North Dakota University System
NDSU symposium to explore diversity in design fields

Posted on 10/6/2017

NDSU's Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture is scheduled to host a design symposium on Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre.

The event, titled "Level: A Symposium on Gender Equity in the Design of the Built Environment," will explore diversity issues in design fields and how that affects the broader community.


Speakers include women and men from around the country who bring a variety of experiences and perspectives:

• Kate Schwennsen, director of the School of Architecture, Clemson University

• Ashley Kilzer, NDSU student

• Gabriela Baierle Atwood, Arrowstreet Inc., Boston

• Yolande Daniels, principal at StudioSumo, New York

• Jessica Garcia Fritz, co-founder and partner at mMÁS, Brookings, South Dakota, and assistant professor at South Dakota State University

• Federico Garcia Lammers, co-founder and partner at mMÁS, Brookings, South Dakota, and assistant professor at South Dakota State University

• Amber Hill, project manager at Coen+Partners, Minneapolis

• Joan Floura, NDSU alumna and principal at Floura Teeter Landscape Architects, Baltimore

• Virajita Singh, assistant vice provost for equity and diversity, University of Minnesota

• Kristi Hanson, NDSU alumna and founder of KHA Architects, Palm Desert, California

• Tane Danger, Theater for Public Policy

• Margaret Cavanagh, lead of interior architecture practice at Studio Gang, Chicago and New York

• Maura Rockcastle, founding principal at landscape architecture firm Ten X Ten, Minneapolis

• Kathryn Anthony, professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

• Betsy Birmingham, chair and professor of English at NDSU

Diversity in design fields

Event organizers Malini Srivastava, Kathleen Pepple and Charlott Greub, all assistant professors in the department, and Ashley Kilzer, an architecture student, chose the theme because of the amount of time people spend indoors and because of the homogeneity within the field.

The most recent National Human Activity Pattern Survey revealed that people who live in the United States spend an average of 87 percent of their time in enclosed buildings.

"The built environment shapes us as people and communities," Srivastava said. "Since our community is diverse, it is important that people who shape our built environment reflect that diversity in the decision-making and designing processes."

Further, the 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey showed that the number of men and women studying architecture is close to half and half, but that only 31 percent of architecture staff are women. That number continues to decline even more significantly in the higher ranks of firms. Women make up 20 percent of principals and partners in American Institute of Architecture member-owned firms. Eight percent of female respondents and 5 percent of male respondents reported working in architectural firms that were mostly or completely led by women.

"Women are equally talented as leaders and designers, but the numbers do not reflect this," Srivastava said. "We need to level the playing field. We need to create the systems and culture, so that all the talent that we have, in all its diversity, is at the table to solve the complex problems we face."


The event is free and open to the public. Register at

The event was funded, in part, by the North Dakota Humanities Council.

As a student-focused, land-grant, research university, we serve our citizens.

[ Back to website ]