Season 2:

Episode 31

December 21, 2021

Cleveland Foundation Headquarters with Pascale Sablan of Adjaye Associates

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In today’s episodes, I speak with architect, activist, and Associate at Adjaye Associates, Pascale Sablan. She shares with us her experience working on the Cleveland Foundation Headquarters as a designer at S9 ARCHITECTURE in New York. This project, located at the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 66th Street, is meant to be as open, transparent, and inviting as possible to foster an inclusive and welcoming environment.

More broadly, we discuss the topic of design justice and how that aims to challenge structural inequalities by centering marginalized individuals in community-led design practices. As Founder of Beyond the Built Environment, Pascale shares her vision of working to dismantle injustices in the built environment and advocating for equitable, reflectively diverse environments.

What is the relationship between design, power, and social justice? Join us on today’s episode as we discuss incorporating marginalized voices into the built landscape, learning more about the design process behind the Cleveland Foundation Headquarters, and Pascale’s personal journey working with S9 ARCHITECTURE.

Learn more about Pascale Sablan

Pascale Sablan graduated from Pratt and pursued a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design at Columbia University. During this time, she found her activist voice by defending her design ideas and implementing holistic design visions for the built environment. She is the 315th African American female architect in the United States to attain my architectural license. She has been awarded with the 2018 Pratt Alumni Achievement Award, the NOMA Prize for Excellence in Design and Building Design + Construction 40 Under 40 as well as being featured on the Cover of the September 2017 issue. As the recipient of the 2021 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award, she is a champion of women and diverse design professionals. Through her work, she has greatly enhanced the profession and broadened social awareness of the built environment by calling for design justice.

[00:00:00] Announcer: What goes into making an iconic building in America? What are the stories and who are the people behind the next generation of architecture? If your work touches the real estate industry in any way or you’re just curious about what goes into one of a kind cities and towns all across our country, join us on the American Building Podcast.

In season two, we learn about everything from skyscrapers to single family homes. From the famous and soon-to-be famous designers and developers responsible for them. This season focuses particularly on the pandemic and how our buildings will change in response. Our sponsor is the iconic design firm, Michael Graves Architecture & Design. And now your host award-winning architect-turned entrepreneur Atif Qadir, AIA.

[00:00:59] Atif Qadir: This is American building, and I’m your host, Atif Qadir. We are recording from the historic home of world-renowned architect, Michael Graves in Princeton, New Jersey. Check out this amazing space for yourself at the Michael Graves Architecture and Design YouTube channel. Now let’s build something.

Today, our guest is my friend, the wonderful architect and activist Pascale Sablan. Pascal is an associate at, at J associates, a design firm based in New York. She previously worked at S nine architecture, NFX, foul, and began her career at Aras design. She is the president elect of the national organization of minority architects and a member of the prestigious college of fellows of the American Institute of architect.

I want to highlight one of the many awards that she is one, she is the prestigious 2021 Whitney young prize winner. And that’s awarded by the AIA to just one architect every year whose work embodies social responsibility and actively addresses a relevant issue, such as affordable housing, inclusiveness, or universal access to buildings.

Pascal is the founder of beyond the built environment, which is her platform for advocacy. On behalf of diversity and equity and the architecture field and the broader real estate industry as a whole, she’s a graduate of Columbia university like may and the Pratt Institute, we’ll be talking about the Cleveland foundation headquarters.

We will also be using that project to talk more broadly about design justice, a very timely topic at the intersection of good design and social justice. Thank you so much for being here with us.

[00:02:40] Pascale Sablan: Thank you so much for having me and thank you to the audience for tuning in. I’m excited to share my journey, my story, and a little bit about the products that I’ve been working.

[00:02:50] Atif Qadir: Absolutely let’s do it. So you started your design education at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Tell us about that experience and what stands out to you about it?

[00:03:01] Pascale Sablan: Yeah, so I actually was a young student or a child who always knew she wanted to be an architect. I was an artist and I was commissioned to do a mural at the PAMA knock communication center in Queens.

And as I was drawing, pastor buyer walked by and said, wow, you can draw straight lines without a ruler. That’s a great skill for an architect to have. And once that seed was planted, there was no, uh, uprooting it if you will. And so I was really excited to attend Pratt and super my bachelor’s degree in architecture, uh, where I was able to start studying and started working on my design from the very beginning.

