This fall, Dunwoody College of Technology, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis College, and MSP NOMA with AIA Minnesota joined forces to launch an inaugural lecture series focusing on questions of ethics, equity, justice, and culture in relation to design practices and education. Each partner institution hosted a virtual conversation with a different practitioner in design, architecture, or landscape architecture, sharing out their practices and allowing for critical conversation on the issues pertaining to their work. Participating speakers in this series were selected by students from Dunwoody and Minneapolis College, who researched current design practitioners working in the realm of equity. Throughout the academic semester, students are also meeting directly with these practitioners and will serve as touchstones for constructive discourse.

Ronald Rael

Hosted Virtually by Dunwoody College of Technology

How an expanded understanding of the borderlands has fostered experimentation, activism, & play, through craft and design

Professor Ronald Rael is the Eva Li Memorial Chair in Architecture and Director of the Masters of Architecture program with a joint appointment in the Department of Architecture, in the College of Environmental Design, where he served as Department Chair, and the Department of Art Practice. He is both a Bakar and Hellman Fellow, and directs the printFARM Laboratory (print Facility for Architecture, Research and Materials). His research interests connect indigenous and traditional material practices to contemporary technologies and issues and he is a design activist, author, and thought leader within the topics of additive manufacturing, borderwall studies, and earthen architecture. The London Design Museum awarded his creative practice, Rael San Fratello, (with architect Virginia San Fratello), the Beazley Award in 2021 for the design of the year, one of the most prestigious awards in design internationally. In 2014 his practice was named an Emerging Voice by The Architectural League of New York—one of the most coveted awards in North American architecture. In 2016 Rael San Fratello was also awarded the Digital Practice Award of Excellence by the The Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA).

Rael is the author of “Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary” (University of California Press 2017), an illustrated biography and protest of the wall dividing the U.S. from Mexico featured in a recent TED talk by Rael, and “Earth Architecture” (Princeton Architectural Press, 2008), a history of building with earth in the modern era to exemplify new, creative uses of the oldest building material on the planet. Emerging Objects, a company co-founded by Rael, is an independent, creatively driven, 3D Printing MAKE-tank specializing in innovations in 3D printing architecture, building components, environments and products (a short documentary of their work can be seen here). A monograph of the work of Emerging Objects entitled “Printing Architecture: Innovative Recipes for 3D Printing” was published in 2018 by Princeton Architectural Press. He was the co-founder of the start-up wood technology company, FORUST, where he maintains a position as design and technology consultant.

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Sekou Cooke

Hosted Virtually by The Walker

Heather Nicole:
Hip-Hop Architecture Evolutions
A discussion around Cooke’s recent book ‘Hip Hop Architecture,’ Black Reconstructions at MoMA, and other current projects

Sekou Cooke is an architect, researcher, educator, and curator born in Jamaica and based in Charlotte, NC. He is the newly appointed Director of the Master of Urban Design program at UNC Charlotte and a recipient of the 2021/2022 Nasir Jones HipHop Fellowship at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. Through his professional practice, sekou cooke STUDIO, he brings thoughtful processes and rigorous experimentation to a vast array of project types from public, non-profit, and residential works in New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina, to mixed-use projects and tenant improvements in California, to speculative developments locally and internationally.

Sekou’s current research centers on the emergent field of Hip-Hop Architecture, a theoretical movement reflecting the core tenets of hip-hop culture with the power to create meaningful impact on the built environment and give voice to the marginalized and underrepresented within design practice.  This work has been widely disseminated through his writings, lectures, and symposia, and is the subject of his 2021 monograph Hip-Hop Architecture. His work is also featured in the landmark exhibition, Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America, at the Museum of Modern Art.

Through his research, practice, and other academic endeavors, Sekou hopes to leave an equally lasting impact on ivory towers and underserved communities.  His ultimate goal is mastery of craft and world domination.

Sekou holds a B.Arch from Cornell University, an M.Arch from Harvard University, and is licensed to practice architecture in New York and North Carolina.

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Sara Zewde

Hosted Virtually by Minneapolis College

The Aesthetics of Being:
A discussion around the recent design work of Studio Zewde in the context of rapid urban development, a changing climate, and clarified social and political tensions

Sara Zewde is founding principal of Studio Zewde, a design firm in New York City practicing landscape architecture, urbanism, and public art. The studio is devoted to creating enduring places where people belong. Named a 2021 Emerging Voice by the Architectural League of New York, the firm is lauded for its distinct design methodology syncing culture, ecology, and craft. In parallel with practice, Sara serves as Assistant Professor of Practice at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Sara was named the 2014 National Olmsted Scholar by the Landscape Architecture Foundation, a 2016 Artist-in-Residence at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and in 2018, was named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s inaugural “40 Under 40” list. Most recently, she was named a 2020 United States Artists Fellow. Sara holds a master’s of landscape architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a master’s of city planning from MIT, and a BA in sociology and statistics from Boston University.

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Majora Carter

Hosted Virtually by AIA MN + MSP NOMA

Community as Corporation:
Talent-Retention in Low Status America

Majora Carter is a real estate developer, urban revitalization strategy consultant, MacArthur Fellow and Peabody Award winning broadcaster. She is responsible for the creation and successful implementation of numerous economic developments, technology & green-infrastructure projects, policies and job training & placement systems.

Carter applies her corporate consulting practice focused on talent-retention to reducing Brain Drain in American low-status communities. She has firsthand experience pioneering sustainable economic development in one of America’s most storied low-status communities: the South Bronx.

She and her teams develop vision, strategies and the type of development that transforms low-status communities into thriving mixed-use local economies. Her approach harnesses capital flows resulting from American re-urbanization to help increase wealth building opportunities across demographics left out of all historic financial tide changes. Majora’s work produces long term fiscal benefits for governments, residents, and private real estate developments throughout North America.

Majora is quoted on the walls of the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture in DC:

“Nobody should have to move out of their neighborhood to live in a better one.”

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