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PechaKucha Night is Tomorrow Night!

Meet the Co-Chairs    You have both been a part of SDAF for a while. What made you decide to co-chair this year’s PKN? Larry: Good question! I have been a PKN speaker going back probably more than a decade. And, after having been a speaker quite a few times, …

Meet the Co-Chairs 

 

You have both been a part of SDAF for a while. What made you decide to co-chair this year’s PKN?

Larry: Good question! I have been a PKN speaker going back probably more than a decade. And, after having been a speaker quite a few times, both at the San Diego Architectural Foundation and a couple of other PKN’s around town, a couple of people at the foundation asked me to be a moderator for a PKN event. And that was about eight years ago, maybe seven, and we had a good time! So for a while, it became a thing that I would moderate whenever they couldn’t find another person (sometimes they brought in celebrity moderators, radio personalities, and some good people who wrote for the San Diego Reader and various other great moderators.)

But I was the backup, and it worked out. I tried to be funny, and I think we had fun! So, anyway, that’s how I got into it, and I got to know PKN as a community outreach tool. I like how it touches on different aspects of design and the nature of cities and communities. It’s a valuable event.

I recently spoke with David, a member of SDAF’s Board of Directors, about becoming a board member. He said that would be great and that they needed a co-chair for PKN events. So, I said, let’s do it! We met and talked, and both agreed this was a good project. We’re excited to start up again now that we’re (hopefully) emerging out of the pandemic. I’m excited to see what we can put together in the future!

David: Yes, I was the one that talked Larry into speaking at a PKN so many years ago. I think it may have been one of our first events.  I had a minimal idea of what I was doing at the time, and I had never met Larry. Someone told me that he was this fascinating professor at SDSU that had a good handle on Latin American Urban Studies. I spent a quarter in college studying urban design in Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina, so I knew that Larry and I would get along.

At the time, very few people knew what PKN was, so I think when I reached out to Larry to ask him to speak at one, I’m sure he wondered who is this guy and what is this weird event he is trying to do…and who gave him my number! Nevertheless, I successfully talked him into it, and yes, we hit it off very well. Larry was a captivating speaker, the crowd loved his presentation, and I asked him back again and again. Since he never said no, and became a crowd favorite over time, it made great sense for him to start moderating.

The rest is history, Larry and I have become good friends over the years, and now the fun continues as we are now planning these things together.

Last year PechaKucha Night had to be canceled because of the COVID virus. What does this year’s in-person PKN event look like?

Larry: When I came in as co-chair with David, I said to him, “Let’s try some experiments and do some things a little bit differently.” One idea I had was to try to get some live music started before the event begins. Because what happens? People come into the event space and maybe get some food, a glass of wine or something, and then everybody’s standing around. It’s a lot of fun, and people know each other – many designers, artists, and people in this world that we’re all in, we all know each other. So I thought it’d be cool to have a little music in the background – make it a festive occasion!

We’re also thinking about finding new and interesting locations. For example, the South Bay, which is between downtown and the border, is a unique San Diego area. It would be incredible to represent Latino and communities of color. PKN has reached out to those communities before, but we want to continue doing that and finding additional locations.

The third thing that I felt strongly about was finding different speakers from various backgrounds. David mentioned to me jokingly that he hasn’t always been successful getting women to speak. So I pushed to include more women speakers. Three women are speaking at the upcoming June 10th PKN event, and we’re incredibly pleased about that. We’re hoping to get a variety of speakers from different backgrounds for future PKN events.

David: I like that Larry has new ideas for the program; I think they will only improve it. People in the AED fields are looking for creative social outlets in their lives, and unfortunately, there are very few of these types of things in this town. PKN is precisely that, and I think that’s why it has become so popular for the” creative class.” The cool thing is that Larry’s an eccentric gentleman with incredible ideas and gets it! I think his contribution will put future events over the top, and I’m looking forward to it!

In what way does the PKN program benefit the San Diego Community?

Larry: Well, in several ways! It’s a fun, entertaining way to introduce people to essential issues in urban design, architecture, the built environment, sustainability, creative arts, public art, and so many things that are going on in that region that many people don’t know about. The idea of PKN is to make it an accessible, easily digestible format –  20 images, 20 seconds per image.

It’s not easy to get up there and do your thing in such a packed venue from the speaker side of things! It’s a challenge for the speakers to say something in such a short amount of time and do it entertaining way. I think the audience appreciates that, and it doesn’t take a lot of concentration from them. It’s a fun way to be introduced to a new set of ideas!

David: Additional to Larry’s points, PKN gives everyone the ability to be heard in a large crowd setting. Often, only a small group of voices is heard in every society. These are the celebrities, the famous, the highly opinionated, or the wealthy. PKN gives the mic to anyone that has something to say and wants an opportunity to say it to an audience. There are a few rules.  No promotions, nothing vulgar or offensive, and no politics or religion. Pretty simple. And the great thing is that each PKN presentation is short and sweet, so in total, the event runs 6 minutes and 40 seconds, to be exact.  So, if what one presenter has to say is not of interest to someone in the audience, the next one will be coming up quickly. That’s the beauty of the program.

Why do you think it’s important?

