Expert panel discussed impact of race in community design Nov. 7

F.E. Giesecke Lecture Series
"Race and Community Design"
Nov. 7
Technical Reference Center

A panel of African-American planning and design professionals from some of the nation’s most diverse metropolitan areas discussed how race impacts community development in “Race and Community Design,” an F. E. Giesecke Lecture Series event November Nov. 7 in the Texas A&M College of Architecture's Technical Reference Center.

“Racial tension and inequalities have been at the forefront of the presidential campaign and recent events such as the Ferguson protests,” said Shannon Van Zandt, interim director of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, which is hosting the discussion. “Many of these issues are rooted in long traditions of housing discrimination and racial segregation that benefit white communities and isolate black communities in poor, underinvested neighborhoods.”

"It was gratifying to see the impact the panel discussion had on the African-American students and young professionals in the audience," she continued. "Most have never seen a panel composed completely of people who looked like them talking about their chosen profession and how it affects their community."

As part of their presentation, panelists Antoine Bryant, principal of the Bryant Design Group; Veronica Davis, principal of Nspiregreen, LLCJustin Moore, executive director of the New York City Public Design Commission, and Chrishelle Palay, director of the Texas Low-Income Housing Info Service, will discuss their career paths and the skills needed to work effectively in minority communities.

After panelists describe their work, they participated in a moderated discussion.

Antoine Bryant, an architect and planner, focuses on the growth and development of Houston’s Third Ward, a historic African-American community where he resides, is a member of the city’s planning commission and the stakeholder affairs representative for Houston METRORail’s southeast line.

Veronica Davis heads transportation, master planning and sustainable analysis efforts at Nspiregreen, a planning firm that creates sustainable solutions for businesses, governments and not-for-profit organizations.

Justin Moore heads New York’s design review agency, which oversees permanent municipal structures, parks and open spaces, streetscapes, signage, and art proposed on or over city property.

Chrishelle Palay works closely with affordable housing policy advocates and grassroots community organizers to affect positive changes in low-income communities.

The Dr. F.E. Giesecke 1886 Lecture Series, which began in 2006, was established by Preston M. Geren, Jr. ’45, Giesecke’s grandson, and his wife Colleen ’45 to bring outstanding, world-class speakers to the Texas A&M College of Architecture. The lectures give students and faculty opportunities to hear the latest ideas and accomplishments by leaders in the virtual and built-environment professions, industries, and disciplines.

To learn more about F.E. Giesecke, who founded the Texas A&M architecture program in 1905, visit

posted November 1, 2016