Over 50 people packed downtown Cleveland's Take 5 jazz lounge to hear big ideas from some of the city's most active architects, designers, and planners. The February 27th event served as a relaxed venue to celebrate Black History Month and promote the original work of local design professionals.
Jennifer Coleman, Co-Chair of Design Diversity's Programming Committee, served as emcee for the lively evening. Six speakers took turns on stage to share their work in 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide, according to a precise format devised by PechaKucha. Started in 2003, PechaKucha Night was conceived in Tokyo as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. The simple and effective presentation format has since spread to over 700 cities around the world.
The evening's first presenter was Arlene Watson, Principal and Creative Director of visual communications firm Möbius Grey. Arlene's graphic design work spans various contexts, including print media, building interiors, and outdoor public spaces. Her unique background has shaped her ability to conceive unexpected approaches to design projects for clients including the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, The Cleveland School of the Arts, and statewide health campaigns.
Jason Russell shared his story of falling in love with cities and how this passion led him to a career in urban planning. Currently working for the City of Lakewood, Jason's role in the planning department focuses on revitalizing the city's historic building stock. As a resident of South Euclid, he also serves as Chair of the City's Planning Commission and dedicates his time to numerous initiatives aimed at improving livability in Cleveland-area neighborhoods.
Currently working as an intern architect at Robert Madison International, Michele Crawford wasn't always certain about her career path. "You would have thought I knew this all along," said Michele, "but it wasn't until I was already on the architecture road that I thoughtfully committed to this profession." As she became more aware of the built environment's power to shape human behavior, her desire to design meaningful spaces also grew. Michele shared her graduate thesis research with the audience, which explored the notion of "Hip Hop Architecture." Michele argued that this historically-rooted lens can reveal exciting possibilities for architectural form and cultural relevance.
A Cleveland transplant, Jason Eugene-Boarde is Project Support Specialist at Organizational Architecture, Inc. and a graduate student in Urban & Regional Planning at Cleveland State University. Jason presented his work with Pedal Patch Community in Los Angeles, completed before he moved to Cleveland. PPC LA is a community-based nonprofit dedicated to the renewal of local, sustainable food systems. PPC projects are associated with positive land use, brownfield conversions, food system resetting, and community involved urban planning using the application of urban agriculture and green building projects.
The evening's final presenter was Diane Davis-Sikora, Associate Professor at Kent State University's College of Architecture & Environmental Design. Her design work explores innovative uses for inflatable structures to address problems involving vacant structures. Diane's current projects include research on large-scale pneumatic forms that function as aeroponic farming systems.
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View the PechaKucha presentation slides below: