Monday, October 17, 2011

The Lost Generation

The editors at Architect magazine came to me recently with an interesting set of questions: Is the profession of architecture losing ground among young graduates of architecture programs? Are fewer and fewer potential architects choosing not to get licensed? Are we embarking on a lost generation of architects?

So I jumped down the rabbit hole that is the architectural licensure process and here's what I found...

The 50 Year Old Intern, Architect magazine, October 2011 issue.

I'm not the only one contemplating this question. Check out what John Cary has to say on the Good magazine Web site.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Maternity Leave...

Nola Evitts Dickinson
Born June 26, 2011

More soon!

Friday, June 17, 2011

D center @ MAP

Tonight marks an important turning point for D center Baltimore. Conceived in 2009, and official founded as a non-profit last year, D center represents a broad cross-section of disciplines and individuals invested in improving and encouraging design, in all its iterations, in the Baltimore region. Until now, the organization has been without a physical home (though they have sponsored monthly design conversations and regular events throughout Baltimore). That changes this evening with the official opening of D center @ MAP.

Now through early next year, D center will take over a 2,000-square-foot storefront gallery at 218 West Saratoga Street, formerly the Maryland Art Place building. The gallery space is funded by one of the Downtown Partnership's Operation Storefront grants, which support creative uses of vacant commercial space in the city center. D center’s mission is to "create a nexus for interdisciplinary design, collaboration, and creative conversations."

That nexus begins this evening with the opening celebration for the center's inaugural show, the Open City Challenge Exhibition. The Open City Challenge is a joint project of D center Baltimore, Urbanite, the year-long Exhibition Design Seminar at Maryland Institute College of Art, the Maryland Transit Administration, and the Baltimore City Department of Transportation. The competition offers a winning entry $10,000 in prize money, provided by the MTA, for the chance to implement their solution to a pressing city issue: the quality-of-life issues brought about by the construction of the city's Red Line.

D center @ MAP
Exhibition opening and official launch party for the new space.
5-8 PM
218 West Saratoga Street

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Baltimore: Open City Catalog

This past academic year, students of Maryland Institute College of Art’s Exhibition Development Seminar invited scholars, activists, community-based organizations, local artists, and visiting artist Damon Rich to create a series of installations, workshops, and other public programs that investigate the ways in which Baltimore is and is not an open city. The result was the exhibition Baltimore: Open City. For the exhibition's catalog, I was asked to write a short, 500 word essay in response to the question: How can the physical design of urban spaces influence the way we relate to each other? Here's what I had to say.

I have come to believe that humanity’s greatest strength and its greatest weakness are one in the same: it is our ability to connect the dots and to draw conclusions. The human brain is unique in its ability to analyze and understand the world around it and to order information in a way that makes sense, developing along the way a philosophy of existence.

This intellectual process is intimately tied to observation. Humans are inherently experiential mammals and until we go through something directly, we can only try our best to grasp it. Our childhood fantasies of falling in love are likely different from the actual experience of feeling romantic love for the first time. Our idea of marriage rarely matches the truth of being married. As an expectant mother, parents constantly tell me: “Just wait. You have no idea what you’re in for.” And they are right, I don’t. I can only imagine.

We all understand the world through our limited experiences and over time, our limbic brain creates a kind of roadmap to living, a set of values and assumptions that filter our way of seeing. Neuroscientists call this path dependence. We frequently base the future on what we know and understand of the past and these heuristic biases influence our decision making, whether consciously or unconsciously. This means that we tend repeat ourselves.

Take public housing in America as an example. Executed primarily by those who never directly experienced the need to live in such housing, the experiments of the past resulted in a guessing game of what might work best. We tore down houses and rowhouses to build apartment towers. A few decades later we tore down those towers and replaced them with what had been there before: houses. In her seminal book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs notes that those outside the community attempting to “fix” the perceived chaos within via different housing models just weren’t seeing the truth. “There is a quality meaner than outright ugliness or disorder, and this meaner quality is the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served,” she writes.

