Archinect Sessions

On this installment of Archinect Sessions, we’re sharing a conversation I had a couple of months ago with Sofia Borges and R. Scott Mitchell, the leaders of a design-build studio at USC that addressed one of the most pressing issues in Los Angeles today - homelessness. 

The MADWORKSHOP Homeless Studio set out with the goal of addressing this city-wide crisis by developing a real-world architectural response. The initial motivation for the studio came from the founders of MADWORKSHOP, Mary and David Martin, who reached out to USC School of Architecture with the hope that the students would be able to come up with some practical, creative and buildable solutions of homelessness in Los Angeles. You can learn more about the studio in this feature we have previously published. Since the completion of the studio they have produced a book documenting the process and results in "Give Me Shelter." The book is currently available for purchase from ORO, the publisher, or on Amazon

Our conversation ranges from discussing both Sofia and Scott’s complementary backgrounds, considerations for approaching this difficult and delicate problem in an academic environment, to thoughts on how architects can actually make a positive difference to this growing problem. 

Direct download: Archinect-Sessions-147.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 6:30am PST

On this episode of Archinect Sessions we’re sharing the recording of a panel discussion I moderated last weekend at the A+D Museum​, as part of the current exhibition The Los Angeles Schools​. The panel brought together five students and three faculty members representing student-led publications from LA’s architecture programs. Rayne Laborde and Phoebe Webster represented UCLA​'s POOL​​​; Marcelyn Gow represented SCI-Arc​’s Offramp​; Richard Mapes, Corie Yaguchi and Irvin Shaifa represented SCI-Arc​'s Underscore​; Alvin Huang​ represented USC​’s Supertall​; and Stephen Phillips​, Cal Poly LA Metro’s Director, represented their program’s hardcover publication LA Ten​. 

Our talk covers a lot of ground, exposing the inner-workings of editing and producing publications in today’s unique and highly transformative media landscape. Our conversations cover issues of editorial decision-making, design, freedom of expression and thoughts on the future of student publishing in architecture school.  

Direct download: Archinect-Sessions-146.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 3:38pm PST

For Archinect Sessions episode #145 we are joined by Kimberly Dowdell, a principal at HOK in Chicago and the current President of the National Organization of Minority Architects. Our conversation covers Kimberly’s impressive path to success in architecture, and the leadership role she’s taking in NOMA. We’ll also discuss the upcoming NOMA conference taking place in Brooklyn in a few weeks from October 14th-20th.

Direct download: Archinect-Sessions-145.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 3:34pm PST

On this episode, we're joined by Chilean architect​​ Alejandro Aravena​​. A long-familiar name to most of our listeners, Aravena’s work gained significant media attention upon winning the Pritzker Prize in 2016​, elevating his reputation for working to address some of today’s most difficult issues through participatory design, engaging users, groups, experts, and the public-at-large. His most notable projects are his “incremental housing” developments, a partially subsidized low-income solution for displaced families providing half-built homes for families to complete on their own, within their own budgets and tastes. Elemental has since released the plans for these projects for free, via download from their website​.

This week Aravena was awarded another significant prize, the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development​. The award recognizes visionaries that are making significant contributions to international community building, with an emphasis on land use and development bettering society. Our conversation starts with him describing how this ULI prize is so important to him...

Direct download: Archinect-Sessions-144.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 12:14pm PST

This week we’re joined by one of our favorite regulars, Fred Scharmen. Fred currently teaches architecture and urban design at Morgan State University's School of Architecture and Planning, and is the Principal and Co-Founder of The Working Group on Adaptive Systems. What brings him on today’s show is his just-released new book Space Settlements. The 400-page paperback contains a visually stunning collection of designs for space colonies from the mid-70’s, including iconic artwork and comparison studies of 20th and 21st century architecture projects. Our conversation talks about his research leading up to this book, the process of writing the book and the fascinating stories discovered along the way.

Direct download: Archinect-Sessions-143.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 6:00am PST

We have a very special July 4th episode for you today. 

Today’s show offers a very American conversation with the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Paul Goldberger. The discussion was recorded live at Archinect Outpost last month for the launch of his latest book Ballpark

Ballpark takes a deep dive into the history of the ballpark, and the impact it’s had on the evolution of the American city. The book looks at a selection of case studies to arrive at a simple yet compelling thesis: “In the ballpark,” Goldberger writes, “the two sides of the American character - the Jeffersonian impulse toward open space and rural expanse, and the Hamiltonian belief in the city and in industrial infrastructure - are joined, and cannot be torn apart.

If you’re interested in a copy of the book, we have a few copies available at Archinect, both in our shop in downtown Los Angeles, and online at

Paul Goldberger began his career at The New York Times, where in 1984 his architecture criticism was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism, the highest award in journalism. From 1997 through 2011 he served as the Architecture Critic for The New Yorker, where he wrote the magazine’s celebrated “Sky Line” column. He is currently a contributing editor for Vanity fair and holds the Joseph Urban Chair in Design and Architecture at The New School in New York City. 

Direct download: Archinect-Sessions-142.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 10:56am PST

On this latest episode of the Archinect Sessions podcast we're joined by Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers of the Minneapolis-based practice Dream the Combine.

Jennifer and Tom are a husband and wife team that specialize in site-specific installations. Their work is deeply-collaborative, directly referenced in the name of their practice, and looks at the overlaps in art, architecture, and cultural theory, while manipulating the boundary between real and illusory space.

Direct download: Archinect-Sessions-141.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 1:42pm PST

This week Ken and I are speaking with the leadership team responsible for the upcoming Brown University Performing Arts Center – Joshua Ramus of REX, Carl Giegold of Threshold Acoustics and David Rosenburg of Theatre Projects. 

