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There has been much discussion raised about "Why are women leaving Architecture? and more broadly, Why is the profession losing 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?

2018 EQxD Hackathon: Winners Take On Equitable Compensation

Recap of the invigorating 4th EQxD Hackathon and the winning team’s submission which was hosted by Syracuse University’s Fisher Center - by Lilian Asperin, AIA and Rosa T. Sheng, FAIA

This year on June 20th, the 4th Equity by Design Hackathon: ArchitectuREvolution took place before the AIA National Conference on Architecture in New York City. The hackathon theme was inspired by the U.N. Initiative - the New Urban Agenda serves as a multi-faceted platform for Architects to apply our best skills towards imagining and committing to a world that is truly inclusive, where equity is for everyone. The EQxD Hackathon embodies the defining characters of the Agenda - to reinvigorate, to ensure effectiveness, and to create resiliency. Urban development, while different in scale as Practice development, engenders similar goals of wellness for present generations, openness to embrace diversity and evolving demographics, and a pledge towards sustainability for the future by taking bold steps, together, and today.

As one of the most anticipated workshops at the annual AIA Conference, the EQxD Hackathon continues the goal to create a unique learning experience that is essential to building our skills as designers and architects. Designed as an immersive experience, the workshop is hands-on, action-oriented, inclusive and teaches the process framework for hacking. Groups of thought leaders, licensed architects, and emerging professionals gathered in an incubator-like setting at the Fisher Center to learn and apply radical thinking towards transformational concepts.

The goal - improving Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Architectural Practice and the Communities we serve. Teams presented their “Hacks” to industry experts and a winning concept was selected to be featured in our blog for further discussion and development. These photos communicate some of the amazing energy, creativity and high level engagement from the day that participants can share with their colleagues.

And the winner is….

Compensation Facts

clear, comprehensive and customized for you

Equity is for everyone. Everyone is different. And, everyone’s compensation goals vary over the course of a career.

The winning concept “Compensation Facts” was developed by participants Christina Booher; Michael Ford, Assoc. AIA; Marissa Kasdan, Assoc. AIA; Marisa Nemcik, AIA; Yiselle Santos Rivera, Assoc. AIA; D. Brooke Robinson, AIA; and Laura Wheaton, AIA.

Compensation Facts Team: Christina Booher; Marissa Kasdan, Assoc. AIA; D. Brooke Robinson, AIA; Marisa Nemcik, AIA; and Laura Wheaton, AIA, Yiselle Santos Rivera, Assoc. AIA, Michael Ford, Assoc. AIA;

Compensation Facts Team: Christina Booher; Marissa Kasdan, Assoc. AIA; D. Brooke Robinson, AIA; Marisa Nemcik, AIA; and Laura Wheaton, AIA, Yiselle Santos Rivera, Assoc. AIA, Michael Ford, Assoc. AIA;


A firm should not expect all to thrive under the same compensation package. Compensation Facts makes it easier for firms to communicate a competitive and customized compensation package that supports recruitment and retention of top quality talent while also measuring equity in compensation across all staff.


The first step in improving the navigation of the compensation negotiation is to ensure consistency. We believe the AIA can be the catalyst that turns architecture into the leading industry for transparent work agreements. Similar to AIA contract templates, we encourage the AIA to produce and distribute compensation fact templates. Working with you, we propose to inform and draft clauses that reflect ways that compensation is equitable.

“Compensation Facts: Modeled on nutrition labels, which help you watch what you eat, Compensation Facts helps you watch what you make”.  

~ Excerpt from Equity by Design Hackathon Team Pitch

Screenshot 2018-09-16 09.52.12.png

“An at-a-glance template of pay and benefits, which aggregates into a complete picture of work/life integration. This two-part template lists salary and baseline benefits including: insurance, paid time off, retirement, and other benefits clearly and concisely, the same way every time, across positions, across firms, and across the country. Additionally, it includes a range of opt-in benefits an employee can experience while at a particular firm.”


The use of Compensation Facts templates will enable complex compensation packages to be compared apples to apples. This clarity creates the framework for conversations about creative and personally relevant types or mixes of elements of compensation that can be customized based on need and/or preference to support work/life satisfaction. In practice, a firm might offer two or three equivalent compensation packages for the same position, allowing the employee to select the best fit for them.

Given the diverse composition of the Equity by Design Hackathon team members, a few potential scenarios include: greater professional development opportunities and tuition reimbursement; more PTO days for family vacations; flexibility or subsidized funds for caregiving needs; or zeroing out benefits in exchange for higher salary and retirement plan strategies.

While full Compensation Facts would be private, employers could opt to make a partial facts chart publicly available as part of their talent recruitment.

Next Steps: We are seeking interested leaders and firms who are willing to help us prototype this concept! Please contact us via


Thanks to our #EQxDHack18 Sponsors

We are grateful for the champions who provided scholarships for students and emerging professionals to attend. We are also grateful for Syracuse University Fisher Center and Staff for making this event possible.



by Lilian Asperin, AIA

We love creating opportunities, opening big doors and channeling the enthusiasm that comes when you feel both welcome and invited. This year we are grateful once more to all our #EQxDHack18 Hackathon Sponsors, with our biggest champion, Autodesk's Danny Guillory - Head of Diversity and Inclusion, who have graciously partnered with us to support our goal of creating a multi-disciplinary and inclusive framework by sponsoring scholarships for participation in the fourth EQxD Hackathon at an AIA National Conference.

We have awarded this year's scholarships to include a unique and amazing group of graduate students, emerging professionals, and young architects. The excitement in their own words let us know that they are READY.


“I'm excited to participate in this year's hackathon because this event will be unlike anything I have ever experienced.  I can only imagine that when a group of creative people is united with one goal in mind, to create an architectural profession that is more diverse, inclusive, and equitable – something amazing will happen. I can’t wait to learn, collaborate, and create. I’m sure that this experience will be challenging, rewarding, and most of all fun.”

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Kymberli D. Barrett, Emerging Professional

Instagram: @kymbo_nice

Twitter: @kymbo_nice



Kymberli is a designer at TreanorHL in Atlanta, GA. She holds a dual Bachelor of Science in architecture & construction science from Prairie View A&M University and a Master’s in architecture from Savannah College of Art and Design. She is passionate about building up communities through service and thoughtful design.


“I will just have returned from Kenya, and am excited to jump right into this hackathon. I’m excited to meet the other Hackers and see what kinds of solutions we can create.”

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Devanne Pena, Registered Architect

Instagram: @archidev

Twitter: @devannepena


Devanne Pena (Deh-vin Pee-nuh) is a freelance architect who is spending 2018 with no zipcode. She is currently conducting pre-design research and development for her non-profit organization Sustainable AF (Architecture Foundation). In 2016, Devanne became the 375th African-American woman licensed to practice architecture, in history. She activates this unique platform by sharing her story while participating and supporting efforts that align with the advancement of people of color. She served as assistant editor then editor-in-chief of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Magazine from 2012 to 2015, and was a 2016 American Institute of Architects Emerging Fellow. Devanne has been featured in articles by National Public Radio, National Council of Architectural Registration Board, Austin Women Magazine, The Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce.


“The equity, diversity, inclusion topic is very close to my own day-a-day living experience. I’m a woman that immigrated from Colombia 14 years ago. I work for an Engineering company where men comprise 99% of the professional workforce. I’m the only foreigner and one of two female Architects. I’m excited to learn from other experiences, to share my own and to be able to develop concepts for improving justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.”

