Fall 2023 Public Lecture Series in Sketches

For/From: Considering Origins

By Nirmiti Pandit and Caryn Sobieski-VanDelinder

Published November 10, 2023

As a globalized society, our identities and origins are often complicated and dynamic. The ideas of ‘from’ and ‘for’ directly probe this complexity. One may be removed or distanced from where one originated, one may return after years of being away, or one may have never left in the first place.

In response to these relationships, the Public Programs speakers for the 2023-24 academic year addressed the significance of origin to the architecture and planning disciplines. Whether these relationships are natural, adopted, forced, planned, or unexpected, the standpoints will afford a critical reflection on what it is to think, teach, and practice design for the place, culture, people, and/or species from which the designer originates.

Nirmiti Pandit, Environmental Design student in the School of Architecture and Planning, gives her personal take on how each presenter approached this topic, through both written summary and graffiti style sketch.

Lecture 1: Joyce Hwang (Ants of the Prairie)

Fates (and schedules) have finally aligned in my senior year to attend @ubuffaloarchplan‘s Public Programs!

Loved, loved, loved making little visual notes about @jo.hwang‘s work as the brain, heart and soul of @antsoftheprairie.
If you love animals, architecture and ecological conservation but don’t know what Ants of the Prairie is, go check it out right now (they have been featured in cool places already.) :3

If you’d like to see more of my little visual notes, then keep reading.

Lecture 2: Sekou Cooke (Sekou Cooke Studio)

Cooke's lecture, just as the title says, was SUPER SUPER Fresh&Clean.

@sekou21 talked about the culture of hip-hop, the responsibility of architecture and what hip-hop architecture really means to them, all without mentioning that they ARE the hip-hop of @sekoucookestudio πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½.

Apart from being a feast for my graffiti art-deprived eyes, Sekou’s remarks remain to be an inspiration for anyone who loves academia, activism and multi-media art in architectural practice. 🀝
Thanks to the organizers of @ubuffaloarchplan Public Programs for bringing in cool people every Wednesday evening and big thanks to @samendyyy for making this a mandatory practice for reflecting upon our contradictory yet beautiful identities and goals.

Lecture 3: David Gissen (Parsons School of Design/New School University)

Disability is polarizing, and conflicting and emotional and maybe even empowering, especially when viewed from an architectural perspective. What remains constant is that it’s real and it can take any unfathomable shape at any given time.
Architecture AS Disability or Architecture FOR Disability? That is the question I ended up with after @davidgissen’s lecture on his book last Wednesday, September 27. The book, which is in-fact titled “The architecture OF disability,” is a reflection of Gissen’s philosophy surrounding his professional niche and everything he has to offer surrounding architecture and disability, and the unavoidable marriage of two.

Lecture 4: Aziza Chaouni (Aziza Chaouni Projects)

Tried to make it as colorful as @azizachaouniprojects personality but I don’t think we can ever get there.

The lecture was an amazing reminder of how home and people will always be at the core of our collective power, and how they will always remain imperative in placemaking and holistic design.
It also amazes me when I hear people come from both architecture and civil engineering background, because even though they work together all the time, their worlds couldn’t really be any more different. 
Aziza, you are an enigma, and thanks a ton for sharing your personal and professional history with us. And thanks for introducing us to your friends at @atarchitecture. I’ll be checking out their work the next time I visit home. :3 
A special note for everybody who has been keeping up with these drawings. Thank you for all your love and support!!!!!! Everytime someone came up to me in school saying that they not only recognize but actually like what I do, my 13-year old self goes πŸ˜³πŸ˜³πŸ˜³πŸ•ΊπŸ»πŸ•ΊπŸ»πŸ•ΊπŸ»πŸ™. Since my supervisor at @ubuffaloarchplan agrees with all of you, we’ll be making this into a blog post for the school website once the public program season is over. Alrighty that’s all, bye! 

