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College of Architecture, Planning and Design

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2019 - 2020 Ekdahl Lecture Series 

Brian Graham

Brian Graham | Principal | Graham Designs
September 18 | 4:30pm Regnier Forum

View the Lecture

Title of Lecture: Interior Design : Furniture Design 

Description of Lecture: With a deep understanding of the modern workplace, combined with a respect for history, designer Brian Graham explains how thinking like an interior designer informs the creation of his new furniture designs. From his start as an interior designer for corporate giant Gensler to an independent furniture designer working for some of the best brands in the industry, Brian uses rich visual images combined with a wry sense of humor to deliver an inspiring design talk. Subjects covered include where his inspiration comes from; the importance he places on establishing mentors in your career; the process he’s refined of reading & reacting to evolving workplace trends that informs his development of new products, and much more.

Best known for elegant case goods and distinctive seating collections, Brian is involved in a wide range of genres, consulting across disciplines and crafting integrated design programs for his clients. Brian received a BFA in Interior Architecture at California State University, Long Beach, where he also served as an adjunct professor. In 1999, he established the Graham Design Studio in San Francisco to offer a strategic approach to the design, development, and marketing of products.


Renee Kemp-Rotan

Renee Kemp-Rotan, Associate AIA | Master Planner | Urban Designer | Studiorotan
September, 25 | 4:30pm | Regnier Forum


Description of Lecture: Renee Kemp-Rotan, Master Planner, Urban design, Professional Competition Advisor will present The process behind her development of the multi-site INTERNATIONAL design challenge to resolve the most critical issues in preservation of this unique 1865 African built community, from conflicts between American slavery and freedmen-built towns; public health and environmental protection; public and private cultural heritage agendas; African-centric architecture and zoning; site control and implementation; to the creation of the Africatown Cultural Mile as a cultural tourism/ economic development engine that revitalizes the grossly underserved population of Africatown. In 2019, Clotilda the Slave Ship was ‘discovered’ in Mobile Bay. Now, there is international interest in this unique American place built by Africans at the end of the civil war…This is a tale of American slavery, 2 southern cities, 1 town, and many African descendants…. In 1860, 110 Africans were brought from Benin/Dahomey/Nigeria/ to Mobile/Bay, Alabama on the Clotilda, the last slave cargo ship to come to America. In 1865, after 5 years of enslavement, Clotilda Africans were emancipated;32 freed slaves then built their own town called Africatown. Today, vestiges of this unique African/American settlement remain, spread across multiple waterways & 2 Alabama cities Prichard & Mobile. What once was an African town– is now an African/American descendant neighborhood in poor repair—a unique American place, threatened by generations of benign neglect…Now, The Africatown International Design Idea Competition aims to resolve longstanding issues about spatial, social and economic justice for the underserved descendants of historic Africatown, Alabama.  

Renee Kemp-Rotan, CEO studiorotan, Urban Designer, Master planner; 1st African American woman Syracuse, B. Arch.; Architectural Association, London, RIBA II; Columbia, MSUP; Taught Design: Howard University, Parsons School of Design, Georgia Tech Graduate Design Studio; Lectured: National Museum African American History Culture, Sorbonne, Cairo University, MIT, Harvard, Cooper Hewitt, Howard, Hampton, FAMU, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Tuskegee ; Contributing Editor, Encyclopedia World Vernacular Architecture , Cambridge. Directed AIA Design, Education, Practice Division, National Endowment Arts’ Design Demonstration/Competition Programs; Master Planner 1996 Olympics Atlanta; Mayors Liaison: Atlanta Aquarium, Olympic Park, Philips Arena: Chief of Urban Design Urban Development Atlanta; Director of Economic Development Atlanta; Birmingham/Office of Mayor :Director of Capital Projects; Founder and Director of Grants Division Birmingham: RR Park, Civil Rights Trail, Spark@Sloss; Directs Africatown International Design Idea Competition, Mobile Alabama. Bio in African American National Biography, Harvard/Oxford University Archives.


surya vanka

Surya Vanka, IDSA | Founder & Principal | AUTHENTIC
October 28 | 4:30pm | Regnier Forum

Lecture Title: Modern Design Methods for Twenty-First Century Challenges

The design of digital products borrowed proven methods from the discipline of architecture. However, the twenty-first century need to serve billions of customers at high velocity has birthed novel approaches that merge fields such as ethnography, cognitive science and experimental psychology. In order to design for a complex world, venerable disciplines like architecture can now adopt and adapt these modern hybrid methods, including service design, inclusive design, and data-driven design.



