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There has been much discussion raised about "Why are women leaving Architecture? and more broadly, Why is the profession loosing key talent?"  Both women and men practitioners are disillusioned by the myth of work/life balance: Women are grappling with "have it all" expectations of juggling family time with the demands of full-time work.  Men are struggling to support their families solely on an architect's salary and fall back on asking spouses to maintain their jobs. The lack of affordable childcare and high cost of living only magnifies the challenges.  How did we end up in this modern family dilemma? What can we do to improve the situation?

Save the Date 10/29 - Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning & Matrices

Architecture has a serious problem today in that people who are not alike don’t communicate. I’m actually more interested in communicating with people I disagree with than people I agree with. To have a certain virtuosity of interpretation of every phenomenon is crucial. We’re working in a world where so many different cultures are operating at the same time each with their own value system. If you want to be relevant, you need to be open to an enormous multiplicity of values, interpretations, and readings. The old-fashioned Western ‘this is’ ‘that is’ is no longer tenable. We need to be intellectual and rigorous, but at the same time relativist.
— Rem Koolhaas
Photos from Equity by Design Symposium 2014 at SF Art Institute

Photos from Equity by Design Symposium 2014 at SF Art Institute

Please save the date for the 4th Symposium of AIA SF "Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning & Matrices" on October 29, 2016 at the San Francisco Art Institute. The conversation that began in 2011 of the “missing 32%” in regards to the lack of women leaders in architecture has become an international movement with much broader depth and farther reach. Equity by Design is dedicated to achieving equitable practice in architecture in order to retain talent, advance the profession, and engage the public in understanding architecture’s true value proposition in creating accessible and just communities. 

This year’s symposium theme: "Metrics, Meaning & Matrices" builds upon the last five years of advocacy and sets an exciting path for our next chapter.

Equity - Just and fair inclusion. An equitable society is one in which all can participate and prosper. The goals of equity must be to create conditions that allow all to reach their full potential. In short, equity creates a path from hope to change.

Why Equity in Architecture Matters.

Equity is the ethos of our work. It is the ability to recognize difference and provide fair and just access to opportunities. Equity also speaks to a collective ownership, vested interest and knowledge of our worth. Equitable practice promotes the recruitment and retention of the most diverse talent while building stronger, successful, sustainable practices. The equitable representation of professionals allows us to better represent the people we are meant to serve. Equity is for everyone - architects, design collaborators, clients, and our communities.

We must leverage metrics to make any substantial progress towards changing the ratios within our profession. We are committed to conduct research and compare data occurring at regular intervals to track progress and maintain accountability over time. In order to move the needle, we must create benchmarks for comparison and make time to review, discuss, and adjust our course of action based on the findings.  

We seek meaning at many levels in the discovery of significance in one’s career, in the personal connections we make with others, in our own reflection upon research findings that can positively transform the workplace culture. Having meaningful work plays a significant role in improving professional satisfaction, increasing talent retention, and raising awareness of architecture’s true value within our global society.

We can adopt matrices to inspire a new mindset for advocacy and action. By nature, we are makers, observers of patterns, problem solvers, creators of connections, and synthesizers of dissimilar elements. Matrices enable us to become originators of new approaches and constructs. We can create more equitable environments within architectural practice and the places we design.

At the symposium this fall, we will present the early findings of the Equity in Architecture Survey 2016 with a series of panel discussions throughout the day. Interspersed with these sessions we have designed a series of diverse and interactive break-out workshops that encourage participants to engage in a dialogue of what is meaningful in their career experiences. And most importantly, we will experience the power and impact of action by learning and applying matrices as individuals, firms and in our professional networks.

Call for Symposium Thought Leaders - 

We seek Thought Leaders on equitable practice to participate in the Symposium sessions which range from panel discussions of key findings from the Equity in Architecture survey to interactive break-out sessions geared toward action-oriented outcomes. We are looking for dynamic, collaborative, articulate thinkers with a unique perspective on the spectrum of topics involved with achieving equitable practice. We will begin accepting submissions starting May 31, 2016. Please look for the next blog post which will provide the link to the Thought Leader application.



EQxD Hackathon 2016 Jurors: Our “Venture Capitalists”

By Lilian Asperin Clyman

The situation is: we love our profession but it stands the risk of losing talent, compromises our ability to integrate work with passion and family, and at times feels like a throwback in time. The solution: we are re-designing our design profession. This year at the AIA National Convention, AIA San Francisco’s Equity by Design Committee will be hacking for good. We are gathering as a group to work with the mindset of entrepreneurs; to encourage one another to explore wild and exaggerated ideas, to ask better questions, iterate, self edit, and move quickly. This is all so we can have a spark of curiosity towards what our lives as architects could look like as soon as the first Monday after the Convention. To explore the viability, relevance, and emotional resonance of each idea pitched by teams participating in the Hackathon, our team of jurors will be adopting the mindset of venture capitalists.  Which is the idea we think we can get fully behind because we are convinced it’s a game changer?

How do we disrupt? Where do we focus attention to identify a universal knot to untangle in our industry? What are the lessons we can gain from others outside Architecture or those who are collaborators? Are we able to propose a whole new business case?

