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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?

EQxD "U" - Quarterly Topics for Equitable Practice

by Julia V. Mandell, AIA - AIASF Equity by Design Co-Chair

Throughout 2017 Equity by Design will explore four quarterly topics from the Equity in Architecture Survey through in-depth workshops, blog posts, twitter chats and other activities. These interrelated pursuits will allow us to develop a deeper understanding and gain the knowledge we need to take action for each area of focus.  

  • Winter: Disrupting Bias - January thru March
  • Spring: Articulating Values - April thru June
  • Summer: Charting Your Path - July thru September
  • Fall: Designing Culture - October thru December  


Winter: Disrupting Bias

Graphic by Rosa Sheng, AIA

Graphic by Rosa Sheng, AIA

Disrupting Bias is our lead topic for 2017. We’ll kick off with the 1st EqxD “U” Workshop of the year at AIASF on February 8th 6-8pm, Disrupting Implicit Bias. Everyone has implicit bias. We develop our biases through our environment, the people we engage with, and the culture we grow up in. These interactions shape the expectations we have for ourselves, colleagues, and even potential clients. Thus, bias can have a major impact on the design process and desired outcomes in our profession. Additionally, reflecting on our own “Bias Blind Spot” is critical to building empathy and foster a culture of open communication. We’ll learn about the unconscious biases we all carry and techniques we can use to disrupt our own assumptions about others. A diverse panel of advocates will reflect on their own experiences on both sides of bias and discuss strategies for change.

In the next few months on the blog we’ll explore survey findings in Pay Equity, the Glass Ceiling and feature Inspire% stories related to how people have overcome the challenges of bias. A twitter #EQXDChat will allow participants to reflect on bias through multiple points of view.


Spring: Articulating Values

In the spring we’ll investigate how Articulating Values in our profession and communities. We will put those values into action in every day practice and strategic ways. In April, at the 2nd EQxD “U” Workshop, “Becoming a Change Agent”, we’ll learn how to put our values into action and shift the status quo. A panel of change agents will share tools and techniques that go from identifying a problem to making a lasting impact. Then we’ll put our new skills into practice in a hands-on workshop activity,  

Concurrently, we’ll gain an understanding on the blog of survey data relevant to our theme in areas like Education, Licensure, and explorations Beyond Architecture. We’ll also read about strategies for equitable practice that allow firms to articulate their values and turn those values into action.


Summer: Charting Your Path

Mapping Exercise #EQXDM3 WorkLife Break Out

Mapping Exercise #EQXDM3 WorkLife Break Out

During the summer our attention will turn to Charting Your Path and some serious thinking about how we as individuals organize our lives to succeed both personally and within the profession. The 3rd EQxD “U” Workshop "Graphing the Work-Life Equation", will explore the many possible ways to conceptualize the relationship between our work and personal lives.  Panelists will share how they set goals for navigating work/life flexibility or integration and the strategies they’ve adopted. They will also guide participants in reflecting on their own approach, how it is working for them and re-evaluate areas needing improvement.

Our survey investigations will explore relevant EQiA 2016 Survey findings in Paying Dues, Work-Life, and Working Caregivers. A twitter #EQXDChat will give us a chance to discuss work-life strategies with our friends and allies nationally and internationally.


Fall: Designing Culture

Culture with Intent Symposium Break Out Matrices Board

Culture with Intent Symposium Break Out Matrices Board

As the days get shorter again we’ll shift our focus to Designing Culture and spend some time thinking about how we can create culture that fosters creativity, design thinking and inclusivity. Our 4th and last EQxD “U” Workshop "Culture With Intent", will offer a chance to examine the firm culture where we work and how we can participate in shaping it. Along with a panel of experts, we’ll evaluate office culture in relation to our personal values, address any incongruities, and develop strategies to affect positive outcomes.

