Desai. “We love working with communities that believe in placemaking and investors who believe in the value of good design.”

Desai says his Taubman College education plays a role in what he’s doing today, “Taubman is where I learned how to design buildings. I learned an approach that’s very rigorous, thoughtful, and disciplined. They made me into the designer that I am still.”

Having found his success, Desai wants to help current and future Taubman College students do the same. He gives to Taubman College not just because of how the college shaped him but because of how Taubman College is growing now.

“I am really proud of Taubman for not just pioneering things like the urban technology program, but also colla borating across campus with the business school and Weiser Center to build a truly interdisciplinary real estate curriculum,” he says. “I want to do what I can, not just to help Taubman and to encourage young architects to take more of an interest in real estate development, but also to encourage business and real estate students to be more design literate. I want to foster that inter disciplinary model.” — Liz G. Fisher


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 your alma mater. Contact the Taubman College advancement team at taubmancollegeadvancement@umich.edu or 734.764.4720 to learn more about establishing a planned gift for Taubman College or to let us know if you already have included the college in your will or estate plans.



BEQUEST Transfer property (including cash, securities, or tangible property) through a will or trust. A bequest can be a specific dollar amount or a designated percentage of your estate.

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Name Taubman College as a beneficiary of your retirement account(s) or life insurance policy.

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A life income gift that benefits you and Taubman College. You choose the fixed percentage rate of return and transfer cash, an appreciated asset, or other property to a trust that the university manages to generate payments to you.

Payout amount fluctuates based on market value of investment. Upon the passing of income beneficiaries, the balance comes to Taubman College.


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A life income gift that benefits you and Taubman College. Based on your age at the time of the gift, the university sets a fixed percentage rate of return. The university then invests your gift and makes fixed payments to you. Upon the passing of income beneficiaries, the balance comes to Taubman College.

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Laying the Foundation for a New Generation of Change Makers

DURING A RECENT TRIP TO Ann Arbor for his work on the Taubman College alumni council, Brian Adelstein was on a run through campus which ended up on the hill near Mary Markley Hall. He reflected on his time flipping burgers in the snack bar there as an undergraduate when he worked 30 hours a week to help pay for school.

Twenty-three years later, he’s still there, now leading a team of transaction managers in the completion of acquisitions and dispositions for a global financial services client. He’s invigorated by real estate, currently reaching a fever pace after some slower years due to the pandemic. And he’s happy to see Taubman College is now offering a real estate development minor and graduate certificate.

“I was energized to see an avenue within the school for people to test the waters in real estate and start really understanding what the industry can offer to them. I’ve been in that industry for 23 years, and every day I use something I learned at Taubman,” he says.

Now, with a successful career and his children in their teenage years, he’s in the position to give back to students who, just as he did, know that Taubman College is the best place for them.

“We can we do something for students like me who need financial help to go through this program,” he says. “It’s one of those things that you don’t really understand if you’ve never tried to go through college and wonder where the money is going to come from — what am I going to do to make sure I can afford that next semester or the supplies I need to complete a project?”

“I’m from Ohio. I could have gone to Ohio State or another state school and not have had to worry about money. But, in my mind, there was something important about going to a school like Michigan,” he says. “To be able to say, ‘I’m an alum of the University of Michigan. I’m an alum of Taubman College.’ It’s a badge of honor, and it says something about me to people with whom I’m having conversations or people who are considering me for jobs.”

It was a Taubman College classmate who recruited him to real estate company Cushman & Wakefield in 1999.

In addition to the Alumni Council’s fundraising work, Adelstein relishes the opportunity to engage with stu dents directly. Something struck him about the Taubman College students he spoke with.

“They all want to go out and make an impact on society and other people. They talk about wanting to go into sus tainability, affordable housing or wanting to complete projects that support underprivileged people. They have these grand aspirations that their next steps are going to have an impact beyond themselves, and this energizes me every time I talk to them.”

— Liz G. Fisher

Members of the Alumni Council at the School of Kinesiology.

Working With, Not Against, Nature

Lizzie Yarina, B.S. Arch ’10, knows climate adaptation planning is full of trade-offs

LIZZIE YARINA’S WORK on climate adaptation plan ning in delta regions has taken her to Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta at an exciting time. Vietnam is launching a new integrated regional plan that includes climate change adaptation affecting both urban and rural sites. Supported by the prestigious Fulbright-Hays Scholarship for Doctoral Dissertation Research, her second Fulbright award, Yarina is using her time in Vietnam to study climate change adaptation in real time.