At present, the human mind cannot fully comprehend where the American city is heading. Many of our experiences from the past—economic, ecological, social, cultural—have shifted as we embark on a new era of urbanity. Cities like Baltimore and Detroit will simply never be what they once were and yet, we frequently apply the same processes, the same architecture, the same public policy to this unknown scenario rather than embrace the beauty and potential of exploration and invention. This is terra incognito and we must treat it as such.

It’s high time we challenge our path dependent thinking about cities and strive to connect the dots in new ways. We can begin by developing tools for communication and collaboration among designers, residents, policymakers, etc. that allow us to supplement our own experience and understanding with the perspectives of others in order to develop a new architecture for urban living. It is time, in other words, to stop looking to the formulas of the past and embrace the truth of what is in front of us: a new order that is struggling to exist and to be served.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Design Convo Tomorrow Night!

Another great design conversation coming to you from D Center Baltimore.

Design Conversation 31: Demonstration
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Windup Space, 12 W. North Ave

Where does the foundation of artistic learning begin? Demonstrations—the quickly drawn gestures, models, and diagrams made by teachers in the classroom—are the basis of dialogue for this month's convo. Come out and learn how the practice of teaching art is shaping our contemporary model of art, design, and culture.

This event is free and open to the public. Curated by Rachel Valsing.

Design Conversations are a monthly series of events loosely curated by a group of volunteers, focusing on rotating topics that are timely and engaging. These events are always free, always at the Windup Space, and now on the first TUESDAY of every month! Cash bar, AV hookup available for spontaneous presentations.

Design Conversations are encouraged by the generous support of D center Baltimore and Baltimore Community Foundation. For more information, please visit the D center Baltimore Web site.

Also: Mark your calendars for the opening of D Center @ MAP and the opening of the center's first exhibit at their new space. Save the date: June 17th.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Roger D. Redden Award

Photo of the City Arts Apartments by Tom Holdsworth Photography

recently learned that I will be the recipient of the Baltimore Architecture Foundation's 2011 Roger D. Redden Award for individual achievement in the field of architecture. I am so incredibly honored and am joined by the extraordinary Jubilee Baltimore, who earned the foundation's annual Golden Griffin Award. The awards will be announced at the BAF's Annual Meeting this Thursday, May 26 at 6:30 pm at the new City Arts Apartments in Station North (developed, appropriately enough, by Jubilee.) This is a wonderful opportunity to meet other BAF members and the new Board and to learn about the foundation's work. Those interested in joining in the celebration should RSVP to:

Tracey Clark

City Arts Apartments
440 East Oliver Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

Monday, May 2, 2011

Baltimore Meets Rotterdam: Sister City Roundtable

From the Baltimore: Open City exhibition at the North Avenue Market in Baltimore.

This Wednesday, May 4 at 6 PM, the curators of Baltimore: Open City will meet with curators of the 2009 and 2011 International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam for a discussion about the “open city” in an international context.

Guests include George Brugmans, Director of the IABR, Kristian Koreman, Principal of Zus, Interboro Partners, and yours truly, who will moderate the event.

The event is co-sponsored by the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam and AIA Baltimore.

Wednesday, May 4
6 PM
North Avenue Market, 16 W. North Ave.

And for those who couldn't make it to the launch of the Baltimore: Open City exhibtion last month, here are a few snapshots from opening night. The exhibit is in the North Avenue Market and is still up for you to see. Gallery hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 2-8 PM.

The crowd outside the gallery on North Avenue (notice the food trucks!). This was moments before a Baltimore marching band existed the building and drum-lined their way down the sidewalk.

The requisite National Bohemians in a can. Staples of any art opening in Baltimore.

Inside the gallery. It was packed!

L-R: Visiting Artist Damon Rich and the brainchild behind Baltimore:Open City, Dan D'Oca of MICA and Interboro Partners.

An interactive tabletop display.

(Center and far left): Marian Glebes and Marianne Amoss of D:Center Baltimore

A poignant piece in the exhibition that graphically shows the effect of poverty on Baltimore neighborhoods.

L-R: Architect, professor, and D:Center Board Member Fred Scharmen and sustainability consultant Geoff Stack.

An interactive map of the city.

