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Prague-based architect and educator Osamu Okamura is inaugural designer-in-residence March 2-5 at ISU College of Design

February 20, 2015

Osamu Okamura


AMES, Iowa —The Iowa State University College of Design will host Osamu Okamura, program director of the reSITE international festival in Prague, as the Bachelor of Design Program's first designer-in-residence March 2-5.

During his residency, Okamura will attend three final design reviews for bachelor of design studios, visit the program's capstone experience class, lead a session of the design forum and give a seminar for architecture graduate students. And he will present a public lecture at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, in Kocimski Auditorium, room 101 College of Design. His talk is free and open to the public.

Design and public space
Okamura's presentation, "Who Has the Right to the City? Design and Public Space in Contemporary Cities," will address the state of urban planning in Central and Eastern Europe and highlight some of the emerging platforms—like reSITE—for designers to effect change through society, the media and public administration.

Founded in 2012, reSITE focuses on making cities more livable, competitive and resilient through collaborative initiatives to improve waterfronts, public spaces and urban mobility. It organizes workshops, design competitions, international conferences and an annual public festival with urban games, films, bicycle rides, discussions and public space interventions.

In his lecture, Okamura will share examples from his work with reSITE and in other venues that highlight recent transformations in urban planning institutions, the search for new development tools for Central and Eastern European cities and the potential political consequences of these new debates and methods.

About the speaker
In addition to his work with reSITE, Okamura is a lecturer at the Architectural Institute in Prague and the editorial supervisor for the professional architecture magazine Era21. He is a member of the Board of Experts of the European Prize for Urban Public Space, an expert adviser for the Metropolitan Sounding Board of Prague City Council on issues of urban development and a member of the Commission for Urban Development and Architecture in Prague's Seventh District.

Okamura received a master of architecture and urbanism from Czech Technical University in 2000 and a master of arts from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague in 2003. He has lectured throughout the world, including Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Thailand and Ukraine. This visit will mark his first time lecturing in the United States.

Designer-in-residence program
The undergraduate Bachelor of Design Program was established in the College of Design in 2011 as a degree option for students interested in a generalist and interdisciplinary nonprofessional design curriculum. This spring, the program initiated what will be an annual visit by a designer-in-residence who embodies the college's philosophy about design and its value in society.

"[Okamura's] interdisciplinary career as an architect, magazine editor, festival director, lecturer and participant in city government makes him everything the Bachelor of Design Program promotes," said Kimberly Zarecor, associate professor of architecture and director of the Bachelor of Design Program.

"He shows students the varied possibilities and opportunities they will have with a bachelor of design degree."

Okamura's visit is cosponsored by the Bachelor of Design Program and the College of Design.

Public Interest Design Institute
Okamura will extend his visit by speaking at the Public Interest Design Institute March 6-7 at ISU Design on Main, 203 Main St. in Ames. The two-day course for design and planning professionals will provide in-depth training in ways that design can address critical community issues.

Kimberly Zarecor, Bachelor of Design, (515) 294-5026,
Emily Elveru, Design Communications, (612) 859-2623,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,