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The Window Project @machinaloci

Newsletter | Mar/Apr 2020

Volume 48:2
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If you would like to see corrections to this newsletter or to submit articles or suggestions for future newsletters please contact the Newsletter Editor.

In this issue:
At The table - Carol Mancke
Planning the Retreat - Rachel Slonicki

A note from your editor

by Mui Ho    |    Share #1393

Old Town Tallinn, Estonia

We have been under lockdown since midnight of March 17, 2020. At first, many of us did not take this Covid-19 as seriously as we should either we did not have enough information or too optimistic. This invisible virus is changing our lives and our community. We are in lockdown for over four weeks already and we are still not sure when we can return to partial normal.

Architects and designers are not immediately threatened by job loss and most of us are still working. We did learn to adapt ourselves to this new condition by working from our homes, distancing ourselves in job sites and zooming all our meetings. Other than work, we spend time talking to friends, taking care of family, walking around the neighborhood and helping out in our own immediate community. With this quiet time, we become more introspective and considerate. We read books that we always wanted to read and listen to music to sooth our fear and anxiety.

We hope you all stay home and keep safe.

At The table

by Carol Mancke    |    Share #1394

During fifteen years in London, I had transitioned from full-time employment as an architect to running a MArch program at a London University while developing an art and architecture collaborative practice. Eventually I hoped to open a public-facing project space for serious and playful research into alternative ways of being, thinking, and doing together. Moving back to the bay area in 2015 made this a real possibility for the first time and in the spring of 2018, I opened machinaloci space* in a shopfront on 63rd Street near Adeline in Berkeley.

Usually, at the center of machinaloci space is a ten-foot diameter modular table. Table 15 is the second large table I have built in the last five year. Finding it nearly impossible to talk about important issues with people who do not share my views, I wondered how I might approach this problem through an art/architecture practice. What could I do to try out ways to bring ideologically charged matters of concern to a table for temperate consideration? At the same time, I was thinking about something Hannah Arendt wrote in The Human Condition. She posited that our common world, made up of all the material and immaterial things we humans make together, is like a table that both gathers us together and keeps from falling over each other. Furthermore, this common world only becomes a shared reality when everyone can see the same identical thing, in all its different aspects, at the same time. Being rather literal minded, I wondered: if a table can stand in for the whole of human artifice, and if it is round and you and I are gathered with others around it, then our different positions would allow each of us to see things placed on it from different perspectives, at the same time. I wondered if I could I activate this metaphor. By experimenting with different kinds of gatherings around such a table, could I uncover some ideas for working with disagreement creatively?

Since 2017, Table 15 has hosted eleven public events. These have ranged from intimate gatherings at machinaloci space to a three-part public artwork, The Land and Me, commissioned by the City of Santa Rosa that culminated in a participatory performance event involving more than sixty people.** Also, in 2019, Machina Loci launched The Window Project @machinaloci space what I hope will be a series of commissioned artworks that transform the shopfront windows into an interface between public and private that contributes to the local conversation. The first of these is COMMON WEALTH, an installation by London-based artist Nicole Vinokur.

As I write this, machinaloci space is empty and Table 15 sits waiting until we can re-learn how to sit comfortably elbow-to-elbow in our shared world, to play, think, make, and dream together again. Once this is possible, machinaloci space will open its doors for:

At the table on market day : informal conversations about art and place Tuesday afternoons 3:30-5:00 (South Berkeley Farmer's Market)

Altered Territory : an exhibition and series of events developed by BulbLab, a loose collective of artists, dancers, poets, and designers that use the Albany Bulb as a field research station for creativity.***

The Window Project @ machinaloci space round 2: an installation by Adrian Arias.

It is always great to see fellow OWADP members at Machina Loci events. For more about Machina Loci visit

To find out what is happening at machinaloci space follow Machina Loci at and or write to me at to join the mailing list.

*Pronounced MAH-kee-nah-LOH-kee. I made up the name Machina Loci from ‘making’ or ‘machine’ and ‘locus’ or ‘place’. It can mean many different things like making places, place device, a place for making perhaps.
**The Land and Me was created in collaboration with artist/educator/writer Trena Noval.
***Curated by Susan Moffat and others

Planning the Retreat

by Rachel Slonicki    |    Share #1399

My dear friend and mentor, Mui Ho, newsletter editor, asked me to write a description of the role of the Retreat Administrator for OWA as a record for future administrators as well as to entice other members to take on this role when I finish my term. I have been the retreat administrator 3+ years. My responsibility is to select the date for the retreat which occurs in a September weekend that is not a religious or Labor Day holiday. This weekend retreat have been held in Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma California for the past years, I worked with Heather Sprague, the retreat treasurer to reserve the venue three years in advance.

