The theme of Future of Design NYC 2020 is Acceleration & Deceleration. Designers and related built environment professionals are often caught between the fast-paced flexibility that a project demands and the slow pace of change of industry practices.  This year’s program will evaluate the effects of acceleration on the built environment and on designing with social responsibility; it will also explore ideas and innovative practices that developed as a result of – or in an attempt to better harness – those shifts. It will approach these issues from perspectives of both engineering and architecture, in order to contextualize designers’ voices in transformative built environment initiatives.

FoDNYC was held as a series of events on an online platform, from September 15 to September 29, allowing audience members to attend from anywhere in the world.

Tuesday, September 15: 12:30 PM-2:00 PM Eastern Time
Event #1: “To Whose Benefit?”
This panel discussion examines who benefits from current design priorities. Historical trends and current practices must be critiqued in order to address the perspectives of both design professionals and stakeholders. Both the ongoing pandemic as well as a renewed spotlight on systemic urban inequities have highlighted shortcomings in the built environment and its industry. Panelists are invited to consider how we can design and collaborate in more inclusive ways. How do architects frame their relationship with stakeholders, and how does that relate to the engineer’s role in the process?

Panelists include:
Nathan Rich – Founding Partner at Peterson Rich Office
Tanya de Hoog – Principal at Thornton Tomasetti
Alessandro Orsini + Nick Roseboro – Founding Partners, Architensions
K Brandt Knapp – Founding Partners, Brandt: Haferd
Moderator: Michael K Chen – Principal, Michael K. Chen Architecture and Co-Founder at Design Advocates

Thursday, September 17: 12:30 PM-2:00 PM Eastern Time
Event #2: “Is ‘Now’ a Long or Short Time?”
What is the useful lifespan of a project, and who defines that?

New York has historically seen existing buildings demolished decades before they need to be. There is a disconnect between how long a building can stand and the perceived usefulness of that structure by its occupants or owners. In the near future, designers must adjust their processes to reconcile this discrepancy and educate clients and owners. We evaluate what relationships need to be established so that buildings can be used (and reused). What design lifespan trends are we seeing? What does that mean for the communities we are building with?

Panelists include:
Jae Shin – Partner at HECTOR
Spencer Williams – Director of Advocacy at Municipal Arts Society
Rebecca Buntrock – Associate at Silman
Moderator: Jin Yi – Associate Vice President – Design & Construction at GID

Tuesday, September 22: 12:30 PM-2:00 PM Eastern Time
Event #3: “From Design to Implementation: The Human Scale”
Integrating means and methods into the design process can often translate into innovations on the human scale. The panel will discuss this issue in 3 stages: components, operations, and systems. Barriers include perceived risks and obstacles of conventional project delivery systems. We hold a conversation on how considerations for human interaction in the manufacturing and construction process drives new design in unexpected ways. What has innovating on the human scale taught us, and how can we incorporate those ideas to improve the overall process of creating the built environment?

Panelists include:
Carlos de Oliveira – President & CEO at CastConnex
Leo Henke – Senior Associate at Front, Inc.
Montgomery Forman – Director at Island Exterior Constructions
Moderator: Andrew Altamirano – Senior Project Engineer at Thornton Tomasetti

Thursday, September 24: 12:30 PM-2:30 PM Eastern Time
Event #4 : “Tailored Approaches: Customizing Function + Discussion Workshop
Sponsored by: The Charles Pankow Foundation
By discussing how diverging time frames challenge implementation, we explore how we can re-evaluate the relationships between designer, client, and stakeholder to adapt to deliver solutions at appropriate time scales. While frequently the issue is too short a period of time, too long a period of time also jeopardizes the efficacy of a design process or deliverable, often by deceptively diminishing the urgency of a solution. Put simply, time pressures often cause designers to compromise. One can discern this in the quality or fulfillment of project goals, including considerations of adaptability and resiliency.

We ask professionals how time pressure (whether challenging in short terms or long terms) has affected their project strategies and methods of communicating solutions. How does acceleration push design and communication processes in new directions?

Panelists include:
Justin Brown – Founding Member & Principal at Mass Design Group
Rafael Sabelli – Principal at Walter P. Moore
Sarrah Khan – Principal at Agencie Group
Moderator: Kat Chan – Associate at Walter P Moore

Tuesday, September 29: 12:30 PM-2:00 PM Eastern Time
Event #5: “Civic Engagement for Designers”
As professionals in the built environment, we have been trained to follow building codes, and we also have a responsibility to society to call out dangerous practices and hazards to the public domain. Designers are looking for new ways to engage and be part of the policymaking discussion. While most projects do not require it, how can we leverage our profession and knowledge to tackle issues that extend beyond day-to-day project tasks? How can an individual effort create positive change?

In this panel session, we examine how practitioners can better work with communities – whether by initiating or integrating practices for social responsibility (by way of resiliency or adaptability) and beyond.

Panelists will include:
Paul Karakusevic – Partner at Karakusevic Carson Architects
Pablo Lazo – Director at Unidad Diseno
Terri Matthews – Director of Town + Gown at NYC DDC
Moderator: Hermona Tamrat – Senior Engineer at Silman


In order to make FoDNYC more accessible for our audience this year, we have adopted a pay-what-you-wish ticket price, with a minimum of $1 per event . (A total contribution of $10 is suggested, but not mandatory.) Net proceeds from our ticket sales will be donated to charities supporting architecture and engineering education initiatives.

Thank you to our sponsors for supporting us this year!

Our sponsors are a passionate group of innovation-focused professionals, designers, and related specialists who represent a broad cross-section of the industry. Their efforts are critical to sustaining our event, and we deeply appreciate their investment and dedication to sustaining conversations among the architecture, engineering, and built environment community.