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Graciela Carrillo, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Instagram: @gracecol

Twitter: @gracecolny


Originally from Colombia, Graciela Carrillo immigrated to the US in early 2003. While in Colombia, Graciela worked as an Architect at the Bogota’s Institute of Urban Development (IDU), a Government owned institution in charge of city planning and infrastructure construction for Bogotá. Currently she works as an Architect for Cashin Associates, P.C . At Cashin, she has worked on and lead all scales of urban design, planning and architectural projects, and LEED project administration and CX services. Graciela has committed almost a decade of volunteer leadership service to the AIA. She has been involved with the AIA at the local, state and national level, currently serving as the President-Elect as well as the EP and WIA Co-Chair of the AIA Long Island Chapter. On a National and State level in 2017, Graciela was appointed as the NY Regional Director (YARD) for the Young Architects Forum (YAF) and sits on the AIA NYS Board of Directors. Graciela obtained her B. Arch in Colombia, and a MS in Env. Planning from Pratt Institute and is a LEED Accredited Professional.


“Developing concepts to improve justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in architectural practice and the communities we serve is a relevant and important task for the design community to hack.  While the task at hand is complex and daunting, I believe it is an important conversation to lead and continue as design professionals. I am looking forward to the format we will use to tackle such a problem; working with fellow professionals who will challenge the practice of architecture by openly discussing the problems and creating radical actionable solutions through a hackathon.”   

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Lubna Chaudhry, Associate AIA

Ayers Saint Gross - Baltimore, Md

Instagram: @chaudhrylubna



Lubna Chaudry graduated in 2015 with a Masters of Architecture from The University of Maryland, where she was also the Chapter President of AIAS during her undergraduate study. She is currently on the path to licensure, working AXP and ARE's.


“I am excited to be a part of the Hackathon as a way to meet like-minded architects who are conscious of topics such as inclusion and diversity in their design practice. I am particularly interested in urban planning and find that it is our responsibility as designers and architects to consider context when designing buildings. I have always enjoyed design charrettes as a way to meet people and quickly exchange ideas when confronting everyday situations in the architecture field.”

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Stephanie Haller

Master of Architecture Candidate, Syracuse University

Instagram: @snhaller



Stephanie Haller is currently at candidate for a Master of Architecture degree at Syracuse University. She graduated from Temple University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Architectural Preservation.


“I'm incredibly excited to participate in the Hackathon to gain insight in how to address and become a resource for empowerment within my firm and the profession in the conversation about Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. I'm looking forward to meeting leaders of the industry and learning from their experience and expertise. I'm also interested in joining a growing network of EDI champions across the country for the betterment of our industry and our communities.”

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Yiselle Santos Rivera, Assoc. AIA

HKS - Washington, D.C.

Twitter: @YiselleSantos  



Yiselle Santos, Associate AIA, LEEP AP is a graduate of Syracuse University School of Architecture and currently leads the HKS, Inc. Washington, DC office Practice Technology efforts in all phases of design and construction documentation enhancing workflows through the incorporation of innovative technologies. She is a co-founder of the Latin American Interior Designers, Engineers, and Architects (LA.IDEA) Committee of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Washington, DC Chapter with the mission to become the leading collective of Latin American design professionals in the DC area by creating opportunities for interaction among members, fostering professional development, and engaging the community. She is an AIA Washington, DC Chapter Board member, a Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program Scholar, the Emerging Professional Outreach Committee Leader for the AIA Women’s Leadership Summit, and the Advocacy Outreach and Education At-Large Director of the AIA National Associates Committee. Yiselle recently founded the AIA WIELD series, an inspiring and empowering story telling event where Women Inspire Emerging Leaders in Design and is a 2018 AIA Associate Award recipient.



“I am curious about the connection between social problems and design progress, and how the whole society can impact on architecture and make our space a better place to live. ‘Equity’ is largely ignored during design process because we, as designers, are biased, so the designs from designer's experience most of time are not related to people who actually live there. I hope from this event, I can broaden my horizon and rethink the architecture design and how it can make a better place for everyone.”

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Miao Hui

Master of Architecture Candidate, Syracuse University

Instagram: huimiao1993



Miao Hui is a graduate of Beijing University of Technology. She is currently at candidate for the Master of Architecture degree at Syracuse University.



“It is an action-oriented and inspiring workshop. Equity is important for everyone, and the EQxD Hackathon embodies the human spirit. I also interested in the value of architecture to society.”

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Han Jiang

Master of Architecture Candidate, Syracuse University




Han Jiang is currently at candidate for the Master of Architecture degree at Syracuse University.


“I am excited and inspired by this year’s Hackathon theme ArchitectuRE:evolution. Architecture is currently undergoing an evolution as a profession and I want to be part of the generation that embraces inclusiveness and equity in architecture. I am looking forward to having a thoughtful, engaging and challenging hack discussion with other professionals about to future of architecture academically and professionally.”

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Anesu M. Dhliwayo, Emerging Professional

Twitter: @anesumercy

Instagram: @anesumd


Anesu Dhliwayo is an emerging professional in architecture and a recent graduate of Boston Architectural College. As the Alpha Rho Chi Bronze Medal – 2016 Recipient, Anesu hopes here career in architecture is guided by the awards principals of leadership and service. She currently lives in San Francisco and works at Gould Evans where she is a member of the Equity Committee and Licensure Committee.


“To be a part of the Hackathon, I expect to prepare myself to have an experience with AIA members and (to study a) collection of information related to architecture. I'm excited to enjoy the event since I could be invited to learn about design, profession and practice of architecture. I am glad to share my own stories with the goal that my work advances equity in architecture and to learn from others' stories - that will also inspire me lots.”

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Peilin Hu

Master of Architecture Candidate, Syracuse University




Peilin Hu graduated from Arizona State University at May 2016 and now joined in Master of Architecture program at School of Architecture in Syracuse University. Peilin's experience is grounded in practical and hands-on architectural design adept at successfully and effectively interacting with contractors across multiple construction sites.

We are eager to gather these voices of emerging professionals, graduate students and those of 60 others who signed up for A'18 EV202 Wednesday, June 20th, 2018 to hack at the Syracuse Fisher Center.  (Yes, the event is sold out.)

Happy Hour IS SOLD OUT! Thanks for your support of our event!

Thank you Syracuse University Fisher Center

Special Thanks to Syracuse University School of Architecture, Dean Michael Speaks, Xiaoyin Li, and dedicated staff at the Fisher Center for making this event  possible.



Special Thanks to our amazing EQxD Sponsors!

Team "Our Town" - How Do We Increase Public Access to Architecture?

By Korey White (in collaboration with her teammates: Annelise Pitts, Atianna Cordova, Joel Avery and Julia Weatherspoon)

First, let’s give everyone a voice.

For one, half-day, a group of diverse individuals from all backgrounds, all across America, came together in a safe environment to discuss issues facing the profession of architecture, our society and our communities. The open door format of the Equity by Design Hackathon created the right foundation for catalyzing a new mindset.

