Portico Spring 2022

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Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning University of Michigan

FINDING PURPOSE, INSPIRED BY THE PAST Named in honor of Taubman College’s most celebrated humanitarian, the Wallenberg Studio challenges students to consider their own legacy

Dean Massey worked alongside students at the Wallenberg Symposium, “Size Up,” in March. Convened by U-M Public Design Corps, the daylong experimental symposium explored ways to bring positive change across the design disciplines.

A MESSAGE FR OM T HE DE A N I felt called to architecture from childhood. Keenly aware of the space around me and attuned to the formal qualities of objects and buildings, I developed a lively, imaginative engagement with architecture well before I knew anything about the field or the profession. I saw buildings in the logs of a fire or a stack of boxes, and when I visited a new place, I often found myself redesigning it in my head. By high school, I knew a bit about the profession. As I began to focus on applying to colleges, though, I didn’t learn about architecture programs or consider applying to any. Even as I felt the draw of shaping the spaces around me, I didn’t imagine myself as an architect. I perceived it as a very technical role linked closely to math, structural engineering, and the sciences — areas that didn’t align with my strengths or passions. I was intimidated by calculus. Fortunately, after starting college “undecided” as to what I might study, I heeded the call and enrolled in Architecture 101. There, in readings and lectures and class discussions, I found an exhilarating conversation that ranged from art history to political philosophy, literary theory to anthropology to urbanism. The assignments charged us with analyzing a series of spaces through firsthand observation, drawing, and writing, beginning with a single room of our choosing on campus, then a building, then a group of buildings. The course taught me to connect the part of me that was always redesigning the spaces around me to the intellect that was activated by the humanities and social sciences. I was hooked. The energy in this and the next courses I took motivated me to overcome my limitations and — barely — pass calculus so that I could major in architecture. This background gives the Wallenberg Studio in the Bachelor of Science in Architecture at Taubman College a special resonance for me. Dedicated to exploring architecture as a humane social art, this capstone experience centers student learning on the social, cultural, ethical, and political dimensions of architecture — accessed and

activated through design. It is enhanced by not only a speaker series, course trips, a jury, and prizes but also by an almost sacred sense of mission. As you will read in our cover story, the Wallenberg Studio synthesizes the critical and creative abilities students have learned in architecture courses and studios with key themes from their coursework beyond the college. It focuses those abilities and energies on issues of central importance to our society: agency, resistance, access, equity, and justice. It activates the expertise of our faculty, many of whom are field-leading experts in the ethics and politics of architecture and the built environment. The jury and panel discussion that culminate the studio are a high point of the academic year. The Wallenberg Studio also exemplifies some of the ways that alumni elevate teaching and learning at Taubman College. The personal example of Raoul Wallenberg’s humanitarian heroism is a spur and inspiration for the collective work of the studio we offer in his memory. And it was the support of other alumni and friends of Taubman College and the University of Michigan that allowed us to establish the studio and so meaningfully elevate our students’ capacity to pursue a better world through architecture. Each spring, I am energized and inspired by the earnestness, intellect, and creativity of the students in our Wallenberg Studio. Whether our story causes you to reflect on your own Wallenberg Studio experience or is your first in-depth introduction to what the studio is all about, I hope that you are inspired, too.

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




FA C U LTY & S TU DEN TS / 1 8

04 News from the Art & Architecture Building and Beyond

18 An Urbanistic Focus in a Global Portfolio Lars Gräbner and Christina Hansen work across scales and across the globe to create spaces that are an extension of their environment

08 Students Recognized for Studio Excellence

C OVER ST O RY / 12 12 Finding Purpose, Inspired by the Past Named in honor of Taubman College’s most celebrated humanitarian, the Wallenberg Studio challenges students to consider their own legacy



22 All Issues Are Global Issues Associate Professor Ana Paula Pimentel Walker reaches back to focus on the challenges facing disenfranchised communities 26 Honoring Community and Culture Through Design Future Firm founder Ann Lui brings “bigger picture” thinking to her architectural practice and Taubman College studio

A L U MN I / 3 2 32 Mitchell Roessing, B.S. ’15: Thankful for the Chance


33 Leave a Lasting Legacy Including Taubman College in your estate or financial plans is one of the easiest ways to make an enduring impact 34 It Takes a Village to Rebuild a City Ujijji Davis Williams, M.U.P. ’17, works with local organizations and individuals to facilitate design that Detroit residents are looking for 36 The Heart of It All Is Good Design Ung-Joo Scott Lee, M.Arch ’96, leads the New York office of Morphosis with an eye for carrying an intimate studio culture across scales and continents 40 It’s Not Housing. It’s Home. Daryl Carter, B.S. ’77, brings “lifestyle within reach” to affordable housing communities nationwide


42 Synecdoche is More Than an Architecture Firm At the interdisciplinary creative studio that she co-founded with Adam Smith, M.Arch ’11, Lisa Sauve, M.Arch ’11, M.S. ’14, is guided by a simple principle: do good work

C L A S S N OTES / 4 5 45 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner John Ronan, B.S. ’85

I N MEMORI A M / 5 1


51 Richard Dozier, Ph.D. ’90

C L OS I N G / 5 2


Raoul Wallenberg, B.Arch ‘35, is one the University of Michigan’s most esteemed alumni. Today, seniors in Taubman College’s undergraduate architecture program explore his legacy through the lens of complicated architectural questions.



Ng Named to 2022 Emerging Voices List Tsz Yan Ng, assistant professor of architecture, is among the Architectural League’s 2022 Emerging Voices honorees. Sponsored for over 30 years by the Architectural League of New York, Emerging Voices is an annual invited competition for North American firms and individuals with distinct design voices and significant accomplishments within design and academia. Honorees are recognized

for their potential to influence the disciplines of archi­ tecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. Ng describes her work as advancing “innovations that are not only more in tune with con​temporary building processes but are also aspirational in integrating socially, ethically, and environmentally driven imperatives.” Focusing on experimentations with concrete and the intersections of clothing manufacturing and architecture, her practice investigates many facets and forms of labor in R&D.

“Combining our intellectual curiosity and areas of expertise allows Taubman College to create a place full of possibilities — for students to learn and experiment, for faculty to conduct creative practice and share knowledge, and for staff to contribute expertise and advance careers.” — from the Taubman College Compact. Created in 2021, the College Compact is a description of the environment that the college wishes to create and the desired behaviors for community members to exhibit. These shared values articulate the Taubman College community’s commitments for its interactions and relationships with one another. Learn more: taubmancollege.umich.edu/about/our-shared-values.



“As a dancer turned filmmaker turned urban planner, collaboration has long been my preferred method for working on projects, so I am grateful to have this opportunity to sit down with students from so many disciplines.” — Kat Cameron, a dual-degree student at Taubman College and U-M’s School for Environment and Sustainability who is one of six Taubman College recipients of 2022 Dow Sustainability Fellowships. Cameron’s interdisciplinary team from across the university is developing sustainable growth recommendations for Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

Velikov Ramps up Taubman College’s Research and Creative Practice Kathy Velikov, a professor of architecture, was appointed Taubman College’s associate dean for research and creative practice last fall. She succeeded Geoffrey Thün, a professor of architecture who became U-M’s associate vice president for research for the social sciences, humanities, and the arts. “I am excited to help elevate and advance the multiple facets of research and creative practice at Taubman College,” says Velikov. “I hope to bring my broad range of knowledge, expertise, and experiences with funded projects to support current areas of strength and to build new alliances, partnerships, opportunities, and creative spaces for the college.” Velikov has a broad range of interdisciplinary and collaborative research interests that engage with critical questions of design across matter, technology, and spatial practices. Her work in responsive building envelopes, urban and social infrastructures, and territories of the Anthropocene cultivates environmentally conscious thinking and practices within society. Her research and work, “along with her leadership as president of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture — the primary organization supporting research into the use of computation in architecture, planning, and building science — amply qualify Kathy for our associate dean position,” says Dean Jonathan Massey. “I am thrilled to work with her as she helps us elevate our creative practice and research.”

A current exhibition at the Liberty Research Annex, “On Air: Faculty Work 2020–2022,” showcases more than 60 examples of Taubman College faculty’s research, professional practice projects, publications, and other creative works. The exhibition, which was organized by Associate Dean Kathy Velikov, includes an infrastructure of large inflatables and stands designed by architecture fellows Adam Miller and Leah Wulfman, in coordination with faculty and students. Conceived as a deconstructed bounce house, the infrastructure can be rearranged to serve future events, symposia, and exhibitions at Taubman College.



Meibodi Named 2022 Construction Visionary Mania Aghaei Meibodi, an assistant professor of architecture, was one of four leaders and visionaries selected for the Construction Institute’s 2022 Visionaries Forum.

“ There are difficult but important stories, hidden in plain sight, to be told about the painful legacies of the profession, and the foundation is using its home at the historic Octagon building in Washington, D.C. — built by enslaved people — as a location to center this conversation.” — Sharon Haar, FAIA, professor of architecture, who recently was appointed to a three-year term on the board of trustees of the Architects Foundation, the philanthropic partner of the American Institute of Architects. The foundation inspires and invests in the next generation of architects creating inclusive spaces, places, and communities. She will serve as ACSA board president during the 2022–2023 academic year.

The annual Visionaries Forum is a platform for trendsetters and thought-leaders to envision and reshape the architecture, engineering, and construction industries’ future. Visionaries are selected for their expertise in industrialized construction, disruptive computational design, and robotic hybrid fabrication, leveraging big data and advanced analytics to improve performance and the sustainability of materials. Meibodi, who teaches in Taubman College’s digital and material technologies master’s program, is a leader in innovative computational design and fabrication methods for large-scale manufacturing in the building industry. Her research and lab focus on developing disruptive computational design and robotic hybrid fabrication methods, with additive manufacturing at its core, for real-world construction.

Last fall, Sean Ahlquist, associate professor of architecture, exhibited his “OrchidsPlayscape” installation in Lincoln Center’s main plaza in New York as part of the Big Umbrella Festival — a large-scale performing arts festival exhibiting works for young audiences with autism. Ahlquist’s work also is featured in the 2021–2022 Lincoln Center Activate program, a year-long online series of events that investigate Radical Welcoming, the intentional and extraordinary effort to make people feel welcome.



