Newsletter | Mar/Apr 2017Volume 45:2 | Search
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Note from the Editorby Rebecca Friedberg | Print | Email
Oh my, oh my! We have SO much goodness is this newsletter! Sneak-peep the September Member Retreat, read about the last couple events, invites to attend upcoming tours, beautiful sketches and updates from our members, and yes, also a reminder about the call for submissions for the OWA+DP logo competition! Read on...
OWA+DP Member Retreat | Save the Date!by Rachel Slonicki | Print | Email
OWA+DP Logo Competition | Call for Submissionsby Rebecca Friedberg | Print | Email
Building Tour : LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impairedby Carol Mancke | Print | Email
Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tourby Susan Friedman | Print | Email
Sketches by Nayive Kalkachby Rebecca Friedberg | Print | Email
Berkeley City Club | Ongoing Toursby Barbara Westover | Print | Email
Forensic Architecture Panel | Event Reportby Carol Mancke | Print | Email
A Conversation with Architect Wendy Bertrandby Carol Mancke | Print | Email
A Conversation with Architect Wendy Bertrand
February 28 2017
On the last Tuesday in February, Wendy Bertrand spoke to a group of twenty-three members and soon-to-be members of OWADP who gathered for wine, pizza and conversation in a cozy living room in Rockridge. Wendy spoke about her experience of the 12th annual Architectural Humanities Research Association (http://www.ahra-architecture) conference held at the KTH School of Architecture in Stockholm in November 2016. The AHRA is a UK based non-profit academic organization that provides a network for researchers in architectural humanities in the UK and overseas. Architecture & Feminisms: Ecologies, Economies, Technologies was attended by about 200 mostly women researchers and academics but also some practitioners and students. Twenty to twenty-five percent of the attendees were men. Further information can be found at http://architecturefeminisms.
Wendy first talked a little bit about three books that she read in advance and how they opened her mind to new ways of thinking about architecture, feminism and ecologies. These were Felix Guattari’s Three Ecologies: mental, social, and environmental; Relational Architectural Ecologies edited by Peg Rawes; and Behind the Straight Curtain: Towards A Queer Feminist Theory of Architecture by Katarina Bonnevier.
In addition to about forty of the usual conference events like keynote talks and parallel sessions, there were also a number of art installations distributed throughout the conference. One of the first things Wendy encountered was a workshop and ritual called Nuestras Madres (Our Mothers). She found herself sitting around a kitchen table with other women who, while embroidering their mothers’ names, each reflected aloud about what their mothers had taught them about survival. Later in the conference, she participated in a breakfast organized by the UK-based art and architecture collective, Taking Place. Participants were asked to prepare a question in advance. These were then listed as discussion points in the breakfast event program.
Wendy then shared some of the things she came away with. One was the KTH School of Architecture equity policy book Enough is Enough by program director Malin Åberg-Wennerholm. Professor Åberg -Wennerholm’s goal is to make a better world at the school of architecture by integrating gender issues into the undergraduate program. This gender equality guidebook urges not only that women be equally represented in the faculty, student body and invited reviewers etc., but also in the examples of buildings and practices presented as exemplars in classes! Hearing this, I was embarrassed to realize that in twelve years of teaching architecture I had never even thought of attempting this.
Wendy attended six panels and eight keynote and other types of events. One that she found particularly interesting was a panel discussion with Parlour (Karen Burns, Justine Clark, Naomi Stead and Gill Matthewson), chaired by Lori Brown of Syracuse University. Parlour: women, equity, architecture is an excellent website dedicated to ‘bringing together research, informed opinion and resources; generating debate and discussion; expanding the spaces for women in Australian architecture’ (http://archiparlour.org/).
Listening to Wendy talk about what she took away from the conference, the most important thing seemed to me to be a conviction that our system does not work – that Capitalism itself has systemic problems that create the need for feminisms. In her handout she listed seven ‘big takeaway concepts’:
· ecology is not just about the physical, but encompasses mental and social elements
· diversity need not argue any specific contribution
· belonging and/or transgression have enormous impact
· social factors are undervalued in Capitalism as are relationships and culture
· paying attention is important, we should not just rely on experts
· teaching equality, ethics, criticism and activism is essential in architecture
· feminism in architecture is expanding
Wendy requested that each person reflect aloud about what they had heard and this nurtured a lively discussion. I include some of the comments that caught my attention here. Galen Cranz spoke about a growing split between designers and researchers among the faculty at Berkeley. The faculty has shrunk from 46 to 26 full time academics over the 40 years that she has taught there even though student numbers have not declined. This has resulted in pressure for everyone who teaches to be a designer and to the decimation of the social research that once made Berkeley such an excellent school. There is resistance in the institution to see the social side of ecological problems.
