Howard Davis’ Symposium, Microenterprise, Urban Manufacturing, and the Architecture of Inclusion

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On October 18, 2014 University of Oregon Department of Architecture Professor Howard Davis presented “Symposium on Micro-Enterprise, Urban Production and the Architecture of Inclusion,” from 9:30am to 5:00pm, at 45 SW Ankeny Street, Portland, OR. This symposium brought together leaders in various aspects of community economic development to present current work and discuss issues concerning small-scale enterprise, urban manufacturing, and the buildings that house such new initiatives.

The Symposium was a collaboration between Mercy Corps Northwest, the University of Oregon Department of Architecture, and the Collaborative for Inclusive Urbanism.

Presenters included:

Howard Davis, Portland, Professor of Architecture, University of Oregon

Naomi Beasley, Detroit, Michigan, Architectural Designer, D:hive, Detroit

John Haines, Portland, Executive Director, Mercy Corps Northwest

Elizabeth “Lili” Hermann, Providence, Rhode Island, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Founder of DESINE-Lab, Rhode Island School of Design

Katherine Krajnak, Portland , Portland Development Commission

Janet Lees, San Francisco, California, Senior Director, SF Made

Lisa McClellan, Portland, Architect, Scott | Edwards Architects

Kelley Roy, Portland, Founding Director, ADX Portland

Nathan Teske, Portland, Director of Community Economic, Development, Hacienda Community Development Association

David Woronets, Portland, Owner, Zen Bicycle Fabrication


Videos of the presentations can be viewed on MercyCorpsNW online location.

Professor Howard Davis submitted a statement about the symposium:

The symposium was a continuation of the collaboration between the UO, MercyCorps Northwest, and the Collaborative for Inclusive Urbanism. We’ve been working for the last year with Mercy Corps Northwest (MCNW) on the development of a program with which the micro-entrepreneurs that MCNW helps can be helped with issues relating to their own workspace–availability of workspace, location, design, renovation, etc. In our work we are developing a website through which people can get help, and a system which will match up students with micro-entrepreneurs to provide direct assistance.

The symposium came about through a studio support grant from the Department of Architecture. I am teaching a studio involving new industrial facilities on the in Portland’s Central Eastside Industrial District and the symposium was intended to bring people who are experts in the issues that are being dealt with in the studio–grassroots businesses, industry in the city, and the architecture that serve these ongoing trends. 

About 90 people attended the symposium, which was held in the Mercy Corps headquarters next door to the White Stag Block. These included students and faculty from Portland and Eugene, members of the local community, as well as visiting students and faculty from Meiji University in Tokyo (coincidentally there at the same time as the symposium, and part of a program of cooperation that has been supported by Hajo Neis and Howard Davis). 

There were about ten speakers, from a variety of places (Detroit, Providence R.I., San Francisco and Portland) and from a variety of kinds of organizations (the owner of a bicycle manufacturing shop, representatives of organizations that promote urban manufacturing, architects who work with such organizations, non-profits). There was also a variety of modes of presentation at the symposium, ranging from individual talks, to conversations between people, to a panel discussion at the end in which the conversation turned to how architectural education might better serve students who want to work directly with underserved populations in the city. This made for a very lively set of sessions with good discussions. 

Thanks to the following people: John Haines, executive director of MCNW; Alysse Kerr, MCNW; Sabina Poole, UO; and recent UO architecture graduates Annie Ledbury and Drew Shreiner.

Metropolis’ Susan Szenasy Presents Metropolis LIVE! In conversation with Frances Bronet

Metropolis’ Susan Szenasy Presents Metropolis LIVE!  In conversation with Frances Bronet   

Susan Szenasy in Portland at UO

Szenasy, appointed Publisher of Metropolis, engaged in a series of national conversations during the spring of 2014 exploring issues of design advocacy and ethics while celebrating the release of Szenasy, Design Advocate – a collection of writings and talks from the past 30 years. Szenasy participated in a conversation with UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts Dean Frances Bronet, in Portland on May 22, 2014 at the University of Oregon in Portland.

The event was live broadcast to an audience at the UO campus in Eugene (177 Lawrence Hall).  Szenasy was available for book signing after the talk.  Key phrases and ideas from the conversation between Szenasy and Bronet were live tweeted by @johnhenrytweets. 

The webcast of the presentation is available online.

Higher Res Szenasy Book Cover

At work tweeting broadsides made in real time. @johnhenrytweets with @tschlapp at Metropolis LIVE! With Susan Szenasy.
At work tweeting broadsides made in real time. @johnhenrytweets with @tschlapp at Metropolis LIVE! With Susan Szenasy.


The following is the press release issued by Metropolis magazine to announce Szenasy’s new post and her book launch.

This April 2014, Metropolis magazine announced the appointment of Susan S. Szenasy as publisher of the magazine, sharing a dual role with her long-standing position as editor-in-chief. The appointment, made by the founder, Horace Havemeyer III, one month prior to his passing from complications associated with CIDP, a chronic neurological disorder, sets in motion a new chapter in the life of this celebrated magazine of architecture, culture and design.

Concurrent to this appointment is the release of Szenasy, Design Advocate, a collection of writings and talks from the past 30 years, released by Metropolis Books and distributed by ARTBOOK | D.A.P. This volume – the first published collection of Szenasy’s writings – brings together editorials, reviews, stories, profiles, industry event presentations, classroom lectures, commencement addresses and more.

Szenasy’s honest, thought-provoking and often-challenging opinions are present in all of these pieces. So, too, is her ongoing commitment to informed dialogue, which has influenced and guided generations of design professionals, architects, journalists, retailers, manufacturers, legislators, educators and the next generation of designers.