ACSA HONORS María Arquero de Alarcón, associate professor of architecture and urban and regional planning, and Ana Paula Pimentel Walker, assistant professor of urban and regional planning, are among the recipients of a 2022 Architectural Education Collaborative Practice Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA). The Collaborative Practice Award recognizes innovative and sustained initiatives that extend design education beyond the classroom and into communities. Projects are recognized for their community partnerships in which faculty, students, and local citizens are equal when addressing issues of social injustice through design. Arquero de Alarcón and Pimentel Walker’s work, “Activate, Articulate, Advocate: For the Right to Occupy, Hold Ground, and Upgrade!,” is the culmination of multiple years of participatory action research. It is a transdisciplinary project that involves 14 favelas and young land occupations, nongovernmental organ­ izations, and universities and highlights the informal urbanization of green and blue zones in São Paulo’s southern periphery. This collaboration ultimately recognizes informal dwellers in the megacities of the Global South as citizen-architects and planners, blending nature and artificial environments to create secure shelter and resilient habitats. The project calls for American universities to adopt an anti-colonial stance, learning from and providing support for informal dwellers’ everyday urbanisms and joining struggles for social transformation.

Inspiration for the 2021–2022 Architecture Student Research Grant (ASRG) projects varied from lifelong passions to ideas first developed in a Taubman College studio. But the common thread was gratitude for the ability to dive deep into interests through research beyond the classroom. “The ASRG has helped us scratch an itch that we have had since our first semester here,” say Justin Vernon and Prescott Trudeau, whose “Taubman BioLab” project seeks to reduce waste generated by material and model studies at the college. Pictured above is “Collaborating with Nature: Design Explorations into Biomaterials,” by Rosa Manzo, Zoë Faylor, and Kara Bowers. The project explores the production and scalability of biodegradable materials through the use of algae and mycelium bio-composites.

Morcillo Pallarés Explores Manhattan’s Public Spaces A new book by Ana Morcillo Pallarés, assistant professor of architecture, explores the complex relationship between architecture and public space in America’s largest city. Manhattan’s Public Spaces: Production, Revitalization, Commodification (Routledge, 2022) analyzes a series of architectural works and their contribution to New York’s public space over the past few decades. By exploring how various elements, including legal systems and planning guidelines, have transformed these collective spaces, Morcillo Pallarés frames Manhattan as a controversial landscape of interests and concerns to authorities, communities, and developers. She shows that the production, revitalization, and commodification of Manhattan’s public spaces have made a positive impact but also led to negative outcomes. Beyond the analysis of good design, Morcillo Pallarés seeks to understand the functional mechanisms for the current trends in the production of space for the public. Morcillo Pallarés is a Spanish architect, researcher, and designer based in Ann Arbor and Cieza, Spain. Her research and creative practice critically engage today’s increasing need for more shared space as an ongoing process of continuous agreements among the diverse networks of people who are part of the city. 7

S T UDEN T S RECOGNI ZED FOR S T UDIO E XCEL L ENCE Taubman College’s annual “awards season” featured end-of-semester honors for outstanding graduate and undergraduate work, including the 2022 winners of the Wallenberg Studio Prize. In addition, jurors awarded prizes for outstanding work from the fall 2021 semester in the Student Show. View all Student Show entries at taubmancollegestudentshow-2022.com.


Jasmine Wright, “Brickworm” Faculty: Xavi Aguirre


Madeira BooydeGraaff, “Like a Version” Faculty: Anca Trandafirescu





Madeleine Smith, “In Transit: Exposing negligence through intervention in order to remake” Faculty: Ian Donaldson


Sydney Cleveland-Datesman, “Shaping Domestic Space: Shifting Women’s Domestic Labor to Be a Labor of Love” Faculty: Craig Wilkins


Muzi Li, “MANUFACTURE REFORM Communitymaking and Identity Building” Faculty: Dawn Gilpin 2022 WALLENBERG STUDIO AWARD WINNER

Audrey Louie, “Polaris Medical Center” Faculty: Gina Reichert




Yicong Chandler Shan, “Urban Stereotomy” Faculty: Melissa Harris


Dominica Kusmierczyk, “Delineated Landscape” Faculty: Christina Hansen


Muzi Li, “Floating Landscape” Faculty: Zain Abuseir




Sophie Pacelko, “Planar Play” Faculty: Adam Fure


Aric Reed, “Lot 9” Faculty: Adam Fure


Emma Powers, “Biblio. - Metrop” Faculty: Kathy Velikov


Marco Nieto and Kady Kramer, “Extractive Exchange” Faculty: Geoffrey Thün



Finding Purpose, Inspired by the Past Named in honor of Taubman College’s most celebrated humanitarian, the Wallenberg Studio challenges students to consider their own legacy By Amy Crawford

FOR MILLIONS OF PEOPLE AROUND the world, Amazon is a go-to source to buy everything from toys to toilet paper — a panoply of goods that can be shipped to your door in two days or less. But while this level of convenience has allowed the tech giant to claim more than 40 percent of the e-commerce market share, some argue that it comes at the expense of employees — especially those working in Amazon warehouses, who are held to exacting standards and monitored constantly during shifts that can be long and exhausting. “They just burn through workers — that’s part of their strategy,” says Willow Davis, B.S. ’18, who explored the issue for a Wallenberg Studio project in 2018. “They don’t want to retain people long enough for them to form unions or ask for better pay.”

THE HUMANITARIAN SIDE OF ARCHITECTURE The plight of Amazon’s workers might not sound like a problem for architects to solve, but the Wallenberg Studio presents a more open-ended brief — that year, for example, the theme was “Agency.” Long concerned about workers’ rights, Davis began to think about how design might give more agency to Amazon employees and allow them the space for rest, relief, and organizing that their workplaces did not currently provide. The result — informed by interviews with actual Amazon employees — was a project Davis called “Cloaked Communications.” It reimagined the 3’x3’x8’ shelves that Amazon’s robots carry along its warehouse floors as mobile break stations where workers could store lunches, folding chairs — 12


and perhaps union pamphlets, allowing workers to build covert solidarity. The required, culminating studio for seniors in Taubman College’s Bachelor of Science in Architecture program, the Wallenberg Studio — named for humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg, B.Arch ’35 — asks students to focus on the humanitarian aspects of architectural design. For Davis, it helped crystallize the way she thinks about her profession, not only as a creative discipline, but as a way to serve the humans who live and work within the built environment. “I feel like the whole culture of Taubman College helped with that, but having the Wallenberg Studio as a capstone really solidifies those values,” says Davis, now an architectural intern in Chicago working on projects for religious and cultural institutions. “You can pick up the more technical things anywhere. It’s harder to pick up the humanitarian side.” It’s an idea that Professor Sharon Haar, who chaired the architecture program from 2014 to 2019, has heard from many students over the years. “I think that the Wallenberg Studio is really important to them,” she says. “And that’s because it does things that no other studio or class that they take does. It connects them to a legacy of humanity and humanitarianism, and it allows them to see the world, urban space, and the physical environment differently. It helps them figure out what sort of architect — and what sort of person — they want to be.”

For the 2018 Wallenberg Studio, “Agency,” Willow Davis explored Amazon workers’ rights.





SUPPORTING STUDENTS, HONORING A HERO Raoul Wallenberg was the scion of a wealthy family of Swedish bankers and diplomats. His grandfather encouraged him to pursue an American education, and Wallenberg, who was interested in architecture, chose Michigan because it had one of the country’s top programs but wasn’t housed at what he considered an “elitist” institution. Arriving in Ann Arbor in 1931, the young man known to friends as “Rudy” brought true dedication to his architecture classes, winning the American Institute of Architects medal as the top student in his class. Although his American credentials did not let him practice in his native Sweden, the skills he honed at Michigan would serve him in other ways. In 1944, less than a decade after graduation, Wallenberg traveled to Budapest under diplomatic cover. He issued forged documents that identified Hungarian Jews and others as citizens of Sweden — a neutral country — who were awaiting repatriation, thus protecting the bearers from deportation to the death camps. Wallenberg also rented buildings in Budapest, declared them part of the Swedish diplomatic delegation, and used them as safehouses for thousands of Jews. He personally intercepted a train en route to Auschwitz, climbing on its roof and issuing “protective passes” through the windows. In the end, Wallenberg saved as many as 100,000 people from the Holocaust. “Wallenberg didn’t build buildings in Hungary,” Haar notes. “But he understood physical space and how the city was organized, so he could move people around it very carefully. These things come from his experiences at Michigan and the connections that he made here.” Soviet forces arrested Wallenberg as a suspected spy in 1945, and to this day his precise fate remains unknown. Still, after World War II he would be recognized as one of the greatest humanitarians of his age, earning honorary citizenship in the United States, Canada, Hungary, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Israel. In 1985, David Engelbert, B.B.A. ’58, was serving as the executor for the estate of Detroit industrialist Benard L.

Pushing students to explore “the humanitarian side of architecture,” the Wallenberg Studio is named in honor of Raoul Wallenberg, B.Arch ‘35, who saved nearly 100,000 people from the Holocaust.

“Ben” Maas (1896–1984) and administrator of his namesake foundation. While Maas had no connection to U-M, he was “deeply committed to helping young people” and his foundation aimed to benefit education, Engelbert says. Meanwhile, Engelbert, who was a child when World War II ended, had long been awed by Wallenberg’s heroism, so he approached his alma mater’s College of Architecture and Urban Planning with an idea for a way to honor both Wallenberg and Maas. “I was amazed to learn that [Wallenberg] had been a student here in the 1930s,” Engelbert remembers. “To have saved so many lives, and in the way he did it, was epic…. We are pleased that this is a gift that keeps on giving. Ben would be pleased with the wonderful impact his funds are having with the students involved.” Initially intended to provide tuition assistance, the Raoul Wallenberg Scholarship Fund now covers travel grants for Wallenberg Studio groups, as well as international travel stipends for students whose Wallenberg Studio projects are deemed the most outstanding in a juried competition each year (Willow Davis won a travel award in 2018, allowing her to visit Japan). Meanwhile, Wallenberg’s legacy infuses the work of the studio.

SELF-REFLECTION ON THE HARDEST OF QUESTIONS “The studio does more than just address social issues,” says Mireille Roddier, an associate professor of architecture who has taught and coordinated the Wallenberg Studio many times since coming to Taubman College in 2000. “It’s also about asking very hard questions of architecture and learning to be contented with the limits of what architecture can or cannot take on.” Roddier most recently coordinated the Wallenberg Studio in 2020 with the theme “From the Margins,” a nod to bell hooks’s essay. Just weeks before the pandemic ground travel to a halt, she and Dawn Gilpin, a lecturer in architecture, took their Wallenberg students to the Arizona desert and the experimental utopia Arcosanti. In 2021, the theme was “Resistance.” The theme had a personal resonance for Roddier, whose grandfather was a member of the French Resistance during World War II. He died when she was 19 years old, but her memories of him are vivid — as is her understanding that Raoul Wallenberg’s life and times are not that far removed from our own. “Architecture operates in the service of money and power and capital,” Roddier says. “Are we always complicit? Every time I have coordinated the Wallenberg Studio, I have 15

started from the notion of resistance. What does it mean to resist, and what does it mean to be complicit? The best Wallenberg students just bloom when they’re confronted with these hardest of questions.” Lecturer Dawn Gilpin won the ARCHITECT Studio Prize in 2016 for her Wallenberg Studio, “The Radical and the Preposterous: Mind the Gap.” That year, the theme was “Refuge,” and Gilpin asked her students to consider the global refugee crisis, broadening their perspective through a reading list that included Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism as well as real-time interviews with people working in refugee camps around the world. Gilpin, who teaches interdisciplinary seminars, design studios, and pre-architecture representation and drawing courses, enjoys seeing Taubman students progress from mastering these first concrete skills to what she calls the “pseudo-thesis” of their Wallenberg Studio projects. “It’s always amazing to be a part of a student's final semester, working with them to position their interests and their voice within architecture,” she says.

