Steelcase Sponsors Metropolis Magazine’s ‘Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism’ Panel Series

Sessions in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Chicago Will Explore How Architects and Designers Can Help Solve Social and Environmental Issues

Oct. 28, 2008 – New York, NY – In an effort to improve communities by design, Metropolis Magazine is partnering with Steelcase, a global office environments manufacturer, to launch a panel series, “Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism,” inspired by the book of the same name to be released in November 2008. The book, edited by Bryan Bell and Katie Wakeford of Design Corps, is a collection of 30 essays written by practicing architects and designers, urban and community planners, historians, landscape architects, environmental designers and others that question how design can improve the lives of ordinary citizens — ranging from the eradication of social injustice to improvements of the environment beyond employing green and industry certification practices.

The panel series will take place in Steelcase showrooms in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Chicago, and is a continuation of the book’s mission. In each city, design leaders will look beyond their normal client scope — which often caters to the few able to afford their services — and use their unique skill sets to re-incorporate group consciousness into their work and give back to the greater community.

Susan S. Szenasy, editor-in-chief of Metropolis, will moderate each panel and lead the discussion on notable projects in each city, as well as other local efforts underway that will have a positive impact on the communities. The panelists for the first event include:

  • Bryan Bell, Founder and Executive Director of Design Corps and co-author of “Expanding Architecture”
  • James Ludwig, Vice President of Global Design, Steelcase
  • Alexandros Washburn, Director of Urban Design, City of New York, Department of City Planning
  • Amanda Schachter, Principal, SLO Architecture
  • Russell Katz, Architect/Developer, MOMIDC
  • Deane Evans, Research Professor and Executive Director of the Center for Science Research at the New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • With respondents: Emily Pilloton, Founder, Project H Design; Lance Brown, FAIA; Deborah Gans, Principal, Gans Studi

“‘Expanding Architecture,’ starts the conversation on how design can improve the world around us by reaching new user groups with their work,” said Szenasy. “Metropolis and Steelcase want these panels to inspire those in attendance to return to their offices with fresh ideas and the know-how to address specific problems in their communities, and to serve as models for others who want to take action. We see these efforts going beyond today’s heroic but limited pro-bono work.”

Steelcase, which has long worked to set the industry standard for responsible design, said hosting the panels at its showrooms was a natural choice. “At Steelcase, we are 100 percent committed to fostering environments where individuals can conceptualize solutions that benefit the whole,” said James Ludwig, Vice President of Global Design, Steelcase. “We look forward to working with those that are similarly committed to this line of thinking by taking part in the dialogue and inspiring others to make more socially and environmentally conscious design decisions.”

The “Expanding Architecture” panel discussions will commence on November 13 in New York City at 6 p.m. in the Steelcase showroom located at 4 Columbus Circle. From New York, the panels will continue in Atlanta, Georgia on January 22, 2009; Los Angeles, California on February 26, 2009; and conclude in Chicago, Illinois on March 19, 2009. Attendance at the events is by invitation only.

About Steelcase Inc.
Steelcase, the global leader in the office furniture industry, helps people have a better work experience by providing products, services and insights into the ways people work. The company designs and manufactures architecture, furniture and technology products. Founded in 1912 and headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Steelcase
(NYSE:SCS) serves customers through a network of over 600 independent dealers and approximately 13,500 employees worldwide. Fiscal 2008 revenue was $3.4 billion.

Jeanine Holquist