• Haiti Now
    Esther Chung, Thom Mayne, and Eui-Sung Yi
    The Now Institute
    University of California Press, 2014
    University of California, Los Angeles-Department of Architecture and Urban Design

The Now Institute, Downtown market, 2013, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Courtesy of James Janke.

The Now Institute initiated Haiti Now in 2012 as an intensive, cross-disciplinary research and design program dedicated to contemporary urban issues and design potentials in Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake. The two-year project encompasses a comprehensive critical analysis of Haitian modern history and politics, a data-driven research investigation of planning, infrastructural, and social issues, and a set of collaborative design proposals developed in concert with Haitian governing and community partners to target reconstruction through the lenses of resilience and culture. The volume examines Haiti's modern-day difficulties in light of the nation's history and follows its trajectory through tumultuous politics, recurring natural disaster, and endemic poverty to its current post-earthquake condition. Urban planning proposals encompassing infrastructural systems, community design, social networks, and sustainable off-grid strategies are examined and developed to respond to cultural and socioeconomic needs and disaster-resilience requirements for the future.

Thom Mayne has been a committed educator in architecture for over forty years. His firm, Morphosis, is engaged in broader social, cultural, urban, political, and ecological issues, which he brings to his teaching. With Morphosis, Mayne has been the recipient of the 2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize, 26 Progressive Architecture Awards, and over 100 American Institute of Architecture Awards. Morphosis’s works have been published extensively. The firm has been the subject of numerous exhibitions and monographs. Mayne's significant contributions to education include the highly regarded LA Now and Madrid Now initiatives. Under Mayne's direction, students from the University of California, Los Angeles, won the 2005 Progressive Architecture Award for LA Now: Volumes 3 and 4. There has always been a symbiotic relationship between Mayne's teaching and practice, evidenced by the Float House, a sustainable, affordable housing project for the Make It Right Foundation in New Orleans developed with UCLA students in 2008. He has been a professor at UCLA since 1992.

Eui-Sung Yi, director of the Now Institute, is an architect, urban planner, and design educator with a special interest in cross-cultural urbanisms. Additionally, his experience includes cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural academic exchange programs for over ten years, with institutions such as University of California, Los Angeles; University of Southern California; Inha University, South Korea; Dalien Technical University; and Beijing University of Technology. In 2010, he designed the winning scheme for the Korean Embassy in Tokyo, and he currently serves as director of Docomomo International Korea. Yi received a BArch from Cornell University and an MArch from Harvard University.

Esther Chung, program coordinator at the Now Institute, is an architectural and urban researcher interested in the cultural histories, conditions, and potentials in rapidly developing contexts. As program coordinator, she manages research output, academic programming, and project development. Currently, she also conducts research as part of a transdisciplinary team studying cultural resilience in Haiti. In 2011, she was involved in coordinating academic programs on Asian urbanism between universities in Los Angeles and Seoul, and she was the recipient of the Anthony Tappe Fontainebleau Architecture Award in 2009. She received a degree in architecture with focus in urban studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Haiti Now Advisory Board includes: Dr. Claudine Michel (director, Center for Black Studies Research, and associate vice-chancellor, student affairs, University of California, Santa Barbara; founding editor, Journal of Haitian Studies), Dr. Nadege Clitandre (founder, Haiti Soleil; assistant professor, international and global studies, University of California, Santa Barbara), Bill Fain (directing partner of urban design and planning, Johnson Fain Architects), David Eisenman, MD (director, University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Public Health and Disasters).

Haiti Now 2012–13 graduate researchers are: Brian Barnes (BA Architecture, University of New Mexico), Dan Oprea (BArch, University of Illinois at Chicago), Arutyun Nazaryan (B.A. Architecture, UCLA), Marie Trabold (BS Architecture, Ohio State University), Seung Chul Song (BArch, SungKyunKwan University, South Korea), James Janke (BA Architecture, University of New Mexico), Chinh Nguyen (BS Architecture, Ohio State University), and Weitao Fong (BA Architecture, University of California, Berkeley; MS Computer Science, Johns Hopkins University).

The Now Institute is an outgrowth of over ten years of urban research, planning, and speculations in collaboration with UCLA Architecture and Urban Design to establish a new territory that integrates academic and professional pursuits. The Now Institute exists to bridge, accelerate, and challenge the connection between academic research and industry action in the realms of architecture, urbanism, culture, and public policy to instigate questions and potential solutions for the problems of the contemporary city.