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  • March 28, 2019
    Proof: The Power of Social Research in Design
    Meeting Attendees
    AIANY's Social Science and Architecture hosted a panel on tools and technology (March 5, 2019)

    by Diana Mosher

    On March 5, the AIANY Social Science and Architecture Committee hosted Proof: The Power of Social Research in Design. This multidisciplinary panel facilitated by PLASTARC Founder and Executive Director Melissa Marsh explored new quantitative and qualitative tools available to designers, as well as ways that social science research can be embedded into the design process.

    Arlene Ducao is a Principal at the DuKode Studio, a scientific and environmental design firm in Brooklyn, and the CEO and cofounder of Dukode’s affiliate company Multimer. Multimer provides tools that enable organizations to conduct research and fill in gaps in data. Using a simple kit and common wearables like smartwatches and heart rate straps, designers can collect, visualize, and analyze geolocated biosensor data. As that data is collected, designers can monitor it in real time on Multimer’s platform. This can be useful for delving into outdoor experiences, examining workplace strategies, or studying design in virtual space.

    Stephanie Park, Senior Lead Strategist at WeWork, draws from her multidisciplinary background and expertise in design, psychology, and data science as she leads immersive research to create an ideal user experience. Her work sits at the intersection of architecture and cognitive psychology, to studying how building performance affects people and vice versa. She warned that technology doesn’t always reveal the whole story. Attendees learned how to avoid costly mistakes that can occur when making assumptions about client culture based solely on data.

    Danil Nagy is Product Innovation Manager at Silverstein Properties, where he leads the development of technology to enhance and transform Silverstein’s business. Nagy described an automated tool created for a developer in Japan that helps the sales team find vacant lots and pitch development projects to the owners. Automation allows the developer to grow their business by increasing both the quantity and quality of the proposals that they can offer. Nagy also shared some thoughts about how to avoid over-engineered systems and how to maximize human comfort by minimizing resource usage.

    The panel concluded with a look at some exciting advances in tools and automation. Emerging technologies such as computer vision, data mining, learning cloud computing, and generative design have enabled us to get closer to Negroponte’s vision of a future where human designers and intelligent machines assist each other in creating a better built environment.

  • December 18, 2018
    Remix, Resample, Remaster: Identity and Making Architecture
    Poets, architects, and other makers discussed how identity influences their work.

    by Kuan-Ju Chen and Jessica Morris

    The effects of identity on projects and places are powerful. Should identity be recognized as a material in the discipline of architecture as it is in disciplines like poetry? “Remix Resample Remaster” prompted consideration of whether deeper reflection on the role of identity in the process of making could result in places that are more reflective, adaptive, and flexible.

    This participatory program was hosted on 12.11.18 by the AIANY Diversity and Inclusion, Emerging New York Architects, and Social Science and Architecture Committees at the Center for Architecture. Through small-group workshops, participants considered how the work of poets, educators, artists, and fellow architects is affected by their identities both consciously and unconsciously.

    Speakers shared short stories that inspired breakout discussions about identity, place, and creative works. Daniel Aronberg, Assoc. AIA and Co-Chair of AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee, introduced the theme of equality with a reading of the poem “No Difference” by Shel Silverstein. Fauzia Khanani, Assoc. AIA, Principal and Founder of Studio Fōr, then shared excerpts from the New York Times Race/Related Newsletter that illustrated how a porch could represent very different things in people’s lives.

    Also among the invited guests was Danei Cesario, AIA, NCARB, NOMA, Associate of Array Architects, and Co-Chair of AIANY Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She highlighted her roles as a mom, a wife, and the 333rd black female licensed architect in American history. With these multiple roles, she has many opportunities to encourage empowerment through practice. Cesario was followed by Paco Márquez, a poet and former editor of OccuPoetry, a poetry journal focused on economic justice. Márquez read two original poems that use language, intentionally-incorrect grammar, and cadence to directly address his identity as a bilingual and Latino immigrant. He also shared a submission tracking spreadsheet showing acceptance or rejection by various journals, allowing the relationship between identity and acceptance to be evaluated. Initially, Márquez’s works were more often accepted by journals aimed at a Latino audience, which caused him to question his professional identity—he did not want to be seen only as a Latino poet. He asked the audience to consider if and when a cultural producer might aspire to break out of identity pigeonholes.

