Preliminary Schedule


Seattle, Washington – November 14-17

Local Hosts – AIA Seattle, Design in Public, Seattle Architecture Foundation

The Design Matters Conference is the world’s only annual meeting dedicated to exploring how practitioners can inspire public interest in architecture and urbanism. To this end, the Conference brings not-for-profit professionals and volunteers charged with creating cultural programs (exhibitions, tours, lectures and symposia, festivals and films, youth outreach) into dialogue with top designers, journalists, and civic leaders.  


The 2018 Conference invites you to Seattle to explore key issues of social equity in the built environment. What does today’s society require of its architects, and what is the role of design organizations in promoting housing and public spaces that are more equitable, ethical, and socially just? 
Seattle itself is at the center of a growing crisis along the West Coast, where a booming economy coupled with decades of under-building have led to an historic shortage of affordable housing. We convene at a moment when many AAO members are addressing similar issues in their own programming, and we’ll look to Seattle’s challenges and successes as a jumping off point for our discussions.




More details will be added in the coming weeks.


Wednesday, November 14

Location: Center for Architecture & Design (1010 Western Avenue; 1 block walk from Loews Hotel)


A+DEN Pre-Conference Workshop at the Center for Architecture & Design

During this workshop, participants discuss common issues, audiences, and learning objectives that animate K-12 architecture education today. In keeping with the Conference theme, the featured plenary sees three veteran educators—90 years of combined experience!—reflecting on their careers and taking questions from both seasoned educators and young professionals just breaking into the field. Panelists include:
  • Kathleen Kupper, Summit School of Ahwatukee (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Alan Sandler, Architectural Foundation of San Francisco
  • Catherine Teegarden, Center for Architecture (New York) 


AAO Conference Opening Reception at the Center for Architecture & Design  

A chance to meet your fellow Conference attendees and take in the newly created Center for Architecture & Design! Drinks and plentiful hors d’oeuvres. We will enjoy remarks from:
  • Lisa Richmond, AIA Seattle/Design in Public 
  • Stacy Segal, Seattle Architectural Foundation
  • Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (invited)

Thursday, November 15

Location: Seattle Central Library  (1000 4th Avenue; 3 block walk from Loews Hotel)



Registration Opens at Seattle Central Library 



Can We Create an Equitable City? 

We start the day with an honest look at Seattle’s latest strategies for tackling key issues of equity and inclusive growth: affordable housing, climate change, making room for under-represented community voices.
  • Samuel Assefa, Director, Office of Planning and Community Developement, City of Seattle
  • Lisa Richmond, AIA Seattle/Design in Public (interviewer)


Notes from the Field: Talking about Design 

A panel of AAO members present their latest efforts to pioneer new program formats for public engagement, with an emphasis on convening community voices and hosting difficult conversations on equity/inclusion. 





(Re)Designing Los Angeles: A conversation with L.A.'s first Chief Design Officer, Christopher Hawthorne

What motivated this top architecture critic to drop his post and join City Hall?  
  • Christopher Hawthorne, former critic, Los Angeles Times





Notes from the Field: Educating on Affordable Housing

A panel of AAO members present their latest initiatives to bring greater attention to the state of affordable housing in their respective communities.











Guided Tour of the Bullitt Center

We take time to visit the world’s greenest building, and discuss the power of “pilgrimage sites” for advancing public education about the built environment.



Small Group Dine Arounds (optional)

This year, we’ve asked staff and board members from our Local Host organizations to take us to their favorite restaurants all around Seattle. Dutch treat. Hosts will provide several options that are within easy walking distance from the Bullitt Center, as well as some adventures out to far-flung corners of the city.

Friday, November 16

Location: Impact Hub  (220 2nd Avenue South; 7 block walk from Loews Hotel)



Breakfast Session: AAO Members Meeting

Annual business meeting for members of the AAO Network, including nomination of incoming AAO Directors. 


Architecture Centers 2.0

Several AAO members organizations have been busy developing permanent new homes. 


Open Forum: Take This Idea!

A series of rapid talks highlighting programs that are easily shared across the AAO Network. 





Breakout Sessions: Round 1/TBA

In this breakout round, CEOs will pursue a separate track from other Conference participants.


Breakout Sessions: Round 2/TBA

Two rounds of concurrent sessions (four sessions total) comprise the second breakout round.


Design Swarm

Design in Public Board Chair and former Microsoft executive Surya Vanka leads Conference participants in a constructive workshop on the evolution of our network of design organizations. Concurrent discussions among CEOs, mid-career professionals, and entry-level staff take up the question: How are our organizations operating more strongly together than alone?


Conference Closing Reception/Happy Hour (Location TBA) 


Saturday, November 17

Location: Loews Hotel 1000  (1001 1st Avenue)



Post-Conference Tour (optional)

A guided tour with local experts. Description and registration coming soon.