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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.
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.
Our guest is my friend, the wonderful architect and activist Pascal. And you were talking about the experience of being on the ground floor and having that be something very open.
Could you walk our listeners? What the project will be once it’s completed. Like what would they see as they walk through? What are they looking at? What are the major elements that would be.
[00:01:41] Pascale Sablan: Sure. So if I’m a health resident and I’m walking down east 66, the first thing I’m going to see is neighborhood connections, which is a community engagement group.
And so you’re seeing their kind of multi-purpose space where you can actually come in and talk about issues or kind of organize the protest. If something’s going on or have a celebration to celebrate something amazing that’s happening in the community. Immediately adjacent is about a green way that connects a larger park that’s to the south of the project that actually is having a larger kind of reach into the community on both sides.
And so kind of being, participating in that green space as well, then as you walk, continuing to walk towards Euclid, there’s a series of conference rooms and meetings and you know, how we love to meet. And so instead of the, instead of private offices, right, even if it’s private, instead of private offices, you’re having.
Communal gathering spaces, you’re saying activity and the purpose of the Cleveland nation is to serve the community. So you’re seeing people working for you as you walk past, then you’re seeing a green wall and then you’re entering the entrance is actually at the corner because we want both of those who are coming down east 66.
And those who are walking on you. Both feel welcomed and coming in a large overhang of the structure and the design volume is over there as well. That allows you to kind of come in and be kind of nurtured through and through that adjacency, all landscaping. So again, as you look out the window, you’re always kind of looking through glazing when you come in, there’s a welcome center, right?
Not as security. But a welcome center where they’re being engaged about what you need and where you can find it. Then it is a complete large living room. If you will. That is open for the community to use that has floor to ceiling glazing, exposed timber structure that you’re kind of participating in the land furniture is all designed to feel comfortable, to feel welcomed with outlets everywhere.
So you can plug in and create this kind of diversity of seating areas. Which also means the staff of the clean foundation can also come down and meet and enjoy and hang out there and actually have these kinds of engagement with the community. And then immediately following is a cafe that is going to even be open in the hours where the foundation isn’t.
Okay, so people
[00:03:47] Atif Qadir: can still come.
[00:03:48] Pascale Sablan: People can still come. And it opens out into that green landscaping, lush space, that merit chase kind of designed as part of that. And that connects us back to denim Tavern, which is another historical and important kind of figure and feature of the community. And the last thing, we have a wonderful wide corridor that acts as our gallery that creates not solid walls so that those in the community can also feature.
Oh, and I forgot. When you first come in and you see the welcome desk behind the welcome desk is actually a glass wall that helps you see the multipurpose space. So if there’s people dancing or working or working out or whatever programs and activities there, you’re actually also able to visually see it as part of that.
And so that’s really the ground for that. It’s focused on. The community. And then we have elevators and stairs that takes you to the second floor. And in that that’s where most of the office spaces and equipment, et cetera, is for the actual foundation. But then we’ve also created beautiful double height spaces.
So that visually it’s connected, we also have like an amphitheater kind of zone in the middle that allows for the community of. Staff to join in to have meetings and to kind of present to one another and also created a series of fundamental flexible spaces, working environments that allows for the clustering of the different departments, but also access to the outside, which is really important.
So the building is really carved away where we have these large terraces and outdoor spaces that allow us to connect to the greenery, but also have greenery as part of the experience as you walk through the project. And at the very top is an alarm. Conference space, which can also function as an event space.
So the community can also kind of leverage the building as part of that as well. And so that is be Cleveland foundation.
[00:05:26] Atif Qadir: That’s fantastic. And you mentioned about the structure of it being a timber structure. So I think folks that live in a single family home that’s often timber construction building of a certain.
Explain what, when we talk in commercial real estate or for large institutional buildings like this, when we talk timber structure, what does that mean? And why is that so unique and pioneering from what we currently typically do, which is steel or concrete
[00:05:53] Pascale Sablan: construction. We think about the embodied energy of some of them, the material that we use for construction is one thing it’s also by leveraging the natural.
Components that are really helpful or good and flourish well in a community and also kind of pushing more sustainable materials in the method that creates a method of kind of giving back, right? Usually when you have steel construction, you know, you have to, you know, have different kinds of coatings and enclosures that allow for the fireproofing.
