At the culmination of four years study and two masters degrees — through which I had the privilege to learn from some of the best minds in our field — I was frustrated. The practical difficulty of coming to terms with the vast existential challenges of our era, many of which may come to challenge our cultural survival, often pushes design to opt for myopic, more easily marketed, or unrealistic solutions. My thinking is preoccupied with the reality of accelerating inequality, rampant environmental injustice, and design stasis in the face of climate change that demands tactical adaptation.
In the Spring 2014 Advanced Project Design Studio I was fortunate to benefit from the wise mentorship of Professor David Meyer, who gave me free reign to explore the potentials of our practice in a tradition of art through rigor. The result was simultaneously a design project, a study through painting, and perhaps, humbly, poetic.
Landscape architecture must help our communities confront the coming challenges of our era with ever decreasing resources. Respect, restraint, and honesty should be valued above the panacea solutionism which has been a trend of practice in recent years. The 16th Street Station studio project addresses a site in a neglected corner of poverty-stricken West Oakland. Here, disenfranchised communities are being displaced to accommodate a growing high income workforce while sea level rise and particulate pollution disproportionately affect the same neighborhoods. An abandoned and collapsing historic (1912) Beaux Arts train station sits in an empty field upon toxic bay fill, aside one of the largest freeways in the country (I-80). How can Oakland remediate this building, declared too expensive to repair, while also improving air quality in heavily impacted neighborhoods, and creating a park that pays homage to this grand building? Minimalism and a preference for maintenance before formal design strategies, guides the project.
Currently, the existing site is guarded 24/7 by a city funded private security guard. The project inverts this defensive approach and instead proposes that a caretaker live on site, acting as an advocate for the landscape. The site is thus maintained in an early French agrarian tradition of productive forests, but is wholly modern in its planting approach and intents.
The project seeks to ameliorate the major environmental and social challenges to West Oakland. Sustainability is found in the mitigation of particulate pollution, phytoremediation of the soil, and the preclusion of scheduled high-end development which would irreparably change neighborhood character. The plan acknowledges demonstrable shifts in the landscape over time, with a drainage plan that assumes an eventual marshland landscape where mature trees become rampikes and a living clock for a community threatened by rising tides. The plan encourages community participation with elements constructed by local craftspeople using materials found on site.
The 16th Street Station proposed design has been well-received and hopefully contributes to the expansion of the perceived limits of our practice. I was honored to receive recognition from the American Society of Landscape Architects with an Honor Award in General Design, 2014. I remain indebted to the faculty at the CED who challenged me to expand the limits of my practice and encouraged me to remain true to the larger philosophies I hold as a designer.
In 2010, after celebrating the 50th anniversary of CED, Dean Wolch approached a small group of dedicated and caring alumni and friends of CED to ask their help in advancing the strategic goals of the college through their professional expertise, counsel, and connections.
The Dean’s Advisory Council — an evolution of the CED Alumni (CEDA) board of directors which had served the college since 1990 — has grown to a diverse group of 26 alumni and friends who act as close advisors to the dean and ambassadors of the college.
“I appreciate CED’s focus on designing an integrated educational experience that acknowledges the critically important challenges associated with shaping the environment, whether through physical or policy means, as the world becomes ever smaller. I am honored to be part of the Dean’s Advisory Committee and am happy to support the work at CED through this involvement.”
— Lydia Tan, B.Arch ’83
Senior Vice President, Development for the Western U.S., Bentall Kennedy
Members of the Dean’s Advisory Council — which include such notable alumni as San Francisco Foundation CEO Fred Blackwell, Johnson Fain founders Scott Johnson and William Fain, SPUR Executive Director Gabriel Metcalf, Walt Disney Company Director of Health Management Barbara Wachsman, and SWA Group Chairman John Wong — represent a range of professions and geographies and comprise not only graduates from the three departments within CED, but also notable leaders from outside the college. The Council was originally chaired by Bob Lalanne and the current chair is Sylvia Kwan. Membership in the Dean’s Advisory Council is by invitation of the dean of the college.
While Advisory Council members pledge an annual contribution to the CED Annual Fund during their three-year term of service, their greater impact comes from bringing their professional expertise to help CED leadership shape activities, programs, and facility development; and inspiring others in the CED family to make contributions in support of these endeavors.
Advisory Council members generously give their time and talent, often going above and beyond, with significant in-kind and pro-bono support to build the CED community, help students, and aid the dean in making improvements to Wurster Hall. Maintaining and nurturing the CED community is essential to the prosperity of the college. Members in New York and Los Angeles go out of their way to coordinate or host both intimate events and large-scale programs, allowing alumni outside the Bay Area to network and continue their relationship with CED.
“The Dean’s Advisory Council is a tremendous way for me to remain connected to Berkeley — important both personally and professionally as a way to keep Disney on the cutting edge of architecture, urban/environmental planning. Having direct exposure to Dean Wolch and other Cal faculty is an absolute dream and allows me to remain up to date about Cal and my professional community. We love to hire Wurster grads at Disney and the Council is a great way to stay informed about what that next generation’s values and interests are.”
— Barbara Wachsman, M.C.P. ’83
Director of Health Management, The Walt Disney Company
Providing professional internships within their firms and supporting internship programs is another endeavor where Council members are an invaluable resource. Internships programs, such as CED’s On-SITE, allow students to enhance their education with practical hands-on experience in firms while introducing these organizations to some of the brightest and most determined design students soon to enter the market. Advisory Council members also enrich the student experience by conveying their knowledge and professional expertise through accepting faculty invitations to speak at classes, participate in reviews, or by making the significant financial commitment to sponsor a studio course.
Generous pro-bono and financial contributions by Advisory Council members ensure that Wurster Hall facilities meet the needs of current and future students and faculty. Members have played an important role in helping improve Wurster Hall — contributing to the Gallery, first and second-floor lobbies, Flex Studios, and the Digital Fabrication Lab which houses new digitally controlled equipment. The new Materials Store, where CED students can purchase fabrication supplies, was also realized through the generous financial support of a Council member.
One of the most essential contributions the Advisory Council makes is in supporting the dean in strategic planning. Members played an active role in developing the 2012 Strategic Plan, supporting the implementation of a road map that will be the touchstone for planning and fundraising for the next 5 to 10 years.
In addition to their fundraising support for several key initiatives built into the strategic plan such as Flex Studios — the campaign to update Wurster’s studios with multiple platforms for creativity, research, and design collaboration — the Dean’s Advisory Council is also called upon to encourage others to give to the CED Annual Fund.
Over the last several years, this group’s commitment to the CED Fund has made a significant difference to the college. An essential resource as CED faces critical issues that challenge today’s public educational institutions, the CED Fund provides the college with crucial support for a variety of activities, including educational programming and opportunities such as lectures, exhibits, and international studios; the research efforts of our outstanding junior faculty; and CED’s Career Services, an office dedicated to helping our students launch their professional careers.
Contributors of $1000 or more to the CED Fund become members of the Wurster Society. For the past three decades, members of the Wurster Society have provided leadership gifts to meet high-priority needs and to allow CED to capitalize on unexpected opportunities.
“I am honored to serve on the Dean’s CED Council in an effort to stay engaged and help support the Wurster Hall community. I owe so much of my own success to Berkeley and CED that it is a pleasure to help sustain its great future.”
— Vishaan Chakrabarti, M.Arch ’96
Principal, SHoP Architects, Professor, Columbia University
“We applaud the incredible efforts that the Dean’s Advisory Council has made on behalf of CED, the successes they’ve achieved, and their essential role in helping ensure that the college can meet the needs of current and future students” said CED Dean Jennifer Wolch. “The personal friendships that develop from Advisory Council collaborations are one of most rewarding aspects of my service as dean.”
“Being a part a of the Dean’s advisory committee is both an honor and fulfilling. It gives me an opportunity to stay connected to the school in a meaningful way and make a contribution to its continued success. Jennifer’s leadership has been great for the school and I am grateful for the opportunity to help.”