We stripped collaboration of the traditional roles that we each fulfill everyday. We eliminated hierarchy in decision making and we placed all of our thoughts on the table, despite the vulnerability that typically comes with discussions of equity, diversity and inclusion. When you have four hours to work through a solution, you don’t have time to allow yourself to get paralyzed by  the complex nature of these issues. Instead, you adopt a new modus operandi: you throw everything against the wall and see what sticks.


At the beginning of the afternoon, we jumped into an exercise to identify what our group of hackers had in common and what set us apart. This set the stage for us to understand the strengths and perspectives we each brought to the table. After this warm up, we identified a long list of the challenges we experience within the profession of architecture. To honor our process to be divergent first and then converge, we used voting dots to identify those topics that resonated the most within our group. As passionate professionals, we landed on one big question:




“How do we increase public access to architecture?”

For Team “Our Town”, “Access” means having visibility, participation, advocacy, and funding; “Access” means building local capacity; and “Access” means sharing resources.  We then proceeded to define our problem statement:

Not enough communities have access to design services and when they do, it is during times of disaster/in response to disasters. In contrast, designers don’t have access to data that would help them identify what the community actually believes is needed.

Then, aggregate that voice.

Our solution would be brilliant in its simplicity. Our goal: to better engage and listen to understand what they believe are the areas of opportunity. It would give a voice to people in local communities who are typically not heard to have a say in how their community develops.

To achieve that, we prototyped a software app that would be available on mobile phones as well as local library and school computers to increase access.  This app would allow community members to, for example, go out and identify open or vacant parcels and crowdsource votes on what they believe to be the best fit for their needs. Users of the app would have the ability to document positive happenings in their neighborhoods, as well as areas of improvement. They can event propose new programming in different spaces with an Augmented Reality function. All of this is to close the gap between users and designers, and add communities to the process of design.

Strengthened by the clarity between opportunity matched with need and community buy in, design teams would engage meaningfully. For example, competitions for design concepts would be launched with these community-authored briefs - a grassroot effort rather than a top-down result imposed by external interests.



Designing for Access.

Data has the power to be an equalizer in our communities and a source that makes our contributions as architects ever more meaningful. Perhaps it is a revelation to us that we need to be more insistent on inclusivity and engagement. Not only would our app be active in collecting data, but it would also be passive for those that downloaded it onto their phones - for instance, it could collect data on how far they walked to the grocery store or pharmacy or whether there was a lack of a particular resource.

Team “Our Town” wants to give the power back to the community.  As architects, we recognized that we need to be better listeners and to do that, we first need to design more effective ways to engage with the communities we serve. What better way to listen than to have the community participate and rate the importance of services that might become a reality?


Lessons Learned

Attending the EquityxDesign Hackathon at the 2017 AIA conference was a genius way to get a lot of thinkers in the same room to unpack the issues that plague the architecture and design industry. This was my first AIA Conference. and I attended the conference, in part, to participate in the hackathon.

The largest takeaway from the hackathon was that understanding rapid and unfiltered design based solution is something that we can do more of to begin conversations of how to tackle issues in areas of interest. Good ideas always come from collaboration and we have the power to change and mold our industry in measurable ways. I look forward to participating again.
— Julia Weatherspoon



Team "EQUATOR" - Toolkit for Assessing and Improving Equitable Practice

Interview w/ hackers Amelie-Phaine Crowe, Beau Frail, Don Weinreich, Kavitha Mathew, Kelsey Oesmann, and Lara Garnant

EQUATOR: an imaginary line drawn around the earth equally distant from both poles, dividing the earth into northern and southern hemispheres and constituting the parallel of latitude 0°. Origin: late Middle English: from medieval Latin aequator, in the phrase circulus aequator diei et noctis ‘circle equalizing day and night,’ from Latin aequare ‘make equal’.

Team Equator: an energized group of change agents comprised of a diverse range of backgrounds, levels of experience, and abilities that share common concerns about equity within the profession.

Working together, the team candidly reflected on the shared disappointment about two truths:

  1. Inequitable practices are often ingrained in architectural firm culture
  2. Each firm is different - there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to building equitable work environments. So, Team Equator set out to create a toolkit that would guide firms in assessing areas where improvement is necessary, then offer implementation strategies to develop equitable practices and policies within firms.

THE EQUATOR as Tool -  a unique, tailored “diagnosis” and set of recommendations for improving equity and diversity within firms;

THE EQUATOR as Process - synthesis and analysis of small and big data, from employee and employer perspectives to identify disconnects; facilitation/mediation of group discussions; presentation of potential solutions and mediation as necessary;

THE EQUATOR as Outcomes - a collection of aggregate data on firms of various sizes; development of scalable solutions and training that can be deployed online; implementation of firm policies for achieving equity and diversity goals; proof (data driven results, best practices and a network of firms); an iterative, feedback loop for continuous improvement.

The hypothesis of Team Equator’s hack is that this toolkit will translate to improvements as evidenced in:

  • Ability for firms to increase awareness of and break poor habits
  • Streamlined process of finding solutions
  • Stronger employee-employer relationships
  • Scalable solutions that are personalized and adaptable, therefore optimized for effectiveness
  • Flexibility and willingness to establish employee-centered firm policies


Ice Breaker -  The Egg Project

What did you learn from your group in the course of doing this exercise?

Kavitha - Despite our various levels of experience, I think that we had some common concerns about equity within the profession. 

Beau - Our group of six Hackers discovered the elements that connected us, such as our love for drawing and having no pets, and also celebrated the unique qualities that made us a diverse collection of change agents ready to embrace our differences while finding common ground to explore ideas for making our profession more equitable. (the genesis of The Equator) 

Kelsey - Our group represented a really diverse range of backgrounds, experiences, and abilities, which added a lot of value to our conversations. 

What was the most unexpected response to the what was Unique about each person? (Outside the Egg)

Amelie - I was surprised that no one else played instruments! 

Lara - I concluded from the exercise, that many of our commonalities and differences both (personally and professionally) seemed to speak to mutual creativity, passion, patience, empathy, dedication, and analytical thinking. It was interesting to see how even our differences had common threads. 

What was the most unexpected response to the what was common to the group? (Inside the Egg)

Kelsey - I was surprised none of us have pets - indication of a need for better work-life balance, perhaps? 

Lara - Another interesting coincidence, for me, was that we had all lived on a coast at some point in our lives. We share that common passion and drive. 

Beau - Apparently we are not a group of marathon runners, but we are willing to run toward the goals of creating an equitable future.

Defining the Problem

What did you think of the ideation process for defining the problem?

Kavitha - It was a little frenetic, but ultimately productive.

Beau - I agree, the process of narrowing down to a specific problem to address seemed rushed for our group. I appreciated that Kavitha and others came with strong ideas they had previously contemplated. We became a testing ground for these ideas and shared our varied perspectives that resulted in a well-defined problem. BF

Kelsey - Putting words around such complex challenges and narrowing it down to a cohesive “problem statement” was definitely a challenge. The time limit was helpful for forcing us to speak to the issue instead of around it.

Amelie - Part of our struggle was that a number of different issues we wrote down were inter-connected. It was good to enumerate each one, but very difficult to all agree on which tangential issues to leave behind. Yes, I think our group's passion toward equity and the interconnection of the problems drove us towards brainstorming a large number of issues and multiple potential solutions…

Lara - During that stage, our personal experiences (differences) helped fuel the number of problems, while our common passion for equity had us excited to tackle the problems at hand.  The interconnected nature of many of the problems, compounded the choice.  I agree.  The tough aspect in defining the single problem with a single solution, was letting go of or rather not getting to discuss solutions for problems left on the board.  As a group, in the end we chose well and were able to define a single problem with a single solution in time.  (Of course there was no wrong choice, only the challenge of a time limitation to define it, solve it and present it.)  The process of brainstorming problems, while frustrating due to the time constraint, ultimately reflected our common concerns for equity.  


