Founded by Bryan C. Lee Jr. and Sue Mobley, the name, “Colloqate” comes from a play on the words “colloquial,”, “locate,” and “collocate.” Both founders have deep backgrounds in social activism; Lee is an architect, formerly the Place + Civic Design Director for the Arts Council of New Orleans. He also served as the founding organizer of both the Design Justice Platform and the Design As Protest National Day of Action. Mobley was formerly the Strategy and Communications Lead for the Organizing and Facilitation Committee of the Music and Culture Coalition New Orleans, as well as the Executive Director of Sweet Home New Orleans, and the Community Coordinator for the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity. The two came together to establish Colloqate after collaborating on other projects through a variety of venues.
Colloqate looks to inspire conversation about the ways in which systems of racial, ethnic, and gendered discrimination can be incorporated into the built environment. If these systems are incorporated into the built environment—stacked in with the bricks, laid into the foundation, drawn out in the blueprints—then designers are at the very least complicit in the use of design that does not challenge them. As a community, it is critical that they understand how their work serves to perpetuate these systems in order to deconstruct them.
In Dallas, Colloqate was enlisted to consult on the Weiss/Manfredi-designed transformation of a former prison building, which will serve as the gateway to a 200-acre park along Trinity River. Lee envisions the one-time site of mass incarceration as a space of urban restoration and restorative justice.
In Portland, Colloqate is working with local firm Bora on The Portland Community College (PCC) Metro Center, a job-training facility in Portland’s Cully neighborhood, as well as two libraries. As part of the process, the PCC design-team received Critical Race Theory training. Additionally, Colloqate continues to be heavily involved in the Design Justice Platform– an online, open source program to instigate a conversation on topics like immigration, education and racial injustice through Design As Protest (DAP) and Dark Matter University (DMU).
Recently, Colloqate was announced as the 2021 winner of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in the Emerging Designer category.