EQIA 2016 Survey findings in areas like Finding the Right Fit and Professional Development will help us gain a greater understanding of how culture affects career success. We’ll also get a chance to put our Design Culture ideas into action every day through the execution of related #EQxDActions.

If you are interested in participating or contributing to Equity by Design? Please check the blog and calendar or sign up to volunteer.

SAVE THE DATE! #EQXDHack17 @ A'17 in Orlando

EQxDHackathon: Architecture And the Era of Connections 4/26/17 @ A'17 (aka. AIA National Convention) in Orlando, FL  1-5pm

If you are attending A'17 in Orlando 4/26-4/29, please be sure to join us for the 3rd installment of the much talked about and game-changing workshop at the Conference on Architecture (Formerly known as - AIA National Convention). 

When you register, please pick WE304 as a pre-convention workshop and note that our program is held on WEDNESDAY 4/26/17 from 1-5pm which is the day before the A'17 starts.

EQxDHack17 Scholarships will be available this year for Students, Emerging Professionals, and Newly Licensed Architects! Stay Tuned for How to Register!

10 New Year's Revolutions - A look ahead for EQxD in 2017

Happy New Year Equity Champions!

You were probably getting worried that we went M.I.A and ready to send out search parties for us. Rest assured that we have been here all along - in a short hibernation post-symposium, recuperating, ruminating and strategically planning for the coming year.

And in 2017, rather than making wishful resolutions, let's all engage in real "actions" that foster pervasive, positive, and impactful change in our lives, in our professions, in our society, and in our local communities. Please join us by participating in our New Year Revolutions in 2017! ACT UP!

Revolution #1 - Adopt a Mindset for Equity and Advocate for Equitable Practice

Craig Froehle - Equality vs Equity Meme

Craig Froehle - Equality vs Equity Meme

There is a critical difference between Equity and Equality. Equality is about “sameness” and believing that everyone gets the same “piece of the pie”, regardless of the outcome. Equity is about recognizing differences and individual challenges, while providing just opportunities for all people to have access to success. In short, we all benefit from equitable practice when we recognize that all people have different challenges and needs.


Revolution #2 - Share and Discuss the Equity in Architecture Survey 2016 Early Findings

The Early Findings presentation will be available as a recording of the research team Annelise Pitts and Kendall Nicholson this winter. The results, organized into two frameworks—career dynamics, or the challenges and perceptions of working in the profession; and career pinch points, the milestones that make or break one’s advancement. Moreover, the survey identifies the specific predictors of one’s success in architecture.

Revolution #3 - Attend the EQxD "U" Workshops at AIASF (Quarterly)

Save the Date! The 1st of 4 Quarterly Workshops in 2017 will be Wednesday, February 8th on Disrupting Implicit Bias. Throughout 2017, EQxD will be deep diving into the topics of the Equity in Architecture Survey with Workshops, Blogs, #EQxDChats on Twitter, and other ways to take action and move the needle.

  • Winter - Disrupt Bias
  • Spring - Articulate Values
  • Summer - Chart your Path
  • Fall - Design Culture

Revolution #4 - Attend EQxD Hackathon at AIA's Conference on Architecture in Orlando

"One of the most unique and talked-about pre-convention workshops is back! Join us for a new EQxD Hackathon in its 3rd year of innovation and disruption and explore the intersection of design and tech.

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."


Revolution #5 - Contribute a Blog Post to

In 2017 Action starts with using your voice and is the perfect forum for sharing your story of challenges, triumphs, advocacy for equitable practice, etc. We have an amazing list of past contributors and this year we will be trying to get more voices represented in our INSPIRE% blog series.



Revolution #6 - Become an Equity Mentor & Champion

One of the key factors for success and talent retention in architectural practice is having strong professional mentors and champions. Build a culture of organic mentorship that support people’s passions and unique skill sets. Allow that to feed back into the firm culture. Build relationships with “champions;” Find a Champion, but also be a Champion. Find people that purposefully and conscientiously look out for you (and you for others), to advocate for development and advancement opportunities.