LEARNING HOW TO USE THEIR POWER There’s a lingering stereotype of the architect as a lofty genius, realizing a vision with little regard for the people whose lives are shaped by the buildings. The notion of a “starchitect” is outdated, if it ever truly existed — a product of the media’s obsession with personality. But faculty see that students often arrive at Taubman with a certain 16


trepidation about that reputation, and with a yearning to use what they will learn of design and construction not only to build their own careers but to right historic wrongs. For many, the Wallenberg Studio — the intense immersion into these topics and the knowledge gained while traveling together as a studio — becomes their seminal educational experience in exploring these topics. Associate Professor Anca Trandafirescu, who has served for several years as the director of the undergraduate architecture program, has taught several Wallenberg studios that paid special attention to aspects of the American experience that architecture as a field has long overlooked. A recent class trip to Thomas Jefferson’s plantation, Monticello, revealed the keenness of her students’ concern for social justice: a tour guide, aware he was speaking to a group of architects, kept trying to draw the students’ attention to characteristics of the building. However, they wanted to talk about the people Jefferson had enslaved. “My students are super sharp, and they were pressing him on the fact that you can’t take these two stories apart,” Trandafirescu says. “But I think that while the students are aware of the big issues that we all read about, they’re less aware of how to use their power — and that’s what I hope the studio imparts. When they start to practice, they will better be able to utilize their opportunity to influence who gets to have space and how they get to have it.”

Wallenberg projects like Lindsey May’s (above right) are influenced by studios’ travel, such as experiences in the Arizona desert (above left) and Austin and New Orleans (opposite).


Architecture has always been political, notes Lindsey May, B.S. ’10, founder and principal of Studio Mayd, an award-winning practice in Washington, D.C. She received the Wallenberg Studio Prize in 2010 for her project “Variable Air Visitors Center,” a proposal for an infrastructure to support multiple extreme air environments for public visitation and research. In 2021, she received a League Prize from the Architectural League of New York for a portfolio that explored the under-celebrated residential work of small practices and the business realities faced by practices like hers. That ability to think about architecture as part of a bigger picture is something that her experience at Taubman College made clear. “All my studios at Michigan reinforced that architecture has an impact on the context and people around it, but those ideas definitely came to a head during Wallenberg,” says May, who also is on the architecture faculty at the University of Maryland. “Architecture is the way that people across history have calcified their values — the things that we strongly believe turn into our material environment. And especially these days, I think there’s been a big realization and a reckoning around the good and the harm that architecture and design can do.” The theme of the 2022 Wallenberg Studio is “Risk,” as chosen by Associate Professor Craig Wilkins, this year’s coordinator. In his own studio, he asked students, many of whom were preoccupied with climate change, to explore questions of action and inaction. He took his students to Galveston, Texas, in March to learn about coastline restoration. They also spent time in Austin volunteering with Community First! Village, which supports people coming out of chronic homelessness.

“Some of my students are talking about how Miami’s going to be underwater in about 10 years, so what happens to all those people down there?,” he says. “A number of my students now are looking at the idea of immigration and borderless cities. When we think about risk, we usually think about risk to ourselves — we’re always calculating risk in a way that puts us at the center. I asked them to look through someone else’s eyes this semester, to think of other people as equal to you. If you do something, who’s at risk? Who’s at risk if you don’t do something?” Raoul Wallenberg could have left Budapest, Wilkins notes — it certainly would have been safer for him, personally. But he knew that failure to act would have been an even riskier proposition. As winter term progressed, the eyes of the Taubman College community, and of people around the world, were drawn to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the biggest armed conflict in Europe since Raoul Wallenberg’s era. But to suggest that current events make Wallenberg or his namesake studio especially relevant today would be an error, asserts McLain Clutter, chair of the architecture program and an associate professor. “The relevance is always there,” he says. “Of course, the present is sobering and upsetting. But in a way, it only brings to the surface elements of injustice that are less visible. The Wallenberg Studio is a culminat‑ ing experience for students who have reached a level of maturity where they can think more critically about the social and political roles of architecture, and all the different ways that they can use their education as architects — this way of knowing the world — to impact society.”


An Urbanistic Focus in a Global Portfolio Lars Gräbner and Christina Hansen work across scales and across the globe to create spaces that are an extension of their environment By Claudia Capos

AT VOLUMEONE, Lars Gräbner and Christina Hansen design livable, integrated urban spaces. No architectural project is too insignificant or too extraordinary for the Detroit-based studio. “What’s most exciting about our practice is that we have the capability and interest to develop projects from the very small to the extremely large,” says Gräbner, the studio’s founder and an associate professor of practice in architecture at Taubman College. “We’ve designed everything from an announcement stele on a sidewalk to a university campus for 15,000 students in China.” Since its launch in 2011, VolumeOne has acquired and been commissioned for 70 projects in the United States, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, and China. These projects include several high-profile urban mixed-use and residential developments in Detroit and Chicago, as well as cultural, educational, civic, residential, and commercial 18


developments in such far-flung locations as Hefei, Bengbu, and Ma’anshan, China; Zaragoza and Majorca, Spain; and Reutlingen and Kiel, Germany. “We are thankful we have opportunities to work in all these different scales and to collaborate internationally as a team,” says Hansen, a partner at VolumeOne and a lecturer in architecture at Taubman College. “We learn from each other and from these other cultures.” In countries such as China, VolumeOne customarily creates the original architectural design and then works closely with an architect of record who knows the local laws and regulations, handles the permitting for the job, and does the execution drawings. In places where the topography of the building site is particularly challenging, Gräbner and Hansen and their team must get up to speed on unfamiliar concepts, such


VolumeOne’s global portfolio includes Hefei No. 45 Middle School (top) and Anhui University of Technology (bottom) in China.



The Legacy District in Chicago (top) and Osi Art Apartments in Detroit (bottom) were designed to be extensions of their surrounding communities.



as creating a hydrological system for Anhui University of Technology in Ma’anshan, which is dominated by three major lakes. Focus on Urbanism The secret sauce for VolumeOne’s success is its focus on urbanism and its ability to design livable, integrated urban spaces, according to Gräbner. “It became clear after we won our last project in Chicago that what Mayor Lightfoot and the city’s planning department really appreciated about our work was the sensitivity we bring to the urban context ― how we respect the site, the surrounding buildings, and the neighborhood ― and also how we contribute to it and change it in a positive way,” he says. VolumeOne’s proposal for that latest win, The Legacy District project in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood, featured a mixed-use development with larger, family-friendly living units and a rooftop farm. They designed the project to accelerate local business development, support culinary training, and foster community events. “We understand the choreography of spaces in the city, the proportions, and the materiality,” Gräbner says. “Our goal is to integrate a new development into the surroundings and to improve the neighborhood. The development should become an extension of what is already there and not a self-referential project.” Recently, Hansen and Gräbner, who are collaborating on a new publication called Transformative Housing in North America, completed the first 26-unit building for Midtown West, a $77 million medium-density housing development in Detroit’s Midtown district. The seven-acre site will feature up to 350 housing units, public spaces, pedestrian connections, and semi-private courtyards. “We are creating a social environment for the residents,” says Hansen, explaining that the development encompasses community space, a gym, retail spaces, and a oneacre park. “How residents interact with each other and how the development interacts with the neighborhood are very important considerations in our designs.” Designing within Budget Constraints Gräbner and Hansen place great emphasis on taking responsibility for social sustainability in urban environments. “The biggest problem in our field is that architecture is often seen as a product by developers,” Gräbner says. “We don’t see it that way. We see architecture as a cultural expression of our times but also as a way to contribute to our social environment.”

However, balancing their architectural aspirations with the realities of budget constraints and space limitations often requires creative thinking and workarounds. “There is a huge gap between investment and outcome, especially in cities such as Detroit and Chicago,” Gräbner says. “The rents are low, the amount of investment by developers is low, but the costs are extremely high. Something is out of whack. We have to be innovative and reduce, reduce, reduce. But we take this as a positive challenge.” To accommodate a tight budget for the Osi Art Apartments @ West End in Detroit, VolumeOne designed affordable micro units for artists, introduced an attractive sawtooth roof, and used colored stucco on the façade to emulate the artwork of New York artist Osi Audu. For the Hefei Middle School No. 45 project in China, Hansen and Gräbner extended the landscape to the building’s many roofs in order to increase the size of the schoolyard and outdoor space. Preparing Emerging Architects At Taubman College, Gräbner and Hansen encourage their architecture students to explore new territory and train them to build substantiated and convincing arguments for their design proposals. “We try to give our students professional confidence in their work so they will make a positive impact in their future job environments and have critical minds and judgment,” Hansen says. “They also must be interrogative and have no fear of the unknown.” To help emerging architects develop the technical skills and realistic experience they will need in actual practice, Hansen and Gräbner work each fall with students in Taubman College’s Systems Studio. Now in its sixth year, this unique design studio challenges students to develop inclusive, sustainable design solutions for housing sites across Detroit. Their proposals must be comprehensive and take into consideration everything from the building’s structure and HVAC systems to the urban and environmental impact on the surroundings. “We are working with Detroit city planners, so these are real sites and real questions,” Gräbner says. “The students are doing ‘test runs’ and learning something that is very close to reality.” He says the city has expressed its appreciation for the students’ work, and, in several instances, the planning director has shown their innovative design proposals to prospective developers. “This is flattering for the students and effective because it gives them good feedback,” says Gräbner. 21


