EDRA45 Plenary Sessions

EDRA is pleased to present the following keynote and plenary sessions* at EDRA45NewOrleans:

Keynote Presentation: Thursday, May 29, 6:00pm-7:00pm

"Extrastatecraft: The Powers of Infrastructure Space" with Keller Easterling 

Repeatable formulas and spatial products make most of the space in the world. Now, not only buildings but also entire cities have become spatial products that typically reproduce free zone world cities like Shenzhen or Dubai. Space has become a mobile, monetized, almost infrastructural, technology, where infrastructure is not only the urban substructure, but also the urban structure itself. Some of the most radical changes to the globalizing world are being written, not in the language of law and diplomacy, but rather in the language of this infrastructure space. Massive global infrastructure systems, administered by mixtures of public and private cohorts and driven by profound irrationalities, generate de facto, undeclared forms of polity faster than any even quasi-official forms of governance can legislate them. Infrastructure space, with the power and currency of software, is something like an operating system for shaping the city. Exposing evidence of this infrastructural operating system is as important as acquiring skills to hack into it. Infrastructure space tutors special approaches to both form making and political arts. Active forms extend the power of object forms to have broader effects. Architects, so good at driving the development machine forward, may even be able to put it into reverse. 


Keller Easterling is an architect and writer from New York City and a professor at Yale University. Her book, Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and its Political Masquerades (MIT, 2005) researches familiar spatial products in difficult or hyperbolic political situations around the world. A previous book, Organization Space: Landscapes, Highways and Houses in America (MIT, 1999), applies network theory to a discussion of American infrastructure. Her forthcoming book, Extrastatecraft: The Powers of Infrastructure Space (Verso, 2014), examines global infrastructure networks as a medium of polity. Easterling’s research will be included in the 2014 Venice Biennale and has been exhibited at Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, the Rotterdam Biennale, and the Architectural League in New York.


Read Keller's recent essay, "Zone: The Spatial Softwares of Extrastatecraft" here.


Plenary Presentation: Thursday, May 29, 10:30am-12:00pm

"Responding to Change: Just Transformations in the Dynamic City" with Jeff Hebert, Roberta Feldman, Cecelia Martinez, and Han Meyer

Disaster events of the last decade have been the bellwether for urban preparedness, awaking cities around the world to their own vulnerabilities to environmental change. Tremendous efforts are emerging in cities across the country to transform aging urban systems in the face of these and other indicators of mounting threats. Such redevelopment efforts could build economic, social, and even ecological futures for cities that for generations have grappled with population loss, economic stagnation, and infrastructural decay. However, the growing movement around adaptation, transformation and resiliency also raises questions about how those least likely to have a voice in the process are being heard. As the designer, planner, developer, and policy maker take steps to refocus their work around issues of change, how has change started to affect questions of equity, accountability, and environmental justice? How do we think big about the future of our cities but resist glossing over the messy complexities that give them life? This panel brings together thinkers working to make critical transformations in their cities. The panel will ask these experts to consider the state of change in cities. 


Jeff Hebert is the Executive Director of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, where he is responsible for redevelopment projects for the City of New Orleans. NORA provides planning and financial support as well as real estate for affordable housing and commercial corridor projects throughout the City. In addition, NORA is leading the city’s efforts in the creative use of vacant land, including for stormwater management. Prior to joining NORA, Jeff served as the first-ever Director of Blight Policy and Neighborhood Revitalization for the City of New Orleans, where he oversaw the development and implementation of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s blight reduction strategy. 


Roberta M. Feldman, MArch, PhD, is an architectural activist, researcher and educator committed to democratic design.  She co-founded the UIC City Design Center in 1995 where she coordinated multi-disciplinary teams of students, faculty and professionals to support over 50 projects in communities underserved by the design professions. Feldman’s own research has focused on affordable and public housing includes, with Susan Stall, of The Dignity of Resistance: Women Residents Activism in Chicago Public Housing. Her expertise and commitment to democratic design and action research has been recognized nationally and internationally.


