Mokena Makeka Named President of SAIA

POSTED ON: February 29, 2024

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On February 29, the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) inaugurated Mokena Makeka, Cooper's special advisor to the vice president of academic affairs, as its president. The ceremony, which took place online, marks the beginning of Makeka's tenure connecting with other national presidents on issues facing the profession and the academy in search of ways to transform architecture to better support society.

In a message addressed to the Cooper community, Makeka wrote, "I have as part of my term started to institute substantial institutional reform and the process is being followed and informing the Commonwealth of architects, and several other countries."

In part, Makeka sees the role as an opportunity for potential collaborations, giving Cooper architecture students the chance to work on projects outside of studio, particularly ones that may be related to climate and bio technology.

The inauguration's theme was titled “The City of Tomorrow.” According to the SAIA, the event hoped to launch a discussion that would "imagine architecture as more than building, but thought leadership, as spatial politics, as agency of transformation toward liveable and loveable cities."

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.