Larry: As someone who’s been an educator, I think it’s essential. I’ve always wanted to take my game outside the university and deliver it to a larger audience. I’ve written many op-ed pieces for publications and journals over the years. I asked myself how I can translate this set of ideas to a broader audience? Well, PKN is a way to do that. It’s getting people who are doing fascinating work that maybe other folks don’t know about, put it out there, and have a little bit of fun along the way – you have a big crowd of people in celebration mode! It’s a way for people to get together and experience community and an enjoyable way to get people to think about cities and where they live. It started in Japan and spread all over the world.

The fact that we’re hosting a PKN event in San Diego is a credit to all the creative folks who’ve supported this for a long time, and I’m happy to be part of it!

David: PKN is one of a kind in San Diego; it’s an outlet for the creative types who likely spend hours in their workspaces planning, coordinating, building, etc. PKN is our opportunity to get out, see what’s happening with others in our industries, get inspired, and be a part of our community. This type of event is rare in San Diego. I think everyone who attends PKN appreciates this opportunity to take a break from the long hours of the things that we do during our work weeks.

David: To add to the history, PKN was started in Tokyo in 2003 by a Danish and English architect team (Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham) practicing in Tokyo. They opened a nightclub in a basement in a downtown neighborhood. The club was called Super Deluxe, and they did this as their “night-time job.” PKN was always Thursday night at Super Deluxe. Crazy enough, this spread worldwide like a wildfire and is now in over 1200 cities.

What do you want to see come out of this event?

Larry: What I’d like to see is to jumpstart the idea of PKN community events and for people to come back out and begin to think about how we can open up and start being out in the world again supporting our communities. But at the same time, I am aware that on June 10th, we’re still inside the cutoff, and we have to take precautions. We will be asking people to wear masks in the building. An open-aired outside patio exists there, so people can go outside and probably take their masks off. People will have to continue to be vigilant, though.

But I hope that this is the beginning of getting back out and doing live events because it’s different. You can hold PKN as a Zoom event, but it’s just not the same experience that way. It’s the crowd’s energy when someone’s presenting, and people are having fun laughing and enjoying themselves. The images are more significant than just seeing them on your screen. I would say that’s really what this hopefully will be – a celebration of PKN and being out in community events like this.

David: I hope that everyone has fun, people engage, share, and connect to some new ideas, concepts, or creative projects through this. A friend that studied at Cal Arts in Los Angeles told me that Walt Disney created Cal Arts because he believed that artist usually worked in silos in their particular industry. Still, if you brought them together in one place where they could all study and collaborate, amazing things would happen. I believe that this is true today, and PKN is one event that brings us all together. On June 10th, we will be bringing together artists, architects, builders, sculptors, photographers, and the like. People will share and connect and hopefully walk away with a new perspective.

What is your favorite part of PKN?

Larry: Sometimes, it can get pretty noisy at PKN’s because people drink, talk to people, and have fun. But when the speakers are really good, there’s a buzz in the room, and the crowd quiets down. They get more excited to hear the next speaker. And the speaker has their own experience. That’s what I like – when the speakers are engaging, and people are listening and enjoying it and having fun. That’s an exciting moment for me.

David: PKN is like the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box – you never know what you’re going to get, but you nevertheless can’t wait to get to it. Unlike Cracker Jack’s, you’re never disappointed. Every PKN is so different. We like it and strive to keep it that way. My favorite part is watching it unfold and see what happens.

Co-Chair/Emcee. Lawrence Herzog (Ph.D.) is a writer and lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies & Planning at UC San Diego, Professor emeritus of city planning in the School of Public Affairs at SDSU, and author/editor of 11 books on urban planning, design, and global/cross-border development, most recently Global Suburbs: Urban Sprawl from the Rio Grande to Rio de Janeiro (Routledge, 2015).

Co-Chair. David McCullough is a graduate of the nationally-ranked Landscape Architecture department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and formed McCullough Landscape Architecture (along with his wife Catherine) in 1999. As Principal Landscape Architect, David oversees all aspects of the design and production of all projects, many of which have earned awards and recognition in national publications.

 

We’ll see you Thursday, June 10th at 6 pm at Bread & Salt! Please know that COVID rules require everyone to wear a mask, and the limit will be 50% capacity inside. Late arrivals might not be allowed inside once capacity is reached as there is an interior limit of 150 registrants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PechaKucha Night is Around the Corner!

Getting to Know the Speakers  PechaKucha Night is in seven days on Thursday, June 10th at 6 pm at Bread & Salt in Barrio Logan! This year’s selected topic is Post-Pandemic Innovation and Design: Reflections from the San Diego-Tijuana Region.  Take some time to get to know our speakers! Included in our speaker line-up is …

Getting to Know the Speakers 

PechaKucha Night is in seven days on Thursday, June 10th at 6 pm at Bread & Salt in Barrio Logan! This year’s selected topic is Post-Pandemic Innovation and Design: Reflections from the San Diego-Tijuana Region. 

Take some time to get to know our speakers! Included in our speaker line-up is M.R. BarnabasJohn Raymond Mireles, Jorge Ozorno, Robert Wellington Quigley, Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio, Melissa Walter, and Ron Miriello.

