• 2018 Design Matters Conference
    Center for Architecture & Design, Seattle
    Nov 14, 2018 to Nov 17, 2018
    Association of Architecture Organizations

Office of Metropolitan Architecture, Seattle Central Library, site of the 2018 Design Matters Conference, 2004, Seattle. Photo: Philippe Ruault.

The Design Matters Conference is the largest annual gathering of educators and not-for-profit professionals dedicated to enhancing public dialogue about architecture and design. The 2018 meeting takes place in Seattle, Washington, attracting an international audience of 150 participants. Through keynote lectures, panels, breakout sessions, and mobile tours in the community, attendees investigate how communities are strengthened through design. In addition to big-picture thinking, technical skills and organizational development needs are addressed in several operations areas, such as architectural tours, exhibitions, lectures, and public programs.

Michael Wood became the Association of Architecture Organizations' (AAO) first executive director in spring 2010, bringing to the job 13 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector and a growing interest in the roles of architecture, design, and social innovation in solving issues of civic engagement and education. Since joining AAO, Wood has curated 13 conferences, and successfully transformed an annual Chicago meeting into a traveling event that visits cities across the United States, effectively bringing AAO members into first-hand contact with the work of architectural organizations throughout the country. Under Wood's leadership, the AAO Network has grown from 16 founding members to 150 members spanning 75 American cities and ten countries. In curating the 2018 Design Matters Conference, Wood will consult a team of AAO board directors, AAO members, and presenters from past conferences organized by AAO—a group possessing a breadth of content-area knowledge, connections to industry leaders, and experience managing public programs.

Jim Drinan is executive director of the American Planning Association (APA). He brings to the AAO decades of management experience, including his present oversight of the American Planning Association and its National Planners Conference. In spring 2015, the APA held its annual meeting in Seattle, Washington, affording Drinan access to a wealth of content and professionals contacts of relevance to AAO's 2018 Design Matters Conference.

In addition to his private design practice and teaching assignments, Klaus Mayer has spent the past two decades as a trustee of the Alaska Design Forum, arranging lectures, outdoor exhibitions, and special projects to promote public dialogue on architecture issues relevant to life in the Far North. In 2012, Mayer helped establish a housing research and climate change education initiative focused on the whaling village of Kivalina, Alaska, in the Arctic Circle.

Margie O'Driscoll has spent the last three decades in senior leadership roles at a variety of nonprofit and governmental organizations, including AIA San Francisco, Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, and the mayor's office in San Francisco. She has worked on a variety of large civic efforts in San Francisco, including the Crissy Field restoration project, the (new) Main Library campaign, the founding of the Center for Architecture and Design, and the 99% Invisible radio program.

For the past 12 years, Lisa Richmond has lead AIA Seattle, through which she has developed a robust network of contacts throughout the city and region's architecture, construction, and engineering industries. In 2011, Richmond spearheaded the launch of Design in Public and the annual Seattle Design Festival, with the express intent of engaging urbanist issues from a wide range of design disciplines. Richmond is the former public art manager for the city of Seattle as well as a Loeb Fellow (2006).

Sam Assefa is the director of Seattle’s Executive Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD), an office responsible for developing and implementing planning policies and programs to support Seattle's current and future growth as envisioned in the city’s Comprehensive Plan. He is charged with coordinating cross departmental functions to comprehensively and systematically address growth, prioritize and direct investments, and assess how existing policies and practices encourage or discourage equity and future development. Prior to his appointment in Seattle by former Mayor Ed Murray, Assefa served as the senior urban designer for the city of Boulder, Colorado from 2010 to 2016. From 2002 to 2010, he was with the city of Chicago where he served as deputy chief of staff to Mayor Richard M. Daley.  is a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a master’s in city planning, and the University of Illinois at Chicago with a bachelor’s in architecture.

Christopher Hawthorne is the chief design officer for the city of Los Angeles, a position appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti. Prior to joining City Hall, he was architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times from 2004 to March 2018. With Alanna Stang, he is the author of The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010). His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Slate, Architectural Record, Architecture, Harvard Design Magazine, and many other publications.Hawthorne is professor of the practice at Occidental College, where, since 2015, he has directed the Third Los Angeles Project, a series of public conversations about architecture, urban planning, mobility, and demographic change in southern California. Hawthorne grew up in Berkeley and holds a bachelor's degree from Yale University, where he studied political science and architectural history.

The Association of Architecture Organizations (AAO) is a member-based network connecting the many organizations around the world dedicated to enhancing public dialogue about architecture and design. Founded in 2009, AAO promotes innovation and best practice by facilitating knowledge sharing among its members, partner organizations, and interested individuals. AAO organizes conferences and workshops, provides professional development opportunities, supports the creation of new architectural organizations, and serves as a communication network for our members.