And that was a really great process and experience. And I love my work at Pratt. One important experience that I typically talk about that I think it’s important that we tell our stories is within the first week or two of school, I was in architecture history class. And a professor asked me and another student to stand in a classroom of about 60 or so students.

So we stood and he said, okay, these two will never become architects because they’re black. And because they were. And a few things hit me. One that a professor would say, it makes such a strong proclamation without even knowing my name or my capacity to that. My periods would be so quiet and even accepting of this kind of prediction.

And then three that in the classroom of 60 plus students, there was only two of us that were black women. Right. And so. That really started to kind of give a sense of my purpose. I knew in that moment that I would never just walk into a space and be representing Pascal, but I’d be representing my gender and my race.

And so therefore it was really important that I always show up and show out. I’ll always do 110% because I didn’t want my. To limit opportunities. I wanted my performance to be catalytic for more opportunities for others moving forward. And so I always say that I was privileged in that moment with purpose and use that to navigate and know that I would be working as an architect and product, but also as an activist, that would be changing the profession as.

[00:05:01] Atif Qadir: Wow. That is absolutely ridiculous on the part of whoever that person was. But I think that shows a lot in terms of your character, that, that didn’t dissuade you from the goal that you had. And that just served as one little. Speed bumps along your pathway towards success? I think for me, when I was an undergraduate in architecture, there was a similar instance where there was very few people that looked like me, uh, around, in any of the classes that I had.

Thing in particular that stood out is the foundation architecture history class that this entire textbook that’s probably this. And I could probably have like, done like bicep curls. Also. I have no biceps, so it would have been worth it. Cause it wasn’t that much weight have been positive anyway is the fact that.

And this entire book, the history of architecture from south Asia, which has been home to civilizations for thousands of years, as an addition, Africa, Eastern Asia was afforded about this much space in a book that was this big and the vast sweep of it was all Western Eurocentric architecture. And when I asked my professor and I explained to him, I said I’ve been to Indian Pakistan.

There’s amazing architecture. That’s there. That can be an influence to many students of architecture. Why is there only like two to three pages in this whole book about it? And why is it under the category of ethnic architecture as opposed to it on its own and the professor and just let’s be Frank call it what it is an old white male said because we’re focusing on the architecture that matters for an architecture educator.

[00:06:45] Pascale Sablan: There you go. I mean, to be honest, when I share my story, I typically ask audiences to stand. If they’ve ever been told that they weren’t good enough because of their gender and race and people are standing, people are standing in professional settings. People are standing in schools of architecture. So this.

Mission or this kind of this statement that we are not worthy, or we do not have the capacity is part of the injustice, ecology, and economy that we’re trying to dismantle. Right. And exactly what you just said is the reason why I’m working really hard to publish a book, that’s really gathered the best of the best of the products that are in my say aloud and great the verse designers library as a way of kind of creating that kind of component as well.

Um, and so I’m trying to create the resource that. Is the testimony that we are doing great work and that we’ve impacted the world globally as

[00:07:35] Atif Qadir: well. That’s excellent. So then on that note, do you see your work as an architect and an activist as separate and distinct from each other or these ideas and these inspirations intertwined for you?

[00:07:50] Pascale Sablan: And I think that’s the gift David. So David Ajit has given me up until joining his. I was kind of told that it had to stay separate, right. That it couldn’t be one in the same that you do your architecture from nine to five and you do your advocacy from five to nine. Right. And so that. My timeline and my ability to work.

And if I was switching into spaces, I’d have to recall which hat I was wearing. Whereas when I started talking to David, it was like, no, you’re both. We are all both. Right. We’re all architecture is political. There’s no thing neutral. Right. And so. In that when you come into this office and when you talk about our projects or when you work collaborative with our team, I need you to bring both of those parts of your identity forward and all the other parts of your identity.

You as a black person, you as a mother, you as a woman in architecture, all of that is needed and necessary to engage and inform and educate whoever we’re talking to and what we’re trying to move the mission. Through design through architecture, through practice, through mentorship. And so this has been a revolutionary thought for me on the suite to be quite Frank.

And that’s why I talk about it because I want to show other firm leadership and other advocate architects out there that you do not need to subdivide and, or you do not need to change. Right. And so I think it’s important that we’re able to hold as much of our identities and be authentic in those spaces as much as possible.

