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Urban-Tech Startups: The Role of Private Sector Innovation in Shaping Our Cities (2020)


    Who should have power to shape the city? How can the private and public sectors complement each other? And how might they be in tension? With the growth of venture capital in the last few decades and the continued shrinking of cities budgets, the private sector has gained even more influence in shaping urban outcomes, often initiating large-scale and rapid changes that compel governing bodies into reactive roles, and taking on challenges traditionally addressed by public sector urban planners. In this panel, we discuss how the continued shift towards private sector control impacts urban management and how urban technologies fundamentally change residents’ experience of the city.


    • Stephen Larrick, City Success Lead, Stae (Moderator)
    • Newsha Ghaeli, President and Co-Founder, Biobot Analytics
    • Matthew Guichard, Account Executive, REMIX
    • Dawn Miller, Head of Policy and Partnerships, Coord
    • Liz Sisson, Chief Operating Officer, Urban-X

    Worlds of Homelessness (2019)


      There is a common misconception that city planning and architecture seek to provide “solutions to end homelessness.” These solutions include various types of supportive, affordable, and shared housing as well as small scale structures providing temporary shelter. Independent of the quality of design thinking such projects and structures can be met with opposition by the communities coming from the prospective occupants and the existing community.

      How can homeless communities become a part of the strategic design process that is engaging and beneficial for them? How can architects produce mutually supportive environments for houseless communities? How can community-driven processes contribute to responsible and comprehensive design solutions? How can schools of design and architecture encourage the success of such initiatives?

      “SCI-Arc is known for meeting a design challenge with speculative and radical thinking, and though design alone will not solve the problem of homelessness, it might be able to identify new directions and fresh approaches for some of the many fields engaged with the crisis” comment Hernan Diaz Alonso, Director/CEO of SCI-Arc and Erik Ghenoiu, Research Coordinator.

      Panelists include:

      • LA architect Darin Johnstone, Principal and CEO of djA (darin johnstone Architecture) established in 2004, and a founding member of the architectural design collaborative flux; 
      • Alexander Hagner from Vienna, Austria, who has created mixed housing that brings people experiencing homelessness together with students;
      • Anne Graupner and Thorsten Deckler from Johannesburg, South Africa, who have worked with informal settlements, community architects and students from the Johannesburg University Faculty of Architecture and Design; and
      • Ana Elvira Vélez, an architect from Colombia, who has successfully created collective housing in Medellin. The conversation will be moderated by Carlos Zedillo.

      See also:


      Constructing (Engaged) Practice (2019)


        Constructing (engaged) Practice traces, the narratives of young firms from around the globe critically engaged in political, technological, intellectual, and environmental conflicts. The daylong symposium features case studies and dialogues on designing, establishing, and maintaining a practice in today’s contradictory climate.

        Panel 1 – Sustainability: From Environmental Awareness to Design

        • Moderated by David Benjamin
        • Guests: Johan Arrhov and Henrick Frick, Arrhov Frick (Stockholm)
        • Marieke Kums, Studio MAKS (Rotterdam)
        • Nguyen Hai Long and Le Thi Hanh Nguyen, Tropical Space (Ho Chi Minh)

        Panel 2, Technology: From Fascination to Construction

        • Moderated by Laurie Hawkinson
        • Jan Theissen and Sonja Nagel, AMUNT (Stuttgart)
        • Maki Onishi and Yuki Hyakuda, O+H (Tokyo)
        • Valle Medina and Benjamin Reynolds, Pa.LaC.E (Basel)

        Panel 3, Politics: From Observation to Engagement

        • Moderated by Anna Puigjaner
        • Mariam Kamara, Atelier Masomi (Niamey)
        • Kim Bridgland and Aaron Roberts, Edition Office (Melbourne)

        Panel 4, Theory: from Discourse to Practice

        • Moderated by Andrés Jaque
        • Ana Luisa Soares and Filipe Magalhães, Fala Atelier (Porto)
        • Isabel Abascal and Alessandro Arienzo, Lanza Atelier (Mexico City)
        • Martin Jančok and Michal Janak, Plural (Bratislava)

        Democracy in Retreat? Master Planning in a Warming World (2019)


          The climate crisis is changing the world. Some people are moving in the face of rising seas and extreme weather, and others are redesigning the places they live. But those making such plans and those most affected by them are not always the same. The challenges posed by climate change thus force architects, planners, engineers, and others charged with imagining the future of their communities to contend with enduring questions of democracy and justice.

