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The Design School to host exhibition on advocacy in architecture and design


Photo of "Now What?" design exhibition

The "Now What?! Advocacy, Activism & Alliances in American Architecture since 1968” traveling exhibition comes to ASU in March. Photo by Monica Nouwens, courtesy of ArchiteXX.

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March 03, 2020

The Design School in Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts will host a traveling exhibition curated by ArchiteXX, a nonprofit working toward gender equity in architecture, that shows how the civil rights movement and women’s and LGBTQ movements impacted every facet of U.S. society, including architecture and design. 

“Now What?! Advocacy, Activism and Alliances in American Architecture since 1968” links the Arizona design community to the larger social and political movements of the late 20th century in the United States. Through highlighting an array of efforts by organizations and professionals to change the face of architecture and design in the U.S., the exhibition aims to engage viewers in critical conversations around history, progress and the built environment through participatory design. 

Olivier Vallerand, assistant professor of interior design and interior architecture, worked to bring the traveling exhibition to ASU as part of ongoing efforts to increase representation of marginalized groups within design fields.

“I contributed content to the exhibition as I was getting ready to move to Phoenix two years ago,” Vallerand said. “And I knew when I started at ASU that I needed to share with my new community the great work that ArchiteXX and their contributors had done to challenge traditional histories of architecture and design by highlighting a little-known side of our disciplines. For students and professionals alike, the exhibition and related programming is an incredible opportunity to learn about the work that has been done, but also about the challenges that we are still facing.” 

In recent years, there has been a wave of initiatives and advocacy that draw attention to critical issues of diversity and representation in the design field and look to architects and designers using their skill sets to engage advocacy and activism. The exhibition provides an intersectional and interdisciplinary look at diversity and activism in the design professions since 1968 while crafting a space for public debate and dialogue in the gallery and continued learning in the online archive.

The show and programming at ASU will be open to the public as a space to highlight, discuss, debate and reflect on how groups of architects have tried with both success and failure to make positive, progressive change. Students enrolled in Vallerand's seminar on diversity and design have also contributed exhibits that highlight designers and organizations from Arizona.

“Now What?!” will be on view March 18 through April 13 at the Gallery of Design in Design South on ASU’s Tempe campus. On Thursday, March 26, Roberta Washington, one of the co-curators of the exhibition and principal of Roberta Washington Architects since 1983, will give a lecture and gallery talk. A past president of the National Organization of Minority Architects and advisory board member of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, she has researched, lectured and written about African American and female architects.

The Design School has also launched a PitchFunder campaign to help bring the exhibition to ASU. You can donate to the project at pitchfunder.asufoundation.org/project/19694

“Now What?!” will travel through 2020, gathering local histories in the different cities it visits.

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