All Issues Are Global Issues Associate Professor Ana Paula Pimentel Walker reaches back to focus on the challenges facing disenfranchised communities By Claudia Capos GROWING UP IN A SMALL TOWN in southern Brazil, Ana Paula Pimentel Walker witnessed firsthand the hardships endured by struggling, low-income families who lived in disenfranchised communities with few services and limited opportunities for self-betterment. Her grandmother labored as a housekeeper after she was evicted from a tenant farm. As a child, her mother had to move into an orphanage and was hospitalized for malnutrition. Her father, a railroad mechanic, took part in labor strikes to gain more rights and better pay for workers. “By age 13, I was already involved in the social movement for gender justice and agrarian reform,” recalls Pimentel Walker, an assistant professor of urban and regional planning at Taubman College. She says her mother, who overcame her difficult childhood and became a lawyer, instilled the value of education in her children. Pimentel Walker’s family background motivated her to pursue an academic career in law, urban planning, Latin American studies, and anthropology. It also influenced her current research and teaching at Taubman College. Today, Pimentel Walker is spearheading research and capacity-building projects with minority and marginalized communities in both Brazil and Michigan. She also studies participatory budgeting and urban policy councils to determine the role they play in publicizing policy issues and advancing democratic inclusion. “I want to learn how migrants, refugees, and low-income residents in these communities view their city, make decisions about improving their built environment, and orga22


nize to demand rights from the state,” Pimentel Walker says. “If we as planners and planning scholars can capture their wisdom and local knowledge, we can co-produce plans and planning strategies that will be more socially and environmentally just and more effective.” Healthier Environments and Legal Rights in Brazil In São Paulo, she is working with homeless families who have built new, informal settlements on environmentally sensitive land and are seeking to upgrade their living conditions. Often these people have low-paying jobs, so they cannot afford to pay the high rent for dilapidated shacks in the long-established favelas, or shantytowns. “If these early land occupiers are not well organized, they may be evicted and become homeless again, leaving the land polluted,” Pimentel Walker says. “We want them to

Pimentel Walker says that taking students to do fieldwork in Brazil allows them to capture the wisdom and local knowledge of residents so they can co-produce planning strategies.

create environmental-justice discourse and to use environmental tools to build a healthier environment and infrastructure for residents that has basic, environmentally sustainable sanitation.” Much of Pimentel Walker’s work in Brazil is in partnership with her Taubman College faculty colleague María Arquero de Alarcón. They are collaborating with a network of social movements, human rights organizations, and universities in São Paulo to advance housing justice. One project focuses on analyzing court cases that determine the fate of informal settlements. In some cases, judges enforce eviction of the early land occupiers. In others, they allow the informal settlements to remain and to upgrade their infrastructure. These judicial decisions may or may not include an environmental-restoration plan to repair the degradation of the land and waterways. “What we’re seeing in these court cases is the criminalization of informal dwellers, which is both wrong and poor planning,” Pimentel Walker says. “The people’s right to 23


housing security and settlement upgrades can be aligned with environmental planning and recovery. These two things can be done together.”

says Pimentel Walker, who works closely with Odessa Gonzalez and Mieko Yoshihama at U-M’s School of Social Work.

Strengthening Support for Migrants in Michigan Closer to home, Pimentel Walker is conducting what she terms community-based participatory action research and projects driven by the needs of migrant-run organizations (MROs) in Michigan.

Bringing Students Face-to-Face with Global Issues At Taubman College, she brings her knowledge and experience into the classroom and often connects students with minority-serving organizations in Michigan and Brazil. Her course assignments are intended to align students’ classroom learning with the real-time needs of disenfranchised communities.

Based on a survey of 16 MROs around the state, she has documented the broad range of services these groups provide for refugees, undocumented workers, and other immigrants. These services include finding temporary or permanent housing for families, leveraging public transit to help people without driver’s licenses, and providing English language and vocational education. “We help to strengthen the capacity of MROs, identify resources and opportunities for them, and raise government awareness about partnering with these organizations to help them better serve their constituents,” 24


For example, students in her participatory planning course authored an opinion for a Brazilian court case involving the eviction of informal dwellers from vacant

Whether in Brazil or in Michigan (bottom right), Pimentel Walker’s participatory planning approach is centered on ground-up collaboration that can help urban planners avoid top-down strategies that historically have produced inequality and segregation.

“It is important for students to have hands-on experience and to use their skills to advance the priorities of their client-partners. We live in a global society, so what happens in informal settlements in São Paulo is relevant to Michigan. These global issues can no longer be contained.” — Associate Professor Ana Paula Pimentel Walker

land. Others researched and wrote a federal grant to help an MRO procure funding for mental health services and English as a second language classes. Over the last two years, her students have worked with the United Nations on climate change planning in Colombia.

park, improve signage in the settlement, and set up a wireless mesh network. Assisted by Ford Motor Company and Dow Fellowship grants, the student team also developed and implemented initiatives to improve waste management and public spaces.

Since 2015, Pimentel Walker has taken small groups of students in her capstone course, International Service Learning, to Brazil for two weeks during the semester to work on community projects with marginalized residents. Many students return in the summer to support project implementation.

In another project in São Paulo, students partnered with informal dwellers and the Gaspar Garcia Center for Human Rights to build a community center, pilot a decentralized sewage system, and create a plan for upgrading the settlement. To gain a better understanding of the needs of the homeless, a student team collaborated with the Roofless Workers Movement to conduct household surveys of their land occupations.

“All of these projects deal with issues at the core of urban planning,” she says, “like how to build affordable housing, how to engage low-income families in the decision-­ making process, and how to empower self-managed communities to improve conditions for residents.” Through their project work, students learn to co-produce plans with client-partners in Brazil’s housing movements and to achieve synergies by combining local knowledge with the technical expertise they gained in the classroom. This ground-up collaboration can help urban planners avoid top-down strategies that historically have produced inequality and segregation. “It is important for students to have hands-on experience and to use their skills to advance the priorities of their client-partners,” Pimentel Walker says. “We live in a global society, so what happens in informal settlements in São Paulo is relevant to Michigan. These global issues can no longer be contained.” For one project, students worked with a K-8 public school and an informal-dwellers association in the town of São Leopoldo to renovate playground equipment in a local

More recently, in collaboration with the Union of Housing Movements, students created an advocacy campaign to support a pending bill in the Brazilian Congress that would legalize and provide resources for self-managed, community-built, low-income housing projects nationally. In addition, they developed a strategy to improve the green areas of existing and future self-managed housing settlements. In 2021, a Taubman College student team won the national Outstanding Student Project Award from the American Planning Association for their 2020 capstone project, “Self-Management Law, Now! Fostering Community-Owned, Permanently Affordable and Sustainable Housing in Brazil.” “My goal is to have students understand that the issues we face are global issues,” Pimentel Walker says. “I also want to show them that the issues they care about and the values they hold are applicable, and that they can use their training to serve in the areas of racial justice, social justice, and climate justice.” 25


Honoring Community and Culture Through Design Future Firm founder Ann Lui brings “bigger picture” thinking to her architectural practice and Taubman College studio By Claudia Capos AFTER WORKING AT LARGER corporate practices on tall towers and institutional projects, domestically and overseas, Ann Lui decided to strike out on her own. In 2015, Lui and her business partner, Craig Reschke, launched Future Firm, a Chicago-based architecture and design research practice that now employs a six-member staff and handles a broad mix of different design projects. “We started Future Firm in order to be able to have a more immediate impact through design in Chicago and the Midwest, and to be able to work collaboratively with the folks who ultimately live and work in our projects,” Lui says. 26


“We work for changemakers,” she adds. “These are folks who are trying to do work in their own communities or different industries and have a crazy idea, a dream, or a plan to make changes that architecture can help them achieve. We try to amplify their work through architecture and design research.”

questions sometimes get put on the back burner in professional practice when you are focused on completing client projects on time and within budget.”

In 2020, Lui extended the reach of her architectural practice to the academic community when she started teaching classes at Taubman College, where she now is an assistant professor of practice.

“I bring projects to the studio that explore some of the things I’m thinking about,” she says. During the fall 2021 semester, her graduate studio designed a library for Chicago’s Chinatown, “so the students used this project to explore questions about public space and how a library can serve as a community resource,” she adds.

“I’ve been excited by the support of the college and the students to do work around practice and social equity,” says Lui, who teaches a course on building codes and social equity that examines the historical influence of progressive movements such as disability rights and sustainability initiatives.

Lui also enjoys collaborating with students on ideas that work across practice and learning.

“In the studio, we try to think about the bigger-picture questions in architectural practice,” Lui says. “Those

Honoring Community and Culture For the past two years, Lui has been working pro bono with community members and a coalition of interdisciplinary partners to restore and redevelop the 1917 Central Park Theater in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood. The historic building is owned by the House of Prayer Church of God in Christ.

The Night Gallery in Chicago (above) is one way Future Firm showcases the work of artists and architects.

The project, while still in the very early stages, has a three-pronged focus on community engagement, design and development, and preservation. 27




“The working vision is a center for community, arts, and culture,” Lui says. “The church would continue to use the building for worship, but it also would house a local theater company, community exhibition space, and performing arts events.” Future Firm participated in the 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial by hosting an installation from Swiss architect Manuel Herz that honored the multicultural history of the North Lawndale neighborhood and engaged local residents. Project organizers are now seeking a Landmarks nomination through the City of Chicago to honor and preserve the theater. “Often architecture is considered something that only very wealthy people can afford because the cost of design services can be prohibitive,” Lui says. “It’s important for us to structure our practice and our values so we can work with folks who are having an impact in their communities in Chicago, particularly on the South Side and West Side, where decades of systemic racism and disinvestment have left some neighborhoods without the amenities, housing, and resources that other parts of the city enjoy.” Future Firm recently completed the renovation of The Silver Room, a retail store on Chicago’s South Side that has supported local artists and designers for 20 years. “The space we designed for owner Eric Williams is like an architectural transformer,” Lui says. “By day, it’s a beautiful boutique. By night it becomes a flexible community space that accommodates everything from salsa lessons to community organizing to poetry readings.” Future Firm is finishing a second project with Williams and his business partner, Cecilia Cuff, that entails construction on the Bronzeville Winery, located in a predominantly African American historic neighborhood on the South Side. The winery, which is owned by and will employ members of the Bronzeville community, will feature one of the neighborhood’s only sit-down restaurants, as well as community space for art, music, and culture. Custom-made and newly commissioned furniture, artwork, and light fixtures designed by South Side artists and designers will provide an upscale look and inviting atmosphere for customers. Supporting Artists and Night Owls Future Firm also has used its South Side office to create the Night Gallery, a nocturnal exhibition space run out

(Opposite) Top: Central Park Theater. Below: The Silver Room. (Above) Bronzeville Winery Chef’s Table.