M.R. Barnabas

MR Barnadas is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and researcher dedicated to engaging with the public domain. MR (Melinda) was born in Montreal to parents from Trinidad and Peru and grew up across North America. She holds a BFA from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago in Painting/Art & Technology and an MFA in Visual Arts with a Public Culture focus from the University of California San Diego. Ms. Branadas conducted a year of Regional Studies in Mexican Art and Craft at the Universidad de las Américas, Puebla, in between her other studies. She has instructed at Woodberry University School of Architecture, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Tijuana, California, San Diego, and Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Germany. She has been a fellow of the UCSD Center on Global Justice. She is currently residing in the borderland city of San Diego, producing public art commissioned works with the City of San Diego and Port of San Diego on behalf of Collective Magpie.

Benjamin Longwell

Benjamin Longwell is a San Diego native, and at only 32 years old, he is one of the youngest developers/owner-builders in San Diego. After graduating from USD in 2010, Benjamin began working for a boutique real estate development company in San Diego. He learned everything from commercial leasing to hands-on real estate development.

In 2017, Benjamin completed a successful multi-family living development in University Heights called Exotic Gardens. Benjamin then formed The Society of Master Craftsman in 2018 to experiment with Urban Infill Development. He just completed a mixed-use community in Normal Heights, Orchid, in April 2021 and is projecting to start construction on his next project, Daffodil, a mixed-use collective in Logan Heights, this fall.

John Raymond Mireles

John Raymond Mireles believes that fences provide an opportunity for connection, not division. What began as a visual display of his neighbors (through his fence) in San Diego’s Barrio Logan neighborhood, Mireles’ Neighbors Project, has grown into a portrait of series that features a variety of 86 Americans from all 50 states with fences.

Jorge Ozorno is the founder of Urbitecture and Jorge Ozorno Studio. His professional work includes all scales of design in the United States and Mexico. Jorge’s “Casa Romero” received the honor award by the AIA Chapter San Diego.

His practice as Architect as Developer includes several housing projects in San Diego. He is Assistant Professor and  International Network Champion at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design. Mexico, Europe, and the United States have exhibited his artwork related to UNESCO.

Rob Quigley

 

Rob Quigley is an architect, planner, and community activist. His work focuses on the geographic, social, and cultural elements that define a place. Concerned with both neighborhood making as he is with the building itself, Quigley’s projects are noted for his consideration of context and community.

His notable contributions include the new Central Library, the Children’s Museum, the Little Italy Focus Plan, the Balboa Park Activity Center, and the first modern SRO affordable housing projects.  Recent buildings include the LEED Platinum Ocean Discovery Institute and the Bayside Fire Station.

Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio is a Mexican artist whose work includes oil painting, drawing, muralism, and installation. Her current work in astrophysics, philosophy, and memory focuses on the concept of time and the transitions of change through the parallel perspectives of her individual narrative.

Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio

Most recently, she has been exploring public artwork. She received her MFA from the New York Academy of Art and a BA in Art History and Visual Arts at the University of San Diego. Ortiz-Rubio has exhibited her artwork internationally, in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and the United States, and such places as the Centro Cultural Tijuana, Quint Gallery, Biennial Maria Izquierdo in Guadalajara, Mexico, and has a permanent mural in San Diego and has work in the San Diego Civic Art Collection. She was an Artist in Residence at the Chavon School of Design in the Dominican Republic and the Bread & Salt Gallery in San Diego. She currently teaches drawing and painting at the University of San Diego.

Melissa Walter

Melissa Walter is a San Diego abstract, mixed-media artist. Her practice is rooted in observation, research, and translation. Conceptually, Walter often gravitates toward topics concerning astrophysics as a response to her past experience as a science illustrator. Recently her work began evolving to consider the study of neurology and forensic science while visualizing using more visceral and intuitive gestures.

Walter received her BFA in studio art from the University of Rhode Island in 1998. She was an artist in residence at 1805 Gallery and Bread & Salt. While there, she participated in exhibitions at the Smithsonian’s S. Dillon Ripley Center, Quint Gallery, Ice Gallery, Warehouse9 (DK), Torrance Art Museum, La Caja Galeria (MX), and the San Diego International Airport.

Ron Miriello

Ron Miriello is a designer, collector, and restorer of Italian steel bicycles. He lives part-time in Italy, where he documents the artisans who still make crafted bicycles. He is also co-leading the restoration of a barracks in Liberty Station to restore them into a community-wide bicycle center for San Diego and Northern Baja. With e-bike evolution, the growing relevance of cycling during the pandemic, and cycling’s role in making urban life more sustainable. Miriello believes these developments will remain as rich subject matter in the future.

Sign up today! And remember, attendance is FREE, but registration is highly suggested! 

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October 7th, Save the Date! SDAF’s 45th Orchids & Onions Event!

O&O Interview with John D. Martinez We can’t believe it’s already been 45 years since the San Diego Architectural Foundation has held its first annual Onions & Orchids event! In anticipation, we spoke to this year’s Chair of O&O, John Martinez, and learned how this year will be a bit …

O&O Interview with John D. Martinez

We can’t believe it’s already been 45 years since the San Diego Architectural Foundation has held its first annual Onions & Orchids event! In anticipation, we spoke to this year’s Chair of O&O, John Martinez, and learned how this year will be a bit different by expanding to a broader audience. This way, more people can not only learn about San Diego’s unique and beautiful built environment, but they can also have their voices heard!

O&O Event Chair, John D. Martinez

What made you decide to chair this event?

I’ve been involved with Orchids & Onions for the last five years as a volunteer, and the more I became involved, the more I thought how important it is for San Diego to discuss how we can all improve our built environment. And the second reason is it’s a lot of fun! We always have a blast as a committee putting on this event. And so hopefully, this year will be as fun as years past!

Last year O&O went virtual. Will this year’s event be in person or virtual?

This year it’ll be both! We are going to do a hybrid event. Everything that we learned last year with COVID will help us propel this year’s event into something we’ve never done before – a hybrid event, having both a virtual experience and an in-person experience. So, whether you are in a theater in San Diego or Tokyo, it will be a lot of fun!

Having meetings via Zoom brings a broader audience!

Exactly. The more people learn, the more surprised they are that our built environment is rich and known as the City of Villages – a collection of neighborhoods like Hillcrest, University Heights, Barrio Logan, Kensington, etc. Each has its own unique character, and the City of Villages concept has been used to promote smart growth and walkable communities. Throughout the entire city, there are many notable examples of different styles, periods, and new cutting-edge design that is taking place that we are assisting in showcasing this year.

 Many people are excited to be in person again, but there’s a lot of very hesitant groups, and that’s understandable. Holding it as a hybrid event allows people to join that may still be uncomfortable going out without a mask, or maybe even out at all right now. A hybrid event allows us to serve more of the San Diego community and beyond.

In what way does the O&O program benefit the San Diego Community?

We pass by buildings and parks and plazas and sculpture every day and in our lives. During 2020 a lot of people were at home, and they were walking around their neighborhoods. And I think we have these experiences every day, but at the same time, we’re not able to discuss what is built in our neighborhoods. And this is that one event a year that we can have that conversation and kind of show-off or critique the things built in our neighborhoods and hopefully learn from others.

John D. Martinez

What do you want to see come out of this event?

What I’d love to see is – because we have spent a year apart – is people getting back together again and sharing experiences that we missed out on over the last year.

In addition to that, many great things are happening in National City right now – also San Ysidro, Lemon Grove, Julian, Pacific Beach, and La Jolla. We should focus on what’s happening in these other communities.

What’s unique about San Diego is that we are continually growing and changing so rapidly that it sometimes feels like being a tourist around our own communities. Things are constantly evolving which means we can always go out and check out what’s new.

I think we already touched on this, but why do you think it’s important?

It’s essential to have this dialogue and learn from each other. What is being built or already built in our neighborhoods doesn’t often get a lot of spotlights. And as architects, designers, and different professions in the community, we can all learn from each other. We can share the experiences and the richness that we bring in – our diversity, our community. It’s critical to the success of San Diego to always be learning from one another.

Hearing each other’s perspectives and sharing those differences are opportunities to do that. I get many ideas from other designers and projects throughout the city, and this is our one chance every year where we can showcase those ideas.

What is your favorite part of O&O?

My favorite part is probably the jury tour. We get to go with the jury and tour all the projects nominated by the public throughout the month of June. The tour is at the end of July, and we go from site to site. It’s fantastic to see the diversity of opinions between the jurors, and one juror may look at a building and think it’s the best building ever. And the next year someone may say that it’s the worst building they’ve ever seen in their life. And then they both kind of hash it out. I get why they think the way they do. It’s great to witness that discussion and lead the process to keep things fair. But just being able to hear that conversation happen in person is a lot of fun.

It would be interesting to have people sketch the O&O buildings and see their perspectives!

Since you mentioned sketching, that’s something that we’re going to be doing a little bit differently this year. We have a variety of programs that SDAF provides, and KidSketch, a BEEP program that is geared toward the youth. And last year, we incorporated a youth jury as part of the process. They shared their input along with our professional jury in selecting an Orchids & Onions audience, and we’re going to be doing that again this year.

Along with that, we’re going to do a KidSketch of one of the Orchids & Onions winners projects from last year. It’s great to see the cross-promotion between our programs. Design happens at such a young age. I think a lot of people start this from a young age. To provide these programs and opportunities for kids to get out there to sketch and learn from other architects is incredible.

At the same time, it’s never too late to start those talents. I didn’t wake up at twenty-five and decide I wanted to get into architecture. Sketching is something that I need help with, too. So yeah, I think these programs allow us to get out of our homes and see a building or a public space. And being able to get together and experience it together is fun.

Last year SDAF sponsored a fundraiser to raise scholarship funds in partnership with SDNOMA. Are you doing it again this year?  

Yes. We had such remarkable success in that. There’s a great need for that. It wasn’t just for last year; it’s just as important this year, if not more. We had a considerable amount of people contribute to that scholarship fund. We’re looking to expand on that this year. And again, shed a spotlight on not only the lack of diversity in our neighborhoods but also in our professions.

That’s all I have unless you want to add something else.

June 7th is when we will be kicking off a call for nominations, and I’m excited for them to start coming in! People will be able to log in to our website and submit pictures and information about their favorite and least favorite places in their neighborhoods and be able to comment on those as well.

Thank you, John! We’re excited, too! 

 

 

 

 

 

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45th Annual Orchids & Onions

Jury Announcement Drum roll, please! Here we are again, ready to announce our Jury for this year’s 45th Orchids & Onions event coming October 7th!  This year is going to be a hybrid event…in-person and live streaming!  Architect: Gemma Hsiueh  Gemma is a Registered Architect & Principal at RNT Architects who (mainly, but not …

Jury Announcement

Drum roll, please! Here we are again, ready to announce our Jury for this year’s 45th Orchids & Onions event coming October 7th! 

