Metropolis’ Susan Szenasy Presents Metropolis LIVE! In conversation with Frances Bronet
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 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.”
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 Live: A Conversation About Recent Designs, Change, and the Future of the Portland Building
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.
Smarter Everyday: From Bits and Bytes to Realtime Knowledge
We have learned to exist in a world that is far from perfect. From diseases to global warming, from feast to famine, from carbon footprints to shameless use of fossil fuels to man’s inhumanity to man, we cope, we innovate, we create, we make and we find new ways to move forward. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this progress inherently entails getting smarter. Whether increasing the knowledge of those around us to better understand a need for global environmental cooperation to creating systems that will opportunistically reach and improve the lives of citizens in our most populated cities, the drive to get smarter and be able to dynamically adjust and do more with less is the new call to action. At the forefront of the modern sustainable revolution and with the admirable goal to improve and begin the long march forward to sustain a living, healthy planet, there are individuals who dedicate their work and creativity to making our world a “smarter” place. Herman D’Hooge is one such person.
Today, Herman D’Hooge hails as a Senior Principal Engineer and Innovation Strategist at Intel. Yet, far from the fast-paced industry, innovation, and technology of Intel, D’Hooge grew up in the small village of Lennik, Belgium-–a place, he notes is known for a charmingly non-technological connection to draft horses. The bucolic landscape of Lennik might have launched an early appreciation for the nature of a village or the possibility of a city within the peacefulness of an environment, but whatever the impetus, Herman D’Hooge’s path led him to an academic background steeped in technology innovation, the accelerated world of information systems, and the concept of smart cities. With graduate degrees in electrical engineering and computer science (University of Ghent, Belgium), D’Hooge arrived stateside at Intel in 1979 as part of an exchange program between Intel and ITT Bell Telephone from Antwerp. In his exchange assignment he worked on the development of the operating system of Intel’s newest microprocessor. The knowledge gained from this project would be invaluable in designing ITT’s first generation of computer-controlled telephone switching systems after his return. As D’Hooge became increasingly immersed in the Intel project he also became increasingly fascinated with leading-edge microcomputer development. He never returned to his job at ITT Bell Telephone. In 1981 he joined Intel as a full-time employee and by doing so started a long journey in technology innovation.
For the first few decades, much of this innovation is what we, the public, experienced as a continuous stream of improvements to the PC, or the personal computer. By the mid 1990s, PCs morphed into indispensable office productivity tools as well common household objects. It was also at that time that D’Hooge’s interests shifted from technology invention and development to thinking about what it is people want from future computers. During those years, finding New Uses and New Users for computing was the mantra. Rather than building ever more powerful computers and hoping they (users) would come because they would find a good use for it, Intel wanted change in how to inform future technology roadmaps: determine first what new uses the PC should be providing by trying to peer into the minds of current and future users and have that reveal how PCs should evolve in capabilities. It was the period when Intel started experimenting with ethnographic methods to gain insights into these new users new uses. It became clear that computing would also provide value to people when delivered in forms other than computers. With most every thing in the real world on the path to eventually becoming digital or being touched by the digital revolution, opportunities for innovation were plenty.
One such opportunity occurred in 1998 when D’Hooge co-founded a joint project with toy giant Mattel®. Mattel was perhaps best known for Barbies and Hot Wheels. The venture opened in Portland’s Pearl district and set out to develop a line of PC-connected toys that enabled ways of playing enabling kids to discover, explore and create in ways connecting them to technology. The venture ran for about three years and created and marketed toys such as Intel Play QX3 computer microscope among several others. When the internet bubble was about to burst in 2001, the toy venture was closed and the business assets sold to a small toy company in Atlanta (which to this date still sells computer microscopes). D’Hooge and most of his teammates flowed back into mainstream Intel.
