Andrea, a Designer in our New York studio, shares her story:
Q: What message about design’s positive influence on the world would you most like to get out there?
A: I believe architecture permeates to other areas of society. As a profession our contribution extends to politics, economics, psychology, sociology, the arts, and more. Architecture is a methodology for problem solving and creative thinking and the future of the discipline lies in disseminating architectural ideas widely. Its influence is unconscious, but its impact is definite. Finding a way to create awareness of the impact with communities will in turn create a positive effect on how we as architects respond to the built environment.
Q: What drew you to the design profession, and what’s keeping you here?
A: Growing up in the border cities of El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Chihuahua. I was exposed to two distinct approaches to building in the U.S. and Mexico, but the engagement in the built environment was the same. In these suburban cities, I had limited connection to public and cultural spaces.
Moving to Munich, Germany before my junior year of High School, gave me exposure to historical, monumental architecture and profound urban design. My activities would now consist of going to museums, visiting buildings, and engaging with the city in a new way which provoked my interest in architecture.
After years of traveling and living in four countries, I have a newfound appreciation for my hometown of El Paso. The eclectic architecture of downtown and Spanish colonial design elements typical to the region, has kept me intrigued in architecture’s ability to create a sense of place, culture and how it embodies a community.
Q: What role does diversity, inclusion, and engagement play in the design profession at large?
A: Increasing diversity will help the profession not only gather different approaches to design, strategy, process, and innovation but will ultimately matter for communities.
The ability to connect and understand a culture is vital for a project to succeed contextually. It also creates an opportunity to translate how communities would like to be reimagined.
Q: Describe a design project you’re working on right now, whether professional or personal, that you’re especially proud of—and why.
A: A design project I participated in which showcased inclusive architecture was part of an exhibit for the Chicago Biennial in 2017. The proposal challenged Tower typologies, an emblem of capitalism, where communities have limited access. The project imagined a new kind of institution built by many voices, where the community becomes the tower, and the urban makeup of a city is now vertical.
In that same vein, how can we as architects garner ways to better represent people in spaces and challenge existing power dynamics of place?
There is an element in preplanning and research where we can investigate and gather qualitative/quantitative information about a community and challenge notions of public space.