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Newsletter | May/Jun 2016

Volume 44:3 | Search

If you would like to see corrections to this newsletter or to submit articles or suggestions for future newsletters please contact the Newsletter Editor at newsletter@owa-usa.org.

In this issue:

Get to Know a Member in 5 Questions

by Leslie Golden    | Print | Email

Who am I? A daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother and a friend. But professionally, so proud to say I am a landscape architect! I am so fortunate to be one of the few people to feel I have never “worked” because I enjoy my profession so much that it is hard to turn it off. Every space and place I visit is mentally critiqued. Do I like it, am I comfortable, is it special and am I inspired? If I am, I ask “How can I bring this into my own work”? If I am not, “What would I do differently?” I am always having fun growing professionally and working with other professionals that share that same passion.

What do I do? I am passionate about creating innovative and sustainable landscape solutions that create a unique sense of place. While I am the team leader, I am well aware that it takes a team to make great projects. I am so thankful to have developed significant professional relationships with my talented colleagues! It has been a pleasure working with them for almost two decades to create memorable places. I have enjoyed developing our practice together and building a great portfolio of work.

1. How has someone’s mentoring made a difference in your life or career?

I think joining the OWA has made a difference in my personal and professional life. I enjoyed working with a team of all women learning new marketing skills, exchanging business advice, sharing fun, attending retreats and traveling together. I am looking forward to increasing my participation in the future. I have made many very meaningful friendships within this organization.

2. What is your next big goal for yourself, personally or professionally?

I recently sold my company to a large engineering firm in the mid-west and I am looking forward to working nationally through their offices in Atlanta, Detroit, Texas, Phoenix and Denver! I have just hired my first employee in Phoenix, and am expanding nationally! Super exciting opportunities are out there! While the majority of our work has been in the public sector, I am very proud of our work on many corporate campuses in Silicon Valley. We are looking forward to pushing the boundaries of our work to help our clients improve the users’ experience and assist with employee retention. The campus work is really fun!

3. In a parallel life, what would be your line of work?

I can’t think of a better career path for me at all. I started college as an art student and was so fortunate to find Landscape Architecture. I love the opportunity to overlay my artistic expression with the functional aspects of each project. It is a much larger canvas than I ever could have imagined. I could not have been happier in any other path.

4. What has changed since you started in your field?

The last decade has transformed the field of Landscape Architecture. We are now a fully accepted member of the design team. Previously, since our work came last and was thought of as a beneficial but not a necessary element to the project, it was often value engineered out of the scope of work. Our discipline is now essential to the completion of each project and integral in meeting the stormwater requirements in an aesthetically pleasing manner. As steward of the environment and with Bay Friendly Landscape Professionals on staff, we are proud to lead the efforts to conserve our limited resources through sustainable landscape solutions. It is up to all of us to help heal the mistakes of previous development practices and educate our clients to build in a more responsible manner.

5. Has your career path been shaped by being a woman?

Back in the 1960s, boys took drafting and shop and girls took home economics and sewing. I needed special dispensation from the principal to let me take the boys’ track of courses. I was the only girl and got used to having to prove myself in the predominantly male world. I found this was the place that I excelled, and I even entered the UC Berkeley Master of Architecture program to get the respect of the architects I had been working with. I think being a mom and having the opportunity to develop my career on my own time frame and schedule really helped shape my career. I squeezed the work in between playdates, school trips and basketball competitions. Sometimes it felt like I couldn’t juggle one more thing, but the challenge of the next project was intoxicating. I have been fortunate that the City of Oakland had the local business requirement: that provision allowed me to get my first job for the City of Oakland. Since then, being a certified Small Local Business (SLBE) and a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) were useful in teaming opportunities with engineers and architects. I would encourage anyone starting their own firm to get these certifications, place them on your business cards and market to larger entities needing to fulfill the small business requirements.

Galen Cranz talks about Ethnography for Designers

by Naomi Horowitz    | Print | Email

Galen gave us an overview of her background, the books that were formative in her intellectual development, the historical context of her career, and the long gestation of her new book, before guiding us through a hands-on exercise.