“It’s quite exciting to observe something as it’s happening. Many local experts are advocating for the implementation of new ideas about living with nature, water management, and dealing with climate change by adapting agricultural practices and other kinds of infrastructure rather than fighting against it,” she says.

Yarina, now a doctoral candidate in urban studies and planning at MIT, traces her interest in the environmental impacts of architecture and urban planning back to her

time as an undergraduate at Taubman College. During her Wallenberg studio trip to Reykjavik with Associate Professor Jen Maigret, she became interested in how climate change was going to impact the city.

“All my projects as an undergrad were architecture projects, but they all became something bigger,” she says. “I was always interested in environmental issues and especially in how climate change is going to alter the way we relate to our built environment.”

She’s still working to understand those significant questions. In her current research that means not only speaking to other architects and urban planners; she’s talking to people that live in the areas impacted by the regional plans and visiting building sites that are related to the planning process. Yarina has observed that envi ronmental change adaptation means different things to different people.

“One of the things I’m interested in is how do you manage trade-offs of water management? If you keep the water out of somewhere, it’s going to go somewhere else. And there are other trade-offs too, because they’re dealing with other issues in the Mekong Delta like salinity, erosion, and subsidence,” she explains.

“I’m interested in critically reflecting on the tools we use to do this kind of work,” she says. “What are the impacts on the ground? Who does it benefit? When we talk about trade-offs, how are those getting evaluated? And the plans and projects that are getting implemented, how do those relate to the people who are the most vul nerable to environmental impacts? Many people talk about climate adaptation through ‘win, win solutions,’ and I think that’s a problematic framing because I don’t think those exist. I’m trying to combat this idea of a gen eral solution and understand the more sticky processes and relationships and interests that shape how these big plans get developed.”

Urban flooding in Can Tho, Vietnam.

Public Space, Personal Relationships

THE WORLD OF HOSPITALITY is built on relation ships. As Marriott International’s senior vice president of global design for the United States and Canada, Kristen Conry treasures those relationships. She leads a team of nearly 100 architects, designers, and project managers who serve as ambassadors for Marriott and its 30 brands.

“People often do not realize that we do not own the vast majority of our hotels. First and foremost, we are a fran chiser and management company. That’s true for Marriott and all the other major players in our industry. We have a community of thousands of owners who choose us as their partner, their “flag” as we say. Without our owners, we would not have 8,000+ incredible properties and experi ences for our guests around the world. My team is deeply engaged in these relationships, working hand-in-hand for years with our owners and our network of consultants and vendors to bring these properties and experiences to life. Hospitality is a close-knit and very social industry, and the people in it keep it interesting and fun,” says Conry.

Before entering the hospitality industry, she enjoyed the intensely personal and private nature of custom, high-end residential work along with the generous, experiential, and public nature of restaurant, bar, and nightclub work.

“The world of hospitality is a microcosm where these multi-faceted spheres of life come together in a compel ling way,” she explains. “It’s a place of happenings and connections but also privacy and retreat. And the top ology itself is in a constant state of reinvention through changing guest needs and expectations, trends, cycles of renovations, and new brands for untapped markets. It’s a very dynamic industry.”

Conry’s work encapsulates everything from luxury resorts to prototypical hotels, large convention centers to boutique gems, branded residences to yachts. For her, that makes the work uniquely satisfying. Whether the project is small or large, her team ensures that the guestfacing front-of-house spaces such as guestrooms, food and beverage outlets, event space, fitness centers, outdoor amenities, and more, as well as associate-facing backof-house spaces are designed and executed for optimal operation and thoughtful and immersive experiences at every touchpoint.

Delivering those experiences involves balancing the prior ities of the many stakeholders involved in each project to usher it from a conversation to a feasible deal to an exe cutable project to an amazing guest experience and profit able business. Conry says she and her team thrive at that intersection of business and design.

“We are always seeking that sweet spot where owners want to build, guests want to stay, and that’s going to make money. We often cite our mission as ‘guestfocused design, owner-focused results,’” she says.

