2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXX

In Part XXX of the Study Architecture Student Showcase, we take a look at student work that addresses ecological challenges. The featured projects include housing structures that mitigate flooding, coastal urban parks, prairie education centers, visualizations of toxic destruction, and more. Each design invites viewers to reflect on the connection between human and non-human environments, whether by providing ecological interventions or embracing toxic sites of ecocide.

Revitalizing the Meander by Alec Paulson, B.Arch ‘23
Tulane University | Advisor: Ruben Garcia-Rubio

Revitalizing the Meander is a project that seeks to mitigate flooding issues along a portion of the Upper Kebana River (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) through soft ecological interventions while also creating new connections across the river where they are currently missing. Most of the housing on site along the river is poorly constructed informal housing built close to the bank due to a lack of space with the rapidly growing city population. This informal housing easily floods due to the winding meanders of the river and contributes to erosion along the banks. 

The proposed masterplan for the site relocates residents who live in flooding-prone areas to new housing structures which also function as bridges, creating new connections across the river and providing amenities to residents. These connections are determined by where green streets can continue across the river, allowing pedestrians new modes of travel. Zooming into the bridge structure that was further designed at a higher resolution, one can see the connection that is created between the two proposed green streets on either side of the river. Bioswales from the green streets are continuous over the bridge structure, filtering runoff water. On one side of the structure, a market acts as an entry point to the bridge while on the other side, new housing relocates those prone to flooding. The bridge has arms that extend off it, fostering additional connections to lower levels of the structure, as well as to the river and the slow mobility path that runs along the river. In the center, urban agriculture provides a local food source for the surrounding neighborhoods and helps to mitigate fluvial flooding. 

This project was presented at the International Union of Architects (UIA) World Congress of Architects in Copenhagen 2023

Instagram: @rubgarrub

NATURE: RECLAIMED by Jason Hayden, M.Arch ‘23
University of North Carolina at Charlotte | Advisor: Chris Jarrett

In “Walking the Walk: A Path towards Praxis Inspired by an Ecological Reading of The Tale of Genji and a Japanese folktale,” Marjorie Rhine discusses the growing disconnect of the relationship between human and non-human environments. Critical of the perception of Japan as a society in harmony with nature, Rhine adopts the term ‘ecoscape’ from the field of urban ecology, offering a way of conceptualizing the complex interplay of the built and natural environments that is less human-centered. 

“Nature: Reclaimed” proposes a perspective into how a coastal greenway park shifts the balance over time between human and non-human environments in an adapted coastal urban park, which illustrates the conflict between rising sea levels, loss of native habitat and human’s perpetual desire for control over nature.

This project won the AIA Henry Medal.

Instagram: @jhayden.ii

Environmental Education Center by Ivan Flores, AAS (Pre-Architecture) ‘23
College of DuPage | Advisor: Mark Pearson


This project explores the relationship between architecture, ecology and environmental stewardship. Students are challenged to design a prairie environmental education center that will provide educational outreach to the COD community. The project site is located directly adjacent to the Russell R. Kirt Prairie, an 18-acre natural area on the College of DuPage main campus.  

The design intent of this studio project is to create an innovative and thoughtfully conceived prairie education center that will provide educational programming on sustainability, environmental stewardship and ecology. This center includes spaces for education, research, and outreach. Projects should educate visitors (and COD students) about the importance of the region’s natural heritage, as well as physically connect visitors to the prairie landscape itself. 

Successful design projects must include a clearly articulated design concept and engage the natural context of the site.  Projects are intended to embody the idea of environmental stewardship and sustainability. 


This design expresses the beauty of unique patterns formed by nature. As one walks through the prairie, the sights of tall grass and trees become overwhelming. This inspired the building’s sun shading strategy through materiality and visual appearance. The earth’s topographical map creates distinctive complex patterns that are implemented into the building’s exterior stairs. The circulation’s design intent was to reflect the particular paths in the prairie with various level changes and curves. Apart from implementing the following unique patterns into the design, there are key elements that accentuate views of the prairie to further express the beauty of unique patterns formed by nature. A long plan accommodates the space with ample views of the prairie. The roof’s pitch slopes upward to accentuate views of nature.

Instagram: @ma_pearson75, @cod_architecture

Rock and Roll by Zihua Mo & Chunyu Ma, M.Arch ‘23
University of Pennsylvania | Advisor: Simon Kim

This project is an ecological architectural initiative poised in Los Angeles’s Inglewood Oil Field. It devises an evolutionary future for the historically industrial site, bridging gaps between technology, ecology, and synthetic nature to reimagine a thriving, non-human-centric, biodiverse habitat.

Within this biodome, four architectural characters breathe life into the project. These are the Manimal, Putant, Fungle, and Outsect, each serving as a sanctuary for animals, plants, fungi, and insects respectively. Originally positioned in a grid pattern, they autonomously operate within their domains, engaging in a unique ‘rock and roll’ motion, synergistically transforming the old industrial heart of Inglewood into a revitalized natural space.

The Manimal is a marvel of bio-engineering, nurturing synthetically developed, intellectually advanced animals. These life forms, combining the grace of nature with the precision of technology, gradually assimilate into the ecosystem, their waste contributing to a vibrant ‘Waste Lagoon.’ This vivid waterbody, contrary to its name, is a source of nourishment and a symbol of rebirth, the raw material for the neighboring Putant.

The Putant, swayingly mimicking nature’s breeze, harbors and nurtures the next-generation, pollutant-absorbing plants. These green soldiers mature inside the cultivation chamber, their seeds eventually dispersed by the Putant’s gust-like motions, sowing life across the transformed oil field.

Symbiotically supporting this green wave is the Fungle, a mobile architectural body enriching the soil with vital nutrients. The Fungle rolls across the landscape, absorbing deceased organic matter, and utilizing it to cultivate various fungi, whose spores are then disseminated, forming a natural cycle of life and decay.

Overseeing this intricate world-building is the Outsect, a hovering haven for mechanical insects. It regulates material exchange within the field, deploying these mechanical insects for tasks ranging from delivery to capturing animals. Moreover, it functions as an atmospheric purifier, inhaling air for power, purifying it, and also drawing from the Waste Lagoon to disperse nourishment across the field.

