Chairs Heather Flood and Jose Parral Design for Social Justice through Education

Design is its own form of disruption. For Woodbury School of Architecture Chairs Heather Flood and Jose Parral, great design is rooted in empowering students who will become the architects and designers of tomorrow. Recently earning the rank of full Professor, Heather and Jose see teaching as a way to create more inclusive and equitable professions that reflect the communities they serve.

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Professor Heather Flood was appointed Chair of the School of Architecture in Los Angeles back in 2017, and has since led curricular development as she works to diversify the student pipeline. In the Fall of 2019, she helped launch a mentorship program aimed at opening up the profession of architecture to students from diverse backgrounds. The program connected high school students to Woodbury School of Architecture alumni, and has already provided a pathway to higher education and to the architecture profession for local students in the LA region.

As Assistant Undergraduate Chair, Heather coordinated the first year studios to transform the BArch curriculum, and her work resulted in the 2017 Studio Prize from Architect Magazine. Heather has evolved the undergraduate curriculum by strengthening student skill sets early in their foundational years. Her work focuses on creating studio environments that impact the long-term success of students.

As Dean Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter notes, “One of the greatest pleasures in working in academia is encountering educators who challenge and inspire you. Heather Flood is one of those educators. Nationally recognized as a design leader, she brings an optimistic energy to our community. In everything she does – as educator, scholar, designer, and colleague – she exemplifies the highest ethical and professional standards, consistently giving her all and reminding us through her own work the joy that beautiful design can bring. I cannot overemphasize the importance of the contributions that Heather has brought to the School of Architecture. She has breathed new life into our BArch curriculum, helped create a healthy studio culture, and through her own example in the classroom, instill a passion in our students for craft and design acumen.”

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For Professor Parral, the classes he enjoys teaching most center on urbanism and embrace the complex conditions of San Diego. Named Chair in 2018, Jose joined the San Diego Architecture Foundation’s Board of Directors this January as an opportunity to influence the city’s built environment and the next generation of designers. A native to San Diego, he works with students at Woodbury and at local community colleges to instill design as a way to fundamentally improve public spaces that are built to last.

Jose enjoys teaching at the urban scale, where he takes the opportunity to discuss and research relationships between interior and exterior space, as well as working with civic agencies. These courses typically happen at the end of the students 4th year, it’s also a way for students to begin thinking about their interests and focus towards their final degree project in the following year. “I’ve always felt that San Diego is at a critical moment of transformation and wanted to be a part of it. Academically, I see San Diego at a crossroads between the social/political (Los Angeles to Tijuana) and the natural/ecological (Desert to Ocean). Therefore, many issues emerge in relation to climate change and social conditions. I believe San Diego is a rich resource for both students and faculty. These crossroads are also the reason why I enjoy the city, beaches, Tijuana, and the desert.” 

Through Jose’s teaching, he hopes that students take away an ability to construct their own problems and remain curious. Dean Wahlroos-Ritter touched on Jose’s impact, stating that, “Jose Parral has become a leading voice in shaping the design community of San Diego, and increasingly, the nation. His optimism draws us together and encourages us to learn from one another. He brings new initiatives directly into the classroom, and is participating in larger national conversations about academia’s role in local communities. He looks to the trends shaping the profession, and in turn, is finding creative ways to bring these into the curriculum. Jose’s leadership has empowered our students, faculty, alumni and broader communities to create lasting change. Through respectful, inclusive and thoughtful leadership, he helps bring out the best in all of us.” 

Looking to the future, Flood and Parral will continue reevaluating the curriculum in San Diego and Los Angeles, as well as how to integrate the latest technologies and professional developments into the classroom. Distinguished by a record of student success, their new rank of Professor reflects a shared commitment to social impact and showcasing the diverse voices of students.

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Jose Parral is a Professor and Chair at Woodbury School of Architecture in San Diego. He holds an MA in Landscape Urbanism from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London 2001, recipient of the Kate L. Brewster Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture, American Academy in Rome 2007, and visiting Professor at Ohio State School University Knowlton School of Architecture 2005-2006. 

Heather Flood is a Professor and Chair at Woodbury School of Architecture in Los Angeles. Founder and principal of F-lab, Heather’s work has been published and exhibited internationally. In addition to her professional practice, Heather teaches design studios with a focus on beginning design pedagogy at Woodbury. Heather has a Master of Architecture degree from the Southern California Institute of Architecture where she graduated with honors and received the Henry Adams Medal awarded to the top ranking graduate student. Heather has a Bachelor of Art degree from Michigan State University.

 

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