Kristen Conry, B.S. Arch ’99, M.Arch ’01, wants people to feel at home anywhere they work or travel
Marriott Bethesda Downtown at Marriott HQ. (Owner: The Bernstein Companies. Management: Marriott International. Architect: Gensler. Interior Design: Rottet Studio.)

Living between Idea and Reality

Justin Mast, M.Arch ’12, is an entrepreneur who thinks like an architect

JUSTIN MAST WAS BORN TO BE an entrepreneur. Growing up in Grand Rapids, he was known for his enterprising ideas, like selling plants outside his parents’ greenhouse. On both his mother’s and his father’s side, his family has a rich history in horticulture going back multiple generations, so it makes sense that one of his first business ventures involved selling greenery. He didn’t know it then, but plants would play a large part in his entrepreneurial future.

Founding Bloomscape didn’t happen without some trial and error. Just a few years after graduating from business school, Mast decided to start his own business. After a few semi-successful startups, he knew he wanted to pursue further education. But something about an M.B.A. didn’t feel like the right fit for him. He knew he wanted to sur round himself with creative and inspiring people and found just that at Taubman College.

“I got this crazy idea,” he says, “that I could become a bet ter entrepreneur by learning to think like an architect.”


He was right. In 2017, just five years after graduating from Taubman College, he created Bloomscape, and it took off. Based in Detroit, the company ships a variety of plants directly to the consumer’s door. Mast applied much of what he learned at Taubman College directly to starting Bloomscape. “Both architects and entrepreneurs plant themselves squarely in this vibrant, messy space between idea and reality. That’s an uncomfortable place for most people to exist, I think. For other people, that’s right where you want to be,” he says.

In pursuit of that vibrant, messy existence, Mast has stepped back from the day-to-day operation of Bloomscape, though he remains involved as the board director. He’s now an entrepreneur-in-residence at Endeavor, an organization dedicated to inspiring and supporting high-impact entrepreneurs.

Mast is working with the Detroit-based team to develop a regional strategy for the Great Lakes and a vision for the next 10 years of the organization. They’re dedicated to supporting and retaining entrepreneurs in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Chicago, Ann Arbor, and elsewhere. For him, it is a chance to learn, get some insight, and give back to his fellow entrepreneurs.

He explains, “It’s about accelerating this thing called the multiplier effect. They support high-growth entrepre neurs in emerging markets around the world. It started in places like Argentina and Brazil with this idea that, when you identify these companies that are growing fast, if you can give them the same support they’d get in a place like San Francisco, those businesses grow to a size and scale where they can start to give back and invest in their communities.”

These businesses can often lead to spin-off startups, hence the “multiplier effect.” Mast is passionate about support ing these companies and putting the Great Lakes area on the map as a fertile ground for entrepreneurs. As a step in that direction, Endeavor has teamed up with the William Davidson Foundation and Startup Genome to create a new brand and strategy around the Detroit and Ann Arbor startup ecosystems. Research on the strengths and weaknesses of the cities when it comes to high-growth startups will inform new policy and pilot projects to support entrepreneurs.

It’s particularly important to Mast to be doing that work in Detroit. “Detroit is a smaller start-up community and creative community, but being a part of it and having a role in a comeback story is deeply rewarding,” he says. “A lot of people come to Detroit with expectations of making big changes fast. I was probably one of those people. What we’ve learned is that change is happening here, but it’s got a pace of its own. I’ve learned a lot by being a part of this city.”

Mast says there’s a wealth of good startups coming out of Detroit, Ann Arbor, and surrounding areas. Some have even spun out of Taubman College. He feels that some of the next generation of talented entrepreneurs could as well. He sees the college’s multidisciplinary approach to education as a valuable foundation for students who want to pursue entrepreneurship.

He’d be developing ideas and businesses whether he attended Taubman College or not. However, his architec ture degree gave him a tool set to practice entrepreneur ship in a way he finds particularly rewarding.

“When it comes to having a vision and trying to bring that into reality, there are not a lot of other education programs that train you to think that way,” he says.

“Developing the patience to be able to work on a problem from a lot of different angles, using different tools, that’s all very architectural.”

