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Practice : Spring 2012
To inform our strategic planning process, more than 130 designers, educators, and leaders in the spatial de sign field s g athered before BuildBoston for Change:O rder:The Futures of Design Learning. This participatory daylong conference wa s designed to create new ideas and approache s. Five stimul ating Catalysts: Kermit Baker, Chief Economist for the America n Institute of Architects; Steve Brittan, Principal of Stantec; Jim Cramer, Principal and Chairman of The Greenway Group, Ted Landsmark, President of The Boston Architectural College, and Neri Ox man, MIT Media Lab delivered brief, thought-provoking presentations, formu- lated to inspire small groups to brainstorm about the issues , redefine the questions, a nd initiate innovative planning for the future. Funded by the Nationa l Endowment for the Arts and the Angelo Donghia Foundation, the conference suggested multiple outcome s —ne w direction s for design education, input for the BAC’s next strategic plan, refinements to the current curriculum, a nd a series of research mono- graphs addressing six major are a s of interest in design research, teaching, and practice. No topic was off limits —forms of practice, the economy, types of degrees, how education is delivered to students, the nature of de sign thinking, designers’ role in society, a nd the value of research. Some participants wondered: is design suffering from an identity crisis? Re sponse s ranged from Jim Cramer’s a ssertion s that recent shifts have supported some forms of practice to Neri Oxman’s presentation of be autiful, functiona l object s and built forms de veloped through the application of new technologies to challenging design problems. Steve Brittan obser ved that c urrent students are hungry for more meaningful ways of interacting with society, while Kermit Baker sur veyed demographic trends a nd noted that it is often those attempting to enter the design profe ssions who suffer most in difficult times and may leave the design fields entirely. Respondents Susan Szen a sy, Editor-in-Chief of Metropolis Magazine, BAC Provost Julia Halevy, a nd Peter Kuttner, President of Cambridge Seven Associate s provoked the group to address the challenges raised throughout the working session s, a s information from the working groups displayed in real time on large plasma screens, s ynthesized visua lly by Peter Kuttner who wa s supported by the BAC Research team. Susan Szenasy pushed the groups to think about new forms of c ollaboration, scholarship, and the role of research in design and design educ ation, facilitators drew diagrams of every talk, translating Change Order: The Futures of Design Education Elizabeth Cahn, Architect, Educator, Critic Illustration (above): Peter Kuttner PRACTICE 44 FEATURE] CHANGE ORDER