Lecture 5: Jeff Hou (Urban Commons Lab)

Advocacy and Service is an important tool for anybody looking to be a designer or a planner, especially in the field of architecture. These two goals, combined with the undying effort to learn in a collective is something that I happen to have in common with our speaker Jeff Hou @hou2jeff (except he’s way too cool for this parallelism hehe.) 
The Urban Commons Lab at @uw_landscape_architecture works passionately towards their three goals: engaged research, service learning, and community design—which you can absolutely see being reflected in their projects. I got to learn a lot from Jeff about taking the notion of community care and rest effectively into materialized works that actually sustain throughout the constant dynamic changes happening around us. Maybe someday (hopefully soon,) we’ll be able to work on these methodologies with the people of our reading club @ub_theundergroundreadersclub who has all my heart.
Thank you, Jeffrey Hou for sharing your learnings on how to best accommodate and serve the immigrant-refugee community in our city of Good Neighbors. πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™ 

Lecture 6: Dale White (BDP Impact Real Estate)

When I say I have never come across someone so suave who works in real estate, I mean it with all sincerity. @dew2.0 is the coolest developer/financer/planner in town, sharing his passionate love for Buffalo as a homegrown with numerous people who have resided here at some point in their lives. 

His lecture got me (and many more inquisitive students in the room) intrigued in the process of designing by finance—something that we tend to stray away from as designers. His interest in community building and empowerment is what stands out the most about his professional work, the continuing process of reflecting and mending the gaps left behind in an urban society for many. 
And honestly, he’s 100% right—the Environmental Design program does allow you to explore and experiment with your niche (like me doing my silly little drawings amongst other things lol.)
If you happen to be in the New York Metropolitan Area, go look for Dale White and his work with BDP Impact Real Estate!

Lecture 7: Sandra Barclay and Jean Pierre Crousse (Barclay&Crousse Architecture)

Taking too many notes because the visuals were simply incomparable to sketch!!!!! 
@croussejeanpierre and Sandra Barclay are the cool people who bring ideas beyond the designer’s table—actively working and engaging with the people and world around them. Their dedication to preserving specific techniques is inspirational, especially their emphasize on utilizing your hand as a tool. This is visible in their countless paper documentations, the way they survey their landscapes, all the way to leaving traces and impressions of people who worked alongside them on the final built work. I hope someday I get to visit Lima just so I get to experience these reflections in person! πŸ™ŒπŸ½πŸ™ŒπŸ½

Lecture 7: Sandra Barclay and Jean Pierre Crousse (Barclay&Crousse Architecture)

Last night was the finale of the Fall 2023 session of Public Programs @ubuffaloarchplan. I was lucky to learn quite a lot about the different stories that come out of archival processes, and how record keeping, both formal and personal, will always (and I mean ALWAYS) hold truth to unheard histories of people’s past. You know, the ones they don’t write books about. When in fact, @svava_riesto and their colleague Henriette actually wrote a book about it. And a podcast. And a visual guide. And a YouTube video. You should go check them out. They’re super cool and ON LINKEDIN.

Follow Svava Riesto.

Follow Henriette Steiner.
While you’re at it, you might also want to look at womenindanisharchitecture.dk, which is a bilingual website that traces their research project on gender and architecture in Denmark. πŸ˜³πŸ˜˜πŸ’–πŸ™ŒπŸ½ 
Attending these lectures first as a student and then a student assistant has definitely been an interesting journey. There were many days where I wanted to stay home to hang out with my cat and stress about the deadlines I am definitely not tackling, but I’m glad these lectures were able to provide some refuge and lots of inspiration to me. I think they’re definitely much better in person, but only because I got to talk with some of the speakers. Hehe. And I got to draw about it. Hope you enjoyed them—after all, who knows what’s next. 😳

Blog and illustrations by Nirmiti Pandit

Nirmiti Pandit is an international undergraduate student from Mumbai, India currently studying at the School of Architecture and Planning at SUNY Buffalo, New York.

She studied BS Architecture with an Environmental Design minor from 2020-22 and is expected to complete her degree in BA Environmental Design with an Architecture minor in December 2024.

Her practice develops an understanding of social and spatial equity, and collaboration in research related to educational leadership and policy, sustainability, urban planning, architecture, agriculture, theatre, and linguistic cultures.

Her pronouns are She/Them and sometimes goes by Nini. 

Find Nini on Instagram @nirmitipandit and @thepseudantonym, and on LinkedIn and at nirmitipandit.com.