May 18, 2016

Carnegie Mellon University hosted close to 500 architecture students in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) Northeast Quad Conference March 31-April 3, 2016. The largest quad conference of the year was themed Forge: New Urban Frontiers.

Northeast Quad Conference Chair Thomas Sterling said the conference aimed to focus on architects, designers, planners and community members who exist on the fringes of architecture. “The overall theme of the conference was meant to be optimistic, empowering and show our attendees that they can do pretty much anything as architects, designers and change makers.”

Attendees had the option of four different tracks: technology, sustainability, public interest design and arts and culture.

“The tracks allowed members to choose programs based on their own interests,” said Northeast Quad Director Rachel Law. “Each group got a different taste of CMU and Pittsburgh, which brings about some really interesting perspectives and stories,” said Law.

She took part in the arts and culture track “because I was genuinely interested in the rich history of Pittsburgh. The track involved a broad variety of city tours and firm crawls, which showed how their rejuvenated culture went beyond simply the artists — it became essential to the sustainability of their communities.”

The conference also featured keynote speakers:

Sterling said the keynotes were incredibly well-received and that Fetterman left some members of the audience in tears. Fetterman spoke about the role architects can play in improving the lives of underserved and underprivileged communities across America.

“Fetterman’s message about the importance of sharing our skills and education by making less privileged communities better was a really powerful example of how design and politics are intertwined and definitely spoke to a lot of people,” said Sterling.

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