2017 November Issue of Cornerstone: Letter from Chair


Welcome to the latest “issue” of Cornerstone—the on-line newsletter of the AIA Public Architects Knowledge Community!   Twice each year, a Board member of the Public Architects Advisory Group collects and edits material of professional interest to share with the wider community of architects and designers who work for and with public agencies of all kinds. 

Public architects play many roles in the development of our shared environment; and articles in Cornerstone reflect the diversity of our work and wide-ranging interests of our members.  Public architects, through their work in shaping and managing tens of thousands of individual projects and in setting policy, are responsible for defining and delivery quality design throughout the United States (and in other countries, too).   Because my own role is as Campus Architect (for a public university), I often describe our responsibility as that of civic education broadly defined:  advocacy for design excellence in all areas—aesthetics, technical standards, preservation, sustainability, new technologies.  We support innovative and important social and cultural use, changes, and goals. 

We also have unique challenges as representatives of the public (and its funds) and as employees operating in complex policy, regulatory and legal settings—different for each agency and each jurisdiction.   The Public Architects Knowledge Community allows us to compare/contrast, share best practices and meet each other (whether in person or through digital media).  Many of us provide opportunities for students and young professionals, helping them learn more about our roles and encouraging them to consider public service careers.   All of us have great stories; and some of them are told here. 

Our Knowledge Community also sponsors a workshop each year on the Wednesday of convention week.  We urge you to attend this year in New York.  Our focus will this year will be on innovation—how, as public architects, we adapt and influence industry practice.  Speakers and case studies will highlight projects and programs large and small that illustrate initiatives that impact the profession and the built environment. 

Because of our work and interests, Public Architects Advisory Group and Knowledge Community members often collaborate with colleagues in other organizations; and we support many cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional relationships.  We welcome everyone and we hope you will join us—reading Cornerstone, attending the workshop, and in conversation about public architecture.

Emily Marthinsen, AIA
2017 Chair
Public Architects Advisory Group

Assistant Vice Chancellor Marthinsen, UC Berkeley’s Campus Architect, heads the office of Physical and Environmental Planning (PEP) providing comprehensive physical and environmental planning services for the Berkeley campus.  Emily works closely with campus clients through early planning phases of projects emphasizing program and project definition, alternative space development and alignment with overall campus plans and planning policy.  She is responsible for the campus design review process, coordination with the City of Berkeley related to planning issues and the implementation of the 2020 Long Range Development Plan.
Emily joined Capital Projects in 2000 as Principal Planner responsible for surge (relocation) planning.  She became Assistant Vice Chancellor and Campus Planner in 2006 and was appointed Campus Architect in 2014. She worked previously on campus in the Department of Architecture and in the Office of the Dean, College of Environmental Design.  She taught undergraduate and graduate studios, worked on departmental accreditation and guided programming and planning for Wurster Hall’s seismic retrofit. Emily has over thirty-five years of relevant work experience at UC Berkeley and with design and planning firms in San Francisco, Washington, DC, Alexandria, Virginia and Berkeley.  Her private practice work focused on pre-design planning and programming for community and non-profit clients and for public agencies.

Emily has a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from the University of Chicago and Master of Architecture from UC Berkeley.  She is also a member of the Society for Campus and University Planning (SCUP),  the Association of University Architects (AUA), and is a frequent presenter and writer on campus planning and design issues.