This year is going to be a hybrid event…in-person and live streaming! 

Architect: Gemma Hsiueh 

Gemma is a Registered Architect & Principal at RNT Architects who (mainly, but not only) create incredible institutional architecture such as the City College Campus. There is an excellent interview with Gemma for you to get to know her in her Unfamiliar Voices video.

Architect & Developer: Jeff Svitak 

Jeff trained under prominent San Diego Architect Sebastian Mariscal in the Developer as Architect mindset and has had a successful career working on custom homes and some of our city’s most dynamic mixed-use developments. Jeff’s use of space, light, and materiality is fantastic in every project.

Architect & HRB Member: Matthew Winter 

Matthew is LPA San Diego’s Director of Mixed-Use Projects. He sits on the Historic Resources Board and the Pacific Beach Town Council, and formerly on the Uptown Community Plan. He’s a heck of a nice guy, a great storyteller, and a solid chap to have a beer and a laugh with!

Designer: Rachelle Domingo-Rogers

A designer best known for her restaurants like Cloak & Petal, Little Italy & Mina Lounge in Gaslamp. Young & fun. Nominated by Michelle Harrison-McAllister, one of SDAF’s Directors.

Artist / Educator: Dave Adey

Dave is both an artist and educator as a Professor of Art and Design at Point Loma Nazarene University. He is a recommendation from SDAF Director Kevin de Freitas, citing Dave’s passion for the built environment and his commitment to using his works to spark dialogue.

Construction Manager: Katinka Read 

Katinka is an architect who spent several years in the industry, transitioning into Construction Management with Ryan Companies and managing her architectural firm. She volunteered for O&O a few years ago and is fun and passionate who brings lots of laughs to the jury experience!

Landscape Architect: Neil Hadley 

Neil is Principal of Land-Lab Environmental Design. In 2013 Brian Garrett from Land-Lab was a thoughtful contributor to O&O, and having Neil on this year’s Jury will be a real treat as an industry leader in Landscape Architecture.

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Evolving & Diversifying in 2021

An Interview with SDNOMA President, Michael Robinson   SDAF, in partnership with SDNOMA, held an event last week, Overcoming the 2%: Seeking Equity and Diversity, where we discussed the lack of diversity in the built environment industry. We sat down with the president of SDNOMA, Michael Robinson, to get his …

An Interview with SDNOMA President, Michael Robinson

 

SDAF, in partnership with SDNOMA, held an event last week, Overcoming the 2%: Seeking Equity and Diversity, where we discussed the lack of diversity in the built environment industry. We sat down with the president of SDNOMA, Michael Robinson, to get his feedback on how it went and what we can do moving forward.

Do you have any takeaway thoughts following last week’s Context webinar?

President, SDNOMA, Michael Robinson

For the most part, I thought it was good to hear the experiences of other ethnic groups compared to my own. I am familiar with instances similar to the situation recalled by a panelist when she spoke about the denial of her participation in a meeting due to the conservative nature of the clientele. I’ve had experiences similar to those myself in my career. So, I can understand and agree with what she was talking about. As far as the cultural biases some Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals have dealt with on their own – I was unaware of that. And it was good to be able to hear that. And most of the responses received from the different panelists – I was very happy to hear those, even though some of their reflections were sad. It’s good to know that at least those stories are being told.

Were there any experiences or other themes that resonated with you in particular?

Yes, I think the big thing is trying to find ways for individuals to impact their firms. It’s important to make a difference with hiring practices and help individuals of color move toward the management level of their firms into senior leadership. And that’s a missing link right now, even though you’re looking for individuals to attend college, graduate, and enter the workforce. There should also be a way for these individuals to move up to management within firms. I think that’s very important.

That’s an excellent point: focusing on building future leaders. Did you learn anything new?

I know now that many individuals have been affected in different ways and, there needs to be some work done to make the industry more diverse, more inclusive, and more equitable. Still, it’s good to know that some initiatives are underway or fostered to help with that effort.

Is there anything that you hope others took from the webinar?

Context Vol 7, 2021

Just the fact that they can see things through the lens of another individual, which can help them to be more compassionate and more inclusive, hopefully. That is what I would hope would come out of that conversation.

Are there any other personal thoughts or opinions that you wanted to share on the subject?

I think there is a systemic condition that has existed over a great period of time. And we are all aware that architecture is a white, male-dominated profession, and there’s room for other nationalities in this profession. And I think that, rather than some organizations who only offer word-of-mouth solutions or want to check a box, there should be more intense scrutiny and development of programs that will bring more individuals of ethnic diversity into the profession. These efforts will also keep them in the profession compared to wanting to leave due to some of the difficulties they may encounter.

Digital Rendering, Pedestrian Bridge by Michael Robinson

SDNOMA is a relatively new chapter for San Diego. What are your plans for the near future?

We will continue to make DEI – diversity, equity, and inclusion – a significant part of the mission of SDNOMA, and we will continue to cooperate with other organizations like SDAF and Women in Architecture and national organizations like the AIA. We can foster relationships for ethnic minorities moving forward, and that will remain a primary objective and goal for our organization in the future.

 

For more information or to become a member of SDNOMA, please follow this link sdnoma.com.

