Building Hope with Resilient, Adaptable Architecture
And self-care when it all gets to be too much.
Today, we’re sharing another preview of Season 1 of our podcast, Building Hope. Both Ava Omidvar and Juhi Goel are committed to designing for resilience in the face of the certain disruptions of climate change. Juhi proposed a building that acts as a carbon sink and demonstrates earth-aligned ways to live, even in a dense city. Ava tested her theory that even something as solid and weighty as a building can adapt to changing conditions such as extreme heat, urban flooding and unstable energy production.
Juhi designed a mixed-use high-rise tower of mass timber on a prominent waterfront site in Boston, near the New England Aquarium. The building’s wood structure and finishes sequester carbon and many features give people a view into a climate-resilient future. Intentionally visible elements teach about growing food, generating heat with algae, filtering greywater and recycling non-organic materials. Her design is beautiful and inspiring and we can’t wait to show it to you when the podcast debuts in April.
Ava explored the history of adaptable architecture and proposed an arts community on a site in southwest D.C.—an area only somewhat affected by climate change now, but vulnerable to more extreme events in the near future, particularly urban flooding. Much of D.C. is built on fill over the original swamps and lowlands of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.
We asked each of them what it means to be patient in an emergency. Ava readily admits that she’s not known as a patient person. She likened our current situation to the frog in the boiling water and said: “I’m not comfortable in this pot of water and it’s got to stop.” Even if we don’t have all the answers, “We need to fix it. There are people who know how to fix it.” She also reflected on her role at work, that even young architects have a role to play “in the revolution.” Some of her considerable energy goes into activism: she’s part of Design As Protest, an organization dedicated to design justice in the built environment.
Juhi sees a lot of truth in being patient, but warned that waiting till we know everything can be a trap. She’s committed to continue pushing for things to get better. As a young architect with a lot to learn, she sees the blessing of her sometimes naïve optimism. She’s more apt to question the status quo and lead with practical resistance.
Ava sets a high bar for herself because her family name, Omidvar, means “hopeful” in Persian. She’s always asking how she can live up to that. She reminds herself that the future that she envisions is possible and spreads that message to inspire others. Juhi is building hope by taking small steps toward her life goals, and by recharging when things don’t go as planned. We’re all living these realities and feeling the emotions ourselves. Good self-care is a part of building hope and resilience for the long road ahead.
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This project is supported by a Faculty-Student Research Award from the Graduate School, University of Maryland, as well as grants from the University’s Sustainability Fund and the School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation.