Now What?! Advocacy, Activism, and Alliances in American Architecture since 1968


Opening Presentation and Panel Discussion
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
6pm - 7:30pm
Hayes 403

April 17 - August 7, 2019
Hayes Hall Atrium

The Now What?!  exhibition examines the little-known history of architects and designers working to further the causes of the civil rights, women’s, and LGBTQ movements of the past fifty years. A presentation and panel discussion on the exhibition's opening night will feature talks by Lori Brown (Syracuse University), Sarah Rafson (Point Line Projects) and Roberta Washington (Roberta Washington Architects), with a special presentation by Robert T. Coles, FAIA, and a conversation with Joyce Hwang, Kelly Hayes McAlonie and Beth Tauke of UB. An exhibit opening reception in the Hayes Hall atrium will follow.​ 


This exhibition writes the overlooked histories of activist architects and organizations who were—and still are—at the forefront of the profession’s participation in larger social and political movements over the last 50 years. This intersectional and interdisciplinary look at the design professions draws historical connections and serves as the only comprehensive narrative of activism in US architecture and design that spans these generations and disparate causes. Now What?! offers an in-depth look at diversity and activism in the design professions since 1968 while crafting a space for public debate and dialogue that looks back as much as it projects forward.

Small room with a bed and writing on the walls.

Now What?! Advocacy, Activism & Alliances in American Architecture since 1968 is a traveling exhibition that links the design community to larger social and political movements of the late 20th century, placing design practice in the foreground and engaging viewers in critical conversations around history, progress, and the built environment. Now What?! acknowledges national and grassroots efforts by a wide coalition of organizations and professionals to change the face of architecture and design in the US.

After appearing in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Montreal and Geneva, New York, Now What?! opens April 17 at the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning. 

Now What?! is scheduled to travel through 2020 continuing to incorporate the local histories of the different cities it visits and telling the largely unknown history of how architects and designers have responded to the major social movements of the late 20th century until today. The curators invite the public to add to the exhibit during its time in Buffalo.

The exhibition content, conversations, and stories will inspire a new generation of design professionals to see themselves as agents of change by looking at the past to see new ways forward. 


Past exhibitions

See previous shows and
Learn more about the Now What?! tour


Lori Brown, Professor of Architecture, Syracuse University


Lori Brown, Professor at the Syracuse University School of Architecture, is the co-founder of ArchiteXX and a licensed architect. Her two books are Feminist Practices: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Women in Architecture, an edited collection of international women designers and architects that began as a traveling exhibition and Contested Spaces: Abortion Clinics, Women’s Shelters and Hospitals examining the impact of legislation on highly securitized spaces. Her two current book projects include Birthing Centers, Borders and Bodies and co-editing The Bloomsbury Global Encyclopedia of Women in Architecture with Dr. Karen Burns. In 2016 she received a Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation Leadership Award for her work increasing recognition of gender inequities in the building industry.

Andrea J. Merrett, Phd candidate, Columbia University, GSAPP


Andrea J. Merrett is a PhD candidate in architecture at Columbia University, writing her dissertation on the history of feminism in American architecture. Her research has received support through a Buell Center Oral History Prize, a Schlesinger Library Oral History Grant, and the Milka Bliznakov Prize from the International Archive of Women in Architecture. Recently she has co-edited an issue on women and architecture for the journal de-arq: Journal of Architecture (2017), Universidad de Los Andes, and presented her dissertation research nationally and internationally in New York, Sweden, and London.

Sarah Rafson, Founder, Point Line Projects


Sarah Rafson is an architectural writer, editor, and curator who founded Point Line Projects, an editorial and curatorial agency for architecture and design. She was the 2017-18 Ann Kalla Visiting Professor at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture, where she continues to teach, and won the Columbia University Buell Center Oral History Prize for her graduate research. Sarah serves on the board of ArchiteXX and has worked on exhibitions with the Centre Pompidou and Museum of Modern Art, and edited two books, Parc de la Villette (Artifice, 2014) and Builders, Housewives, and the Construction of Modern Athens (Artifice, 2017).

Roberta Washington, Principal, Roberta Washington Architects, PC


As Principal of Roberta Washington Architects, PC since 1983, Roberta has designed and overseen the designs of schools, housing projects and cultural centers including the African Burial Ground Interpretive Center in Lower Manhattan. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Howard University and a Master of Science in Architecture degree from Columbia University. Roberta is a past president of the National Organization of Minority Architects and a past NYC Landmarks Preservation Commissioner. Since 1997 she has researched and written about early black women architects with biographies appearing in The Biographical Dictionary of African-American Architects, 1865-1945 and Le Dictionaries Des Femmes Creatrices.