As for Mast, he’s already open to the next big idea. “I’m looking forward to getting back into starting a new company,” he says. “The time has to be right and the idea has to be right. Who knows, maybe it’s in the architecture world this time.” — Liz G. Fisher

Both architects and entrepreneurs plant themselves squarely in this vibrant, messy space between idea and reality. That’s an uncomfortable place for most people to exist, I think. For other people, that’s right where you want to be.”
— Justin Mast, M.Arch ’12

Community Conversation: Dignity through Design

Schertzing: Right now my current project is the UC San Diego Pepper Canyon Amphitheater, which is going to be named the Epstein Family Amphitheater. It’s a 3,000-seat exterior amphitheater with direct access from a Blue Line extension that was just completed a year ago.

Witte: I was actually in San Diego two weeks ago. I went to the University of California San Diego campus. I didn’t know that you were working on a project at the time, but I walked around a little bit.

Schertzing: I don’t know if you saw it, but we just finished a large project there, which is the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood. You’ve got stu dents living on the floors above, they’ve got classrooms, and they also have retail, food, and hang-out spaces. There’s also a craft space where you can make your own surfboard if you are so inclined, which is pretty cool.

Witte: This summer, I have an internship at Fishbeck, an architecture and engineering firm. I’m at the head quarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I’m from. I’ve had exposure to a lot of different things from con struction jobs to more architectural details to the design process. And I’ve worked on a research project with a couple of other interns around inclusive design and specifically how restrooms fit into that as a case study.

Schertzing: As part of the amphitheater we designed gender-inclusive restrooms. You know there’s the timing of people coming in and out and efficiency of “okay we’ve got a set break and people have eight minutes.” You need to know how many people you can get in a restroom and out. With the university involved and with our design team, and especially the engineers and subcontractors, we found a very efficient method and a very inclusive way to accommodate all needs. Restrooms are a very tricky part of architecture, and they can either go extremely well or extremely badly. That’s one of the hardest things to work with, so good for you.

Witte: Yeah, it’s funny because, when I was introduced to the possibility, I thought a restroom project was not that exciting. But the more I researched, I found it’s a complex part of architecture and the research can also be applied to so much beyond restrooms.

Schertzing: Exactly. If you get the chance, look on the Safdie Rabines Architects website at the oceanside restrooms we have there. One thing that’s different between the Midwest and the West Coast, we have a lot of outside restrooms that are at the beach. It’s a norm to have restrooms that are also shower spaces for surfers and a family changing space. The restrooms we designed at oceanside had to look good, blend in with the beach site, and have all those performance factors. And it turned into an award-winning CMU building that had kind of a pitched wing design. It is an opportunity to give something fundamental back to the community that raises their level of quality of life when they hit the beach and allows them to feel better about where they’re going. And, actually, some people say, “I choose this beach because it’s got a better facility than that beach.”

Witte: Yes. Another way of phrasing it is, I think about giving people dignity in some sense. We all need to use the restroom, so you can make sure that they are designed to provide dignity to everyone.

Kyle Schertzing, B.S. Arch ’05, now a principal at Safdie Rabines Architects, had a discussion with current Taubman College student Mirabella Witte, B.S. Arch ’23, and the two found they had plenty in common
Kyle Schertzing B.S. Arch ’05 Mirabella Witte B.S. Arch ’23

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.


 Randy Case, M.Arch ’75, was awarded the 2022 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Michigan Gold Medal, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an architect in the state of Michigan. Case has been a leader and mentor in the AIA Southwest Michigan (SWM) chapter since 1979. He has served in numerous roles, including AIA SWM president in 1987 and AIA MI president in 2004. He served on the Michigan Architectural Foundation board for several years and was its president in 2010. He served as the preservation architect for the team that rehabilitated the historic 19-story Old Merchants National Bank into the mixed-use building, now called The Milton, that won a Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation. His practice, Architecture + Design Inc., which provides a complete range of design services for new construction, pres ervation, and adaptive re-use, is based in Battle Creek, MI.

Peter Kuttner, M.Arch ’74, has retired from CambridgeSeven after a 45-year career. Kuttner started at CambridgeSeven in 1977. Since then, he has handled over 250 projects, won dozens of awards, and been inducted into the American Institute of Architects (AIA) College of Fellows. He has mentored several young architects and designers, has led the Boston Society of Architects and many of its committees, and served in leadership roles with the AIA.