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Architect Community Loses Two Greats

Architects Helmut Jahn and Art Gensler Our condolences to the families, friends, and colleagues of the two industry giants we lost this week.German-American architect Helmut Jahn designed the iconic 1 American Plaza in downtown San Diego (an unmistakable addition to our beautiful skyline) and his many wonderful buildings all over …

Architects Helmut Jahn and Art Gensler

Our condolences to the families, friends, and colleagues of the two industry giants we lost this week.

German-American architect Helmut Jahn designed the iconic 1 American Plaza in downtown San Diego (an unmistakable addition to our beautiful skyline) and his many wonderful buildings all over the world.

Art Gensler was more than a great architect; he was a dynamic businessman redefining the business of architecture without compromising his core values in design and his clients. He said, “We must recognize that design is ‘coloring outside the lines.’ Design can be the great synthesizer. Designers must be idea makers.”

Our city is better for both of their contributions, and we thank them for it.

Photo: L. Helmut Jahn & R. Art Gensler

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New Membership Announcement!

Changing Tides I started 2021 by announcing that we were going to prioritize our membership engagement and well, I think we’ve just about taken the most significant first step possible towards that commitment. With the committee leadership of SDAF Director Michelle Harrison-McAllister, our board recently voted unanimously to give back …

Changing Tides

Photo: Pauly De Bartolo, President, SDAF

I started 2021 by announcing that we were going to prioritize our membership engagement and well, I think we’ve just about taken the most significant first step possible towards that commitment.

With the committee leadership of SDAF Director Michelle Harrison-McAllister, our board recently voted unanimously to give back to all San Diegans to show you the love and appreciation we have felt over the years through your support. So, it is my pleasure to announce that moving forward SDAF will have two simple levels of membership with a goal of engaging our entire San Diego community to become inspired by our built environment.

The first level is General Membership which will be free to all San Diegans. This membership level aims to expand our mission far and wide throughout the region, engaging all demographics who live, connect, and are inspired by architecture and design.

I want to make it clear that we are not an industry organization, our mission is focused on all San Diegans – every age group, every economic status, every community, and everyone who wants to know more about our built environment – we have a program for you to connect with and be inspired by. Many of our programs are free, but the ones that do require a cost will be more affordable than ever now when you become connected to SDAF as a General Member.

The second level is our VIP Membership which is a flat-rate fee of $250 per year. This next-level membership will provide exclusive VIP-member-only experiences throughout the year, starting with an in-person tour of M.W. Steele Group’s 625 Broadway redevelopment by prominent local Architect Mark Steele himself. The exciting content we have planned will well and truly exceed its value as you will have the opportunity to meet some of our region’s most dynamic architects, artists, landscape architects, urban planners, developers, and so much more.

So with that said, please check out the introduction video below that Michelle and I made to inspire you to join SDAF today, including our bloopers if you watch to the very end!

And don’t forget to join us today, it’s free!

Thanks to all!

Pauly De Bartolo, President, SDAF

 

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Getting to Know the 2% – Carmen Vann

CONTEXT VOL 7 INTERVIEW “When you deal with diversity, sometimes it’s not comfortable, but it’s not an attack on anybody. It is a call for the greater good of the industry.” Carmen Vann We spent a few minutes speaking with Carmen Vann, chair of this Thursday’s event, Overcoming the 2%: …

CONTEXT VOL 7 INTERVIEW

“When you deal with diversity, sometimes it’s not comfortable, but it’s not an attack on anybody. It is a call for the greater good of the industry.” Carmen Vann

We spent a few minutes speaking with Carmen Vann, chair of this Thursday’s event, Overcoming the 2%: Seeking Equity and Diversity. We dove right into her passion behind chairing it, and how to drive diversity in the architectural industry.

Photo: Carmen Vann, Chair, Overcoming the 2%: Seeking Equity and Diversity in our Built Environment

What made you decide to chair this event?

I was asked, and it was very easy to say yes! I think this is an important conversation. And I felt that it was an honor to be a facilitator of such an important conversation in this industry. There’s so much work to be done, and for us to begin the work, it requires some honest discussion and dialogue, and I hope that that’s what we find ourselves having on May 13th – some transparent, honest, and open dialogue. And I hope that those who participate come with open hearts and minds as well to understand experiences. Some intentionality behind the change needs to happen if we want to see these numbers alter.

What do you want to see come out of this event?

Enlightenment. I don’t expect things to change overnight in response to this, but it’s certainly my hope that this discussion sparks deeper dialogues in individual companies and individual workspaces. You gotta be willing to have those tough talks. You gotta be willing to get uncomfortable if we want to uncover the realities of the disparity in our industry. I’m in construction, and I’m certainly aligned with architecture and engineering – we see the same level of disparity across all building industries. Still, I hope people respond to this webinar and that this panel discussion sparks more discussions on the subject. I think the more people are open to hear perspectives and hear experiences, have compassion and empathy, incorporate ideas and thoughts, and understand what adjustments need to be made to see some change occur. If those discussions can start next Thursday and grow and snowball into more dialogue that leads to more intentional change and more intentional inclusionary efforts, I think we’ve done our part.

Why do you think it’s important? What would be your ideal outcome?