Instagram: @zihua_mo, @cyyyy_ma,

Center For the Advancement of American Architecture at Fallingwater by Frank Michel, Jason Loeb & Roman Marra, BA. Arch ‘23
Miami University | Advisor: John M. Reynolds

The Fallingwater Center for the  Advancement of American Architecture is located at the  Pony Field, neighboring the Barn at Fallingwater, Mill Run, Pennsylvania. The facility will act as a visitor center set in the core of the Lands of Fallingwater, that would complement and dovetail its sibling experiences with the Fallingwater Institute. With an audience of the general public, from scholars/practitioners to laypersons, the Center attempts to promote the public understanding and appreciation of American architecture through educational programs.  From the sense of understanding the ‘DNA’ of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, we were able to move away from copying the historical monument, but instead, use its language (the integration of nature that informs its special and tectonic identity) enabling us to express the sensual content of place that became so integral towards our discovery of developing the prospect of the Modern Vernacular. The landscape is seen as a connection piece unifying paths connecting from the site. Using the established lines between the barn and the center, the intersection created a grid-like pattern that gave the feeling of a farmland topography (using native plants of the midwestern vernacular) that develops the relationship between trail and road, barn and visitor center, trail and Fallingwater. With the path of these routes, the site allows for a continuation of the journey from site event to site event, as well as being a place in of itself to explore and experience.

Instagram: @Fpmichel_design, @jasonloebdesign, @marrarchitecture

Paradigms of the Post-Natural by Charlotte Rose Bascombe & Andrea De Haro, B.Arch ‘23
Syracuse University School of Architecture | Advisors: Jean-François Bèdard, Britt Eversole & Julie Larsen

Paradigms of the Post-Natural is a thesis that rejects architects’ predilections for greenwashing. In doing so, we depict the inevitable evolution of our environment and embrace the beautifully toxic and grotesque environments that are evidently created. Specifically, we are interested in ecocides, exploited areas in which animals are forced to genetically adapt as they experience the destruction of their habitat by humans. 

We focused on the Athabasca Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada, and Chornobyl in Ukraine, two preeminent sites where industrial activity has caused a direct threat to ecological well-being. Chernobyl is an example of a disaster where the release of toxic compounds has had long-term effects on the genetic evolution of species creating a radioactive wildlife refuge. The Alberta Oil Sands is an oil reserve that highlights the detrimental effects of mining, resulting in contaminated wastewaters that release heavy metals into nearby bodies of water. These polluted environments forced humans to evacuate, while other living species were left behind to absorb the contaminants. 

Depicting these unimaginable environments, we collaborate with MidJourney, an artificial intelligence text-to-image generator. Site-specific research determined our text parameters. Using keywords such as “Iodine-131” and “polycyclic hydrocarbons”, compounds found on both sites, helped us visualize the toxic destruction. Other terms, such as “grotesque” and “photo-realistic” helped maintain a consistency in the aesthetics of these scenes. After generating our productions, we emphasized their ecologies through the microscopic scale, which led us to create material studies influenced by the characteristics of the generated scenery. Fusing our images with physical models resulted in a feedback loop that allowed for more agency in imagining alternative futures. We used various materials to reflect the detailed environments, providing us with the ability to precisely recreate the animals’ habitats. Alternating between MidJourney and model-making was crucial for the development of the final images.

Our thesis depicts the unavoidable evolution of these environments and their accompanying organisms. “Ecologies in Disguise” is an atlas that we produced, set in the year 2550, that documents a paradigm shift in the relationship between humans, flora, and fauna, where the lack of human contact becomes a defining characteristic of the new era. The impact of current “ecocides” are threatening all types of organisms, causing them to fuse and entangle with chemical substances that swarm through the environment. What ultimately emerges is the aesthetic sublime; ecosystems that simultaneously have the power to compel and destroy us. 

See you in the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXVII

Welcome to Part XXVII of the Study Architecture Student Showcase! Today’s featured work focuses on the care of elderly populations. From dementia care centers to a multi-use facility that promotes multi-generational encounters, each design and thesis looks at various methodologies to promote optimal well-being for the elderly.

Design to Heal – Dementia Care Center in Goa, India by Surbhi Subhash Ghodke, M.Arch ‘23
University of Utah, School of Architecture | Advisor: Anne Mooney, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP

Dementia is a growing concern in India, affecting a significant number of older adults. To address this issue, a dementia care center is being designed in Goa, India. The center aims to provide a holistic environment that promotes the well-being and spiritual needs of individuals with dementia.

The design prioritizes wayfinding and natural light usage, acknowledging the challenges faced by patients transitioning from private homes to shared living spaces. The center creates a sense of belonging by incorporating familiar spaces and a friendly atmosphere.

Inspired by traditional Indian architectural elements, the campus design draws from the Wada architecture of Maharashtra. Verandahs, patios, jali (perforated screens), and multiple courtyards are utilized to enhance air circulation and maximize daylight. The design fosters a sense of community, resembling a close-knit village with rooms placed along courtyards.

The care center features multiple purposeful courtyards accessed through narrow paths, encouraging patients to explore and engage with their surroundings. Varying levels of visual access aid wayfinding and social engagement. Colors, textures, and patterns are used as visual cues to differentiate areas and rooms.

Given the tropical climate in Goa, the campus incorporates large overhangs, circular cutouts for plantations, and water bodies to provide shade and maintain a cool environment. Perforated brick facades offer privacy while allowing natural light and cool breezes to flow into the campus.

To add an element of playfulness, the roof design includes roofs of varying heights and shapes. Daylight integration through skylights and effective rainwater drainage systems are incorporated, with rainwater collected for lotus plantations and gardens on the campus.

The campus design utilizes local materials such as red laterite bricks and stone, aligning with the vernacular architecture of rural Goa and respecting the surrounding context.

Overall, the design of the dementia care center in Goa aims to create a people-centered environment that addresses the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of individuals with dementia. 

This project received the 2023 ARCC KING STUDENT MEDAL for innovation, integrity, and scholarship in architectural research.

