We are pleased to announce that Polly Carpenter, FAIA, Director of Public Programs and Learning by Design at the BSA Foundation has been appointed to the AAO Board of Directors. Polly has been a leader in K-12 design education for the last 18 years and has been an advocate of AAO since its inception. Read more about her work and her vision for AAO below.
1. For our members who haven't met you, please briefly describe yourself.
I began my professional life as a practicing architect working in large and small firms in NYC. Early in my career I began volunteering for AIANY’s Learning By Design program, working in public schools with kids. This experience helped solidify my passion for K-12 design education. I joined Learning By Design in Massachusetts in 1999 and have since taught hundreds of workshops for K-12 students, teachers and architects. Currently I serve as the Director of Public Programs and the Learning By Design youth program at the BSA Foundation. Teaching kids early on to think like designers naturally leads to a deeper appreciation of their built and natural environment. We like to say that by working with kids, we're not creating little architects, but big community members.
2. As a way to get to know you, what are you working on now or what recent projects would you like to share with our readers?
One particularly successful initiative at BSA Space has been the LEGO Urban Design program. This new design program for kids and families asked participants what the city of Boston might look like in 2030, and asked them to build their vision for the future of Boston using LEGO Bricks. Participants learned how architects and urban planners consider sustainability, transportation, housing, parks and open space when planning the development of the city, and brainstormed their own ideas about how to create a city that is more beautiful, resilient, and equitable.
I’ve also recently worked on Boston’s first digital AIA Guide to Boston, launched this year as a downloadable app. We’re really excited to get the latest AIA Guide into the hands of many more users via the convenience of their smartphones.
3. Tell us about the skills and expertise that you bring to the AAO Board.
I hope to be able to bring both the perspective of a practicing architect, as well my experience crafting hands-on youth programming. I’ve also been a member for and advocate for AAO since its inception, and have experienced firsthand the transformative impact the network can have. I’m excited for the opportunity to approach AAO from the other side, as a board member, to help support its members and users.
4. What excites you most about AAO?
As professionals in architecture and design organizations, our work exists in a really unique space—not solely curatorial work, nor museum education, nor community development, nor government. The fact that a network exists where we can come together and learn from each other to support our own professional growth, and the growth of our institutions, is really remarkable in a field where at times it can feel like you are out there on your own, forging your own relationships, and developing your own programs in isolation. I’ve been grateful for the opportunity to draw from the AAO network in my own professional work; the AAO website is a go-to when I’m thinking about crafting a new program or event. Equally exciting is this idea of strength in numbers, particularly as we forge ahead in the current political climate. If we can advocate together in support of the work that we do, we strengthen the impact of our respective missions.
5. What impact do you hope to see AAO achieve by the end of your board term?
I’d like to see increased recognition of AAO as a key resource for cities that are thinking of starting their own architecture centers, and as a go-to support system where we can make the most of each other’s experience and expertise. I’m also a huge fan of the annual AAO conference. It’s really the only conference that works for someone who does what I do. I’d really like to see the conference become stronger and larger, and incorporate larger and more diverse attendees.