Alumni & Giving

  • Vanessa Keith, Julie Torres Moskovitz, Charlette Caldwell, Susan Kolber

Virtual Weitzman School Talk | Activism in Practice: A Conversation with Two of the Founders of Women in Design (1999-2000)

Tuesday, September 29, 2020 12:00pm1:00pm
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Tuesday, September 29, 2020
12:00pm – 1:00pm (ET)

Join Vanessa Keith (MArch’00) and Julie Torres Moskovitz (MArch’00), two of the founding members of the Women in Design group (1999-2000) at the Weitzman School, for a conversation about activism in design practices. How does the climate crisis, Black Lives Matter, and social justice impact the work of the architect? How do we take part and take action, working across disciplines to create positive change? This talk will investigate the effects of action on institutions, fields of study and practice, and the shape of design itself.

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Vanessa Keith (MArch ’00), Principal, Studioteka Design, Lecturer in Architecture, Weitzman School of Design
Vanessa Keith is a registered architect and the Principal of Studioteka, an award-winning design firm she founded in 2003. Based in DUMBO, Brooklyn, Studioteka approaches design through a multidisciplinary lens that spans the boundaries between architecture, economic and social development, and urban and environmental concerns. Vanessa is especially interested in the issues faced by cities as they adapt to climate change, and in envisioning design-oriented technical and engineering solutions to environmental problems. The firm’s design work and writing has appeared in USA Today, Frame Magazine, Mark Magazine, The Architect’s Newspaper, Hinge Magazine, Surface Asia, Urban Omnibus, Landscape Architecture Magazine, Metropolis and Design Bureau. Vanessa is the author of "2100: A Dystopian Utopia – the City After Climate Change," a book on the future of cities in a hotter world with a preface by Saskia Sassen, published by Terreform as part of Michael Sorkin’s Urban Research Series. She is also an editor of “Kingston Harbor: Development Transects,” a book of urban design work published by Columbia University in 2010. The firm’s work ranges from urban, residential and commercial design, interior design, lighting and custom elements, planning, feasibility studies and investment packages, as well as design research and writing.

Keith gave the Alan H. Ryder Distinguished Lecture on her work at Carnegie Mellon and the keynote at the Louisville Sustainability Summit in Louisville, Kentucky in 2017, a talk and book signing at the Drawdown Learn Conference at Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, NY in 2018, and two Earth Day talks at Georgia Tech and Clark Atlanta University in 2019. She has taught a capstone course in economic and political development at Columbia SIPA, as well as interior design, architecture and urban design studios at Columbia GSAPP, Pratt Institute, City College Spitzer School of Architecture, and the University of Pennsylvania. More information on these and other events and talks is in the news section of her website.

Keith holds a Master of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania (2000), Master of International Affairs, Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs (1995). Concentration: Economic Development. Focus Area: Urban Planning. B.A., Columbia University (1992). Major: Religion and Non-Western Philosophy. Minor: Fine Art (printmaking)

Julie Torres Moskovitz (MArch’00), Principal Architect at Fete Nature Architecture, PLLC
Julie Torres Moskovitz, AIA is an architect licensed in NY, NJ, GA, and WA and founder of Fete Nature Architecture (FNA) based in Brooklyn. She is a Passive House Certified Consultant and LEED AP. Her studio - FNA Studio is a vital, collaborative firm whose process is founded in research and investigation of new ways to inhabit the urban fabric. This method of working is informed by an aptitude for green technologies, collaboration and commitment to equity, climate adaptation, and reimagining architecture for common good and enjoyment. FNA Studio pledges to actively work to create spaces - both by listening and working with community - projects that uplift the community, that bring equity and collective joy, and encourage togetherness but from a safe distance during this pandemic. 

Torres Moskovitz was the architect on the first certified Passive House building in NYC in 2012 which won a 2014 International Design Passive House Award and a 2015 AIA COTE Honorable Mention. She is the author of "The Greenest Home: Superinsulated and Passive House Design," published by Princeton Architectural Press and contributed to "Women [RE]Build Stories Polemics and Futures." Her studio - FNA completed several resiliency projects in Canarsie, Brooklyn as part of NYC’s Build-It-Back program. She is a Pratt Center Taconic Fellow researching greening city street carts and is working on cooperatively-run women vending spaced in Jackson Hts, Queens. She is on the Advisory Board of the Street Vendor Project and the Institute for Public Architecture and was appointed by the Mayor to the NYC Loft Law Board which works with tenants and landlords. Torres Moskovitz teaches an Eco-Urban seminar at Syracuse University School of Architecture. She is a Judicial Delegate and County Committee Member for Assembly District 50 in Brooklyn. Torres Moskovitz has a Master of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania (2000), and a B.A. in African Studies (colonialism and neocolonialism of French-speaking Africa) and French from the University of Michigan (1993).


Susan Kolber (MArch'20 MLA'20)
Susan Kolber is a 2020 Weitzman Master of Landscape Architecture and Master of Architecture graduate. During her time at Penn and now currently, Susan’s research explores ethical, aesthetic, and environmental practices that reposition and reimagine humans and their interactions with other beings in the built environment. As a leader of various initiatives at AIA's Equity by Design group and Penn’s Women in Design organization, advocacy work has been an important aspect of her professional and academic practices. She has focused on increasing equity in the professions of architecture and landscape architecture through projects that have focused on data collection, storytelling, and mentorship. Her professional background is in residential architecture and public landscapes where she has worked on projects of different scales combining her interests in multispecies relationships and environmental research, equity advocacy, and passion for design. Susan received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania studying Architecture, Urban Studies, and East Asian Studies.


Charlette Caldwell (MSHP’16), Penn Weitzman Alumni Association Board President
Charlette Caldwell is a Ph.D. student and Provost Diversity Fellow currently studying the history and theory of architecture at Columbia University. Her research focuses on nineteenth-century American architecture and vernacular architecture. She received a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016 and continues to work part-time in Philadelphia on various preservation projects.