Lending a Hand to Guryong Village: Agency, Community, and Shared Economies by Jonathan Chung, M.Arch ‘23
Carleton University | Advisor: Jerry Hacker

Using Guryong village (a self-built community in Seoul, South Korea) as the site of investigation, this thesis explores the spatial relationships and architectures of care between the state and the city’s ignored and most vulnerable citizens. Recognizing the residents’ progress in self-creation and self-provision, the question of interest is what degree of aid should be provided for the waste economy to further enhance community and quality of life for those in the village. To date, Guryong village has been subject to debate over land ownership and government provisions; however, this thesis endeavors to explore the role, active and creative users hold in lending a hand to normalizing waste collection and making it more accessible. Research methodologies include literature and media reviews, on-site experience, analytical drawing, and research through design. As a result, this thesis proposes a singular infrastructural framework of three agents of support at three different scales intended to further the agency and community of those in Guryong village: an agent for travel, for storage, and for collection and resource. Specifically, these infrastructures augment the existing self-created economy of waste transformation led by the elderly of the village and South Korea. Therefore, using architecture’s potential to create broader citizen and urban dialogue, this work strives to help build a better understanding of the value and state of self-actualized spaces and their communities, and to reflect on the impact of community on an individual, city, country, and the world. 

This project received the Boraks Prize.

Morgan State University, School of Architecture & Planning | Advisor: Carlos A. Reimers

The elderly are isolated in our American cities, and suffer depression and the looming thought of the endpoint of their lives drawing near. Conventional independent and assisted living facilities may be good buildings, but they usually serve only the function of housing, shelter, and health. Where is the life of it though? Residents interact with their care providers and others their age. The youth exuberates life and enjoyment, none of that is present in these facilities. The vision for this project is not only to integrate generations together, but to provide the elderly with the motivation to embrace life instead of feeling isolated and stressed about the end. A building that has multiple uses to integrate multi-generational encounters.

This project won the Best Thesis Award

Instagram: @reimerscarlos

Bedlam by Leka Mpigi, M.Arch ‘23
University of Southern California | Advisor: John Southern

Architecture can play a more vital role in the built environment that goes beyond urban organization and aesthetic value. Statistics show that as humans regardless of character, belief, and ability, are most affected by the spaces we inhabit in comparison to any other mortal factors. Exploring collage with the intent to explore design elements such as color, light and mass presents us with the potential to optimize the spaces we create, not just visually, but also functionally. Functionality is no longer defined only through the narrow lens of practicality and usefulness as humans have evolved, looking inward toward the importance of features that aid, not just physical ability, but also mental stability and growth. It is important that architecture in all sectors perseveres to not only try to follow but also lead this conversation. Designing to accommodate human behavior such as eating, bathing, and sleeping have been explored on thorough levels being that the focus group only includes a small percentage of people with all abilities intact. However, limiting ourselves to this scale of exploration sells us short not just as a profession but as members of the global community at large. Theories of the appropriate manipulation of color, light and mass have been studied to be able to produce the highest quality of space that not only guarantees overall wellness but also longevity and potentially by 2040 a greater population of people living more cognitively over 65 years old. 

The age group most affected by all concepts discussed above is the elderly 55+ population and to critically analyze the claims I have made above; I have decided to narrow down my research to members of this community with cognitive impairments such as dementia. This thesis will reevaluate the current living conditions on a local scale here in Los Angeles but will arguably be effective also in other cities and possibly countries, keeping in mind that culture and tradition do play a vital role in the connections people have to design elements such as color and light. The remodeling of a curated sample of already existing nursing homes will create room for critical evaluation showing how these spaces can be optimized for patients with certain formal architectural and interior design edits. I predict that this experiment will not only create care homes that are more visually and aesthetically pleasing but also potential optimal wellness environments proven to slow or in rare cases even reverse the decline of people with dementia over time. The ideal space in this experiment will have the following characteristics: negotiability (obstacle-free), familiarity and sensory stimulation (ways to trigger memory and recall). On this foundation, I will also introduce researched elements such as color coding, friendly mass (non-triggering forms) and light therapy to enhance set sample space. It is important to note that these experiments are amenable to and require implantation and validation. However these prototypes are based on research, many observations of case studies, and interviews with facility directors with their opinions occasionally taken into play due to their years of onsite hands-on experiences.

This project received a USC Master of Architecture Distinction in Directed Design Research

Instagram: @mii_beii, @urbanops

See you in the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXVI

In Part XXVI of the Study Architecture Student Showcase, the featured projects support and serve marginalized populations – from a thesis that presents a series of fictional architectural scenarios to critically question ableism in architecture to multigenerational housing for minority groups to promote cross-generational solidarity. Each project confronts a systemic issue by offering tangible architecture-based solutions.

Towards an Anti-Ableist Architecture by Matthew Schrage, B.Arch ‘23
Virginia Tech School of Architecture | Advisor: Andrew Gipe-Lazarou

This thesis is a manifesto for Anti-Ableist architecture.

Towards an Anti-Ableist Architecture is uninterested in supporting or ascribing to dominant modes of thinking on the topic of disability in architecture. It is uninterested in furthering the endless search for more practical “solutions,” more checklists, or more “easy” answers to further obscure a deeply rooted political and historical problem.

This thesis presents a broad critique of the topic of disability and ableism in architecture. It aims to break architecture from the tired ways of thinking that it sparsely ever questions. It calls on the discipline to critically question and reconsider why it must address disabled bodies in the peculiar ways it does.

Towards an Anti-Ableist Architecture seeks to properly understand the topic of disability and ableism in architecture as a centuries-long political and historical project. It aims to reveal the ways in which architecture has relentlessly dehumanized, erased, patronized, and shut out disabled people while denying our bodies, experiences, cultures, communities, and histories any contribution to architecture itself. It seeks to retire prejudicial ways of thinking that see us as merely a set of functional aberrances, whose bodies are to be paternalistically “granted access” by a unanimously nondisabled profession.

Towards an Anti-Ableist Architecture addresses a discipline that designs its buildings for the mythical norm and views our perspectives as exterior to architecture entirely. It critiques a discipline that universally assumes its subjects to be able-bodied and to unquestioningly possess the qualities of able-bodied people. It attacks architectural histories and theories that aestheticize the able-bodied person as architecture’s definitive human, as “universal,” “pure,” “harmonious,” and “standard.” It critiques a discipline that normalizes our discrimination and nonchalantly allows the production of inaccessible buildings with little to no alarm.