    Katie Yamasaki, a Japanese-American artist and muralist who grew up in Detroit, shared a story from grade school that was tied to race, memory, and the writing of history. That story became the inspiration for her children’s books and public artwork, highlighting how formative identity politics can be. Yamasaki’s use of large-scale murals as identity markers serves to reinforce existing relationships, give presence to loved ones who are elsewhere, and create community-building mechanisms. Kamau Ware, artist, historian and founder of Kamau Studios, self-identifies as an information-loving nerd. Ware’s work—walking, talking, sketching, and creating with others he meets—is about the underlying and hidden histories of place. The interest in deep heritage and thirst for information exchange through culture building is the creative force of his identity-driven work, though it is not always obvious at the outset. Finally, Abby Conklin, Program Manager at Creative Connections NYC, shared a poem she authored and asked “How can we see each other wholly?” Conklin echoed Márquez in her lament of stereotyping, which she said is typically based on limited knowledge. Conklin advocated that we suspend judgement and engage in consideration of all sides, especially because every individual is multifaceted.

    The subsequent breakout sessions further explored identity as it relates to vocational roles. Each group was led by one of the invited guests, who facilitated discussion after a short self-introduction. Some groups explored the identity of “architect” in general. A few participants were hesitant to call themselves “architects” simply because they were not yet licensed, prompting a discussion of whether young professionals should not feel permitted to identify as such. A few stereotypes of the profession were discussed, such as long working hours and income levels. Though there was agreement that these were a mix of some truth and some speculation, questions arose about how these stereotypes came to be and what might shift them.

    Identities can be nested, and their expression may serve as a means to represent and uphold shared visions and values. Identity and expression exist at every moment of practice, from interpreting codes, writing specifications, and outlining material selections, to visioning RFP responses or annotating and placing arrowheads on drawings. Architecture and engineering, technical and creative writing, organizing, and even walking all communicate values.

    The group discussions concluded with a series of questions. Everyone was asked to think of a public park that they regularly engaged with and to consider how identity influences one’s experience of that place. Different ideas of how those places might be improved illustrated that identity is an essential starting point in defining architectural problems and working through design solutions. The responses were recorded and later shared back with the full group.

    Identity, when harnessed, can be a cultural currency. It is a currency with immeasurable value when shared—not for the purpose of feeding egos, but in service to an economy of common good.

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    This post was sponsored by PLASTARC.

  • October 30, 2018
    AIA Coworking Panelists Talk Trends
    Panelists discuss the evolution of coworking practice.

    by Carolyn Cirillo

    While coworking may be associated with large open desk areas and scrappy, early-stage startups, shared space has grown up, requiring more sophisticated design, measurement, and marketing, a panel of experts told AIA members and guests at a panel in on October 23.

    A confluence of trends, including people seeking choice in how, when and where they work; corporate need for short and long-term flexibility; the miniaturization and portability of technology; and Millennials desiring to work in environments reminiscent of their recent college experience, has changed the landscape, according to Joyce Bromberg, chief strategy officer at Convene, a New York City-based network of meeting, event and flexible workspaces.

    Coworking has evolved into a new way to provide workplace for enterprise-level clients, explained Bromberg, whose firm provides solutions for groups of 10 to 100 people.

    Everything that we know about landlords and how workplaces are designed, built, managed, and staffed is being disrupted, necessitating a new name for what Bromberg predicts will become the way people work and how real estate will be consumed.

    As a fundamental part of the shared economy, coworking embodies the notions of access and pay-for-what-you-use, while incorporating shorter lease terms and an added layer of service and hospitality that ultimately empowers the provider, according to Eivind Karlsen, head of design at Industrious.

    “We’re challenged to make sure that every day employees come into work we create a service that satisfies them, or they can move to another operator,” Karlsen said. “That’s a fairly new dynamic. You’re giving the occupier that key that they didn’t previously have.”

    For the corporate occupant, it has led to more purposeful decision-making about where to locate particular groups and departments, according to Lucia Diana, global real estate for Verizon.

