The architect who designed The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture along with Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza will be coming to campus to talk about Urban Design as Urban Healing.
Tonight at 6, Zena Howard will give a talk on Urban Design as Urban Healing in the Main Campus Student Center Ballroom C, Heather White, assistant director for Assessment and Engagement at Joyner Library, said.
The opening reception of “For All the World to See,” a traveling civil rights exhibit currently located in the Faulkner Gallery, was rescheduled due to Hurricane Dorian.
The reception will be from 4 to 5:30 p.m. today in the Faulkner Gallery prior to Zena Howard’s talk. Howard will be the special guest which will give attendees the opportunity to talk to her, White said. White said whenever a special guest is brought to campus it is important to give students the opportunity to speak with them.
“We’re really excited, she’s going to be talking about Urban Design as Urban Healing and so her work with Perkins and Will and her career as an architect is really remarkable beyond just the design, she really just works with the community to make sure their voices are heard and what the final design of whatever architecture being produced, really reflects that,” White said.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Hank Klibanoff will be coming to campus on Monday in the Faulkner Gallery as a part of the For All the World to See exhibit. He will come to campus to talk about the perspective he had covering the race beat and how he now works investigating cold cases from the civil rights era.
White said Howard will talk about projects she has worked on, designing the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and then discuss the work she’s done in Greenville.
Zena Howard attended a Sycamore Hill Advisory Group (SHAG) meeting where she was able to meet members of the former Downtown Community which is now home to Town Common, Whtie said. Howard became apart of the project in 2017, she said.
“She came and talked to the group and really listened to them and looked at the documentation that had happened and what grew out of that is what became this really robust project that reflected I think truly what they wanted to share,” White said.
White said students having the opportunity to meet the architect of Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza, Zena Howard, and then see it being built downtown will give them a “connection” to the project.
Toya Jacobs, Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager for ECU’s Office for Equity and Diversity, said Howard has been featured in publications such as Forbes and Essence. Howard is a principal at the architecture firm Perkins and Will in Durham, Jacobs said. Howard has designed the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture and Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza in Greenville, she said.
Howard has worked on projects with environmentally sensitive exhibit areas, environmentally and spatially sensitive spaces for Autistic children and historically significant buildings, Jacobs said.
Howard's visit is a collaboration between the Office of Equity and Diversity along with Joyner Library, Jacobs said. Howard will talk specifically about Sycamore Hill Gateway plaza which is a connection.
“We’re connecting her to our faculty, staff and students through the Office of Equity and Diversity and Joyner Library to come and talk about Urban Design as Urban Healing, specifically the Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza is a connection from our past to our future, trying to bring some of that urban healing to the city of Greenville,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs said the OED wanted to bring a diversity speaker who has been successful to “inspire and motivate” students. She said she hopes this event will give students the opportunity to see what they may do in their future careers and that their work can be bigger than just their paychecks.
According to Zena Howard's biography on Perkins and Will website, Howard developed cultural awareness from growing up in many communities across the country.
“Her recognition that the built environment significantly impacts the human experience informs her continued exploration of design experiences that nurture positive change,” Howard’s biography said.
Howard leads projects that navigate issues of social equity and justice along with honoring history and restoring cultural connections, Howard's biography said.