ReDesign.School Roundtable: Architecture / In partnership with AIA Arizona / 06.11.18

The second of our local ReDesign.School roundtable discussions focused on architecture. We gathered at AIA Arizona’s office on April 25, 2018 to discuss the future of design and design education as it relates specifically to architecture. We were joined by 19 local practititioners including a large representation by alumni of our program. What follows is an overview of the discussion.


Jason Boyer – Studio Ma

Melissa Farling – Gould Evans/Canary

Kelly Hatch – Gould Evans/Canary

Aaron Herring – Gould Evans/Canary

Philip Horton – The Design School at ASU
Clinical Assistant Professor, Architecture Program Head

Marlene Imirzian, FAIA – Marlene Imirzian & Associates

Diane Jacobs – Holly Street Studio

John Kane – Architekton
Founding Partner

Tina Litteral – AIA Arizona
Executive Vice President

Caroline Lobo – suoLL architects

Bryan Maddock – Fantastic Offense Co.

Alison Rainey – Shepley Bulfinch

Olivia Raisanen – Orcutt|Winslow

Maria Salenger – Jones Studio
Senior Associate

Krista Shepherd – Gould Evans/Canary

Diana Smith – AIA Arizona
Director of Local Chapters

Robert Tieni – Design Sense Architecture & Design

Michael Underhill – The Design School at ASU
Professor, Architecture

Rob Viergutz – Jones Studio
Senior Project Manager

After introductions, a warm-up exercise kicked off the evening, with participants writing down their answers to the question, “Where is design going?” 


Where is design going?

Post-it note exercise – Full Group

Olivia Raisanen shares her thoughts on where design is going.


Alison Rainey

  • Extended
  • Global
  • Artificial augmentation- technology married with design

Krista Shepherd

  • Multi-authored
  • Technical automation
  • Socially connected
  • Broadened spectrum

Robert Tieni

  • Where are we being led?
  • Flexibility to react to user trends

John Kane

  • Regenerative- beyond sustainable
  • Transdisciplinary
  • Evolving to hybrid specializations; silos dissolving

Maria Salenger

  • Individualistic/hybrid
  • Prioritization

Diane Jacobs

  • Interdisciplinary- blurring line between practices
  • Engaging in politics- moving from reactive to proactive
  • Telling stories, building narratives

Bryan Maddock

  • Design is going everywhere
  • Design is social
  • Design is going forward- design as a process is constantly moving; we as designers need to know the undercurrents

Phil Horton

  • Increased transparency of design decisions
  • Generative design processes
  • Design beyond building- broader scopes and broader timelines

Melissa Farling

  • Design thinking is going everywhere
  • Understanding the role of design on wellness
  • Broader multidisciplinary- beyond the traditional design disciplines

Kelly Hatch

  • Tech and tools- how they help and hurt
  • Experiential

Caroline Lobo

  • Architectural education needs to go beyond design
  • AI/imagination/collaborative

Jason Boyer

  • Faster and faster
  • More design automation
  • Performance driven- need to justify the WHY?
  • Moving beyond what architects have traditionally been asked to do. Business world has discovered design as its new buzzword, that’s not necessarily a good thing

Aaron Herring

  • Design has become pervasive
  • Automation/changing interfaces
  • Ubiquity of design may lead to superficiality
  • Mass customization- the ability to customize your own tools
  • WIDTH- design is touching all things

Marlene Imirzian

  • Flexible use
  • Density
  • Beyond Earth very soon

Olivia Raisanen

  • Holistic
  • Human interaction- social aspect of design
  • Sensitivity to human and ecological needs
  • Technology and integration of new systems

Rob Viergutz

  • Collaboration
  • Enrichment of the human spirit

Michael Underhill

  • Sustainable practice
  • Technical competence
  • Leadership in the urbanization of the world


Overall impressions from the sticky note exercise:

  • Jason Boyer: “There’s a lot to attack here. We can’t be all things to everyone.”
  • Diane Jacobs: “Business acumen and entrepreneurship. This is the delivery method in which our designs come to market.”
  • Robert Tieni: “How does our design education impact the clients we end up selling to?”

