• September 15, 2023
    Design Firm Organizational Models (by PLASTARC)
    Image by Kristin Mueller/ ©PLASTARC

    The May 2023 edition of our AIANY Social Science and Architecture Committee conversation series, “Advocacy and Agency in Architecture,” was titled Organizational Models – Acceleration in Practice. The goal of the evening was to highlight the organizational models that help guide the architecture and engineering practices of four different firms. Each of these firms’ business models prioritizes an abiding sense of respect and trust, along with an open acknowledgement of employees’ need for work-life balance. 

    The purpose of the panel was to discuss how we design organizations so that people’s work reflects the modus operandi of the firm, with a specific focus on the interplay between an organization’s structure and the work that its practitioners get to do, including the design solutions they produce. We asked whether more progressive business models change a practitioner’s experience and commitment to do their best work. Melissa Marsh, PLASTARC founder and co-founder of AIANY’s Social Science and Architecture Committee, moderated the four-person panel of design professionals, who addressed these questions by reflecting on the organizational models that shape their practices.

    Diana Ostberg, COO of Saam Architecture, a 15-year-old WBE based in Boston, shared some of the innovative methods that Saam has implemented within the framework of a traditional ownership structure. Most importantly, she emphasized Saam’s “flat hierarchy” and how its radical transparency and flexibility help to shape its work culture. Employees have the choice to work remotely or in person, and they also have the ability to flexibly plan their schedules, so long as they remain accountable to their clients and colleagues. The availability of unlimited PTO, she noted, has not led to abuse of the policy. Furthermore, every employee is able to take advantage of their principals’ accessibility by meeting with them on a regular basis. 

    Ostberg also noted that the acceptability of working remotely has allowed Saam to expand geographically and attract employees from across the country. While redefining the physical office has led to less in-person collaboration, the firm has implemented new programs—such as peer groups, quarterly in-person meetings, and firm-supported dinners—that serve to foster connection. This employee-sensitive organizational structure has resulted in a 91% retention rate, and the Saam CO2 emissions footprint has been greatly reduced by hybrid work opportunities.

    Danile DeBoo, Director and Educational Leader for DLR Group, pointed out that DLR’s organizational structure is rooted in its Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). She shares the firm’s philosophy that when you own a firm, you buy into its thinking. She argued that DLR is an overarching business, which is organized as an ESOP and happens to oversee a design firm. Both the business and the design firm aspire to elevate the human experience through design, and the overall business priority is to “focus on how to make things better.” 

    Founded in 1966, DLR currently has 30 compact offices in the United States. As such, the company represents itself as a small firm with a big footprint that can influence policies happening across the US. DeBoo also shared that no employee owns more than 3% of the firm, which ensures the existence of a level playing field. Moreover, every five years the firm hosts a planning exercise that attracts 100% participation—an impressive figure for a company with more than 1,400 employee-owners. The firm’s equitable philosophy and commitment to improving the world is also manifested in its community impact: DLR donated over $1.6 million in fiscal year 2022 and logged over 3,000 hours of volunteer hours in 2022. These contributions came about as a result of decisions made by employee-owners in the spirit of teamwork

    Paul Sanderson, Director of New York Operations for Epstein, spoke about the evolution of the firm’s organizational structure and culture. Though Epstein was originally a family business that was passed down from father to sons, it is now also 100% employee-owned, with an ESOP organizational model similar to DLR’s. As employee-owners, each practitioner at the firm tries to address their client’s needs with the question, “what does the owner need for this project to be successful?” The goal is to align the client’s needs with those of all participants and stakeholders in order to create a more holistic solution. Additionally, Epstein nurtures a mentoring environment in which colleagues support one another. This serves to enable each employee-owner to follow a personal learning path that they can pave for themselves. Epstein’s inclusive and cohesive project solutions aptly reflect its culture of cooperative and supportive learning. 

    Victoria Cerami offered a very different perspective. Although she served as Chief Executive Officer of Cerami & Associates for 37 years, she has segued into a new venture—a social enterprise start-up called NextCube—that she hopes will nurture “active caring.” While at the firm she inherited from her father, Cerami spent much of her time building and cultivating client relationships. She also helped staff members become technical experts and thought leaders in acoustical and audiovisual consulting, along with a suite of IT and security services. Her modus operandi was to chase people and tend to them, without chasing money—a more humanistic approach to client relations.