Each one of my fellow Jurors lives by the mantras of “Why Not?”, “Because” and “Together”. Ours are the stories of following intuition first and then pausing to augment that gut feeling with data and discourse, which when sparked by curiosity, lead us to delight.  We love to play along the edges of things. We share a passion for working on “firsts” and not being afraid to find the path (or the connections and support network) to move from idea to realization.  Our team of Jurors is diverse by design - representing three realms: a practicing Architect, a leader in our allied field of Construction, and an entrepreneur working in a field unrelated to Architecture. Together, we  represent a collective and multivalent triad informed by gender, cultural background, and the points of view that emerge from the environments we work in and  the work we each do.

Lilian Asperin-Clyman, AIA,LEED AP BD+C

Lilian is an Associate and Project Director at WRNS Studio and Co-Chair of Equity by Design. She is a licensed Architect interested in being part of a multidisciplinary design environment that embodies a culture of collaboration, is connected to the community, takes risks and fosters talent. On March 2013, Lilian attended her first Hackathon. A year later, she organized a Hackathon for MOOCs as part of the SCUP Pacific Regional Conference and the third for last year’s AIA Convention in Atlanta. As Co-Chair of Equity by Design, she is tinkering yet again, this time helping to design the experience for the upcoming 4th Symposium on October 29, 2016.


Anthony Gold

Anthony Gold is a serial entrepreneur, investor, author, advisor, and board member for several companies in the Philadelphia region - both for-profit and non-profit. He began his career designing supercomputers for Unisys, then created an open-source software and services startup that was recognized by the industry as the “largest open source systems integrator in the world.” Anthony was honored to be named one of the Top Leaders in Open Source Business by LinuxWorld magazine. As the co-founder, COO and CTO of ROAR for Good, Anthony is recombining skill with passion in service of social good through the design of ATHENA, a discrete accessory envisioned to protect women from threats to their safety.


Frances Choun

Frances is an established and trusted leader as Vice- President of McCarthy’s Northern Pacific Division. Her visionary leadership has propelled the company forward as one of the largest commercial contracting firms in California. Frances launched her career in Architecture, where she developed an interest in the construction side of the business. As an industry expert, Frances is regularly called upon by local, trade and national media to address new and projected trends, and is considered a pioneer in advancing women in the construction field. Last year, Frances was in the pioneering class of the Equity by Design Hackathon at the AIA Convention in Atlanta. This year, her fervor for hacking continues and she will help us select a winner.

Staying true to the Hackathon format, there will be a winner! To evaluate each team and their proposition of what the Architecture Firm of the future looks like, jurors will be looking through the lenses of: User Experience (human-centered insight), Impact (innovation and relevance), Metrics (plan for action, deployment and evaluation), and Pitch (quality and uniqueness of message). Much like venture capitalists, we will be looking for teams who arrive at new modalities, create emotional resonance, and have a plan that garners our vote.

Join us for the reveal of the EQxD Hackathon: Architecture and the Era of Connections Winner during Happy Hour at Smokin' Betty's (116 South 11th Street) near the Philadelphia Convention Center from 5:30-7:30pm.

Join us for the EQxD Hackathon - WE315 May 18, 1-5pm (Happy Hour Included) or come to EQxD Happy Hour Only - May 18, 5:30-7:30pm 

Join us for the EQxD Happy Hour Only - May 18, 5:30-7:30pm 



We greatly appreciate our EQxD Hackathon and Happy Hour sponsors for their generous support!

"Unpack it, Before you Hack it." WE315 EQxD Hackathon 5/18

By Rosa T. Sheng, AIA

In the 2 weeks prior to the EQxD Hackathon Workshop at AIA National Convention, we have compiled a flipped classroom reading list for attendees. Each panelist has provided a list of Hackathon resources to better prepare everyone for the intense 4 hour workshop journey. And even if you are not able to attend the Hackathon, (and why not????) you will be able to gain a lot of worthwhile and inspiring resources from the curated list below to apply to any hacking you do outside the workshop.

Our time together is brief. So let’s make the most of it. Typically hackathons last 2 -3 days. In our case, the program only lasts 4 hours. In order to help bridge the ramp up time, we recommend reading prior to the event, to get into the innovation mindset. We ask that you pick 3 resources to "unpack" prior to the big day.

Phillip Bernstein, FAIA - VP Strategic Industry Relations at Autodesk

Phillip G. Bernstein is a Vice President at Autodesk, a leading provider of digital design and engineering software, where he leads Strategic Industry Relations and is responsible for setting the company’s future vision and strategy for technology as well as cultivating and sustaining the firm's relationships with strategic industry leaders. An experienced architect, Phil teaches Professional Practice at the Yale School of Architecture. He is co-editor of Building (In) The Future: Recasting Labor in Architecture.