Following the established legacy of “paper architecture” as a tool of ideological critique, this thesis’s main design project, The Ultimatum, formulates a satirical narrative about disability and architecture in a sequence of ten “Acts.” Through a series of fictional architectural scenarios, The Ultimatum parodies the discipline of architecture, calling on it to properly confront its ongoing complicity in the oppression of disabled people and other marginalized groups.

This project received the Undergraduate Thesis Prize for Critique of the Architectural Discipline.

Instagram: @mschrage99 

A STOP WORTH WAITING FOR: designing a better DART bus shelter by Sumayyah Abdullah, Bamluck Abera, Victor Almaraz, Sandra Calzadillas, Marvin Diaz, Maryam Hashim Jacqueline Hernandez, David Hine, Vanessa Huerta, Vanesa Lopez, Diandra Osorio, Kennett Rivera Ayesha Shaikh, Berenice Velasquez, Richa Verma & Tasfia Zahin, B.Arch ‘23
University of Texas at Arlington | Advisor: Julia Lindgren

Public transportation networks impact how our cities function, enhance the quality of life for their residents and stimulate economic development. A good bus shelter is an essential part of any successful urban mass transit system. What constitutes “good,” however, depends upon your point of view. This design-build project proposes a future Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) bus shelter that re-imagines the design of existing infrastructure to optimize public benefit.

DART currently services 13 cities through 6,800 bus stops that accommodate over 20 million riders annually. Under its new bus network plan, DART calculates that 75% of people located in DART’s service area live within walking distance of a bus stop. This offers an opportunity to expand resources to areas that are currently underserved by public amenities, parks, and artistic expression. “A Stop Worth Waiting For” showcases the work of the University of Texas at Arlington’s architecture students who worked in collaboration with DART and AIA Dallas to design and build a prototype to explore what the metroplex’s next-generation bus shelter could be.

UTA’s College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs design-build program works to engage students with communities to tackle our most challenging urban issues. By coupling direct public engagement with design and making, the new bus shelter enhances rider experience, responds to environmental conditions, and expands neighborhood amenities. The prototype and complimentary exhibition were developed during the fall 2022 semester with input from DART bus riders, front-line workers, advisors, and leadership. The prototype was shared publicly on social media to solicit additional public design input that will inform its next iteration. This project was generously supported by DART and AIA Dallas.

This project received the ASLA Texas Student Honor Award

INNER CITY by Sierra Grant, M.Arch ‘23
University of North Carolina at Charlotte | Advisor: Thomas Forget

Inner City creates a connection between neighborhoods. Typically American suburbs are split by socioeconomic segregation and ethnic lines. The original inhabitants of the American suburb have suffered not only from white flight in the 1950s but also from urban revitalization that’s led to our current state of mass gentrification. People are divided and communities are disconnected. Inner City aims to stitch these gaps by creating a suburban green loop throughout the city with a new typology of alternative flex-housing that inserts the city’s nontraditional and underserved occupants into the suburbs while also implementing an intense interplay of public space into private living.

This project was recognized as “Exploration Excellence in Critical”

Instagram: @_sierragrant_

Housing for Youth by Sara Serrano, B.A. in Architecture ‘23
University of Illinois at Chicago | Advisor: Alexander Eisenschmidt

Little Village is one of the densest neighborhoods in Chicago. It has an estimated population of 73,826 people with 17,000 living per square mile. The population is mostly made up of minority groups who co-live with relatives in increasingly dense conditions. Therefore, the proposal envisions collective multigenerational housing that gives each generation an apartment but also encourages interaction between the younger and elderly generations. By organizing their units across from each other and implementing large entrance doors that can swing open to connect to the opposite unit, an interface is created that at least facilitates social exchange and, at best, cross-generational solidarity. Each individual unit is conceived as a single space with alcoves for secondary rooms to sleep, cook, and bath. When the doors to the secondary rooms are closed, a single open space appears while opening the swing doors from one side of the unit transforms the apartment into an enfilade.

Instagram: @Eisenschmidt_a

American Conditions by Pedro Aguero, M. Arch ‘23
University of Nebraska–Lincoln | Advisor: Zeb Lund

In this representation of an American Foursquare house, each side represents different realities that too often simultaneously occupy the same space. 

The contrast between these two conditions raises questions about the impact of short-term rentals on the price and quality of housing for low-income families. When short-term rentals exceed the profitability of long-term rentals, there is an incentive for landlords to book their properties as homestays, reducing the supply of long-term rentals in a city. Furthermore, as the available affordable long-term rentals wane, overcrowding and subpar housing become the only alternatives for the most vulnerable segments of the population.

50/50 Co-op by Yufei Wang, M.Arch. ‘23
University of Southern California | Advisor: Sascha Delz

In response to the escalating housing prices and the evolving demands for living arrangements, 50/50 COOP presents an innovative housing model that facilitates adaptable interior spaces. The limitations imposed by conventional houses on people’s space requirements are now a thing of the past. In here, SPACE breaks into SPACE ELEMENT. Each element represents an essential living experience of housing. By offering a dynamic marketplace, 50/50 COOP simplifies the process of acquiring these space elements, likening it to purchasing a pre-owned car. This unique marketplace for space elements not only enables individuals to reduce their cost of living but also grants them unparalleled flexibility in choosing their desired living arrangements. 

The 50/50 Cooperative will gradually grow from VENICE in Los Angeles to a project that spans the United States. It has four main stakeholder entities, community land trust, 50/50 COOP, members and space elements market, and the COOP keeps the organization running by taking in government funds, community donations, dues and rental stores. All 50/50 COOP facilities adhere to a unified standard that facilitates the seamless movement of space elements within the organization. 

This design philosophy aims to liberate individuals from being bound to a specific house. With the support of 50/50 COOP’s widespread facilities across the country, people can effortlessly relocate their living spaces. This mobility empowers individuals to embrace a more flexible lifestyle, where they are not confined to a fixed location but can freely and easily move their homes within the network of 50/50 COOP facilities.

This project received the USC Master of Architecture Distinction in Directed Design Research

Instagram: @yufei__w, @coop_urbanism

See you in the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XXIV

Welcome to Part XXIV of the Study Architecture Student Showcase! Today’s featured work focuses on affordable housing and tackles topics ranging from integrating mixed-use housing to eliminating the process of temporary relocation within revitalization projects. Read on for more details!