Quite a few people talked about the fact that so many women drop out of the profession. We need to understand the kinds of structures needed to give women the ability to speak; the diversity of the problem; and where the people who drop out go – men go to ‘bigger and better’, what about the women. One person described returning after maternity leave to find that her team had shifted out of balance, no longer worked together well. This reflects the importance of each person in a team – how teams can go off kilter when someone leaves. And, there was a comment that every human being always feels that she is ‘other’. Each of us needs to understand this and stand up and show ourselves.
There was a discussion about feminism and how it is growing and has changed because of Judith Butler’s work. There was mention of the importance of celebrating both women and men in everything we do and that feminism is an intersection in a bigger picture that includes race, age and gender etc. Regulations are helpful and important in changing the situation – women athlete quotas are an example.
Other comments included that it will be interesting to see what happens in the El Cerrito Planning Commission, where the politicians are women and the design review board is all men; and that in France there is work being done at the community level to balance the amounts of money spent on women’s and men’s activities.
A few books were mentioned: The Favored Circle: the Social Foundations of Architectural Distinctions by Gary Stevens; Cheryl Sanberg’s Lean In; Vandana Shiva’s Eco Feminism; Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman; and Wendy’s book, Enamored with Place.
I found the session thought-provoking, informational and convivial. It was great to have such a dynamic group of women of all ages in one room together for a couple of hours in a casual, relaxed setting.
** Membership **Print | Email
A little birdie told us that OWA member Hourig Ayanyan recently became a licensed architect! She took her exams while working full time, being a wife and mother of a 4 year old boy. Nice work and congratulations!
Professional activity for the year 2016-17
I am writing from a workshop at Harvard on Anthropological Design April 3-4, 2017, where I presented my 44 years of teaching ethnography to architecture students. OWA members have already heard about this approach when I presented to OWA last April 2016 in connection with the recent publication of Ethnography for Designers (Routledge, 2016). June 2016 was super busy: I was a keynote speaker in Lisbon, Portugal for the European Association of Architecture Educators on the theme of "Naturalizing the City;" I spoke about the hazards of sitting on chairs to the conference of "Architecture, Culture, and Spirituality" in New Harmony, Indiana; and I presented a thesis about taste in urban design at the University of Florence conference on Urbanism. Next, In October 2016 I taught research design to PhD students at NCSU. In January 2017 I was invited to Florida International University in Miami to contribute to a design charrette on creating a new park with body conscious amenities under their elevated Metroline. In March 2017 Sedentary Behavior and Health: Concepts, Assessments, and Interventions, Zhu and Owen, Eds (Human Kinetics) was published based on the first conference on sedentary behavior oat the University of Illinois in October 2015 including my chapter 4 "Rethinking the Chair and Sitting."
Welcome New Members!
John R. Miller
Time to Renew
Remember, it’s a new year! Please renew your membership if you have not already done so, at http://owa-usa.org/payment.php
Perks of Membership
- Enriching year-round programs & tours
- Networking and mentorship opportunities
- Annual retreat in heavenly Sonoma, CA
- Access to industry compensation data
- Online portfolio hosting
- Career opportunities and job listings
- Long-lasting friendships and support
- Access to collective wisdom of your peers
- Bi-monthly newsletter online or by email
Official BusinessPrint | Email
Steering Committee Meeting Summary
At our last steering committee, conducted on March 5th, the main topic of discussion was the process to which we would administer the logo competition within the organization. In the past, we had attempted to hire a professional to create a logo. However, our current understanding is that members felt the logos proposed at that time did not properly reflect the spirit of the organization. Aligning with the goals outlined in our visioning retreat, we hope that a new logo will contribute to our visual identity and help the organization become more visible within the architecture community. At the meeting, we finalized a timeline, specifications, and prize money for the competition. If you would like to participate in the competition, please view our logo competition flyer attached in the Call for Submissions article, above.
Sunday, May 7th, 4pm: Steering Committee Meeting
Tuesday, May 9th, 6:30pm: Building Tour, LightHouse for the Blind (see article above)
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