Phil's Resources


Robert Yuen, CEO & Co-Founder at Section Cut

Robert Yuen is the Co-founder and CEO of Section Cut. Trained as an architect, Robert’s design practice has developed over the past 6 years into a dual focus on Architectural services and recently in entrepreneurship. Robert is currently focused on Section Cut, a web-based platform committed to empowering designers and demystifying design culture to the public. Section Cut is a crowd-sourced, finely curated collection of design resources and beautifully designed objects with an educational agenda.

Robert Yuen


Yasmine Mustafa, CEO at Roar for Good

Yasmine Mustafa is passionate about leveraging technology for good. She’s the CEO and co-founder of ROAR for Good, a social impact company aimed at empowering women to live their lives boldly and without fearing using fashionable safety jewelry, mobile technology, and education. She’s the co-leader of Girl Develop It Philadelphia, an international organization aimed at lessening the gender gap in technology by providing low-cost web development classes for women.

Yasmine's Resources


Rosa Sheng, AIA LEED AP BD+C - Senior Associate at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Rosa is an architect and Senior Associate at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson with 20 years experience. Rosa has led a variety of award winning and acclaimed design projects. Rosa serves as an AIA San Francisco Board Treasurer, the Founding Chair for AIASF Equity by Design and creator of the Equity by Design Symposium 2014. Rosa has traveled nationally to present the findings of the 2014 Equity in Architecture Survey; featured in the Wall Street Journal, Architect Magazine and a TEDxPhiladelphia talk.

Rosa's Resources


Join us for the EQxD Hackathon - WE315 May 18, 1-5pm (Happy Hour Included)


Join us for the EQxD Happy Hour Only - May 18, 5:30-7:30pm 



We greatly appreciate our EQxD Hackathon and Happy Hour sponsors for their generous support!

Where are the Women Architects? An interview with Despina Stratigakos

This interview was published March 16, 2016 on Princeton University Press' blog, see original post here.

Next Wednesday, April 27, from 6-8pm  AIASF Equity by Design will host Despina Stratigakos (DS) in the launch of her newest book WHERE ARE THE WOMEN ARCHITECTS? Join us for a special evening at AIA San Francisco to meet the author, discover highlights from the book and participate in a discussion with panelists Nancy Levinson, Deanna Van Buren, and Rosa T. Sheng on featured topics.

Why do we need to talk about women in architecture? Can’t we just focus on the work of architects, regardless of their gender?

DS: It’s easy to say that gender issues are a thing of the past, but a young woman entering architecture today still confronts an unequal playing field. She can expect to make less than her male peers at every stage of her career, to see fewer career-building opportunities come her way, and to struggle to make it to the top ranks of the profession, which remain overwhelmingly male. Discrimination lies behind these hurdles and is the reason we continue to see such disturbingly high dropout rates for women. So, yes, we do have to talk about women in architecture. And hopefully do more than just talk.

But aren’t more women than ever studying architecture? Won’t that influx resolve these issues as more women integrate into the profession?

DS: Numbers alone aren’t a fix. For the last fifteen years, women have been a strong presence in architecture schools, making up nearly half of the student body. But far too many of them eventually leave architecture. As a result, the number of women in practice has flatlined, with women today representing less than one in five licensed practitioners. Beyond the human tragedy of so many women abandoning their dreams, this loss of talent and energy undermines the health of the profession.

Why do so many women leave architecture?

DS: This phenomenon has been so little studied, that’s it hard to give conclusive answers, but new research suggests that women leave for complex and varied reasons, including salary gaps, fewer opportunities for career advancement, a lack of mentoring and role models, and routine sexism in the workplace. The simplistic explanation, trotted out for decades, that women leave practice to have babies doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. It’s true that architecture’s deadline-driven culture makes it difficult to balance raising a family with the expected long work hours. But not all mothers choose to leave architecture, and women without children are also struggling in the profession, so the issue can’t be reduced to biology.

In your book, you point out that journalists and other observers have been asking about architecture’s missing women for over a century. If this phenomenon isn’t new, why write the book now?

DS: Something new is afoot in architecture. While there have been questions and protests about the lack of women in architecture for a long time, gender equity issues today are attracting attention across a broader span of the profession and are also garnering public support. A new generation of advocates are speaking out about issues of diversity in architecture and organizing at a grassroots’ level to make their voices heard. I identify this as architecture’s third wave of feminism, and hope the book helps to define a movement that may, at last, bring about deep change.

Architect Barbie’s inclusion in this book may come as a surprise to some readers. You write candidly about your reasons for partnering with Mattel to create the doll and the responses, some of them critical, she received when launched in 2011. Why did you decide to include her story in this book?

DS: I am very interested in how popular culture shapes professional images and the role gender plays in such ideals. For an earlier generation, Howard Roark, the protagonist of Ayn Rand’s hugely influential novel, The Fountainhead, embodied the ideal image of the architect—especially as portrayed by Gary Cooper in the 1949 film version. Barbie is a cultural icon who is both loved and hated, and casting her in the role of an architect galvanized people into talking about professional stereotypes, such as whether architects can wear pink. Her story is relevant to the challenges that women architects face in the real world, especially because she lets us look at gender issues from unexpected angles.

