Diane Pham

7 Design Students Share Their Stories on Why They’re Studying Sustainable Design at the Boston Architectural College

by , 03/01/14
filed under: Architecture

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Did you know that Tadao Ando was a boxer before he became an architect? Or that Philip Johnson studied philosophy before going on to build his famed Glass House? The road to a career in design is not always the most straightforward, and more than a handful of the world’s most well-known designers spent years dabbling in different vocations that outwardly seem unrelated to their ultimate true calling. Today’s most forward-thinking design schools are starting to embrace this kind of diversity in their student body, welcoming individuals of all backgrounds and ages who want to begin a career shaping our built environment. But what’s it like to be that student who pursues a design education after years spent working a different type of 9 to 5? We asked students from the highly diverse Boston Architectural College (BAC) to share what it’s like to be a graduate student in Sustainable Design in the Master of Design Studies Program —an innovative low-residency degree dedicated to helping students learn about the practices, processes, and materials for building a sustainable future. These bright minds from across the globe gave us a peek into their lives, sharing their background, the projects they’ve been working on, and what they dream of doing in the future. Read on for a look at for what 7 of Boston Architectural College‘s brightest Sustainable Design students have to say!

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WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
Guayaquil, Ecuador

WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATIONAL / PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND?
Graduate Degree in Architecture from the Universidad de Especialidades Espiritu Santo-Samborondon, Ecuador. Currently I work as a freelance architect in Ecuador and also in my family’s construction company in Guayaquil.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE MDS SD PROGRAM?
My family runs a NGO that works in the slums of Guayaquil called Pro Labore Dei, PLD. There I realized that my country was begging for urgent solutions in sectors such as housing, sanitation, water, energy, among others. Hence, I saw in sustainability a viable way to address the main problems that affect those vulnerable zones, very common in developing countries like mine.  Additionally, this program coupled perfectly to my tight work schedule, allowing me at the same time, to study and put in practice a topic that fascinates me such as sustainability from my homeland.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO DO WITH THE KNOWLEDGE YOU LEARN IN THIS PROGRAM?
I hope to become a leader in the area of sustainability here in my country, not for personal interests but to serve others that need it the most. In the macro scale I look forward to work hand in hand with the local government developing environmentally conscious urban planning and housing proposals. In the same way in the micro scale, I hope to change the way clients see this topic, through the application of efficient sustainable design strategies in my projects.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE WORLD’S MOST PRESSING PROBLEM? 
Definitively as many would say, global warming is one of the biggest problems that affect the world today. But besides this critical moment we are living, the increase in population is another serious issue to worry about. The population worldwide is expected to rise in the next decades and especially the developing world lacks proper strategies to address housing and sanitation solutions.

HOW WOULD YOU ATTEMPT TO TRY TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM THROUGH DESIGN? 
I developed a sustainable, low-cost dwelling prototype in the slum of “La Ladrillera” located in Guayaquil, Ecuador. In the picture above (taken in January 2014) you can see me with the candidate family chosen to live in the dwelling.
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Patricio’s design for a sustainable, low-cost dwelling prototype in the slum of“La Ladrillera” located in Guayaquil, Ecuador

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WHERE ARE YOU FROM? 
Illinois

WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATIONAL / PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND?
My educational background is in the physical sciences, geology, and hydrogeology. I’ve worked as an environmental consultant for over 25 years concentrating primarily in the field of water resources. This includes working on historic legacy problems related to contamination of drinking water sources, public and industrial water supply problems, and design of green infrastructure products and systems for storm water management.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE MDS SD PROGRAM?
My consulting work also afforded me the opportunity to work on environmental problems associated with buildings and structures due to materials selection, siting issues, and IAQ. These were my first professional experiences related to the health impacts of buildings on their occupants and the environment. That sparked an interest in how and where buildings were constructed, their long term function and performance, as well as the relationship with their surroundings and occupants. To expand on this work though I needed to gain additional knowledge in building science and sustainable design, but I needed to do this while still working. After a long search I located the BAC, who had already established themselves as an innovative educational leader in these fields. When I learned that the BAC was starting a low residency MDS program, it seemed a logical progression of my studies and I joined their inaugural class in 2011.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO DO WITH THE KNOWLEDGE YOU LEARN (OR LEARNED) IN THIS PROGRAM?
Combining this education with my professional experience has taught me how the integration of design and environment can enhance a problem solution. My professional goal is to develop products and services to solve the toughest problems for my clients related to the built environment. This program has allowed me to build on what I have learned already, draw lessons for the experience of others, and pass on some of my own knowledge and experience through teaching and thought leadership on the subject of sustainable design.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE WORLD’S MOST PRESSING PROBLEM?
Water scarcity. More specifically, scarcity and mismanagement of high quality water resources. This may seem somewhat of an enigma to most of us living in this part of the world who take it pretty much for granted. Water is fundamental to life and we live on the “water planet”, yet only 2.5% of the world’s water is freshwater; and less than 1% of that is readily accessible to humans as surface water or groundwater. There is a critical need to manage water resources for sites and building operations with an emphasis on balancing water needs with available water resources, while recognizing the total ecological value of that water.