Returning into the fold, the experience gained by this venture in consumer products proved tremendous. D’Hooge comments that the insights gained via the processes for researching, creating, developing and marketing consumer products taught much about how to do it and how to connect all the dots from ethnographic research all the way to computer chip technology definition. He established a user centered design team focused on reimagining the PC by applying these newly learned practices. He grew a mixed discipline team of ethnographers, industrial designers, interaction designers, human factors experts, mechanical/ electrical/ software engineers, and individuals focused on business and marketing. In the years that followed, this team designed and engineered a series of purpose-built personal computer experiences ranging from pioneering all-in-one desktop PCs, PCs for consumers in China, PCs for internet cafes in China, to kiosk PCs for rural India, as well several first-of-kind computer user experience prototypes. Many of these PC designs were picked up and productized by PC manufacturers. Several of the practices by which these computers were conceived and developed slowly started to find their way into Intel’s standard set of product planning and development business processes.
In 2010, D’Hooge joined Intel’s Eco-Technology Program Office where he and the team explored the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for improving environmental sustainability. The approach was based on the simple idea that the adoption and use of ICTs in industries such as buildings, construction, transportation, agriculture, energy, and water would enable those industries to gain better insights into what goes in their systems which would, in turn, lead to better decisions and ultimately a smarter use of resources such as energy and materials, a reduction in cost, and a smaller environmental footprint. One environment where many of these systems all come together and interact which each other creating additional opportunities for innovation is within a city. This initially sparked D’Hooge’s interest in looking at the city as the unit of analysis.
Curiously enough, this all ties into the University of Oregon and the School of Architecture and Allied Arts —a place that is very fortunate to have Herman D’Hooge on the school’s board of visitors and as an active and encouraging supporter of the UO AAA academic environment. Every seven years Intel offers its employees an eight-week sabbatical. It’s an ideal opportunity to renew oneself and return fully reenergized. Getting ready to start his fourth sabbatical in 2012 D’Hooge asked to spend his sabbatical teaching at UO thereby exploring his interest in integrating technologies, sustainability, product design. He hoped to also delve deeper into the smart cities concept. It turns out that a teaching sabbatical can be extended up to six months which is what ended up happening and timing was perfect for an UO AAA Fall Term course. He saw an opportunity to seamlessly blend these interests with the vibrant interdisciplinary environment of the UO Portland location, where students study in the fields of architecture, product design and digital arts.
D’Hooge, himself forever the open-source diplomat, realized the possibility of teaming up with University of Oregon students who could bring fresh pairs of eyes with insights and connectivity to a city they lived in and cared about. Fall term 2012 saw the first offering of D’Hooge’s Smart Cities workshop at the UO White Stag location in Portland’s Old Town Chinatown, 408|508 Smarter Cities Allied Arts Interdisciplinary course.
The goal of the course “was to explore the space of possibility created by the adoption of information and communications technology (ICT) in the urban environment.” D’Hooge further explains, “The focus was not on how the technology works, but on how its adoption can contribute to making cities more efficient, more environmentally sustainable, more equitable, more livable, more prosperous.” The workshop had 29 University of Oregon in Portland students. Guest lecturers for the workshop included Joe Zehnder, chief of planning with the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability who introduced the students to “The Portland Plan.” Students set about to imagine recommendations they would make for where, how, and why ICT’s could make a positive impact. A report was prepared that details the strongest student suggestions (view the PDF here).
[About The Portland Plan: The Portland Plan presents a strategic roadmap to help Portland thrive into the future. The result of more than two years of research, dozens of workshops and fairs, hundreds of meetings with community groups, and 20,000 comments from residents, businesses and nonprofits, the plan’s three integrated strategies and framework for advancing equity were designed to help realize the vision of a prosperous, educated, healthy and equitable Portland.]
Not only would the students be able to work on their own environment and consider the potential of change and improvement to Portland but they would be able to connect in meaningful ways to Intel future employment opportunities. Intel and D’Hooge envision the university environment as one of forward-thinking, research oriented, open and receptive to new ideas and the intersection of those new ideas with creative people. D’Hooge was excited to explore smarter city technologies and to experience how spaces and objects could be infused with technology. The Smarter Cities workshop with the students from architecture, digital arts and product design advocated an interaction between people and spaces where thinking about technology became more of a “What can I do, as an individual, to enhance my environment? What can I do to make life better and make the planet more sustainable?” attitude. D’Hooge and his students set out to tackle this question from a uniquely Portland vantage.