And that it be seen as a benefit than, than something that’s a detriment to our focus on our, our impact in the profession. So right now, in this moment, I can say it’s absolutely intertwined. And that’s part of the reason I selected the project that we’re going to talk about today is because I feel like it was very evident, not just us.

The architecture design team, but also the advocate that was part of our client team and like how they too were advocates in this whole process. That’s

[00:09:43] Atif Qadir: incredible because I think that that is also so reflective of a sea change that’s happening in our industry in terms of the way that practitioners think.

Uh, so I think that this reality that you described where, and then over here is everything else is one that does. Jive. Well, for many other millennial architects, like me and my friends that are in that age category of the thirties, and particularly say, for example, for Redis. So it’s a, a real estate company, not focused in design.

It’s a technology company, it’s a startup, the engineers and the product managers that I hire. Oftentimes they want to truly understand what is the meaning? What is the mission of this organization? And not just the minutia of, is there a free kombucha in the, the building, uh, lobby? And do I get free lunch on Fridays?

Like, which was like more basic? I shouldn’t say that I perhaps asked. So because I was too shy of asking right to the point of a company. So I think that’s something that’s really awesome that you described. David Adjaye’s firm represents. And I think that that is reflective of the new, the cutting edge, the pioneering, the leading firms in our industry and what they’re doing.

So in the context of this relatively short career that you’ve had so far, there’s wonderful career, you have honestly accomplished a lot, a lot more than most people, and it’s really crazy inspiring. So I imagine that when you ask people for things you get, yes, All the time because you’re recognized and people know who you are.

Is that the reality or is there some other truth?

[00:11:15] Pascale Sablan: Absolutely not that is false at actually part of the reason why I reach and apply to all these awards and different recognitions was to gain the credibility that, you know, when I ask for an exhibition or I ask for certain things, the answer nine out of 10 is actually a no right.

The, the reason to even apply for the Whitney M young was to give credibility to the work because at the time my firm didn’t do advocacy work and felt like the advocacy work that I was doing was actually taking away from my position. And so I was actually leveraging these awards as a way to get more yeses.

And what I’ve been noticing is that it’s also kind of allowed my reach to go Google. And I’m, you know, I’m an architect in, based in New York. My network was the strongest in New York and now it’s much more national and international because of it. And I am truly humbled and inspired by that. Cause I didn’t know.

See that I was trying to dismantle a no. And in actuality, I gained all these different yeses in the process, but there’s a series of notes that I get. Right. And if I specifically hone in on, say it loud, you know, trying to get organizations to want to do an exhibition, trying to get a space, to donate the space for us to have this exhibition, trying to get sponsors, to pay for it.

And the hardest. Trying to get women and BiPAP designers to submit for it. That is absolutely the hardest part of this whole process is getting women and people of color to recognize that they are worthy of elevation. Oh, this product’s not good enough. Oh, I wasn’t assigned the person who signed and steeled it.

Oh, it was from 10 years ago. All of it matters, right? This is the architecture that matters that we should all be learning from and kind of gleaning too. And I would say my most challenged initiative is say it with me media. And what I was saying is that I’m creating this resource of hundreds. Women and BiPAP designers in my great diverse designers library, which is basically the repository of anyone, whoever is it featured in my exhibitions.

And I wanted to not just live on my website, but I want it to actually be a resource for potential clients, for professors for. For media publications for, you know, potential clients and developers. And that was kind of the catalyst there. And so with, say with media, I’m asking media publications to document, track and publish how many women in BiPAP designers are featured in there.

To increase that by 5% annually until a minimum of 15% is reached to call us. Great. And why I want that language is because we often are told about these great architects and, you know, they’re the and when you look, it’s not us, right? So I’m encouraging to use the same vernacular that they use to describe our white male counterparts to use, to describe women and BiPAP designers.

And lastly, I’ve realized that a lot of. Historical information about women and BiPAP designers are actually coming through social media, imagery, impulse, right. And that actually through textbooks and work. And I’m saying you media publications have the resources to do historical content. It would be great if you can unearth that content and move it forward as well.

And so those are the four main kind of asks of media publications. I have legit reached out, had conversations, zoom meetings, emails with most of the design professional publications globally. And a lot of people will say, we love the idea. We love the concept, but we’re not ready to commit. And so that has been really powerful to me to see that as being such a big new.

