This roundtable conversation brings together diverse voices—the student, the educator, the firm partner, and the emerging professional—to discuss the education of the architect. Participants will discuss how the traditional educational model advances some ideas and people over others. They will also explore different approaches towards change in architecture school curricula and professional settings, from strategies for incremental change to more radical approaches. From unpacking the impact that existing structures have (how different people thrive, survive, or exit) to what alternative radical structures offer (“my grade is based on my participation not a critique!”), the program aims to discuss new models of education and practice that are reflective of diversity in the profession and design justice in the built environment.
Catherine Chattergoon, B. Arch Candidate and Student Advisor to the Dean, Pratt Institute
Colin Koop, AIA, Design Partner, SOM
Peggy Peña, Assoc. AIA, NOMA, Architectural Intern, Amie Gross Architects; Co-Chair, AIANY Diversity and Inclusion Committee; Co-Chair, NYCOBA NOMA Project Pipeline
Bz (Brenda) Zhang, Assoc. AIA, NOMA, Citizen Architect Fellow, University of Southern California; Core Organizer, Design As Protest Collective; Core Organizer, Dark Matter University
About the Speakers:
Catherine Chattergoon is a third-year student in the bachelor of architecture program at Pratt Institute. Her interests include using architecture as a social practice for civic engagement and utilizing design as a resource for communities. She believes in the power of student involvement and currently serves as the inaugural Student Advisor to the Dean to help facilitate conversation between the student body and the administration. Chattergoon is a member of the Pratt NOMAS Chapter and the Mistresses of Pratt Archive, advocating for the empowerment of underrepresented voices. She is an active participant in DEI initiatives and is committed to creating an equitable world and combating systemic injustice.
Colin Koop is a design partner in SOM’s New York office. Throughout his 18 years at the firm, Koop has developed a broad body of work defined by a strong social conscience, a research-driven and collaborative approach, and purpose-built results. Koop begins the design process by seeking to understand the unique qualities of a place; his goal is to find modes of expression that embody context while charting new, ambitious paths forward. His emphasis on systematic thinking is tempered with a concern for the individual’s experience—an approach that reconciles scientific thinking with a humanist point of view. Focused on the challenges facing our planet, Koop seeks to address the disruptive impact of technology, the effects of climate change, the importance of creating more resilient communities, and the need to build a more equitable world. He has extensive experience in a diverse array of project types, including education, transportation, high-rise, and urban planning. In 2017, Koop helped found SOM’s Talent, Equity, Diversity, Development (TEDD) Leadership Committee, which focuses on EDI issues within the firm and the larger professions. In 2020, he helped develop, codify, and publish SOM’s Equity Action Plan, currently seen on the SOM website. He is also the sponsor partner for the staff-led SOM Equity Action Committee.
Peggy Peña is a recent alumna of the New York Institute of Technology where she received her Bachelors of Architecture in 2020. Motivated by the injustices prevalent in our society, she emphasized the significance of the social context in most of her undergraduate work, especially through the lens of diversity and inclusion. She served in numerous leadership roles including co-founding president of the current NYIT NOMAS chapter, and student representative of her department’s curriculum committee. She now works at Amie Gross Architects as an architectural intern and continues to advocate for equity and justice as the co-chair for both the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at AIANY and the Project Pipeline Committee at nycoba|NOMA.
Bz (Brenda) Zhang organizes with the Design As Protest Collective and Dark Matter University and teaches architecture at the University of Southern California. In their design and research practice, they are interested in physical and cultural construction as entangled processes and using disciplinary tools of architecture to imagine futures beyond settler colonialism, racial capitalism, and cisheteropatriarchy. As a queer non-binary Chinese-diasporic artist, they construct new narratives through intentional misreading, misalignment, hiding in plain sight, and an extreme attachment to certain objects. Bz received a Master of Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Visual Arts from Brown University.