Revolution #7 - Walking the Talk - Advocate for Social Justice in your Design Work.


Join the Design Justice Platform for the pivotal Design as Protest as a Nationwide action, on Friday January 20th 2017, connecting activist, community organizers, architects, planners, designers, and artists, with the direct intention of utilizing our skill set to stand up to injustice, discrimination, and hate. Ultimately, we will use design as a means to speak out in support of the disinherited and marginalized communities at risk during the next administration. 


Revolution #8 - Break Down Silos - Get Connected and Expand your Equity Network

Architects may have mixed feelings about engaging in Social Media. There are trolls and bad things that could happen. But the reward is greater than the risk. In all seriousness, there is an amazing world of connections to be made to forward the movement for equitable practice. You can also strengthen your professional development, building relationships and connections to people who will likely become your future champions. Suggested: Twitter, Linked In, Facebook. 


Revolution #9 - Build Recognition of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Champions

Despina Stratigakos launched a movement in June 2013 in Places Journal with an article titled "Unforgetting Women Architects" . Despina's modern day strategy to undo the effect of women architects being left out of the history books suggested that Wikipedia was the new medium of measuring existence and recognition. Since then, Architexx, Parlour, and N-ails have answered her charge to document notable and inspirational women architects. Write a Wikipedia entry to contribute to the restoration and ongoing legacy. Write about women contemporaries in architecture that you admire. Use the WiKiD guide developed by Justine Clark's Team at Parlour. Collaborate with other groups like SheHeroes.Org to expand the storytelling beyond our profession. Let's expand this recognition to practitioners who are immigrants, people of color and LGBTQ practitioners, etc. the list goes on.


Revolution #10 - Advocate for Pay Equity and Promotions

Less than 40% of EQiA survey respondents had negotiated for a higher salary if they had an unsatisfactory offer. This turned into a popular series of workshops to learn better negotiation skills. I shared an article in AIA YAF Connection in April 2015 that highlights the key components to becoming a better negotiator.  

The other aspect is to ask employers to help root out influences of implicit bias in the hiring, promotion and compensation decision making with real applicable suggestions from Michael D. Thomas, Esq. of Ogletree Deakins



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)



EQxD Architecture And... the MeetWall

Interview by Susan Kolber

Leading up to the EQxD U Workshop 4: Architecture And 10/22 AIA SF , EQxD will explore architects, designers and firms pursuing multidisciplinary paths. In April of this year San Francisco hosted an experimental three day prototyping festival to re-imagine the city's, "civic spine," Market Street.  The Market Street Prototyping Festival was an incredible collaboration between the San Francisco Planning Department, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Knight Foundation. They sponsored the event and an international idea competition encouraged everyone from citizens, makers, artists, architects, engineers, performers to submit ideas to help create spaces and activities that would invigorate Market Street and connect the communities surrounding it.
Ideas were selected for their, "creativity, sense of community, potential to make Market Street a more vibrant public space and ability to identify Market Street as uniquely San Francisco." The event was a huge success and inspired endless participation as pedestrians walked, learned, played, spun, looked, and met strangers at each prototype. The festival's ideas and results are helping shape the actual Better Market Street urban renovation project the city is pursuing. While several San Francisco architecture firms' ideas were selected and fabricated, the festival truly embraced and supported ideas from people and collaborations of all backgrounds.  Check out the selected projects here

