Surface Summer School

Marion Weiss: This Is the Perfect Moment to be a Designer

The architect and co-founder of Weiss/Manfredi pronounces to the students of Surface Summer School at UPenn that the need for their talents has never been greater.

The architect Marion Weiss, co-founder of Weiss/Manfredi and the Graham Professor of Practice at the Stuart Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania, presented some of her firm’s standout projects that blend architecture, landscape, and urbanism as part of the Surface Summer School lecture series. The students are in the midst of a competition to design a mobile testing unit for COVID-19.

Takeaways: “Connection to outside spaces is more important in a post–Covid world,” Weiss said, encouraging students to think about how the mobile testing units can shape spaces to quell the fear factor patients typically experience during a medical appointment. “What if they [testing stations] were part of a playscape? What if there was a picnic ground right outside that made it irresistible? Can it be small and also curatorial to give you a sense that you’ve arrived to a place you want to be?” She ended with a note of optimism, compelling the students to put themselves in the shoes of people in different disciplines like the doctors and patients. “You all have gifts to bring to the world that could be small and impactful by their distribution in the millions or impactful in their singularity to change a city.” One more piece of sage advice: “Have fun and be fearless with it.” 

See the full schedule for the lecture series.

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