The original Portland Plan is to be implemented by 2035. D’Hooge and his students saw an opportunity to enhance The Portland Plan by investigating how information technologies can help it be, as D’Hooge simply states, “smarter.” So, what does that mean?
“Smart” explains D’Hooge starts by obtaining better insights into what really happens in a city at the moment it happens enabling humans to make better informed decision about their city. Sensors embedded in a city’s systems (traffic lights, parking spaces, sidewalks, buildings, water pipes, etc.) in real-time communicate their information to a central location. There the information is analyzed, possibly combined with other information, and interpreted. This information forms the basis for decisions. For example: sensors in the water mains under a busy intersection can detect if a water main breaks soon after it happens. The information about the break can be used to dynamically chance traffic lights and update GPS information accessed by vehicles to route traffic away from the intersection while dispatching emergency vehicles to the area. This also illustrates how water and traffic systems can meaningfully interact in a city environment, a system of systems.
Knowing the infusion of student’s ideas into The Portland Plan could propel an evolutionary-like energy, the students enthusiastically welcomed this opportunity. Their recommendations reflect an impulse of vitality and change; their innovation projects a sense of buoyant optimism—youthful, full of promise, hope and vigorous with possibility. The list of “smart” recommendations arrived at by the UO students include such improvements as good student incentives supported by ICT devices, student tutor chats online via Skype chats, matching of students with mentors in the community via databases, new car sharing schemes, safe routes shown on maps controlled by citizens and their smartphones, smart city lighting that incorporates emergency signals and neighborhood celebratory lighting, bike-based sensors to plan cycling corridors and people aware intersections, parking improvements enhanced by the use of pre-assigned parking places, river water quality found on a phone app, and public viewing of cultural performances. “The ‘Smarter’ Portland Plan” is divided into three sections, Thriving, Educated Youth; Healthy, Connected City; Economic Prosperity and Affordability.
On June 26, the Portland City Council invited Herman D’Hooge and his students to present “The ‘Smarter’ Portland Plan” to the City Council. In attendance to represent the UO was Nancy Cheng, Department of Architecture director of Portland architecture program; Candace Horter, VP UO Advancement, Portland; Kiersten Muenchinger, director of the Product Design program; prominent advocates from the neighborhood included Anne Naito-Campbell, Randy Gragg and Paddy Tillett, among others. The council voted to adopt the plan and Mayor Charlie Hales commented that the report constituted a “rich menu of interesting ideas.” In the weeks following the June presentation, the UO in Portland School of Architecture and Allied Arts was contacted by the City Club of Portland’s executive director, Sam Adams and asked to present the Plan to the City Club at a future date.
D’Hooge’s “”Smarter’ Portland Plan” might hold the key to integrating more and “smarter” information technologies as 2035 approaches. The citizens of Portland might experience a community of well-integrated sensors, antennas, smartphones, and command and control centers—all with the intention of making this place better. The enticing possibility of such day-to-day frustrations such as parking downtown becoming easier by a simple sensor that would send data to a command center and then update an application on one’s smartphone directing and saving a specific parking place might be a more realistic possibility than not in the coming years. The idea that real-time information can be used to improve an experience of an urban environment with everything from road closures, to viewing concerts, to bus delays, to whether or not today is a good day to swim in the river, is nothing short of captivating.
The work on The ‘Smarter’ Portland Plan also laid a foundation for a continued collaboration between the city and Portland-based UO students. The idea of embedding UO students as “community creatives” in city project teams can be a win-win. The city taps the creativity and passion of the students and brings in their knowledge and point of view. Students get to work of projects that are likely to become real and get exposure to the real world.
To envision a city where, we, the people, are relevant, listened to, informed and would have the possibility of a democratic exchange of ideas and information seems a utopia we all should advocate for. And living in an urban fabric where the city can find ways to share information with no commercial purpose, dare we dream so big? One might say, the time has come. . . .
University of Oregon students in Herman D’Hooge’s Smarter Cities workshop who prepared “The ‘Smarter’ Portland Plan are,
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