Whereas with timber, because of the mass of it, it actually becomes. Own fire protection. It heads to it. A lot of our structure, although I think structure is very sexy, uh, usually gets covered up and is covered by ball and you never really see it in pattern installation, et cetera, et cetera. And so it’s just more material, more things that are being kind of added to enhance the space, whereas with timber, because we’re using natural woods and materials and staining it, you’re actually able to express it and experience it in the space, which makes the space even volumetric.
We feel. Right, because you’re actually able to then not be kind of bedding down from all the kinds of things that needs to go through it, and also encourages another level of coordination with MEP and understanding where the best orientations for ducks and other kind of services and lighting and sprinklers in a way.
When it works well with the design of how it’s kind of seen and exposed. And so part of it is when you come into an architecture specifically, that usually is timber really allows you to kind of see a little bit about how, how buildings run and how they work and how they are. So it’s a sustainable material.
It really cuts the need of a lot of additional materials that are easily additive for the beautification standpoint. Again, it speaks to this level of warmth and, and this another kind of mission statement kind of beyond. That’s a really important and also the natural kind of components and not just kind of speaking to just the way that architecture can come together.
This is a three-story building, so it’s not very large, but there’s also really great ideas that people are kind of developing that allow for timber structures to get taller and taller. And then you just that much more careful and that much more thoughtful about how those connections kind of come together, where those components are lining up, how they work with the rhythm and syncopation and systems of the windows.
All of that kind of comes together and it creates this beautiful design and a beautiful.
[00:08:00] Atif Qadir: So the neighborhood where the Cleveland foundation is located as one that is subject to a land trust, which is a really big deal. Tell us more about that and what makes that.
[00:08:11] Pascale Sablan: Right. So the clients are the community.
The health community actually has a great deal of investments in the community land trust, which allows for the community members to actually get some of that financial justice of the enhancements of the town. Right. And so as more values kind of being in, coming to the community because of this, they actually have the ability and the funds to then act.
Locate sites that they want and able to hold to it and build and develop what they need and actually create a lot of that funding and financial benefits of development actually come back to the actual community and they be in charge of what kind of developments are happening in their spaces. So they’re able to use that funding to identify really critical and key components in areas and to help support the beautification of south the projects, but also that the values within there.
So somebody can’t just kind of come in and take them out that. I own some of that land in that property. That’s part of that experience and having that financial funding to allow them to make those moves accordingly.
[00:09:07] Atif Qadir: That’s excellent. And is that something that you have seen in other places across the country?
Is this relatively
[00:09:13] Pascale Sablan: unique? For me, it’s relatively unique and I think it’s something that the Cleveland foundation brought to the community as well. So before. Officially publicly that they were coming into this community. They first wanted to engage the community to let them know first so that they could create that infrastructure to ensure that they were in a position to hold that kind of power.
And then once they were set in that, then they were able to kind of publicly speak. So again, this is like a powerful and amazing opportunity where the client itself was an advocate for the community that we’re there engaging with and trying to do that in a way that empowered the local community as much as.
[00:09:47] Atif Qadir: Excellent. So you had mentioned earlier that, uh, you work for David and, and his approach to how advocacy is perceived relative to the practice of design is very different than many other firms. Could you talk about that first interaction with David and how you became convinced that you wanted to work for a firm like David?
[00:10:10] Pascale Sablan: So sure, actually, you know, it was absolutely struggling in 2020. It was a very rough year for me, for many reasons, including COVID, but also just, you know, seeing what was happening in the world. I started to see a few shifts in me as well. I less code switching in terms of my language, a more authentic in terms of where I’m at and how I’m feeling.
[00:10:30] Atif Qadir: you explain what code switching mainstream, anyone that may not be aware? Sure.
[00:10:34] Pascale Sablan: So typically in a professional setting, I would be very particular about the vernacular that I would use when presenting to a client or when talking to consultants where I couldn’t hold my natural language that I felt I had to kind of have a little bit more of a policy.