          This conference foregrounds Louisiana’s experience with these challenges, because on the Gulf Coast, the climate has changed. New designs and infrastructures have reshaped how Louisianans live, just as evacuation, eviction, and emigration in the face of rising seas have redefined where they live. All the while, as the United States confronts climate change it is already riven by stark inequalities. Escaping critical interrogation, technocratic plans promulgated in the name of “resilience” can not only reproduce, but exacerbate existing injustices across the country and beyond its borders. Many policies that promise security for some cause suffering for others. But must there be winners and losers in the pursuit of safety, justice, and democracy?

          This event brings together architects, planners, scholars, artists, and others whose work engages with the challenges of planning for climate change. Using Louisiana as the case to “think with,” participants will work comparatively to evaluate the perils and promises of risk and retreat, given the imperatives of justice and democracy.

          Panel 1: Defining and Managing Risk

          • Craig Colten, Geography & Anthropology, Louisiana State University
          • Traci Birch, Coastal Sustainability Studio, Louisiana State University
          • Zachary Lamb, Princeton Mellon Fellow in Urbanism and the Environment
          • Monique Verdin, Another Gulf is Possible
          • Respondent: Liz Koslov, Urban Planning, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles
          • Moderator: Andy Horowitz, Assistant Professor, Department of History, School of Liberal Arts, Tulane University

          Panel 2: Evacuation, Emigration, Eviction

          • Jay Arena, Sociology, CUNY College of Staten Island
          • Monica Farris, University of New Orleans Center for Hazard Assessment, Response and Technology (CHART)
          • Farrah Cambrice, Sociology, Prairie View A&M University
          • Andreanecia Morris, Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance
          • Respondent: Zaire Dinzey-Flores, Sociology, Rutgers
          • Moderator: Fallon Samuels Aidoo, Jean Brainard Boebel Chair in Historic Preservation, Assistant Professor of Planning & Urban Studies, University of New Orleans

          Panel 3: Greenwashing

          • Austin Allen, Design Jones LLC
          • Anthony Fontenot, Architecture, Woodbury School of Architecture
          • Thom Pepper, Common Ground New Orleans
          • Denise J. Reed, University of New Orleans
          • Respondent: Daniel Aldana Cohen, Sociology, University of Pennsylvania
          • Moderator: Carol McMichael Reese, PhD, Director of the City, Culture, and Community Ph.D. Proram; Professor of Architecture, Tulane University

          Panel 4: Is This Democracy?

          • Charles Allen, National Audubon Society
          • Cedric Johnson, African American Studies & Political Science, University of Illinois at Chicago
          • Margarita Jover, Architecture, Tulane University
          • Bryan Parras, Sierra Club
          • Monxo Lopez, Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies, Hunter College
          • Moderator: Reinhold Martin, Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, Columbia University

          Designing the Future: Japan House Symposium (2018)


            On October 25, 2018, JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles held a symposium at SCI-Arc about the design of the future in an era in which the “future” exists in the present. The symposium included presentations by Liam Young, Peter Frankfurt, and Sou Fujimoto, followed by a conversation moderated by Hitoshi Abe.

            The symposium asked: What is the future in today’s context? At its most basic, the future is unknown. It can only be predicted on the basis of known circumstances: current technologies, attitudes, and lifestyles. Early 20th century proposals of the future contained fantastic landscapes and preposterous technologies. But as the 20th century drew to a close, futurists shifted focus from the distant future to the near future. The “present” became shorter. Instead of lasting three or four years, it was reduced to the brevity of a news cycle. Driven by the ever-increasing speed of technological and social change, the “present” and “future” became one and the same. Without a temporal distinction, how else can the future be conceived? How can we visualize the future, when it is the same as the present?


            Liam Young

            Liam Young is a speculative architect and co-founder of both Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today and Unknown Fields. He operates in the space between design, fiction, and futures. Young presented a series of counter-narratives to the futures that we are often sold, depicting “The Other Future.”

