#GETSMART: AIAS 2018 Midwest Quad Conference Hosted by Ohio State Chapter

What does it mean to be a smart architect? Through the theme #GETSMART, the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) 2018 Midwest Quad Conference, hosted in April by the Ohio State University AIAS Chapter, explored possible applications of the term to design practice and urban planning.

“As America’s Smart City, Columbus is initiating efforts to rethink transportation and mobility for the city and region. For most people, the word “smart” suggests advanced technology: smart cars, smart homes, big data analysis,” stated senior architecture student Chris Humphrey, director of the conference. “We really wanted to investigate how we as architects can be a part of that conversation to identify what smart practice and design means.”

The Ohio State chapter developed a three-day program of keynote presentations, break-out sessions, short courses and tours for the 160 student attendees from 16 Midwest universities. Hosted in Knowlton Hall, presentations and education sessions were facilitated by educators and representatives from 25 professional firms, covering a multidisciplinary profile of planners, industrial designers, engineers and architects.  

Tours around the city, including visits to the Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus Museum of Art and Center of Science and Industry, kicked off Friday events. Evening Keynote Speaker Heather Roberge (BSARCH ’93, MARCH ‘95), Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA, presented, “Investigating Problems: Architectural Inquiry Between Tradition and Technology.” Through a review of her projects, Succulent House and En Pointe, Roberge discussed how reconsidering precedent led her to discover new design typologies.

Presentation topics over the weekend ranged from designing libraries for the future to UI/UIX computational design in Grasshopper, the challenge of crafting design for cuisine and the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion in the processes of pushing architectural agendas. Presenting on the adaptive re-use of higher education space, Tim Hawk (BSARCH ’86, MARCH ’89) FAIA, President of WSA Studio, led a charrette, Crafting Innovation: A Peek Inside the Design Process to Drive Innovation. Participants in this extended format session developed plans for collaborative work spaces that can catalyze the efforts of entrepreneurs and start-ups to bolster innovation. 

Saturday morning’s keynote presentation featured Dr. Dennis Ong, Distinguished Architect and Managing Principal at Verizon, Yanitza Brongeres-Marrero (MARCH ’96) AIA, Associate Principal and Director of Housing at Moody Nolan and Amber Woodburn, assistant professor of city and regional planning at the Knowlton School. The PechaKucha-style session discussed different scales of smart technologies, issues of implementation and why architects will need to redefine typologies in order to meet the needs of a technology-centric future.

“I believe the 2018 AIAS Midwest Quad Conference was a success,” reflected architecture senior Alexandra Oetzel, president of the AIAS Ohio State chapter. “Our volunteers were specifically remembered by name and effortlessly guided our visitors across the City of Columbus. We are incredibly grateful for their work. As an organization, we feel encouraged and excited by the results of this conference in the pursuit of our future endeavors.”