By April Greene - 16th February, 2017
The MIT Club of New York and MITArchA (the MIT Architecture Alumni Affinity Group) hosted a winter social event for Course IV alumni in the New York City area at PLASTARC’s office within WeWork Charging Bull. The evening was organized by MITArchA board members Jacob Kain (M.Arch ‘00), Matthew Chua (M.Arch ‘08), Ken Namkung (M.Arch ‘03), and Melissa Marsh (M.Arch ‘04), who is also Vice President of Membership for MITArchA.
The occasion brought alumni together to present brief, PechaKucha-style talks about exciting projects they have recently been engaged in. Reflecting the speakers’ breadth of interests and experience, the presentations were thematically diverse, ranging from interaction design to social justice. They varied in scale as well, from responsive lighting installations to gravity-defying skyscrapers. The ten presenters were Jacob Kain (M.Arch ‘00), Liz Burrow (M.Arch ‘05), Georgi Petrov (M.Arch ‘03), Elliot Felix (M.Arch ‘06), Erik Olsen (MS ‘02), Li Lian Tan (M.Arch ‘00), Frank Hebbert (MCP ‘08), Ifeoma Ebo (MCP/UD ‘06), Ahmed ElHusseiny (M.Arch ‘06), and James Patten (MS ‘01; Ph.D ‘06).
This event was part of an ongoing engagement initiative to expand MITArchA membership, foster an active alumni community, and advance the MIT Club of New York’s mission. Keep an eye out for news and events from another unique community of MIT students, professors, and alumni: the new entrepreneurship accelerator DesignX. “DESx” assists students and faculty in developing products, systems, and companies that focus on design and the built environment. PLASTARC is supporting the program through Marsh’s mentorship of the inaugural cohort of eight finalists during the spring 2017 semester. The winning teams will also take targeted classes, receive seed funding, and have the opportunity to access the robust MIT alumni network to help them take their ideas from the studio to the marketplace.
Here are some highlights from each of the speakers’ talks:
Jacob Kain (M.Arch ‘00), a project architect at Elkus Manfredi Architects, presented the master planning strategies that he and his team deployed at Star Campus, Disney Spring, and Port Covington.
Liz Burrow (M.Arch ‘05), Director of Strategy and Discovery at HLW, spoke about her experience teaching design to business school students at Parsons School of Design, and about how some systems thinking lessons can have a social impact.
Georgi Petrov (M.Arch ‘03) presented the engineering feat at the center of SOM’s Manhattan West Tower.
Elliot Felix (M.Arch ‘06), founder of Brightspot Strategy, highlighted the research-driven and collaborative approach to projects used by his firm, which has been engaged in rethinking the student advisory experience at the University of Virginia and change management at the Smithsonian.
Erik Olsen (MS ‘02), Managing Partner at Transsolar, walked through a number of projects that illustrate the use of design as a tool to produce delightful experiences, such as the Grace Farms project, which blends the line between inside and outside
Li Lian Tan (M.Arch ‘00), Principal at LLT Architects, presented her design for the brewery on the grounds of a monastery in Spencer, Massachusetts, which was shaped by social research conducted during her master’s thesis.
Frank Hebbert (MCP ‘08), Digital Product Director at Motivate, discussed the topic of urban mobility through the lens of his work with Citi Bike, an expanding bike share program which has transformed transportation in New York City. In 2016, nearly 14 million were trips taken on a Citi Bike.
Ifeoma Ebo (MCP/UD ‘06), an urban designer at the Department of Design & Construction, walked through the Department’s guiding principles: equity, sustainability, resilience, and healthy living, all of which serve to animate their public design projects.
Ahmed ElHusseiny (M.Arch ‘06), founder of AE Superlab, a collaborative and cross-disciplinary design firm, shared projects ranging from a sculptural chair to a product called Totem that weaves solar energy, energy storage, WiFi, 4G communications, electric vehicle charging, and smart lighting directly into built environments.
James Patten (MS ‘01; Ph.D ‘06), founder of Patten Studio, discussed a number of his recent projects that are situated at the intersection of architecture and interaction design, such as the multi-sensory interactive installation created for an Intel showcase.