            Peter Frankfurt

            Peter Frankfurt is Executive Creative Director and Managing Partner of award-winning creative studio Imaginary Forces, which he co-founded in 1996. Frankfurt presented a series of projects in which he has been tasked with representing and thus creating the future.

            Sou Fujimoto

            Sou Fujimoto is founder of Tokyo-based architectural firm Sou Fujimoto Architects. He is one of the most well-known architects practicing in Japan today. Fujimoto presented his concept of Primitive Future, where a consideration of the most basic needs of people creates the basis for designing the future.

            After each of the presentations, the panelists gathered to have a interactive conversation moderated by Hitoshi Abe to compare their visions for the future, and discuss what it means to be actively representing the future (and thus producing it) in the present.

            Labs, Incubators, Colonies (2018)


              On the occasion of welcoming our 4th class of incubator members, GSAPP and NEW INC convene a discussion on changing the status quo in arts, technology, and design entrepreneurship. From business acceleration to advancing discourse, the concept of incubation is not new – Labs, Incubators, Colonies references the environments we create to open space for new ideas. The discussion will engage models of practice and debate the long history and not too distant future of innovation in a series of duets by leaders of the industry.


              Andrea Chen, Executive Director, Propeller
              Daphne Kwon, President and Chief Operating Officer, Betaworks Studios
              Tui Te Hau, General Manager, Mahuki at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewain
              Janna Levin, Director of Sciences, Pioneer Works and Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Barnard
              Rick Turoczy, Cofounder and General Manager, PIE
              Marcus Weldon, President of Bell Labs and Chief Technology Officer, Nokia
              Cheryl Young, Executive Director, MacDowell Colony
              moderated by David Benjamin and Karen Wong

              Environment(al) Exhibition Symposium (2018)


                SCI-Arc presents Environment[al], a public exhibition examining contemporary attitudes toward environment in a post-digital context. The capacity of constructed natures to produce admixtures of the natural and the synthetic is a focus. The changing character of environment in the context of technological innovation is considered through the projects in the exhibition. Taking into account recent approaches to our understanding of environment and contemporary modes of ecological awareness, the exhibition considers the possibility of environments where qualities are fused with objects not normally associated with them. Sites, objects, and spaces become estranged to engender multiple authenticities and produce a fusion between architectural form and forms germane to constructed natures. A multivalent implementation of environment, one that involves an agile negotiation with the changing character of the ecological in the context of technological change begins to surface, these environments produce invigorated forms of tangible architectural presence and performance.

                Environment[al] is a group exhibition with the work of architects, designers and landscape architects including Izaskun Chinchilla [Izaskun Chinchilla Architects], Enric Ruiz Geli [Cloud 9], Carme Pinós [Estudio Carme Pinós], Wolf Prix [Coop Himmelb(l)au], Gilles Retsin, and Günther Vogt [Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten]. The exhibition is curated by Herwig Baumgartner and Marcelyn Gow. Environment[al] transforms the SCI-Arc Gallery through the construction of a landscape/substrate that functions as the ground datum in the exhibition space. The landscape is designed as a facsimile of the soil conditions that are found in the Owens Valley [to the North East of Los Angeles where LA sources a significant amount of its water supply.] The substrate is punctuated by incisions containing oil/water and vegetation indigenous to Southern California. A sound map of the LA River is accessed through proximity sensors integrated within the exhibition landscape. When gallery visitors interact with the plants, sounds recorded at different points along the river will become audible, conjuring the diverse environments of the river. The work of each of the exhibition participants is installed or projected into a series of concave receptacles within the landscape. The exhibition features both visions for the future of architecture as well as architectural applications in the context of environmental and climatic change.

                Deep Vista (2018)


                  New ideas in architectural practice and theory arising from rapidly changing technology will be explored by experts in design, education, philosophy and other disciplines at “Deep Vista,” a free-ranging panel discussion series set for April 27 and 28, 2018 at Texas A&M University.

