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Students can get a jumpstart with Summer 2020 Courses. Offerings include design, architecture, photography, drawing, making, design thinking, historic preservation, real estate, and social innovation and social entrepreneurship. View the Tulane School of Architecture Summer 2020 Course Offerings.

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Archinect interviews Dean Iñaki Alday

Archinect magazine recently interviewed Tulane School of Architecture Dean Iñaki Alday as part of its Deans List interview series with the leaders of architecture schools, worldwide. The series profiles the school’s programming, as defined by the dean – giving an invaluable perspective into the institution’s unique curriculum, faculty and academic environment.

For this installment, Archinect spoke with Iñaki Alday, the new dean at the Tulane School of Architecture. The school hosts a variety of degree and specialized programs that combine architecture, real estate development, historic preservation, and community-driven focuses to provide a holistic design education. Dean Alday recently took the reins of the school with the aim of leading the Gulf Coast region and country, overall, in terms of "what it means to live with water."

Read below for the full story or click here for the original piece in Archinect by Managing Editor Antonio Pacheco (TSA *14).

Briefly describe Tulane School of Architecture’s pedagogical stance on architecture education.

Tulane School of Architecture has a history of commitment to real, pressing issues, and, especially after Hurricane Katrina, a history of leadership in helping our communities rebuild. We are not interested in the endogamic discourses that have occupied academia for decades, taking us away from society and relevancy. In the past, many schools of architecture have failed as educators and as leaders of our societies. Therefore, our school focuses on urgent problems, not self-indulgent fictions. The school is in the heart of the “Third Coast”–the American Gulf Coast–where all the challenges of human inhabitation of the planet are at play. This exceptional location, being in the Mississippi Delta, also provides us with the opportunity to define the role that architecture can take in facing climate change—including other ecological crises, as well as in the process of urbanization under these circumstances—and the challenges of social and environmental justice that follow.

What insights from your past professional experience are you hoping to integrate/adopt as dean?

A significant part of my professional practice is focused on the connection between cities, and buildings, with rivers and their dynamics. For example, my partner Margarita Jover and I were among the first to “design” the flood that occupies a public space and a building (an arena) in Spain, starting a line of investigation that changes the idea of flooding (and all river dynamics) from a catastrophic event into a positive asset. Since then we have been planning, designing, and building “hybrid infrastructures” in Spain, Asia, and Latin America, and also, working as regular experts for the World Bank. This type of creative, innovative design work is key for Tulane as it seeks to lead the region and country in terms of what it means to live with water.

Academically, I enjoyed being chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Virginia (2011-16), where I founded the Yamuna River Project together with Pankaj Vir Gupta, an interdisciplinary research program whose objective is to revitalize the ecology of the Yamuna River in New Delhi, thus reconnecting India’s capital city back to the water. This project is proof of how architecture and urbanism can approach complex problems holistically while incorporating multiple fields (history, art history, engineering, economics, religious studies, entrepreneurship, engineering, environmental sciences, and politics, for example). It is a great example of making an impact in one of the toughest urban crises. We are continuing with the project at Tulane, expanding it to other cities in India and the Global South.

Rivers and their associated communities are at the frontline of climate impacts. Globally, river basins provide the majority of the world’s food and freshwater, and more than 500 million people live on river deltas, which also form the major ports of the world. Along the roughly 2,300 miles of the Mississippi River alone are situated at least seven major urban centers, while 50 cities rely on the Mississippi to provide drinking water for 20 million people. The Mississippi River Basin, the world’s fourth largest river basin, spans 31 states and two Canadian provinces, providing more than 40-percent of US agriculture with water while producing $400 billion of economic activity. It is among the leading locations facing significant conditions of accelerating risk, as well. Similar conditions are replicated in multiple river basins across the planet, especially in the Global South, where regions are facing the crises of pollution, floods, and scarcity, and, most critically, in urbanized contexts and in the rapidly growing megalopolises in South East Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

What kind of student do you think would flourish at Tulane University and why?

At Tulane, a student needs to be committed, not only to excellence but also to stepping out of her or his comfort zone, collaborating with other fields inside the school (architecture, preservation, sustainable real estate), and with those outside the school (science and engineering, social sciences, economics, humanities, and law). And above all, our students are encouraged to look beyond themselves, to avoid cherry-picking problems, and to committing to positively impacting the lives of others. The Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design works directly with communities, URBANbuild produces a yearly miracle of an affordable house designed and built by students, and our river and delta urbanism research offers a unique approach and a track record of substantial impact in the cities set alongside the Mississippi River and alongside the rivers of India, Argentina, and Ethiopia.

