Society&Design Lab - A Research Group at the Center for Cultural Analysis (CCA)

The Society&Design Lab brings together scholars and practitioners from different disciplines to discuss methods for investigating the urban condition. Workshops are geared towards developing fruitful exchanges between disciplines and encouraging experimentation with different tools for understanding how the built environment is composed, developed, understood, experienced, and lived. Critiques of urban spatial production remain sequestered within disciplinary discussions and often do not make it to those who design, plan, and build the city. This research group seeks to encourage experimentation across disciplines, including architecture, landscape architecture, sociology, and urban design.

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Annette M. Kim

is Associate Professor at the University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy. She is also the Director of SLAB, the newly formed spatial analysis laboratory that advances the visualization of the social sciences for public service through teaching, research, and public engagement. Her research experiments with critical cartography and spatial ethnography to re-conceptualize contemporary urbanism and find more inclusive and humane ways to design and govern the 21st-century city.

 
 
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Annual Methodology Workshop

This half-day workshop brings together practitioners, scholars and students to address the interconnected challenges of design and sociology, investigating methods for bridging sociological and architectural imaginations.  That is, so that architects, urban designers, and landscape architects can design for the social individual and the sociologists can see and investigate the importance of space. Architects need to design for specific publics.  Sociologists need to attend to the specifics of the material world in order to fully understand social dynamics.

We will explore methodologies employed by designers, activists, and community organizers in their research and practice and look for overlaps and points where these methodologies might inform the techniques employed by practitioners beyond disciplinary boundaries.  Standard approaches separate the many scales that compose the built environment into disconnected categories, such as “regional design” or “suburban sociology,” without addressing interconnected and nested scales of spatial experience.  This workshop explores how we might move beyond such fragmented and truncated understandings of place.  The first half of the workshops will consist of brief speaker presentations and a panel discussion. The second half will consist of small group working sessions and ideas exchange between design and sociology faculty and students on their own research and applied projects.

Speakers:

Brian Phillips, AIA, LEED AP
Principal at Interface Studio Architects, Philadelphia

Nadine Maleh
Executive Director, Institute for Public Architecture

Amanda Schachter, AIA
Partner at SLO Archictecture

A. Mychal Johnson
Cofounder of South Bronx Unite

 
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Society&Design Lab - A Research Group at the Center for Cultural Analysis (CCA)

The Society&Design Lab brings together scholars and practitioners from different disciplines to discuss methods for investigating the urban condition. Workshops are geared towards developing fruitful exchanges between disciplines and encouraging experimentation with different tools for understanding how the built environment is composed, developed, understood, experienced, and lived. Critiques of urban spatial production remain sequestered within disciplinary discussions and often do not make it to those who design, plan, and build the city. This working group seeks to encourage experimentation across disciplines, including architecture, landscape architecture, sociology, and urban design. Since many practitioners and urban scholars operate with a working understanding that design should always engage with a sense of place and context - both physical and social context - why is it that this does not always (or even often) happen? What goes wrong? What tools are designers and social scientists missing? Why aren’t the critiques pointed out by theorists, critics, social scientists, or historians being considered in design education and practice? What needs to happen in order for our cities to be filled with designs that are truly responsive to context, and that offer meaningful engagement with the social and cultural aspects of place? Addressing these questions must involve conversations about process and the assumptions often made by practitioners and scholars.

Workshops are geared towards cross pollinating tactics and tools of analysis outside of the disciplines in which they are traditionally used. We explore how we might bring the words and statistics and narrative studies often used by sociologists into play in the design of spaces. Similarly, we question what role the use of maps and photographs, image analysis, drawing techniques, and recorded site observations can play in sociological studies. This will serve to assist scholars and practitioners - from all fields that study the urban - to develop theoretical and practical competencies for working with and designing for specific place-based, contextual manifestations, rather than general phenomena.