What was the problem that your group agree to solve?

Kavitha - We tried to create a toolkit and process for measuring and improving equity within firms, leading to greater diversity. 

Beau - The problems that our team gravitated toward as the highest priority to address included:

  • The ability for a firm to assess their meeting of equity metrics

  • Resilience of the profession through recessions and other disruptive events. This included retaining talent and providing growth opportunities for younger employees (via equity metrics)

  • Aging in the profession/ experience gap (similar issues as above) 


Crafting the Solution

What did you think of the ideation process for crafting the solution? Was it difficult to come up with ideas? Was it difficult to narrow down to the final solution?

Beau - The fast paced generation of ideas was exciting and at times frustrating. We had many ideas from different perspectives that were worth exploring. Narrowing down on an idea seemed hasty, though perhaps that is the inherent pace involved in Hackathons.

Kelsey - It was a challenge to keep ideas at a “brainstorm” level - I think we had a tendency to get into the details of a specific solution before we considered all the options to determine what the solution should be.

Amelie - It wasn’t too difficult to come up with supportive strategies for our solution. The trouble was that we had a lot of ideas and not quite enough time to write them all down. It was a pretty fluid process. I think we also had some struggles with figuring out how to communicate the strategies verbally in our pitch, and which to leave out of the talking points. 


What was the problem that your group agreed to solve?

Beau - Ultimately, our group resonated strongly around a central solution for measuring the equitable quality of a workplace, providing assessments of firms, and offering implementation strategies to develop equitable practices and policies within firms. This equity and diversity assessment and implementation tool is called The Equator. 

Kelsey - The Equator addressed inequitable practices and policies that are often ingrained in firm culture and tradition, and provided a unique, tailored “diagnosis” and set of recommendations. Each firm is different and has different challenges and assets, and we wanted to respect that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to building equitable work environments.

Amelie - EQUATOR in its final form struck a good balance of being user-friendly, useful to define success vs improvement areas, and potentially appealing as a branding tool for equitable firms.

Lara - Equator, while a single process, possesses the ability to flex to each employee-employer relationship for both the success of the individuals, the firm, and ultimately the industry.  The nature of the process is personalized to the individuals involved.


How did you decided to present your elevator pitch?

Team Equator displayed the issue of top down and bottom up perspectives through a short skit. A firm owner and a young professional both expressed their frustrations with gaps and disconnects in equity. We introduced The Equator as a solution for firms and employees/ potential employees to “meet in the middle” to identify disconnects related to diversity and equity and have access to tools for adopting, integrating or advocating solutions. Our group members took turns presenting each part of The Equator process:

  • Equity and Diversity Toolkit for measuring and improving equity within firms
  • Data Collection and analysis within categories from employee and employer perspectives (online platform/ quiz/ interviews). LARGER GOAL: to aggregate data on multiple scaled firms.
  • Identify disconnects, then present solutions and mediate as necessary. LARGER GOAL: identify and develop scalable solutions that can be deployed online
  • Develop firm policies and implementation strategies for achieving equity and diversity goals
  • Measure and verify the impact of implementation strategies/ tools
  • Case studies
  • Adoption toolkits and training
  • Data driven results verified
  • Firm profiles highlighting best practices (opportunity for a Firm Equity Network…)
  • Adjust tools as necessary based on data/ results   

While aggregating data, developing scaled solutions, and creating supportive firm networks are potential outcomes that can become supportive tools for others undergoing the process, the ultimate success of Equator is it’s core focus on:

  • Individual employee-employer relationships
  • Solutions that fit those individuals
  • Flexibility
  • No one solution fits all or fits similar sized firms - (only very similar people with very similar values, goals, relationships, firm culture, etc. may have a similar set of policies - but the success depends on the ability to cater the solutions to meet both the needs of the specific employee and employer for each identified disconnect.)  The aggregate data, scaled solutions, and network are resources to support and provide solutions for each disconnect in the employee-employer relationship.  Best practices can be developed for each identified disconnect as a resource for potential solutions, but ultimately the selection of the best fit for that particular relationship is key.
  • We created this process to be iterative and be able to grow and change as the individual's needs, situations, values, and perspectives change as they progress through their careers.

Lessons Learned

What was the biggest take-away from EQxDHack17?

Beau - These ideas are worth exploring and their potential impact on our profession is an untapped resource for augmenting equity and diversity in architecture. The energy and unique perspectives generated by our group could have continued and further refined our idea. 

Kelsey - Also that these ideas and solutions are feasible, relevant, and actionable. What’re we waiting for?! 

Lara - My biggest take away, is a new found perspective on our ability to affect change despite the size of the obstacles, the lack of processes to facilitate that change, and also the advice of not letting the fear of failure to become one of those obstacles. It is far too easy to get sucked into our day-to-day activities, and lose ourselves along the way (or speaking for myself anyway).  I have been struggling with where to begin - to positively affect society and fulfill my core values in this one lifetime.  Too often, our profession is structured to service the wealthy fraction of society.  Also, too often the firm structure is created without having the employees influence firm policy, which leads to a dissatisfied sector of employees and retention problems.  I always had the drive to make people's lives better with social, environmental, equity issues being at my core. The challenge for me has been the 1) where to begin and 2) how to affect the change I hope for humanity 3) finding those like-minded individuals. I am sincerely grateful for this platform to begin to engage towards equity goals. 

Kavitha - What was the most stimulating aspect of the workshop? Definitely watching the other teams pitch their ideas while getting ready to present ours. 

Kelsey - Agreed - watching the other pitches was really exciting. It’s amazing what can happen when you get a bunch of creative, passionate people in a room together.


What was the most challenging aspect of the workshop?

Kavitha - The most challenging aspect was the time constraint on each exercise- helped keep the adrenaline levels high! 

Beau - Yes, we need more time! How about a followup session the next day where we continue to develop our ideas? How about we record our pitches and post them to social media to share these ideas?

Lara - Definitely time...the open ended nature of solving any problem is wonderful for the formation of the group and the ability to solve a problem the group is passionate about...I don't know if it would be possible to shorten the timeframe for the egg project? Send the equity survey, intro, and structure of hackathon in an email to attendees ahead of conference to shorten the intro at the hackathon?  LG

Kelsey - Definitely the time - although I think it was sufficient to get the ideas across. 


What would you suggest for people curious about attending a future EQxDHack?

Beau - If you have a desire to make a difference and change our profession for the better, the EQxDHack is the place for you! You will meet leaders from all over the nation and work with them to creatively generate ideas that have the potential to make a lasting impact on our profession. Explore what equity means to you and experience first hand how an afternoon in a stimulating, supportive and slightly competitive setting will drive your best ideas and a spirit of collaboration to address some of the most pressing challenges to our profession related to equity and diversity. 

Kelsey - Prepare to be inspired, challenged, and encouraged - maybe even all at once. You’ll learn from new colleagues across the country, hear their stories and share yours, and think both big and small. Working with a diverse group under strict time constraints will push you and your creative problem solving skills far beyond what you thought possible. No challenge is too great for a group of committed, informed and creative collaborators.