ELEVATED FABRIC DISTRICT by Briana Callender, B.Arch ‘23
The New York Institute of Technology | Advisor: Prof. Michelle Cianfaglione

This thesis explores the past, present and future of affordable housing in New York City by understanding the typologies that define tenement housing. We can better understand what was lacking in these infrastructures and can therefore begin to assess the addition of new typologies that can better service our demographic who need housing that is affordable and functional. Such as designated spaces within the complex that allow for necessary utilities or flexible volumes that tenants can use for community-centered activities which help build social capital within the building. 

The use of office buildings with increasing vacancies is a great case study for this kind of project. For this thesis, we chose to study Morgan North Postal Facility. It occupies an entire city block, solving the issue of space but not the tenement problem of light and air. By imposing the geometry of the dumbbell plan, the creation of air wells is possible and creates open-air shared spaces —while also relating the form back to what inspired it. Some of these cavities are public, while others are only accessible by tenants.  

Due to the proximity of the highline, the form was able to suggest a way to deal with excess foot traffic by extending the highline and inviting it into the cavities created by the air wells, allowing the highline to continue interweaving throughout the city and connecting similar re-adaptive projects that would soon follow suit, therefore creating an elevated network of housing which can be known as the Elevated Fabric District.  

Instagram: @michellecianfaglione, @nyitarch, @exdarchitecture

Low-Rise LNK by Luryn Hendrickson & Haley Herman, Bachelor of Science in Design: Architecture ‘23
University of Nebraska-Lincoln | Advisor: Michael Harpster

This project features a design for a dense, low-rise housing development breaks from the traditional, rectilinear apartment building. A series of user-specific apartments flats, co-op living spaces, and townhomes were designed and aggregated into separate buildings spread across the site. Each building was situated in a way that promoted a sense of ownership while also creating pockets of green space that serve as community spaces. Utilizing a Community Unit Plan zoning mechanism alongside a community land trust, the project is ultimately able to achieve greater density on the site than typically allowed while also restricting gentrification of the neighborhood and promoting a sense of community.

This project received the SGH Concepts + Dri-Design Honor Award (2nd Place): An internal UNL College of Architecture design competition for fourth-year undergraduate students. 

Instagram: @unl_mharpster

Building an Architecture of Non-Displacement: Preserving Community through a Revitalized Construction Process by Allyzza-Danica Valino, M.Arch ‘23
Lawrence Technological University | Advisors: Scott Shall (Committee Chair), Joonsub Kim (Member) & Edward Orlowski (Member)

As professionals, architects are tasked with adding value through their designs by renovating buildings and revitalizing cities. These tasks are in service to their clients, who are powerful patrons who wish to leverage the architecture produced to strengthen prestige, valuing development above other stakeholders like the community (Crawford, 1991). As a result, architects often become unwitting agents in gentrification, a process of culturally and economically transforming a historically disinvested neighborhood. Although the architect’s role in gentrification is incontrovertible, the architect does have the ability to minimize some of the harmful effects of gentrification, one of which is displacement, where communities are physically or culturally erased from a neighborhood. 

Many tactics have the potential to minimize displacement that can be used by architects, including project delivery, cost management, and participatory design, but the most effective tactics are often reinforced through governmental agencies. One example is the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, where the U.S. Department of Urban Housing and Development promotes neighborhood-scale revitalization without the direct displacement of low-income residents – a goal that is achieved through temporary relocation during construction. Unfortunately, these tactics have proven ineffective with only 30% of residents returning after relocation (University of Illinois Chicago, 2021). However, new technology is emerging that may allow for a more radical approach, specifically an in-place construction process that eliminates the need to relocate households, thereby preventing displacement. This thesis will re-evaluate design practices by eliminating the process of temporary relocation within revitalization projects, which will preserve both existing culture and original housing during construction without disrupting the lives of residents. 

To investigate this strategy, this thesis will focus on the redevelopment of Clement Kern Gardens, an existing affordable housing project located in Detroit, Michigan. Clement Kern Gardens is part of a larger-scale vision encompassed by the Greater Corktown Framework Plan, funded by the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant. The proposed design investigation will be compared to the current redevelopment plan of Clement Kern Gardens and the precedent study of Grove Parc Plaza in Chicago to evaluate whether or not a reformed construction process might help to eliminate displacement. If successful, this thesis will offer a way in which architects might add value relative to the disenfranchised within the construction process, in a similar fashion to how architects and clients add value to cities. 

This project received the 2023 CoAD (College of Architecture and Design) Alumni Award

Instagram: @scott_shall

YARD56 by Veronica Restrepo, M.Arch ‘23
University of Washington | Advisor: Rick Mohler

Seattle is one of the Nation’s fastest-growing cities, according to the Census Bureau. Its population has grown almost 19% over the last ten years. The supply of affordable housing has not kept up with the demand created by the booming economy and high-wage jobs in the area. Yet, 40% of Seattle households remain low-income. Yard56 aims to integrate sustainability with the rising inequities of housing affordability. Located in the fast-growing neighborhood of Ballard within the city of Seattle, Yard56 provides a total of 82,000 SF with a mix of affordable housing, live/work units, retail, and community outdoor space. Anchoring Northwest 56th Street and 20th Avenue Northwest, Yard56 is in a designated hub urban village, which provides a comprehensive growth plan. This enables and ensures a livable future and growing sustainably through accommodating a broad mix of uses and access to pedestrian and transit-oriented transportation.

Instagram: @mohler.rick, @veronicarstrepo

House to Housing by Mengru Zhao, M.Arch. ‘23
UCLA AUD | Advisor: Feghali Yara

Los Angeles has served as a storied context for the single-family home as both a site of architectural invention and cultural desire and as an instrument of wealth creation. These dual narratives persist today despite economic realities that make both stories far less suitable to their intended audiences. This studio will unpack these dual narratives in order to survey their histories and understand their widespread effects. The impact of these LA histories mirrors those of the U.S. housing market more broadly. In turn, these social, political, economic and environmental effects have severely limited housing supply, affordability and sustainability, and have shifted the site of the architectural problem from house to housing. It is this shift that the studio will engage as a set of spatial, organizational and social potentials for design to interrogate.

