Three City Pecha Kucha

On 08.01.13, inquisitive design enthusiasts gathered at a trio of AIA spaces – the Center for Architecture in New York, the BSA Space in Boston, and AIA Los Angeles at the Haas Audio Showroom – for a fast-paced, virtual pecha kucha. Presented by cultureNOW, the evening offered rapid-fire presentations on a host of design-related topics and significant projects by 30-plus industry veterans. The event served as a window into the past few months in the lives of 11 international students selected by cultureNOW to travel between these cities and engage great design minds.
This program’s aspiration: create a Museum Without Walls. “Our summer was all about keeping our eyes open, as you can imagine given the wide range of projects presented tonight,” said Blanca Abramek, one of the students participating in the program.

As a part of this pecha kucha – “part speed dating, part TED Talk,” according to LA moderator Warren Techentin of WTARCH – each participant was allowed10 slides and three minutes to elucidate their particular passion. The cameras then rolled onto an esteemed new presenter in the next city. New York to Boston to Los Angeles and back again, through a flurry of absorbing topics presented by architects and design-world greats, including James Wines of SITE Architecture, MoMA’s Barry Bergdoll, Michael Lehrer, FAIA, of Lehrer Architects, Erica Stoller of Esto Photographics, Boston architectural photographer Peter Vanderwarker, Carol Willis of the Skyscraper Museum, LA architect Bruce Becket, AIA, and Boston’s Franziska Amacher, AIA, who served as the Boston moderator.

Anthony Vanky of MIT’s SENSEable City Lab talked about the ways his team addresses the “not so great side of humanity” (a.k.a. our large trash footprint) from an anthropological and sociological standpoint. Lorcan O’Herlihy, FAIA, of LOHA, spoke of the growing impetus for public space in Los Angeles. Claire Weisz, FAIA, of WXY Architecture + Urban Design, highlighted the link between line drawing and connectivity in urban centers. Mike Enomoto, FAIA, of Gruen Associates, walked the crowd through the past and future of the Pacific Design Center. Wendy Feuer of the NYC Department of Transportation offered insight into the way her office changes policies to meet changing infrastructure. Sam Aquillano of Design Museum Boston pointed out a handful of ways in which pop culture has ramped up its interest in the science of design. And ‘round and ‘round from there.

New York moderator Abby Suckle, FAIA, who brought this event and the students’ dream summer of study to life, found the evening significant and engaging. “This is only a piece of what we have online,” Suckle insisted. She’s right: visit for more.

“It was a really interesting evening, with a great diversity of presentations and introduction to a number of conceptual issues,” added Feuer. “I enjoyed bringing a ‘reality check’ with my perspective. I love infrastructure.”

Andrew Stone is a Brooklyn-based author and editor who covers the worlds of design, dining, fitness, fashion, and culture. His weekly column for allows him to interface with the world’s top architects, interior designers, and artisans–whom he considers to be the smartest people on earth.

Event: Three City Pecha Kucha
Location: Center for Architecture (New York), BSA Space (Boston), Haas Audio Showroom (Los Angeles)
Speakers: Click here for a full list of speakers
Organizers: cultureNOW, Boston Society of  Architects, AIA LA, the AIANY Architectural Dialogue Committee, and the AIANY Public Architecture Committee