    Since the start of her career, Cerami had noticed that people frequently gave her help without an expectation that she would ever reciprocate. This realization led her to recognize that the act of helping others can evoke a personal sense of joy. It occurred to her that such “micro-exchanges” exemplify what she has come to call “active caring.” While employee engagement implies the existence of a hierarchy, active caring presents a different kind of tool for interpersonal connection. NextCube aims to further the belief that “active caring” can be foundationally built into a business model if its owners proactively choose to adopt its precepts. Toward this end, NextCube is creating a new certification category, called HUMANKIND Certification, that works much like the sustainability certifications offered by LEED. According to Cerami, “becoming a certified HUMANKIND company” is a way to “normalize active caring” in the workplace and make it a “place where people want to come to work.” 

    After presenting individually, the panelists took part in a discussion that was moderated by Marsh. The conversation, which orbited around business structures and approaches to employee accommodation, shed light on a shared ethos amongst the panelists’ respective firms. All three resoundingly agreed that inviting workplaces must cultivate trust, flexibility, human kindness, transparency, sharing across distances, mentorship, and connection. 

    Sanderson noted that while an ESOP business structure often embraces many of these workplace priorities, a sense of trust on its own doesn’t necessarily result in a fully transparent organization. DeBoo agreed with this statement, but noted that trust is the cornerstone of DLR’s ESOP structure. When employees are also the owners, she asserted, they are expected to collectively determine their organization’s direction, and they therefore must trust one another to succeed. Ostberg added that at traditionally-structured firms like Saam, an inviting workplace can only exist when leadership first openly espouses its foundational priorities. As firms continue evolving, it’s possible that progressive organizational structures such as employee ownership will only represent a component of their evolution. Perhaps future firms will also adopt philosophies of pervasive kindness and proudly bear a HUMANKIND certification, or ones like it, such as the B Corp Certification

    Event attendees were surveyed afterwards, and the response was largely positive. Some suggestions for future events included a greater focus on research, along with a panel exploring organizational models for engagement with consultants and contractors. The AIANY Social Science + Architecture Committee welcomes all input for future events.

    Want to Join the Conversation?
    The AIANY Social Science and Architecture Committee meets monthly. Meetings are open to the public and typically occur at 8:30 am on the last Thursday of each month.

    Thanks again to our panelists:
    Diana Ostberg, COO, Saam Architecture 
    Victoria Cerami, Founder NextCube, CEO Emeritus Cerami Associates and Angel Investor
    Paul Sanderson, AIA, Vice President, Director of New York Operations, EPSTEIN
    Danile DeBoo, Northeast Region Higher Education Sector Leader, DLR Group

    Melissa Marsh, Assoc. AIA, Founder, PLASTARC

    About the Author
    Maura Smotrich is a freelance architect, planner, Forest and Nature Therapy Guide and Trails Consultant with her own company, Nature Therapy Placemaking LLC.

  • March 7, 2023

    Project Description:

    From late 2021 through spring of 2022, the AIANY Social and Architecture Committee hosted three virtual, public-facing events as part of committee’s “Public Space Research + Design” series. The three events focused on climate change, safety and security, and gender and sexuality, shedding light on social injustices and inequalities in New York City’s built environment and data and research methods to support more equitable and inclusive design outcomes. Especially in lower income neighborhoods, built environment conditions perpetuate the social, economic, and health inequities.

    The committee feels the information gathered in these events should be shared to a larger, multidisciplinary audience to illustrate how more inclusive pre-design research can result in the creation of more equitable built environments.

    Role Title: Grant Implementation Coordinator

    Role Description:

    The AIANY Social Science and Architecture Committee is looking for someone who shares our enthusiasm and passion for sharing the lessons from the Public Space Research + Design series to act as a Grant Implementation Coordinator to facilitate the collection of data and media from the events and develop the content into a traveling exhibition. The Grant Implementation Coordinator will work with volunteers from the Committee Excellence Grant (CEG) working group to identify and follow up on actions required to complete the information gathering and synthesizing process.

    Key Responsibilities:

    • Create a project
    • Schedule working group meetings for project team You will be responsible for setting the agenda, assigning follow-up action items, and following up on delivery.
    • Create a system to organize the project data/research.
    • Work with the project team to develop the exhibition

    Required Skills & Abilities:

    • Strong organizational
    • Ability to work well with and provide support to other team members as
    • Ability to review and synthesize volumes of information and draw out common

    Support & Compensation:

    • Opportunity to be mentored by senior industry leaders and gain experience in project
    • Stipend of $1,000.

    Length of Appointment: March-June 2023, with the potential to extend through 2023 pending additional funding.