 Kimberly N. Montague, B.S. Arch ’87, M.Arch ’89, has been awarded an American Institute of Architects (AIA) Detroit Gold Medal. The Gold Medal is the AIA’s highest annual honor, recognizing individuals whose work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture. “Having taken an alternate path in the pro fession, from project management

to design consulting to research partnerships, I never imagined I would be recognized in this way. After all, I’m not a designer — I’m a ‘boundary spanner,’” says Montague. “But I truly believe the architectural profession is changing — there are endless opportunities to utilize the design thinking we are taught in school, challenge the status quo, and create environments for health and well-being.”

Regina Myer, M.U.P. ’84, has been selected by New York City mayor Eric Adams and New York governor Kathy Hochul to join the “New” New York blue-ribbon panel. The panel will develop strategies for the recov ery and resilience of the city’s com mercial districts. They will address challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as long-standing and systemic challenges. Myers is president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership in Brooklyn, New York.

John Ronan, B.S. Arch ’85, has published Out of the Ordinary: The Work of John Ronan Architects (Actar Publishers, 2022). The book explores the firm’s spatial-material approach to architecture and the underlying themes of its typologi cally diverse output. It proposes an architecture of innovation rising from ordinary concerns about relationships, not form.

Kent Spreckelmeyer, Ph.D. Architecture ’81, has been awarded the 2022 Environmental Design


Research Association (EDRA) Career Award. Spreckelmeyer is a professor of architecture at the University of Kansas and maintains an active consulting practice in architectural research and program ming. He’s been a member of the EDRA since 1979. This award recognizes his sustained and sig nificant contributions to environ mental design research, practice, and teaching.


Sarah Jacobson, B.S. Arch ’99, is the first female president of the national architecture and design firm Lamar Johnson Collaborative (LJC). Jacobson, who has been with LJC since 2017, has been an archi tect and project leader on many large, complex projects. She has extensive experience in architecture and construction management and has led teams on multiple award-winning developments for both new construction and adaptive re-use, which include office build ings, hotels, high-rises, mixed-use, civic, and institutional facilities.

Dan Kirby, M.Arch ’91, M.U.P. ’92, was awarded the Honor Award for Social Advancement of the Profession by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Florida. Kirby is a principal and regional solutions leader for the Jacobs People and Places Solutions Group in the US South region. He has led the man agement and design of hospitality, government, mixed-use, multi-fam ily communities, and retail facilities.


Khalilah Burt Gaston, M.U.P. ’08, has been named executive director of the Song Foundation. The foun dation, founded by Dug and Linh Song in 2020, invests in people and organizations who are improving the quality of life for all in Southeast

Michigan. Part of Gaston’s role is building the foundation’s philan thropy focus and organizational strategy to further the goal of help ing to build a more just and equita ble world. 

published book The Architecture of Persistence: Designing for Future Use (Routledge, 2022).

David Leopold, M.U.P. ‘05, has started a new role as senior partner/development manager with Microsoft’s Global Partner Solutions, State and Local Government Team. He will be working with Microsoft’s partners to deliver innovation, scale, and meaningful solutions for communities.

 Michelle Laboy, M.Arch ’04, M.U.P. ’05, and a team of research ers at Northeastern University that includes Michigan alum Moira Zellner, M.U.P. ’00, Ph.D. ’05, have been awarded the 2022 Latrobe Prize by the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The award will support inter disciplinary research applying sen sors and participatory modeling to the co-design of architecture proj ects with the goals of evaluating micro-spatial variations in environ mental impacts and achieving more equitable outcomes. Michelle is the first person to win the award twice, having received it in 2017 for research that resulted in the recently

 Alex Wu, M.Arch ’00, was recog nized in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) National 2022 Housing Awards for the first com pleted house design under his firm Alex Wu Architect LLC. aMews House was also previously recog nized as Fine Homebuilding Magazine’s 2019 Small House of the Year.



Fall 2022 saw alumni from across the country gather for Homecoming festivities. Highlights of the weekend included a tailgate, Alumni Council Speed Networking session, celebrating our alumni award winners, and milestone reunions for the Class of 1997, Class of 1972, and alumni emeritus.



