James Ramsey

"You know, we have any number of problems that are confronting us as a city, as a society, and I think often times we can look to technology to begin to solve some of those problems."    -James Ramsey with ArchDaily

James Ramsey is the principal of raad and the creator of the Lowline. James’ experience in design began at Yale University, where he won a Bates Fellowship to study cathedral design in Europe. He then went to work as a satellite engineer for NASA, where he was a part of the team that created the Pluto Fast Flyby and the Cassini satellites. After his time at NASA, James gained large firm experience at DMSAS in Washington, DC and small firm knowledge, upon relocating to New York, at the boutique outfit, Penny Yates Architects. While teaching design at the Parsons School of Design, James worked to put the pieces in place to start his own design practice in 2004. Raad has since built over a hundred projects, both in NYC and across the country. James Ramsey is the inventor of the Remote Skylight and founder of raadStuff.

Raad specializes in creating objects and spaces that emphasize the process of construction — knowledge gleaned from close and continued collaboration with builders. This collaboration leads to clean, rich, imaginative designs that marry strikingly innovative thinking about function with a deep respect for the traditions of everyday living. A focus on the materiality, joinery and detail of design is apparent in all of raad’s work and is always considered within the context of the relationship between open space and cozy enclosure.

John Fetterman

"Most people see Braddock, Pennsylvania as a dying steel town; but for John Fetterman it's the new American Frontier."    -Rolling Stone

Braddock, once a thriving commercial destination amidst the industrial center of steel production in the Monongahela Valley, suffered through a brutal postindustrial decline in the 1980s. When its massive economic engine sputtered out, Braddock lost ninety percent of everything—its buildings, its businesses, its people

Since Senate candidate John Fetterman became Mayor of Braddock ten years ago, he has garnered national attention for his unconventional political style and blue-collar ethos. Throughout his career in public service, Fetterman has emphasized community revitalization, youth employment, environmental protection, and an end to the war on drugs.

Eve Picker

"Edgy, yes; unpredictable, yes. Both have defined Eve Picker's real-estate life for decades now."    -Pittsburgh City Paper

With a background as an architect, city planner, urban designer, real estate developer, community development strategist, publisher, and instigator, Picker employs a rich understanding of how cities and urban neighborhoods work - and how they can be revitalized.

Amongst her many urban (ad)ventures, Picker has developed a dozen buildings in blighted neighborhoods, launched a Pittsburgh-focused e-zine called Pop City, and founded and organized a speaker series, cityLIVE!, on city-centric issues. She has taught urban design and participated in Sustainable Design Assessment Teams for the American Institute of Architects in cities from Los Angeles to Springfield, Ohio, helping with urban design and to set a strategic course for downtowns and housing developments. Picker has strategized about how to encourage residential development of vacant upper floors in downtown Pittsburgh. And with cityLAB, she has instigated bottom-up projects like the "6% Place," the "Garfield Night Market" and a "Tiny House."

Now Picker has launched - and leads - Small Change, a real estate equity crowdfunding portal to help fund transformational real estate projects. Small Change packages offerings for developers to help them build projects that make cities better, and provides investment opportunities for everyone who cares about cities and wants to see positive change. 

John Folan

John Folan is the T. David Fitz-Gibbon Professor of Architecture, Director of the Urban Design Build Studio (UDBS), track Chair of the Masters of Urban Design (MUD) Program, and member of the Urban Laboratory faculty at Carnegie Mellon University.

John's applied research in practice has included large-scale cultural and institutional commissions in the United States, Japan, Africa, and Europe. Executed within variable urban and rural landscapes, the projects have consistently engaged construction as an inherently centered, collaborative accomplishment predicated on broad consideration, sensibility and ethics. Included in this body of work are the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the National Wildlife Federation Headquarters, and the United States Embassy Compound in Nairobi, Kenya. John's work in practice has been critically reviewed in more than fifty journal articles, has been included in several published compendia, has been documented in two building monographs, and has been recognized by more than thirty national and international professional merit award programs. 

Recognizing society and popular culture's gravitation toward specialization, John's teaching pedagogy focuses on the fundamental core attributes of practice and education that rely on reasoning, logic and ethic. His pedagogy has developed out of a desire to establish intellect and maintain broad reaching consideration in the creative process by engendering clear reasoning skills; reasoning skills that will defy the restrictions of specialization and benefit the academy, profession and society with generosity.


Dee Briggs was born in Western Pennsylvania and raised in the northern panhandle of West Virginia. At the age of 18, Briggs moved to New York City. She studied architecture at the City College of New York and earned a Master of Architecture degree from Yale University in 2002. Briggs currently splits her time between Pittsburgh and New York. She has taught in the schools of art and architecture at Carnegie Mellon University and exhibits nationally.

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