The value of homeownership has underpinned not only the American economy but the very image of American life for much of the past century. Homeownership provided a foothold on the economic ladder, stability in community life, and the fantasy of manifest destiny at the heart of the “American dream”. However, with the collapse of the housing market and the transformation of the economy over the past decade, the housing dream—which masked the many exclusions it had been built upon—has been revealed as such. The barrier to entry into the housing market has become impossible for most and is especially steep in Los Angeles where home prices have skyrocketed and fueled waves of gentrification and displacement, further eroding the economic prospects of Angelenos and the social and cultural fabric of the city.

Instagram: @feghali.yara

Dream Together & Miscellaneous Mutations by Brandon Smith, M.Arch. ‘23
University of Southern California | Advisor: Yaohua Wang

Dream Together is a large-scale mixed-use project that uses imaginative forms to highlight the uniqueness of each citizen who interacts with it. In addition, the project aims to heal the housing and urban sprawl issues of Los Angeles while challenging the tradition of the typology in which commercial occupies the bottom and residential occupies the top. This allows programs to sprawl throughout the building rather than simply being stacked in layers – adding to its humanistic residential qualities as is seen with the programmatic zoning of a home. Dream Together reflects this and in a sense is a mixed-mixed-use project. For an Angeleno, the most desirable residential circumstance is the home. Dream Together acknowledges this culture and molds architectural typological conventions to adequately react to its surroundings. In this project, the building formally orients, subtracts, and protrudes itself based on key urban resources such as schools, grocery stores, religious centers, or hospitals. The project acts as an urban connector in which people can access varying resources without the dependence of a vehicle; inspired by Hong Kong’s mall culture. The primitive shapes of the project introduce playfulness while breaking the orthogonal formal qualities of a typical mixed-use project.

Miscellaneous Mutations is the second part of the project and is a further study of the formal qualities of the Dream Together via the already-made physical three-dimensional pieces. Essentially, where Dream Together features these pieces assembled through defined contextual parameters from research, Miscellaneous Mutations features the pieces in a new light dictated purely by aesthetics and formal discovery. This second part creates the discussion of revisiting a design perceived as finished. Perhaps a design can become more and more contextual than meets the eye. Suffice to say, Miscellaneous Mutations celebrates the saying “Design Never Stops”.

This project received the USC Master of Architecture Design Communication in Directed Design Research Award – In recognition of the most outstanding graduate final degree project illustrating advanced presentation and graphic communication.

Instagram:  @arch.brandonsmith, @yaohua_wwww

Producing Community by Tessa Hill, B.Arch ’23
Ball State University | Advisors: Robert Koester and Jonathan Spodek

Younger generations want to live in cities and yet most neighborhoods are afflicted by limited housing choices, disconnection from food sources and public transportation, and are often also dangerous environments for pedestrians. These problems have made existing neighborhoods undesirable. So, how can neighborhoods be systemically redeveloped to address current concerns so that they don’t become exacerbated in the future?

This project proposes the strategic implementation of infill housing and urban food production in the redevelopment of existing neighborhoods. The McKinley neighborhood in Muncie, Indiana was chosen as the location to test this thesis. 

Initial designs create additional housing that offers different living opportunities, from single-family dwellings to accessory dwelling units. Each design enables residents to grow their own food via raised beds or vertical towers in an incorporated greenhouse. The ability to be self-sufficient and the visibility of food production will educate and inspire the community and promote continued progression toward sustainable living. Later phases could provide the neighborhood with varying scales of community spaces such as shared gardens, food markets, and education centers to attract and support community members. These latter phases will also have to address existing patterns of public transportation and correlated pedestrian paths for better connectivity.

This project received The Estopinal Group (TEG) Thesis Year Design Award.

The Transition to Co-Living: Finding the Missing Middle Housing in Langley Park, Montgomery County-MD  by Jenny Umana-Lemus, M.Arch ’23
Morgan State University, School of Architecture & Planning | Advisor: Carlos A. Reimers

Langley Park in Montgomery County, Maryland is located a few miles from the Washington DC region and is becoming more accessible with the planned opening of the Purple Line of the DC Metro system. It is a community composed of detached single-family housing and multi-family structures. 

The homeowners of single-family homes have been renting out rooms to individuals and families because of the shortage of Middle Housing (middle income) identified by the Montgomery County Planning Department in the region. This housing dynamic gives access to families who would otherwise not afford housing near transportation-accessible and commercial hotspots. 

This design proposal paves a path to homeownership for the Hispanic and Latino population at Langley Park. The chosen typology is cohousing in integrated single-family land, a trend that is already ongoing for denser multifamily housing and rowhouses. Co-housing will allow densifying areas of suburban land, while allowing homeowners to own an efficient unit and have access to larger communal spaces that families do and have always shared in the Latino culture in the USA, such as the kitchen and dining areas, or living rooms. 

In addition, the integration of green terraces will promote communal interaction among residents and provide safety for children to play in. Family members in Latino households often cook for their larger household and provide childcare and other services to friends and neighbors. In addition, Latinos in Langley Park are hard-working entrepreneurs supported by community members and organizations that will find space in rental retail areas added by the proposed housing typologies.

Instagram: @reimerscarlos

See you in the next installment of the Student Showcase!

2023 Study Architecture Student Showcase - Part XI

Welcome back to another week of the Study Architecture Student Showcase! In Week XI, we highlight student projects that use space as an avenue to create equitable community resources. From neighborhood civic buildings to multi-faceted housing units, this week’s featured projects address bridging societal gaps and emphasize the importance of creating opportunities for social interaction and dialogue between diverse communities. By taking a look at the projects below, you will learn how each student project proposes a space that promotes inclusivity and fosters community connections.

Center for Tolerance by Rebecca Dejenie, B.Arch‘23
The Boston Architectural College | Advisors: Peter Martin and Robert Gillig

This design imagines the Roxbury Crossing station as a free station as it becomes a new node for the city of Boston. The Center for Tolerance is a civic building that would allow different activities from music studios, makerspaces, food court, material exchange library, multi-purpose classrooms, exhibits, offices, studios, therapy clinics, and meditation spaces, to gardens with seats to encourage users to sit and converse with one another. As the site is located on the border of two neighborhoods, it will provide a spatial bridge for people from different backgrounds to come together to heal. This building will be used as a resource for all – especially those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. This building is a representation of what equity in the built environment can look like.

This project was awarded the Best of B. Arch Degree Project 2023.