Kind of, um, texting language and words that I use, that we call that as code switching. Right. And so I would speak a little bit more in my natural vernacular where I didn’t need to feel like I had to pull my culture out to be professional. Right. And let’s say, you know, with coming back from Memorial weekend and you know, it’s like, oh, how was your weekend?
Oh, I’m so bummed. I didn’t get the barbecue. And I’m like, oh, I’m really still mortified of the brutal murder of George Floyd. Right? Like, Stopped kind of placating and smiling to maintain other people’s comfort and just spoke to my discomfort a little bit more and a bit more authentically in the beginning.
I was very much about keeping my kid quiet during my zoom calls and like acting like it’s a perfect kind of situation on my end, you know, and then towards kind of as time went by, like, there’ll be more. My son’s going to come over and want to show me something. And that’s just going to part of the experience of where I am and who I am as a mom.
And so that was very difficult. 2020 was very difficult, but it also allowed me to stay a little bit more authentically who I am in that capacity. And so when speaking to David really talked about, you know, I actually said, I don’t know that you would want me to join your team because I just was elected.
Of Noma and I’ll have a really strong responsibility once I hold that position and I want to hold that position well, and he’s like, yeah, that’s why we want you. Because if you’re a leader of a national organization, that means you are a leader, you know how to network. That means you understand how to inspire.
You understand how to move people forward. That means you’re very organized. That means you’re very bested. That means you have a network that we can kind of build together and that. Blew my mind to be quite honest, because I really had been seen as such a terrible thing previously, that I was really shocked by it.
And then when I started speaking to the other leadership of the office, they said, Pascal, we understand that you come in with a sense of authority and ownership and expertise in this. And we will look for you to kind of guide us. But we do not look for you to hold this weight alone. We are all. Going to be dismantling this injustice together.
And the debates that we’ll be having is how to best do it, not if it actually exists. And that man, that was a whole mind blowing experience because I had spent so much of my time saying we need equity and they’re like, no, no, no, we’re fine. And it’s like, we are not fine. And so to have, that was kind of critical.
And I must say, My first day at work, where I called my mom and said, I found home is when I opened the kind of time sheet software. And there some baseline tasks that are always in your time sheet. And one of them was advocacy. Yes, there is an every time she does an advocacy box. So it is not just me enforcing it or imposing it.
I have walked into us, an office, the studio of global studio who sees advocacy as part of your job. Holy smokes. This like amazing. I literally called my mom was like, this is it. I’ve made it. This is exciting because not only am I working on incredible. Globally and locally, but does everywhere. But also the office just gets it.
They already got it. I’m learning from them as much as they’re learning from me. And I had never seen anything like that before. And what I tell my peers, they were also equally as shocked and impressed by that infrastructure that was already there.
[00:14:18] Atif Qadir: So I’m really glad that you said that. So for any listeners, you can go to add j.com/contact/careers to join this amazing firm.
They have open positions and across London and New York. And no, they did not ask me to say then. So I just, basically what she described is mind blasting. So go apply for a job.
[00:14:37] Pascale Sablan: So absolutely. Please join.
[00:14:41] Atif Qadir: So you mentioned earlier, the things that you’ve created or the products that you’ve helped set a sale or the, a great diverse designers library, the, say it loud exhibit series and say it with media.
Could you describe again in like, um, a description of what each of them are and how you decided that you wanted to do the stuff rather than wait somebody for somebody else to do it?
[00:15:05] Pascale Sablan: You know, that’s a great question. You know, as I talked about earlier about that collective responsibility and just being involved in these different organizations that actually helps me understand the complexity of the issue of injustice that we were working towards.
Right. I also started to understand who are. Agents of change and who were the agents of opposition and a lot of this, and just kind of understand a little bit more about the nuances of what we’re challenged against. And through that work, you know, I want to say I did advocacy and terms of volunteering for nine years before I started beyond the built environment.
And really it’s because I was seeing a lot of the programming. I was seeing the stuff that we’re working on and it’s all critical and important, but I saw this small gap where we were so focused on dismantle. Injustices and getting those obstacles and those shackles off of the chains and, and, and holding people back that I was like, can we celebrate just a little bit?
