Towards a Critical Race History of Space and Place

Co-Chair: Michelle Joan Wilkinson, NMAAHC

Co-Chair: Camara Dia Holloway, ACRAH

How have architects, designers, and urban planners considered the history of racism and the politics of difference in their professions? How do educators in these fields situate their pedagogy in relation to contemporary efforts to decolonize the curriculum? How does critical race theory inform aesthetic considerations of space and place? What has been the impact of moves toward greater equity and dismantling patriarchy and white supremacy in architecture, design, and planning, fields where contemporary BIPOC practitioners have urged traditional leaders to #cedepower? In this session, panelists address such questions in short presentations about their work and in a moderated discussion.

Alberto de Salvatierra, University of Calgary

Pedagogical Pluralism

An underexamined, yet insidious force in the perpetuation of pedagogies of colonialism and supremacy is that of the prevalence of narrow-minded disciplinarity in the architecture field. Often made manifest through a Euro-centric exploration of “canon,” or through the valorization of a homogenous group of “luminaries,” architecture—as a design discipline that routinely unfolds space into place—must embrace cross-fertilization and modalities of interdisciplinarity. It must enact a pedagogy of pluralism. This presentation will unpack a brief history that underpins architecture’s problematic relationship with singular voices, and will aim to open up a discussion towards alternatives. This panel builds on research completed for a co-authored paper—“Pedagogical Pluralism” in T-Squared: Theories and Tactics in Architecture and Design (2022), Samantha Krukowski (ed.)—by the speaker and his colleagues Prof. Samantha Solano and Prof. Joshua Vermillion.

Ramon Tejada, RISD

“PUNCTURING,” version 4.0/Post-Pandemic Edition

We must confront Art and Design history, theory, and practice for the lack of representation of BIPOC voices, narratives, stories, and contributions. We must “puncture” a design Canon and culture myopically embedded in Anglo/European systems and structures that colonize our thinking and making. “Puncturing” as a working methodology can literally or metaphorically create gaps, spaces, and holes. New “punctures” allow for missing histories and theories—the local, the cultural, the ethnic, the non-Anglo/European—that have been erased, neglected, rejected, subjugated, destroyed, refuted, supplanted, appropriated, ignored—to flow and become essentials aspects of the contemporary, post-pandemic landscape.

Janette Kim, California College of the Arts

Daylighting Conflict

Resilience planning has championed strategies for absorbing shocks such as those posed by climate change. Cities, the logic goes, must bounce back from imminent disasters ranging from hurricanes to volatile markets, infrastructure crashes to political unrest. Resilience has captured the public’s imagination and generated optimism among city leaders. Yet critics have also denounced resilience as a smokescreen for economic growth and gentrification that suppresses critical debates about power sharing and wealth distribution. At its core, resilience theory has tripped over its own contradictions in its opportunistic complacency towards disaster. Instead, a more nuanced version of resilience would require a more empowered public process. In this panel, I will reflect on two board games I designed that serve as decision-making tools for just such a process—one called In It Together that I in the 2018 San Francisco Bay Resilient by Design Challenge, and one called Bartertown that I created in 2017 for the Bay Area Conservation and Development Commission. By designing interactions among players, objectives and resources, these games model the social justice implications of innovative financial and legal strategies in relationship to the space of cities. Together, these two interpretations of a ‘model’ serve as a new kind of decision-making tool for the climate change era: one that can prompt debate, acknowledge differences, and navigate their negotiation.

Quilian Riano, Pratt Institute

Negotiating Subjectivities: reflections on anti-racist design pedagogical models for democratic space-making

In this presentation I will show pedagogical models used in architectural and urban design studios that center the embodied experiences of individuals and groups in communities of color. This process seeks to not center any single subjectivity but rather to create democratically-run spaces for negotiation amongst the multiple social and political subjectivities found in any community. I will also talk about how this pedagogic model changed the relationships within the classroom, relationships with local stakeholders, and the design outcomes. Instead of producing only final spaces, the projects included cooperative models that helped facilitate changes in the architectural and urban form.

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