EQxDHackathon Blog Series

Access the entire experience of the Equity by Design Hackathon here: 

Special Thanks to our #EQxDHack17 Sponsors for being a Champion for Equitable Practice!

Team “My Block” Explores Architects' Accountability to the Community

A round robin interview with hackers from Team "My Block" including Kitty Myers, Julie Lam, Michael Ford, Corrie Messinger, Maraya Morgan and Jenn Hamrick 


The Hackathon framework is modeled after the fast-paced methodology common within the most innovative tech companies in the Silicon Valley.  Equity by Design's core team members augmented this framework with a Flipped Classroom packet to orient participants.  In this blog, Team “My Block” debriefs on their experience - its initial formative steps, the process that creates a cadence for discovery, and their favorite take-aways.


Ice Breaker -  The Egg Project 

As a quick and effective way for individuals to know each other, each team was asked to find 3 or more things that ALL members had in common and write them inside a sketched "egg" and then identify 2 or 3 experiences or traits that were solely unique to an individual written outside the "egg". The exercise celebrates individuality while simultaneously building empathy with common ground.



What did you learn from your group in the course of doing this exercise?

Maraya -One thing that I learned was the acting of looking for commonalities will lead off into the territory of storytelling, which begets more storytelling, which begets more commonalities.  At times it felt harder to find things unique to us, because it felt so good to find the things in each other to which we could all relate.

Jenn - Starting out the conference by being forced to rapidly share yourself was a brilliant way to get our heads in the game to be social for the duration of the event. I was happy to learn that everyone was really enthusiastic about what they are doing, and that gave me the confidence to be able to express myself among strangers/colleagues. It started out a bit slow as everyone tested the waters, but after a few minutes it was actually hard to get a word in because everyone was so excited to share their experiences and ideas.   

Julie - The definitions of what is considered to be equity and diversity vary between cities, states, regions, and countries.  Depending where we considered “home” really brings a different perspective to diversity issues.  The biggest takeaway for me was that I would need to sit down with my peers at home to really determine what issues would be affecting Honolulu versus the rest of the nation.  The issues brought up during my discussion with my team members at this Hackathon, can be the broad overall topics that I could start with and then fine tune from there.  

Kitty - There were more unique characteristics than commonalities - we didn’t come up with 3 commonalities, just 2.

Julie - I learned from this ice breaker activity that everyone has different levels of intimacy and boundaries.  Each person within our group chose to divulge different levels of personal info and hence allowed varying levels of intimacy to occur.  However, at the end of the day, we learned quite a bit about everyone else within the group.


What was the most unexpected response to the what was Unique about each person? (Outside the Egg)

Maraya - Somewhere between unique and common - two teammates had lost children

Jenn - The strength of my teammates overcoming great losses was the most surprising thing to be brought up. I can’t even fathom how hard that was to discuss with the group, but I really want to thank them for their courage. It was really eye opening and reiterates how as architects we have to remember that we are designing for humanity and should do so with compassion and forethought.

Corrie - With the timing of this exercise following the initial panel presentations, there was more of a sense of openness than if this was a cold opener as soon as we gathered, which felt like it may have both framed the context of responses and also allowed the group to open up a bit more that early based on the frankness of the panelists.

Kitty - There is a HIP HOP Architect among us (Michael Ford).

Julie - For me, the most unexpected response was the one Mike provided - about losing a child.  It really affected me on a very personal perspective.

What was the most unexpected response that was common to the group? (Inside the Egg)

Maraya - We all moved into architectural studies before college and all of us live in cities, four from Oakland, California!

Jenn - We all knew that we wanted to go into architecture before starting school, but many of us didn’t start out knowing that from a young age. I mostly hear about the people who always knew what they wanted to be when they grew up, and I have always been in awe of them. Learning how everyone came to find their own calling was inspiring, and made me realize that my path hasn’t really been that different from everyone else's. I was really surprised to find out how many of my group were from the Bay Area!

Corrie - Regional non-diversity.

Julie - Many of them came from the Bay Area or SF.  How did that happen??

Kitty - All of us decided on architecture as a career in our early teens or earlier.


Defining the Problem

What did you think of the ideation process for defining the problem?

Maraya -The process was good, particularly in its time limitations.  We were full of ideas, and to be cut off and immediately vote on our favorites was clarifying.

Jenn - I thought that the deadlines and voting process were effective to help us funnel all of our ideas into a cohesive plan. I was actually surprised to see that it worked out as efficiently as it did, maybe we need more of this?

Corrie - It scaled well to continually frame the problem & final presentation.

Julie - This process was both educating and a very useful reference for myself.  It provided me with a framework for a similar event I will be hosting on June 22nd in AIA Honolulu. The way this Hackathon was formulated with first defining the problem was a simple and clear method by which we could start with.  This system worked so well for myself that I will be emulating it during my event.  

Kitty - All of us have a passion for bringing our work into the community, to solicit their ideas before finalizing the design. This process helps us clarify the purpose of our projects ( new structure/renovation/TI).

What was the problem that your group agree to solve?

Julie - Our team really spent quite a bit of time defining various problems.  When we finally decided, we agreed upon "Accountability of Architects to the Community".  I think the one thing that I would modify for this portion of the Hackathon, is the ability to reassess and reshuffle the groups during this point.  I spoke to some of the attendees afterwards and they noted that some of the problems that were agreed upon is not what they were passionate about but rather something that the majority felt strongly about.  With that said, I am suggesting that each group comes up with a problem but at this point of the event, allow individuals to reassess and, if desired, change groups to better meet their personal passions.  

Crafting the Solution

What did you think of the ideation process for crafting the solution? Was it difficult to come up with ideas? Was it difficult to narrow down to the final solution?

Jenn - The solutions just seemed to flow naturally. All of us coming from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences helped us to see the problem from all angles.

Corrie - The ideas flowed well even though the problem request was a broad topic.

Julie - We had the opposite problem, we had so many solutions and so many ideas that we felt we had to really narrow down our ideas to really provide for the best solution possible for our selected problem.  

Kitty - The process was simple for us. Our solution was based on many individual experiences and the permitting process. We each contributed ideas and parts of the solution. Architects are well trained at solving problems, so brainstorming our ideas was natural and fast-paced.

What was the problem that your group agree to solve?

Maraya -  The challenge to community equity that we approached is that “architects and owners are designing non-livable, non-performing buildings w/o accountability to the community or users.”  We see this as a result of a flawed communication paradigm (community reviews that happen infrequently and inconveniently) as well as a lack of an incentive on the part of the owner, who is serving their own interests or their investors’ interests first (or only).  Our solution to this problem was to create an App that would allow people living in a neighborhood to quickly find out the stats on a planned building project in their neighborhood and give it a review, yelp style.  They could also use this app to make suggestions on what they believe the neighborhood needs.  On the output side of the app, the city (or other permitting body) would receive all the feedback directly from the people in easy understand statistics.  The information and suggestions from the app could be used by the city to incentivize the owner and architect team to take suggestions from the community in exchange for a fast-tracking permitting process. 

How did you decided to present your elevator pitch?