Anand Amin, M.Arch ’12, started a new position as senior advisor for real estate at the New York City Office of the Mayor. Amin previously served as director of the Inclusionary Housing Program at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development. He is currently pursuing his M.B.A. at The Wharton School.

Emily Burrowes, M.U.R.P. ’18, is the new Illustrator for Denver Life Magazine. For the next year, Burrowes will be creating illustra tions and maps to be published in the magazine’s “Wander” section, which features a different part of the Denver Metro area each month, highlighting local businesses and attractions. Burrowes is also a planner at Design Workshop.

Evan Crawford, B.S. Arch ’19, has joined Cartier as assistant manager of store design, planning and con struction North America. In this role he will assist project managers in coordinating with the internal design team, external consultants, contractors, and business partners from the feasibility study phase to the final construction and turnover.

Ellen Duff, M.Arch ’15, was awarded an American Institute of Architects (AIA) Detroit Young Architect Award. The award recog nizes architects who have made exceptional contributions to the profession at an early point in their careers. Duff is a senior designer with Fielding International who utilizes design as a catalyst for social impact. Her work draws from the intersection of culture, community, and interactive design.

Sidney (Migoski) Filippis, B.S. Arch ’13, M.Arch ’15, has been promoted from project architect to studio director at Synecdoche

Design Studio. In the new role, she will help manage the design and formation of the firm’s expanding services and products. Filippis, who has been at Synecdoche since 2019, recently completed the CKLDP Leadership Program through the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Synecdoche is an awardwinning design-make architecture practice with studios in Ann Arbor and Detroit, MI.

Lauren Leighty, M.U.D. ’11, has joined the board of directors of SmithGroup. Leighty has been with the SmithGroup, an award-winning firm practicing around the globe, since 2011. In addition to her new role on the board of directors, she is a principal and campus studio leader. Her work focuses on the multilayered challenges facing colleges and universities.

Hyon Rah, M.Arch ’10, has joined Savills as director, ESG consultancy, and North American representative of Savills Earth, a global network of 200+ sustainability professionals. Hyon is a sustainability and resil ience strategist who specializes in creating and delivering built envi ronment solutions to protect the environment, communities, and investments. She will serve as a key advisor as the firm expands its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) consultancy in North America.

Jamie Simchik, M.U.P./MBA ’15, is one of the founders of Launch NH, which will leverage the Softeq Venture Studio platform to back qualified startups from within and outside New Hampshire. Hosted by HRKNSScowork, a coworking space Simchik opened in 2021, Launch NH’s investment will give preference to up to 12 qualified startups from New Hampshire and provide mentors, resources, and workspaces to enhance visibility

and help founders connect with the investment community.

Kathryn Slattery, M.Arch ’03, has been named to the Quinn Evans board of directors. Slattery is a principal at Quinn Evans, which she joined in 2003 and is based in the Washington, D.C., office. She enjoys working with cultural and institutional clients to plan for the long-term success of their facilities. The board of directors provides high-level advice, guidance, and fiduciary oversight to the Quinn Evans executive team.

Jordan Twardy, M.U.P. ’11, has been named Dearborn’s new director of economic development. Twardy has 15 years of government experience. He previously served as community and economic development director for the city of Ferndale, where he helped the department bring in more than $60 million in commu nity investment.

Ujijji Davis Williams, M.U.P. ’15, was named one of Crain’s Notable Women in Construction, Design & Architecture. Crain’s notes that the women on the list have “quite literally shaped the world we live in.” Williams is the founder of JIMA Studio, a landscape architectural design and urban planning studio that collaborates with community groups, organiza tions, and builders committed to culturally relevant placemaking and strategic implementation.


In Memoriam

Katharine P. Warner, Ph.D., professor emeritus of urban planning, died on July 31, 2022. Professor Warner joined the faculty at Taubman College in 1970 and retired from active faculty status on May 31, 2002. She taught housing and community development and the undergraduate planning overview course, led Expanded Horizons trips, participated in several UTEP doctoral committees, and mentored many students. She served on numerous council task forces and the boards of various public and private organizations and was active in supporting diversity and faculty governance at the University. Professor Warner advocated for manufactured housing as a way to create more viable, affordable housing. She served on the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, the Board of the Washtenaw Affordable Housing Corporation, and the Ann Arbor City Housing Policy Board.