Right. And so that’s why I really wanted to start with all these say aloud exhibitions, which was about celebrating the work of women in five-pack designers and about elevating them net capacity. And because I had participated and all these various organizations for those many years, I instantly had a network of people who were ready to submit and to support and to also help amplify.
The call for content and so on and so forth. And so say it loud is an exhibition that is a traveling activation. And what I mean by that is every new location. We have a say it loud. We’re elevating women and BiPAP designers of that location. So say it loud. New York is gonna be very different from say a LA.
You know, you’re going to have the same components in terms of seeing people’s faces and their work and video testimonies about their experiences. But we’re pulling that out. And what’s great about this is to say it’s not just one. It can’t, it’s not just one great woman architect right now is not going to use one black architect.
It’s that it’s a collective work that takes a lot of people to get products done. And so by pulling these out. Important because then we have events and programming that activates around these exhibitions that shows the community. These are the faces and the names and the people who are actually designing and building.
They not only require your praise and your love and your joy, but also if you are inspiring, interested, they’re right here. They’re not some Phantom great architect that has died a thousand years ago and will never reached the level of amazingness as there. But imagine saying, wow, I walk into this exhibition.
I really liked this home. Oh, who designed it? Wow. Let me look them up. Their offices Midtown. Maybe I can go and intern there. Maybe. I see them lecture one time, maybe I can track their website and see what products are, but they create this level of accessibility. That’s really powerful and important. So say it loud.
We’ve done 26 exhibitions so far with another six, uh, planned for next year. And with each exhibition, we create the great diverse designers library, which we pull all that content. So currently we have 669 women and BiPAP designers on that website. It is constantly growing, I think last year, around this time we were around 300 to like two 90 something.
So it’s really. Potentially, and we’re having exhibitions, not just in this United States, but also in Australia and in other parts of the world, which has been really powerful and exciting to see and in the Caribbean. So really it’s important. Sometimes people challenge me and say, well, why do you need to do a say aloud Haiti?
For instance, they’re all, they’re all black. I’m like, yeah. Just because the community is black doesn’t necessarily mean that they are in charge or have authority in the built environment. Right. Because it’s a lot of people coming in and building their built environment, bringing typologies and working.
Resources that are not native or take advantage of the natural kind of components of an island. So you can’t always assume just because of communities of color, that they are in charge of their built environment and their work still needs to be elevated and proclaimed as great so that we can learn from them no matter where we are in the world.
So that’s say it loud. And then so say it loud. Then fundamentally created the great diverse designers library, and now you all are versed in terms of why the name is the great diverse minded library and ultimately creating. That starts to pull through and get the best of the best of those who are featured.
We also have something called a, see it loud. See it loud as an augmented reality app in camp, that functions kind of similar to Pokemon go. If you will, where you walk in, it says here’s a project near you. That’s designed by a woman and person of color. You get closer, you get to see their headshots and their names.
And actually you can actually draw are inspired by what you see. Capture it on your mobile device and see it on the building at one-to-one scale. And so the idea again, is leveraging all the content from the say, aloud exhibitions, because now I know all these products in neighborhoods near you that has all these products and making in a way that’s a little bit more accessible.
And so that program is really geared towards high school preteens and teens, most likely to have a device, but also planting the seed of them. Seeing architecture, not just. Ariel looking down, but as a pedestrian and having their art be superimposed on the building is really powerful. And so I’m collaborating with an organization called non-tech out in Poland to create that technology because apparently augmented reality wants to do really small things close to you and what I’m pushing us to do really big things far away.
And so I’m really kind of challenging the way that technology is use in creating that you have the same with media, which is the media campaign about. Digital prints and broadcast to really hold accountable. So really elevating our stories and our identity and our work. And then you have learned out loud, which is a children’s pop-up book, which again, taking advantage of all the concept from the say, aloud exhibitions and creating a book that is geared for small children that has characatures of what the architects and designers look like and 3d.
Of their products with the words I can too embedded so that the students kind of practice the words I can choose self-affirmations that they too can be a great architect. They too can change the world so that when a professor makes them stand up and tell them that they’re not good enough, they already understand how absurd that that would be at the same time.
So. Let’s be my learn out loud to the pop-up book, my seat, a lot of them to reality my, say it loud, you know, exhibitions. It’s really trying to support the full pipeline, but leveraging the content from one another to make it happen.