Maraya - We presented our App as a sketch demonstrating how people in the community would use MyBlock to influence the owner and the architect in a way that would be beneficial for everyone involved: example given- rather than having some redundant commercial tenant on the ground floor of a mixed use, a suggestion for a grocery was given by residents and acted upon by the O/A team after a talk with the permitting official.

Kitty - Our presentation was based on individual talents, group discussion, and available resources.


What was the biggest take-away from EQxDHack17?


Maraya - What can feel like chaos and a whimsy storm of ideas can in fact yield many brilliant ideas quickly, given a pre-agreed structure.  Amazingly, I think the fact that we all generally had an idea of the time, but didn't concretely understand the limits of it allowed us to be freer and more frantically energetic at the same time.

Corrie - While equity can be a very wide-ranging topic, the context of the panelists and the themes of technology seemed to quickly work into the tactics of the presentations and  may have led to the many ‘app-based’ solutions.

Julie - The Hackathon is a great methodology by which to brainstorm and come up with tangible solutions for identifiable problems.  It provides a system by which we can channel our energy into creating solutions for equity problems that plague our field.  It also provided a time constraint which created an immediacy and urgency towards finding solutions for problems that we normally would not have encountered.  

Kitty - Architects, young and old have similar passions about design, value to the community, and accountability.

What was the most stimulating aspect of the workshop?

Maraya - The most stimulating aspect was to see the other groups presentations.  During the process, I would overhear bits here and there of what the others were doing, and in the end products were unexpected and rich.  I want them all to succeed so that I can have them/use them!

Corrie - The dialogue within the team was terrific, and even with the current backgrounds of the individuals (SF, Hawaii, Detroit), the themes and issues of community engagement seemed to be a solid and unexpected bond.

Julie - I enjoyed the various group presentations and speaking to each of the groups afterwards at Happy Hour.  It was very enlightening to see the presentations and then have various members’ perspective of their interpretation of the presentations.  Even amongst each group there were differing interpretations.  Very interesting.

Kitty - The defining the problem exercise was fast-paced and lots of ideas.


What was the most challenging aspect of the workshop?

Maraya - The most challenging part was to focus on a single solution to a complex issue.  There are so many good and actionable ideas that it can be hard to remember that the other solutions can always be investigated and acted upon later, but for now, the clarity of one idea is what’s needed.

Corrie - Time for development...while it was a quick hit, the 2-3 hours flew by.

Julie - Time constraints.  More challenging is the execution of the winning solution.  I really think it would be amazing to see the winning solution become reality in some way or form. But I understand the restraints of sponsorship and time.  Still would be amazing to see it come to life.  

Kitty - Initially crafting the solution. This came along easier after we looked at our members’ talents and incorporated them into different roles.

What would you suggest for people curious about attending a future EQxDHack?

Maraya - Don’t be nervous, it’s so much more natural than you’d ever expect!  In the weeks beforehand, read about things that get you excited, and let those sit in the back of your mind.

Julie - Please please please consider signing up for it.  Even if you are not passionate about the topic.  The method itself is such a worthwhile experience.  Through this experience I have formed relationships with two or more of the colleagues I have met within my group. It is through connections with other passionate leaders that I hope to achieve future equity goals.  

Kitty - The process can be compared to an organized and purpose-driven brainstorming event.


EQxDHackathon Blog Series

Access the entire experience of the Equity by Design Hackathon here: 


Special Thanks to our #EQxDHack17 Sponsors!

Meet #EQxDHack17 Winners - TEAM S.P.A.R.C.

By Sarah Glass (in collaboration with Amanda Dunfield, Bryan C Lee Jr, Patricia Canevari, Stephanie Herring, and Tom Powers)

In April, we hacked. AIA SF’s Equity by Design Committee hosted the Architecture in the Era of Connections Hackathon at the AIA Conference on Architecture ‘17, where a room full of perfect strangers of various ages, experiences, and ethnicities were asked: “What keeps you up at night? And how are you going to fix it?”


How did we define our problem?

We started with several issues that we see in practice. We talked about the gap from education to practice, ways to connect with people of different generations, reverse mentorship, career pinch-points, and staying “relevant” as a firm. Our conversation about these separate issues started to blend into one and we began to discuss ways to close the generational gap. This issue is present in both directions - younger employees want to be able to talk to those with more experience to further their education and more seasoned architects want to be able to understand how to attract and retain new talent  for firm development and continued innovation.  As a group, we identified two gaps: the lack of effective mentorship and the lack of accessibility to mentors.  These key factors widen the disconnect between the generations in the workforce. This dialogue informed our problem to hack for the next three hours:

 How can we redefine and re-engage mentorship within the practice of architecture?


Getting started.

We agreed that mentorship (as a framework) is the key to success at two scales: at a firm, and for the profession.  In all candor, we shared with each other that we had a difficult time with the word “mentor” as it came with so many preconceived notions and, therefore, a negative connotation implying limitations. We didn’t want our mentorship network to work in a singular (usually top-down) direction. It was important to our group that mentorship works in every way (peer to peer, employee to employer, student to practitioner and vice-versa). Redefining the word “mentor” lead us to our a-ha moment.


Team SPARC in Action

Team SPARC in Action


We found a spark, and with that came our answer.  Mentorship is about connectivity, feeling supported, and being valued. But beyond this, you need the opportunity to find a potential mentor - a partner to have a dialogue with about the multiple facets of our professional life. Introducing: SPARC, the Social - Professional - Architectural - Resource - Community.

We questioned what makes a mentor/mentee relationship work. This app, SPARC, will provide the architectural community a way to connect with people regardless of geographical location. By expanding the idea of what mentorship can be, we can connect people beyond an individual firm, location, gender or age, in order to share our collective knowledge to better ourselves and improve the profession.


What is the framework?

SPARC is a mentor match-making App. As a user, you would input your areas of expertise to build your profile. These are the areas in which you will be asked to participate as a mentor. The app is searchable by topic. To use this function, you will search for a topic for which you need help or advice. The app will then provide you with the users who have listed this as their area of expertise and passion. You can then start a conversation on the spot for quick, reliable answers. These relationships can be as simple as asking about a flashing detail or as involved as asking for advice for your career path.  


Crafting the Perfect Pitch

One of the main features of the EQxD Hackathon was to have each team prepare and present a 5 minute elevator pitch to communicate the game changing solution that each group identified. There were several criteria that the jurors would be evaluating each team's pitch - Relevance to equitable practice issues, user experience & feasibility, impact & metrics, as well as clarity and creativity of the pitch. Teams were told that they could use any means available to communicate their ideas.

Using improv, poster paper with illustrative sketches, and rigorous group rehearsal outside the main room in the quieter hallway of the convention center, Team SPARC was able to capture the audience with humor (Tinder for Mentors...) and creativity (Roll down paper to spell out S.P.A.R.C.) in order to communicate a strong idea for meeting the challenges of mentoring in the profession. "Swipe right on your career".

TEAM SPARC : (L to R) Amanda Dunfield, Tom Powers, Sarah Glass, Patricia Canevari, Stephanie Herring and Bryan C Lee Jr.

TEAM SPARC : (L to R) Amanda Dunfield, Tom Powers, Sarah Glass, Patricia Canevari, Stephanie Herring and Bryan C Lee Jr.

Sharing the Pitch with at the #EQxDHack17 Happy Hour - "Swipe right on your career".


Team SPARC take aways.

