The Catholic University of America

March 27, 2012

CUA to Host Symposium on Innovation and Collaboration in Architecture


The School of Architecture and Planning at Catholic University presents a four-day symposium from Wednesday, April 11, through Saturday, April 14, that will explore innovation and collaboration in the field of architecture and the creative arts.

The symposium, TRANSelement, will bring together academic experts, field practitioners, community members, research scientists, political leaders, artists, policymakers, and business owners to discuss topics of innovation and collaboration.

To address innovation, academic experts from the seven classical divisions of liberal arts — grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, arithmetic, astronomy, music, and geometry — will discuss how knowledge from their fields can affect innovation in other fields, and vice versa.

During sessions on collaboration, experts will discuss the environment on five different scales — Earth and atmosphere, continents and oceans, cities and settlements, communities and boundaries, and dwellings and tools.

The conference events will explore how innovation and collaboration in today’s time of global technological change affect environments and culture.

“The architect today is the great integrator,” says symposium organizer Rauzia Ally. “We have a huge responsibility. How do we talk to each other to really influence ideas and purpose before even thinking about pragmatic technologies to deal with climate change and environmental sustainability?”

The conference relates to the upcoming 2013 Solar Decathlon, for which CUA is leading a team of participants. Ally is the team’s project director.. Two major aspects of the competition are how to promote innovation and foster collaboration. The Catholic University students working on this project are collaborating with landscape and interior designers and engineers from George Washington University and graphic designers and filmmakers from American University as well as a host of professional consultants.

The symposium is cosponsored by the School of Architecture and Planning, the Center for Building Stewardship, and the CUA ANTS (Architecture Nature Technology Leading to Sustainability) Solar Decathlon Initiative.

For more information or to register, visit or contact Ally at 202-460-2776 or

All events take place in the Edward M. Crough Center for Architectural Studies, Koubek Auditorium, unless otherwise noted.

  • Wednesday, April 11, 5:30 p.m.
    Keynote Address by Bill Hellmuth, president, and Tomas C. Quigley, senior principal, both from HOK, the largest U.S.-based architecture-engineering firm. Hellmuth and Quigley will focus on how their global architectural practice has harnessed its assumed role as innovator and integrator.
  • Thursday, April 12, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on St. Thomas Hill
    Dome building workshop with Martin Rajnis, a Czechoslovakian architect well known for designing structures from natural materials that reflect the environment and customs of the place where he is building. The dome Rajnis builds on St. Thomas Hill will become a meditative space for the CUA community.
  • Friday, April 13, 6 to 8 p.m., in Caldwell Hall, Auditorium
    Workshop with Dylan Savage, associate professor of piano at UNC Charlotte and Bösendofer Concert Artist. Savage will discuss his take on the creative process gleaned from 40 years of making music on stages around the world. Seated at a piano, Savage will illustrate eight steps critical to the creative process through word and performance.
  • Saturday, April 14 — Symposium
    9 a.m. to noon — Innovation
    Speakers will discuss issues related to the seven classical divisions of the liberal arts and relate one to the other.

    Noon to 1 p.m. — Keynote address by Anil Gupta, professor in the Centre for Management in Agriculture at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India. He is also the founder of Honey Bee Network and a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science. He holds the executive vice chair of the National Innovation Foundation. Gupta’s lecture is titled “Meandering through moments, meanings and manifestations of creative sparks: nurturing fireflies of creativity.”

    2:30 to 5 p.m. — Collaboration
    Spreading innovative ideas happens when many individuals come together through collaboration. The topics covered in this session of the symposium scale from the macro to the micro (atmosphere to land). The discussion will center on the interrelatedness of all aspects and how cause and effect are important on all scales.

    5:30 to 7 p.m. — Closing keynote by Martin Rajnis on “Natural Architecture.” An architect’s buildings help to form the world, Rajnis says. Buildings are rimmed with frost, hidden in fog, and illuminated by lightning. Hence, architects must study nature and learn its elementary laws, which are not always apparent at first sight, but have consequences when they are not respected.

    7:30 to 9 p.m. — Closing reception and performance by AXIS Dance Company, a group that creates, teaches, and performs “physically integrated dance”— a contemporary dance form that evolves from the collaboration between dancers with and without disabilities. 


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