The ideal image of the architect also comes up in your chapter on architecture prizes as a boys’ club. You write about how Zaha Hadid, after becoming the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, endured humiliating press stories that focused on her appearance rather than on her achievements. Some of these accounts are quite shocking to read today. What do you want readers to take away from this account?

DS: This rather shameful moment in architectural journalism speaks to the discrimination that even the most successful women architects face. Denise Scott Brown’s exclusion from the 1991 Pritzker Architecture Prize awarded to her partner Robert Venturi, which I also discuss, is another instance of how even prominent female practitioners can be dismissed. But 2004 is not that long ago, and the sexist reaction to Hadid’s win reminds us that attitudes about women being lesser architects and unworthy of the highest laurels are not part of a long-dead past.

But has that changed now? This year, the AIA Gold Medal is being awarded jointly to Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi, and Zaha Hadid has won the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Royal Gold Medal, the first woman to be offered the honor in her own right. Are women architects finally getting their due?

DS: These awards are highly deserved and long overdue, but have come about only after sustained pressure on professional organizations to better align their rewards systems with today’s architectural realities. Scott Brown is the first living woman to win the AIA Gold Medal ever; Hadid is the first sole female practitioner to win the RIBA Gold Medal ever. These are important milestones, but we don’t yet know whether they are part of a larger pattern. In the book, I discuss how the paucity of female laureates has led to the recent and rapid proliferation of new prizes solely for women architects. Time will tell whether such women-only honors continue to multiply or whether they will come to seem anachronistic.

In the book, you also express concern about a more mundane vehicle for recognition: inclusion in Wikipedia. You write about the invisibility of women architects on this hugely popular and influential website, and the bias of male editors against entries on women’s history. Why is it important to close that visibility gap?

DS: In the last twenty years, histories of women in architecture have flourished and have come to challenge our understanding of the people and forces that have shaped our built environment. But for these discoveries to reach a broad audience and to become widely known, they need to appear in the places where people look today for information on the past, and that is increasingly to free online resources such as Wikipedia. Content on Wikipedia is controlled by its editors, who are overwhelmingly male and resistant to the inclusion of women’s histories. This absence threatens to perpetuate the belief among a younger generation that women architects have made no meaningful contributions to the profession. I explore the campaigns launched by tech-savvy activists to write women architects into Wikipedia.

Despina Stratigakos is associate professor and interim chair of architecture at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. She is the author of Hitler at Home and A Woman’s Berlin: Building the Modern City. Her most recent book is Where are the Women Architects?

This interview was published March 16, 2016 on Princeton University Press' blog, see original post here.

"What Zaha Hadid meant to me.... and what she didn't"

by Sharon Portnoy, AIA  (originally written on April 5, 2016)

After Dame Zaha Hadid’s sudden death was announced last week, the design blogosphere began asking what she and her work meant to female architects. For many, apparently, the answer is that Zaha was a role model who cracked the glass ceiling and showed us just what is possible for female architects to achieve in this new millennium. For me, however, as much as I admired her prodigious talent and formal ingenuity, she was more a curiosity than a role model. Referred to as “Zaha,” she had more in common with other one-named celebrities, like Cher or Madonna, than she did with the other 99% of female architects. Her ascendency was fun to watch in a reality TV sort of way. In her signature black cape, she burst onto the scene to wage heroic battles on an international stage. She was an outsized talent with a persona to match. She was a glamorous avatar, leading the charge against complacency in the profession and battling for the supremacy of innovation in form. Her work was visionary. It seemed unbuildable, and yet, she built it. She had moxie; she had chutzpah; and her work was thrilling.

But Zaha’s reality was a far cry from the realities of the rest of us, and I worry that by holding her up as an emblem of what female architects have achieved, we run the risk of overlooking the far less dramatic, but no less daunting, challenges that women in architecture continue to face. Zaha’s Pritzker Prize no more represents gender equity in the architectural profession at large than Barack Obama’s presidency indicates that we live in a post-racial America. Zaha was an outlier. Most female architects in the United States are not only not “Starchitects,” they are woefully underrepresented in the profession, particularly at senior levels. 

According to a 2014 report by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, nearly half of all architecture school graduates are women, yet only 17% of architecture firm partners and principals are women. Women are paid less than their male counterparts upon graduation, are more likely to leave the profession before achieving milestones like licensure, and drop out of the field at much higher rates than men, often for good. 

In 2014, AIA SF’s "Equity in Architecture Survey" and Equity by Design symposium explored some of the forces contributing to these discouraging numbers, among them implicit bias, wage inequality, and a culture that romanticizes the figure of the architect as the lone genius a la Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark. Zaha herself perpetuated that myth. “If you want an easy life, don’t be an architect,” she was quoted as saying. “Ask anybody in my office. You have to work all the time. If you want a nine-to-five job and to go home and relax, just don’t do it.” She was right, of course; architecture is a demanding profession. But for many architects, especially women, it’s not a question of going home at five to relax. It’s about rushing home in time to start the “second-shift,” and tending to all the other things that make us valuable to our families, our communities, and our clients. Going home at the end of the workday, while frowned upon by many in our profession, is not only desirable, but necessary for us to do our best work. We need to renew our creative stores, and to nurture the aspects of being human that allow us to engage the world around us and create thoughtful, healthy, and inspirational environments. Architects are often viewed as being elitist and out of touch with the way “normal people” live, imposing our impossible aesthetic standards and trying to educate them on what they should like or how they should live. Getting out of the office is just one way for us to better understand the society we serve.