It takes intention to turn things around; it contributes to everyone’s success and ensures more diversity within work. The lack of diversity and inclusion isn’t a reflection per se of anti-minority sentiment or anti-minority posture. I think there’s just not enough understanding of the historical contributions to where we are right now. And it takes intention to change things around. Again, my hope is that we spark more discussions. But the companies, the management, the proprietors, the owners, principals, whoever participates next Thursday, I hope they listen with open minds – with ears of openness because they may hear some things that may not be comfortable. When you deal with diversity, sometimes it’s not comfortable, but it’s not an attack on anybody. It is a call for the greater good of the industry. Diversity in and of itself at the core is proven to bring about more profitability and more success overall because you have different perspectives – different ways of thinking things that are influenced by diverse backgrounds and experiences. That is what ultimately contributes to everyone’s success.

If we didn’t see diversity as just something to check in a box, but if we saw it as something that is an added value to every workplace experience, I think people would be more inclined to be intentional about ensuring that there is more diversity within their workspaces.

What personal experiences do you bring to the table as a person of color in the profession?

I’ll say not global, but certainly a national experience. I’m from DC, and I grew up from the time I was in fifth grade in a predominantly black neighborhood. I went to an HBCU, which is a Historically Black College and University. And my first job, my first opportunity in this industry, was with a family member who has a CM firm in New Jersey. I always knew the importance of – I hate to use the word assimilating, but that’s kind of what it is, right? It’s breaking into this mainstream industry, recognizing that I was going to be a minority. I’m not just a woman of color. I’m not just a woman, but I’m also a woman of color.

But I didn’t see that necessarily as a barrier, more so an opportunity to demonstrate that I could bring value as a woman and as a woman of color with work ethic and creativity. I wanted to break the mold, break the mindset, or mentality and cause people to recognize that we can incorporate and focus on diversity and know that quality individuals can bring value to our industry. We needed to make that a little bit more of a focus. And I think with my first company (I worked with a couple of small companies), my first major company, they were diverse in their recruiting. But there’s more work to do – not just bring people in but make room for them at the table; make people decision-makers, give them opportunities of influence.

In your view, what are the key challenges people of color, and in particular Black or African American women of color, face when entering the industry?

It’s certainly preconceived notions. Somebody put it to me this way: Look at your life for the passion and ask yourself how many times there has been somebody opposite your race in your front seat? Because that deals with relationships. And when you are not in a relationship with the community, it leads to discomfort with that community because you don’t know the people. So, my encouragement is to get beyond your comfort zone. So, for me, what I felt was my biggest disadvantage was those unconscious biases, and that’s being a woman of color. But those unconscious biases – when it’s time to get a group of people and go to lunch, you’re more comfortable with people that look like you. That’s just human nature, unfortunately.

 And so, if you – as a leader in your respective company –  if you spend more time with a certain group of people because that’s where your comfort zone is, when it comes time for promotions and to elevate people, you elevate those you have the strongest relationships with. We tend to have the strongest relationships with the people in our circle that look like us. So, it’s not necessarily an attack against a group of people. It is those unconscious biases that everybody deals with. Those unconscious biases can unwittingly lead to disparity in diversity within your company. And so that’s why a lot of the conversation has now shifted to the biases.

But I think in general, if I had to paint a broad brushstroke, it’s really about how those unconscious biases develop because we relate to people that share our interests, share backgrounds, share something. And a lot of times, in African American and Latino communities, the backgrounds and shared experiences may not align with some of those experiences with our white counterparts. When you don’t have the intention of breaking down those unconscious biases, you find yourself repeating the same actions over and over again. And that’s why we don’t see a lot of change in our industry.

What do you think can be done about these challenges?

I can start with identifying those areas of disparity. I have an excellent relationship with my current company’s Director of Diversity Inclusion. She is in charge of doing everything humanly possible to provide opportunities for diversity. She also recognizes that there needs to be the intention to recruit and provide these opportunities and make sure to provide a safe space to have these conversations. I can say things to her that may be uncomfortable. But I’m being real when I ask when we will companies start recruiting with the National Society of Black Engineers or the National Society of Latino Engineers? When is that going to become a focal part or focal point of our recruiting effort? When will we set that intention in a place where it’s not just casting a large net again, the same pool we always cast in? When are we going to be intentional about the reality of wanting to have diverse candidates or even come into our pool or a boat to talk? It’s just not going to happen organically. There has to be intentionality, but I can have those tough conversations with her.

So, I encourage people to be empowered, to have those tough conversations. I’m not saying do it rudely, but people just don’t know half the time. There just isn’t a recognition because no one has had those hard conversations. It has to start there and then holding people accountable. If you have a group within your company that’s focused on diversity inclusion, there needs to be sponsorship. There needs to be a relationship between leadership and management. And then there needs to be some accountability holding with those individuals.

If you bring together a group to hear, you can make your company more diverse, more inclusionary. There are ideas, there are thoughts, there are options. Now I need somebody to hold that person accountable to make sure those ideas are fully vetted – where they will be incorporated. It just can’t be a think tank where nothing comes out of it to, again, effect change in that corporation. But it starts with individual responsibility all the way around. As I said, I take responsibility for being a voice for having the tough conversations and putting out a work product that can set the stage for individuals behind me that look like me to be successful. But it all starts with personal responsibility all the way around.

What advice would you give to the next generation of people of color entering your profession? / a profession in the built environment industry?