Cecilia Martinez, Director, UN-Habitat Office in New York, has considerable experience in housing and urban planning working with National and Local governments in Latin America. Ms. Martinez was Director of the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC) UN-Habitat from 2007 to 2011 and Habitat Programme Manager in Mexico from 2004 to 2007. UN Habitat is the primary UN agency that focuses on the concept of human settlements, ranging from virtually every issue in an urban area, such as transportation, physical infrastructure, housing, education and energy use.


Han Meyer is a Professor of Urban Compositions at Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands. His focus is on planning and design in urbanized delta regions, where natural environments with vulnerable ecosystems should be combined with urban land use, ports and navigation channels, flood defense systems and road- and railroad-systems. Meyer was and is advisor in many programs and projects in urbanized delta regions, like the Dutch National Delta program, the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, the Lisbon Climate Change Research Program of the University of Lisbon and the Urban Water Strategy of the City of Kaoshiung.  



Plenary Presentation: Friday, May 30, 10:30am-12:00pm

"Communicating Change" with Rich Campanella, Nancy Levinson, Mike Pasquier, and Makani N. Themba

Sponsored by: 

We rely on words and images to communicate the experience of change: a single image so powerful it can encapsulate an entire event, a long-running column giving voice to an otherwise silent issue, or an outpouring of new media so significant its sheer volume of participation shifts public view. However the rapid production of images, stories, and data can also feed a “consumer culture” craving simple soundbites and clear solutions. With such layered, dynamic and complex issues facing our society, how can we communicate the inherent complexities to the challenges that we face without alienating our audience? How are methods of communication shifting in response to larger trajectories of change? This panel will bring together a range of people who produce and publish work around these issues. Each brings the representation and discussion of change to a different medium.


Richard Campanella, a geographer with the Tulane School of Architecture, is the author of numerous articles and seven critically acclaimed books on New Orleans, including Bienville’s Dilemma, Geographies of New Orleans, and Delta Urbanism. The only two-time winner of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities "Book of the Year" Award, Campanella has also received the Williams Prize for Louisiana History, the Tulane Mortar Board Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Monroe Fellowship from Tulane's New Orleans Center for the Gulf South. He is a contributing writer on urban geography topics for numerous publications.


Nancy Levinson, is Editor and Executive Director of Places Journal, an award-winning journal of architecture, landscape, and urbanism, published in partnership with Design Observer. Nancy brings to her editorial work experience in academia and practice, most recently as the founding director of the Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory at Arizona State University and as co-founding editor of Harvard Design Magazine at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Levinson is a frequent design juror and lecturer, and has contributed to diverse academic and trade periodicals. 


Mike Pasquier, PhD, is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and History at Louisiana State University and former Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He specializes in the history of religion, culture, and the environment in the United States. He is the author of Fathers on the Frontier: French Missionaries and the Roman Catholic Priesthood in the United States, 1789-1870 and the editor of Gods of the Mississippi. He is the co-producer and co-writer of the documentary film Water Like Stone (2013), which explores the cultural consequences of environmental change in Coastal Louisiana. 


Makani Themba is executive director of The Praxis Project, a nonprofit organization helping communities use media and policy advocacy to advance health justice. She is author of numerous articles and several books including Making Policy, Making Change, co-author of Media Advocacy and Public Health: Power for Prevention, a contributor to the volumes Community Based Participatory Research for Health, We the Media, along with many other edited book projects.  Her work and publications have contributed significantly to the field’s current emphasis on media and policy advocacy to address health problems.


Plenary Presentation: Saturday, May 31, 4:00pm-5:30pm

"Building with Change: The Track Chairs Summation"

EDRA annually brings together people from many different interests and backgrounds to present, debate, and learn about the complex realm of design research. This year’s conference will introduce a new plenary session designed to address both the conference theme, “Building with change” as well as the breadth that makes EDRA unique. This year’s conference presentations have been organized according to 12 distinct tracks led by Track Chairs who played an instrumental role in building the conference content. The 12 tracks present distinct questions and viewpoints about the role of design research in our changing environments. The topics range from issues of aesthetics to community design, political activism to ecological systems. In this plenary summation, Track Chairs will assemble key questions and issues raised in sessions over the course of the conference and open the debate to all conference participants with a moderated Q&A.


* speakers as of April 7