Zaha was many things, but a representative of everywoman in architecture was not one of them. Fortunately for us, there are many female groundbreakers in the field. They may not be household names, but they have beaten the odds and are now working at the highest levels of the profession. They are winning clients, directing practices, and leading some of the best architecture schools in the nation. These are the women who show up every day at construction sites, client meetings, community review boards, and design juries. They work on tight deadlines and even tighter budgets. They advance the cause of sustainable building practices, navigate arcane building codes, and mentor younger architects. They may or may not wear black capes, but to me, they are the real superheroes and there are not nearly enough of them.

(Editor's note: Sharon Portnoy's insights were recently included in the NYTimes Article: Female Architects Speak Out on Sexism, Pay Inequity and More)



Dear Zaha - Leaving without notice.

by Raya Ani, AIA   

Leaving without notice!

As I am working on what might become the most important project of my life.. with a very tight deadline and the ambition to do just the right thing.. everything has started to daunt me….doubts…. sleepless nights.. my energy is draining out....

I am exactly at a moment where the confusion is high...and when you want to say so much yet you know you are not able to say much..

The pressure is on.. I feel like I am failing my team who are looking up to me to guide and inspire them..

I feel vacuumed out.

Last night, after having a spirited conversation with Susan in New York, I hung up.. on FB... I saw the news.. Layla, your post came first.. I was in shock and disbelief..

Tears rushing down.. I was in another world.. trying to pretend I am together to finish what I had to....tears would just not stop…Here I am trying to resolve something on the project that is taking days to resolve…yet it is not happening.. and I just won’t give up...however my heart is mourning the loss of you..

Remember when you were at Harvard presenting and you were wondering whether the slide was put the wrong way.. you asked: 'Is it upside down?' You definitely turned the world of architecture upside down.. we all sure of it.. we definitely know you are one of a kind.. and for me you are beyond architecture..

However my connection with you is multilayered…. You being an Iraqi, you being an architect, you being a woman, you being a different type of a woman.. and everything that comes along with it… From being constantly criticized for being different, inconvenient, uncompromising, tough and the incredible pressure to conform… I know many would appreciate your mark in the world of Architecture, however only few truly understand the painful sacrifices you have made and how you had to be to withstand..

I know that part of yourself that at times becomes inaccessible to others, including yourself…This gave space for some to criticize you..

I know you had a colossal task to undertake on our behalf, some knew it and some didn’t!

I probably know a little of what it means to stand solid in the face of any doubt, when the world outside doesn’t validate your ideas and they didn’t for a very long time.. and what you needed to become to storm through safety nets to hang out there..

A mission you continued to do courageously... a vision that required you to numb other parts of the self.

As I strive to gather myself to continue.. I can’t help but think that you must have left at the right time.. otherwise why would you leave without notice!

This timing might mean something different for each one of us..

For me.. you are probably asking me to pull it off when I feel the weakest and not to give up… I think you might be asking me to continue the journey, to carry the spirit of what you stood for…I know our styles are different, but our purpose I know is the same….

I wish I had hugged you before you left.. a hug that is larger than life…the hug where you stretch your arms all the way back.. the hug I gave my family as a kid in Iraq whenever they ask me to show them how much I love them… to show the biggest embrace..

I guess when the time comes, we pass our spirit down.. and at times, it comes without notice..

This submission was a repost from Raya Ani's Facebook Page

Leaving without notice! As I am working on what might become the most important project of my life.. with a very tight...

Posted by Raya Ani on Thursday, March 31, 2016

Why hack 2016? Reflections from 2015 AIA EQxD Hackathon

by Susan Kolber

Without a doubt, the most significant event of the whole AIA National convention in Atlanta was Equity by Design (EQxD) Hackathon ½ day event. Unique to the convention we were going to do something, on the spot, to improve the profession. The whole afternoon was a microcosm of what I have experienced since I attended my first EQxD meeting a year ago. What I got out of it was a real sense of what it will take to move the profession forward and an even stronger sense of optimism that we will get there.
— Matthew Gaul 2015 EQxD AIA Hackathon Participant
2015 EQxD AIA Hackathon participants Phil Bernstein, Melissa Daniel, Ashley L. Dunn, Morgan Maiolle, and Shawna Hammon presents their pitch to Hackathon judges. 

2015 EQxD AIA Hackathon participants Phil Bernstein, Melissa Daniel, Ashley L. Dunn, Morgan Maiolle, and Shawna Hammon presents their pitch to Hackathon judges. 

Conventions often give attendees at best a sense of excitement about what they have learned or who they have met, but usually there is no outlet to immediately apply new knowledge, create partnerships and design.  EQxD’s second annual AIA Hackathon brings a design focused framework and collaboration to solving and imagining the future of architectural practice in a fast paced four hour workshop. When do we have the opportunity to intensely imagine the potential and future of professional practice and who will be leading it?