— Fred Blackwell, M.C.P. ’96
CEO, San Francisco Foundation
Current members of the Dean’s Advisory Council include:
Jackson Hsieh, Vice Chairman of Investment Banking, Morgan Stanley
Scott Johnson, Founder, Johnson Fain
Chris Kent, Principal, PGA Design
Sylvia P. Kwan, Founder, Kwan Henmi Architecture/Planning
Michael Lin, Financial Advisor, Ameriprise Financial Services
Tom Mead, Vice President of Construction Management, Equity Residential
Gabriel Metcalf, Executive Director, SPUR
Michael Painter, President, MPA Design
Lydia Tan, Senior Vice President, Development for the Western U.S., Bentall Kennedy
Barbara Wachsman, Director of Health Management, The Walt Disney Company
John Wong, Managing Principal and Chairman, SWA Group
Joseph O. Wong, Founding Principal, JWDA
Paul Woolford, Design Director, Helmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK)
“I have really enjoyed contributing to the Dean’s Advisory Council. In return it has given me a lot. My understanding of the college’s educational focus has been broadened and clarified. I also have a much better appreciation of the expertise of the faculty. After each meeting/event I find my mind spinning with ideas — reminiscent of being a student again.”
— Chris Kent, M.L.A ’93
Principal, PGA Design
“The Advisory Council exposes me to the accomplishments of CED’s faculty and students, as well as the college’s initiatives and aspirations; it’s invigorating. I am emboldened to make meaningful contributions to the professional trajectory of our young alumni and strengthen the CED community in New York, where I practice.”
“The UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design is of vital importance to our Northern California design community; it creates a place for critical thinking and discourse, and fills our design studios with emerging talent. Our practices depend upon UCB to fill this role, and as such it’s been a privilege to serve on the Dean’s Council at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. It’s an honor to be able to give something back in return.”
On March 7, 2015, at the 6th annual Berkeley Circus Soiree, CED celebrated the achievements of three remarkable alumni with the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards. Kofi Bonner, Daniel Iacofano, and Allison Williams FAIA join an elite cadre of over 70 previously recognized alumni from the departments of Architecture, City & Regional Planning, Decorative Art/Design, and Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning.
Each year, since 1998, CED has honored a select few outstanding professionals who have made notable accomplishments in their careers. It was with pride that Dean Jennifer Wolch presented awards to this year’s distinguished honorees during the March 7th ceremony at the California Memorial Stadium’s University Club.
Born in Ghana, Kofi Bonner is responsible for a number of development projects that promise to significantly transform aging industrial sections of the Bay Area into thriving urban communities. The redevelopment plan for Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay received the Clinton Global Initiative Sustainable Development Award. His current project, The Hunters Point Shipyard-Candlestick Point revitalization — possibly the largest mixed-use urban redevelopment project in the country — was honored with a Grand Award from the Pacific Coast Building Council, the Best Land Plan 2010.
Throughout his career Bonner’s roles in major redevelopment initiatives have led to the revitalization and economic growth of areas including Emeryville, Oakland’s downtown neighborhood, and San Francisco’s Mission Bay. Bonner served as Chief Economic Policy Advisor under Mayor Willie Brown, and from 1998 through 2004, was the Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer for the Cleveland Browns. Kofi Bonner currently serves as President of Lennar Urban, overseeing all land acquisition and urban development activities in Northern California.
Professor and Chair of City & Regional Planning Paul Waddell noted, “Kofi Bonner has been a major force in the planning and revitalization of key Bay Area urban neighborhoods. His accomplishments are a credit to planning practice and an inspiration to students and practitioners in our field.”
Daniel Iacofano (PH.D. Environmental Planning, 1986)
Founding Principal, MIG Inc.
Daniel Iacofano is a founding principal of MIG, Inc., known worldwide for its results-oriented creative projects and innovative research and development initiatives that enhance community livability, support revitalization, and connect people with places.
His award-winning projects — addressing issues in dense urban planning and community design and transit-oriented development — have included campus development plans for UC San Francisco’s new Mission Bay Campus, the University of California at Davis, and California State University at Monterey Bay; the Napa River Flood Protection Project, which will provide flood protection to much of the City of Napa; and an unprecedented health and wellness element for the City of Richmond’s General Plan.
