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October 15, 2018
by 2018 AIANY Civic Leadership Program
"Architects, as Required: Exploring the Periphery of Design." Credit: AIA New York.

On September 20, the 2018 AIANY Civic Leadership Program (CLP) hosted its first public event, “Architects, as Required: Exploring the Periphery of Design.” Organized by CLP members Dyana Berthaud, Quinn Lammie, Amanda Miller, Jade Ragoschke, and Hung Kit Yuen, this event explored and examined the role and purview of architects,  taking inspiration from four grassroots organizations: BlackSpace, Concrete Safaris, Parkour Visions, and Never Homeless Again & Santosha Village. These organizations democratize the built environment and champion design from a wide range of perspectives beyond the field of architecture.

Emma Osore is the co-founder of BlackSpace, a collective of young, Black, NYC residents, urbanists, and changemakers. The platform seeks to bridge the gaps between policy, people, and place, allowing for greater understanding, access, and cooperation to address inequality and injustice. During roundtable discussions, Osore spoke of her wish to “unlearn” in order to build new knowledge and perspectives on how to develop a more just design for communities.

Christopher Hartsfield is the Outdoor Play Manager at Concrete Safaris. Leading outdoor play activities and job training for youth, his work at Concrete Safaris furthers the organization’s mission to emphasize social change through children, as they learn how to alter the physical world and become confident, experienced, effective leaders committed to their health and environment. Hartsfield shared Concrete Safaris’ collaboration with Open Architecture New York and emphasized the importance of children as active participants in the community.

Caitlin Pontrella is the Executive Director of Parkour Visions, a non-profit organization committed to sharing the physical, emotional, and social benefits of parkour and natural movement with people all ages through educational programming, design, and community development. Parkour Visions leads public parkour park development in North America, collaborating with landscape architects, municipalities, and construction companies. Pontrella raised awareness of the need for “playgrounds for adults” and challenged the audience to consider design tactics from parkour spaces in their work.

Haiyan Khan is the founder of Never Homeless Again & Santosha Village. Santosha Village is a proposed two-year experiential living program designed to facilitate the journey of the unhoused and struggling, as residents move towards living fulfilling lives through hyper-affordable housing, self-reliance, and integrated wellness. Khan has extensive experience in development and analytics, and he hopes to use these skills to fight homelessness in New Orleans. At the event, he advocated the right to “a quality life for all,” and stressed the importance of providing assistance to people under financial distress to gain home ownership.

The program began with brief presentations from each of the speakers, followed by a sequence of small roundtables to encourage more intimate and interactive discussions. Topics such as crowdfunding, emphasizing youth, social change and leadership, experiencing the environment, and encouraging self-resiliency were discussed and examined before the conclusion of the event.

Throughout the course of the evening, the participating architects and design professionals were encouraged to further connect the field of architecture to broader contexts, to innovate through their work, and to deepen their civic engagement through expanding architecture to the periphery of design.

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