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Edra45 New Orleans Track 06: Multi-Disciplinary Exchange by Design
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This track asks how increasingly multi-disciplinary design and research teams and practices are transforming our ability to anticipate, respond and build for change.


Track Chairs: Thomas Colbert, Jonathan Tate, Ann Yoachim


Keywords: multi-disciplinary, design research team structure, new institutions and practices

Urban regions are by definition complex, intertwined systems. The natural, built, political, social, and economic are connected in a rich network of potentials that reach far beyond the bounds of the city. However, when engaging urban challenges we often find that that perceived problems and solutions are defined singularly by discipline and through the lens of the doctor, engineer, architect, economist, scientist, politician, or lawyer. Responding to this challenge, the design community has increasingly diversified the arena of its engagement. Today we find designers addressing issues of urban flooding, agriculture, environmental change and degradation, crime and violence, public health and blight. This has enabled the formation of innovative research and design teams that embrace multiple disciplines, data sets, and technologies and provided a leadership role for design in the development of public policy and planning. This new multidisciplinarity has also arguably resulted in a number of potential problems ranging from the dissolution of disciplinary strengths by working outside the bounds of traditional professional expertise to inflaming invested agencies, research partners, and communities that should be meaningfully informing work.

Design is both a tool for cultivating strategic alliances between disciplines and the platform for engagement with multi-faceted problems. How then do the design community and other disciplines engage each other in more meaningful and constructive ways? How can design practice create and facilitate collaboration of multi-disciplinary teams as we anticipate, plan, and build for change? This track seeks submissions that exemplify the role of cross-disciplinary work that uses design to link disparate expertise in the service of addressing complex urban and regional issues. Design and research teams that have experience in linking shared knowledge across multiple disciplines to produce innovative design work, either speculative or realized, are encouraged to submit.

About the Track Chairs:

Thomas is an associate professor at the University of Houston College of Architecture and a researcher at the SSPEED Center (Severe Storm Prediction Education and Evacuation from Disasters), a multi-party research collaborative based at Rice University. His work has resulted in the development of coastal planning research initiatives and policy proposals as well as regional and local scale design projects along the upper Gulf Coast. Papers focused on team based research findings and design work have been presented to numerous conferences and widely published. He earned his B.A. in Architecture from Princeton University and a Dipl. Arch. from the University of Cambridge.

Jonathan is a professor at Tulane School of Architecture and principal of Office of Jonathan Tate (OJT), an architecture practice in New Orleans. His research includes investigations into opportunistic urban developments — informal settlements, ecologic anomalies, etc. — and their spatial and cultural implications in cities worldwide. His work with OJT and previous offices include a wide variety of project and program types, both rural and urban, which have been published widely nationally and internationally. Jonathan is a graduate of Auburn University, where he was a participant in the Rural Studio, and Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Ann leads AY Projects, a strategic consulting practice in New Orleans. Her work focuses on development of programs, policies and funding mechanisms that reflect the complexity of people’s lives. Her research falls at the intersections of built, natural, and socially constructed environments that shape health in rural and urban settings globally. Of particular interest is response to changing climatic conditions. Ann was a 2012-2013 Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She has an MPH from Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and a BA in Environmental Studies and Political Science from Dickinson College.


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