Iacofano is the author of Public Involvement as an Organizational Development Process (1990), Meeting of the Minds (2001), The Inclusive City: Design Solutions for Buildings, Neighborhoods and Urban Spaces (2007), and What is Your Construction Management EQ (2014).
“We are privileged to honor our colleague Dan Iacofano for his groundbreaking work in engaging communities in the planning and design of vital and equitable environments in which to live, work, and play,” said Louise Mozingo, Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning. “His advocacy for effective citizen collaborations has transformed the design and planning professions and public policy. He is an outstanding example of the CED legacy of social responsibility.”
Allison Williams, FAIA (M.Arch. 1976)
Vice President and Director of Design , AECOM
Allison Williams is Vice President and Design Director at AECOM, leading the Western Region practice and the San Francisco studio. Her portfolio of award-winning work spans the globe comprising civic, corporate, and cultural facilities; places for research and education; and mixed-used and high-density urban development. Notable projects include: CREATE (Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise) a 690,000 GSF Greenmark Platinum research campus and innovation hub in Singapore; the Princess Nora Abdulrahman University (PNU) Health Sciences and Research Campus in Riyadh Saudi Arabia (for 40,000 Islamic Women); the acclaimed San Francisco International Terminal; and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Computational Research Theory Facility, slated to complete early this year.
In 1997, Williams was elevated to Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. She is a current member of the Harvard Graduate School of Design Visiting Committee and on the Board of Directors of SPUR.
Professor and Chair of Architecture, Tom Buresh, acknowledged William’s contributions, saying, “Allison William’s talent, vision, and leadership in design and education, and her significant body of work place her in a category unmatched by others. She is a singular and exceptional model of CED Architecture alumni achievement.”
As we look for new ways to improve building performance in our efforts to reduce energy use and lower greenhouse gas emissions from commercial buildings, we must also recognize that occupant comfort cannot be sacrificed. While people’s attitudes towards indoor comfort are complex and dynamic, building systems are not designed to respond to these needs.
A new research collaboration at Berkeley focuses on opportunities to use advanced computing to enable “intelligent” building infrastructure. This has primarily been a partnership among researchers from CED’s Center for the Built Environment (CBE) and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). In just a short time a number of fruitful projects have come out of this collaboration.
One of these initial projects is sMAP (Simple Measurement and Actuation Profile), an open-source protocol to easily integrate data from different sources in buildings — such as energy and building system operations data — into a uniform and accessible platform. Buildings usually have little data on comfort levels and operational efficiency. sMAP has helped by creating a method for gathering these data efficiently. The platform has been deployed in buildings across the UC Berkeley campus as well as at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Based on this work done while they were Ph.D. researchers in computer science at Berkeley’s LoCal Group, Andrew Krioukov (M.S. Computer Science ’13) and Stephen Dawson-Haggerty (Ph.D. Computer Science ’14) developed Comfy, a learning thermostat designed for commercial buildings, and the first product to come out of their Oakland-based startup, Building Robotics. While currently working on my PhD in Building Science at the CED, I also co-lead Building Robotics — along with co-founders Andrew and Stephen, and VP Design & Communications Beau Trincia (M.Arch ’06) — guiding an interdisciplinary team focused on re-inventing building controls with advanced computing and thoughtful user experience.
The Comfy software works on the philosophy that is central to CBE: preferences for temperature vary considerably over time, in different climates, and across populations. In other words, there is no “one size fits all” for temperature. Some of CBE’s most current work looks at the related principle of alliesthesia, explained in this recent paper.
Currently, buildings are not run dynamically — most buildings typically condition spaces between 70–73 degrees throughout the day. The Comfy software enables dynamic and demand-based conditions, providing both an immediate response from the building (either warm or cool air, temporarily) and machine learning to optimize zone temperatures based on user preferences, time of day, day of the week, and the temperature of the space. When no user feedback is seen, the space is left less conditioned to save energy. The software also provides the ability to control lights in a similar fashion.
One interesting aspect of our work is the direct interface between people and the dynamic building space around them. Figure 1 shows the Comfy interface, designed to be more understandable than a typical control. In this way, Comfy has become a wonderful field study in thermal comfort.