Interests in sociology and architecture were together almost from the beginning for Galen, and she considered leaving sociology for architecture, before finding a path and a supportive professor that enabled her to combine her two callings. Her timing was excellent: At the moment she finished her Ph.D., Pruitt Igoe had recently imploded (by social collapse, followed by actual demolition), and architects were having a crisis about how to design buildings that worked for their users. This opened the way for Galen to teach social factors to architects, first at Princeton and then at UC Berkeley.

Galen mentioned a number of books that inspired her. For anyone who wants to read not only Galen’s book, but its precursors, you may want to look at the following:
    Konrad Lorenz, Studies in Animal and Human Behavior (Harvard University Press, 1971)
    Kevin Lynch, The Image of the City (MIT Press, 1960)
    David McCurdy, James Spradley and Dianna Shandy, The Cultural Experience: Ethnography in Complex Society (Waveland Press, 2004)
    Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Bloomsbury Academic, 2000)
    William Foote Whyte, Street Corner Society: The Social Structure of an Italian Slum (University of Chicago Press, 1993)

Note that some of these books are classics, and the year listed above may be a reissue, and not the original publication date.

The ideas in The Cultural Experience, in particular, were the basis for much of what Galen has taught over the years. However, she found it necessary to adapt and supplement it in order to make it more accessible and relevant to her architecture students. From this effort came a workbook that expanded over the course of decades until Galen finally realized that it should be a book in its own right. The result was Ethnography for Designers, available as of May of this year from Routledge.

Galen then outlined her ethnography process, which includes the following steps:
1. Pick a site. Go and look around and note what you think needs changing. Write this down, so you can compare it to the solution you reach at the end of the process.
2. Find an informant. This person doesn’t need to be typical of the group, but rather should be selected for being well informed and talkative.
3. Interview the informant without asking leading questions. Whatever they bring up first is likely the most salient. Ask them to expand on each point. Don’t say that you want to know the problems, just ask what they think. We did a warm-up exercise, describing the room the lecture took place in. Our words included "ugly, disorderly, worn out, no one cares, blocked views" (sorry Wurster 172!).
4. Figure out the design implications.

Galen then challenged us to put step 3 of the process into practice. We broke into groups of three, with one interviewer, one interviewee, and one observer, whose task was to take notes and help the interviewer stay on track. Our subject, rather than a particular space, was the interviewee’s typical day. The simple process of asking questions and listening to the answers turns out to be surprisingly difficult. Seemingly innocent questions already had expectations embedded in them. There was also an unexpected amount of transformation and interpretation between what the interviewee said, what we heard, and what we reflected back to them. For example, in our group, the interviewee talked about feeling, at the end of the day, that everything had been “just in time” planning. I heard this as a feeling of relief, and the interviewer heard this as a feeling of success, neither of which were precisely what the interviewee meant or said. In another group, the interviewee mentioned goals, and the interviewer then asked about projects, which wasn’t exactly where the interviewee was intending to head in the conversation. In order to draw someone out without directing them, it is critical to stick with their actual words.

Programs

by Carol Mancke and Rebecca Friedberg    | Print | Email

July 12 SFO Tour

The women’s group at the Design+Construction division of San Francisco International Airport invites OWA+DP for a program about their vision for the airport and how they make it happen through design standards and collaborative team work. The program will start with a tour of one of the recently renovated terminals at 6:00 pm, continue with a visit to the ‘big room’ where a team of contractors, architects and engineers are working together on two new projects for Terminal 1, and finish with networking and refreshments provided by one of the airport’s many excellent food concessions. Please be on the lookout for an email invitation very soon!

Date: Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Time: Meet at 5:45 for 6:00 pm start
Meeting place: SFO Terminal 2 (exact meeting point TBD)

July 24 Picnic at City Slicker Farms

Please join us for a casual potluck picnic at the newly-opened City Slicker Farms' West Oakland Farm-Park. We will gather around noon on the grassy lawn to socialize and enjoy the sunshine. At 1:00 pm we will take an informal tour around the park to view the farm area and community garden. Partners and kids are welcome!

OWA+DP will provide ice, paper plates, cups and utensils. Please bring drinks and food to share.