Yeah, they’re definitely using the webpage. I get requests all the time to connect with designers here and there, like all the time. So I’m happy that it’s being leveraged, but that commitment that it’s not just, oh, we’re going to do better. But an accountability measure is something that I would love to push.

So the way I’ve kind of restructured the website under that initiative is actually now it’s a thumbnail for every major publication and their monthly kind of. And you can click it. And an auto field email will come up and you can say, Hey, I also want you to sign to this pledge. And that’s also like a call to action that I asked for my community and my network to do as well, where it’s not just me asking, but us as a community saying, we demand to see us featured and not just in February for black history month and not just in March for women’s month and not just.

365 days of the year. There’s definitely content and amazing work that we could ask.

[00:15:43] Atif Qadir: And I think there’s so many awesome things. I just want to say in response to the awesome things that you said, one is just for anyone that may not be familiar, I’ll use the term , which stands for black indigenous people of color as indigenous that native Americans, uh, people of color.

Uh, those are anyone’s. Would be in addition to black and indigenous people. Um, so for example, like myself and I want all of our listeners that are architects to know this is that the amazing awards of the AIA just Google them AI. Awards and honors nominate yourself. Have somebody nominate you. That’s how this process works.

It does sound like these decisions come down from heaven. They’re actually people that submit nominations for themselves or for others. So do it. I looked at Alyssa yesterday when I was preparing for this conversation and I found whether I’m going to apply for that one. So I think that there’s definitely idea of raising your own hand and not waiting for someone to call on you.

[00:16:37] Pascale Sablan: Absolutely because it, there’s also this counter narrative about not being too boastful about, you know, not, not being genuine, if you do that. And you know, a lot of these architecture firms that are winning these awards is because they have a marketing team who has an academic calendar. That’s set to know when Ryan they’re producing and they’re putting themselves out there and it’s also, we should be submitting for grants, awards, fellowships.

You should be selling. But publications, when you finish a project, you should send it to those publications and said, Hey, I finished a project. Here’s the photography. Here’s a summary, a press release about what my product’s about. You should leverage it. Let me know if you have any questions, right? You need to put yourself out there.

And if you are too shy and you do not want to do it, then you have people like me who are building these resources that is specifically about engaging and elevating you, your work in your identity for those purposes and trying to. As loud as possible in terms of getting that information out there. So yes, I thousand percent agree, submit, apply, get out there.

And even if you don’t get it, even if you don’t win, you are still being reviewed by a jury of really impressive people who now become more aware and more familiar about you and the work that you do. I

[00:17:48] Atif Qadir: think that each of these things that we’ve talked about are so important about making sure that your voice is loud and your voice is maybe even louder than you’re even comfortable being.

The reason often is, is for example, at least for myself, I think the stereotype is that Asian males are kind of a more quiet. Talk very loud. I’ve actually on purpose, made myself talk louder. I just talk loud because I want to keep talking. I don’t care. And I think in similar ways as my sister is a woman and she’s a woman of color that they’re often told in very subtle ways.

You’re too loud. You’re speaking too loud. And then she is the same as she was like, I’m just going to talking. I don’t care. So I think that that all these things I’ve asked I’ll talk about are absolutely great. One, if you could, uh, describe a little bit more is how you came to understand that the adjective great, or that the adjective excellent are important.

Why that’s important in a social media.

[00:18:44] Pascale Sablan: I’m glad you asked. So I often participate and holds different kinds of titles. Like you kind of mentioned in the beginning, I’m the founder executive director of beyond the built environment. I’m an associate at RGA associates. I’m also the president elect of Noma national as well as their historian.

I’m also the AIA New York board of director and the AIA national strategic planning committee member. And am joining the secretary advisory committee. Yeah.

[00:19:09] Atif Qadir: She basically have a lot of free time. That’s the same way you just said. Right? Exactly.

[00:19:15] Pascale Sablan: But I say all this to say is that I participate in this collective responsibility as I call it as a way of kind of getting engaged and intertwined with the communities that I’m trying to serve and engage with.

And so. One of my favorite programs is project pipeline, which is a camp that goes through Noma, which really tries to introduce architecture and design to small kids. And really then support them through the entire pipeline of becoming a licensed professional and a budding and a successful firm. Right.

