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73 | Public Interest Design, Past, Present & Future

American Institute of Architecture Students is a U.S.-based organization dedicated to advancing leadership, design and service among architecture students. The group meets annually to “learn about the issues facing our world, to meet students and professionals with common interests, and to interact with some of today’s leading architects and designers.”

73 | Public Interest Design, Past, Present & Future

AIAS runs a number of programs focused on developing and enhancing the leadership skills of the next generation of architects. Programs like Freedom by Design and CRIT empower students to seek out new forms of practice, and advance design education

Sarah Curry was the president of the Auburn University Chapter of the AIAS and while she obtained her B.Arch at Auburn University. Sarah’s favorite thing about the AIAS is the way it acts as a magnet for passion among a diverse generation of change agents.

Coleman Coker is a renowned designer and educator, artist and architect who currently leads the Gulf Coast DesignLab at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. The DesignLab is an immersive, one-semester program that focuses on the issues urgently facing communities on Texas’s Gulf Coast. He currently serves as the Ruth Carter Stevenson Regents Chair in the Art of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. He is formerly a Loeb Fellow, a Rome Prize Winner, and a recipient of the Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices awards. Through his private practice, buildingstudio, Coker blurs the lines between architecture, art, craft and thinking.

The studio relies on field-based research and design-build pedagogy, with each class being asked to select and design projects as a means of environmental advocacy. The Texas Gulf Coast faces many of the same challenges as water-side megalopolises across the world: sea-level rise, subsidence, wetland habitat loss, industrial pollution. Therefore, the studio prompts to not only consider these challenges as design problems, but also to consider their role as citizens and stewards of the Earth.

The studio puts design students in positions of collaboration with a wide variety of subject-matter experts, including ecologists, marine biologists, artists, historians, anthropologists, sociologists, and meteorologists.

Hosts Eric Cesal and Karen Kubey visit with Coleman Coker, of the Gulf Coast Design Lab, and Sarah Curry, of AIAS to discuss the evolution of social design.


Social Design Insights would like to thank all those who make our weekly show possible: Baruch Zeichner, our Producer and Sound Engineer, Donna Read, for producing our video content, and Leah Freidenrich, Director of the Curry Stone Foundation. Our theme music for 2018 is "Alright With Me" by Reggie Young from his album "Young Street." The break music is "Kiss My Ass, I'm Goin' To Austin" by Danny Dolinger from his album "Significant Gains."