Attendees were then led into smaller group conversations to discuss the next three questions.


What are the skillsets of the future we should be teaching now?

Small Group Discussion


Melissa Farling, Kelly Hatch, Aaron Herring and Krista Shepherd

Hard skills

  • Liberal arts, broader perspective
  • Storytelling/concept
  • Rhetorics
  • Continuing classes in craft and drawing; traditional craft (design and making) and technological craft which is constantly evolving
  • Experience/empathy- get outside of yourself
  • Interweaving life and life skills

Soft skills

  • Judgement- using judgement to solve complex problems
  • Mental agility
  • FOCUS- finding loss of deep concentration; building and maintaining focus needed to accomplish big projects
  • Conflict resolution
  • Sensitivity to basic human needs/behaviors
  • We talk about civic space, but architects don’t occupy civic space as much as we should. This is where we need to build empathy skillsets.

Marlene Imirzian, Caroline Lobo, Bryan Maddock, Alison Rainey and Robert Tieni

  • Understanding clearly what your role as an architect is in different situations
  • Quicker introduction of the office environment- more robust internship and mentorship programs
  • Generalist- exposure to all aspects of the profession
  • Critical thinking- knowing what questions to ask and when to ask them; finding answers within
  • Judgement, scale, proportion, basics of design

Jason Boyer, John Kane, Olivia Raisenan, and Michael Underhill

  • Design fundamentals, particularly in undergraduate level, should go on longer
  • Teach more technology and visualization tools
  • Synthesizing ideas; diagramming/skills to explain ideas
  • School emphasizes the star designer’s role, but neglects people who shine in other aspects that are just as noble- management, marketing, business etc.
  • Communicating and collaborating; understanding the designer is part of a team and not always the leader
  • More experience in school working with other professions and professionals-THIS IS HARD TO DO, BUT WE NEED TO FIGURE IT OUT

Phil Horton, Diane Jacobs, Maria Salenger and Rob Viergutz

  • Written and verbal and communication skills
  • Greater understanding of the path a project travels
  • Direct instruction in modules focused on craft- designing, drawing, making, building, etc.
  • Exposure to construction
  • Getting upstream in the design/build process
  • Problem-solving with urgency and with specific objectives
  • Instilling and building confidence in the students
  • Work ethic; taking ownership
  • Objectivity
  • Let the computer and technology be the tool rather than the design driver
  • Client education
  • Public engagement
  • Entrepreneurship; business acumen
  • Citizenship
  • Resilience
  • Repairing, Fixing, Adapting, Making New vs. Building New

How can design education be more relevant?

Small Group Discussion

Aaron Herring, Phil Horton, Alison Rainey and Olivia Raisanen

  • Sustainability
  • Semester abroad
  • Travel earlier; more traveling in the U.S.
  • Design-build
  • More topical studios
  • Who defines relevance? If it’s market-defined, it leaves us chasing
  • What’s the identity at ASU? Water? Climate change? More focus on climate research- LET’S BE “IN THE DESERT”
  • Sustainable design; energy efficiency
  • More place-specific design; look to context-based movements- Bauhaus Black Hills, et al
  • Identity: Have a focus; a critical movement
  • Expanding/broadening education vs. deeper, e.g. Architecture + Electrical Engineering

Caroline Lobo, Bryan Maddock and Krista Shepherd

  • Integrating end-users from all facets of life
  • Civic engagement- embedding students on boards and commissions
  • Must focus on educating critical thinkers and problem solvers
  • Have perspective
  • Exposure
  • Authentically connected

