JEDI in Design – A Panel Discussion

AIA Continuing Education Provider

1 LU / HSW

Pending Acceptance and Subject to Change

What is the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion in learning environments? What are racialized spaces? What is the role of design? What does it mean to have a truly inclusive and equitable design process that embraces diversity and strives for justice (JEDI)? What do learning environments that incorporate JEDI function, look, and feel like? Foundational to each of these issues is how inherent bias creates our architecture – and schools in particular. Just as a grand staircase welcomes only the able-bodied, how does a school namesake being a proponent of slavery, a school whose mascot is a racial caricature, or a place that does feel safe welcome all students? How are such things represented in architectural form or style? What is the role of color, pattern, and materials? How does culture affect a space and human interactions? What is the importance of food, performance, and self-expression? How does inequitable funding manifest in ways schools are designed, built, and maintained? A diverse panel will explore topics such as these through an interactive discussion with specific examples and engaging activities for all participants. In addition to specific design outcomes, the process of JEDI in design will be examined – reaching out and engaging in authentic and relevant ways; determining when and where to engage, virtually/in-person; what do culturally relevant and authentic mean; who are the storytellers, language keepers, and translators; what is required to develop trust with communities who have been given far too many reasons to not trust those that approach them in the guise of inclusion? Participants will be challenged to imagine such a future – one where races, gender identities, abilities, orientations, ages, and all characteristics of people are welcomed and made to truly belong – and to provide their own JEDI design examples to provoke and inspire diverse thinking and perspectives that support and foster justice for all.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Develop awareness of a broad spectrum of JEDI in design processes and outcomes.
  2. Develop the capacity to identify and address issues of JEDI in design processes and outcomes.
  3. Learn to consider alternative experiences and perceptions of design processes and outcomes.

Ross Parker, AIA, ALEP, NOMA Principal | Co-chair of A4LE JEDI Committee, IBI Group,
Ross is IBI Group’s Education Studio Lead in Seattle. He has a passion for culturally relevant, experiential design of educational facilities. His 3-decade architectural portfolio spans northern Canada, the UK, the US South, and the Pacific Northwest. Three of his projects are James D. MacConnell Award projects – 2010 recipient and 2004 and 2020 finalist. He is currently co-chair of A4LE’s JEDI Committee, and a member of NOMA-NW and AIA Seattle’s Diversity Roundtable.

Julia Eiko Hawkinson, AIA, ALEP, LEED AP BD+C, O+M, WELL AP, Senior Facilities Development Manager, Los Angeles Unified School District,

Saif Vagh, AIA, DBIA, LEED BD+C, Associate Principal, NAC Architecture,
Saif is an Associate Principal and Designer at NAC Architecture’s Los Angeles office and a leader of the firm’s JEDI committee. As a design thinker, his experience working with a broad spectrum of clients has sculpted his view of how policy and the built environment can incorporate a broader perspective of inclusion. He strives to create facilities that help break down stereotypical assumptions and help a broad cross-section of students grow and thrive. He has spoken on issues of designing for inclusivity and equality at numerous conferences and continues to lead valuable discussion in planning and executing the design of educational spaces. 

Track: The Learners’ Experience

What is the learners’ experience? Who are they? How do they differ? How do they respond differently from one another to similar environments? Is there a one-size-fits-all solution? Or is a custom solution composed of aggregate parts more appropriate?

Primary Core Competency
Design of Educational Facilities: Acts as a resource to the design team in providing ongoing guidance and support to ensure that the emerging and ultimate design aligns with the established community vision, education goals, future programming, written design standards, best/next practices and education policy.

Learning Units/Health, Safety, Welfare (LU/HSW)
The singular focus on JEDI is geared towards creating design processes and environments that contribute to the physical, mental, and social-emotional health and well-being of all students, educators, and community members associated with schools.  


Marriott Rivercenter
San Antonio, TX

October 5-9, 2022


+1 480.391.0840