Alternative Forms of Practice: Architecture and Advocacy

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Presented by Michael K. Chen, Julia Gamolina and Justin Garrett Moore

Learning Objectives:

  1. Outline the career paths of three high-profile professionals who work within, on the edge of, and outside traditional practice.
  2. Discuss the many ways architects and planners advocate for others, as well as the forms such advocacy may take.
  3. Discuss the challenges and opportunities that students and young professionals face as they embark on their careers.
  4. Identify the aspects of architectural education and training that can be useful across a wide range of careers.


1 AIA LU/Elective
AAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
This course can be self-reported to the AANB, as per their CE Guidelines
AAPEI 1 Structured Learning Hour
MAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
This course can be self-reported to the NLAA.
This course can be self-reported to the NSAA
NWTAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
OAA 1 Learning Hour
SAA 1 Hour of Core Learning
This course can be self-reported to the AIBC, as per their CE Guidelines.
As an IACET Accredited Provider, BNP Media offers IACET CEUs for its learning events that comply with the ANSI/IACET Continuing Education and Training Standard.
This course is approved as a Structured Course
This course can be self-reported to the AANB, as per their CE Guidelines
Approved for structured learning
Approved for Core Learning
This course can be self-reported to the NLAA
Course may qualify for Learning Hours with NWTAA
Course eligible for OAA Learning Hours
This course is approved as a core course
This course can be self-reported for Learning Units to the Architectural Institute of British Columbia

Are you interested in exploring a career at the edge of traditional practice? Do you want to leverage your architectural education to empower others or design empowering forms? Join RECORD for a conversation with Design Advocates founder Michael K. Chen, Madame Architect’s Julia Gamolina, and Mellon Foundation program officer Justin Garrett Moore as they discuss their paths to leadership and how they use their backgrounds in architecture and planning for advocacy.


Photo courtesy of Getty Images


Michael K. Chen, is principal of MKCA. Based in New York City, Michael leads a team of architects and designers who are engaged in producing exceptionally refined and conceptually rich design at a broad range of scales, from buildings to interiors to furniture to urbanism; and with a commitment to research and experimentation in materials, technology, and manufacturing. Michael and MKCA’s growing body of work regularly appears in international exhibitions and media including the Venice Biennale, Architectural Digest, Elle Décor, Domus, Dwell, Interior Design, The Daily Mail, The New York Times, and T Magazine, and it has been recognized with numerous awards for design and research.

In March of 2020, Michael co-founded Design Advocates, a network of independent architecture and design firms collaborating on pro-bono projects for small businesses, institutions, and organizations that serve disadvantaged communities to help them adapt their spaces and operations to adapt to COVID-19 and beyond. Design Advocates has grown to encompass 120 firms and volunteers at work on over 50 projects serving the public good.

Michael studied architecture at the University of California at Berkeley, and at Columbia University. He teaches design studios and seminars at Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture and has taught previously at UC Berkeley, Cornell, Columbia, and Parsons School of Design. His writings on architecture, urbanism, and infrastructure have appeared in numerous academic and popular publications, and he is frequently sought out for his expertise and insight on emerging models for urban living. He is the recipient of grants for independent research from the Graham Foundation, Pratt Institute, Columbia University, and the Van Alen Institute, and was the 2004 John Dinkeloo Fellow at the American Academy in Rome. He is a registered architect and a member of the American Institute of Architects.

Julia Gamolina, is dedicated to the built environment and the visibility and advancement of the women who shape it. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Madame Architect, a digital magazine and media start-up that celebrates these extraordinary practitioners. Trained as an architect herself, Julia stays engaged in professional practice as an Associate Principal and Business Development Director at Ennead, where she focuses on the educational, cultural, and healthcare markets nationally and internationally. In the same vein, Julia is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute, teaching a graduate level Professional Practice Seminar on the history and the practices of the profession.

In 2021, Julia was named one of Apartment Therapy’s Design Changemakers and one of Commercial Observer’s Top Young Professionals. In 2019, she also received the Special Citation from AIANY for her work with Madame Architect. Her writing has been featured in Fast Company, A Women’s Thing, Metropolis Magazine, Architizer, and the Architect’s Newspaper. Julia has lectured nationally and internationally—select speaking engagements include lectures at Harvard, Columbia, Yale, UPenn, Pratt, the IE School of Architecture and Design, Georgia Tech and more, as well as NeueHouse, AIANY/The Center for Architecture, the Architecture & Design Film Festival in New York City, and the Women, Architecture and Sustainability Congress in Bogota, Colombia. She has served as a guest critic for design reviews at Cornell AAP, Columbia GSAPP, and the School of Visual Arts (SVA), and was the opening keynote speaker at AIA ’22 in Chicago, interviewing AIA’s new CEO, Lakisha Woods.

Julia received her Bachelor of Architecture at Cornell University, graduating with the Charles Goodwin Sands Memorial Medal for exceptional merit in the thesis of architecture. She was born in Siberia, raised in Toronto, and is based in New York City.


Justin Garrett Moore, is the inaugural program officer for the Humanities in Place program at the Mellon Foundation. His transdisciplinary work focuses on advancing equity, inclusion, and social justice through place-based initiatives and programs, built environments, cultural heritage projects, and commemorative spaces and landscapes. He has extensive experience in architecture, planning, and design—from urban systems, policies, and building projects to grassroots and community-focused planning, design, preservation, public realm, and arts initiatives.

During his fifteen years of public service with the City of New York prior to joining Mellon, Justin led several urban design and planning projects, including the Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront, Hunter’s Point South, and the Brooklyn Cultural District. From 2016 to 2020, he was the executive director of the New York City Public Design Commission, where he spearheaded initiatives to address social equity and sustainability through improved built environment design and public processes. His work spanned affordable housing and community development, place and open space design, historic preservation, public art and monuments, and civic engagement.

Justin holds a bachelor of design from the University of Florida and master of architecture and master of science in urban design degrees from Columbia University, where he now serves as an adjunct associate professor of architecture. He has also taught at Morgan State University, Tuskegee University, and the Yale School of Architecture. His professional affiliations include the American Institute of Certified Planners, the National Organization of Minority Architects, the Urban Design Forum, and BlackSpace. In 2021, Moore received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Architecture and was named to the United States Commission of Fine Arts by President Joseph Biden.


Leopoldo Villardi, Moderator, is senior editor at Architectural Record. He joined RECORD in 2022 after nine years working as an editor, writer, and researcher. Trained as an architect, Leo holds a master’s degree from Columbia University and a bachelor of architecture from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


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Originally published in April 2023