    Time Commitment: Funding allows for remuneration for approximately 50 hours concluding June 30, 2023.

    Location: Remote with the opportunity to meet in-person.

    Application: Please send CV to the following committee members by March 15, 2023.

  • November 26, 2022
    AIANY Engagement PLASTARC

    A recent conversation at AIANY’s Center for Architecture called Evolving Beyond Participatory Design explored ideas about how architects can act as advocates and agents for change both within the field and within the greater community, whether through elevating the voices of marginalized communities or fighting for just working conditions.

    Melissa Marsh, PLASTARC founder and co-founder of AIANY’s Social Science and Architecture Committee, moderated a panel of design professionals tackling community agency from various angles and at different points along the process. Christine Gaspar, a community-engaged design practitioner, noted that public participation for certain communities may include processing past harm at the impetus of decision-makers and allowing space for them to work through this trauma in an engaged process. Building professionals working within these communities need to find ways to use these difficult perspectives.

    Gaspar worked for seven years rebuilding low-income communities after Hurricane Katrina with the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, a project of Mississippi State University’s architecture program. Since then, she worked for thirteen years at CUP, a design studio that focuses on culturally relevant, easily accessible campaigns to help the public understand their rights, policy debates and more. CUP partners directly with community members–organizers, designers, artists, students–to create these impactful materials. Designers need to reframe the way they present work to marginalized communities–have less of an “isn’t this great” and more “what are we missing?” approach, according to Gaspar.

    Community involvement from start to end and allows for more place to plug in, according to Alexa Gonzalez, the Principal at the Hive Public Space. Her work focuses on the power of public spaces to create memories and connections, while evolving the identity and impact of each community. Genuine, engaged conversation with community members creates ownership and incentive for everyone. Often people limit their choices in participatory work by thinking of it in terms of a short-term project, rather than a long-term process. “Our roles in… facilitating public spaces should be simply connecting the dots.  It’s important to reassure those who are on the ground and already doing the work that we’re there to amplify their voices and their efforts,” she said. Successful participatory work is about building processes, not products.

    Marsh draws a distinction between art and architecture: Architecture is art that people occupy, and architects are responsible for the safety of the occupants. She asks, what is the purpose of a space when people occupy it?

    Cheriyah Wilmot, a B.arch Honor Student at the NYC College of Technology and President of NOMASNYCCT takes this further: What does community culture look like in NYC? And how do we represent that in the built environment? How do we design for a specific culture or multiple cultures? What is the difference between place-making versus place-saving?

    She discussed making the design process transparent and accessible to the public. This broadens the perspective of inputs that designers have access to and offers unique angles, such as an analysis of history or demographics. Sometimes pushing the conversation into uncomfortable categories are necessary, according to Gonzales.

    However, people who attend meetings are not often representative of the whole community or are simply the loudest voices. And some people have trouble making community meetings work, in-between jobs and childcare. Gasper notes that one way to value community members’ time and particular expertise is to pay people to participate in a project.

    In the context of community collaboration and transparency, it’s important that communities see an image of the end project. This shows them that the architects and designers not only listened to what they had to say, but took it on board and followed through. A one-size-fits all design is antithetical to true participatory design. Smaller steps throughout the process, taken together, builds trust and commitment to the project even after a project is finished.

    Want to Join the Conversation?
    The AIANY Social Science + Architecture Committee meets monthly. Meetings are open to the public and typically occur at 8:30 am on the last Thursday of each month.

    Thanks again to our panelists:
    Christine Gaspar, Faculty Design Futures Student Leadership Forum
    Alexa Gonzalez, Principal at the Hive Public Space
    Cheriyah Wilmot, B.arch Honor Student at the New York City College of Technology

    About the Author
    Michele Rafferty is a freelance content coordinator working with PLASTARC, a consultancy dedicated to increasing the flexibility and desirability of space using social research and occupant engagement.

  • October 18, 2022
    Education of the Architect: Radical vs. Incremental Change
    Education of the Architect: Radical vs. Incremental Change Photo: Ekam Singh & Monty Rush

    On September 27, 2021, the AIANY Social Science and Architecture Committee (SSAC), the AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee, and the AIANY Diversity and Inclusion Committee presented a virtual roundtable conversation, “Education of the Architect: Radical v. Incremental Change,” which brought together pedagogy and practice. Students, educators, and firm partners gathered online in  conversation as participants and attendees to discuss the education of the architect. 