What are the biggest challenges, academically and professionally, facing students?

The recovery of architecture as a relevant discipline in the collective imagination is the biggest challenge. Architecture needs to be at the table where big decisions are made. This is the challenge that our students need to take on, and will become experts in, after 50 years of architecture being isolated in disconnected academic discourses or assuming the role of pure service provider. The new generations have the mandate of recovering the leadership role that society and the planet need.

What are some of the larger issues of “today” that you feel an architecture school should be preparing its students for?

We are in the midst of the most significant environmental and social crises, one that is even threatening our own existence on the earth. We urgently need to change the way in which we are inhabiting the planet, change how new buildings perform, how they serve people, how they look, and where they are located. And similarly, we need to rethink what and how to preserve, where and how to develop, and how our cities should be symbiotic with natural elements. Right now, architecture is losing relevance in discussions about the built environment in many countries around the world, and most strikingly, in the United States.

At Tulane, we train students with a holistic approach, giving them interdisciplinary tools to help them learn to identify which are the most pressing issues so they can figure out how to apply their design, preservation, or sustainable real estate development education in order to address them. We advocate for the production of knowledge and innovation through design, which for us, is understood as the creative management of complexity. When we, as architects, are able to go beyond our personal preferences, there is no other kind of professional better prepared for dealing with the complex and uncertain world around us.

What are some of the advantages of the school’s context—being housed within Tulane University as well as in New Orleans—and how do you think they help make the program unique?

Tulane University is a top-tier research university, and the perfect size for interdisciplinary collaborations, which is a priority of the university president, provost and all the deans here. From my perspective, “curiosity” and “ambition” are the two words that define Tulane today and that’s what attracted me here. New Orleans is also the northernmost tip of the Global South. Both facts together position Tulane uniquely as the only top research university that is located in a place that deals with all the challenges—social, environmental, economic—in the most exciting, dynamic, and needed region in the world. And our university is committed to work that brings innovation by crossing disciplinary boundaries. This is the only school of architecture that has fully committed to rebuilding a city after a major catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina. Solving urgent problems, housing people, working with communities to bring them back, developing new scenarios to inhabit our rivers and deltas—those issues are deeply rooted in Tulane’s identity. Because of the uniqueness of Tulane, the School of Architecture is a school that has no parallel.

Tulane needs to keep growing and positioning itself as a genuine voice, very different to our peers due to our unique ecosystem and concerns. We are already a driving force in New Orleans and the region; however, we should also become an international reference working on comparative methods. Our challenges are the world’s challenges, and the best way to learn and move forward is to hold a continuous back and forth between our attention to the local conditions and the lessons learned globally.

Tulane School of Architecture has a significant record of working within the New Orleans community, how will you take on that legacy?

First of all, we should probably say “communities,” as New Orleans is a diverse city with many different communities. They are always complex and contradictory—And there is never a single belonging, but often multiple and always nested systems of them. That being said, New Orleans epitomizes the challenges of thousands of towns, cities, and metropolises set alongside American rivers. We are at the intersection of floods, scarcity, pollution, land loss, and other riverine environmental issues, and we are dealing with the societal impact of those as well as the impacts of post-industrial economic stagnation, transportation crises, and other social challenges. Working from New Orleans—a microcosm of global issues—the Tulane School of Architecture is well positioned to lead the work in terms of how to relate our cities and our rivers in a completely different way. Floods are here to stay, and we have to design our spaces to make them productive—instead of catastrophic—by turning floods into an opportunity rather than a threat. Instead of walls, our rivers and cities deserve public spaces that can navigate the changes and recover healthy ecologies. Buildings need to be adapted to leverage the river or the delta, as well. This is a natural human inclination, but now we must apply it in a different way, undergoing proper transformation.

Can you speak to the nature of collaboration that exists between Tulane School of Architecture’s various programs (Architecture, Preservation, Real Estate Development, the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design, URBANbuild, Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship) and your plans for those efforts?

Tulane School of Architecture offers the essentials we need to rethink how to inhabit our planet: what and how to preserve, where and how to sustainably develop the land, and how to design buildings, public spaces, and cities. Dual degrees are excellent choices that round-out an effective education and prepare our graduates for thinking broadly, creatively, and responsibly. We have interdisciplinary studios among the three programs, design-build studios with our community partners, and a wide range of courses open to all Tulane students. All in all, every student has the opportunity to excel in her or his degree while being knowledgeable about other areas. An architect needs to know how to deal with existing buildings and to understand the logics of real estate development. Similarly, historic preservationists incorporate design and advanced digital tools while understanding the economic implications of their work, including the risk of gentrification. And a developer of the future cannot be anything other than sustainable, must understand the potential of reusing our heritage, and know how high-quality design improves the conditions of life.

