"Women and Public Space" Kicks Off Series on Architecture and Public Space

Tuesday, September 25, 2001 - 12:00

For immediate release
September 24, 2001

Panel to feature two Mount Holyoke graduates---a real estate developer and attorney/consultant---as well as Boston architect and an associate professor of urban studies at Harvard University Graduate School of Design; 7:30 p.m. Thursday,
October 4 in Gamble Auditorium

South Hadley, MA---How do buildings and their surroundings get built amid competing claims of utility, cost, beauty, and politics? How can the design of buildings and public spaces shape society and culture?

In a year-long series, Building Meaning: Architecture and Public Space in the Third Millennium, Mount Holyoke College's Weissman Center for Leadership will sponsor a series of panels and discussions with leading architects, critics, urban planners, and specialists in adaptive reuse who will explore key questions regarding how society shapes buildings and public spaces and how, in turn, architectural choices shape society.

On Thursday, October 4, the series will commence with a panel discussion on Women and Public Space. The panel will address the meaning and function of public spaces from the perspective of an architect, a real estate developer, and a critic/designer, who have shaped, produced, and analyzed some of the competing claims on space in both urban and suburban settings. These panelists, all women, will also speak to the particular challenges and dilemmas facing women engaged in transforming the way we imagine, move through, and use public spaces.

Mount Holyoke trustee Tina Hogan, a 1974 graduate of Mount Holyoke and a corporate real estate adviser, will moderate the October 4 panel, which will feature architect Sheila Kennedy, real estate developer Paula Robinson Collins, and urban planning expert Ann Forsyth.

The panel will take place on Thursday, Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Mount Holyoke's Gamble Auditorium, and is free, open to the public, and wheelchair accessible.

The year-long series addresses a particularly timely topic for the historic campus, which is in the midst of a construction boom comprising a number of large scale construction and renovation projects, including the construction of a premier science facility and the expansion and renovation of facilities for art and music. At the same time, the school is developing a campus masterplan.

"Through this year's series on architecture and public space, the Weissman Center hopes to generate critical thought and dialogue about architecture in public life," said codirector Karen Remmler. "This is a subject that involves fundamental questions of power and the sometimes conflicting demands of decision makers and marginalized populations, historic preservation and infrastructure requirements, environmental preservation and fiscal responsibility."

The panelists for the first event:

Alma Tina Hogan is a consultant in the areas of real estate development, portfolio strategic planning, and project management.

Former director of the Advanced Studies Program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Sheila Kennedy is principal architect and cofounder of Kennedy and Violich Architecture, which has been awarded the commission for the new school of the Art Institute of Chicago. Kennedy will discuss her Boston firm's specialty: how new architecture can be integrated with existing and emerging forms of infrastructure.

Paula Robinson Collins, who earned a degree in urban studies at MHC in 1971, is founder of the San Francisco real estate development and investment firm WDG Ventures, Inc. Known for large-scale development in the Bay Area, she was a member of the project development team for the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco and was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. in 2000. She will speak about the challenges facing developers engaged in large-scale commercial, industrial, and residential development.

An award-winning planner, Ann Forsyth is now associate professor of urban planning at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She is author of the book "Constructing Suburbs" and currently is writing a book that will evaluate three U.S. towns that were developed in the 1960s as an alternative to urban sprawl. She will discuss the social aspects and impact of physical planning and urban development.

Other events in the series:

Other events of the series are: "The Many Lives of Factory Buildings," Oct. 25, "Contested Ground: Meaningful Landscapes and Cultural Conflict in the Past," Nov. 14, and "Ecological Architecture, Design and Ethics: A Conversation with William McDonough," Dec. 5. All are at 7:30 p.m. in Gamble Auditorium. The series continues in spring with such guest architects as Daniel Libeskind, designer of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, and Elizabeth Diller, designer of the "Blur Building" in Switzerland.

The series drew support and inspiration from a recent Five College faculty seminar, Planning Environments: Architecture and Theory in Process, which has inspired many to incorporate themes of architecture and public space into their courses. In addition to helping students make sense of the current transformation of the MHC landscape, these courses and the Weissman Center series will create opportunities for exchange and public debate on the public role of architects, planners, designers, and critics in shaping social interaction and the use of space.

The Harriet L. and Paul M. Weissman Center for Leadership was established in 1999 to prepare students to engage in the public arena as critical thinkers in all realms of public life, intellectual exchange, and artistic expression.