Market Street Prototyping Frestival: The MeetWall

Market Street Prototyping Frestival: The MeetWall

One prototype that peaked the curiosity of many pedestrians was the MeetWall.  Inspired by the opportunity to participate in the Market Street Prototyping Festival, three colleagues, Louise Deguine, Matt Bowles, and Chad Kellogg who at the time were all working at a San Francisco based architecture firm wanted to encourage more interaction between strangers on Market Street. They submitted an idea called The MeetWall, "an interactive intervention," which would use Kinect sensors to detect people as they approached the wall and signal the wall of tiles to open and allow people to see each other.
After their project was selected the team spent 5 months after work, in between classes, and on weekends figuring out how they were going to fabricate the wall and have the tiles move as people moved around the wall.  The experimental nature of the festival allowed participants to submit ideas without knowing the fine-print of how it was going to come together. This trust in and support of participants allowed for highly imaginative projects like the MeetWall to manifest. As designers and architects Deguine, Bowles and Kellogg  used their architectural experience and learned many new skills including how to program and work with electronics in order to make the wall come alive. The team collaborated with consultants Michael Chamoures and Paul Tiplady on the electronic system, and they also helped build the wall which was composed of hundreds of pieces.  Deguine an intern at the time they submitted the idea returned to Paris to continue her architectural studies, so the team worked remotely on different aspects of the wall. Bowles and Kellogg spent months designing and fabricating the moving tiles after work most days.  Deguine focussed on the electronics and programing of the wall. The project came together and was a popular attraction as participants stopped, jumped, waved, and danced in front of the sensor and watched the wall of tiles mimic their movements. Watch the MeetWall interaction. Louise Deguine (LD) shared her insights on the project in an interview below. She is currently completing her Masters in Digital Knowledge at École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris-Malaquais in France. 

Exploring this small prototyping scale allowed us to detach ourselves from most of the constraints that one can meet as an architect, and to focus mostly on the kinetic aspect of the project. Having the opportunity to test the MeetWall with the public was great and will inspire our future architectural projects.
— Louise Deguine
MeetWall participants move in front of the Kinect Sensor and the wall of tiles open and close as it reacts to their movements. 

MeetWall participants move in front of the Kinect Sensor and the wall of tiles open and close as it reacts to their movements. 

The MeetWall was composed of 150 fabricated tiles that could rotate at various angles.  photo by Eugene Lee

The MeetWall was composed of 150 fabricated tiles that could rotate at various angles.  photo by Eugene Lee

How did your team figure out how to make the wall move? 
(LD) The main questions that arose after we got selected in October was first to figure out how to make the wall move, and secondly to have it react to its environment. The wall is composed of about 150 tiles that can rotate independently. Each tile contains a small servo-motor, and receives a signal from a microcontroller connected to a raspberry pi, which is collecting and processing data from a computer. The computer is running a program in processing, using the Kinect data as a dynamic input.
How it reacts- the software part:
We considered our wall as a screen made of pixels. Each pixel corresponds to a tile, so we have a 8x19 resolution screen. Each pixel depends on the opening of the tile, and it goes from 0° to 90°. If you compare it to a grayscale value, 0° corresponds to white and 90° to black.
The Kinect sensor scans the street with infrared. Using the Kinect and the Simple-OpenNI library, we collected data like the body center mass point and the skeleton joints position of each person in the street. We used those coordinates to design a dynamic pattern determining the rotation value of each tile, or if you prefer, the value of each pixel of our screen.
How it moves- the hardware part:
Each tile is composed of a mechanism that allows it to move with its servo motor's mechanical rotation. The design of these tiles is the result of several constraints, in which we tried to answer in the most optimized way. 
The first constraint was the budget. We used plexiglas for the tile structure, a cheap material but robust enough to handle the tile's function. We chose to laser cut it because it allows accuracy and serial production in a very simple way. Our second constraint was that our three-dimensional object was built from two-dimensional components. The third constraint was creating a design that could be easily assembled because we had so many tiles and would need help putting them together. 

How did this project allow you to experiment/ explore architecture in a new way? 
(LD)  Once we were selected we asked ourselves: what is the project about? architecture? art? urban furniture? Matt Bowles, Chad Kellogg and I are all engaged in architecture, and it maybe surprising that we proposed such a small scale project; but for me, architecture is first about giving a special experience to people with their built environment. 
Exploring this small prototyping scale allowed us to detach ourselves from most of the constraints that one can meet as an architect, and to focus mostly on the kinetic aspect of the project. Having the opportunity to test the wall with the public was great and will inspire our future architectural projects. It allowed us to observe the kind of intuitive interaction that one can have with an object, without instruction. It also showed that the more simple this interaction is, the better it catches attention.
The second question we explored was how new technologies can be introduced into a design project. We noticed that technology, when it is used in an interactive way can bring people together, and not only through social networks! 