                  “Panelists will identify and assess a variety of viewpoints about architecture’s present and future in light of technology-based revolutions in design practice, material science and manufacturing, building construction and many other areas,” said Gabriel Esquivel, associate professor of architecture and event co-curator. “It’s a complex task, because of the wide range of stances that architects and theorists hold.”

                  Panelists will explore the importance of guiding developments in architectural practice and theory with multifaceted criteria and collaborative methods. Deep Vista’s experts represent a diverse array of disciplines, including architecture, academia, video game design, philosophy, urban planning, art and robotics.

                  In Deep Vista’s eight, one-hour sessions, panelists will explore topics, including:

                  • How a relevant design philosophy requires an openness to a multiplicity of values, interpretations and readings, accompanied by simultaneous rigor and relativism;
                  • The fluid nature of the interaction of digital media with architectural design and programming; and
                  • The future of design research related to technology, theory and pedagogy.


                  What are the changes that digital technology presents to architects and designers?

                  The session consists of panelists Sean Anderson, associate curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art in New York; Graham Harman, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, and Tim Morton, holder of the Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University. It will be moderated by Levi Bryant, professor of philosophy at Collin College.


                  How important is the physical area surrounding a proposed project? Can designers enhance their relevance with an openness to a multiplicity of values and interpretations?

                  The session consists of panelists Bruno Juricic, architect, curator and Ph.D. student at the University of California-Los Angeles; Kivi Sotamaa, founding principal of Ateljé Sotamaa and an adjunct associate professor at UCLA, and Rob Stuart-Smith, assistant professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and director of Autonomous Manufacturing Labs at UP and the Department of Computer Science at University College of London. It will be moderated by Graham Harman, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Southern California Institute of Architecture,

                  Interaction Between Built Environment & Digital Media

                  Social media presents a range of interactions with architecture at many different levels, including communication and criticism. What are the present and future qualities of these interactions?

                  The session consists of panelists Kristy Balliet, an architectural designer and an assistant professor at Ohio State University; Ian Bogost, who holds a joint professorship in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication and in Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology; Ferda Kolatan, founding director of su11, a New York design firm and an associate professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania, and Michel Rojkind, founder of Rojkind Arquitectos. It will be moderated by Bruno Juricic, architect, curator and Ph.D. student at the University of California-Los Angeles.

                  Borders and Thresholds

                  What roles does automation play in architectural fabrication, construction, and other design applications?

                  The session consists of panelists Levi Bryant, professor of philosophy at Collin College; Bruno Juricic, architect, curator and Ph.D. student at the University of California-Los Angeles; Jimenez Lai, co-founder of Bureau Spectacular, a Los Angeles design firmand Tim Morton, holder of the Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University. It will be moderated by Michael Young, assistant professor of architecture at The Cooper Union.


                  What are the many facets of architectural programming beyond function?

                  The session consists of panelists Kristy Balliet, an architectural designer and an assistant professor at Ohio State University; Ian Bogost, who holds a joint professorship in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication and in Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology; Jimenez Lai, co-founder of Bureau Spectacular, a Los Angeles design firm; Michael Osman, associate professor of architecture and urban design at the University of California-Los Angeles, and Kivi Sotamaa, founding principal of Ateljé Sotamaa and an adjunct associate professor at UCLA. It will be moderated by Sarah Deyong, Texas A&M associate professor of architecture.

                  Design Research

                  How can design research contribute to the bridge between academia and practice?

                  The session consists of panelists Kristy Balliet, an architectural designer and an assistant professor at Ohio State University; Levi Bryant, professor of philosophy at Collin College; Nate Hume, founding partner at Hume Coover Studio and an architecture lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dwayne Oyler, founder of Oyler Wu Collaborative, an experimental architecture and design firm in Los Angeles and a faculty member at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. It will be moderated by Michael Young, assistant professor of architecture at The Cooper Union.

                  The Literal Space of the Studio

                  What is the role and importance of the studio as a prototype of creativity?

                  The session consists of panelists Sarah Deyong, Texas A&M associate professor of architecture; Ferda Kolatan, founding director of su11, a New York design firm, and an associate professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania; Jimenez Lai,
co-founder of Bureau Spectacular, a Los Angeles design firm; Michel Rojkind, founder of Rojkind Arquitectos. and Michael Young, assistant professor of architecture at The Cooper Union. It will be moderated by Kristy Balliet, an architectural designer, and an assistant professor at Ohio State University.


