2024 Lautman Lecture: Katie Swenson

A Model of Architecture for Society (MASS) Design Group was founded as a non-profit organization with the mission to research, design, build, and advocate for architecture that promotes justice and human dignity. MASS is a global collective of over 160+ architects, landscape architects, engineers, builders, writers, filmmakers, and researchers. Join Senior Principal Katie Swenson, to learn more about MASS’s innovative practice model and design methodology.


Approaching architecture as a purpose-built process requires a fundamental shift: to think not about what buildings are, but what they do and who they impact. Designers have a social and environmental responsibility to leverage the design and building process to heal and nourish our communities and imagine a more just and more equitable future where everyone flourishes.


That mindset shift - from deprivation to abundance - is rooted in MASS’s work, but also in their leadership practice, as a celebration of their collaborative team and the diverse perspectives and voices that make a collective model possible. It fosters a culture of inclusivity and diversity that is focused on breaking down barriers and making everyone seen and heard. By embracing abundance, architects and designers can prioritize humanity, seek out new opportunities for growth and development, and create work that is more fulfilling and impactful.

The Robert and Kay Lautman Lecture is a new annual program to honor two strong proponents of the Washington Architectural Foundation’s work. This program brings nationally and internationally renowned figures in the fields of architecture and art to lecture on the intersection between architecture, design, and art. The annual event will be recorded and made available to a wider audience online. We believe this special annual lecture will have the added benefit of highlighting WAF’s work in the community.

Robert Lautman was a renowned architectural photographer who served on WAF’s board. His wife Kay was well known in DC’s philanthropic community.

2024 Speaker:

Photo of Katie Swenson

Katie Swenson, Assoc. AIA

Senior Principal, MASS Design Group

Katie Swenson is a nationally recognized design leader, researcher, writer, and educator. Her work explores how critical design practice can, and should, promote economic and social equity, environmental sustainability, and healthy communities. Katie has over 20 years of experience in the theoretical and practical application of design thinking and is a talented global public speaker and thought leader.

A prolific writer, she authored Design with Love: At Home in America, and In Bohemia: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Kindness. Katie was awarded the AIA Award for Excellence in Public Architecture in 2021. Prior to joining MASS, Katie was the vice president of Design & Sustainability at Enterprise Community Partners, where, as a member of the second class, she led the Enterprise Rose Fellowship.

Katie also teaches at the Parsons School of Design at The New School, and lectures extensively on sustainable community development and affordable housing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master of Architecture from The University of Virginia. Katie was awarded a Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2019.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify various ways to foster a culture of inclusivity and diversity in an organization.
  • Explain how to leverage the design and building process to heal and nourish communities through community engagement and accompaniment.
  • Describe the importance of shifting from a mindset of scarcity to one of abundance to make space for more opportunities and shared successes.
  • Discuss how sharing the stories and perspectives of many can help find solutions to create systemic change.

Organized by the Washington Architectural Foundation