What kind of reactions did people on Market Street have with the MeetWall? Did their reactions surprise you?
(LD) The first type of reaction we saw was a person would stop, stare at the screen and look at other people interacting with it and wonder until they would understand by themselves that the wall is moving with them. Then they would start playing with it. 
The second type would look for us and ask us what it was. As soon as they knew that they could play with it, they would stay and have fun. 
In those two situations, what was enjoyable but also very surprising is that people would start moving and dancing without any shyness, and quite unconsciously. We could see them lose their inhibition and start to feel more comfortable. In this sense, we were happy to reach the main goal of our project, which was to encourage people to slow down, take the time to enjoy public space around them, and finally allow some good conditions for kinder social interactions. 

How will this inspire your architectural studies?
(LD) This experience inspired me for several reasons that will definitely influence the rest of my studies. I had the opportunity to learn a lot during this project: computer programming, electronics, networks, project management, and also how physical constraints can be so basic and so concrete at the same time. The inspiration I get from all this learning is that I want to make more in order to learn more!

Don't Miss EQxD "U" Workshop 4 !

Architecture AND...Exploring Meaning & Influence by way of Multidisciplinary Practice

Thursday, October 22, 2015 from 6pm - 8:30pm @AIASF 130 Sutter St, San Francisco

We will explore alternate models of practice that expand the avenues of influence for architects. More than 50% of all respondents to the 2014 Equity in Architecture Survey stated that they were dissatisfied with their current job situation. A large number responded that they were interested in alternative career paths. Rather than leave architecture behind completely - and have the profession lose ever more talent to other fields - how we can cultivate expansive multidisciplinary practices that are innovative, exploratory, and meaningful? 

The workshop will feature four professionals who have taken their work beyond the traditional boundaries of the field. After a review of key survey findings on the topic we will hear from the panelists about their paths, entrepreneurial thinking, and lessons learned in a question and answer session. This will be followed by design thinking exercises to guide us in thinking freely and widely about our career futures and the new kinds of practices we can create. Gain the courage and knowledge to turn your interests and ideas into a new work reality at our workshop!

10/22/15 Architecture AND… Workshop Agenda
Networking & Refreshments 6pm - 6:15pm
Introductions/Welcome 6:15 - 6:25pm
Panel Discussion 6:25 - 7:15pm
Break/Transition 7:15 - 7:20pm
Design Thinking Exercises 7:20 - 8:10pm
Conclusions 8:10 - 8:30pm

EQxD on KQED Forum

On the heels of TEDxPhiladelphia last week, I was contacted by Irene Noguchi, the producer of KQED Forum to share the work that we have been doing the past 2 years with a larger audience. On Friday, June 19th, I visited the KQED Forum Studio to chat with guest host Aarti Shahani, Tech Reporter for NPR. We had an interactive session, including questions and comments from KQED's wide audience of listeners in the Bay Area and beyond. In addition to talking about the formation of Equity by Design, we discussed some of the key statistics and touched upon examples of initiatives that we are working on to take more bites out of the proverbial whale.

During the call in portion of the program, someone who called in questioned the American Institute of Architects position on supporting women in architecture. Although the past record of support has been a topic of discussion, our current and future actions in partnership with the Institute is very promising. We look forward to mutually tackling the challenges of achieving equitable practice and supporting architects to remain in the profession. There is a lot of work ahead with getting resolution 15-1 implemented and we need more people at the table. Please consider taking action and getting involved to secure a brighter future for those underrepresented in our profession. There are many ways to do this and we look forward to generating more ideas in the future.

Another architect wrote about her experience as a mother of two young children feeling pressure from the firm where she worked about the inadequacy of her reduced hours. It felt very real to the challenges I faced at the same point in my professional and personal life. I also shared Pamela Tang's inspiring story of returning to architecture after a long hiatus to raise her 4 children.  

Another question asked about the role of architects in creating more accessible spaces as more people encounter physical challenges or disabilities. I mentioned the work of Chris Downey, an architect in the Bay Area who became blind during his career. He continues to practice today providing design services with alternative tools that allow him to continue his work and serve the sight- impaired community. AIA National shared Chris' story at the convention in Atlanta and you can watch it via this link.

Special thanks to the Equity by Design committee (with great appreciation for Co-chair Lilian Asperin-Clyman and head of research Annelise Pitts), AIA San Francisco, our Equity Alliance champions, our sponsors and supporters for the survey and our current outreach. We look forward to sharing more exciting programs and outreach for the coming year!

A New Era of Women Rising in the Architecture Profession

By Julia Donoho, AIA, Esq.

For two years in a row, women have made it into the top levels of competition for the highest honor of the American Institute of Architects.  Last year a singular architect, Julia Morgan, FAIA, was the recipient of the AIA Gold Medal and this year as a part of a collaborative duo – Denise Scott Brown, FRIBA, with Robert Venturi, FAIA, was a Finalist for the Gold Medal.  WOW!  This is an outstanding and historic moment for all women in the profession, however they practice.  And it is happening in a year when the third woman president of the AIA, Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, is passing the baton to the fourth woman president, Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA. The profession is becoming inclusive and diverse at the top levels.

   AIA National Presidents:  Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA, Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA,  Kate Schwennsen, FAIA, and Susan Maxman, FAIA


AIA National Presidents:  Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA, Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, Kate Schwennsen, FAIA, and Susan Maxman, FAIA

How did we get here?  There are at least three threads of activity that are contributing to this change in awareness and activity.  There are the individual efforts of architects to promote and propel themselves forward, there are collective efforts like the AIA Women’s Leadership Summit, the Missing 32% Project, Women in Architecture, the Organization for Women in Architecture and then there is the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF) igniting and instigating change at the upper levels.  All of these efforts are necessary when the individual routes are not bearing fruit, but it is the individual efforts that are most telling.  Let’s look at one.

Learning from Denise: In 1967, Denise Scott Brown was mid-career and a tenured faculty member at UCLA, Co-Chair of the Urban Planning program, when Robert Venturi asked her to be his partner in life and business.  She joined the firm of Venturi and Rauch and was made partner by 1969.  It was her bright, fresh, raw viewpoint coming from Johannesburg and London that embraced the American landscape as IS and led to Learning from Las Vegas. Melding her African, English and European training with urban planning and architectural academicism made her good and ready to ask students to look at the world differently. The studio at Yale came out of her vision and experience.  She embraced the American west, for ALL that that includes.  She shared her vision, included others in her studio, and put their names on the front of the book.  She was a collaborator.  The rest of the world, so blinded by the love of Starchitects, could only see the work as Venturi’s for many years.  

    Image Caption: Bob and Denise stand alone in the desert in this collage (1966 study for Learning from Las Vegas). The team refuses to accept lone stature in the recognition of their work. Harry Bolick commented, “Architecture, design and creativity can be a symbiotic product of more than one person's individual vision. Bob and Denise were both willing to forego the AIA Gold Medal in favor of standing firm throughout a lifetime of creative production. Their forbearance represents how and why this culture shift has, finally, after 108 years, come to be recognized by the AIA and other leading Institutions.” Photographers: Robert Venturi (above) Denise Scott Brown (below)