It was great that our team had a really diverse group of individuals. There was a range of ages and experience levels.  We also all worked at different size firms.  I learned from my team members that there is a common desire across generations to improve the mentorship practice in firms.  It will take time, but if mentors put in the effort to listen and to share with younger generations, it will be an investment in the future success of their firms and an investment in the future success of the architectural profession.
— Stephanie Herring
We started as complete strangers but through the course of 4 hours we each shared our stories, we laughed, and we hacked. We kept asking “why” to get to the root of our perceived problems. In the end, we found that we were all really talking about the same thing - access to mentorship. Each of us believe that a rising tide lifts all boats. This was our common ground.
— Sarah Glass
I came to the hackathon not quite understanding what we would actually do and left with a tool that can be used within any setting, for any problem, with any group.  The hack process lead our team from identifying an entrenched challenge to quickly developing what seemed like an outlandish solution at first. The deeper we dove, the more real the idea became. By being open to all ideas and by following the energy of the group, the initial “crazy” idea turned into something meaningful and worthwhile, convincing all of us of its value and immediate need.

SPARC acts much like the hackathon itself by leveraging the skill sets of all members, so that the individual is made stronger by the group and, therefore,can accomplish things that would be seemingly impossible alone. SPARC creates a platform to develop authentic connections regardless of geographic location, firm size, stage of career, gender and age - to bring equitable mentorship within the practice of architecture to everyone. Now, we only need to get SPARC developed so that we can utilize this much needed tool!”
— Amanda Dunfield

#EQxDHack17 @ A'17 Conference on Architecture - Storify Recap and Blog Series

One of the most talked about events at the AIA A'17 Conference on Architecture in Orlando was the 3rd Annual Equity by Design Hackathon: Architecture and the Era of Connections on Wednesday April 26, 2017.  We continued to have a very diverse group of hackers this year, which varied in age, level of experience, gender and racial/ethnicity. Our great experiment of the hackathon also reinforced the idea that a diverse group of strangers can work collaboratively and successfully together in a condensed period of time to ideate and develop creative solutions for the many challenges we face in the relevancy of the profession.

Class of #EQxDHack17 Photo - April 26, 2017 at A'17 Conference on Architecture in Orlando, Fl.

Class of #EQxDHack17 Photo - April 26, 2017 at A'17 Conference on Architecture in Orlando, Fl.

We are grateful to our panel this year that included talented architecture and industry thought leaders F. Jason Campbell, Esther Sperber and Carlos Velazquez. Our Jurors also featured EQxDHack veterans Lilian Asperin and Frances Choun.

This week, we are excited to launch the #EQxDHack17 Blog Series that includes the lessons learned from the day and summation of elevator pitches of the 4 teams: SPARC, My Block, Equator and Our Town. While it took us some time to recover from the intensity of A'17, we really wanted to capture the voices and insights from as many team members as possible while also crafting clear and inspiring learning tools for those who couldn't be with us. Special Thanks goes to our #EQxDHack17 Scholarship winners for leading the efforts of organizing their teams thoughts into the team blogs.

As a great way to get immersed before we launch the #EQxDHack17 Blog Series, we have captured live tweets from the Hackathon and Happy Hour hoping that it will provide you with a great overview of the day's energy. See if you can spot some familiar faces!

What is EQxDHackathon?

If this is the first time you have heard about Equity by Design Hackathons at the AIA National Conference on Architecture (Formerly known as 'Convention') here are the summaries of past #EQxDHack events that would give you a better idea of the unique continuing education experience. 

#EQxDHack15 in Atlanta Blog Series Recap

#EQxDHack16 in Philadelphia Blog Series Recap


Save the Date: #EQxDHack18 on June 20, 2018 NYC

Be sure to join us next year in NYC as we come up with a more exciting, invigorating and game changing experience at A'18. 


Thanks to our #EQxDHack17 Sponsors!

#EQxDHack17 - Architecture and the Era of (Disruption) [W304]

These are extraordinary times for our country and also our profession. Now more than ever, Architects need to be agile, open-thinking change agents while articulating core values and advocating for just living environments that our communities need and deserve. Future architects will need to develop "HACK" skills in order to adapt with the hyper-rapid speed of today's technology advancements.

What the Hack? - Unpacking the Workshop Experience

Join us Wednesday, April 26 1-5pm at the AIA Conference on Architecture [A'17] in Orlando, Florida for [W304] EQxD Hackathon: Architecture and the Era of Connection (and Disruption). One of the most unique and talked-about pre-conference workshops, we have developed a reputation within the Conference for developing a game changing learning experience that has yet to be rivaled.  In it's third year, we celebrate the chance to tinker, ideate and hack at the intersection of design, technology, and equitable practice. We have also fine tuned our "UX" aka User Experience by engaging with the teams before during and after the event to make it the best participant engagement event at A'17 - Conference on Architecture.

The day will begin with a diverse panel of industry leaders and entrepreneurs discussing future architectural opportunities in the new digital economy. Once you're inspired, the "mini-hackathon" format will let you develop a real plan of action for creating a positive impact on the profession. You’ll leverage your design thinking skills to rapidly prototype radical, actionable initiatives and explore future business models for the architecture profession. You will be grouped in teams to "Hack" a problem that you have defined. At the end of the session, each group will present an "Elevator Pitch" to the Jurors.

After the official workshop, the fun continues at Cuba Libre for #EQxDHack17 Happy Hour 5:30-7:30pm a few blocks away to network, recap and announce the winning team!



10 SCHOLARSHIPS FOR STUDENTS, EP's and Young Architects

Equity by Design is excited to announce that we will be providing our 3rd year of Scholarships to attend the much anticipated Pre-Conference workshop EQxD Hackathon [WE304] at A'17 Conference on Architecture in Orlando. This year's theme will be Architecture and the Era of Connection (and Disruption) on Wednesday April 26th from 1-5pm located at the Orlando Convention Center. The #EQxDHack17 Happy Hour will follow at a nearby location from 5:30-7:30pm to announce the winners.The scholarship is focused on providing access for Architecture School students, recent graduates, emerging professionals, and newly licensed architects to this "not to be missed" un-conventional workshop. 


Meet the #EQxDHack17 Panelists

This year we will have three new entrepreneurs within the AEC who will share there paths to ideation and deviation in pursuing their passions.

F. Jason Campbell

Architectural Professional | Photographer, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson | Design Director | ELL San Francisco 

Jason Campbell is an advocate for inter-disciplinary action. He has paired professional practice experience at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, with academic instruction, and community engagement. He has coordinated architectural design studios at the U.C. Berkeley College of Environmental Design, is an architectural photographer, and is the co-founder and design director of ELL San Francisco. ELL is a flex-use platform for the exhibition of art, architecture, and design, emphasizing the mediation of disparate media and conceptual bases.


Esther Sperber

Founder, Studio ST Architects

Esther Sperber founded Studio ST Architects in 2003 after five years at Pei Partnership Architects, working closely with Mr. I M Pei. She was born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel. Her B. Arch is from the Technion and Masters from Columbia’s GSAPP. Studio ST’s work includes numerous high-end residential interiors, the 14th Street Y community center renovation, synagogues designs and international competitions. Their work has been published in architectural magazines and monographs. In 2008, Studio ST was included in Wallpaper magazine’s list of “World’s 50 Hottest Young Architectural Firms” and their Swell House received Architectural Record’s “Best Unbuilt House”. Esther Sperber writes and lectures on architecture and psychoanalysis, two fields that aim to reduce human distress and widen the range of our experiences. She has lectured widely and her essays have been published in the New York Times, Lilith Magazine, The Jewish Week, Ms Magazine and academic journals and books.