Last year, EQxD AIA Hackathon judges and participants saw the event as a critical and energizing experience to create hacks promoting equity in architecture; participant Karen Robichaud remarked, “Walking into the Hackathon, I had no idea what to expect from the experience. After all, I’m not a hacker and I’m not an architect! I left feeling inspired, excited and eager to implement hackathons everywhere. There’s so much to hack!”  Participants joined teams and presented their pitch which resolved questions that were proposed at the beginning of the workshop in three minute presentations at the end of the day. Three judges, Obiekwe “Obi” Okolo, Melinda Rosenberg, and Curtis Rodgers  selected the winning based on their ability to measure results and make impact immediately. The 2015 EQxD AIA Hackathon winning team named #BUILDYOUrTribe proposed a new concept for an industry app designed to connect and propose events and engagements between the AEC community, “a sort of industry-specific mash-up between LinkedIn and MeetUp.”  A year later and participants of the event have brought the hackathon framework to other arenas to help solve problems. The 2016 EQxD AIA Hackathon will continue a legacy of challenging the status quo of architecture. If interested, register below.

I also discovered that hacking for a solution involves identifying the root problem that is often hidden under layers of information. These are the concepts I would like to practice everyday. I would like to bring it back to my workplace and communities I interact with to engage in conversations about equity and bias.
— Neelanjana Sen

  REGISTER FOR EQxD HAPPY HOUR ONLY Special Thanks goes to our EQxD Hackathon Scholarship Sponsors including Autodesk, McCarthy Building Companies, WRNS Studio, HOK and HGA.



Special Thanks goes to our EQxD Hackathon Scholarship Sponsors including Autodesk, McCarthy Building Companies, WRNS Studio, HOK and HGA.

Dear Zaha, Your Architecture - Exhilarating. Your Departure - Heartbreaking

by Rosa T. Sheng, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Dear Zaha,

I was in disbelief when I heard about your death on Thursday, during the morning commute. I didn't want to believe it. I thought surely this must have been a hoax. But the link was from the BBC which included an official statement from your firm.  In the days since,  many articles have been written, paying tribute to your legacy. You were not just one of the greatest architects of our time. The fact IS that you were the first woman architect to make a very large crack in the proverbial glass ceiling of our historically male dominated profession; Of many accolades, you were the first woman to be internationally recognized for your design work. You were the first woman architect to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004 and most recently, the first woman to win the Royal Institute of British Architect's Gold Medal in 2016.

I appreciated that you spoke out about the challenges in our profession, when many were afraid to speak. Your work was before its time, you had an uphill climb, but you persevered regardless of the critics at every step of your journey; questioning whether you deserved the honors and recognition that you rightfully earned. In so many ways, you were (and are still) one of our greatest champions, a role model to many, and most influential to those that are women in the profession; who feel the greatest loss of all. Rest assured that we will uphold your fearlessness and leadership by example. We will not waiver from our path, in Architecture's Lean in Moment, to be recognized for our individual and collective work as architects (who just so happen to be women).  You have proved to the world that it can be done.

Beatrice Colomina once said, "Women are the ghosts of modern architecture, everywhere present, crucial, but strangely invisible. In your lifetime, you have made yourself visible and in essence broken the spell for the rest of us. Things are slowly beginning to change. Our discussions about inequity are no longer back room, but an international movement to get more recognized for their talent and accomplishments within the profession. We will continue to build metrics, meaning and matrices that promote equity in Architecture.

I believe in progress, I think if we do enough research, we can push the envelope and get better results… That’s what I like about architecture. It’s exhilarating, but also heart-breaking.
— Dame Zaha Hadid

There is no doubt that we will feel the loss of your talent, your beautifully futuristic buildings, and your audacious authenticity. But we will not give up hope. Your architecture is exhilarating and your departure is also heart-breaking. But, we will forge on with our research and continue to push the boundaries to lead our profession to a better place in your honor.

Farewell, Rest in Peace,


The following is a compilation of articles worth reading that reflect upon Dame Zaha Hadid's passing. If you would like to contribute to the EQxD series: "Dear Zaha", Please contact us. We will be posting throughout the month of April as we receive them.

The devastating loss of Zaha Hadid for women in Architecture via Quartz by Anne Quito

 Why we talk about Zaha Hadid's gender and ethnicity even though her architecture transcended both LA Times by Carolina Miranda

How Zaha Hadid became Zaha Hadid Written by Sara Ben Lashihar

Female Architects on the Significance of Zaha Hadid NYTimes by Randy Kennedy and Robin Pogrebin

 Female Architects speak out on Sexism, unequal pay and more. NYTimes by Robin Pogrebin

An Architect who first imagined, then proved, that space could work in radical new ways.

 I Will Not Live By Your Fascist Rules!” Remembering the untameable brilliance of Zaha Hadid Cincinnati Magazine by Charles Desmarais

A Tribute to Zaha Hadid by Taz Loomans via BloomingRock

Via Youtube, Zaha discusses the challenges of gender and race in Architecture.