There are many bookings and arrangements to manage regarding the retreat events. In October, a budget for the next retreat is created for OWA treasurer, Judy Rowe who will present it to the membership at the annual business meeting along with the previous year’s expenditures. Most of the planning of the retreat activities occurs between January and May.

The administrator works with the retreat committee members, retreat treasurer, steering committee, the webmaster, and the treasurer to pull together the events. During these months, save the date announcements and a retreat flyer are prepared and sent to the members. June is predominately spent contacting members to remind them of the early bird special. The summer months involve outreach to members to meet the minimum quota of attendees and sending the Ranch required paperwork. The retreat administrator fields requests for scholarships. In August, the month before the retreat, the retreat coordinator communicates with the staff at Westerbeke Ranch and with the treasurer to finalize tallies for meals, cabins, campers, and day use attendees. We issue a retreat packet, schedule, questionnaire, and coordinate carpools.

At the retreat, my responsible as the administrator is the greeting of guests, Ranch staff, presenters, and managing the events as the days unfold. The retreat treasurer pays the invoices for the various parties contributing services to the event. The retreat administrator is responsible for creating comfortable environment for the guests as well as addressing unforeseen circumstances as they might arise. At the end of the retreat, the retreat committee is selected from attendees who volunteer to plan the next year’s retreat. A list of topics is suggested by the attendees. The topics are voted on, documented, and establish thematic guidelines to plan the next year's events.

Janet Crane was the retreat administrator for approximately 30 years. Janet, Judy, and Heather have been valuable resources to navigate through the intricacies of the position. Mui suggested that the position might be a rotating position, maybe turning over every five years. Because of the myriad of details, it takes a year to shadow the previous administrator and then another year for them to shadow your planning. Reciprocal to the time and energy I have invested to fulfill my obligation, has been the kind notes and comments from members who appreciated their experiences at these annual gatherings.

Remembering Sandra Vivanco

by OWA members    |    Share #1398

Sandra Vivanco architect, educator and community activist passed away last week. She was influential with LiA SF and an important advocate for Latin women architects. We remember Sandra, her energy and enthusiasm from our yearly retreats. We will all miss her.

Hana Mori Bottger :
    The 2016 Retreat was subtitled "Transitions" - this was the year I met Sandra. We sat next to each other constructing our shadow-boxes filled with little objects marking transitions through our lives. I asked about hers, because she was just then placing a small lock of hair in her box. She said it was her daughter's hair.

Gilda Puente-Peters
    I am so sad to hear this news, Sandra was a wonderful person, friend and colleague. She was so generous and dedicated to support women architects and particularly Latin women.

Darlene Jang :
    I am saddened to learn of the passing of Sandra Vivanco, AIA, in early April. Sandra was founder of A+D, Architecture + Design, in San Francisco, an advocate for Latin women and diversity in architecture, an educator, and a member of our OWA community. I admire her contributions at the last OWA+DP retreat and LiA events. Her passion, energy, and contributions to women and diversity issues will be greatly missed.”

    Sandra was active in many organizations, including LiASF. Lara Bachmann, AIA, Founding LiASF Chair, and Homer Perez, AIA, 2020 LiaSF Chair, wrote: “Her enormous generosity and limitless contribution - not just to LiASF - but to our AIASF committees, in addition the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), the Organization of Women Architects (OWA), valuable member of Equity by Design and her Professorship at the California College of the Arts (CCA) makes our hearts very heavy.”

    Her many achievements include practicing architecture in Japan, Portugal, Peru, Italy, Mexico and Brazil, according to her CCA bio. She was associated with Portuguese Pritzker prize winner Alvaro Siza in 1990. She is currently the Architect of Record for The Mexican Museum of San Francisco under construction on Mission Street near New Montgomery.

    The CCA bio said Sandra as well known as a “LatinX cultural expert with profound knowledge of modern art and architecture in Latin America.” It noted how she “skillfully synthesizes theory and practice,” citing “the permanent built intervention by her students at Plaza Adelante, a community service and art center for Latin immigrants.”
    Sandra was also “a San Francisco Mission neighborhood resident and activist, an avid dancer, and a proud mother of two public school graduates,” the CAA bio said.

    In 2018, she won a Stewardson Keefe LeBrun Travel Grant from the Center for Architecture and AIA New York to study projects of six notable Latin American women in architecture.

    In a 2016 interview with ByDesign Magazine (an e-zine published by CASA alumni) she spoke about her undergraduate experience at the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design, where she received her B.A. in 1985. She noted in particular the impact of the Chicano Architectural Student Association played.

    “They were definitely an influential cohort for me…. That convivium raised by political consciousness in terms of class, race, political and ethnic conflict. This experience definitely contributed to the professional I am today.”

    Sandra was born in Peru and grew up in Lima. “It’s not as gentle as the Bay Area,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle in a 2003 feature about the expansion of her 1911 Edwardian home.

Photograph mui Ho

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