I tell people this all the time: You can’t be afraid. You have first to find value in your voice before expecting anybody else to find value in your voice. It starts with you, so be the change that you want people to see. Work hard, value yourself, find your voice. I tell people the worst thing that can happen is getting put in a position you’re not prepared to succeed in because that failure will stick with you. So, prepare your voice, prepare yourself for growth. It takes a little more than just doing the status quo every day and speak up.

So I would tell young ladies and young men that are the minority, keep fighting. Change is not going to come overnight. And the responsibility is not just to yourself at the moment, but it’s to those who are coming behind you. So, keep pushing, keep having the tough conversations, find value in your voice, speak your voice, place a demand on having spaces where your voice will be heard and honored. And keep pushing for that change that you want to see.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule!

Thank you for having an interest, having just a heart to hear, and put it out there in written form is a type of advocacy. We need people to tell our stories; a lot of people just don’t know. And that’s how I know it’s really about reaching people where they are and just bringing them some truths and hope.

 

Hurry and sign up for tomorrow’s event before it’s too late!

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Mother-Daughter KidSketch Interview

Meet Diane Borys and Her Daughter, Mikayla In honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday, we sat down with Diane Borys, Founding Principal of Noctiluca Lighting in San Diego, and her daughter, Mikayla, for a special mother-daughter interview. We wanted to get to know them and ask them to share their …

Meet Diane Borys and Her Daughter, Mikayla

In honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday, we sat down with Diane Borys, Founding Principal of Noctiluca Lighting in San Diego, and her daughter, Mikayla, for a special mother-daughter interview. We wanted to get to know them and ask them to share their experiences with us about their time together participating in the KidSketch events.

 

 

Welcome, Diane & Mikayla! I appreciate you both taking the time to be here with me today!

DIANE BORYS

Hello, Diane! What profession are you in, and for how long?

I’m an Architectural Lighting designer, and I’ve been doing it for 14 years.

How long have you been a member of the San Diego Architectural Foundation?

I’ve been a member for two years. Last year is kind of a blur. It’s either two or three years.

What benefits are you getting from being a member?

Networking, connection with other industries, and I really enjoy the Orchids & Onions events.

How many KidSketch events have you participated in?

I’ve done four of the six that Mikayla’s done.

What has been your favorite building to sketch?

My favorite building, I think, is the Salk [Institute]. One of my great mentors used to be a tour guide there — a lot of architecture and lighting. As a lighting designer, I appreciate the light and the shadow and the view of the ocean from there, so it was fun to do that.

You must have an exceptional eye for the work you do.

It’s a full-time job. It’s truly marrying the art and science of light and I always say that good architecture can be made great with good lighting, but bad lighting is bad lighting.

Has your experience in KidSketch inspired you in any way?

It’s inspired me to sketch more in work and my personal life. I enjoy drawing and coloring, but I think that sketching in the industry is a fading art. I’ve been practicing on my iPad so that I can sketch live for clients as well. Laura is amazing as a teacher, so just the little points and tips she’s giving have elevated my sketching from a work perspective.

What are you getting out of it?

Time with my daughter. It’s very intentional; it’s always on the calendar – we wouldn’t miss it! Also, the practice and direction for sketching and an appreciation for the buildings in San Diego we are sketching are taking a different perspective on it. I used to drive by the Lilian Rice building and didn’t appreciate it until I sketched it. When we stop and slow down for a minute, we can stop and appreciate the details.

What is it like participating in KidSketch with Mikayla?

Really rewarding; I’m very proud of her. It’s fun to see her enjoy it, encourage her passions, and see the fruits of her labor.

Do you have a favorite KidSketch memory with your daughter you’d like to share?

It was the first KidSketch that we did. We were trying to avoid Zoom through the pandemic because of school and all the extracurricular activities. So, I thought, let’s just try it, and we both had a lot of fun. That first one sticks in my memory because we found something that we can do together that we both enjoy.

MIKAYLA

How old are you, and what grade are you in?

Six! First Grade? (She nods her head, yes.)

I looked at your pictures, and it seems like you have a natural talent for sketching. Is it fun?

Yes! I want to be an artist. Painter!

 

What do you like about it?

It’s fun! Mom says she likes to show people her pictures and draw pictures to gift to people.

 What has been your favorite building to sketch?

Lincoln Library. I like to read, too. (Mom says Mikayla likes the library and that reading inspires her drawings.)

 It looks like you enjoy drawing with a pencil. Is that true?

Yes, and crayons. (Coloring is her favorite!)

 What buildings would you like to draw in the future?

Scripps Pier, Mom shares they have a painting of Scripps Pier, and they’ve been studying one-point perspective. Mikayla appreciated that it had a one-point perspective that she could draw.

Are you noticing details when you go out now that you have been sketching?

Yes! What do you notice?  Shadows! Sometimes I like to run away from my own shadows, but they go away (as she says, giggling)!

Do you like participating in Kidsketch with your mom?

(Silence)

Is it because you get to have a special time with Mom?

Yes!

What is your favorite KidSketch event?

They’re all good! (She looks forward to them.)

Are you going to the KidSketch next Saturday?

(She nods her head) She and Mom wouldn’t miss it and would love her friends to join her!

Are you doing something for your mommy for Mother’s Day?

Yes! (It’s a surprise. Shh!)

 

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San Diego Architectural Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to education and promotion of outstanding architecture, planning and urban design throughout the San Diego region.

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