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Annual AIASC Design Conference “Community: By Design” to Take Place in Lake City, Brings Famed Hip Hop Architect, Michael Ford to SC

Mez Joseph

Design is not limited to large metropolitan areas. There are great communities all across our state that have historic architectural inventory that can be restored and repurposed for contemporary use through the power of creative design and community engagement.
— Andy Clark, AIA, 2018 AIA SC President

The American Institute of Architects’ South Carolina Chapter (AIASC) is excited to share that this year’s Annual Design Conference will take place in conjunction with renowned nine-day art competition, ArtFields. Held in the small town of Lake City SC, the conference will begin on Wednesday, April 18 and end Friday, April 20 with a gift to the community.

This year’s theme, Community: By Design, focuses on the power of art and design in creative placemaking. As part of this year’s focus on the community, AIASC will open several conference sessions to the public.

“Design is not limited to large metropolitan areas,” states Andy Clark, AIA, 2018 President of AIA South Carolina. There are great communities all across our state that have historic architectural inventory that can be restored and repurposed for contemporary use through the power of creative design and community engagement.”

The goal of this year’s conference is to help export the success Lake City has seen over the last decade. By collaborating with ArtFields, artists and architects, AIASC can better achieve the vision of both the organization and the conference by directly connecting communities with industry professionals interested in learning more about the powerful effect art and design can have on the community.

“Restoring main streets, spurring new contemporary and sustainable development strategies, and reviving a collective community spirit across the state is often the driving force behind why artists and architects, much like myself, are drawn to the field,” continued Clark. “The power of place coupled with the ability to create spaces for the community to enjoy, is what fuels us – which is the driving force behind this year’s design conference.”

Speakers for the Community: By Design conference include, The Hip Hop Architect, Michael Ford, Assoc. AIA; Emilie Taylor Welty, AIA, director of Design+Build at Tulane’s Small Center; Dan Pitera, FAIA, director of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center; and keynote speaker Trey Trahan, FAIA of Trahan Architects.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to engage the Lake City community at this year’s event,” said Claire Bowman, AIA, conference chair and Lake City native. “Being able to highlight the power that architecture and art can have in transforming our South Carolina communities, especially cities similar to Lake City, is why we believe this year’s conference is so unique. Our members are thrilled to engage this vibrant rural community, and really every community throughout South Carolina, in a dialogue regarding the importance of, and potential for, art and design, especially as a catalyst for growth and economic development.”

For more information on the AIASC annual design conference, Community: By Design, visit


Michael Ford, Associate AIA | The Hip Hop Architect
Affectionally known as “The Hip Hop Architect,” Michael Ford, Associate AIA, is the founder of a national initiative that explores architecture and urban planning through the culture of hip hop. Ford, the founder of The Hip Hop Architecture Camp, an international award-winning youth camp that uses hip hop culture as a catalyst to increase the number of underrepresented communities in architecture, urban planning and design. To date, his camp, which has been featured on The Today Show, ESPN, VIBE, and Architect Magazine, is working with hip hop legends like Kurtis Blow to implement and lead the programming and development of The Universal Hip Hop Museum, located in The Bronx.

Cathryn Zommer | Enough Pie
Cathryn is the Executive Director of Enough Pie, a non-profit organization that uses creativity to connect and empower Charleston’s Upper Peninsula community. Beginning her career on The Charlie Rose Show, Cathryn spent more than a decade in global marketing before returning home to South Carolina in 2012. A documentary filmmaker and dancer, Cathryn directs the efforts of Enough Pie through artistic installations and partnerships that form stronger community relationships and joyful civic engagement.

Matt Mardell | Colleton Museum
Matt is a native of the United Kingdom, a graduate of the University Of Portsmouth School Of Architecture and the executive director of the Colleton Museum, Farmers Market and Commercial Kitchen. With an avid interest in environmental design and sustainability, the Colleton Museum and Farmers Market model always intrigued him for its role in sustainability and in the community. Matt serves on regional boards and advisory committees for health, the arts and economic development.

Emilie Taylor Welty, AIA | Tulane School of Architecture
Emilie is a Professor of Practice and Interim Director of the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design at the Tulane School of Architecture. A leader in the design/build field, Emilie focuses on educating students to become better designers, makers and citizens. In addition, Emilie is a partner at Colectivo, a design firm based in New Orleans and known for creating a transformative community-based built culture.

Dan Pitera, FAIA | Detroit Collaborative Design Center
Dan is the Executive Director of the Detroit Mercy School of Architecture’s Collaborative Design Center, recipient of the 2017 National AIA’s Whitney M. Young Jr. Award. Included in the 2017 Curry Stone Social Design Circle, the Detroit Collaborative Design Center’s engagement process has been included in the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt Design Museum’s exhibition, “By The People.” A Harvard University Loeb Fellow, Dan is also the co-author of the book, Activist Architecture.

Trey Trahan, FAIA | 2018 “Community: By Design” Keynote Speaker
Founder and CEO of Trahan Architects, Victor is this year’s “Community: By Design” keynote speaker. Driven by a strong personal belief in conservation and philanthropy, Trey’s life work is guided by his deep commitment to the development of sustainable environments. His firm has won more than 75 national, regional and local awards and is known for their creative and innovative use of materials and intense connection history, place and culture.


Thursday, April 19, 2018 – Day 1
*Session 1 | Michael Ford; Cathryn Zommer; Matt Mardell 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
*Session 2 | Emilie Taylor Welty, 1.25 LUs/HSW 2:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
*Session 3 | Dan Pitera, FAIA, 1.25 LUs/HSW 3:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
*Design Celebration & Keynote: 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Trey Trahan, FAIA, 1.0 LU/HSW

Friday, April 20, 2018 – Day 2
*Lake City Sketching Tour with Lynn Craig, FAIA, 3 LUs 9:00 a.m. – Noon
Design-Build/Community Service Project Installation 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
ArtWalk/ArtFields Opening Ceremony 6:00 p.m.
*Session open to the public. Tickets are available at


Raising the design standard for more than 100 years, the South Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIASC) is an association dedicated to providing its members with opportunities to gain knowledge through continuing education, public health advocacy, safety and welfare, and becoming more involved in the community. For more information visit: