2008 Administrators Conference

November 6-8, 2008 | Savannah, Georgia
Host School: Savannah College of Art and Design
Chair: Crystal Weaver, Savannah College of Art and Design and Alan Plattus, Yale University


Design educators and professionals have long argued that their disciplines are based on, and shaped by, a unique style of thinking or mode of discourse. Recently, however, a widening array of fields, both inside and out of the academy, have expressed interest in, or even laid claim to, design as a productive approach to their specific issues and agendas. These developments pose a challenge and an opportunity to traditional design-based disciplines and professions, to articulate the distinctive characteristics of design thinking and practice and demonstrate their potential as a contributor and convener of an increasingly global conversation.

Understanding that a concept as complex as “design” cannot be defined and discussed in purely theoretical isolation from its cultural and institutional setting, the 2008 Administrators Conference proposes a consideration of design across its multiple contexts and among its diverse practitioners. While perhaps not a new line of inquiry, we hope to renew and refresh the perennial and always slightly elusive activity at the core of what architectural educators do through a consideration of:
  • The local and global opportunities and responsibilities of design education and practice
  • The impact of new technologies of production and representation on the way that design is taught, communicated, and delivered
  • The role of design and designers in adding value to their multiple constituencies and communities
  • The diversity of design programs emerging at universities

Keynote Lecturers

James Biber
studied Architecture and Biology at Cornell University, traveling on a fellowship after graduation. He taught and practiced architecture in New York before establishing his own office in 1984.  In 1991, Pentagram invited him to become the second architectural partner since the firm’s founding.

Like his partners, his practice does not specialize in a single area, but covers a wide range of building types and client profiles. He and his team design private and commercial projects including museums and exhibitions, restaurants, retail stores and residences, as well as custom furniture, lighting and products.

Recent projects include the design of the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the new Visitor’s Center for Philip Johnson’s Glass House, the design of corporate suites, club lounges and team locker rooms for the new Arizona Cardinals football stadium in Tempe, Arizona, and an oceanfront residential compound in Montauk, NY, a tribute to the mid-century Case Study Houses.

Other clients include The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Muzak, Disney Imagineering, Swatch, Bausch & Lomb, The Fashion Center, DuPont Corian, UPS, The National Building Museum, The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, The Library of Congress, the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the White House Millennium Council. 

Jeanne Liedtka is a professor at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia. Formerly the  Executive Director of the School’s Batten Institute, a foundation established to develop thought leadership in the fields of entrepreneurship and corporate innovation, Jeanne has also served as Chief Learning Officer for the United Technologies Corporation (UTC), headquartered in Hartford, Connecticut, and as the Associate Dean of the MBA Program at Darden. Jeanne’s current teaching responsibilities focus on strategic thinking in the MBA and Executive Education Programs at Darden. She also teaches an elective course in Strategy Consulting, as well as a course focused on Strategy as a design process, conducted in Barcelona, Spain. 

Jeanne’s current research interests focus on exploring how design thinking can be used to enrich our ability to create inclusive strategic conversations about organizational futures. She has consulted with a wide variety of organizations and their leaders, from museums to law firms to large corporations, on this topic.

Jeanne received her DBA in Management Policy from Boston University and her MBA from the Harvard Business School. She has been involved in the corporate strategy field since beginning her career as a strategy consultant for the Boston Consulting Group.