of the front window from sunset to sunrise during the summer. The project, according to Lui, is intended to feature film and video work by established and emerging artists and architects, to explore new forms of drawing and representation, and to activate public space through curating exhibitions. The Night Gallery project has been so successful that Future Firm has partnered with other local organizations in Chicago to start exhibition windows in other businesses that will showcase the work of talented artists and architects. Future Firm carried the theme to their work as recipients of the 2020–2021 J. Irwin and Xenia Miller Prize, which is the centerpiece of Exhibit Columbus, an annual symposium and exhibition dedicated to architecture, art, design, and community in Columbus, Indiana. The event organizers asked Miller Prize winners to explore the topic “New Middles: From Main Street to Megalopolis, What Is the Future of the Middle City?” After learning that a significant number of Columbus’s residents work midnight shifts in manufacturing, trucking, and restaurants, Future Firm decided to design a project called “Midnight Palace” for this underserved community of nocturnal denizens. The installation features a “wall of light” inspired by the city’s streetscape and pays homage to the now-shuttered Columbus Drive-In. Video screens feature community partner programming that ranges from cricket matches to short films. “Midnight Palace is dedicated to the city’s night owls,” Lui says. “For the installation, we curated and showed a series of films on the topic of night workers, including research from Taubman faculty member Cyrus Peñarroyo on Filipinx healthcare workers on the front line. We hope to amplify how the efforts of nighttime workers allow the daylight city to function. These workers are changemakers in that sense.” 29



HEL P US BU IL D TOMORR OW As she completes her final semester this spring, Amy Wang, B.S. ’22, has been reflecting on the first time she set foot in Taubman College, when she was deciding between pursuing architecture or civil engineering. “That introduction to the people and the studio atmosphere was the first time I had ever experienced what an architecture school was like. It made me less afraid to take that next big step in my life, and it made me really excited to learn in a space full of people who were passionate about the things I was passionate about.” Amy has taken advantage of the opportunities available through her program and the wider University of Michigan, including declaring a minor in Asian studies and traveling to Washington, D.C., with her Wallenberg Studio cohort this winter. “My time at Taubman made me realize there’s more to the built world than just how things appear. There’s always a history behind everything we build and people who are connected to everything that makes up the built environment.” As the recipient of the Hartwick Family Architecture Scholarship, Amy has connected with her donors, the Hartwick and Ham families, on numerous occasions. “Receiving this scholarship has made more of an impact on me than just the financial aid. I keep in regular contact with them, and they’ve expressed so much support, including sending care packages and meeting up for coffee here in Ann Arbor. I so appreciate their generous contribution and support of my academic pursuits. They inspire me to make a positive impact with my community and go after my goals of making a change in the world through architecture.”

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




Thankful for the Chance AS A STUDENT AT TAUBMAN COLLEGE, Mitchell Roessing, B.S. ’15, had the confidence to take chances in the studio. In large part, that’s because Michigan took a chance on him.

in Charlottesville before moving to Boston to work for another firm while earning credit at Boston Architectural College. When the recession cost him his job in 2008, he returned to his former employer in Charlottesville.

It’s also because Roessing wasn’t a traditional under­ graduate student. He had worked in architecture firms in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in Boston for eight years. When classmates asked him how some of the concepts presented in class came so easily to him, he’d respond, “Because I used to do this every day.”

Roessing’s future wife, an Ann Arbor native (and U-M alum), nudged him to return to school and to consider doing so at Michigan. His reapplication to UVA was denied, but Michigan admitted him. So in 2013, 11 years after he first entered a college classroom, Roessing became a student at Taubman College. “I have a lot of pride and gratitude in the fact that Michigan took a chance on someone who had been out of school and working for eight years,” Roessing says. “I was ecstatic to be part of the program, and it was a breath of fresh air to see Taubman College support nontraditional students.”

The self-proclaimed “studio dad” of his class, 30 years old when he graduated, Roessing says that one of the biggest pieces of advice he repeatedly gave the younger students was, “‘Just start with an idea and build on it.’ They’d be so anxious, it would make them be stuck. I’d encourage them to see studio not as a test but rather a three-hour block of freeform creativity.” Roessing knows something about being stuck. It’s how he felt as an architecture student at the University of Virginia, when a summer internship illuminated differences between architecture education and architecture practice. “I began asking questions no one else was asking,” he says. He left UVA and joined a small practice

As a way of saying thank you, today Roessing supports Taubman College through recurring gifts to the annual fund. As a senior project manager at JLL in central Virginia, he says that because he is in a position to give back, doing so is a no-brainer. “Michigan welcomed me into the family, and I really believe I would not be in the position that I am today without my Michigan degree.” At JLL, Roessing manages complex healthcare construction projects from an owner’s representative standpoint, including a $55 million building project he’s currently overseeing at a hospital in Virginia. “I see buildings being built, just like an architect, but I don’t design every corner of those buildings,” he says. His training, however, makes him fluent in the language of architecture, giving him a more holistic understanding of the project as well as a unique rapport with the contractors and subcontractors: “I came to Taubman College knowing I was probably going to transition out of design. But I knew I was going to a design school, and I embraced it. The creative freedom at Taubman brought me great joy.” He especially credits Dawn Gilpin, a lecturer in architecture, for “pushing me to think outside of the box” and Jaffer Kolb, the 2015 Muschenheim Fellow, for challenging his students to go beyond the studio and create fullscale installations for a public space in Detroit. That project, he says, “was a dream experience that opened my eyes to what my future could be.” — Amy Spooner



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.





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It Takes a Village to Rebuild a City Ujijji Davis Williams, M.U.P. ’17, works with local organizations and individuals to facilitate design that Detroit residents are looking for WHEN UJIJJI DAVIS WILLIAMS, M.U.P. ’17, looks around Detroit, the city where she works and lives, she can see into the future. It’s a future in which neighborhoods are stronger, greenspaces abound, and much publicly owned land has transitioned to be community owned. Her firm is helping the city get to that stage. As the founder of JIMA Studio, a landscape architecture and urban planning firm, she is intent on helping to fulfill the city’s potential. The best way to do that, she believes, is by partnering with community groups, organizations, and builders. “I want the work that I do to be resilient and to be considered part of a local perspective,” says Williams, a Brooklyn native who has lived in Detroit for six years. “I see myself as a conduit who can help to translate certain ideas into something that can be built. I’m not trying to impose too much ‘it should be like this.’ I want to facilitate the design that local residents are looking for.” One example of the firm’s vision is a joint project with a small collective called Other Work. Together, they won a Design Core Detroit competition to create a streetscape in the Eastern Market neighborhood. Williams hopes the project will be completed in the fall. The design includes pop-up canopies that will provide shade for some of the market vendors who aren’t part of the formal sheds on the main Russell Street site. “The canopies will be on Riopelle, where there are a lot of great businesses that don’t get the same foot traffic as Russell,” Williams explains. She hopes the canopy motif will expand in the future as well. JIMA Studios works with organizations and residents by helping them navigate the urban planning process. “A lot 34


of my client base is in Detroit, and sometimes groups of residents come together to respond to vacant land challenges they deal with every day,” Williams says, noting that for years, Detroit residents have been leading much of the neighborhood revitalization effort on their own: “They’ve lived here for 30 years and have seen the ups and downs.”

“I want the work that I do to be resilient and to be considered part of a local perspective. I see myself as a conduit who can help to translate certain ideas into something that can be built.” — Ujijji Davis Williams, M.U.P. ’17 Their love for and investment in the city has built the foundation for much of what is happening today, she adds: “They have a lot of skills, but there are some gaps. For instance, how do you communicate your ideas in a way that folks who have more resources will fund it or talk to the right people on your behalf? “With my practice, I’m hoping to close the gap between the aspiration and implementation.” This juncture of vision and process is where Williams feels she can have the greatest impact. It’s a skill set she honed during her studies at Taubman College. “One of the first things that we learned in our first year was about the

planning process,” she recalls. “I don’t think I appreciated how invaluable that was until I graduated.”

has been purchasing property from the Detroit Land Bank, but they were unsure of the best use for it.

At her previous firm, SmithGroup, and at JIMA, “a lot of clients were a little stumped with things like ordinances and legalese. I can play a role by informing someone of their own rights. That was a very important element of my education.”

“Should they partner with other folks to do new or improved housing? Small-scale business incubation with retail opportunities? Bring back neighbors who had left? Do they have short- and long-term strategies?” she says.

Another JIMA project, in collaboration with Bridging Communities Inc., is the development of a neighborhood greenway in southwest Detroit. The project includes a trailhead that is expected to be completed this summer, followed by the development of a bigger greenway. Williams’s connection with Detroit communities and residents has been a key part of the planning process. “It’s hard to embrace change, and it becomes harder to embrace it if you didn’t help to inform it. It can feel harmful if you didn’t have a say. Having a participatory platform is really important to me, to give people a way to participate in change,” she says. JIMA is part of a group of architects and urban planners working with a faith-based organization that has significant property ownership on the city’s west side. “That area has a lot of vacancy. Some streets are pretty strong, while others are weaker locations,” she says. The organization

On the west side and all around the city, JIMA will create spaces that are culturally tied to the city and rooted in local identity — in no small part because of the community’s input, she says: “If you bring everyone together, it builds trust where people believe that you’re going to help move their idea forward. They trust you to be accountable to that.” Williams also is interested in the role of landscape architecture as it relates to climate policy and climate response. To initiate change, she points out, “we need to confront why lands were degraded to begin with and why other lands were stolen. Additionally, why has the response taken so long?” She says answering those questions is vital and not addressing the issue will have dire consequences. “If we don’t put climate change and climate reform at the forefront of our work,” she says, “landscape architects will be out of business.” — Katie Vloet 35




The Heart of It All Is Good Design Ung-Joo Scott Lee, M.Arch ’96, leads the New York office of Morphosis with an eye for carrying an intimate studio culture across scales and continents YOU NEVER KNOW WHERE a good idea can lead. Although he didn’t know it at the time, the idea that changed the trajectory of Ung-Joo Scott Lee’s career came when he was a student in the three-year M.Arch program at Taubman College. Lee, M.Arch ’96, was serving as an editor of the 10th edition of Dimensions, the college’s student-produced architecture journal, when an exhibition at the college piqued his interest: it was by the Los Angeles firm Morphosis about the early computational efforts of their Diamond Ranch High School design — a project that would go on to win the National Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects.

Lee was project principal for the net-zero Bloomberg Center, part of the Cornell Tech campus on New York’s Roosevelt Island.