    Moderator Peggy Peña, an architectural intern at Ami Gross Architects, began the discussion by highlighting her experiences as a recent graduate from New York Institute of Technology.  Bz Zhang, who teaches architecture at University of Southern California and organizes with Design as Protest and  Dark Matter University, noted that while we think of the word “radical” as meaning “drastic” or “extreme,” etymologically it means “at the root of,” meaning that radical change means change at the root of an issue.As for “incremental change,” Peña and Zhang both proposed “getting the discipline out of the way”—merging independent and radical thought with current curricula in lieu of perpetuating colonial or white-centric ideology in day-to-day teaching.

    Colin Koop, a partner at SOM New York, mentioned the importance of a methodical approach for any kind of change to occur. He spoke from his experience improving promotional cycles at SOM, pointing out how data collection and transparency are key in creating an equitable work environment. Dialogue with different groups of people is essential to bring change to education and the discipline.

    The discussion touched on the calls for change spurred by the murder of George Floyd in 2020, placing conversations around inclusion and diversity the profession in the context of the current American zeitgeist. Koop noted how these systemic events highlight the need for radical change instead of incremental change. In response to the question of what kind of change, radical or incremental, is more effective, Zhang responded that such a question suggests an idea of “quantity of change,” while the real question revolves around power: Who can make necessary change? Catherine Cathergoon, a BArch candidate at Pratt Institute, advocated for a balance between both radical and incremental change, encouraging a feedback loop—looking at how small changes affect the larger systems. 

    The group also identified some fundamental flaws in architectural education: eurocentrism, limited outlooks, and a lack of communication. Peña noted how diluted the term “radical change” has become in the context of the Eurocentric model of architectural education, especially in light of the momentum required to make change in society. Speaking from their experience as a queer person of color, Zhang discussed the normalized nature of racism and how momentum for change must be rooted in community values to fully serve those who need it most. Koop spoke about the role of professional environments in investing, monetizing, and funding this kind of momentum. He went on to distinguish between low-hanging fruit—such as displaying the Pride logo in the workplace—and high-hanging fruit—advancing LGBTQ+ employees to the highest levels of leadership. both are necessary, one requires far more institutional change. 

    The meaning of change has shifted for Cathergoon during the pandemic, but she is able to find support in like-minded people that advocate for progress. She highlighted the need for more people of color in roles of authority in schools, as well as the need for studio work to engage more fully with the site and the people impacted by architectural development, rather than just focusing on form and function. 

    Zhang discussed their work with Dark Matter University, where they have sought to amplify voices of color and diverse perspectives with platforms of team-teaching and a course called “Foundations of Design Justice.” Dark Matter has a majority BIPOC faculty and a multi-university student base.

    Meanwhile, Koop noted that his education largely focused on students becoming sole practitioners. This approach did not reflect the reality of the professional environment, where architectural designers primarily work in teams. As a student, he never engaged with a community during reviews or while working on a preservation project, which he found disappointing and felt would have rounded out his education.  He later noted that as a practice, SOM strives to address community engagement by maintaining it as a part of their design fee, reiterating how positive change is happening—albeit more slowly than we’d like.

    There is a lack of design education outside of university and a lack of understanding in the general population regarding the role of designers in the architectural process. This could perhaps be remedied by early architecture education in schools. 

    Zhang and Koop both experienced unhealthy work environments very early in their careers, which fostered a culture of long hours, all-nighters, and no free weekends. After Cathergoon noted how this mentality is fostered in university architecture programs, all panelists advocated for a healthier school culture to create a healthier office culture.

    Many participants also proposed developing a more holistic approach to studio review formats so that they could include community members or potential inhabitants. There was broad agreement thatimplementing this change would make the design process more effective.

    While Chattergoon lamented the disconnect between practice and pedagogy, she remained hopeful that equitable representation could allow younger professionals to thrive. She defined the role of an architect in two words: vision and sight, a dichotomous relationship between the imagined and the concurrent reality. Her hope for conscious and equitable change, was more than  just a sentiment—it was a call to action.

    Koop encouraged professionals to mentor rising professionals from completely different backgrounds to encourage diversity and inclusion at all levels.

    The conversation concluded with the opening sentiment of reimagining the word “radical” and its role in architectural education. Through this conversation between students, educators. and working professionals, a number of strategies and ideas came forward to change the culture and education of the architect towards a more inclusive future.

    Want to Join the Conversation?

    The AIANY Social Science + Architecture Committee meets monthly. Meetings are open to the public and typically occur at 8:30 am on the last Thursday of each month.