City Slicker Farms organizes low-income children, youth and adults in West Oakland and across Alameda County to grow, distribute and eat more healthy, fresh produce.

This event is free, but please let us know if you’re coming by registering at Eventbrite. If you would like to make a donation, it will be passed directly to City Slicker Farms. You can even make a donation if you can't attend! To make a direct donation to CSF click here.

Date: Sunday, July 24, 2016
Time: 12:00 - 3:00 pm
Meeting Place: West Oakland Farm Park - Peralta Street between Hannah and Helen, Oakland, CA 94608

Steering Committee Meeting Highlights

by Cynthia Bathgate    | Print | Email

Highlights of our June 12th Meeting include:

- The Steering Committee continued their discussion on visioning retreat tasks. Operations Action Champion Allison Kinst also attended the meeting and drafted up proposals for both Steering Committee operations, and a new transition meeting format.
- A central theme to the meeting was how to keep the general member base connected with Steering Committee operations and each other.
- All tasks will follow quarterly goals and will be posted in a visioning retreat folder. Some action champions will need to form a subcommittee to complete their tasks. Contact the steering committee if you would like to get more involved.
- New event: City Slickers Farm Tour & Picnic. Sunday, July 24th. 12 - 3 pm.
- We would like to hold at least two casual meet-ups this year. These casual meet-ups will consist of dinner & a topic of discussion. We are currently seeking volunteers to hold the event at their house. Please contact the program coordinators if you would like to host.

Current members who log into the OWA+DP website can see full minutes of Steering Committee meetings here.

The Underground Architect Who Saved Paris

by Jackie Morgan    | Print | Email

While reading a book about Paris, I came across the name of an architect I had never heard of: Charles Axel Guillaumot, a French architect who studied in Italy and at twenty won the Prix de Rome. He had a talent for repairing other architect’s shoddy work, which brought him unsatisfying commissions, and he struggled to make a name for himself. Finally, in 1777, when he was in his forties, he was appointed by King Louis XVI to be inspector of quarries.

On his first day on the job, a large section of Paris collapsed into a large hole. The Gauls and the Romans had dug their building stone from quarries near the Seine. As Paris spread, they used as much stone as they could to build the city, leaving just enough (or not quite enough) to support the buildings above.

While the king’s ministers complained about the expense of Versailles, Guillaumot was constructing and repairing the largest architectural project in all of Europe and no one tried to reduce his budget. The whole underworld of more than 180 miles of tunnels was mapped. A mile long section of a Roman aqueduct was repaired. Guillaumot had all nine centuries of graveyards - with approximately 6 million corpses - transported to an ossuary he had built underground to solve overcrowding in the city’s cemeteries. There were walls of bones, friezes of skulls and other ornamental arrangement of bones. Today, visitors to Paris can visit more than a mile of the ossuary tunnel.

Guillaumot was imprisoned for two years during the French revolution but continued his work until his death in 1807. Similar collapses continued in later years. For example, in 1879 three houses separated from the rest of their block and disappeared. Such incidents are comparatively rare now, with only about 10 small sinkholes appearing every year. However, the tunnels have had a lasting effect on the form of the city: due to the extensive underground tunnels, Paris has been unable to have the vertical urban growth seen in other modern cities.

For more on this subject, see Parisians, An Adventure History of Paris, by Graham Robb (W.W. Norton & Co., reprinted 2011)

Members

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Members News

Galen Cranz gave a keynote address "Renaturalizing the City" to the joint conference of the European Association for Architectural Education and the Architectural Research Centers Consortium on June 16, 2016, in Lisbon, Portugal. Her only previous visit to Lisbon was in 2005 on a return from the Cape Verde Islands to Italy when the connecting flight was delayed about a half day. A woman kindly invited Galen to her family's apartment to sleep for 4 hours, which she did, so she hadn't really seen Lisbon before, and told us that this time she was looking forward to visiting the city and its Roman ruins, and experiencing Siza's work.

Welcome New Members

We welcome the following members who recently joined OWA+DP:
Hannah Chatham
Riko Yoshida

We hope you will get involved, come to events, and get to know your fellow members.

We also thank everyone who has renewed their membership in the last two months.




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