Dis-Luxury from Luxury: Inequality Brought by Consumerism and Luxury Reimagining by Eduardo A. Caraballo-Arroyo B.Arch ‘23
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico | Advisors: Pedro A. Rosario-Torres, Luis V. Badillo-Lozano & Manuel De Lemos-Zuazaga

In Curitiba, Brazil, an architectural project is reimagining luxury and addressing social division to foster a community that values inclusivity, sustainability, and social equity. By challenging the pursuit of material wealth and status, this project aims to create an inclusive society where individuals feel fulfilled and valued. The project recognizes that luxury is often associated with abundance and comfort but can lead to marginalization, inequality, scarcity, and disconnection within communities. In a capitalist and consumerist society, luxury is marketed as an asset of ease and comfort, perpetuating social divisions and excluding those who cannot afford it. To address this problem, the architectural project seeks to interconnect both ends of the wealth spectrum through spaces that foster communication, action, and self-development.

The objective is to design an urban-social space that combines the rewards and necessities derived from luxury. This space offers physiological resources, developmental opportunities, a sense of belonging, and luxurious experiences, becoming a social equalizer and a support system for the community. By emphasizing the emotions associated with luxury, such as power, confidence, security, and contemplation/enjoyment, the project creates spaces for interactions and community communication. Elements such as small-scale farming, community/cultural integration, open spaces for social and community activities, and emancipatory and cultural educational spaces are included in the program. The project also aims to reduce limitations by embracing degrowth and minimalist systems.

The main strategy revolves around luxury as an emotional reaction. Luxury consumption triggers psychological responses associated with trust, power, contentment, and security. The architectural design incorporates pathways and axes that lead towards focus areas, lifting the first level and creating porous volumes to enhance openness and connection. Strategically positioned openings offer views towards the focus areas, creating voids and spaces that provide experiential and spatial experiences. By implementing this design, the project aims to address luxury inequality, foster social cohesion, and create spaces that promote inclusivity, equal access to resources, and a sense of well-being for all members of society. Through its transformative power, this project challenges conventional notions of luxury and redefines its role in creating a more connected and equitable world.

Instagram: @_eaca23

Kordilyera Vernacular Inspired Interpretive Center in Paradise Hills, San Diego by Greco Cosente, B. Arch ‘23
NewSchool of Architecture and Design |Advisor: Raúl Díaz

With historical and cultural aspects of Paradise Hills being mainly single-family dwellings from the 1950s and its relation to the military, specifically the navy, a demographic group of the Filipino population has emerged throughout the years. Generic designs of suburban parks do not cater to the needs of the current population. In an attempt to advance green space, park designs drawing from culture with the architectural language of pavilions are explored. The project caters to bridging the gap between community park design and Filipino residents through a Kordilyera-inspired Interpretive Center in Paradise Hills, San Diego; A reinstitution of cultural identity for U.S.-born Filipino-Americans.

The project was awarded the Outstanding Design Award – Degree Project.

U Belong: A New Live/Work Housing Prototype by Jada Rezac and Margaret Phillips, M. Arch ‘23
Kansas State University |Advisor: Zhan Chen – Assistant Professor

The current housing crisis in the US challenges architecture to address a critical need while presenting the opportunity to propose new solutions. The studio, titled: In With the New, operates as a laboratory in which to explore innovative possibilities for multi-family living. Students design new models that reframe housing as a multi-faceted domain, able to navigate various scenarios and support diverse communities.

Jada and Margaret’s project responds to the evolving needs of contemporary living by integrating residential units and workspaces. The project uses a calibrated arrangement of U-shaped modules to create new possibilities for both living and working.

The unit clusters maintain a high degree of porosity, which allows more access to natural light and promotes cross ventilation. These considerations enhance human comfort and productivity while presenting an innovative strategy for improving the overall health of its inhabitants.

The relationship between living and working units and their arrangement also seeks to alleviate social isolation. The units are grouped into smaller neighborhoods, fostering familiarity and more meaningful social interactions. Communal spaces within these neighborhoods and intersecting circulation paths also help build a stronger sense of community within a large complex.

The project was nominated for the Nominated for the Heintzelman Prize at Kansas State University.

Instagram: @jadarezac ; @margaret_rose_phillips ; @studiozhan

See you next week for the next installment of the Student Showcase!

UMD to Mass Produce Award Winning Solar House

(via The Diamondback)

A University of Maryland team is making plans to mass produce its sustainable house design after it placed first nationally and second globally at the National Solar Decathlon competition with its six-room solar energy house, which included a composting system, hydroponic garden, movable “living walls” covered in plants, a composting toilet, a solar-powered washer and dryer, among other advanced technology features.

The Solar Decathlon competition, sponsored by the U.S. Energy Department and held in Denver from Oct. 5 to Oct. 15., consisted of more than a dozen teams from colleges around the world competing to design solar-powered houses. The team plans to mass produce the prize-winning house, which cost about $300,000 for the team to design and build over an 18-month period. When produced for the house market, it’s expected to cost about $200,000 a house.

The team calls its creation reACT, which stands for Resilient Adaptive Climate Technology.

The house is essentially a “kit of parts” design with rooms that can be assembled or disassembled to allow the layout of the house to change based on the owner’s needs. The 993-square-foot space was designed with influences from the Nanticoke Indian Tribe as well as other Maryland tribal traditions.

“This is really a revolution in sustainability,” said Michael Binder, a lecturer in the architecture school and one of the co-principal investigators of the project. “We wanted to create a house which generates its own energy, cleans its own water, recycles its waste — we believe if all houses were built like this, we would not have a shortage of energy or water on the planet.”

Currently the team — which has a core group of about 40 people but includes about 400 total from different colleges within this university — is looking for development partners. Sophie Habib, the lead architecture health and safety officer for the team, said the next step includes researching and testing to better design the house and test the technology on a bigger model.

They have tentatively identified a Native American community as the first market for selling and building more house models. The house sparked interest during the competition within some Native American communities interested in living off the grid or on a microgrid, Habib said. Binder said the team chose the Native American community as the first market for the homes because the ideals and philosophies the houses promote align with the Native American tradition of connecting with the land.

“Instead of just being a one-off design for this competition, we are going to make hundreds of these houses and it really will have an impact on the housing market,” Binder said. “It’s not just a house, but also a whole set of technologies that can be incorporated into any house design.”

