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K-State Today

January 16, 2019

Food systems architect to open spring 2019 Ekdahl Lecture Series

Submitted by Thom Jackson

Caitlin Taylor

The College of Architecture, Planning & Design, or APDesign, will host Caitlin Taylor, a registered architect and director of design for MASS Design Group, as part of the 2018-2019 Ekdahl Lecture Series. Taylor will present "Provisional Architecture: Designing Just Food Systems" at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, in Regnier Forum at Regnier Hall on the K-State Manhattan campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Taylor will discuss the history of MASS Design Group's work, and the conceptual framework for her focus on food system design as a form of radical hope. Through that lens, she will present some of the ongoing food and farming projects on the boards at MASS, including the Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch in Kansas, a new national network for school kitchen design, a community-run food hall as catalyst for urban redevelopment in Poughkeepsie, New York, an installation to cultivate food literacy with students in Indiana, and an industrial scale grain mill in Senegal.

MASS Design Group is a nonprofit architecture firm based in Boston, and Poughkeepsie, as well as Kigali, Rwanda. MASS believes that architecture is never neutral, and its mission is to research, build and advocate for architecture that promotes justice and human dignity.

"Food is primal and political and cultural," Taylor said. "Food is inextricably linked to housing, to education, to health, to environmental change, to local economies, to global industry, and to racial and social injustice; food production and access are spatial and temporal. Agricultural production occupies vast swaths of our landscape, and is a powerful environmental force."

Taylor is an architect with a background in organic agriculture. She has an interdisciplinary focus on food justice, agriculture and food systems. She is currently working on projects based in Boston, Hartford and the Hudson Valley Design Lab that target in on issues of rural infrastructures of food production, equitable food access, and cultivation of food culture in disinvested cities. Before joining MASS, Taylor directed an independent practice focused on water infrastructure. In this capacity, she was the recipient of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, Gold Prize, for her work on urban flood control in Las Vegas.

Taylor lives with her family in East Haddam, Connecticut, where they own and operate an organic vegetable and cut flower farm. She has taught advanced architecture studios at the Yale School of Architecture and Columbia University Graduate School for Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

The Oscar S. Ekdahl Distinguished Lecture Series in Architecture and Design brings the finest professionals in the design and planning disciplines to APDesign and the K-State community. These individuals are selected to avail faculty, staff, students and regional professionals to the potency of design and planning in addressing the issues we face as a global society. The series honors Oscar Ekdahl who received his Bachelor of Architecture from K-State in 1933 and was a founding partner in Ekdahl, Davis, Depew, Persson Architects PA in Topeka.