Aaron Forrest

Aaron Forrest,Co Founder | Ultramoderne
November 13 | 4:30pm | Regnier Forum

Lecture Title: FORMATS

Description of Lecture: Aaron will present recent work from his office, Ultramoderne 

Aaron is a licensed architect and cofounder of the architectural design studio Ultramodern. Their work traverses scales and media while maintaining a strong commitment both to conceptually driven built work and theoretical propositions.  Aaron has had a continual involvement in projects that seek to expand architectural practice to address larger issues of infrastructure and environment. His work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Boston Society of Architects, the center for Land-Use Interpretation, and at the 2006 Venice Biennale.


Chelina Odbert

Chelina Odbert | Executive Director | KDI
November 20 | 4:30pm | Regnier Forum

Lecture Title: 

Chelina is co-founder and Executive Director of KDI. She believes in the potential of low-cost, high-impact design interventions to improve the physical, economic, and social quality of life in low-income communities. She has extensive field experience through her work in Africa, Latin America, and the U.S. Having shaped KDI into an internationally recognized and award-winning design, planning and community development firm, she lectures and speaks around the world and writes about KDI’s community-engaged approach to planning and design.

 Megan Horst

Megan Horst | Assistant Professor Urban Studies & Planning |Portland State University
February 5 | 4:30pm | Regnier Forum

Lecture Title: Planning for just and sustainable communities

Megan’s research interests are in the relationship between food systems and planning, particularly focused on questions related to public policy and planning and food justice, sustainable food systems, farmland conservation, and access/ownership of resource lands. Megan co-directs the Sustainable Food Systems certificate. Her work has appeared in publications such as the Journal of the American Planning Association, Journal of Planning Theory and Practice, Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development.

David Fletcher

David Fletcher | Principal | Owner | Fletcher Studio
February 19 | 4:30pm | Regnier Forum

David Fletcher, founding principal at Fletcher Studio, is an Urban Designer and Landscape Architect. His research and writings address infrastructure, ecology and landscape urbanism. His practice ranges from strategic site design to regional planning, with an emphasis on performance and process. The firm is committed to a collaborative and contextual approach to spatial design practice, and to the design of performative landscapes, urban spaces, and living infrastructures.

Fletcher Studio has been named finalist and winner in a number of recent international open space design and planning competitions. The firm recently won the Urban:Revision Dallas competition and placed 2nd in “A New Infrastructure”, sponsored by SCI_Arc. Current and recent work includes alternative transportation networks, green streets, public parks, reclamation projects, and waterfronts. David has taught at the Harvard Design School, SCI-Arc, Woodbury and Otis College, where he was the Assistant Chair of Architecture.

Louis Schump

Louis Schump, LEED BC+C | Account Director - Creative Director | Rapt Studio
March 25 | 4:30pm | Regnier Forum

Though Midwest born and raised, Louis Schump, account executive and creative director of Rapt Studio, is really a Cali guy, having spent the last 35 years in San Francisco. There, he developed a wicked sense of style honed by his personal motto: “Life’s too short to be bored.” Translating his experience in architecture and design to clothing, he goes for things that say something about fabric and shape and pairs them with basics. Watch out, he’s usually better dressed than we are.


Alan Organschi

Alan Organschi | Principal | Gray Organschi Architecture
April 6 | 4:30pm | Regnier Forum

A trained cabinet-maker and builder as well as teacher, Alan had developed a practice and a pedagogy that seeks to link broad based conceptions of architectural space, form, and program to the physical means and methods of producing them. He is the founding principal of the construction company JIG Design Build, an offshoot of his work at Gray Organschi Architecture. Alan has lectured on architecture, technology, and the ecological impacts of building at universities and public and professional forums in the US, Canada, and Europe.