Lee thought a piece about the project should be published in Dimensions, and he worked with the firm to make it happen. As he job hunted back home in Los Angeles after graduation, the connections he had made at Morphosis — as well as the knowledge of books, fonts, typesetting, and paper that had served him well as the Dimensions layout editor — converged in a serendipitous way. Morphosis was embarking on the publication of its third monograph and needed someone to lead the project. “I can directly attribute my first job to my experience at Michigan,” says Lee. “Once I was at Morphosis, the office began getting busier and things rolled from there.” That might be an understatement. Today, Lee is a partner at Morphosis. He left the firm in 2000 when he relocated to New York; he rejoined them in 2007 when they opened their New York office. He now runs the firm’s daily operations in New York and has been involved in several of its most high-profile projects. “I love the fact that even though I’m involved in a lot of high-level leadership decisions, I’m also still sketching, talking to the designers, and making things,” Lee says. “I wouldn’t be able to operate any other way.” Lee was project principal for the Casablanca Finance City Tower, a 398-foot-tall, 226,000-square-foot structure 38


that serves as the centerpiece of the city’s special economic zone. As the first tower in this new business hub, which was created on the site of a former airport, Morphosis felt it must illustrate Morocco’s vision for the future while at the same time raising the bar for building performance and relationship to the environment. “No building exists on its own, so a project should always connect to some element of its surroundings,” Lee says. In this case, he explains, “it’s a simple building in the middle; the action happens on the top and the bottom.” The top of the building represents a crown, a nod to its importance in Casablanca’s rapidly modernizing skyline. The lower part of the building, which narrows in a way that mirrors the top, minimizes the footprint of the tower, thus increasing the public space surrounding the building. Executing a project in a developing nation provided unique opportunities and challenges for Lee and his team. Much of the fabrication for the building happened in Italy, since technologies and facilities were insufficient at the local level. Lee says it can be tricky to find the balance between keeping a local project local and making sure the resources are available to make it successful. “We have a responsibility to build up local trades with the projects we do. But when we’re working on projects all over the world, we have access to technology that isn’t


available everywhere,” Lee says. “In this case, while the fabrication took place elsewhere, we brought the assembly to local tradesmen, so they could be vested in our project and apply what they learned to future projects.” Lee says the project represents his and his team’s learning about West African culture — and for Lee, who was born in South Korea and spent a large chunk of his childhood in Brazil, the more opportunities to immerse in other cultures, the better. “Some people experience the world through food or music; I get to experience it through architecture,” he says. Living and working all over the world has taught Lee the multiplicity of perspectives that can affect any situation, including design. “At some point, you have to make a decision based on the best available information and a bit of your intuition,” he says. “Everybody these days expects a final answer. Sometimes you have to be comfortable leaving things unresolved.”

rently underway is the 85,000-square-foot new home of the University of South Florida’s honors college. On a smaller scale, the firm is just finishing a design for new electric vehicle car chargers for Genesis at seven sites in South Korea. The plan is to deploy the design elsewhere in the world once it’s successfully launched there. “It’s almost like product design. It’s a small-scale canopy, and it’s turning out really nicely,” Lee says of the Genesis project. “At the same time, there’s an innate interest for us to keep the office working on interesting global projects at the very large scale.” The challenge, he notes, is to retain the studio setting at the heart of the firm’s culture: “We want to operate and do work at a large scale, but we want to feel like a small office culturally. Of course, we have to be competitive. There’s a lot of great architects doing amazing work. But when I think about what we want to be and how we look in the future, the heart of it all is good design and keeping a culture of studio.”

Closer to home, Lee was project principal for the Bloomberg Center, the net-zero, LEED Platinum main academic building for the new Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island in New York. “We set out to prove that a net-zero building was, from a work environment point of view, much better than a nonnet-zero building,” Lee says. While people might associate net zero with low lights and limited capabilities because of energy-saving measures, “we showed it’s the opposite,” he explains. “If you’re doing net zero right, you have more energy for when you need it by saving it when you don’t.” At the same time, he says that working on the design during Hurricane Sandy, the 2012 “superstorm” that battered the New York area, reinforced the importance of designing with a long view: “We really had to think hard about resiliency, knowing that there’s a climate crisis ahead that we were literally feeling the effects of at the project site.” Lee’s current projects include the U.S. Port of Entry at Alexandria Bay, on the New York–Ontario, Canada, border. The project seeded Morphosis’s New York office when design began in 2008. With various bureaucratic and budget delays, construction on the $200 million facility is slated to finish in 2022. One mid-scale project cur-

That studio culture gave Lee the exposure and confidence to grow from an entry-level monograph editor to the upper-management design leader he is now. He enjoyed the “mixed bag” of the studio culture at Michigan, born from the professors’ different approaches. In his early days with Morphosis in LA, “every project was a learning experience,” he says. “But the biggest influence was working alongside our founding partner, Thom Mayne, and getting a glimpse of how he thinks and how to work collaboratively within a culture of innovation.”

Lee has served as project principal for Casablanca Finance City Tower in Morocco (opposite) and the U.S. Port of Entry at Alexandria Bay, New York (this page).

When Lee considers his career arc from the Art and Architecture Building to the top of the ranks at a hot firm known around the world, “It kinda feels like one long, great studio.” — Amy Spooner 39


It’s Not Housing. It’s Home. Daryl Carter, B.S. ’77, brings “lifestyle within reach” to affordable housing communities nationwide THERE’S AN OLD ADAGE about the best restaurants being the ones with the line out the door. Daryl Carter’s twist: the best places to live are those with full visitor parking lots and waiting lists. He’s proud to say his properties fit the bill. “The view has been that people have to live in affordable housing, but we have shifted the paradigm. People want to live in our communities,” says Carter, B.S. ’77, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Irvine, California-based Avanath Capital Management LLC. Avanath manages rental properties in 13 states and the District of Columbia — a total of about 14,000 units, the vast majority of which fall under Section 8 affordable housing guidelines, meaning the residents earn less than 50 percent of the area’s median income. Carter, who has testified on Capitol Hill multiple times about the affordable housing crisis in America, points out that it’s a color-­ blind problem. While there’s a persistent stigma about affordable housing being in Black and Brown neighborhoods, housing issues are just as prevalent in rural, white communities. He says one way to destigmatize affordable housing is to follow the European model of having communities that are a blend of subsidized and non-subsidized units — which he has done with several Avanath properties. “Those are our best communities because no one has a label,” he says. 40


Avanath turns the traditional notion of “affordable housing” on its head by focusing on tenant retention, community building, and “lifestyle within reach.” That means Avanath spends its renovation dollars on things that make the biggest impact on residents — like washers and dryers that save parents from having to worry about child care while they go to laundromats, or pools that provide fitness, recreation, and a sense of luxury — instead of removing popcorn ceilings or installing granite countertops. “Developers often think in terms of, ‘how much will someone pay for that,’” Carter says. He’d rather ask, “Would you prefer a granite countertop or a Formica countertop and lower rent?” As a native of Detroit, Carter witnessed the effects of disinvestment in cities. That’s always in the back of his head today. “If capital goes into an area, if people are investing in homes and businesses, then you’re going to have a community on the rise,” Carter says. So Avanath also emphasizes community. They’ve partnered with local nonprofits to provide after-school programming while parents are at work. They’ve also partnered with Amazon to provide Amazon Lockers so that residents can have secure deliveries of items, including groceries. Additional programs include vaccine clinics and access to banking. “By investing holistically in programs and services that support our residents, our residents stay with us longer, which makes our communities and our bottom line more stable,” Carter says. “The biggest element that makes a property safer is low turnover because people know each other and each other’s kids and they look out for each other.” Most Avanath properties operate at 100-percent capacity and have waiting lists. The annual tenant turnover rate

hovers around 15 percent, well under the industry standard of close to 60 percent. While the conventional rental industry relies on such turnover to drive higher rents and maximize profit, “we find that getting a 3-percent rent increase each year from an existing resident whom we know is easier than the costs of re-tenanting and then getting a higher rent from an unknown entity,” Carter explains. Carter figured he would become a practicing architect — until he met one of Boston’s only Black real estate developers while he was pursuing an M.Arch at MIT. His mentor convinced him to also get an M.B.A., and Carter began working for him on projects in the historically African American neighborhood of Roxbury. He calls the experience “enlightening. My idealism about design met financial reality.” After graduating from MIT, Carter worked in real estate in Chicago before relocating to Southern California. In 1992, he and a friend decided to strike out on their own and launched Capri Capital LLC. “I tell people that if they want to start a business, they shouldn’t overthink it because whatever they think, it’s probably going to be different,” Carter says. “We saw that there were markets that were underserved by capital, that there was money to be made in urban areas by investing in retail and quality housing.”

They sold the largest part of their business to Stephen M. Ross, B.B.A. ’62, in 2005. Carter stayed on for three years to run the business for Ross’s Related Companies until deciding to again strike out on his own and launch Avanath in 2007. “It was like earning a post-graduate degree to work alongside Stephen,” says Carter. Avanath and Related have transacted several deals over the years, and “it’s one of my strongest business relationships, made even stronger by the U-M bond,” Carter says, noting that Related’s CEO is another Ross protégé, Jeff Blau, B.B.A. ’90. Many other powerhouses in the industry also are U-M grads, and Carter says, “Even though we’re competitors, they are all people I can pick up the phone and call to ask, ‘What do you think about this?’” So how does Carter make Avanath stand out in such a competitive industry? “We are the best at operating affordable rental housing in the country,” he says. Beyond the appealing aesthetics and stability of the communities, customer service is another important part of that success. “It doesn’t matter that they’re Section 8 voucher holders,” Carter says of his tenants. “It’s their home, and they deserve to be treated like they’re at the Ritz Carlton. And that starts with me. I tell residents all the time, ‘This is your home; I’m just the caretaker.’” — Amy Spooner 41

Synecdoche is More Than an Architecture Firm At the interdisciplinary creative studio that she co-founded with Adam Smith, M.Arch ’11, Lisa Sauve, M.Arch ’11, M.S. ’14, is guided by a simple principle: do good work YOU CAN FIND ALL SORTS of things on Craigslist. Lisa Sauve, the recipient of Taubman College’s 2021 Recent Graduate Award, found her first client. It was the last semester of her undergraduate architecture program at Lawrence Technological University. It also was 2009 — a global recession had by and large killed the job market for soon-to-be bachelor’s degree holders. So Sauve and her fellow classmate Adam Smith answered an ad on Craigslist that was seeking an interior designer for a new office space in Detroit. The client wanted Sauve and Smith to advise on paint color and drapery. “And we said, ‘We’ve got a bigger idea for you,’” recalls Sauve. 42


The duo ended up fabricating a perforated plywood scheme to wrap the space, and they crafted the furniture, too. “We knew what the opportunity meant, so we put everything into creating the best project we knew how to create with the budget we had,” says Sauve, noting that they talked the client into increasing the budget to $1,500 from the initial $1,000. The client was happy, the project won a couple of design awards, and Sauve and Smith had the all-important first real project for their portfolio. These days, it’s easier for Sauve, M.Arch ’11, M.S. ’14, and Smith, M.Arch ’11, to find work. They still are design partners — and now life partners, too. And their studio,


Synecdoche, lands projects with budgets much larger than $1,500. Sauve is the firm’s CEO and principal; Smith is director of design. Their projects include the Ann Arbor headquarters of tech companies Llamasoft and Duo Security, as well as a Duo branch office in California and restaurants throughout southeast Michigan. Sauve jokes that the firm has opened more restaurants than their clients. Synecdoche currently is in the early design phase of a ground-up compound in west Michigan that will feature a restaurant and entertainment venue situated on 85 acres. “It’s a blankslate project, which is new for us, and the discussions around how to approach that have been really exciting,” Sauve says.

would leave studio, take the bus to pick her daughter up from daycare at 5, and then return with her to finish studio. “I’d tell everyone to pick up their X-Acto blades off the floor because there was going to be a toddler crawling around. Everyone — my classmates and the faculty — was always so supportive.”