[00:21:18] Atif Qadir: That is the best response I could ever imagine. So for anyone that wants to learn more about these amazing initiatives, go to beyond the built.com beyond the built.com.
So I’m going to take a break here to let our listeners know that next month we will be having Lincoln property companies, Sam pepper on the show. Sam has a senior project manager in the Los Angeles office of this national real estate development company. That’s playing a very large role in the building, boom, that’s happening across the Sunbelt.
So make sure to subscribe to the firstname.lastname@example.org. So you don’t miss a single episode this season. So I’m Michelle Wu is the mayor elect of Boston. And in her acceptance speech, she mentioned that her son had asked her if boys, it can be mayors to after seeing both the Wu and her opponent who was also a.
Taking that idea. What ways or what thoughts or what ideas do you have to deliver all this amazing content? All these amazing resources to, for example, ahead of a public school board, like New York, city’s this massive school board or an elected official like a city council member or a mayor. What ways or thoughts would you like to interact with elected and appointed officials to advance these really important?
[00:22:47] Pascale Sablan: Really it’s about knowing your audience and about moving the mission forward. They’ve been really about leveraging the built environment in a way that is providing justice, because it can and has been used in the past the harm. So how can we make it heal? And so usually when I’m meeting with the government officials or planning boards, it’s about let’s ground this conversation in the mission first, because if we’re not aligned there, then really there’s no point in wasting anybody else.
Kind of blank period. Right. And then, so now if we are on a mission alignment, then, then we can debate all sorts of ways of ways that you want to execute. And me being an architect is a problem solver. Right? I get it done. I’m organized. I understand. I synthesize complex information. I know how to take an idea from my head and make it come to fruition.
And so I’m also looking for their offices to be very collaborative in that effort. But I’m very rigorous and I’m a very unapologetic about the mission. And I would say part of the largest kind of conversations that I’ve been having here in New York is asking, well, in general, I’ve been asking the profession to step away from designing jails, prisons and places of detention.
As a country, we have way more than we need. We need to disassociate this idea that safety is the equivalent of having black and brown bodies in cages and understanding that it is part of a modern day slavery. And that people are being worked or kind of placed in these spaces to create products that they can be sold at small rates within that having to be compensated for that effort.
So really just understanding what that means in terms of our role. Like when we talk about the justice system in the country, we’re not just kind of stick stepping back and say, we should do better. It’s also understanding and recognizing our role in that. And trying to dismantle it as well. And so specifically in New York, we have this whole Rikers island situation, which is a completely unjust and terrible torturous space where the current administration is refusing to improve because they want to push borough based jails instead.
And the justice in it is that now you don’t have to travel so far to go see your loved ones, but we’re not. Catalytic and or innovative in terms of the architecture and the design structures of how we’re making this. We’re just kind of multiplying the ridiculousness of what was terrible and does not putting it in communities and what we need to be very careful about and understanding that a lot of private prisons has a occupancy report.
Of either 80% or 100% occupancy rates. And so when a product like that is being put online, they also hire a lobbyist to start to turn in fractions and things that people have done that used to be fine into minimum days in prison. Right? Because the intent is to keep the beds full as much as possible.
So the architects that we’re building is literally extracting bodies out of their communities and putting it in a space to confer that, that injustice. And so a lot of the discussions that I’ve been having is just kind of understanding what’s your position. And some are ready to talk about it. And some are not, some are in a different position than I am.
And so I’m not interested in hanging out with politicians unless they are in alignment with me in terms of this. And I’m very vocal about it. And when I do my public speaking, regardless of where in the world, I’m speaking it, I still speak to this and truly do believe that we can, as a profession, lean into creating new topologies centered around restorative justice, that we do not need to kind of be holding to these typologies.
That was literally the. To facilitate racism, sexism, and oppression, and think that that is the only catalog and tool that we can use to find justice. We can’t create and be innovative in the way that we think about things and talk about mental health and capacities within there. And really start to be honest about the economy of having people be in prisons and jails.
So I say all this to say, not all politicians love me and that’s okay. But I think that what I’m talking to and what I’m working towards is for justice, for people that really. You know, my neighbors and my loved ones and my family and myself in some cases, right. I think in 2020, the revelation that I had been operating in the sense of privilege became very apparent to me.
