MDC Speakers

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Ned Cramer, Assoc. AIA,
Ned Cramer, Assoc. AIA, is editor-in-chief of ARCHITECT magazine and editorial director of publisher Hanley Wood’s commercial design group of five media brands: Architect, Architectural Lighting, Eco-Structure, Metalmag, and Pro AV. In 2009, Architect was a National Magazine Awards finalist in the general excellence category for magazines with a circulation of less than 100,000. 

Prior to joining Hanley Wood, Mr. Cramer served as the first fulltime curator of the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF). During his four-year tenure there, Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin commended Cramer for bringing “intellectual heft” to CAF’s exhibitions and public programs, and the initiatives under his direction received support from organizations such as Altria, the Boeing Corporation, Fannie Mae, the Graham Foundation, Sara Lee, the McCormick-Tribune Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Dickson Despommier, PhD
Dr. Despommier, is a full-time professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Dr. Despommier, is also the director of the Vertical Farm Project which addresses issues related to urban agriculture, environmental disturbance, and the restoration of damaged ecosystems. The project was started in 1999 as a classroom activity in Dr. Despommier’s Medical Ecology course. 

During the ten years that followed, numerous articles in the popular press (NY Science Times, Popular Science, New York Magazine, Time Magazine, Scientific American) and interviews on and radio and television shows (including the Colbert Report) have featured his concept of farming in buildings situated inside the city limits. So far, over 82 graduate students (mostly from the Mailman School of Public Health) have participated in generating a wealth of supportive studies that are posted on the vertical farm website.

Borja Ferrater
Between 1995 and 1999 Borja Ferrater studied biology at Temple University in Philadelphia and at the University of Navarre. In September 2005 he graduated with honors as an architect from the International University of Catalonia, his final project being “Skyscrapers in Athens.” He was a visiting student at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc, Los Angeles) and participated in the Alvar Aalto Symposium (2000) as well as in the “Days of Oris 2005” symposium in Zagreb, Croacia.
Jeanne Gang, FAIA, LEED AP
Jeanne Gang is founder and principal of Studio Gang Architects, a rising international practice whose work confronts pressing contemporary issues. The transformative potential of her work is exemplifed by such recent projects as Chicago’s 82-story Aqua Tower, the O2 high-rise in Hyderabad, India, and the Northerly Island framework plan. Published and exhibited widely, Jeanne’s work has been shown at the International Venice Biennale, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Building Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago. She is also an adjunct professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology where her studios have focused on megacities and material technologies.
Tom Kundig, FAIA
Tom Kundig is one of the most recognized architects in North America. He has received over thirty-seven AIA awards – four of them national Honor Awards – as well as some of our nation’s highest design awards, including a National Design Award in Architecture Design from the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt and an Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Tom Kundig: Houses is one of Princeton Architectural Press’s bestselling architecture books of all time, and they will publish a new book of his work, Tom Kundig Houses 2, this fall.
Michael Maltzan, FAIA
Michael Maltzan, FAIA, is the principal of Los Angeles-based Michael Maltzan Architecture. Founded in 1995, the practice is focused on creating architecture that is a catalyst for new experience and an agent for change. Through a shared belief in architecture’s role in our cities, this work, from MoMA to Skid Row, creates new connections across a range of scales and programs. Michael Maltzan holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Architecture from Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Architecture degree with a Letter of Distinction from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. His work has been recognized with numerous accolades and has been featured in publications worldwide.
David Salmela, FAIA
Salmela has won 15 Minnesota Honor Awards, been elected to the AIA College of Fellows and won two AIA Honor Awards in 2005. David Salmela, FAIA, practices in Duluth, Minnesota. He has worked in architecture since 1969 and has lived in Minnesota all of his life. Projects which represent his broad assembly of work are Brandenburg’s Ravenwood Studio in Ely, MN, and the Emerson Sauna in rural Duluth, MN. They both won National AIA Honor Awards for architecture in 1998 and 2005, respectively. Also, a 2005 National AIA Honor Award winner for Regional and Urban Design was the Jackson Meadow Development in Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota. Overall, David has won 50 regional and national design awards. In 2005 the monograph, Salmela/Architect by University of Minnesota Dean of the College of Design, Thomas Fisher, was published. David’s work has been featured, nationally and internationally, in Abitare, Architectural Record, Architectural Review, Graphis, Architecture, ID, Monocle, Hauser and Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary Architecture. In 2007 David received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Minnesota.
Brigitte Shim, FAIA
Brigitte Shim is a principal of Shim-Sutcliffe Architects in Toronto, an architecture and design firm interested in the integration of furniture, architecture and landscape. Their built architectural work has been honoured with eight Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Governor-General’s Medals and Awards for Architecture along with AIA, American Wood Council, Canadian Wood Council, Architectural Record Interiors, and I.D. Magazine Design Review award. Their unbuilt projects have received a P/A Award Citation and a Canadian Architect Award of Excellence. Furniture designed by their firm has won awards and represented Canadian design in international exhibitions and her architectural designs have been published widely in the U.S., Europe and Eurasia. In 2002, Brigitte Shim and her partner Howard Sutcliffe were recipients of the Toronto Arts Award for Architecture and Design.
Peter Walker, FASLA
Peter Walker attended Harvard University Graduate School of Design where he received his masters in Landscape Architecture in 1957, and won the school’s Weidenman Prize that year. In 1983, he formed Peter Walker and Partners and has developed a world-class interdisciplinary firm that employs around thirty to forty landscape architects well trained in the field. Peter Walker was also a co-author of Invisible Gardens, which touches on the modernist movement in America and the comparison of other landscapes to those in Europe. Peter Walker and Partners has developed many beautiful and successful landscapes in the Americas as well as internationally. One of his team’s projects that is currently being worked on is the World Trade Center Memorial in New York, New York. Although it is not complete and cannot be deemed a successful project quite yet, his team did win the honor of first place in the contest of designers across the globe.


The AIACC represents the interests of more than 11,000 architects and allied professionals in California. Founded in 1944, The AIACC's mission supports architects in their endeavors to improve the quality of life for all Californians by creating more livable communities, sustainable designs and quality work environments.

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