Power and Equity: Zhanina Boyadzhieva and Juliet Chun, Dr. Sally Haslanger, Hana Kassem, Annelise Pitts

Friday, October 19, 2018 at 9:00am to 12:00pm

Building 7, 429
77 MASSACHUSETTS AVE, Cambridge, MA 02139

The progression of 21st-century civil rights movements from Occupy (Wall Street) to #BlackLivesMatter to #TimesUp#MeToo#MeTooWhatNext, to #Dreamers have all sought to draw attention to forms of discrimination whether economic/class based, racial, ethnic, or gender-based. Discussions of equity are foremost discussions of power–of who has it and how it is wielded. This symposium will explore how the dueling impacts of power and equity have and continue to shape the fields of architecture practice and academia.

In a profession historically defined by individual artistic (male) genius, what power does the Architect have and what does it mean to share it? How can increased diversity equal an equitable shift of values and encourage greater interest in and relevance for the profession as a whole? Despite the increased diversity in the presence of women and minorities as students, instructors and administrators, and the presentation of alternative views and interests, the structures of the architectural canon and architectural practice have been slow to acknowledge the need for change and to shift values. How can professions and practices founded on “mansplaining” be redefined for diverse views and voices? How can the field better support the agency of different and collaborative voices and modes of production?


Zhanina Boyadzhieva and Juliet Chun
Founders, Girl UNinterrupted
Leers Weinzapfel Associates Architects, Inc.

Zhanina Boyadzhieva is a Designer at Leers Weinzapfel Associates and Co-Founder of Girl UNinterrupted initiative. She is an avid world traveler, part-time educator and an occasional writer with work published by Architect Magazine, Metropolis, and TEDxBG. Zhanina holds an M. Arch from the Harvard GSD and a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College.

Juliet Chun is an Architect at Leers Weinzapfel Associates and has worked on projects including the OSU East Regional Chilled Water Plant and the John W. Olver Design Building at UMass Amherst. In 2017, she co-founded, “Girl UNinterrupted”, a project aimed at promoting equity in architecture, and has presented her research nationally through conferences, publications, and podcasts.

Dr. Sally Haslanger
MIT LinguisticsMIT PhilosophyMIT Program in Women's and Gender Studies

Sally Haslanger is Ford Professor of Philosophy and Women's and Gender Studies at MIT.  She has published broadly in metaphysics, epistemology, feminist theory, and critical race theory.  Broadly speaking, her work links issues of social justice with contemporary work in epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind; essays on this topic were collected in her book Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique (Oxford 2012).  She currently has a Guggenheim Fellowship to complete a book on social practices and social structure with an emphasis on the materiality of social practices and the role of ideology. 

Hana Kassem, AIA LEED AP
Principal, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF)
AIANY Global Dialogues, Leaning Out

Hana Kassem is a registered architect and a Director at KPF with more than 20 years of experience in the design of a variety of academic, research, cultural, transportation, hospitality, and commercial mixed use projects in the United States, Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East.  Her design philosophy lies in the idea that design should fulfill social needs, creating dynamic and stimulating environments for exchange and collaboration.  Her body of work is representative of a multi-disciplinary approach to design which stems from her Fine Arts and Bachelor of Architecture degrees earned at the Rhode Island School of Design.  Some of the notable projects she has led in collaboration with her teams include, the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center just completed in NYC and awarded the NY State Excelsior Award for public projects, and the Chapman Graduate School of Business at FIU in Miami, awarded the Chicago Athaneum Award.  She serves as co-chair for the AIANY Global Dialogues Committee, which aims to explore the ways that culture, cities, and voices are defined through global exchange.  She is also a member of the Van Alen Institute’s International Council. Hana holds a part-time faculty position at The New School, Parsons’ School of Constructed Environments.

Annelise Pitts
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, NY
Research Chair, Equity by Design 
Member, AIA Equity and the Future of Architecture Committee

Annelise Pitts is an architect with Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. She recently moved from San Francisco to New York, where she’s been helping the firm to build their new office. As Research Chair for Equity by Design, she has led three national surveys exploring the professional experiences and aspirations of graduates of architecture programs. She is also member of AIA’s Equity and the Future of Architecture Committee, where she is collaborating on the development of the Guides for Equitable Practice, which will offer practical advice to firms and individuals aiming to build equitable workplaces. 


Fall 2018 Conversations on Practice are organized by Yolande Daniels, Bob Mohr, Andrew Scott, and J. Meejin Yoon, with the Professional Practice course in the MIT Department of Architecture. Conversations aim to engage in productive dialogue about the current and future of practice, by focusing on the airing of critical, timely, and urgent questions facing architectural practice today.

Conversations take place on Friday mornings - September 28, October 19, and November 9 – from 9 AM - 12 PM, in the Long Lounge, Room 7-429.



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