Like, yes, I’m black, but I’m, I’m highly educated. I have a profession, you know, I don’t really interact with the police. I’m safe. And then Brianna. Was completely murdered in her house. Like it was like, oh, okay. Yeah, no, I’m not safe. And so my five-year-old black style is not safe. My, you know, minority husband is not safe.
Everyone that I love with my family are not safe. And so not just say from being harmed by the police, but also being caged by the police. Right. And so really being mindful of that. And I think you can have great policing and accountability about justice at the same time. And I think that that’s done through a way in that architect in the way that we can do that through the built environment in a way that shows a new typology and vice to justice.
[00:27:34] Atif Qadir: I think that there is a new breed of people in our industry that speak very differently than this idea that architects essentially are the lapdogs of the rich and the powerful. And I think that’s no more so good. Riddens to that old idea. And I want to talk a little bit more about, you had mentioned that you have a son, so your mother, and what about our industry makes.
Challenging to be a mother and a very successful architect at the same time.
[00:28:07] Pascale Sablan: You know, it’s interesting because people would kind of often challenge me and say, well, why don’t you just focus on BiPAP? Why do you also focus on women as well? Right. And I said, because the injustices and. That I have to fight as a person of color it’s different than what I have to follow or work through as a woman, but best to believe there is definitely infrastructure of racism and sexism there as well.
And they’re yielding similar results in terms of a lack of bias in the profession that specifically at high-ranking high levels in the profession. And when you start taking a look at Rosa Shang is kind of missing 32% kind of reports where she’s keeping track. Oh, women in the profession and their salaries and their titles and how they’re able to kind of be successful in it.
You start to see that there’s a huge disparity that we come out of school almost 50, 50, and pretty quickly the women’s trajectory of how they’re able to elevate in affirm is very minimal. And when you take a look at the percentages of women who are married, Have children at partner principal level, the number is abysmal.
It’s insane. And so for a long time, I didn’t even understand the challenges that moms were having up until I became pregnant and became a mom and affirm that I thought was super supportive and amazing and had so many things right. Really was not healthy for me coming from. And was the one time in my career where I really thought that I shouldn’t be an architect because it was impossible for me to be both.
And so really just understanding that there’s an inflexibility of schedule that is unrealistic and unfair. This idea that parenthood is a mom thing and not a co-parent thing is also really old antiquated that is completely out of sync with the realities of it. And so for the partners in these regions, Who are not the birthing parent per se, you should also be fighting for the ability to be home with your child, with your spouse, to support through that process and that healing processes.
I also saw how the intensity of the schedules where, you know, there was a not imbalanced, but this, this kind of push for me to go home at six o’clock every day, but not my male counterpart who also just had a kid at home. Right. And so there was like a discrepancy there that wasn’t quite fair. And then, you know, just this idea that I couldn’t function.
After having a baby, I’m not gonna lie. I, I was not able to focus as well as I used to. I needed time to heal and repair, and I felt like I was just wasn’t given that kind of opportunity to do that. And so I would say there’s a lot of challenges and even the built environment itself, like when I was traveling with my lectures and my board positions that are national, that required me to travel a lot, just finding spaces for me to pump, to do that was challenging.
So every time I see like a mom pod and these airports that is like amazing because I did not have that. And, you know, imagine where you could possibly whip your stuff out to do that. In traveling was also like a big challenge. I think not just the profession in terms of how we’re paid the trajectory of talents, what products we’re getting, et cetera, but also how the built environment is not designed for us a space.
And they’re not designed for us as well as also part of the challenge and understanding even the proportions of chairs of door knob, the Heights of cabinets, the temperatures that is the baseline for spaces are all set to the proportions and the comfort of them. Right. And so now y’all in three piece suits, you know, hot, but I’m in a dress and I’m cold, which is why you see all the women in your office with sweaters and bubble jackets and scarves on at their desk.
Right. And so just kind of understanding that challenging, even the standards that we’re designing to and saying, whoa, if I’m going to create a space for women, right. What does that mean? What height does the door not need to be so that it’s available for them? Where does the cabinets to meet so that they’re not getting step stools to get up, to get like basic things, right?