Jason Boyer, Kelly Hatch, Diane Jacobs and Michael Underhill

  • How can the school be more relevant? A high quality product- some schools are producing higher quality
  • Expectations of technology do not supersede the endeavor as a whole
  • Definition that we have tools that other professions don’t have
  • Produce students who are aware of context
  • The students can be more relevant once they know what’s going on in the world, politics and governance
  • Students with a wide variety of raw skills and the strengths to know how to use them; synthesis of ideas
  • The ability to have human interaction outside of the profession
  • Emotionally intelligent adults and leaders

Melissa Farling, John Kane, Marlene Imirzian

  • Problem solving needs to be specific and meaningful
  • “Relevant” vs. Useful
  • Who are we hiring? Has that changed over the past 30 years?
  • There is a lack of deep thinking (not just limited to architecture)

Imagine an ideal transdisciplinary course or program. What would that look like?

Small Group Discussion


Professor Michael Underhill, Diane Jacobs and John Kane imagine an ideal transdisciplinary studio course.

Diane Jacobs, John Kane, Bryan Maddock and Michael Underhill

  • Program on the moon/outerspace or a disaster zone- someplace where you have to start from scratch- infrastructure and beyond
  • Solution might not be “architecture”
  • Finding ways to make money without creating architecture. If your project didn’t have the goal of making money from a building, what would your solution be?
  • Engage with a futurist like David Guthrie- design ahead as opposed to designing for today
  • “Rural Studio” type class- design/build

Phil Horton, Caroline Lobo and Robert Tieni

  • Real-world studio problem defined by end-user, driven by real-life need
  • Working with healthcare professionals
  • Inviting students from teachers college- designing curriculum along with the school space
  • Healthcare moving away from symptoms to wellness- how does that redefine architecture?
  • Social justice is a significant need- working on projects like Jeannie Gang’s redefining of a police station
  • The future of fire stations- working with fire departments
  • Working with cities that have public facilities

Melissa Farling, Marlene Imirzian and Krista Shepherd

  • Work on brief timeline; throw the students a curveball
  • Start a construction-integrated studio. Involve mechanical, structural, electrical engineers, construction students; design and build something together
  • Incorporate the best thinkers within another field to come in, no matter the profession- give their impression of the work and where it should be. Getting that person integrated early can drive better results in studio.

Kelly Hatch, Aaron Herring, Allison Rainey and Olivia Raisanan

  • Food by Design, Design by Food – planning a meal for a new restaurant as a design problem. Understanding each component from farm to table, agriculture, land use, space design, graphic communication; becomes understanding of a greater system. Explore different technical skills via drawings for the space, tableware, menu design, etc.

Food by Design, Design by Food


How do we promote and further equity and inclusion in our school and beyond?

Full Group Discussion

Marlene Imirzian: “The reality of the architecture profession when it comes to equity is stark.”

Krista Shepherd: “Be unapologetic about making equity present in the school.”

Olivia Raisanen: “We need greater representation in the lecturers who are invited to come to the school to speak to students, in addition to faculty.”

Kelly Hatch: “Diverse learning requires diverse teaching.”

Bryan Maddock: “We really need to think deliberately about eliminating the milestone to advance to the professional program. What are the benefits versus the disadvantages?”

Diane Jacobs: “Equity and inclusion for the sake of equity and inclusion is not the best way to move forward. In order to achieve this, we need to be focused on giving the students, when they come in, a common language to address these issues that arise.”

ReDesign.School Roundtable: Architecture

In partnership with AIA Arizona

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2 comments on “ReDesign.School Roundtable: Architecture

  1. Robert M Tieni says:

    The lessons taught in Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ are still relevant and will always be, as long as humans interact…required reading for everyone aspiring to interact.

  2. Enjoyed being a fly on the wall of this conversation! I agree that we need to strike a balance between creating generalists who can do a lot of things very well versus creating unicorns who can do it all perfecy every time. Undergraduate work should be a time to sample a lot of different things — and through the process discover who they might become, not conform to unrealistic job listings.

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