New Wave features SISE's Liz Ogbu

For those not in the field of architecture, the subject seems straightforward—tall skyscrapers, bridges and monuments. That’s all correct, but that’s not all there is to architecture and design.

Liz Ogbu challenges the idea that architecture is so simplistic. A graduate of Wellesley College and Harvard University, Ogbu puts her architecture degrees to work by involving herself in communities to create not buildings, but spaces. Ogbu takes the stories and needs of groups to create spaces for them, designing to benefit and improve the lives of those who use them. By working as a designer, she has touched public health areas such as maternal health, water and sanitation, and air quality.

“[It was an] opportunity to create transformation to the way people saw a particular type of space and saw a particular type of people,” Ogbu said of one of her projects in a TEDx Talk on the subject. 

“[It was an] opportunity to create transformation to the way people saw a particular type of space and saw a particular type of people.”

 Liz Ogbu

As an Expert in Residence at the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking, she also conducts workshops, class visits, and consultations for Tulane students.

On Tuesday (Nov. 7), Ogbu will lead a free, public seminar regarding architecture and public health at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, 1440 Canal St.

The seminar, “Design for Social Impact: Opportunities for Public Health”, is co-hosted by the Tulane Prevention Research Center, The Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking and the Office of Academic Affairs.

Ogbu will explain how, by looking at architecture through a public health lens, one can create change for people and influence a culture, by creating more humane public spaces, extending health to everyone, and addressing health concerns.

Iman Naim is a graduate student in the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Dean Schwartz interviewed on WWNO

What Is The Phyllis M. Taylor Center For Social Innovation And Design Thinking?

On “Notes from New Orleans” on WWNO, Director Kenneth Schwartz spoke with Sharon Litwin to answer the questions, “What is Social Innovation” and “What is the Taylor Center?”.

Listen to the show here

Archinect Features - Deans List: Kenneth Schwartz of Tulane School of Architecture


The Deans List is an interview series with the leaders of architecture schools, worldwide. The series profiles the school’s programming, as defined by the head honcho – giving an invaluable perspective into the institution’s unique curriculum, faculty and academic environment. For this issue, we spoke with Kenneth Schwartz, the Dean at Tulane University's School of Architecture.

Before Hurricane Katrina, the 100+-year old Tulane School of Architecture was primarily concerned with architectural design with an emphasis on historical preservation at various times during this history. The school did not focus as much on progressive community-oriented design projects as they do today. Since the 2005 disaster, the school has changed its focus to encourage its approximately 300 students to become actively involved in the design issues of the surrounding community, resulting in a hands-on approach that immerses students in the often thorny problems of the wider world. In New Orleans’ case, architectural students must grapple with building in historically impoverished neighborhoods that have also not fully recovered from the effects of Katrina. Kenneth Schwartz, who has been at the school’s helm since 2008, has made Tulane synonymous with a pedagogy that integrates the theoretical and the pragmatic... Full interview HERE

Metropolis Magazine Highlights Tulane School of Architecture's Social Innovation Agenda

A Decade after Katrina, Tulane Seeks to Expand Its Social Innovation Agenda

Tulane University’s URBANbuild program was founded in 2005, not long before Hurricane Katrina ravaged much of the surrounding area. And if its mission had been important before, it became even more pressing in the storm’s aftermath. 

URBANbuild, Tulane's School of Architecture’s design-build program, sets out to give students firsthand experience of the work that goes into building an energy-efficient home, combining academic with technical knowledge. Over the course of the semester students participate in every aspect of the building process, from researching and developing proposals to communicating with material providers and working directly with subcontractors. 

Following Hurricane Katrina, URBANbuild turned its focus toward designing for the immediate community as it dealt with the consequences of the natural disaster. “We had an opportunity and a responsibility to help the communities in a much greater way,” Byron Mouton, director of URBANbuild, says. “Helping people who decided to return to understand that they had access to greater options.” Since its inception, the program has spearheaded the design and execution of 10 projects, including affordable housing in underserved areas and even a pop-up community market—all have had a small-scale but deeply-felt impact on the urban fabric of New Orleans.

Now, with the ten-year anniversary of Katrina, many are revisiting the extent of Katrina’s impact on the area and reassessing how the disaster has shaped how designers can deal with catastrophe and hardship on a broader scale. In these discussions, Tulane has stepped up to the plate once more, with its Tulane City Center projects (the community outreach arm of the Tulane School of Architecture) and its newly founded Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking....  Full Article HERE


2015 Tulane School of Architecture Summer Newsletter

Information Session scheduled: City Resilience Around the Globe

Anna Monhartova selected as the Winner of the 2015 Millenial Award in Social Entrepreneurship

Anna Monhartova selected as the Winner of the 2015 Millenial Award in Social Entrepreneurship

Congratulations to our SISE Program Director Anna Monhartova on her selection as a 2015 Millenia Award in Social Entrepreneurship winner! 