Meet the Hackers...

by Rosa T. Sheng, AIA LEED AP BD+C 

We are very excited to introduce our 10 EQxD Hackathon Scholarship Winners that will be joining as on Wednesday May 18th at AIA National Convention in Philadelphia.  We appreciate all of you that submitted applications for consideration, it was a really tough decision.



Shawna Hammon, AIA, LEED AP BD+C - @shawna_hammon

Shawna is a licensed architect in North Carolina at Perkins+Will.  She earned her Master of Architecture degree from North Carolina State University where she now teaches Digital Representation as an Adjunct Faculty member.  Shawna is actively involved in her local section of AIA, currently serving as the architect chair for the Young Architects Forum (YAF).  Shawna also continues to pursue her greatest architectural passion – tall wood buildings.  When she isn't participating in a competition or scouring the internet for the latest on tall wood innovation, Shawna races motorcycles, and spends time with her husband, Kevin and their cat, Moo.

Architecture and the Era of Connections means that technologically speaking, employers are more equipped than ever to promote flexible work environments - scattered teams can come together online to push a project forward and mothers can breast feed or pump while checking emails – just a few examples of how we can be more flexible as a result of technology. However, there are downsides – clients expect more from us but want to pay less, and many argue the craft is gone from our profession since anyone can utilize Sketch Up to design a house; do we even need architects anymore? How can we continue to demonstrate our value to society and keep our profession relevant?
— Shawna

Ricardo J. Maga-Rojas - @_MagaRojas1906

Ricardo de Jesús Maga Rojas (born 22 October 1989) is an Afro-Cuban aspiring architect. Born in Banes, Holguin, Cuba and raised in Miami, Florida. A recent alumnus of Tuskegee University's Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Sciences (TSACS) in 2013, Ricardo is currently a Master’s Candidate in Urban Planning at Texas A&M University where he serves as the AIAS Chapter President while working part-time as an Architectural Intern at Patterson Architects in Bryan, TX.

Architecture and the Era of Connections” means that an ever-changing profession in an ever-changing world seeks to promote diversity and justice in the architecture profession in order to effectuate change and form connections with our global brethren.
— Ricardo

Kelly Duignan -  ‏@kelduignan  

Kelly Duignan grew up in Lancaster, PA and moved to Philadelphia in 2008 to attend Drexel University, an accredited part-time evening program from which she graduated in 2013 with her Bachelor of Architecture degree.  After some time at the Delaware Valley Green Building Council as a Marketing Associate and Graphic Designer, she is currently an Architectural Intern at Olaya Studio in West Philadelphia.  Kelly is also a volunteer with the Community Design Collaborative, and was recently awarded ‘Rookie of the Year’ by the nonprofit for her volunteer efforts within the organization.

Architecture and the Era of Connections means visibility, creative collaboration, shared interests, stories with impact, uplifting others, innovative ideas, change and positivity.
— Kelly

Braham J. B. Berg -  @BBB3rg

Braham Berg is an M.Arch and MSRED Candidate at Tulane University, the Tulane AIAS Chapter AIA Liaison on the AIA NOLA Executive Board, the National Charette Lead on the AIAS National Freedom by Design Advisory Group, and Creative Lead for Telephone NOLA [], a New Orleans-based interdisciplinary arts exchange. Braham is engaged at bridging the connection between academia, practice, and community at local, regional, and national levels, from mentoring students through NOMA Louisiana’s Project Pipeline program, facilitating charettes at 2016 AIAS Midwest Quad (Detroit) and AIAS Forum (San Francisco), and serving as the Volunteer Coordinator at 2015 NOMA National “Rise” (New Orleans).

Architecture and the Era of Connections means 1.) showing how architecture is inherent in the daily lives of everyone on this planet no matter gender, race, place, ideology, or background; 2.) Architecture spanning beyond the traditional realms of forms into all interdisciplinary realms (arts+sciences+business+law) where design and architecture can impact and address social issues as a problem; 3.) using/ adapting technology (wisely!!) as a way that enhances everyone’s experience of space or place (online or physical); 4.) inspiring others—of all a GWS and from all around the world— of the potential that they too can create their visions and improve the existing.
— Braham

Ryan Orr – @ROrrArch

Ryan Orr is an architectural designer at KCBA architects and currently pursues his architectural license as an emerging professional. After graduating from The Pennsylvania State University with a B.Arch in 2013, Ryan now utilizes his design talents and technology interests to create a vision for 21st century schools and learning spaces. As a member of the PEA – Philadelphia Emerging Architects, he fosters relationships between professionals, students, and future members of the Architecture profession through mentorship programs, technology trainings, ARE study groups and high school career exploration activities.

