Writer, critical theorist and architecture academic Sylvia Lavin has been a fixture in the southern California art and architecture scene for the better part of the last 30 years. Currently serving as Director of the Critical Studies programs at UCLA's Architecture and Urban Design department, she also recently launched a summer curatorial program at SCI-Arc, called MEAT: Making Exhibitions in Architecture Today, and is widely published on issues of architecture and art practice.
Lavin spoke with me about growing up in an academic family, splitting her childhood between New York and Rome, and her perception of the art/architectural scene in southern California.
LA-based architect Frank Israel's obituary
UCLA urban planning professor Edward Soja's obituary
Pipilotti Rist's "Pour Your Body Out" (2008) installation at MoMA
As Deputy Director for Urban Design and Mobility in Glendale, CA, a teacher of urban design at Woodbury University, and one of the Mayor's appointees on the City of Pasadena's Design Commission, Alan Loomis has thoroughly installed himself in the shifting scene of southern Californian urbanism. After moving from Michigan to get his MArch at SCI-Arc in the late 1990s, Loomis has seen enough of Los Angeles' urbanism to be convinced that whatever post-sprawl paradigm gets adopted here will become the guidebook for many more cities in the US, particularly those ever-expanding desert cities in the southwest.
Loomis joined Amelia Taylor-Hochberg in Archinect's studio to talk about urban design in the public and private realms, pedagogical approaches to urban design vs. urban planning, and his earlier days in LA as an Archinect editor.
This week's guest is Garrett Jacobs, executive director of the phoenix rising from Architecture for Humanity's ashes, known as the Chapter Network. When Architecture for Humanity went bankrupt last year and shut down its formal, executive functions, many affiliated chapters continued business as usual, that is, operating independently with volunteer coalitions. To rally those troops and continue AFH's mission of humanitarian and sustainable development, the Chapter Network was formed, and Jacobs, formerly an outreach coordinator for AFH, became its organizing leader.
As an architectural designer trained literally in the midst of Hurricane Katrina, and with past experience organizing for Code for America, Jacobs has big plans for the newfangled Network. We spoke about how to continue Architecture for Humanity’s legacy without making its same mistakes, and how to create a sustainable organization on a shoestring.
In line with this month's "Furniture" theme, Amelia Taylor-Hochberg speaks with Galen Cranz, an architecture professor at UC Berkeley specializing in body-conscious design. Cranz is trained in the "Alexander Technique" – a method for "correcting" the body's poor habits of movement, that can limit self-awareness in a space.
Before coming to Cal to teach architecture, Cranz received her PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago, influencing her pedagogy of architecture and furniture to primarily be about how humans occupy designs, and how social hierarchies emerge from those conventions.
Based in London, Elsie Owusu OBE runs her own firm (Elsie Owusu Architects), is a national council member at the Royal Institute of British Architects, and is vice chair at the London School of Architecture. But it’s likely that many Archinectors hadn’t heard of Owusu until December of last year, when we reported on claims of institutional racism and sexism she had made against RIBA, alleging that they had rigged an election she was up for in favor of another candidate, who wasn’t an elected RIBA council member.
In my correspondence with Owusu to arrange our interview, she analogized the issue this way (paraphrased here): an African-American or minority ethnic female actor (her) being nominated for an Oscar, only to have a white actor who hasn't even made a film "parachuted in" and given an award for Best Supporting Actor.
I wanted to speak with Owusu about her work alongside issues of diversity and exclusion in practice generally, and also at the institutional level of RIBA. We discuss the allegations, but Owusu is quick to point out that these conversations need to happen regardless of any publicized incidents – keeping these discussions going is vital if the profession is ever going to improve.