But I often think about these kids and think, wow, you know, they’re so excited. They’re like, I’m going to be an architect. They’re waving goodbye. And I’m like, well, what happens if they continue the research about becoming an architect? And so I Googled the words, great architect and Google banner comes up with 50 names and faces.

And if you look at them, they are from now contemporary, currently practicing architects all the way down to Raphael and Michelangelo. Like it’s a long. Time. And within there that. Single African-American architect within there. There’s only one woman Zaha Hadid. And I think that algorithm is starting to shift a bit and it, depending on what time of where you start, you might get a genie gang if you’re lucky.

But I went to Google’s headquarters in New York and had a meeting to. Why is this the result of this search? And they said, Pascal, there’s just not enough content out there that lists you all is great. And that’s why I created the library. The great diverse designers library. Everybody’s name starts with the great as a way of challenging the algorithm to ensure.

I’m creating and producing content that makes us, it elevates us in that capacity. And that is also why I’m challenging my, with my say with media that they also call us great in the language because you wouldn’t be interviewing us. You wouldn’t be featuring us if we didn’t do something great. Right. And so that’s kind of part of the logic and the reasoning behind that text.

So that kind of the NAC Mueller, because I want, when people research the. That we are part of the catalyst and the catalog of those who are doing great things and impacting the world to, again, reinforce that we have the capacity to do great things and not just for people who look like us to get that message, but also for those who don’t to also say, say, when they see us in a room in the.

They recognize that we are also bringing greatness to the conversation and to the built environment as well.

[00:21:40] Atif Qadir: And I think what you’re describing is absolutely amazing. And it makes you realize is that when you think of the, that structure, that history of. Uh, great architecture. It is so it’s so Eurocentric.

That’s why Raphael Michelangelo, Leonardo, the rest of the ninja turtles shows up as the grades and beginning, but like, why don’t we talk about, uh, Hemi, you knew who is the architect of the great pyramid of Giza who was African, or how about mandala Hori? Who is the architect of the mobile Juul? That’s the Taj mall.

Why would I go

[00:22:16] Pascale Sablan: down? Because we need to be the ones writing those books. We need to be the ones teaching the class. We need to be. Documenting. And if we assume somebody else is going to document the information for us, we’re going to be completely in the waste out of history as we’ve been done in the past.

And so that is why it’s about not just elevating yourself, but also creating this kind of ownership enough authority to say, I can write and should write and have the expertise to write about this content and about this information that we are, the experts.

[00:22:45] Atif Qadir: And the way we can start today is by calling each other.

The great, so for our listeners who may just speak to it again. So I, with a great Pascal civilized, I love it. I’ve been doing it all the time now.

Okay. So amongst the many great projects that the great pescado blonde has worked on, we’re going to focus on the Cleveland foundation headquarters. So as this name implies it’s in Cleveland. So tell us about the particular neighborhood that it’s an and the site. Uh, challenges or opportunities that, that.


[00:23:17] Pascale Sablan: the Cleveland foundation headquarters is a really important project for me to my soul, but also this manifestation of the advocacy and the encouragement that I’ve been asking the profession to do. And seeing it come to fruition through this project, it’s actually located on east 66th. And you could avenue in Midtown in Oakland, Ohio, and it’s really in that gateway of reaching to the cough community, which is a predominantly African-American community.

And it’s a really powerful. Concept because the project itself is a headquarters for an organization that really does support communities, but then also create positioned in a way where it creates a bridge that we suppose the community in and have spaces for them to engage within that. And that product also has been catalytic to create.

Street beautification as well as the safety kind of protocols for kind of crossing the main streets and actually making sure that the experience as a pedestrian is equally as exciting and as enhancing as it is for a vehicular traffics that are kind of driving through and around and how we can use the.

The project and the landscaping and the open spaces as a resource that Neils and that offers itself to the community as well. It’s really important and powerful. And all of that was done, not through assumptions, but actually through direct engagement with. We had record number of community engagement meetings, where we’re able to ask the community stakeholders, leadership, not just like, what would they would want to see in the project, but what were their aspirations for their lives?

What were their fears about their project or their community and their neighborhood, and then allowed architecture to be the response to that. And I made it a point to say, Ever going to get a community member to be vulnerable, to not to speak about their joys, but then their fears. Then we have a responsibility to take that information and do something with it.

Right. We cannot just say, oh, I like that answer. So I’m going to use it. And like, I didn’t like that as something disregard, nothing can be disregarded because that was how we, as a profession can build trust. With the community. And so I really am excited about the Cleveland foundation headquarters that is absolutely in construction on east 66th and Euclid avenue in Midtown.

[00:25:29] Atif Qadir: So the Cleveland foundation, that’s the client on this project. Uh, tell us more about their mission and what they hope to accomplish with.

[00:25:37] Pascale Sablan: So Cleveland foundation was critical and important for me because they actually came to our office and said, we are a mission-based organization. And it’s important to us that we hire an architect that also understands advocacy.

So they were one of the first clients that actually provided a sense of value to advocacy work through the lens of being an. Then the way they kind of step forward is like they knew how much square footage and program that they needed to function as a headquarters and then wanted to, and successfully expanded that number of square footage in a way.

Almost almost half the square footage of the whole project is actually dedicated to community spaces. And so it was just not about what were the programs that they needed, but what was the programs that the community needed. And again, informed by that. And so they are, you know, excited to join the residents and the nonprofit partners and community leaders to create a larger movement of equitable growth in place keeping.

So it’s not about, you know, gentrification and eradicating culture, but actually keeping that place, keeping that culture in place. And create this kind of crossroads or kind of connection and braiding between Midtown and the kind of bustling and kind of businesses that are happening on Euclid with the Huff neighborhoods and those who are there.

And so they really, as an organization has been incredibly successful in funding and supporting different community groups throughout Ohio and in Cleveland specifically. And helping launch really important community efforts. And so with between that, and then that also being manifested in their building, I thought it was absolutely powerful and they really pushed for this idea and what we kind of co collaborated on through the design kind of vision of innovate McKamey is the poorest ground floor that.

Nah, you know, you’re not walking by, you know, solid walls or back of house services, but you’re walking through community multipurpose spaces, you know, community gathering spaces where there’s a meeting, they can come here, resource spaces, program spaces. The lobby’s actually a resource center that you can access whether or not you have a meeting with the clean foundation, you are meant to come in and hang out and chill and has been public, you know, furnished and in a way that allows for.

We have a cafe, a gallery where we be displaying local art and talent, and like really trying to create this way. And then also a lot of the landscaping and green spaces and public spaces are also accessible, which is really powerful and important because sometimes you’ve walked by architecture and you’re not quite sure whether you’re welcomed as a black person navigating spaces.

I definitely read that coded language as an I walk from community to neighborhood and really being, you know, meaningful. The type of materials we’re selecting the, the level of the wayfinding, right. And the kind of soft, gentle transitions between indoor and outdoor. So it doesn’t feel like it’s a gate or a fence, but it actually feels like something that’s welcoming you.

If you choose to kind of engage in that capacity is really powerful. And then as another statement, it’s a sustainable product with a lead gold project that really does again, put the value of sustainability. And being responsible through construction and through design as part of the project. And it’s a timber structure, and I’m really proud of that.

And it’s helping with the construction, ease of construction as well, but showcasing the natural components, right. Then you feel the warmth having that tactile component and feeling through the architecture as also an, another love language, if you will, of how the built environment is speaking to it. And so for me, this is a product that is designed just this, because.

It’s a structure that’s designed in a way that’s not just for the end user, but also for the community B it’s positioned in a place to be catalytic to kind of make a bridge and a connection to a community that has definitely been overlooked. And haven’t been served in the past. See it pushes sustainability in all aspects, D it really blends.

Importance of indoor outdoor experiences that it’s not just a matter of, you know, coloring some Walgreen, but actually living that truthfully. And how do you manifest those design ideas through the landscaping, which is another important method of the built environment. And then D I think I missed forgot what letter I’m up.

Maybe. Well, it’s just that kind of poor asity of it all and really kind of that component. And that it is a reflection of the conversations and the intimate discussions that we’ve had with the communities to get us there. And so that is why this product is a really important one. And I really hope you all get a chance to see it, visit it and kind of learn about it some more.

[00:30:03] Atif Qadir: So a couple of things I want to dive into there. So, number one, you had mentioned the process of community engagement. As you were developing the design. What does a success. Process of community engagement look like, are there posters that you put up and how do people come? What does the meeting, what happens at the meeting?

