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Traditionally, the planner and architect are seldom seen as advocates for the urban poor, especially with the ongoing competition for so-called starchitects to produce “iconic” buildings for a global market; but the tone of architecture culture has changed.

This panel will focus on the intersection between activism and architecture by emphasizing the architect-as-activist as an agent for driving the development of places worth living in. Panelists will discuss how architects and planners, together with social activists, have begun to work with marginalized groups in cities to design alternatives for new urban renewal projects. In a city like New York with a long history of social activism, architects and planners increasingly play an important role in shaping the community and bringing underrepresented and sometimes opposing ideals and voices to the foreground.

Under what conditions has activism challenged the culture of architectural education and practice? Which areas remain unchallenged? How has the design field risen to meet different social agendas? The luminaries and new voices on this event’s panel will address these questions, connecting historic events to the evolution of the field and design practices of the time.

Andrea J. Merrett, PhD Candidate, Columbia University; Co-Curator, Architexx’s Now What?! Advocacy, Activism, and Allies in American Architecture Since 1968
Daphne Lundi, Urban Planner. NYC Department of City Planning; Vice Chair, APA New York Metro Chapter Diversity Committee
Jae Shin, Designer and Partner, Hector
Cindy McLaughlin, CEO, Envelope

Melissa Marsh, Co-Chair and Co-Founder, AIANY Social Science and Architecture Committee

Andrea J. Merrett is a PhD candidate in architecture at Columbia University writing her dissertation on the history of feminism in American architecture. Her research has received support through a Buell Center Oral History Prize, a Schlesinger Library Oral History Grant, and the Milka Bliznakov Prize from the International Archive of Women in Architecture. She is co-curator, along with Sarah Rafson, Lori Brown, and Roberta Washington, of Architexx’s travelling exhibition Now What?! Advocacy, Activism, and Allies in American Architecture Since 1968.

Daphne Lundi is an urban planner focused on climate resilience and neighborhood planning at the NYC Department of City Planning. She is the Vice Chair of APA New York Metro Chapter Diversity Committee, and a youth planning education coordinator. She serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Octavia Project, a science-fiction summer program for teen girls and non-binary youth that uses the lens of science fiction to explore computer science, engineering, writing, and design. She is a 2017 Urban Design Forum Forefront Fellow and a member of BlackSpace, a collective of Black urbanists in New York City that work to bridge the gaps between policy, people, and place to address inequality and injustice.

Jae Shin is a designer and partner at Hector. She recently served as an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), where she facilitated efforts to define and implement design principles for preserving and rehabilitating New York City’s public housing. She holds degrees in painting from Rhode Island School of Design and architecture from Princeton University. Her projects have received support from the MacDowell Colony and the National Endowment for the Arts, and she has led design studios at New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Cindy McLaughlin is CEO of Envelope, a 3D software company that allows users to search for and visualize NYC real estate development potential under zoning constraints. Prior to Envelope, Cindy held CEO and President roles in a range of technology companies, from fashion tech to prison tech. Cindy has an MBA from MIT/Sloan, a BA from Mount Holyoke College, and spent two years in Congo as a Water/Sanitation volunteer for the US Peace Corps.

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Organized by
AIANY Social Science and Architecture Committee
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