We Build Agency

Maria Bergh ‘12 MARCH & MCP

Design is a process of building agency. We Build Agency is a hybrid design, architecture, and facilitation practice based on the south and west sides of Chicago that asks (and answers) questions like:

"how can we restore communities destroyed by segregation?"
"what if food deserts were sites for food sovereignty?"
"how can aging institutions become compost for the next generation?"
"what if we used professional privilege as a tool for movement organizing?"
"how can our collaboration build our community's collective power?"

This session will delve into creative ways to start, maintain, & build a practice as a young architect, and provide an opportunity to question our assumptions about where the lines get drawn between architect and advocate.


Maria Bergh is Founder/Architect of We Build Agency

Changing Criminal Justice Systems and Jails

David Bostwick ’86 BUP & Major Chad Thompson

Across the country, local leaders are examining their criminal justice systems asking if we over-incarcerate and questioning the purpose of the jail in the local community.  This presentation focuses on how communities are lowering their incarceration rates and what role the justice system and the jail play in in supporting the public health of the community.  One exemplar that will be shown is the new Franklin County Ohio Correctional Center that will be a Center for Excellence for the National Institute of Corrections, US Dept. of Justice.  It is designed using concepts of normative and trauma-responsive design and biophilia and provides a continuum of care.


David Bostwick is a Justice Consultant at HDR


Major Chad Thompson of Franklin County, Ohio Sheriff's Office


Cori Corinne ’15 BSDE

Dress.Code is a series of 112 portraits of individuals based in Cincinnati. The series reflects on the societal scrutiny of women and non-binary individual's self-expression and physical form. It is a body of work visualizing our fragmented identities in the process of adapting to those who seek to define us. The series is a point of self-healing; empowering women and non-binary folks through radical self-expression. Each individual is captured through portraiture and written reflections that are shared on an online gallery created as a space to celebrate our individualism and shared experiences. We are a diverse community declaring space as our own, defining our identities and deciding our own dress code.


Cori Corinne is an Art Director + Designer

The Mere Distinction of Colour, an exhibit exploring the paradox of slavery and the constitution

Chris Danemayer ’84 BSDE & Christian Cotz

In 2017, an exhibit opened at James Madison's historic estate, Montpelier, that explores the paradox of slavery and the constitution. Just 6 weeks later, the Unite the Right rally happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, only 20 minutes away. The political and social dynamics made the exhibit became a must see for teachers, politicians, and police. This presentation highlights the process and challenges of creating the exhibit and share the community response.


Chris Danemayer is Principal at Proun Design, LLC


Christian Cotz is CEO of the First Amendment Museum and formerly the Director of Education and Visitor Engagement at Montpelier

Let's End COVID!

Lynn Estomin ’93 MFA

When your town is the state COVID-19 hotspot with local vaccinations rates well-below the state and national averages, hospitals near capacity, social media rumors abound, and self-proclaimed “patriots” storm the school board demanding non-compliance with the state mask mandate, what’s an artist to do? Mount a colorful public education campaign – based on science, research into reasons for hesitancy, and collaborate with trusted community messengers – to turn the tide. The health and life of our community is at stake: art can make a difference.


Lynn Estomin is Professor of Art Emerita, City of Williamsport/Lycoming County, PA, Williamsport, PA

Improved Patient Care Through Better Bed Design

Donald Herzog ’09 BSDE

Each year, between 700,000 and 1,000,000 people in the United States fall in the hospital.  79% of these falls occur at or near the bed when unassisted with 30-51% resulting in injury.  Research shows that 1/3 of these falls could be prevented.  Tekna was hired to help our client design the industry's first and only fully wireless hospital bed that not only reduces falls but also enhances user workflow efficiencies.  This presentation will highlight Tekna’s UX/UI process and the 2 years of human-centered design work that was a major part of the development of this product.


Donald Herzog is UX Design Lead at twisthink, Inc.

A City within A City – Enabling Innovation in Placemaking

Ralph Ireland ’92 BARC

A computer company reinvented the mobile phone. Chipmakers are entering the automobile business. An online marketplace innovator is building and flying spacecraft. We are in a world where ideas and innovation are coming from unexpected places, and in the design world we should not be afraid of accepting and even seeking input from the not-so-obvious. We will look at Lake Nona, a new community in central Florida that is being shaped not solely by a well-done master plan but by patience, listening, cultivation, and collaboration. New ideas at Lake Nona are often sprouted from technology companies, artists, and physicians as much as they are the developer, planners, and architects.


Ralph Ireland is Vice President at Tavistock Development Company

Tactical Democracy

Randy Plemel ‘03 MARCH

For our country to mature and thrive, Democracy needs to become an everyday habit. It might seem that we are awash in democracy: we now have many more ways to speak and yell at each other. But speech isn’t democracy; we increasingly talk past each other, often inhabiting our own information cocoons. Dialogue is an important part of breaking down these cocoons, but without clear and healthy ways to shift that dialogue to constructive resolution, we just continue to yell.

Tactical Democracy is a mindset and toolkit to support residents to organize and amplify their voice, and for government to organize and listen to the people they serve. This presentation will detail different experiments - both successful and not so much - in ways that environments, design, community engagement, and facilitation make democracy an everyday habit.


Randy Plemel is Owner at Expedition Works

The Architecture of Waste

Dillon Pranger ’12 BARC

Global material crises are imminent. In the very near future, recycling will no longer be a choice made by those concerned about the environment, but a necessity for all. This means a paradigm shift in domestic behavior, manufacturing, construction, and design is inevitable. The Architecture of Waste provides a hopeful outlook through examining current recycling practices, rethinking initial manufacturing techniques, and proposing design solutions for second lives of material-objects.


Dillon Pranger is a Visiting Critic at Cornell University

Before You Go: Public Art for Public Conversation

Christian Reichle ’14 BSDE

Before You Go is an audio and light-based work made from a re-purposed phonebooth in which visitors can hear advice and words of wisdom collected from a series of interviews with people aged 20 to 105 years old from around the country. The project was intended to help people see the similarities and differences between each other. The work invites attendees to enter the booth and press a button to select a category and hear clips about broad topic including legacy, helping others, relationship with death, and future wishes or past regrets. Before You Go was awarded the grand prize for most user interaction and public vote at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, MI.


Christian Reichle is Designer at Aggregate Design