2018 Design Matters Conference

2018 Design Matters Conference, Nov 14-17, Seattle
Presented by Association of Architecture Organizations
The Design Matters Conference is the world’s only dedicated annual meeting that seeks to bring top designers, journalists, and civic leaders into exploratory dialogue with those not-for-profit professionals and volunteers charged with creating cultural programs (exhibitions, tours, lectures and symposia, festivals and films, youth outreach) to spur broader public interest in architecture, urbanism, and culture.


  • Affordable housing
  • Effects of climate change
  • Strategies for inclusive growth
The 2018 Conference invites you to Seattle to explore key issues of social equity in the built environment. What does today’s society require of its architects, and what is the role of design organizations in creating housing and public spaces that are more equitable, ethical, and socially just? 
Seattle itself is at the center of a growing crisis along the West Coast, where a booming economy coupled with decades of under-building have led to an historic shortage of affordable housing. We convene at a moment when many AAO members are addressing similar issues in their own programming, and we’ll look to Seattle’s challenges and successes as a jumping off point for our discussions.
Conference programming will take place at the Seattle Center for Architecture & Design, the Rem Koolhaas-designed Seattle Public Library, and other walkable and noteworthy destinations in downtown Seattle.
Seattle Center for Architecture & Design 




On our first day, we’ll look at strategies for creating equity at the community level. What are the challenges around affordable housing in our communities? How are disenfranchised communities affected in particular by climate change? And what can design organizations be doing to make the city more livable for all? Throughout the day, we’ll hear from progressive leadership focused on these issues, and we’ll conclude with an exclusive visit to Seattle’s Bullitt Center, the greenest commercial building in the world.


During our second day together, we’ll examine equity and inclusion within our own field. The demographic make-up of our sector is changing in momentous ways: in particular, a number of high-impact leaders are at or approaching retirement age, and a new batch of younger voices are primed to take the reins. Through a mix of case studies and toolkit sessions, we’ll focus on skill building and intergenerational sharing, and we’ll hear about innovative programming from some of our most notable emerging leaders.
The main conference program will be supplemented by pre- and post-Conference days focused on education and exploration; stay tuned for more details. Throughout our time together, we’ll prioritize time for networking and local exploration.

Who Should Attend?

  • Staff of design organizations interested in broadening the impact of cultural programs—including CEOs, Executive Directors, mid- and entry-level staff, and volunteers
  • Arts and culture professionals, especially those involved in community engagement and social equity
  • Professional designers, planners, and civic leaders interested in exploring issues of urbanism and social equity outside of the traditional academic discourse
Registration information coming soon!

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