Sauve says Synecdoche is not an architecture practice because what a traditional practice might call “fringe benefits” is integral to Synecdoche’s offerings: securing health department approvals, understanding equipment specs and resulting operations flows, and expertise in zoning ordinances thanks to Sauve’s service on the Ann Arbor Planning Commission. “We want clients to understand that whatever they think about an architecture firm, we’re different,” she says. “And none of us are just interiors or just fabrication. We’re an interdisciplinary practice in which we each bring holistic expertise to a project.” As the firm’s portfolio expands, so does Sauve’s profile as an up-and-coming architect and businesswoman. She was the co-recipient (with Erin Andrus, B.S. ’05, M.Arch ’07) of the 2021 Young Architect Award from the Michigan chapter of the American Institute of Architects. She was named to Crain’s Detroit’s list of notable women in design in 2020 and to Forbes’s Next 1000 list in 2021. Through the Next 1000 list, Forbes says it “showcases the ambitious sole proprietors, self-funded shops, and pre-revenue startups in every region of the country — all with under $10 million in revenue or funding and infinite drive and hustle.” Sauve’s drive and hustle seem especially infinite in light of her journey at Taubman College and in starting her firm. While pursuing her M.Arch and then her Master of Science in Conservation at Taubman College, Sauve was trying to build Synecdoche through a project or two each year. She also was a single mom with a young child. On days when evening childcare fell through, Sauve

Synecoche’s Ann Arbor studio is an interdisciplinary practice in which each designer brings holistic expertise to a project.

That support continued as Sauve and Smith entered the workforce. Their thesis faculty, Geoffrey Thün and Kathy Velikov, invited them to join their practice, RVTR, after graduation. Thün and Velikov didn’t blink when Sauve and Smith said they first needed to complete an installation that they had won a competition to build in Atlanta. “They knew that Synecdoche was always in the background, and they were very supportive of it,” Sauve says of Thün and Velikov. “Now that we’re the leaders of a firm, we encourage our designers to figure out their career path, and we support them. We want our industry to be more supportive and collaborative, less focused on self-interest.” Beyond their six-person staff at Synecdoche, Sauve and Smith support the next generation in a coming-full-circle kind of way. That $1,500 budget for their very first project — the one they found on Craigslist — happens to be the same amount they award to each of the three Architecture Student Research Grant (ASRG) winners at Taubman College each year. Initiated by the Class of 2013 and now funded annually by Sauve and Smith, ASRG calls for projects that push the boundaries and possibilities of the discipline of architecture. Projects can take many forms, such as built objects, public installations, experiments, representations, written work, and models for alternative practice. Grant recipients present their research as an exhibition and public lecture. 43

“With a $1,500 budget, we were able to secure built work and design on our terms to build a portfolio piece that laid the foundation for what we’ve got today,” Sauve says. “We’ve never forgotten what that meant to us, and we’re happy to pay it forward.” Sauve says ASRG also pushes students to think about how to translate their ideas into something viable for real-world clients — which she also emphasized as the J. Robert F. Swanson Visiting Professor of Architecture at Taubman College during the winter 2022 semester. “In the end, the vast majority of them are going to leave academia and get jobs,” Sauve says of the students. “So they need to understand how to translate their ideas to people outside of their industry.” That’s been critical for Sauve, too. “I stopped talking to architects. That was probably my best business decision,” says Sauve. “Talking to small business owners and understanding how they were pouring their life savings into their businesses made me really understand the investment they were making by hiring us. That, in turn, made me think about every detail of their project in a very real, nuanced way.”

Synecdoche’s clients include (clockwise from top left) tech startups Llamasoft and Duo Security, as well as bars and restaurants like Nightcap.



“When we’re trying to make a project as successful as possible in our community, instead of as profitable as possible, then our community is more successful, which then becomes an ecosystem we can be successful in.” — Lisa Sauve, M.Arch ’11, M.S. ’14 Synecdoche also thinks about more than profit; hence their motto: Do Good Work. “When we’re trying to make a project as successful as possible in our community, instead of as profitable as possible, then our community is more successful, which then becomes an ecosystem we can be successful in. We’re taking the long view of reinvesting in and supporting our ecosystem,” Sauve says. That played out perfectly in Synecdoche’s Nightcap project, a bar in Ann Arbor. As part of the design, Sauve successfully petitioned the building board of appeals to install gender neutral toilet rooms with a set of common sinks. When a Synecdoche staffer later joined SmithGroup and worked on LinkedIn’s Detroit office, she proposed a similar treatment. LinkedIn was so enamored with the idea, they made gender neutral facilities with common sinks global company policy. As the mother of a child who is queer, Sauve says Nightcap and the ripple effect was especially meaningful. “Nightcap is a reflection of parenting my daughter. I try to fold into my work what I learn from them. In this case, the power of pushing individual ideas forward influenced the profession and industries beyond the profession.” — Amy Spooner

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.

Dean Jonathan Massey presented the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award to John Ronan, FAIA, B.S. ‘85, in Ann Arbor in September.

Distinguished Alumni Award John Ronan, FAIA, B.S. ’85, receives Taubman College’s highest alumni honor John Ronan, FAIA, B.S. ’85, is the recipient of Taubman College’s 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award. He is founding principal of John Ronan Architects in Chicago. Shortly after launching his firm in 1999, he was a winner in the Townhouse Revisited Competition, staged by the Graham Foundation. In 2004, his firm was the winner of the Perth

Amboy High School Design Competition, a two-stage international competition to design a 472,000-squarefoot high school in New Jersey. In December 2000, he was named as a member of the inaugural Design Vanguard by Architectural Record magazine, and in January 2005, he was selected to the Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices program. His firm has been the recipient of three AIA Institute National Honor Awards — for the Illinois Institute of Technology Innovation Center (Kaplan Institute), the Poetry Foundation, and the Gary Comer Youth Center — and in 2016 was one of seven international finalist firms for the Obama Presidential Center. He is the John and Jeanne Rowe Endowed Chair Professor of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture, where he has taught since 1992. Read a 2019 Portico feature about Ronan: taubmancollege.umich.edu/portico/ronan. 45




Robert Cassway, M.Arch ’58, has released his memoir, This My Story and I’m Sticking with It, telling the stories of his evolution into an architect and some of the buildings he designed over his career. A significant portion of the book is about his time at the University of Michigan, where he developed a love for architectural design and the profession of architecture. His graduate thesis, “Plastics as a Structural Material in Architecture,” sought to find a pure architectural expression for reinforced plastic while considering the economic and production methods of the material. In 1963, he founded the architectural firm Cassway & McGee in Philadelphia. The firm was renamed Cassway-Albert Ltd. in 1970, remaining so until his retirement in 2015.

Mark Melzer, B.S. ’80, M.Arch ’83, has helped bring Ann Arbor’s first net-zero capable homes to the market. The three all-electric, solar-powered houses were built in collaboration with Summitt Homebuilding LLC. He currently is a principal at Melzer Deckert & Ruder Architects Inc. in Irvine, California, where he has been principal-in-charge and project architect for many notable and award-winning projects. He also has served as chairman of the AIA Orange County Environmental Committee and represented the national American Institute of Architects (AIA) in establishing a residential ANSI area standard with the National Association of Home Builders.


 Jeff Hausman, B.S. ’79, M.Arch

’81, has been elevated as a fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the organization’s highest honor, which is held by only 3 percent of AIA members. As senior vice president and director of SmithGroup’s Detroit and Pittsburgh offices, he leads strategic initiatives and continues the firm’s legacy of design excellence. His experience as an architect includes decades of working on diverse projects, such as university facilities, R&D laboratories, industrial plants, office buildings, and museum displays.



 Dorian Moore, B.S. ’86, M.Arch

’88, has been elevated as a fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the organization’s highest honor, which is held by only 3 percent of AIA members. He is a leader of Archive Design Studio, an urban design, architectural planning, and development consulting practice based in Detroit. He has been involved in a range of large-scale urban projects, including the Michigan State Fairgrounds redevelopment and the Port Lands area of Toronto. He also is a member of the Windsor, Ontario, Planning Board and board of directors of The Art Gallery of Windsor.

 Thomas Whitmore, B.S. ’89,

has been inducted into the Association for Preservation Technology (APT) College of Fellows. He is based in the Washington, D.C., area and currently serves as the vice president of historic preservation in the mid-Atlantic office of the Christman Company, which he first joined in 2000. He has served on the board of APT since 2013. Becoming a fellow is the highest honor for APT members and recognizes exceptional contributions to promoting the best technology for preserving historic structures and their settings around the world.


 Tod Stevens, M.Arch ’91, has been elevated as a fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the organization’s highest honor, which is held by only 3 percent of AIA members. He currently serves as a learning practice leader at Progressive AE and is a highly pursued speaker and presenter, with more than 20 award-winning projects to his name. He is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has

munities. He currently is a member of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association and the board of trustees for the National Parks Conservation Association.

served notable clients in the state’s higher education system, including Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Lansing Community College, Lawrence Technological University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University.