Through this collection of writings, the organic development of a social activist is revealed. Szenasy’s capacity to anchor her inquisitive nature and her reflective reasoning in a foundational belief in human and civil right established her as a pioneer in the advocacy of sustainable design.

In celebration of the launch of the book and her recent appointment, Szenasy has embarked on a series of national conversations exploring issues of design advocacy and ethics. From New York to Los Angeles, Boston to Grand Rapids, Atlanta to Chicago, Providence to Seattle and cities in between Szenasy will be engaging with members of the design community to gain a broad understanding of the issues and topics pertinent to the built environment and design in today’s culture.

According to Szenasy, “Metropolis offers us the freedom to really explore design, culture, talent, people, creativity, materials, policy, everything. It really is a conversation. And when I am on the road engaging with the design community, I don’t give talks anymore. It’s a two-way conversation. A dialogue.”Susan’s active involvement with all of the design community has become legendary. Her tough, but constructive criticism has created an indispensible dialogue in an industry that, like every other area of society, is redefining itself to meet the needs of growing populations in our tech-rich, environmentally compromised, global-local world.

“The two of us were in agreement about our vision for Metropolis” stated Horace Havemeyer III in his announcement of Szenasy to publisher. “From the beginning, we have felt that architecture and design are essential to a humane and progressive society. We have championed, when no one else did, the design community’s obligation to serve all of society’s needs, not just the upper two percent. And now, the growing interest in socially and environmentally relevant design–by a new generation of young professionals – is just one more validation of our long-held vision.”

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Metropolis, founded in 1981, Metropolis, the magazine of architecture, culture and design, has earned itself a reputation as a publication of distinction. It has led the conversation on sustainability, technology and accessibility as these issues relate to and reshape the built environment. Long considered a significant voice in the fields of architecture, interior design, graphic design, product design, urban planning and historic preservation, the magazine and its electronic content is recognized as being in the vanguard of the discourse of architecture and design to a dedicated following.

Susan S. Szenasy is publisher/editor in chief of Metropolis, the award-winning New York City–based magazine of architecture, design and culture. Since 1986, she has led the magazine in landmark design journalism, achieving international recognition. A respected authority on sustainability and design, she served two terms on the boards of the Council for Interior Design Accreditation and the Landscape Architecture Foundation, the FIT Interior Design board, and the NYC Center for Architecture Advisory Board.

She has received two IIDA Presidential Commendations, is an honorary member of the ASLA and AIA NYC, and the 2008 recipient of the ASID Patron’s Prize and Presidential Commendation. Along with Metropolis magazine founding publisher Horace Havemeyer III, Szenasy received the 2007 Civitas August Heckscher Award for Community Service and Excellence. She holds an MA from Rutgers University and honorary doctorates from the Art Center College of Design, Kendall College of Art and Design, the New York School of Interior Design, and the Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Michael Graves Visits University of Oregon in Portland, October 2014

Michael Graves Live: A Conversation About Recent Designs, Change, and the Future of the Portland Building

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Alessi teapots, Target clocks, Disney Dolphin Hotels and the Washington Monument restoration—Michael Graves has influenced a generation of American design with a breadth few architects in history have matched. But it was the cream, salmon and blue-colored Portland Building, published on a 1982 cover of Time magazine, that first introduced Graves and the architectural movement of postmodernism to the wider world.


Arguably Portland’s most demonstrative contribution to architectural history, the Portland Building also has been an equally notorious problem: long-loathed by city employees who work inside and plagued with structural problems and leaks. The City of Portland is pondering the landmark’s future. Who better to ask what should happen than its designer?


The University of Oregon’s John Yeon Center and the Portland Art Museum collaborated to present, “Michael Graves Live” on Thursday, October 9 at the museum’s Fields Ballroom. This event was organized in conjunction with Design Week Portland 2014.


In a live, sold-out, on-stage chat with journalist and Yeon Center director Randy Gragg, Graves explored two topics: 1) his career’s evolution since the Portland Building, and, in particular, since an infection rendered him a paraplegic in 2003 inspiring a turn to designing everything from wheelchairs to housing for disabled veterans; and 2) what of the Portland Building should be preserved and what might change during its upcoming renovation. The lecture is available to view on the Portland Art Museum online recording.


Completed in 1981, the Portland Building became an instant icon of the Postmodernist break from the cookie-cutter corporate modernism that had come to dominate architecture, particularly in public buildings. It was successfully listed on the National Historic Register in 2012. Yet built for less than a common commercial office building of the era, the cut-rate budget led to dreary interiors and devastating leaks. After considering several options for the Portland Building—among them demolishing it, the City of Portland will soon solicit proposals from developers, architects and contractors for a remodel.


Few architects might understand the need for adaption better than Graves, now 80, winner of the Presidential Medal of the Arts in 1999 and the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 2001. Ignoring what he thought to be a minor sinus problem in 2003, he woke up to find himself paralyzed from the chest down by an infection that had invaded his brain and spine. But soon after, Graves turned to designing different tools and surroundings for those living with disabilities, from the Prime TC, a replacement for the traditional hospital wheelchair, to the “Michael Graves Active Living Collection,” which includes showerheads, collapsible canes, walkers, and bath seats.


With an introduction by the John Yeon Center’s executive director, Randy Gragg, Graves also held an exclusive discussion at the University of Oregon in Portland on October 8 at the White Stag Block’s Event Room.  Speaking to alumni from the University’s Product Design Program and currently enrolled UO students in Portland, Graves discussed current projects and answered questions about his career. Available online to listen here.

Read Brian Libby’s Portland Architecture coverage.

Read the OregonLive story by Rebecca Koffman.

The Portland Tribune’s follow up coverage.

Watch the KGW interview.