Book Talk: Pedagogy of a Beloved Commons

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Join two AIANY Medal of Honor Awardees, Dr. Sharon Egretta Sutton, FAIA, and Andrew Bernheimer, FAIA, for a discussion of Pedagogy of a Beloved Commons: Pursuing Democracy's Promise through Placed-Based Activism (Fordham University Press, 2023).

An essential, timely book, Pedagogy of a Beloved Commons is about how low-income youth of color work within justice-oriented, community-based organizations to transform their surroundings.  It draws from hundreds of pages of data to present verbatim quotes that describe their amazing efforts to improve their disinvested neighborhoods, whether through political or place-based activism. The youth who populate the pages of the book—the very youth whom architects would like to recruit into the profession—are campaigning for better food and better schools, tackling gang violence and over-policing, creating gardens and farmers markets, painting murals and staging art festivals, cleaning up rivers, and even building housing. The book posits that the disinvested neighborhoods where youth experience abandonment and marginality in fact can serve as a call to action, given appropriate organizational support. The book talk posits that architects should set aside their unsuccessful 50-year attempt to create a pipeline into the profession and instead lend their support to what young people are already called to do as the “architects” of their communities.

Dr. Sharon Egretta Sutton
, FAIA, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Architecture, Parsons School of Design 
Andrew Bernheimer, FAIA, Principal, Bernheimer Architecture

About the Speakers:
Dr. Sharon Egretta Sutton
, FAIA, is an educator, author, fine artist, and citizen architect with global reach. Currently a distinguished visiting professor at Parsons School of Design, she previously served on the faculties of Columbia University, Pratt Institute, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Michigan, and the University of Washington. Dr. Sutton was the first African American to receive the AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education and the twelfth African American woman to be licensed to practice architecture in the United States. Her recent books include Pedagogy of a Beloved Community: Pursuing Democracy’s Promise through Place-Based Activism and When Ivory Towers Were Black: A Story about Race in America’s Cities and Universities. Dr. Sutton holds five academic degrees—in music, architecture, philosophy, and psychology—and has studied printmaking internationally; her fine art is in the Library of Congress.

Andrew Bernheimer, FAIA, is a Brooklyn-based architect and Associate Professor of Architecture at the Parsons School of Design. Bernheimer leads an eponymous firm responsible for a wide variety of residential, civic, and commercial projects, including new award-winning multi-unit affordable housing developments across the five boroughs as well as private residences in the northeast region. The studio is also currently the only private architectural firm in the United States with unionized labor.   
Bernheimer edited Timber in the City, a book featuring innovative practices in wood construction published by ORO Editions and co-edited the collection Fairy Tale Architecture (ORO Editions, 2020) with his sister, Kate Bernheimer. In 2018 Bernheimer was elevated to the College of Fellows in the American Institute of Architects. Bernheimer sits on the Executive Board of the Institute for Public Architecture in New York City.