subscribe
free e-newsletter free e-newsletter
product info
advertise
FAQ
SUBSCRIBE TODAY
for premium web access
comment
Humanitarian Design
Building for Social Change Index | Africa | Haiti | Japan | Latin America | United States | The Good List

Three Questions: Deborah Gans—Architect, Professor, and Author

March 23, 2012

By Asad Syrkett

Deborah Gans
Deborah Gans

In the third installment of our “Three Questions” series, we catch up with architect and Pratt Institute professor Deborah Gans, whose work at her eponymous Gans Studio has long addressed issues of social responsibility and environmental stewardship. RECORD spoke to Gans about various topics, including a recent event that got her thinking more about designing for social impact right at home.

AS: How did you get involved in humanitarian work?

Deborah Gans: I’ve always been interested in emerging social conditions and how architecture engages them. The work I do is generally more a search for new ideas of social practice, and this embraces the presence of design as a positive force in contexts of poverty, disaster and inequity. Our studio often investigates extreme situations not simply to raise a humanitarian clarion, but because they foretell trends that very soon will be understood as "normative" and affect us all.

Rate this project:
Based on what you have seen and read about this project, how would you grade it? Use the stars below to indicate your assessment, five stars being the highest rating.
----- Advertising -----

AS: What’s the most pressing issue that architects and designers should be addressing?

DG: In the 1980s, architects temporarily retreated into the autonomy of form. After overreaching our limits as modernist social planners, architects now struggle to renegotiate our discipline as one of both form and participation. The profession is still split between form-givers and the social pundits— a false dialectic. I don't like separating out ideas like “green” or “humanitarian” from architecture per se.

AS: What’s the most exciting thing you’ve seen in the past month?

DG: I misplaced my car for about a week and looked for it by walking around my neighborhood, and farther afield in Brooklyn, several hours a day. The mix of poverty, decimation, density, energy, displacement, stress, and commitment—you name it—was all right there. There’s no need to go very far to encounter the emergent "humanitarian context" in its fabulousness.

comment

 Reader Comments:

Sign in to Comment

To write a comment about this story, please sign in. If this is your first time commenting on this site, you will be required to fill out a brief registration form. Your public username will be the beginning of the email address that you enter into the form (everything before the @ symbol). Other than that, none of the information that you enter will be publically displayed.

We welcome comments from all points of view. Off-topic or abusive comments, however, will be removed at the editors’ discretion.

----- Advertising -----
View all
Sweets, Search Building Products
Search
Reader Feedback
Most Commented Most Recommended
Rankings reflect comments made in the past 14 days
Rankings reflect comments made in the past 14 days