HOW WOULD YOU ATTEMPT TO TRY TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM THROUGH DESIGN? 
Utilizing an integrated “site” water management (ISWM) solution to better manage and determine actions needed to supply water, minimize waste, and protect and enhance water resources. Watersheds are closed loop systems defined by hydrologic boundaries and are thus ideal units of measure for managing water resources. We can use this same logic to set hydrologic boundaries around the development site (e.g., property, city block, or neighborhood). Ideally this closed loop ISWM model will use a more holistic “systems thinking” approach, encompassing not only natural hydrologic systems, but hydraulic systems needed as part of the buildings and infrastructure. This would include all potable, process, and wastewater flows; along with natural hydrologic processes (precipitation, drainage, infiltration, evaporation). Within this context, the designer is truly empowered to explore what is possible within the project’s unique water situation.

 

Students creating urban systems through connectivity and collaboration

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WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
Washington, D.C.

WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATIONAL / PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND?
I have a B.S. in Journalism from Ohio University and have written about design for my entire career. I currently oversee sustainability-related content for a major media company in the design, building, and construction realm.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE MDS SD PROGRAM?
I was looking for a way to learn more about the nuts and bolts of sustainable design in a flexible environment that would allow me to keep my day job. I was looking for a program that would help me transition from writing about sustainability to being a more of an active participant. I want to spend less time writing about the people changing our world and more time actively being one of those people.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO DO WITH THE KNOWLEDGE YOU LEARN (OR LEARNED) IN THIS PROGRAM?
I want to help more people understand why it is critical to the future of our planet and ourselves that we adopt sustainability on a broad scale at a much faster pace. I plan on marrying my knowledge from the MD-SDS program with my experiences in communications to teach other sustainability professionals how to better craft and convey this message.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE WORLD’S MOST PRESSING PROBLEM? 
We are seeing our world change through more frequent extreme weather events, and have data that shows that we are quickly approaching critical climate deadlines, but at a macro level, we seem to be disinterested in changing our behavior to address these issues. One in four Americans doesn’t believe in global warming. That is a problem.

HOW WOULD YOU ATTEMPT TO TRY TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM THROUGH DESIGN? 
There are already innovative design practitioners at work on the challenges at hand, providing sustainable solutions that rebalance our relationship with the earth in ways that allow both people and planet to thrive. The tools are out there and they are growing. We just need to spread the word. The power of design is that it affects nearly every element of our daily life, from where we live to what we wear and what we do from one hour to the next, from how we get around to how we interact with one another. We need to capitalize on this interactivity and use it to affect large-scale change.

 

Collaboration through project work and design iteration is the foundation of the MDS Intensive experience

bac, the bac, boston architectural college, bac reviews, boston architectural college reviews, boston architectural college students, boston architectural college interviews, student interviews, life as an architecture students, boston architectural college profiles, sustainable design institute, boston architectural college sustainable design institute, bac sustainable design institute, bac degrees, bac programs, boston architectural college graduate studies, boston architectural college graduate programs, boston architectural college online, online architecture classes, masters in architecture, masters in sustainable design, what architecture school is likeESTEBAN MARTINEZ, AGE 32

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
Bogota, Colombia

WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATIONAL / PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND?
Architect and civil engineer from the University of los Andes. I am currently the CEO of my company – Green Loop – in which I have had the opportunity to get involved in a little more than 40 LEED projects (NC, CS, EB and ID) in Colombia, Brazil and EEUU as a LEED consultant, energy modeler and commissioning agent. I am a LEED AP BD&C and also a Certified Building Commissioning Professional – CBCP- by the Association of Engineers.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE MDS SD PROGRAM?
I choose this program because of the flexibility of a distance/low-residency program that includes brief periods of intensive study in Boston. Plus, the curriculum was very appealing and at the same time allowed me to select the classes that I find most interesting.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO DO WITH THE KNOWLEDGE YOU LEARN (OR LEARNED) IN THIS PROGRAM? I am already implementing the knowledge I learned on a daily basis in my office as a sustainability consultant.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE WORLD’S MOST PRESSING PROBLEM? 
Finding ways to reduce the carbon footprint associated with the built environment.

HOW WOULD YOU ATTEMPT TO TRY TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM THROUGH DESIGN?
During the 6 years I have been involved in the sustainable building design, I have become passionate about innovative and new ways to save energy in buildings. I have to say that implementing integrative design tools learned in this program has allowed me to deliver exceptionally efficient designs without incurring in extra costs. Every building I am involved with is a learning tool because our temperate and equatorial climates represent a completely different approach to efficient building envelopes, especially in mild climates (due to the altitude of several of our cities, we have mild or even cold climates in equatorial locations).

bac, the bac, boston architectural college, bac reviews, boston architectural college reviews, boston architectural college students, boston architectural college interviews, student interviews, life as an architecture students, boston architectural college profiles, sustainable design institute, boston architectural college sustainable design institute, bac sustainable design institute, bac degrees, bac programs, boston architectural college graduate studies, boston architectural college graduate programs, boston architectural college online, online architecture classes, masters in architecture, masters in sustainable design, what architecture school is likeA page from Estaban’s urban renewal project proposal

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3 Comments

  1. Hector Vasquez Chura March 4, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    EXCELENT PUBLICATION..! ¡ CONGRATULATIONS..

  2. Alyssa Alimurung Alyssa Alimurung February 27, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Patricio’s dwelling prototypes look neat! Great job guys.

  3. Yuka Yoneda Yuka Yoneda February 27, 2014 at 9:56 am

    It’s so inspiring to see that it’s never too late to get started down a new and exciting path. We need more students like these guys!

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