The SIGnboard: SIG Snapshot
Among the almost 50 Shared Interest Groups (SIGs) of the Harvard Alumni Association is the Harvard Architectural and Urban Society_Alumni (HAUS_A), a group from “all fields of work and study” who seek “to make a difference in the contemporary city and urban culture” by collaborating to influence positively the way people “build and inhabit the world.”
HAUS_A (www.haus-a.org), numbering some 350 members throughout the world, was founded in 2007 by Ivan Shumkov, M.Arch. ’08, and a group of fellow students and alumni, mostly from the Graduate School of Design, who wanted to stay connected and continue their collaboration after graduation. Today, about 40 percent of its members come from other Harvard schools, in particular the College and the Kennedy and Business Schools. Activities to date have focused on networking as members began their professional careers, but more formal projects are now under way. The success of an architectural Harvard campus tour last year prompted plans for forthcoming tours in New York City and Cambridge, and short videos on modern and contemporary architecture at Harvard are scheduled to premiere in February, so SIG members can share their knowledge with other alumni.
Now, in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, SIG members are donating time and expertise to a larger effort to design and build “resilient schools” capable of withstanding such natural disasters. Shumkov, a practicing architect who is also the founder of the Open Online Academy, and Illac Diaz, M.P.A. ’12, president of Architecture for Humanity in the Philippines, have organized and launched a massive open online course at iversity.org on disaster-resilient and sustainable architecture that will also crowdsource designs for such schools; HAUS_A members will be among those advising and guiding the work of the course participants and evaluating the submissions. The Philippine Department of Education, Shumkov reports, has offered support in building the best designs. (More information is available on the HAUS_A website, or via email@example.com.)