    Moderator Melissa Marsh, founder of PLASTARC, summarized: “The definition of coworking is about how people work and how the real estate, design and construction industry deliver that product in a more systematic or productized way.” It’s also:

    • A way of working with people in more diverse environments
    • Co-locating people in different companies
    • A way of delivering hospitality-driven office environment as a service
    • Flexibility
    • Speed of change from real estate and demand side
    • Redefining corporate intellectual property boundaries from defense to offensive

    Panelists also discussed the vicissitudes of generic and unique approaches to flexible space products and considered ways coworking is evolving toward a hospitality-style model with varied market segments, brands and levels of service.

    Challenges with measurement were something all panelists experienced in the flexible office model where “people vote with their feet.”

    While many providers are investing in various sensor-style products, challenges lie in mandating adoption.

    “Any tool is only as good as the number of people that use it,” said Bromberg.

    At Verizon, where the focus is on measuring utilization and measurement with retail-style people-counters, real data helps analyze and resolve situations such as a 25-person room occupied by three people, Diana described.

    While data drives much of the decision-making and programmatic allocation of space that follows, great value can be derived from non-quantitative measurements, according to Karlsen, whose firm has found the community manager relationship to be a particularly valuable gauge.

    “Getting those qualitative touch points on a daily basis inform how that member is experiencing that space, what challenges they have, where we can help provide a better day at work,” he added.

    And in some cases, it’s the space itself that signals a successful project, as the Rockwell Group’s Matthew Winter explained.

    Describing a corporate office project that consolidated six groups under one roof, he noted that only a small percentage of individuals were allowed to keep private offices. Some departments opted for a purely democratic experience, with executives moving into open spaces with their teams, while others fought hard to keep a disproportionate number of offices.

    For open offices, shared spaces and ancillary lounges, Rockwell’s design features a hospitality-focused center-hearth approach.

    “The true measurement of the success of this project will be if at the end of it, some of the EVPs and SVPs are not spending time in the office they fought so hard for, and instead holding court in one of those lounges,” noted Winter.

    Coworking was the second in a two-part workplace series presented by the Interiors, Marketing & Communications and Social Science and Architecture committees of the New York City chapter of the AIA. On May 2, the committee presented Workplace Design Part 1 exploring how marketing the physical work environment can attract and retain talent.

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    This post was sponsored by PLASTARC.

     

  • October 12, 2018
    Call for Proposals: 50th Annual Conference of the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA)

    This conference will explore how environments at all scales can be designed in support of a more sustainable world. While cities are contributors to the causes of climate change and other environmental problems, the urban setting will be the proving ground for many of the solutions that address environmental, economic, social and behavioral issues across the globe. Environmental design research is integral to shaping urban design and changing environmental behavior at the global scale. This interdisciplinary call invites proposals from researchers and practitioners to share their knowledge of best practices that address the critical mission of urban sustainability, encompassing built and natural environments for which long- and short-term. EDRA encourages submissions on the following topic areas:

    • Urban Sustainability, Equity and Globalization
    • Global Climate Change: Attitudes and Behavior
    • Green and Blue Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Urban Ecology
    • Participatory and Evidence-Based Strategies for Sustainable Design
    • Environmental Design Research: Advocacy Through Policy and Design
    • Place-making: Personal, Social and Cultural Meanings of Space
    • Resilient Community Planning, Housing and Design
    • Heritage and Cultural Infrastructure
    • Sustainable Lifestyles and Behavior

    Submit your proposals here. Please email conference@edra.org with any questions.

    Key due dates:

    November 12, 2018
    Due date for all Individual and Group Presentations.
    (Papers, Symposia, Workshops, Practitioner/Researcher Collaborations and Intensives.)

    December 1, 2018
    Due date for Visual Presentations abstracts for Display Posters and Digital Media Shorts.

    December 7, 2018
    Early Bird Registration Opens

    January 26, 2019
    Acceptance notification to all authors and presenters.

    March 16, 2019
    Due date for conference participants and presenters to register for the conference (required to be part of the EDRA50 program). Regular registration also begins.

    May 22-26, 2019
    EDRA50 Sustainable Urban Environments Conference in Brooklyn, New York

  • December 27, 2017
    In Pursuit of Performance: Financial and Social Metrics of Architectural Success

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