The Brown University Performing Arts Center is a formally stunning project designed by REX for the Brown University campus in the relatively small town of Providence, Rhode Island. The exterior of the almost 100,000 square foot building consists of a large monolithic mass clad in aluminum, with a cantilevered glass-encased 13-foot tall clearstory jutting out from the lobby level, covering a lower-level outdoor public space. 

The interior of the Arts Center, however, is where the magic happens. To facilitate the university’s requirement to host performances for a variety of needs and audience sizes, REX and his team of theater and acoustics specialists designed a transformable concert hall that can accommodate five completely different configurations, from a small experimental sound cube for media performances, to a 625-seat symphony orchestra hall.

Our conversation starts with Joshua Ramus describing the conception of the project, starting with the client’s brief… 

Direct download: Archinect-Sessions-140.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 6:30am PST

This week Ken and I are joined by Alan Maskin, partner and co-owner of Seattle-based Olson Kundig. Alan shares his story growing up on the East Coast, working as an artist and arts educator before moving onto architecture school in his 30s. He tells us about how he finally landed a job at Olson Kundig after 4 failed job applications, and then strategically moved his way out of his initial role of IT manager. He provides insight into what it took to move up in the firm, eventually becoming a partner and co-owner, and what kind of qualities Olson Kundig looks for when hiring new talent that fits well with time-crafted firm culture.

Of course, we also talk about his work, including the highly publicized renovation of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle, and some recent projects he has designed for children and families. We even get his thoughts on two topics weighing heavily in the news these days - unpaid internships and the restoration of the Notre Dame Cathedral.  

Direct download: Archinect-Sessions-139.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 6:07pm PST

On this episode of Archinect Sessions we're joined by Eva Hagberg, a NY-based writer and architectural consultant. Our conversation covers Eva’s architectural studies at Princeton and Berkeley, and how that transitioned into a successful writing career spanning architecture criticism to writing about her own life in her recently published memoir How to Be Loved. We also talk about the unique personality traits of architects and her approach to helping architects communicate.

Direct download: Archinect-Sessions-138.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 12:37pm PST

On this week's episode of Archinect Sessions we talk with Carlo Aiello, a Mexican-born, LA-based designer and founder of eVolo . Most of our readers are familiar with eVolo's (very) popular annual skyscraper competition and related series of books. Carlo, the founder of eVolo, is also the designer of the award-winning Parabola Chair  and the designer of the Kickstarter-success ESCALA , a 2-in-1 drawing tool combining the scale-ruler with an insertable fountain pen . In our conversation we track his progress from his studies at Columbia's GSAPP , to working for SOM  and Asymptote , to embarking as a self-made entrepreneur with a move west, to LA. 

Direct download: Archinect-Sessions-137.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 11:30am PST

This week on Archinect Sessions we’re sharing our inspiring conversation with Theaster Gates. For those of you who aren’t already familiar with Theaster, you’re in for a treat. Theaster Gates often refers to himself as a potter, and while it’s true that he is, through years of training and practice, he’s also an extremely talented multidisciplinary artist, urban planner and community-focused social activist.

Theaster may be most well known for his non-profit Rebuild Foundation. The foundation purchases abandoned buildings in the south side of Chicago, the neighborhood Theaster grew up and still resides in, and transforms them into beautiful community hubs that connect and inspire the local residents through art, creativity, and professional skill training.

Gates work extends into academia as well. He is a full professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago, where he also the director of Arts and Public Life. It’s in this context that he is unveiling his latest project, part of an $80 million dollar renovation and restoration of the Edward Durell Stone-designed Keller Hall, home to the school’s Harris School of Public Policy. Theaster’s role involved designing a soaring communal atrium space, lined with wood from fallen ash trees, and milled by local residents.

Our conversation with Theaster Gates starts with his reuse of Chicago’s diseased ash trees into millwork and detailing for the new University of Chicago Keller Center, and quickly veers into topics of hand skills, black labor, neighborhood communities, and socio-cultural readings of beauty.

Direct download: Archinect-Sessions-136.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 4:13pm PST

This week we are joined, in studio, by David Lee and Marina Bourderonnet, the hosts of the Midnight Charette podcast. You may be already familiar with their podcast, or perhaps you’ve just heard about the podcast since they released their episode with me a couple days ago.

The Midnight Charette has been podcasting for a while now. They're quickly approaching their 100th episode. They describe their show as an explicit podcast about design, architecture and people. The format is casual, and unscripted, and tends to run on the long side, 2 hours being about average for an episode. While this is an architecture podcast, it’s often not addressing architecture directly, rather, David and Marina discuss non-architectural issues from the perspective of a couple of architecturally-minded professionals.

In today’s conversation we learn more about the host's backgrounds, and how they came together and conceived of the podcast. We also take a peek behind the curtain by talking about all of the little details that we use to make these podcasts.

Direct download: Archinect-Sessions-135.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 3:06pm PST

On this week's episode of Archinect Sessions Ken, Donna, and I share our conversation with Rusty Long, an architect based in Cary, North Carolina. Rusty’s private practice focuses on sustainability and community engagement with a style that bridges modernism and the history of the the American South. 

Rusty’s day job, however, is a State Architect for the USDA Rural Development office. As a federal employee, Rusty is one of approximately 800,000 individuals currently furloughed by the Government Shutdown. On this 34th day of the historic shutdown, as he and many others remain unpaid after two pay cycles, Rusty sits down with us to share his story. We talk about how and why he entered public service, the work he typically undertakes as a state architect, and the problems that this shutdown are causing for him, his colleague and the US taxpayers in general.

Direct download: Archinect-Sessions-134.mp3
Category:architecture -- posted at: 12:58pm PST