On Feb. 5 a group of students and faculty at the School of Architecture gathered in Rudolph Hall to listen to the latest lecturer, Justin Garrett Moore, in a series designed to introduce the students to the most recent developments in the architecture world through the eyes of successful young architects.
Moore, a current adjunct professor at Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, exemplifies recent changes in the architecture industry. Students sat enthralled as they listened to Moore describe the various areas in the public sector of design in which he has worked.
Asked how his work has affected how he teaches at Columbia and how he hopes to influence future architects, Moore stressed the importance of communication and breaking down barriers.
“A big part of [doing] that … is about communicating with the public, finding ways to translate spatial ideas to things that the public can understand and give input,” he said.
Moore graduated with Master’s Degrees in both Architecture and in Urban Design in 2004 from Columbia’s architecture school. Leaving graduate school, Moore found himself attracted to the public sector of urban design and has since worked on major projects throughout New York City — including the development of low-income housing on a 30-acre riverside property in Queens, called the Hunter’s Point Waterfront. Moore also works in a nonprofit organization called Urban Patch, which he co-founded with his family in 2011 in an effort to help revitalize low-income neighborhoods in New York City and in his hometown of Indianapolis.
Ultimately, Moore’s story demonstrates the diversity of success in the architecture and design world today beyond corporate architecture firms, as well as the importance of new, innovative designers and architects in helping to solve public issues that often go unnoticed.
Moore communicates frequently with residents of the Indianapolis neighborhoods where Urban Patch works. In his lecture, he jokingly referred to the organization as “grassroots” and “scrappy,” describing the system of social media, crowdfunding and even house parties with which he and his family both support the organization and involve the neighborhood.
But while Moore’s multiple careers paint an optimistic picture of what is possible in the public design industry, he was quick to point out issues and faults in the system. To that effect, he introducing the audience to Denote Williams, Cody Mayes and Tevin Wilson, three Louisiana men who were hit by a truck and then charged with obstructing a public passage for walking in a street at night without wearing reflective vests. The road had no sidewalk.
When explaining his work in Urban Patch, Moore described trying to “get ahead of gentrification” in the neighborhood by creating and maintaining low-income housing options. Because most places, “outside of rapidly growing cities like New York and San Francisco,” have few regulations in place for gentrification, local communities are often forced to move out as prices rise.
Kevin Huang ARC ’18 said he was impressed at Moore’s “optimism and hopefulness.”
“Few architects choose to turn away from their ‘high design’ careers and move into urban planning, so I thought that was respectable,” Huang said.
This new perspective is the point of the larger lecture series, according to architecture professor Sunil Bald.
“Our graduates can get swooped into offices [at architecture firms] without having the opportunity to see other paths that their education can lead to,” Bald said. “Our mission was to infiltrate the lineup with a group of younger practitioners, engaging in alternative practices, different roads taken.”
The next installment of the spring lecture series will take place on Monday, Feb. 26.
Talia Morison-Allen | firstname.lastname@example.org