    Catherine Chattergoon, B. Arch Candidate and Student Advisor to the Dean, Pratt Institute
    Colin Koop, AIA, Design Partner, SOM
    Peggy Peña, Assoc. AIA, NOMA, Architectural Intern, Amie Gross Architects; Co-Chair, AIANY Diversity and Inclusion Committee; Co-Chair, NYCOBA NOMA Project Pipeline
    Bz (Brenda) Zhang, Assoc. AIA, NOMA, Citizen Architect Fellow, University of Southern California; Core Organizer, Design As Protest Collective; Core Organizer, Dark Matter University
    Colin Koop, AIA, Design Partner, SOM


    Ekam Singh is an architecture student at Pratt Institute and a fellow of the New Voices in Architecture Journalism program (The Architect’s Newspaper/Pratt Institute). 

    Monty Rush is a Pratt student with an interest in construction and a fellow of the New Voices in Architecture Journalism program (The Architect’s Newspaper/ Pratt Institute).

  • June 27, 2022

    Text by Michele Rafferty

    The latest conversation in our Public Space series, Tracing Gender and Sexual Inequalities, examined how leveraging data, research, and informed collaboration can create more just public spaces that elevate rather than alienate marginalized communities.  The conversation addressed questions such as: At what point does public space become hostile to certain gender and sexual identities? How can reviewing existing data help us understand the absence of, and create more, opportunities around advocating for positive change?

    “Societal attitudes towards public spaces have long been plagued by binary thinking,” noted Fauzia Khanani, AIA host and the founder of Studio Fōr. “Inclusive design offers a powerful tool for disrupting this cycle”—and for creating spaces that unify and heal.

    Amy Rosen, a sociospatial designer with PLASTARC, asked, “What if architecture and design were void of gender, sexual, and racial oppression?”  Gender stereotypes shape the way we design our societies, and society often relies on these stereotypes to comprehend people and construct spaces, Rosen pointed out. But what if, instead of exploiting people, design embraced the variability of human expression?

    “There is value in speaking directly to people, just as hard metrics help us get a picture of how people interact with spaces,” they said. “The value of data becomes clearest when we actually use it.” 

    But, Rosen cautioned, data has limitations and must be approached thoughtfully and interpreted with context and nuance. Otherwise, “solutions” may be tone-deaf or address only symptoms rather than root causes.

    A.L. Hu, a writer and design initiatives manager for Ascendant Neighborhood Development referenced Kevin Guyan’s book Queer Data: Using Gender, Sex and Sexuality Data for Action. Historically queer people have been counted mostly in data related to criminal acts, such as criminalized sex or cross-dressing, as well as in a corpus of data addressing illness and disease.  In relation to queer people, data was often collected to document evidence of what those collecting it considered to be problematic. Hu posed the question, what would a paradigm of data collection that serves the interests of queer people actually look like? “The big question of queer data is ‘who’s it for?’ and ‘who does it serve?’” they emphasized.

    The 1966 Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, a fight between trans women and police at a 24-hour cafe in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, is an example of blurring the boundary between public and private space, as well as safe and unsafe space.

    The police saw the riot as a violent disruption by a group of “crossdressers.” But for the queer community, the drag queens who frequented the cafe were reacting to long-running harassment from the police which had been happening all summer.

    “The riot was as much a reaction to the situation in that cafeteria that night, as it was to years of queerphobic policing throughout the city of San Francisco,” said Hu. The fact that the riot spilled out into the public setting of the street underscored that the conflict was not just a private matter between the customers and the management of the cafe, but a public one between queer people and the city…The public show of queer solidarity and care in the streets made it queer vigilantism. The riot called into question [whether] queer people are ever safe, in private or public, who gets to take up space, and who gets to be part of the public.”

    The research of Victor Gonzalez, a recent graduate from Colorado University Boulder and the Executive Chair for the American Institute of Architecture student JEDI committee, focuses on sexual racism in public spaces. Gonzalez found there was a consistent pattern of sexual racism at queer bars and clubs in Denver. Sexual racism, is the “set of negative sexual attitudes, sexual exclusion, or fetishization of those who are non-white,” he said. Physical spaces cannot be racist in and of themselves, but they can provide spacial and territorial conditions for sexual racism to thrive.

    There are no quick fixes for the problem but Gonzalez discovered some correctives that can be integrated into the built form itself, to counteract the effects or dissuade the presence of sexual racism.  One bar, called Pride & Swagger, had posters at its entrance condemning racism and other forms of discrimination. This set a tone about the type of space that would exist inside the building.