Now in its third year, “The Millennials: A Salute to Service” awards ceremony, held Saturday (July 25) at the National World War II Museum, showcased millennials  career and civic achievements in New Orleans. Even Mayor Mitch Landrieu stopped by to speak about how the millennials — those born from 1975 to early 2000s — are playing a part of the city’s evolution. 

This recognition is well-deserved for her remarkable accomplishments. Anna has contributed so much through her work with A's & Aces and Tulane and often behind the scenes.

New Wave Highlights Emma Jasinski, TSA 14, for her efforts with "Humanure"

NewWave Logo

Better sanitation means power in India

Madeline R. Vann


Humanure Power, the brainchild of Tulane University alumnus Anoop Jain, earned him $100,000 and the 2014 Waislitz Global Citizen Award on Sept. 27 at the third annual Global Citizen Festival in New York. 

The award recognizes the efforts of Jain and his small staff to build public toilet facilities in rural communities in India. Humanure Power turns methane gas from human waste into power for local communities.

The electricity they generate is then used to power a water filtration system that allows the team to distribute clean water at competitive, market rate prices. 

“This award further validates the work we’ve been doing, which we couldn’t do without our networks of supporters and funders,” said Jain, 27, who earned a Master of Public Health in 2013. 

Jain and his team will be meeting with industry leaders on how best to use the award money, with the goal of opening three more toilet facilities in India. 

Opening the Humanure Power facility more than two months ago posed some unique challenges, he said. 

Residents frequented the facility — which includes eight toilets each for men and women — early in the morning and late in the evening, when it was too dark to walk safely to the toilets. 

The Humanure Power team promptly set up a network of lights elevated on bamboo poles, effectively lighting the streets in the area.

“One hundred and fifty people used the facility the next day,” Jain said. 

While at Tulane University, Jain participated in the Changemaker Institute, an accelerator program for student-led social ventures facilitated by the Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching (CELT).

Members of the Humanure team include Emma Jasinski, a 2014 graduate of the Tulane School of Architecture; Neha Dubli, a Master of Public Health student at Tulane, and public health grads Dani DiPietro (2014) and Benjamin Mauro (2013). 

Madeline R. Vann, who received a Master of Public Health in 1998 from Tulane University, is a freelance writer living in Virginia.

Biomedical Engineering students enjoy SISE design thinking exercise at Flower Hall

On Friday, September 26 Prof. Ann Yoachim of SISE led two-dozen Biomedical Engineering seniors through an intense 50-minute design thinking exercise at the newly furnished creative space in Flower Hall.  Prof. Lars Gilbertson—instructor of the students’ capstone Team Design course and also NewDay Professor of Social Entrepreneurship and Carnegie Fellow—had been looking for a way to “break the ice” for his newly formed design teams.  He found it through what turned out to be a highly energizing crash-course in design thinking.  “I’m impressed with how quickly our students got into the spirit of design thinking,” said Gilbertson.  “Our positive experience demonstrates the transdisciplinary power of this approach.”  For her part, Prof. Yoachim created a customized design thinking exercise that focused on enhancing the team experience for Prof. Gilbertson’s students.  Adapting techniques from the Stanford d-school, Prof. Yoachim organized the biomedical engineering students into pairs and had them interview each other about their previous experiences working in teams.  “These interviews are crucial to gaining empathy and uncovering aspects of the previous experience that perhaps the students didn’t see for themselves,” said Yoachim.  “We found that ‘lack of communication’ emerged as a common theme for a previous, unsatisfying team experience.”  

Building on these interviews, the students generated solution concepts to meet their partner’s needs.  A frenzied prototyping session followed, yielding physical models that the students used to communicate their solution concepts to each other.  “Our students came up with some insightful ideas how to improve the team experience,” said Gilbertson.  “This is important to us because ability to communicate effectively and function on multi-disciplinary teams is essential to their success—not only in this year’s Team Design course but also their future professional practice.”  Prof. Yoachim, on working with the biomedical engineering students:  “It was exciting to see how design thinking provided them with an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of their team members and to engage in prototyping early in their year-long design process.  These students are trying to solve significant problems in global health and assistive technologies for persons with disabilities through their team design projects—this underscores the importance of our being able to support their development of innovative solutions moving forward.”