Friday, April 1, 2011

"Baltimore: Open City" Opens Tonight

onight is the opening reception for the exhibition Baltimore: Open City at the North Avenue Market in Station North. This is the result of an expansive year-long collaborative exploration launched by the Exhibition Design Seminar at Maryland Institute College of Art. I'll let them explain:
An open city is a place where everyone feels welcome, regardless of such things as wealth, race, age, or religion. In every neighborhood of an open city, one feels like he or she belongs. However in Baltimore—as in most American metropolitan areas—issues like housing discrimination, bad public transportation, and the privatization of public space separate people, and create an uneven distribution of health, wealth, and education.

For the exhibition Baltimore: Open City, students of Maryland Institute College of Art’s Exhibition Development Seminar invited scholars, activists, community-based organizations, local artists, and visiting artist Damon Rich to create a series of installations, workshops, and other public programs that investigate the ways in which Baltimore is and is not an open city. We welcome our neighbors to join us in exploring what a more open city might look and feel like.

As a part of this Open City process, there is also the Open City Challenge, a joint project of D center Baltimore, Urbanite, the year-long Exhibition Design Seminar at Maryland Institute College of Art, the Maryland Transit Administration, and the Baltimore City Department of Transportation. Self-organized teams are invited to compete for $10,000 in prize money (provided by the MTA) and the chance to implement their solution to a pressing city issue: the quality-of-life issues brought about by the construction of the Red Line. For more information, or to apply, visit The Urbanite Project Web site.

Hope to see you tonight!

Friday, March 4, 2011

AIA Spring Lecture Series: March 24

I’m moderating a panel for this Spring’s AIA Lecture Series, with Mason White of Lateral Architecture, Paul Lukez, author of Suburban Transformations, and Hillary Brown from New Civic Works. We will get to hear from them about their latest projects as well as discuss how new development can merge with infrastructure, civic policy, and sustainability initiatives to create more integrated and holistic solutions in urban, rural, and suburban settings.

When: Thursday, March 24

Time: 6:00 p.m. with a reception to follow

Location: Falvey Hall at Brown Center, Maryland Institute College of Art, 1300 W. Mount Royal Avenue

For more information on the AIA Lecture Series and to buy tickets, click here.

I'm a Finalist!

My feature article about the closure of Baltimore architecture firm CSD is a finalist for a 2011 Neal Award! The article published last year in Architect magazine. Click here for a link to the story.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Eye Candy

I first saw the work of Japanese designer Kouichi Okamoto, of Kyouei Design, a few years ago at the designboom mart held during the International Contemporary Furniture Fair. He was showing some beautiful ceramics, including a practical and beautiful umbrella stand that I still think about.

Lately I've had lighting on the brain because I need to find ceiling fixtures for several rooms in my house. Okamoto had created whimsical lighting in the past, like this paper lantern designed to look like an actual light bulb. Now it seems the industrial aesthetic that's sweeping lighting design has caught his attention as well. His Reconstructionist Chandelier, pictured above and below, takes the bare-bulb industrial safety clip lamp and elevates it into an open cluster accented by gold.

I like it, but with all of the industrial lighting hitting the marketplace—from Pottery Barn to Schoolhouse Electric and beyond—I imagine that in a few years (or months), this may feel as dated as antlers on the walls.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On a Personal Note...

Me and my father in the Spring of 2009, just months after his cancer diagnosis.

ronic that the post previous to this one announced an event called "Vacation." After posting that back in August of 2010, it seems as though I, too, went on an extended vacation from this blog. The hiatus, I'm sad to say, was because my father, William Joseph Evitts, was very ill with pancreatic cancer. He passed away in December leaving a gaping hole here in the Evitts family and in the Baltimore community. He was an exceptional man, a stellar teacher and writer, and above all else, an amazing father. It was because of him that I became a writer, a teacher, an editor. It was his encouragement that led me to follow my interests and my instincts and explore the world of design and design writing.

Dad defied the terrible odds and lived with pancreatic cancer for nearly 18 months. In his dying, as in his life, he had a grace and an openness that forever changed the way I see things. His death has already begun to move the compass of my work and I look forward to exploring new terrain. "Proceed and be bold," the architect Sam Mockbee liked to say. So now the brave work of living after someone you love dies. I promise to be bold. In honor of dad.