Image Caption: Bob and Denise stand alone in the desert in this collage (1966 study for Learning from Las Vegas). The team refuses to accept lone stature in the recognition of their work. Harry Bolick commented, “Architecture, design and creativity can be a symbiotic product of more than one person's individual vision. Bob and Denise were both willing to forego the AIA Gold Medal in favor of standing firm throughout a lifetime of creative production. Their forbearance represents how and why this culture shift has, finally, after 108 years, come to be recognized by the AIA and other leading Institutions.” Photographers: Robert Venturi (above) Denise Scott Brown (below)

It has taken us this long to be ready to see that the interweaving of design thinking from more than one viewpoint leads to a richer architectural expression.  Venturi and Scott Brown understood that from their first meeting in 1960, and that is why they are best known for introducing ideas in architecture that were radical and for shifting the consciousness of the profession.  The urban planning training from social scientists and activists at Penn affected Bob and Denise’s design work profoundly. More than that and more than architects realize, they hold the key to avoiding the urban architectural mistakes that Jane Jacobs described.  Venturi and Scott Brown’s work shows how to bring a powerful sense of place to bear in resolving architectural programs.

As early as 1973, Scott Brown saw that her work and her contribution to the firm, even though she was a partner, was being disregarded in the quest of others to reach the “Architect.”  That she was the “Architect” they could not believe, it was not in their realm of possibilities.  She started to speak on the experience at the Alliance for Women in Architecture in New York, and in 1975 wrote an article, “Room at the Top? Sexism and the Star System.”  At first she did not publish the article for concern about the reputation of her career and her firm.  Their work is all about complexity and contradiction, Venturi more historicist and she more PopArt, and their work was created through a collaborative process that brought these two views together in making architecture.   People wanted to see an ego architect, not a collaborative effort, so she lived with the contradiction.  She hoped societal change would move things along.  As time went on, the women’s movement took hold, but did not deliver the changes to her situation that she needed.   In 1989, fourteen years later, she published her article in the book Architecture, A Place for Women.  It created quite a stir.  It made people mad, they argued, they debated, they denied it was true, and they changed their viewpoint only slightly. 

In 1991, when the Pritzker organization decided to give her partner, Robert Venturi, their Prize in architecture, it became clear that the message was not being heard.  Venturi tried to tell them the award should go to both together but their ears could not hear.  They thought giving it to Venturi was enough.  Scott Brown did not attend the ceremony.  Her resolve to shift the viewpoint of the profession increased.  Robert Venturi agreed and took the position that he would not allow anyone to put his name forward for the Gold Medal without Denise Scott Brown. 

From then forward, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown began their campaign to shift the rules of the AIA to allow the Gold Medal to be awarded to two creative people working together.   On numerous occasions, Venturi and Scott Brown were nominated to receive the AIA Gold Medal, and a portfolio was submitted to the American Institute of Architects.  It was returned without review.  The rules stated that only one individual could be nominated for the Gold Medal.  In 2013, Frederic Schwartz, FAIA, working through his AIA Regional Directors in New York – Tony Schirrippa, FAIA, and Burt Roslyn, FAIA, were successful in shifting the rules to allow the portfolio to be accepted.   2014 is the first year that the portfolio was not returned.  They made it into the Finalist round.  Perfect! 

Bob & Denise are titans in the field of Architecture and their most recent accomplishment, getting us to this point was a 47 year effort.  Such courage and perseverance, creative geniuses leading the way for multiple generations!  Now THAT is some lasting influence on the profession of architecture.  In 2014, in their 80’s, these two have changed us and changed the course of architectural history, AGAIN. 

This is a HISTORIC moment for the individuals stepping into these top level spots in leadership and in recognition, and for all women working in the field of architecture.  Just to recap – in two short years we have had a woman that worked as a sole principal win the Gold Medal, a woman that worked as a partner and collaborator become a finalist for the Gold Medal with her partner, a woman that led a career of service to the profession serving as President of the Institute, and a woman who works as a CEO for her architectural firm, now in the top position of service to the profession refocusing us onto the business of architecture.  WOW, these are changing times!