Carlos G. Velazquez

President/CEO, Epic Scan, Ltd.

Carlos Velazquez is the President and CEO of Epic Scan, Ltd. He has grown Epic Scan from an idea into a premier 3D service provider in the architectural, engineering and construction industries. Carlos has been involved with Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) since its inception and more recently advanced photogrammetry techniques. He has developed and implemented LiDAR system scanning strategies since 1999, completing hundreds of projects around the world across various industries - including architecture, archaeology, civil, forensic, heritage, marine, mining, nuclear and oil and gas. Carlos has worked in conjunction with equipment manufacturers to develop and improve laser scanning process and methods. A native Oregonian, Carlos loves to be outdoors with his family. His favorite activity is taking road trips across the states in the family RV.

Panel Moderator

Lilian Asperin

Project Director, Associate, WRNS Studio


Lilian values a firm culture that embraces collaboration, connection to the community, risk taking and fostering talent. As one of the studio's Project Directors, she helps lead the design process and build teams that deliver aspirational outcomes. Lilian attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned her BA in Environmental Design and graduated with honors. After completing her studies, Lilian worked at architecture firms around the Bay Area, including Stanley Saitowitz, the City of San Francisco’s Bureau of Architecture, SOM and NBBJ. Recently completed projects include the International Terminal at SFO, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies Master Plan, the Center for Science and Innovation at USF, the L.S. Skaggs Pharmacy Research Building at University of Utah, and the 21st Century Learning Environments Guidelines for CSU East Bay. A leader within the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP), she organized the first-ever Hackathon for MOOC’s as part of the Pacific Regional Conference and is currently the Program Chair for the Pacific Regional Council. 

Lilian utilizes her experience as a practice leader and licensed architect to develop synergistic relationships with leaders throughout the architectural and educational communities. Deeply involved with the local community, Lilian works to raise awareness and help break the cycle of poverty in the Bay Area through her work as a Tipping Point Community Partner. Lilian also acts as Co-Chair of AIA San Francisco’s Equity by Design, a call to action for both women and men to realize the goal of equitable practice and communicate the value of design to society.


Rosa Sheng

Senior Associate, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Albany, California


Rosa is an architect with over 23 years experience, who has been involved in a variety of award-winning and internationally acclaimed projects, from the aesthetically minimal, highly technical development of the glass structures for Apple’s original high-profile retail stores, to the innovative and sustainable LEED NC Gold–certified Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business at Mills College in Oakland, California. As founding chair of Equity by Design and President-Elect 2018 of AIA San Francisco, Sheng has led Equity in Architecture Surveys in both 2014 and 2016, authored AIA National Resolution 15-1 in 2015, and served on the Equity in Architecture Commission in 2016. She has presented nationally and abroad including Boston, New York, Lisbon, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Seattle. Equity by Design has been featured in Architect Magazine, Architectural RecordThe Wall Street JournalThe New York Times, TEDxPhiladelphia and KQED/NPR

Frances Choun

Vice President McCarthy Building Companies

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.


What is a Hackathon?
You can get a sense of the #EQxDHack17 by checking out the past 2 year's events.
#EQxDHack15 Recap 
#EQxDHack16 Recap


Thanks to our EQxDHackathon Sponsor

2016 EQxD Hackathon Jurors: Working with the “A” Team

An Interview by Lilian Asperin Clyman with Anthony Gold and Frances Choun

It always takes me a while to get over the post conference hangover. I attribute this to the introvert in me, the massive input of information jammed in my head, and the desire to sift through it all to find those few transformational insights that will shape how I think, what I understand and what I look forward to in the future – the “So What?”.

“I've probably attended close to 100 conferences over my career - in pretty much every role: attendee, demonstrator, panelist, organizer, sponsor, and keynote speaker - across several industries including tech, financial services, and healthcare. Rarely have I felt the combination of energy, passion, creativity, and optimism that I felt at the EQxD Hackathon event (workshop and award presentation - aka "happy hour"). Not only did the event bring together a diverse group of people with a common mission to positively impact the future of architectural practices, but it created instant bonds that I suspect will have far greater (and lasting) impact than imagined. It was an honor for me to present to this group, but an even greater joy to interact with so many wonderful people.”

-Anthony Gold, 2016 Equity by Design Hackathon Juror

On a recent afternoon, I gathered with my EQxD jury cohorts Anthony Gold (ROAR for GOOD) and Frances Choun (McCarthy Building Companies) to reflect on the 2016 Hackathon experience. I was listening closely for insights from two leaders who represent that ever so helpful, candid, relevant, and third party point of view.


  • What surprised you most about the Hackathon?
  • What did you find most memorable about the winning scheme?
  • When you wore the hat as juror, what were you aiming to sharpen the focus on?
  • What advice do you have for the participants post Hackathon?
  • Which aspect of the experience will you cherish the most?
  • Conversely, which is the area of greatest improvement we can consider for the future?


The 2014 Equity in Architecture Survey revealed that a majority of respondents define satisfaction in the workplace as: engaging in projects of significance, working with a positive, talented, collaborative group (the “A” team), and having work/life flexibility. What’s interesting is that, Anthony and Frances also agree that the “A” team is the X factor. Let’s unpack this.


“A” Teams elevate themselves.

The Hackathon teams bonded very quickly around great ideas, demonstrated exceptional ability to read one another but also drew out the best from each other, and maintained buzz by being focused and engaged in the present.


 “A” Teams work towards a there-there.

The Hackathon teams drilled down into what is “sticky” and therefore relevant. They “took on” topics that span industries and generations. It takes courage to not only name the knots that need to be untied, but to seek to capture a viable idea that can be deployed to create impact.


 “A” Teams know how and when to pivot.

The Hackathon teams got it. It’s a journey that requires you to think on your feet, draw on your passion, and be authentic, all while navigating a minefield. In other words, an A team with a B idea trumps an A idea with a B team, simply for the fact that execution matters far more than the idea. Yes, the idea needs to be good enough to address a market meet/opportunity, but only “A” teams have the insight, passion, and willingness to adjust course and continually drive toward a successful outcome.


“A” Teams prioritize.

The Hackathon teams embraced the pace. This meant that they needed to figure out how to track action towards progress: by effectively editing along the way, communicating internally, knowing when to ask for clarifications (or help!), and acknowledging that there is a benefit from healthy hierarchy.


So what?

Cheers to the infectious nature of hackathons. Hooray for those who are the early adopters. Woo Hoo to trusting your intuition and sometimes just showing up to see where it takes you (and who you may meet along the way). And, Amen to being inspired and inspiring.  

“Process innovation is much needed in our profession to address the fundamental structural challenges of resources and equity. The Hackathon was the right medicine to for these ills, mixing a healthy combination of business strategy, new ideas and equitable participation of everyone in the practice of architecture. In both tone and result it was the sort of project we really need and should continue in the future.”

- Phil Bernstein, FAIA, Autodesk

This blog post concludes our 2016 Equity by Design Hackathon Blog Series.  See you next year!

Special Thanks to our EQxD Hackathon 2016 Sponsors!