                  A closing session, featuring all Deep Vista panelists, will be moderated by Gabriel Esquivel, associate professor of architecture, who curated the event with Bruno Juricic, an architect, curator and Ph.D. student at the University of California-Los Angeles.

                  Encounters with Arakawa and Madeline Gins (2018)


                    A half-day conference on the occasion of the opening of the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery exhibition Arakawa and Madeline Gins: Eternal Gradient. The event convenes architects, artists, historians and writers to offer fresh interpretations of Arakawa and Gins’ work and theories in the context of contemporary practices and scholarship.


                    1:00pm Introduction

                    Irene Sunwoo, Director of Exhibitions, Columbia GSAPP

                    1:15pm Practice for Living

                    Miwako Tezuka, Consulting Curator at Reversible Destiny Foundation/Estate of Madeline Gins

                    Momoyo Homma, Director of Arakawa + Gins Tokyo Office (Coordinologist, Inc.)

                    Moderated by Julian Rose, Co-Founder, formlessfinder, and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Columbia GSAPP

                    2:30pm Eternal Gradient

                    Carrie Norman, Co-Founder, Norman Kelley, and exhibition designers, Arakawa and Madeline Gins: Eternal Gradient in conversation with Irene Sunwoo and Tiffany Lambert, Columbia GSAPP Exhibitions

                    3:10pm Politics of the Page

                    Lucy Ives, poet and editor of a forthcoming collection of Madeline Gins’ writing

                    Léopold Lambert, architect and editor of The Funambulist


                    4:30pm Architectural Bodies

                    Spyros Papapetros, Associate Professor, History and Theory of Architecture, Princeton University

                    Adrienne Hart, Artistic Director / Choreographer, Neon Dance

                    Moderated by Andrés Jaque, Founder, Office for Political Innovation, and Adjunct Associate Professor, Columbia GSAPP

                    5:45pm Endings/Beginnings

                    Troy Conrad Therrien, Curator, Architecture and Digital Initiatives, Guggenheim Museum Jenna Sutela, Visual Artist

                    Ed Keller, Associate Professor of Design Strategies & Director of the Center for Transformative Media, Parsons The New School for Design

                    Confronting Climate Change: The Five Thousand Pound Life (2018)


                      The United States faces two immense and inextricable challenges: how to reimagine the American way of life to address the impacts of climate change, and how to build a new and robust economic structure that offers viable and sustainable livelihoods and lifestyles across the income spectrum for all Americans. The Architectural League has launched The Five Thousand Pound Life—an initiative of public events, digital releases, and a national design study—as a contribution to what must be a broad collective effort spanning geographies, generations, occupations, disciplines, and ideologies to address those intertwined challenges.

                      To present a vast scope of relevant issues with navigational and conceptual clarity, content is grouped here into themes of Economics & Investment, Engagement & Practice, Design & Technology, and Communication & Ethics. Visit these 5KL theme pages using the links below to find a range of content from different vantage points. Also included are an essay introducing the 5KL initiative, documentation from ongoing events, and more.

                      Part 1: Introduction

                      An overview of The League’s program that fosters and supports new ways of thinking, acting, and talking about our economic and environmental future.

                      Part 2: Perspectives on our changing climate

                      Participants from 5KL events share their perspectives on our environmental and economic future.

                      Part 3: Economics & Investment

                      In the first part of our curated digital series, we focus on the core connection between our individual and collective channeling of resources and the carbon byproducts of economic exchange.

                      Part 4: Engagement & Practice

                      The second part of our curated digital series is an exploration of democratic citizenship and decision-making within, and outside of, the confines of professional practice.

                      Part 5: Design & Technology

                      The third installment of our digital publication series is an inquiry into the relationship between the iterative process of design and technological advancement in our pursuit of prosperity.

                      Part 6: Communication & Ethics

                      The fourth and final part of our Five Thousand Pound Life digital series fosters an understanding our relationships with, and responsibilities to, other individuals, communities, nations, and generations.