The house used for the competition is being shipped back to Maryland, where it will live next to the university’s house from the 2007 Solar Decathlon in an on-campus sustainability park used for research, education and to showcase the projects to regional industry and professional stakeholders, according to the Solar Decathlon’s website.

Graduate student Alla Elmahadi, a construction manager for the project, traveled to Denver for three weeks with about 30 other students for the competition.

“It was just a great experience overall to see all the different schools have their own approach to solar sustainable design,” Elmahadi said. “We all had the same set of rules, but we each came up with very different concepts. We made a beautiful home and I am excited for it to come back to Maryland so people can see it.”

Habib hopes the house will be ready for mass production within the next couple of years.

Learn more about University of Maryland’s Department of Architecture. 

U. Buffalo Designs A Home for All

(via UB News Center)

Home for All: University of Buffalo Design Students Use Universal Design Principles to Design Habitat for Humanity Home

Later this summer, a family will move into their new home on Buffalo’s East Side. Thanks to a pilot project between Habitat for Humanity and the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, the family will be comfortable staying in the house for a long time, even as its members reach their elderly years.

Students created designs for the home renovation that feature principles of universal design – a first for Habitat Buffalo.

Universal design seeks to increase usability, health and social participation for a diverse population. The home on Sussex Street, near Erie County Medical Center, will be the first to be completed as part of the UB-Habitat pilot project.

It started in the fall with a one-semester studio taught by Ed Steinfeld and Peter Russell. Steinfeld is a professor of architecture and director of the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center) in UB’s School of Architecture and Planning. He’s also an internationally renowned expert on universal design. Russell is the manager of the school’s Materials and Methods Shop.

Steinfeld and Russell challenged their students to develop innovative solutions to difficult problems of affordable housing design and construction that Habitat for Humanity could adopt. Students produced construction documents, research reports and visualizations to communicate their innovative ideas.

In a spring construction course taught by Russell, students then worked on the home, performing demolition and building alongside Habitat’s team of volunteers. The house is close to being ready for occupancy.

“I cannot think of a more complete package partnership than this: UB students design and build a house that will actually go to a Habitat family. It’s awesome,” said Barry Weiss, the construction manager for Habitat Buffalo.

“The studio portion of this pilot was hugely successful,” he said. “Normally, we have one designer develop a blueprint for our houses. For the Sussex Street home, we had 12 students offering different ideas. That allowed us to choose from a variety of options to find a design that would be most appropriate for that particular family and for the way that we build. It was an exciting opportunity for us and we look forward to doing it again in the future.”

University at Buffalo students work on the interior of a Habitat for Humanity house on Buffalo's East Side.

University at Buffalo students work on the interior of a Habitat for Humanity house on Buffalo’s East Side. (Photo by Douglas Levere)


Photo by Douglas Levere


Photo by Douglas Levere


Photo by Douglas Levere

All amenities — including the laundry facilities — are accessible from the first floor. In addition, the first-floor bathroom will include storage shelving that could be removed years from now, creating space for a roll-in shower. The back of the house was designed to accommodate a lift, again allowing for aging in place to occur.

“I wanted to create a house design that’s accessible for all,” explained Gallersdorfer, an Akron, New York, native who received her master of architecture in May. “The whole idea is that by planning for these things now, you can save on costs down the road as the family ages. I wanted to show that it’s possible to make adaptability affordable.” Read more

USF Architecture Grads Design Award-Winning Disaster Relief Shelter

(via WUSF)

In 2009, University of South Florida School of Architecture and Community Design students Sean Verdecia and Jason Ross watched Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath. What struck them was the lack of quick, proper shelter for the victims of an event like this.

Sean Verdecia, left, and Jason Ross worked with USF's technology transfer office to patent their design and develop a business plan., HANDOUT

Sean Verdecia, left, and Jason Ross worked with USF’s technology transfer office to patent their design and develop a business plan., HANDOUT

“It started with disasters,” Verdecia said. “We noticed that there’s a second disaster, where people are given these shelters that lack human dignity. We thought that maybe we could use our architecture skills to maybe come up with something new that could solve this issue.”

Even after graduating, the pair continued working on the problem and came up with an answer: AbleNook. “AbleNook is a modular disaster relief dwelling that you can put together without tools in under two hours,” Verdecia said. The duo was encouraged by professor Mark Weston to take their idea to USF’sTechnology Transfer Office, which helped them form a start-up company.

What also came in handy was a crowd-funded Kickstarter campaign they held in 2012 to build a second prototype for field testing. “We started getting these $5,000 donations pouring in and that was like, the light bulb when off and were like, ‘Oh my gosh, people really love this idea, we need to keep working on this,’” Verdecia said. “At its heart, it’s a humanitarian project and people respond to that.”  What makes AbleNook unique is that it does a lot of things other shelters can’t do.

“Maybe they can’t be deployed on an uneven terrain, or you need a whole crew to take it out to the field to assemble it, or it’s not insulated, or it’s not secure, or it doesn’t provide human dignity,” Verdecia said, adding, “when we developed this design, we wanted it to be able to check all those boxes.”

The smallest version of AbleNook has an interior space of 64 square feet, is 20 feet long and about 13 feet high, with ceilings that are 10 feet high. “It’s made out of aircraft grade aluminum and structurally insulated panels that you can just click together without any tools,” Verdecia said. If there was a need for a number of shelters to be sent to a disaster site, they can be sent out en masse on the back of a truck and delivered to a scene. “These would be shipped out from our facility, flat packed, almost like an IKEA product and then when it arrives, it’s more like a Lego product that you put together yourself,” Verdecia said.

The AbleNook has thermal insulation and a number of frosted glass windows and natural ventilation techniques to keep the interior warm or cool, depending on the climate. The expandable design means additional units can be set up side by side or on top of one another. It’s also attractive enough with an arched roof and a porch that AbleNook can be used as a portable office, classroom, or even as a prefabricated home.

“We see this kind of like a Mercedes, that you have two versions of the Mercedes,” Verdecia said. “You have the utility version and then you have the luxury version, so you can take the same base platform and you can have it as a delivery vehicle or you can have it as this luxury SUV.”

Read more.

(via WUSF)

To learn more about AbleNook, check out their website!

If you want to know more about the USF Architecture Program, check out their profile page on!