 Kurt Haapala, B.S. ’91, M.Arch ’94, has been elevated to the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) College of Fellows, the organization’s highest honor, which is held by only 3 percent of AIA members. As partner-in-charge of business development at Mahlum, he propels the firm’s market sectors toward purpose-driven design and has built the firm’s higher education and housing studio into a nationally recognized practice. He has worked with colleges and universities across the western United States, and his student-centric design concepts were instrumental in helping to achieve LEED Platinum certification for Ackerman Hall at Western Oregon University, the first residence hall in the country to be designated as such. He is based in Portland, Oregon.

memoirs.” She offers a look at the reality of life for women and children in the Soviet Union, giving an insider’s perspective on the roots of contemporary Russia. It is also a coming-of-age story that is a testament to the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters, and the healing power of art. She lives in Arlington, Massachusetts.  Vincent Hoenigman, M.U.P. ’94, has been appointed to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board by California Gov. Gavin Newsome. He is the founder and vice president of CityMark Development. Throughout his career in technology and real estate development, he has focused on producing buildings, homes, and products that create livable, connected com-

Catherine Piche, M.U.P. ’95, has been appointed as executive vice president and chief operating officer, towers, at Crown Castle International Corp., which owns, operates, and leases more than 40,000 cell towers and approximately 80,000 route miles of fiber supporting small cells and fiber solutions across every major U.S. market. She is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has served in a variety of leadership roles since joining Crown Castle in 2011. Prior to that, she held leadership positions at American Tower Corp. and served in site development roles at Sprint Corp. and AT&T Wireless.  Michelle Rinehart, M.S. ’96,

has been named Georgia Tech University’s vice provost for faculty. She has been associate dean for academic affairs and outreach in the College of Design since 2015. Before joining Georgia Tech, she worked at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., as an assistant

Yelena Lembersky, B.S./B.F.A. ’91, published a memoir, Like a Drop of Ink in a Downpour: Memories of Soviet Russia. The Los Angeles Review of Books calls the book, which is available on Amazon, “a vivid portrait — one of life in and escape from a country that now exists only in memories and 47


dean in the School of Architecture and Planning. She also was director of public programs at the National Building Museum and senior project manager at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Andrea Wong, M.U.P. ’98, has been promoted to senior associate principal at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) in San Francisco. She has worked both locally and internationally as a project manager for SOM’s city design practice, managing complex public projects in the realms of economic development, land-use entitlements, and redevelopment. Her work includes several highprofile Bay Area projects, such as the Parkmerced Vision Plan, the Plant Master Plan for San Jose/Santa Clara, the Concord Reuse Project, Alameda Point Town Center and Waterfront Precision Plan, and the Berryessa BART Urban Village Plan. Travis Overton, M.Arch ’99, has been appointed as the new chief executive officer of BCA Architects & Engineers in New York. He recently served as leader of BCA’s buildings group, the firm’s largest business unit, and was instrumental in leading their expansion. In his new role, he will advance BCA’s strategic plan to expand into new markets across the state, having established a strong relationship with the State of New York’s Office of General Services. Before joining BCA in 2012, he was the director of facilities for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington, D.C., overseeing all of the agency’s construction projects across the country.

the only female principal at Trivers, a St. Louis–based firm she first joined in 2001. Her projects include the Old Post Office renovation and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Ranger Station, both in St. Louis, as well as American Cancer Society Hope Lodge projects throughout the United States. She was named one of St. Louis CNR’s Top 20 Women in Construction and was among the country’s first Fitwel ambassadors. 

2000s Amy Gilbertson, M.Arch ’01, has been elevated as a fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the organization’s highest honor, which is held by only 3 percent of AIA members. She is 48


Josh Sirefman, M.U.P. ’03, has been named CEO of Michigan Central Station, a subsidiary of Ford Motor Co. The iconic building in Detroit will serve as the anchor

of a 30-acre innovation district that will advance the future of mobility. He launched his career as an urban planner with the Islandview Village Development Corp. in eastern Detroit, working with thenmayor Dennis Archer. He went on to serve as chief of staff to the deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding in New York City and interim president of the New York City Economic Development Corp. Most recently, he was co-founder and president of Sidewalk Labs, the urban innovation arm of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.  Jim Diego, B.S. ’06, has joined the nonprofit planning, design, and development firm Hester Street as a senior project manager. Hester Street specializes in community engagement and capacity building, with a goal of equitable, sustainable, and resilient neighborhoods and cities. He leads multiple large-scale projects with the New York City Community Land Initiative and Together We Thrive – Black Business Network, an initiative of United Way of New York City. He has been selected as a 2022 fellow with the Coro New York Leadership Center’s Neighborhood Leadership Program, a program that builds

A LUMNI REUNI T E IN A NN A RB OR Fall 2021 saw the return of alumni to campus for the traditional Homecoming festivities. The outdoor tailgate included the presentation of the inaugural Recent Graduate Award to Lisa Sauve, M.Arch ’11, M.S. ’14 (top row, left), and the presentation of the Distinguished Alumni Award to John Ronan, FAIA, B.S. ’85 (see page 45).



Management Association of Northern California, reflecting his passion for improving the lives of people living in those communities.

individual and collaborative capacity for practicing leadership and bringing about change in communities.  Komal Kotwal, M.Arch ’06, has been named HOK’s first sustainable design leader for health, well-being, and equity. Since joining HOK’s Houston studio in 2013, she has led sustainable design efforts for multiple projects, including one million square feet of LEED and WELL Platinum projects. She has helped shape the firm’s diversity, equity, and inclusion programs as a member of its Diversity Advisory Council for five years. In addition to environmental, social, and governance initiatives, she works to advance WELL Portfolio projects, WELL and Fitwel certifications, and to create holistic environments that prioritize human performance and equity.

2010s Melvin Gaines, M.U.P./M.P.P. ’10, has been hired as the assistant town manager of Portola Valley, California. He previously served as the lead analyst for the City of Mountain View, California, where he managed the council’s goal setting and strategic planning and served as staff liaison to the race, equity, and inclusion council subcommittee and the public safety advisory board, among other responsibilities. He also holds volunteer leadership positions on the board of directors of three community-based organizations and is treasurer of the Municipal 50


Jessica Hester, M.S. ’12, was named one of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s Forty under 40 for 2021. She is the head architect at Verdant Studio, which she co-founded in 2016, leading a team of creative professionals focusing on art, architecture, and research. Before Verdant Studio, she participated in a variety of design projects, ranging from performance hall spaces to the largest tennis complex in North America. She also spent a year working for the University of Arkansas’s Community Design Center. She is a co-founder of the Rogers Experimental House, a home for the artists of northwest Arkansas. Elizabeth Yarina, B.S. ’10, a doctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has received the Fulbright-Hays Scholarship for Doctoral Dissertation Research Award. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning and is a research fellow at the MIT Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism. Currently, she is co-editing a volume on the relationship between climate models and the built environment with a multidisciplinary team of editors and contributors. Her award supports her doctoral research, “Modeling the Mekong: Climate Adaptation Imaginaries in Delta Regions,” which will include fieldwork in Vietnam, the Netherlands, Thailand, and Cambodia. Matt Lonnerstater, M.U.P. ’14, will oversee land use and development in Madison Heights, Michigan, as the new city planner. In addition to working as a private consultant with Carlisle/Wortman Associates in Ann Arbor, he has previously served as a

city planner for Savannah, Georgia, and Greenville, South Carolina. In his new position, he sees opportunities to strengthen the appearance and walkability of local commercial corridors, thereby strengthening the local sense of community and quality of life in Madison Heights. Siobhan Klinkenberg, M.Arch ’17, is one of 17 members of the AIA’s inaugural Next to Lead program, which supports AIA leadership for ethnically diverse women. Participants, who were selected by jurors from the AIA’s Equity and the Future of Architecture Committee, will work on a collaborative project developed with a local or state component, or a knowledge-based group within the AIA. She is an associate with Gensler in San Francisco and is passionate about leveraging data and research to create inclusive design experiences.

 Danielle Zoe Rivera, Ph.D. ’17,

has joined the University of California, Berkeley, as an assistant professor. She teaches environmental planning and design, community engagement, and environmental justice in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning. Her research examines movements for environmental and climate justice, addressing the impacts of climate-induced disasters on lowincome communities in South Texas and Puerto Rico. She previously taught environmental design at the University of Colorado Boulder.

In Memoriam Richard Dozier, Ph.D. ’90 Richard Dozier, Ph.D. ’90, died on November 14, 2021, at the age of 82. He was an architect, educator, and activist whose legacy includes founding the Black Workshop, an early experiment in design activism. Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, he attained the rank of Petty Officer Second Class in the U.S. Navy before completing his enlistment in 1960. After finding his calling while taking night classes at Los Angeles Technical College, he rapidly stood out as a young architect working at a small architectural firm in Royal Oak, Michigan. Dozier was among a talented group of young Black architects recruited for a ground-breaking program at Yale University to increase diversity within the field of architecture. After completing his Master of Architecture degree at Yale, he remained there for several years as an assistant professor. His love for the few Black architects noted in history directed his path toward becoming the chair of the archi­ tectural program at Tuskegee University. Dozier immersed him­self in the salvage and restoration of historically significant buildings during his years at Tuskegee and eventually received his doctorate in architecture from U-M. Dozier then moved on to Morgan State University, guiding the school to their first ever NAAB accreditation. He spent years researching, documenting, photographing, and cataloging nearly every church or other significant building by Black architects in cities through-out the South. It was during this time that he built, developed, and toured with

a highly regarded exhibit for the Smithsonian Institution. Respected for his work within architecture and academia, he was sought out by Florida A&M University to become a full professor and associate dean of architecture, where he continued working for the recognition, preservation, and restoration of Black historical places. He also spearheaded the effort to rename Tuskegee’s architecture school as the Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture, in honor of the country’s first Black architect. He remained a volunteer, activist, and mentor throughout his life, contributing significantly to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. As a teacher he was invigorated by the ability to mentor and challenge young architects and to contribute to projects restoring and reclaiming Black history. He is survived by his son, Danon (Joycelyn) Stewart; two grandsons; a brother; four sisters; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other family and friends.

Carl Luckenbach, B.Arch ’57 January 9, 2022 Richard F. Ziegler, B.Arch ’58 November 2, 2021 James D. Budd, B.Arch ’60 October 8, 2021 Ronald E. Due, B.Arch ’62 December 3, 2021 Reginald R. Schaffer, B.Arch ’63 September 22, 2021 William A. Foster, B.Arch ’66 January 19, 2022 Philip N. Loheed, B.Arch ’67, M.Arch ’68 August 13, 2021 John E. Williams, M.Arch ’69, D.Arch ’73 September 16, 2021 Gary M. Brown, B.S. ’73 January 29, 2022 Howard M. Corbin, B.S. ’73, M.Arch ’74 December 6, 2021

Daniel L. Dworsky, B.Arch ’50 January 19, 2022

Edward J. Kelly, B.S. ’73, M.Arch ’74 July 27, 2021

Coulson Tough, B.Arch ’51 January 28, 2022

Katherine A. Collier, B.S. ’95 December 25, 2021

Carl J. Tacci, B.Arch ’54 December 6, 2021

Jeffrey J. Kilmer, M.Arch ’97 April 21, 2022

Dale A. Suomela, B.Arch ’56 January 3, 2022

Glen A. Philley, M.Arch ’09 December 17, 2021


“This group of students has been pressured, likely more than any past others, by the question how dedicated are you? … This ceremony is not a finality — it is a doorway. And over this threshold, we carry our dedication, our rage, and compassion — giving ourselves the permission to feel it and the wisdom to know when to use it.” — M.Arch student speaker Megan Finley, who reflected on how COVID and social justice movements shaped her class’s experience during Taubman College’s May 1, 2022 graduation ceremony



P ORT ICO VOL . 2 2, NO. 1 SPR ING 202 2

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