In October 2001, Taubman College awarded Warner with the Distinguished Service Award. This award honored her for her contributions to the academic training of a generation of urban planners, her strong commitment to her students as individuals, her work to increase employment and internship opportunities for students, and her contributions to expanding housing opportunities for those with few choices.

Joseph E. Lunghamer, B.Arch ’63

July 02, 2022

Frank L. Kratky, B.Arch ’64 April 12, 2022

John W. Somerville, B.Arch ’66 February 19, 2022

Robert C. Utzinger, M.Arch. ’69 May 15, 2022

Timothy Currey, B.S. Arch ’72 June 1, 2022

Michael J. Berla, Ph.D. ’74 March 7, 2022

John D. Nystuen, Ph.D., professor emeritus of urban geography and planning, passed away on July 2, 2022. Professor Nystuen joined the Taubman College faculty in 1959 and retired from active faculty status on May 31, 2000. He taught transportation and land use analysis, nutrition and health planning, global environmental change, GIS, and theoretical/ mathematical geography.

Professor Nystuen chaired more than 70 dissertation committees and was an active member of numerous program, college, university, and community committees. He served on numerous teams and as a consultant or lecturer on social issues and geographic systems worldwide, with particular expertise in hunger and nutrition, mother/child welfare and family planning, low-income housing, land use, and transportation. His work spanned the globe, taking him to China, South and East Africa, Indonesia, Colombia, South and East Asia, Turkey, Nepal, and Mexico.

Duane K. Cote, B.Arch ’50, M.Arch. ’73 June 22, 2022

William K. Langdon, B.S. Arch ’70, M.Arch. ’73 March 10, 2022

Paul D. Hartmann, B.S. Arch ’75, M.Arch. ’78 February 18, 2022

Erica B. Swanson, B.S. Arch ’86 July 16, 2022

John R. Haymaker, B.S. Arch ’90 2022

Dennis B. Smith, M.Arch. ’97 April 10, 2022

Robert E. Farr, B.Arch ’50 April 30, 2022

John W. Robertson, B.Arch ’52 February 27, 2022

Charles W. Scurlock, B.Arch ’53 April 12, 2022

Robert J. Landman, B.Arch ’58 August 03, 2022

Norman L. Hamann, B.Arch ’59 May 31, 2022

Philip M. Mapes, B.Arch ’62 July 1, 2022


“It’s an incredibly energizing and exciting time. We’re fully back in the swing of residential education and campus life but now with the benefit of a lot of tools for hybrid teaching and learning and remote collaboration — things that are making us more efficient at connecting across time and space. It’s going to be an amazing year.”

On August 29, 2022, students and faculty gathered in the Taubman College Commons for studio balloting. Faculty from upper-level architecture studios presented the focus of their studio, after which students ranked their choices to be placed in a section.



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49 PORTICO VOL. 22, NO. 2 FALL 2022 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. Arch ’87, M.Arch ’88 Assistant Dean, Advancement Kent Love-Ramirez Director, Marketing and Communications Liz G. Fisher Editor Liz Momblanco Senior Graphic Designer Contributing Writers: Amy Crawford, Liz G. Fisher, Julie Halpert, Anya Sirota Image Credits: Courtesy ADR Lab (pp. 26-27), courtesy Bloomscape (p. 40), Jacob Cofer (p. 24), Collections of The Henry Ford / Gift of Ford Motor Company (p. 12), Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection / Library of Congress (p. 12), courtesy Marriott (p. 39), Daryl Marshke / Michigan Photography (p. 30), Kendall McCaugherty / Hall+Merrick Photographers (p. 5), Devin O’Neill (pp. 45, 48), Peter Smith (p. 45),Dori Sumter (p. 6), Austin Thomason / Michigan Photography (p. 4), Myles Zhang (cover, p. 13) Portico is a semiannual publication for alumni and friends of Taubman College, produced by the Office of Advancement. This issue was printed by University Lithoprinters. We welcome alumni news, letters, and comments at taubmancollegeportico@umich.edu. You also can submit class notes online at: taubmancollege.umich.edu/alumni/portico Has your address or email address changed? Submit your new contact information online at taubmancollege.umich.edu/alumni/alumni-contactupdate-form or call 734.764.4720. Postage paid at
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