Architecture finds itself at a crossroads – dis-similar to the master builder of old; an architect connects across multiple platforms, places, and people in order to achieve architecture. From clients, consultants, and craftspeople to stakeholders, investors, and developers, an architect guides the process utilizing techniques and tools that may be improved by these connections. The ability to manage, develop, and maintain control of all the moving parts strains the real goal of architecture, and the capacity to design across disciplines, borders, and other barriers. The 21st century resources available to an architect, including technology and business strategies, are essential to the future of architecture.
— Ryan

Obiekwe “Obi” Okolo - @ObiMatteo

The unique experience of living in Lagos, Nigeria during childhood shaped Obi’s perspective and passion for doing good for the world. To gain greater understanding about design, he studied at the University of Texas, San Antonio (UTSA), where he received a degree in Interior Architecture.  Concurrent with his studies, Obi immersed himself within the community of fellow students and served as Chapter President of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) for two concurrent years.  It was during that time that his began working on aid-based design – a way to blend humanitarian efforts and entrepreneurship. In 2015, Obi served as AIAS National Vice President.

Among other things living in an era of connections makes it nearly impossible for me, in my mind, to justify the many reasons you often hear for why architects/designers/the profession is the way that it is. In an age where an average patient can, at least, broadly understand an impending operation or crippling diagnoses through innovations in technology and story-telling, there is no reason we should still be asking the question “Why doesn’t the public understand what we do?” ...Simply put, it’s because we don’t really want them to yet.
— Obi


Daniel Teed

Dan grew up in a small town on the Iowan banks of the Mississippi and his initial interest in architecture came from his love of the honest expression of steel, wood, and stone found in the bridges spanning the Mighty Mississippi. He graduated from the University of Utah with a master's degree in architecture in 2014 and has since practiced in Salt Lake City. He is passionate about architecture for under price ledges populations and has designed and implemented work on the Navajo Nation, in the rural desert towns of Utah, and in Salt Lake City.

From smart homes to social media, “ease of connectivity” is the movement that defines our modern era. The way we interact with architecture, the environments in which we live, work, and play, is naturally changing in response to this concept of instant connectivity. In 2016 we are poised on the edge of an architectural revolution that will propel our concept of connections forward and forever change the course of our profession!
— Daniel

A. L. Hu - @a_l_hu  

A.L. Hu is a genderqueer first generation person of color who is currently a Master of Architecture student at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP). Their research, writing, and design work is at the intersection of gender, race, community, and architecture. A.L. is a GSAPP Program Council member; co-founder of GSAPP Students of Color Association; founding member of Queer Students of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation; co-organizer of ArchiteXX at GSAPP; and a GSAPP student representative on Columbia University’s Race, Ethnicity, and Inclusion Task Force. A.L. uses the gender-neutral pronouns they, them and theirs.

Architecture and the Era of Connections means that the profession must respond to the digital age in which we live — nowadays, we are always “on” through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on. It is now easier than ever to connect and reach a broader, diverse, global audience, not to mention research deeper and find information faster. But this new era of connections does not come without consequences to fields like Architecture, which has its roots in more “traditional” communication methods. We must ask, how does Architecture remain connected through this new mode of communication, and what changes need to happen to foster this connection?
— A.L.

Hilary Barlow, AIA, LEED AP BD+C - @YDC_Payette

Hilary Barlow is an Architect at Payette, current co-chair of the firm’s Young Designers Core and a member of the AIA Center for Civic Leadership Committee.  Hilary is interested in engaging young leaders and creating new opportunities to supplement emerging professionals’ learning.  She led the firm’s award-winning submission for the IDP Outstanding Firm of the Year Award and has initiated new platforms to foster mentorship at Payette.  Hilary joined Payette after completing her B.Arch at Syracuse University in 2013, and has been highly involved with collaborative design assist at Payette.  

Not only does Today’s technology keeps us connected and plugged in constantly, but it has the potential to disrupt the paradigm of Architecture. BIM, scripting and parametric design are just a few of the ways industry trends are reshaping and redefining the Architecture, Engineering and Construction professions. In the Era of Connections, Architecture has the potential to be at the forefront of change—from how buildings are conceptualized, designed, coordinated and built.
— Hilary

Jonathan Meadows, RA @jonathanbmeadow

Jonathan Meadows.jpg

Jonathan Meadows graduated from Auburn University in 2010 with a B. Arch degree, became LEED accredited in 2013, and received his architectural license in August 2015. In addition to being a project architect at Williams Blackstock Architects, he is the Director of Emerging Professionals for AIA Birmingham. He has been very active in his community: he's a consistent volunteer for ACE Mentorship, co-chaired a lecture series designed to bring together the EP groups of contractors, engineers, and architects, has been a guest juror for the Auburn University Urban Studio, and organized and led a historic architectural walking tour of downtown Birmingham.

I believe that more than at any other time, Architecture is a field of teamwork and collaboration. As our buildings become more complex, the need for specialization increases, and the architect’s role becomes one of coordination rather than as a master-builder. I see technology as a facilitator of this process from conception, to design, to construction, and the architect as a well-rounded generalist and team leader.
— Jonathan


And don't forget to join us for EQxD Happy Hour at Smokin' Betty's after the Hack!


Special Thanks goes to our EQxD Hackathon Scholarship Sponsors including Autodesk, McCarthy Building Companies, WRNS Studio, HOK and HGA.