    Jennifer Gardner is a design strategist who works at the US Office of Personnel Management, a government agency that uses human-centered design to help other agencies privilege human needs in policy and service design. “What makes a vibrant public space?” she asked. “Why do we even want to be in public spaces in the first place?”

    She has frequently used an ice-breaking activity where she shows a series of pictures of public spaces to people, in order to understand what appeals to them about these spaces.  Many people liked the warmth and color of an environment or the closeness of the people in the images. In some cases, what drew them to the scenes were that the people in the photos reminded them of their own family. “This sort of observational data is essential for urban design,” Gardner said. 

    Planners play an important role in making public spaces accessible to those who aren’t typically present or visible. This is also an important consideration for community-based organizations, led by and advocating for groups typically left out of the decision-making process, when they lobby for investment to support their self-led programming.  Data about public space can be a powerful tool in this evaluation process

    Gardner is currently designing a “public life data protocol,” which could enable the wider use of data to inform public spaces, with the goal of shifting historic biases against people-centered design in policy decisions. This data-collection tool, which will be open, adaptable, and usable by anybody, should encourage more democratic participation in public space, illuminating blind spots we may have by informing our decision-making through evidence, rather than anecdote.

    Brittni Collins, assistant director at Times Squares Arts, offered an example of an inclusive use of public space—a three month installation in Times Square called  “A Fountain for Survivors” by the artist Pamela Council.  The “Survivors” in the piece’s title is left open for self-identification, and the structure itself is 18-feet tall, a cocoon-like hooded shell, filled with exuberant color, housing a fountain. For Council, fountains function as “living sculpture” and make unique contributions to public spaces through “working in culture’s meeting places, as gathering places, and places where people make wishes, giving people this buoyant sense of hope…”

    When collecting data, researchers must attempt to observe and understand behavior without judging the people engaged in it. This is inherently challenging, but according to Gardner, her open protocol is designed to guard against biases. 

    “There are some huge ethical questions around surveillance, period,” said Gardner. To illustrate, she discussed how one company that uses visual capture to build data profiles of spaces may use invasive data, such as faces, whereas another may use more nondescript identifiers, such as the width of shoulders. 

    The responsible use of nuanced data to create more inclusive and safer spaces is a key concern of these panelists, as is cultivating a genuine sense of community rather than, in Rosen’s words, “a pandering, even if well-intentioned, one imposed from above.”

    According to Gonzalez, it’s important for designers to avoid egotistically making the final decision on what a space should be, ignoring the input of the communities that inhabit it.  “I think that’s where a lot of the errors happen,” he said.  “Just as important as all your data analysis and preparation before building a space, is to leave those final decisions to the communities you’re building for.”


    Want to get involved?

    The AIANY Social Science + Architecture Committee meets regularly. Meetings are open to the public and typically occur at 8:30 am on the last Thursday of each month.

    Jennifer Gardner is an urbanist and civic designer whose work promotes equity and opportunity through sustainable, human-centered design and policy. Gardner works as a design strategist at the Lab at OPM, an interdisciplinary team of consultant designers supporting federal government organizations to transform their programs, processes, and people through human-centered design. Gardner has an MS in City and Regional Planning from Pratt Institute and a BA in English Literature from Cornell University.

    Victor Gonzalez is an emerging Mexican architecture professional currently practicing in Denver, Colorado. He currently serves on the AIA Colorado J.E.D.I. Committee and as the executive chair for the national AIAS J.E.D.I. Taskforce.

    A.L. Hu is a queer, nonbinary, transgender Taiwanese-American architect, organizer, and facilitator who lives and works in New York City. Hu was a 2019-2021 Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow and they are currently Design Initiatives Manager at Ascendant Neighborhood Development in East Harlem. Hu writes the not-so-regular Queer Agenda newsletter, and provides brainpower and energy for Queeries, an ongoing community-building initiative for and by LGBTQIA+ architects and designers. They received a Master of Architecture from Columbia University GSAPP.

    Amy Rosen applies integrated design methodologies to everything they do—seeking opportunities to tie architecture into systematic and fluid urban networks. Rosen is an advocate for the power of design to inspire, to unify, and to heal. Using their architectural education as a backbone, Rosen incorporates equity and social sustainability into their design process. 


    About the Author

    Michele Rafferty is a freelance content coordinator working with PLASTARC, a consultancy dedicated to increasing the flexibility and desirability of space using social research and occupant engagement.


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