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Oct 11, 2016

ABX Spotlight: Katie Swenson

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Name: Katie Swenson

How are you participating in ABX this year?
I am excited for ABX in my role as both a planner and a panelist. As a member of a dynamic planning committee for the Design for Equity Symposium, we are inviting an incredible group of people to speak to the history of racial inequity in Boston and its legacy as seen through planning and design. Our goal is to have a collective learning experience in which professional designers and citizen activists can learn from the past and change policies, procedures, and design methodology to achieve more equitable outcomes in our work. I’ll be participating in the Design for Equity Charrette the following day, where we will collectively put these new practices into action. I am also passionate about cultivating next generation leadership, and I am on a panel with Mia Scharphie and John Peterson AIA about forging a career in public interest design.

What are your top three speaker picks?
I’m excited for Sally Young and her team to kick off a great day focused on Women in Design. I have also recently become co-chair of the Boston Society of Architects/AIA (BSA) Housing Committee and plan to attend Habitat of the Future: Housing for the City of Tomorrow and as much of the housing track as I can in order to gather fresh ideas for the City of Boston. I also appreciate the emphasis in the program on health, equity, and resilience—all critical issues for us in Boston right now.

What are you most excited about for the future of the building industry?
This has been a great year for new books—ones that paint the challenges and opportunities through the design of the built environment. My recent reads have included: Evicted by Boston resident Matthew Desmond; Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson; The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander; and, most recently, The Well-Tempered City by Jonathan Rose. The first three are stunningly well-researched, insightful, beautifully written, and clear-eyed investigations into the systemic racial inequities we face in America, and the last offers a more optimistic picture of how to move forward to create more compassionate cities. I am most excited that we are starting to face the realities of our past and current inequities, and hope that in doing so, we can build a more responsive culture of design and architecture.

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