Supporting previous CBE findings, we’ve found that people use Comfy to set temperatures in a far broader range than normal — as cold as 65 degrees and as warm as 80 degrees. We see seasonal preferences change as well, especially in the summer when many office buildings tend to be over-cooled. As we dress for the summer, so we prefer our work environments to be warmer. Figures 2 and 3 show our initial data on these issues, showing how people’s temperature preferences can vary significantly more than we may imagine. Importantly, we’ve found a strong persistence over time in the use of the tool, indicating that people build a lasting relationship with the building through this interface.
Technologies like Comfy will increasingly redefine how people experience and interact with buildings in the coming years, allowing a much deeper relationship between the human body and the world around us. What other possibilities will this capability allow? We are looking forward to seeing how this growing field evolves into this new exciting frontier.
To say that Sheila Kennedy is redefining architecture is not an understatement. As the 2014 recipient of the Berkeley-Rupp Architecture Professorship and Prize, Kennedy is recognized not only for her innovative approach to soft infrastructure — expanding the idea of “material” to include the organizational systems with which architecture is made — but also for her dedication to supporting underserved women’s communities through her work.
Made possible through a bequest by UC Berkeley alumna Sigrid Lorenzen Rupp, the bi-annual Berkeley-Rupp Prize of $100,000 is given by UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design to a distinguished design practitioner or academic who has made a significant contribution to advance gender equity in the field of architecture, and whose work emphasizes a commitment to sustainability and community. The prize includes a semester-long professorship, public lecture, and gallery exhibition at CED.
As a founding principal of KVA Matx, Sheila Kennedy directs an interdisciplinary design practice that works at the intersection of architecture, urbanism, and new infrastructure for emerging public needs. Her award winning projects in Brazil, France, Germany, China and the United States include notable building commissions with leading research universities; the East River Public Ferry Terminal in Manhattan; the Soft House work/live residences in Hamburg, Germany; Boston’s Chrysanthemum Building, a low-carbon model for urban housing; and the Portable Light Project, a Matx non-profit design, research and engineering initiative that builds upon the skill sets of women makers in the developing world by integrating clean energy and lighting with textile craft traditions.
Kennedy is also a Professor of the Practice of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture & Planning, the first woman to hold that position at MIT.
“We are delighted to recognize Sheila Kennedy with this prize. Her work is expanding the boundaries of architecture through designs that transform the way we think about materials and urban infrastructure. Her leadership in developing ecologically responsible soft design solutions to enhance the lives of women in developing countries — and her commitment to apply these innovative design principles here at home — exemplifies the highest goals for the Berkeley-Rupp Prize,” said CED Dean Jennifer Wolch.
Kennedy will begin her period in residence at CED in January 2015. As part of her research, Kennedy will partner with NGOs to engage communities of fabricators in three developing regions around the world. She will lead UC Berkeley students in computation, architectural design, engineering, and city planning in a series of hands-on design workshops exploring new urban infrastructure. Using soft materials — from paper to wood to bio-plastic — the group will develop open-source digital fabrication techniques and create adaptable prototypes such as pop-up solar streetlights, soft refridgeration kits for bicycle vendors, and public benches that collect and clean fresh water. These prototypes will be exhibited at UC Berkeley and fabrication kits will be shared with NGOs and the public online.
“Design leadership that integrates systems, inspires collaboration, and honors culture is essential if we are to craft a sustainable future,” said Allison Williams, vice president and director of design at the global engineering firm AECOM and a member of the nominating committe. “Sheila’s creative work in inventing new links between urbanized and natural ecologies, and changing the ways in which we think about material culture and manufacturing in a society that is increasingly local and global, is the embodiment of what we strive to cultivate with this prize.”
On Wednesday, January 28th, Kennedy will give a public lecture at Wurster Hall Gallery on soft infrastructure including her work on the Portable Light Project. From April 8th through May 1st, 2015, in Wurster Hall Room 108, Kennedy will host an open studio exhibition showcasing her research and work-in-progress by students in her graduate design studio.