So there’s this kind of thinking about those things and challenging to that capacity is really important and critical. So I would say again, it’s a really important to understand that you might not be directly experiencing an injustice. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not absolutely occurring.
And so it’s not about. Comparing the weight of your cross, right? Like I often hear, oh, you think you haven’t met as a black residents, but I have to do as a woman or a listen, we’re all carrying crosses. They’re all ridiculous. And what we need to do with light in each other’s loads and not just kind of say your value of your cross is more or less than mine because of the weight you don’t know because they’re not in everybody’s shoes.
And then also that also means you don’t need to be a leader in all of these initiatives. Important to identify all these different programs and leaderships that are fighting to those menthol, those injustices in those various platforms and support them, how you can in that process as well.
[00:32:53] Atif Qadir: So it’s not this idea that it’s one or the other.
It’s it’s everyone.
[00:32:58] Pascale Sablan: As everyone.
[00:32:59] Atif Qadir: So to this next generation of designers and developers and other professionals in our industry, how do you hope that they approach their careers and perhaps a way that was different than myself or yourself approach our careers?
[00:33:16] Pascale Sablan: That’s a good one. And I think part of it is, and I was in school.
I realize now that my classmates were, are my network. And so knowing that it’s important that when we’re in school, we’re actually building that relationship, that your peers in class, you all graduating together, you all were going into different firms. Some of you going to developers, some of you are going to engineering offices.
Like it just keeps expanding. And as you get promoted, they can promote it too. So really understanding that your peers and your class is your network that you want to start building off of and having that collaborative relationship. So being the best version of yourself in school is also really important because it sets the tone of how people think about you professionally moving forward.
I’ll also say it’s about not prioritizing the person, who’s cutting the check, but it’s also everybody impacted by your work. Right. And that will make sure that people create value in understanding the community’s role and identity and culture. And that be part of your investigation. Right? When you go to take site photos, don’t just take site photos.
Talk to people walking by and say, Hey, are you part of this community? Like, what would you like to see here? And just give them a moment to talk about it and take that as part of your research. It’s not just about Googling statistics and demographics and median salaries. It’s about taking stock and seeing value in the people who are impacted by your work and a person walking by your building is as important to understand their point of view as a person who’s being used to build the building as well, I think is really powerful, important.
And then lastly, I would say. That there are so many resources and models of ways that you can get support. That wasn’t absolutely evident when I was in school or younger, that I felt like some of the injustices that I had to deal with, I just had to deal with them and not realizing that I could hold a professor accountable for saying some crazy stuff that I could go to my Dean and say that, and that if they don’t see the injustice in it, then I can go to AIA.
I can go to Noma. I can leverage social media. I can do. Things as a way of kind of moving the burden of this injustice off of my shoulders to carry alone, but that it really should be put on the responsibility of the person who perpetuated it and push for policies to ensure that it doesn’t happen since somebody else moving forward.
[00:35:34] Atif Qadir: That is excellent. So I want to say thank you so much for joining us today on the American building podcast.
[00:35:41] Pascale Sablan: The great American building podcast,
[00:35:45] Atif Qadir: the great American building podcast with the great fast cattle sublime. I love it. So listeners, if you want to hear the behind the scenes stories of how I conic buildings in our country were designed and built subscribe to this great podcast on Spotify, iTunes, Google anchors, Stitcher, or wherever you like to listen, rate and review us on iTunes to help us reach a wider audience and follow us on Instagram at American.
The podcast, we all know real estate is a tough industry to make it. So how can professionals stand out and make a name for themselves in today’s world? Peer for me, the team at Michael Graves and retest, and many of our spectacular guests, just like Pascal on what we did to make it where we are. We have our exclusive guide seven tips on how to stand out in your field at American building.
Dot com finally, we live in the richest country in the history of humankind. We must reach out beyond the boundaries that we see and the boundaries that we create in order to help build homes and communities today, Pascal and I have made donations to beyond the built environment, which engages the community to advocate for diverse and equitable environments.
I encourage you our listeners to support their worthwhile work as well. My name is Atif Qadir and this has been American building.
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