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Change Order

The Boston Architectural College Hosts Change Order: The Futures of Design Learning


On the 16th of November 2010, design educators, practitioners, thought leaders and those who work to envision the future of our cities gathered, pre-Build Boston, at the Seaport World Trade Center Boston, to imagine the future of design education. Catalysts: Kermit Baker, Chief Economist for the American Institute of Architects; Steve Brittan, Burt Hill; Jim Cramer, The Greenway Group, and Ted Landsmark of The Boston Architectural College presented to the group, punctuated by working sessions in which roundtable groups raised questions and proposed solutions, imagined what collaborative thinking teams might look like, and envisioned new educational models.

BAC Provost Julia Halevy, BAC Dean of Research and Assessment Herb Childress and Respondents Peter Kuttner of Cambridge Seven Associates and Susan Szenasy of Metropolis Magazine provoked the group to address the challenges raised throughout the working sessions while information from the working groups displayed in real time on large plasma screens, provided by the BAC research team and facililtators with visual synthesis by Peter Kuttner.

Change Order Challenge: BAC President Ted Landsmark framed the day by stating, "Professional practice has changed radically over the past few years. New technologies, Building Information Modeling, globalization, an imploded economy, re-configurations of firms through consolidations and mergers, and new collaborations across disciplines have combined to change the ways in which practitioners work. Yet schools have made relatively few changes in curricula and design pedagogies to better prepare graduates for these changes in practice. Tight budgets and restrictive accreditation standards may now limit some academic flexibility, but ought not to limit how we prepare for the future of design education. We need to explore approaches to engage our students and faculty, and professional practitioners, in creating new forms of outcomes-focused design education. Change Order furthers this conversation."

Many questions were raised, the conversation has begun and will continue on the Change Order Ning site, that is currently open to conference participants, and soon to be open to all.

The lengthy list includes: What is appropriate design scholarship and what is the professional's role in generating it? How does the Y generation access and share knowledge? Is there a disconnect between firm owners and students that relates to technology? Who teaches mentorship?  How do we promote transdisciplinary programs?  Should knowledge be passed down and not around?  Can we keep our core expertise strong while we expand to work across the disciplines and what disciplines do we "trans"? What is the core curriculum for design?  What remains relevant about accreditation and licensure and how do we support and affect change?  Are we so focused on BIM that we are allowing it to define the architectural profession?  Do we educate or dictate to clients?  What do we need to know to design a library for the next design generation, and others?  Is ego management more difficult than project management? How do we evaluate individual performance in a collaborative setting?  Are other industries more creative in insuring their own survival?  How do we promote cultural literacy, ethical design, and social justice? Importantly, many questions addressed sustainability.  Do we have the same concern for our planet that we have for our own well-being?

Change Order Catalysts: Kermit Baker is a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, and Project Director of the Remodeling Futures Program. This research effort, which began in 1995, is the first comprehensive analysis of U.S. remodeling activity ever undertaken by the Joint Center. Kermit is also the Chief Economist for The American Institute of Architects in Washington, D.C. In this capacity he analyzes business and construction trends for the U.S. economy, and their impact on the architectural profession.  Prior to joining the Joint Center, Kermit was Vice-President and director of the economics department at Reed Business Information where he was responsible for industry forecasting.  Kermit Baker received his master's degree in urban planning from Harvard University, and holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

As Principal and New England Regional Director, Steve manages the design and implementation of projects for institutional and corporate clients in Higher Education, Life-Sciences, Multi-Family Residential, and Corporate Commercial. He has also designed mixed-use developments for institutions and corporations in the USUS, UAE, and Europe. Steve has taught Architecture and Urban Design at Columbia University, Harvard University, Rhode Island School of Design, Boston Architectural College, and Studio Art Centers International (SACI), in Florence. He founded several startup companies such as Integrated Design Environments Inc., (1993) specializing in virtual and enhanced environment design, and serves on several educational and corporate boards in Massachusetts. He graduated with a B.Arch., from Cape Town University, and an M.Arch., from Harvard University, with distinction in Design.

James P. Cramer is one of the world's foremost thinkers on the future of the architecture profession and construction industry. He is the Chairman and Principal of the Greenway Group, a leading management consultancy based in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the President of the Design Futures Council and Publisher of DesignIntelligence, a management and leadership journal. He is the author of three books on management and leadership, and co-author of the bestselling book, How Firms Succeed, A Field Guide to Design Management. He is the former Chief Executive of The American Institute of Architects and co-founder of the Design Futures Council. He has authored numerous articles on the future of the AEC industry for national and international publications. Jim Cramer is an Honorary Member of the American Institute of Architects and the International Interior Design Association and has more than 80 honors to his credit for service to architecture, management, and new organizational design.

