and design team members
Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles, California
Talk Title
Equity As Design Excellence: A Panel with the Portland Museum of Art Design Team
Monday, May 01, 2023
6:00 pm
121 Center St
Portland, ME 04101

Equity As Design Excellence: A Panel with the Portland Museum of Art Design Team


What is the role of architecture in promoting equity? LEVER Architecture Principal Chandra Robinson moderates a lively discussion with key members of the design team for the Portland Museum of Art campus expansion, exploring equity’s essential, foundational relationship to design excellence and the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion that we bring to our work.


Chandra Robinson, Principal, LEVER Architecture

Chandra is a Principal at LEVER Architecture, a Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles, California based design practice recognized for material innovation. She is passionate about creating beautiful spaces that are accessible for everyone and enjoys working closely with clients to create designs that are expressive of their values. Chandra recently completed a LEED Platinum campus for equity-based foundation Meyer Memorial Trust, which was named an AIA COTE Top Ten Green Project in 2022. She is currently working with communities on transformative designs for libraries, K-12 and higher education academic buildings, and affordable housing.


Thomas Robinson, Principal, LEVER Architecture

Thomas Robinson is the Founder of LEVER Architecture, a design practice based in Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles, California that is dedicated to the creation of buildings that elevate human experience. LEVER is nationally recognized for material innovation and pioneering work with Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) and has earned more than $2M in research funding awards to develop and test wood building assemblies. Thomas’ projects encompass first-of-their-kind timber buildings for clients such as The Nature Conservancy and Adidas, and his recent work includes 843 N Spring Street, slated to be one of the largest mass timber buildings in Los Angeles.


Chris Newell, Co-Founder, Akomawt Educational Initiative

Chris Newell is co-founder/director of education for Akomawt Educational Initiative; a majority Native-owned educational consultancy based in Connecticut, and the Tribal Community Member-in-Residence for the University of Connecticut. He was born and raised in Motahkmikuhk (Indian Township, ME) and is a proud citizen of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township. Chris was the Senior Advisor for the Emmy-award-winning documentary Dawnland and participant and co-director of the short documentary Weckuwapok: The Approaching Dawn (2022). In addition, Chris is also a published children’s book author working on his second title of their refurbished nonfiction “If You” series.


Claire Agre, Principal, Unknown Studio

With a background in painting and field ecology, Claire has led design and implementation for a diverse portfolio of projects, including the Master Plan and Hills Phase of Governors Island Park and Public Spaces, Miami Beach Soundscape Park, the 1000-acre, 40-year Master Plan for Longwood Gardens and its award-winning Main Fountain Garden Revitalization, the ongoing work at The Nasher Haemisegger Family Sculpture Garden at Duke University, planning at The Land and Garden Preserve on Mount Desert Island, Maine, and the winning entry for Changing Course—an interdisciplinary, international design competition seeking solutions for the disappearing Lower Mississippi Delta.


Jenn Low, Design Director, Openbox

Jenn is an integrative designer, educator, and landscape architect with over fifteen years of experience in the planning and design of public spaces. At Openbox, Jenn works at the intersection of people-centered design and the built environment. She sees a more integrated approach as necessary to respond to the nuances of people’s experience within our physical environments, which is fundamental to driving more just and equitable design outcomes. Before Openbox, Jenn was a practicing landscape architect and led partnership and program initiatives at the Landscape Architecture Foundation, the Urban Studio, and the 1882 Foundation.


Vinay Kumar Mysore, Senior Design Researcher, Openbox

Vinay Kumar Mysore applies design research to address complex and challenging issues faced by historically marginalized communities. With a focus on the built environment and community-centered design, Vinay has led a variety of projects to encourage welcome and belonging in shared public spaces including museums, libraries, and public parks. Their work has been awarded for social impact design, and been recognized across conferences in design, applied ethnography, and sustainability. They are a senior design researcher at Openbox, an adjunct professor of design and strategy at Parsons School of Design, a parent, a farmer, and an immigrant.