What do people get? How does that affect.

[00:30:24] Pascale Sablan: But for me, community engagement needs to start in a local component. So it’s always about partnering up with local community stakeholders and leaders who know their community, right. Who can say here’s who we need in the room. Here is the issues that we’ve been tackling all along and are kind of part of the process.

It’s also a diversity of ways of engagement. There’s virtual engagement. There’s in-person engagement, there’s ones that are happening on the weekday. There’s ones that are happening on the weekends. It’s finding ways of kind of reaching people where they can, and it’s the most. For them, then I would say it’s also about the method of getting information and being accountable to that information.

How are we collecting the info from the community when they come and they visit and they participate. And then it’s also about understanding how are we not only just accountable to them, but then also how do we show value? Right. In some instances, depending on the event or the component that people were kind of in other kind of engagement stuff that I’ve done for projects is that they’ve been paid to participate to be.

[00:31:21] Atif Qadir: Just to be able to know, like, is this $5, $50, $5,000? How much people paid?

[00:31:26] Pascale Sablan: Well, there’s a firm called Concordia out in Louisiana and what they call that position is a community fellow. If I remember correctly. And in that regard, what they do is that they’re able to hire a person of the committee. Who comes to all their critical design meetings.

So that is a consistent voice, a person who is part of it. And that fee of that person’s salary is put into their design proposal fees. And so if a client says, no, it can be like, I’ve also done community engagement in another city where I was trying to get more students to talk about what they want, the same schools.

And so for that, we had a small stipend of like, you come, you get $50 and, you know, we practice. So that’s why I think it can range, but I think what was important to say when a community member comes and they’re telling you all this critical information that you literally cannot find anywhere else, it’s important to compensate.

And I don’t mean just cold pizza and some soda I’m meaning like, right. Either give them a real task and kind of say, you come in and we pay you for that. And that could be a salaried position and, or it’s about incentivizing and kind of creating that too, because honestly they’re providing you Juul in a wealth of knowledge.

And when you have a. Supporting your project that really does make a huge difference in terms of the process and how it goes through, but then also how the product then flourishes once it’s done that I think is really important that we understand. And so therefore, I’m also challenging a lot of these institutions in the profession, the design profession that don’t just Harold.

Architecture or buildings that are billions and billions of dollars or it’s shiny and polished and pretty, but also who are emblematic of the values we’ve been talking about, right. Where it talks about the process, not just the end result. Um, and I think that’s something that should always be part of the lens of how we review and, uh, speak to what, when a product is great.

[00:33:14] Atif Qadir: And I think that’s really incredible. This idea that the process of community engagement is something that isn’t a check the box. So I met a city planning commissioner in Hoboken and from the projects that I’ve seen and, and come to understand there are so many paths to engaging a community. And if you think.

In a way as if you were in the position of that person, that community, how would you want to be treated? How would you want to be addressed in the context of this project? And I think sometimes if it folks that are developing, designing, work in a project and just take themselves out of that role and just put themselves in the other and imagine, how would they want to be treated?

You could often end up with much better scenarios than completely contentious projects that get slowed or canceled or changed incredibly during the process.

[00:34:02] Pascale Sablan: Yeah. And I think there’s even examples like Maurice Cox and Steve Lewis when they were in Detroit and how they set it up for a development to happen, that they had like a zero displacement.

Right. And so developers have to figure out their performance in a way that included encompass the community that’s there. And then they also created this requirement, like to present to the community, your pitch. And so that also provided this ability for the community to speak about or speak to. It’s the kind of opportunities that were coming in and it plays a sincere, a level of value on the community’s voice because the developer was not just trying to convince the planning, commissioners and whomever that they are the best product, but there were also having to convince the community to do so as well.

And to do that, they actually had to create projects and development, but actually held their values in mind. And so it is one thing. And I agree about putting yourself in other people’s shoes. But it’s also just a recognized, cool shoes you’re messing with and just ask them the questions. What do you need?

How do you want us to engage you? What are the things that are critical for you? And really, again, being respectful of that conversation and content.

[00:35:06] Atif Qadir: So listeners, if you want to hear the behind the scenes stories of how I conduct buildings in our country were designed and built subscribe to this great podcast on Spotify, iTunes, Google anchors.

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