2014 Design Matters Conference Keynote Speaker David Adjaye, 2011, New York, NY. Photo: Dominik Gigler.
The Association of Architecture Organizations' Design Matters Conference is the largest annual gathering of educators and not-for-profit professionals dedicated to enhancing public dialogue on issues of architecture and design. The 2014 meeting takes place at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, and attracts an international audience of 300 participants. Through keynote lectures, breakout sessions, and mobile tours in the community, attendees investigate how communities are strengthened through design. In addition to big picture thinking, technical skills as well as organizational development skills are honed in several operations areas, such as architectural tours, exhibitions, festivals, lectures, and other public programs.
David Adjaye, principal architect of Adjaye Associates, is one of the leading architects of his generation. His built projects have been diverse in scale, audience, and geography, ranging from private houses, exhibitions, and temporary pavilions to major arts centers, civic buildings, and master plans in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. His practice is now engaged in the delivery of its largest commission to date: design of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Adjaye earned his BArch. from London South Bank University, and graduated with a master's degree in architecture from the Royal College of Art in 1993, where he won the RIBA Bronze Medal.
Lonnie G. Bunch III, is the director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. As museum director, Bunch identifies the museum's mission, develops exhibitions and public programs, and coordinates the museum's fundraising and budget development. Previous to the Smithsonian, Bunch served as president of the Chicago Historical Society (2001–05). A widely published author, Bunch has written on topics ranging from the black military experience, the American presidency, and all-black towns in the American West to diversity in museum management and the impact of funding and politics on American museums. Lectures to museum professionals and scholars have taken him to major cities in the United States and many nations abroad, including Australia, China, England, Ghana, Italy, Japan, Scotland, South Africa, and Sweden. Born in the Newark, NJ area, Bunch received both his master's and bachelor's degrees from the American University in Washington, DC.
Phil Freelon is the founder and president of the Freelon Group. With over thirty years of experience in project design and management, Freelon guides the firm's museum and cultural center work. His work has been published in national professional journals, including Architecture, Progressive Architecture, Architectural Record, Metropolis, Metropolitan Home, and the New York Times. Freelon is a peer professional for the GSA's Design Excellence Program and has served on numerous design award juries, including the National AIA Institute Honor Awards Jury and the National Endowment for the Arts Design Stewardship Panel. A native of Philadelphia, PA, Freelon earned his BArch from North Carolina State University and his MArchfrom MIT, and is a former Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. He is the 2009 recipient of the AIA Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture.
Carol Coletta joined the Knight Foundation in 2013 as vice-president for community and national initiatives. An expert on the development of cities, Coletta is the immediate past director of ArtPlace, a unique public-private collaboration that accelerates creative placemaking in communities across the United States. Prior to that, Coletta served for seven years as president and CEO of CEOs for Cities, a national network of urban leaders. Former positions also include executive director of the Mayors' Institute on City Design, and principal of her own Memphis-based public affairs consulting firm, Coletta & Company. She has written and spoken extensively on the future of cities, including how communities develop, attract, and retain talent. Coletta graduated summa cum laude from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and public issues management. In 2003, Coletta was named a Knight Fellow in Community Building at the University of Miami’s School of Architecture.
Paula A. Kerger is president and CEO of the Public Broadcasting Service, the largest non-commercial media organization in the United States, with more than 350 member stations. Since her arrival at PBS in 2006, Kerger has made particularly strong commitments to the arts, news and public affairs, education, and the use of new technology to bring public media into the lives of all Americans. In the course of a year, nearly ninety percent of all television households in America watch PBS; online, viewers stream 188 million videos per month over PBS platforms. Kerger is regularly included in the Hollywood Reporter's "Women in Entertainment Power 100," an annual survey of the nation's top women executives in media. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Baltimore, where she serves on the Merrick School of Business Dean's Advisory Council. She is also a director of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Chase Rynd serves as executive director of the National Building Museum. Under Rynd's leadership, the National Building Museum has achieved a strong national profile through enhanced educational programs, exhibitions, and outreach efforts commemorating American achievements in architecture, construction, planning, and engineering. Active in the nation's museum community, Rynd has held several leadership positions, most recently as executive director and CEO of the Tacoma Art Museum. Rynd maintains many professional and volunteer ties, including as board director for the Richardson Architecture Center in Buffalo, NY, and as a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers' Industry Leaders Council.
Michael Wood is executive director of Association of Architecture Organizations, for which he has curated the past four AAO Conferences, successfully transforming an annual Chicago meeting into a traveling event that visits cities across the United States and brings AAO members into closer contact with the work of architectural organizations throughout the country and around the world. Under his leadership, the Association has grown from eighteen founding members to a network of 135 members spanning more than fifty-five US cities and nine countries.
The Association of Architecture Organizations (AAO) is a member-based network connecting the many organizations around the world dedicated to enhancing public dialogue about architecture and design. AAO organizes workshops and the annual Design Matters Conference, supports the creation of new architectural organizations, manages communications networks for its members, and serves as an advocate and media resource.