Economies Conference

Four drawings from "Human," a series of 24 scribbled personas by John Maeda.

WUSTL hosts first joint conference of the ACSA and NCAA

Posted by Liam Otten, The Record September 8, 2009

World-renowned artist and computer scientist John Maeda will serve as opening speaker for "Economies: Art+Architecture," the first joint conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and the National Council of Art Administrators (NCAA).

The conference is being hosted by the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and takes place Nov. 4-7.

"Bringing top academic leaders to St. Louis for 'Economies: Art + Architecture' is indeed a terrific honor," said Carmon Colangelo, dean of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and the E. Desmond Lee Professor for Collaboration in the Arts.

"This will promote camaraderie and collaboration between architects, designers, educators, and visual artists from across North America while also facilitating a unique exchange of ideas about creative entrepreneurship and leadership," Colangelo said. "Hopefully, it will serve as an important catalyst for interdisciplinary discussions within and between the professions."

Colangelo is co-chairing the conference with Peter MacKeith, associate dean of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and associate professor of architecture.

"The conference aligns precisely with the mission of the Sam Fox School in its emphasis on collaboration, social and environmental responsibility, and the interdisciplinary relationship between architecture, design, and art," MacKeith said. "In effect, a creative 'economy of means' may well be the most productive and necessary emphasis across our disciplines in meeting the challenges of the near future."

The conference will open at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 4 in Graham Chapel with Maeda's keynote address, "Creative Leadership." Co-sponsored by the Assembly Series, the lecture is free and open to the public.

Maeda was named one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century by Esquire magazine and has worked for more than a decade to integrate technology, education, and the visual arts, redefining the use of electronic media as a tool for creative expression.

Combining skilled computer programming with sensitivity to traditional artistic concerns, Maeda's work helped develop the interactive motion graphics that are prevalent on the Internet today.

Now president of the Rhode Island School of Design, Maeda remains a pioneering voice for "simplicity" in the digital age, championing the use of the computer for people of all ages and skill levels.

His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Cartier Foundation in Paris, among others.

Skandalaris Awards

In conjunction with the conference, the Sam Fox School and the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies are collaborating to present three Skandalaris Awards in art and design.

The Skandalaris Award for Excellence in Art Architecture recognizes an artist, architect, or designer whose individual or collaborative works, projects, or research have had profound and lasting impacts on society, culture, or the environment.

Receiving the award will be Rick Lowe, founder of Project Row Houses in Houston, a large-scale development founded on the principle that art can be the basis for revitalizing depressed inner-city neighborhoods.

Lowe founded Project Row Houses in 1993 in one of Houston's oldest African-American neighborhoods.

What began as 22 shotgun-style houses on one block has grown to six blocks encompassing 12 artist exhibition and/or residency spaces, seven transitional houses for young mothers, office spaces, a community gallery, a park, and low-income residential and commercial spaces.

Lowe also is a co-founder of the Watts House Project in Watts, Calif., a similar large-scale artwork-as-urban development, and is active on the National Resource Team for Transforma Projects, a collective of artists and creative professionals formed in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Two Skandalaris Awards for Entrepreneurship in Design & Visual Arts will honor individuals who have demonstrated leadership and entrepreneurship in architecture, design, and the visual arts, particularly through community-based and/or sustainable practices.

Receiving the awards will be Anna Rubbo, founder of the interdisciplinary Global Studio, which engages design students in participatory action research and community development; and John Bielenberg, founder of Project M, an intensive immersion program that encourages designers, writers, filmmakers, and photographers to use their work to engage communities around the country and the world.

Rubbo, an associate professor of architecture at the University of Sydney, launched Global Studio in 2005 to meet the challenges of global poverty and sustainable urbanization.

Working in collaboration with township communities, non-governmental organizations, and local universities and governments, the studio seeks to enable community-based economic development through design and the arts.

To date, Global Studio has provided intensive programs and associated conferences in Istanbul, Vancouver and Johannesburg. Over the past two years, it has worked in Diepsloot, a settlement in Johannesburg, South Africa, to improve housing, develop community arts programs, and foster local knowledge and cultural capital.

Bielenberg began Project M, now based in Greensboro, Ala., in 2003. Built around a creative exercise called "Thinking Wrong," Project M encourages participants to challenge the status quo by re-examining design assumptions.

Known for its traveling "expeditions," the group has delivered equipment and supplies to Gulf Coast designers displaced by Hurricane Katrina and left its mark in Ghana through work with The Women's Trust micro-financing organization.

Another project converted a used ambulance into a rol-ling design studio, while their book "This is Not Grass" raised money to build parks in East Baltimore.

Each award carries a $20,000 honorarium, which may be used to help support new or ongoing projects and/or creative research. All three recipients will participate in a variety of presentations and discussions.

Subsequent conference sessions (for which registration is required) will take place at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel and will explore sustainability issues, the role of emerging technologies, new degree programs, and other topics.

For a full schedule or to register, visit or

For more information about Maeda's talk, visit