Ted Landsmark holds degrees in law and environmental design from Yale University, a Doctorate in American Studies from Boston University and has worked as Special Assistant to the Mayor of Boston. He currently serves as a Trustee of the American Institute of Architects Architectural Foundation and has facilitated sessions of the Mayor's Institute on City Design in New York, Los Angeles, and Charleston. He serves on the National Architectural Accrediting Board of Directors. He has served as a Trustee of the American Society of Interior Designer Foundation, on the AIA Long Range Planning Advisory Group, and on the Real Estate Advisory Committee at MIT. Ted is a Trustee Emeritus of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and serves as a member of the Boards of Historic Boston, Boston Fund for the Arts, and the New England Foundation for the Arts. He serves on the Mayor of Boston's Climate Action Leadership Committee and on the Advisory Committee for the National Trust for Historic Preservation Partner's in Preservation Advisory Committee, the Boston Society of Architects (1997-present) and has served as National Chair for the AIA Committee on Diversity (2003-2006). He received the AIA Whitney Young Jr. Award (2006) and is past President of the American Collegiate Schools of Architecture (2006-2007).

Architect and designer Neri Oxman is the Sony Corporation Career Development Professor and Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab where she directs the Mediated Matter research group. Her group explores how digital design and fabrication technologies mediate between matter and environment to radically transform the design and construction of objects, buildings, and systems. Oxman's goal is to enhance the relationship between the built and the natural environment by employing design principles inspired by nature and implementing them in the invention of digital design technologies. Oxman received her Ph.D in Design Computation as a Presidential Fellow from MIT, where she developed the theory and practice of Material-based Design Computation. In this approach, the shaping of material structure is conceived of as a novel form of computation. Her work is part of the MoMA collections and other museums around the world. Oxman was named to the "top 20 most influential architects to shape our future" by Icon (2009) and was selected as one of the "100 most creative people" by Fast Company (2009).

Julia received her bachelor's degree, cum laude, from Mount Holyoke College, and her Dottore in Pedagogia, with highest distinction and honors, from the University of Florence, Italy, where she lived for more than twelve years. Julia completed advanced training in family and cognitive behavioral therapies and is a licensed psychologist in Massachusetts. During her more than two decades at Antioch New England Graduate School, she founded both a master's program in Marriage and Family Therapy and the school-wide Diversity Committee. During her leadership of the Graduate School at Lesley University, she was the Founding Chair of the University Graduate Council, a group serving cross-university doctoral programs' policies and procedures, visions and values. Julia also served as the Chair of the Academic Advising Task Force. Having worked for many years in institutions that provide professional education through the integration of theory and practice, she is familiar with nontraditional instruction and is well-versed in translating between the entrepreneurial spirit that sustains these programs and the requirements of the accrediting bodies that approve them. Over many years of consulting to not-for-profit organizations and higher education institutions, Julia worked to support the development of collaborative management practices that enhance the capacity to welcome and sustain inclusivity.

Change Order Respondents: Peter Kuttner synthesizes his leadership role with the design and management of a wide range of projects. Peter has been instrumental in forging the next generation's collaborative spirit at C7A, bringing the firm's wealth of experience to every client and project. His experience covers master planning, architectural, and exhibit design, with particular focus on complex museum and academic projects. Committed to the architectural profession in its many aspects, Mr. Kuttner is currently the Vice-President of the AIA, has co-chaired the NCARB IDP Advisory Committee, chaired the Boston Foundation for Architecture, and serves on the Board of Overseers for the Boston Architectural College. A frequent speaker, writer, and cartoonist, Peter earned his Masters in Architecture from the University of Michigan.

Susan Szenasy is Editor in Chief of Metropolis, the award-winning New York City-based magazine of architecture and design. Since 1986 she has lead the magazine in landmark design journalism, achieving domestic and international recognition. She is internationally recognized as an authority on sustainability and design. Susan sits on the boards of the Council for Interior Design Accreditation, FIT Interior Design, the Center for Architecture Advisory Board, and the Landscape Architecture Foundation. She has been honored with two IIDA Presidential Commendations, is an honorary member of the ASLA and AIANYC, and the 2008 recipient of the ASID Patron's Prize and Presidential Commendation. Along with Metropolis Publisher Horace Havemeyer III, Susan was a 2007 recipient of the Civitas August Heckscher Award for Community Service and Excellence. She holds an MA in Modern European History from Rutgers University, and honorary doctorates from Kendall College of Art and Design, the Art Center College of Design, and the Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Change Order Project Research: Along with the symposium and a web community, Research Project Change Order, is also a research project. Led by Herb Childress, Ph.D., the BAC's Dean of Research and Assessment, and by Denise Dea, Studio Manager at Payette Associates, the research team incorporates both BAC students and instructors. Prior to the conference, the team has conducted hour-long interviews with over thirty practitioners in design and affiliated fields, asking them what they believe will be stable about their work and what they believe will change. The themes that have emerged from this work, along with the major ideas from the web community and the conference, will become the core of strategic papers to be completed by the end of the year. The Change Order research project is designed to inform the design and design education communities about the most likely trajectories of our coming work.

Research team members include: Brien Baker, M.Arch student ;Herb Childress, BAC Staff ; Denise Dea, BAC Faculty; Susan Deily-Swearingen, BAC Faculty;  Reed Harmon, M.Arch student; Andrew Hovey, BDS student; Melissa Iannucci, M.Arch student; Rebecca Maisch, M.Arch student; Perla Muller, B.Arch student; Toa Rivera, BID student; Kionna Walker, M.Arch student; Jason Weldon, B.Arch student; Randolph Wolters, B.Arch student; and Mauricio Zambrano, B.Arch student.